How Many People Did the CIA Process at Its Stare Kiejkuty “Black Site,” and Where Are They Now?

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I’m fascinated to see the Stare Kiejkuty story come alive, because I did some posting on it, back in my salad days, eight years or so ago, back when we were fresh and new and thought electing more and better Democrats was important because they opposed stuff like extraordinary rendition and torture because such things were wrong, not because their guy wasn’t the one doing it (leaving aside the occasional honorable outlier like Ron Wyden). Anyhow, the Stare Kiejkuty story came alive again last week. Reuters:

The CIA ran a secret jail on Polish soil, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Thursday, piling pressure on Poland, one of Washington’s closest allies, to break its long silence about the global programme for detaining al Qaeda suspects.

The court said it had been established that the CIA used a facility in a northern Polish forest, code named “Quartz”, as a hub in its network for interrogating suspected al Qaeda operatives rounded up after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. …..

Thursday’s ruling was the first time that a court in Europe had said that the CIA operated one of the secret jails – often referred to as “black sites” -on the continent.

The court case was brought by lawyers for two men, Saudi-born Abu Zubaydah, and Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who are now both inmates at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. military’s prison on Cuba.

They alleged they were flown in secret to a remote Polish airfield, then transferred to the CIA-facility near the village of Stare Kiejkuty where they were subject to treatment they said amounted to [was] torture. …

The court found Poland violated its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights to prevent torture, ensure the right to liberty, and properly investigate allegations a crime had been committed on its territory.

The ruling from Strasbourg may have implications for other European states alleged to have hosted CIA prisons: similar cases have been lodged with the court in Strasbourg against Romania and Lithuania. …

Let’s not worry about the other torture camps we apparently littered the European landscape with, and focus only on Stare Kiejkuty. Here is the press release from European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and here are the two decisions: Al Nashiri v. Poland [PDF] and Abu Zubaydah v. Poland [PDF]. They are lengthy and very detailed. Kevin Gosztola has good background here. (Note that Poland may appeal.) 

Now, presumably Ron Wyden is, at some point in the not too distant future, going to manage to get the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s 6300-page report on CIA torture released, either by declassifying it after White House censorship, or, as Mike Gravel suggests, by simply publishing it, uncensored, using the speech and debate clause of the Constitution everybody tells me we still operate under. And although that report will surely include material on Stare Kiejkuty, I don’t see a need to speculate about what’s in it, assuming it’s going to be released anyhow. However, there are two very obvious questions raised by the European Court of Human Rights decision, and I’d like to raise them now, because when the report does come out, they are the questions I’d like to look into first. They’re in the headline:

  1. How many people were processed through Stare Kiejkuty?
  2. Where are they now?

Because, when you think about it: (1) Surely more than two[1] people, Zubaydah and al-Nashiri, were processed, so how many? And if more than two, (2) surely it’s a more than a little remarkable that nobody talked? So where are they?

Again, I don’t want to speculate, too freely, at least. But I think we can at least try for some “back of the envelope” calculations that will give us the parameters to the first question, and see how far that gets us with the second question. What do we mean by a “back of the envelope” calculation? From Jon Bentley’s wonderful Programming Pearls:


So, if we’re looking at people processed through a torture camp instead of water flowing through the Mississippi, what do we need to know? Inputs, throughput, and output. (Correct me if I am wrong, here, readers; I never did become a programmer!) Input: how many flights per day * average prisoner count per plane; throughput: how many cells * average length of stay; output a function of the first two.  I imagine people in the hotel business make much the same kind of calculation when deciding where and what to build. Funny to think of a degree in hotel management qualifying you plan a torture camp, but it’s a funny old world. Of course, the whole process is secret, so we’ll be missing huge chunks of data. Maybe the Senate report, in whatever form it comes out, will fill in the blanks.

Input: How many flights, how many passengers?

It’s hard to know how many flights there were; Boeing subsidiary Jeppeson, for example, filed the flight plans for 70 flights, but the ECHR’s decisions (see PDFs above) say their flight plans were fake, as indeed we would expect them to be. The European Parliament’s “Draft Report on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners” gives a total of 1245 flights for Europe as a whole, some of which have multiple stops, based on the “Contribution of the Rapporteur.” WaPo (2014-01-23) says that “The CIA prison in Poland [Stare Kiejkuty] was arguably the most important of all the black sites created by the agency,” and so it’s hard to believe that a substantial portion of the 1245 flights — that is, more than 70 — didn’t end up there. (For something more than the back of an envelope, I’d go through the “Contribution of the Rapporteur” and take subtotals. Maybe soon, if there’s enough reader interest.)

So how many passengers? Again, hard to know. We tend to think of the torture planes as executive jets (like the one the CIA charted from Phillip H. Morse, a minority partner of the Boston Red Sox), and sometimes they were. From Al Nashiri v. Poland:

On 4 December 2002 a CIA contracted aircraft, a Gulfstream jet (capacity for 12 passengers) registered as N63MU with the US Federal Aviation Authority and operated by First Flight Management/Airborne Inc., flew the applicant and Mr Abu Zubaydah from Thailand to the Szymany military airbase in Poland.

However, the CIA fleet included at least one Boeing 737. Also from Al Nashiri v. Poland:

Specifically, we have collected information that CIA airplanes travelling from Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004 made direct flights to remote airfields in Poland and Romania. Human Rights Watch has viewed flight records showing that a Boeing 737, registration number N313P – a plane that the CIA used to move several prisoners to and from Europe, Afghanistan, and the Middle East in 2003 and 2004 – landed in Poland and Romania on direct flights from Afghanistan on two occasions in 2003 and 2004. Human Rights Watch has independently confirmed several parts of the flight records, and supplemented the records with independent research.

So, one executive jet we know of has a capacity of 12; and the Boeing 737 has a minimum capacity of 85 and a maximum of 215. And the planes aren’t necessarily full. Flights can be two ways, so let’s be generous and throw out half of 1245, and be generous again, and figure only half the remaining flights went to Stare Kiejkuty, even though it’s the most important site; that’s 311 flights. Let’s be more generous still, and assume that there were 300 Gulfstream flights and only 11 737 flights. Let’s assume an average prisoner count of 2 on the Gulfstreams, leaving 10 empty seats: that’s 2 * 300 = 600 prisoners. Let’s assume an average prisoner count of 20 on the smallest 737, leaving 65 empty seats. (Presumably, even with an unlimited black budget and no oversight, the CIA wouldn’t use a 737 for onesies and twosies. Although you never know!) 11 flights times 20 prisoners = 220. 220 + 600 = 820 prisoners. Any errors due to rounding! (For comparison purposes, the military prison system held 14,000, according to AP.) Assume 820, then. Gitmo seems to have a capacity of 500, tops. Assume Gitmo was solely populated by prisoners from  Stare Kiejkuty. Where are the other 320? OK, too many assumptions! Let’s go at this another way.

Throughput: How many prisoners, what length of stay?

How many prisoners? One way to guesstimate the number of prisoners is to check the size of the facility, just as you would for a hotel by counting the windows. And here WaPo was a very interesting statement in its story of 2014-01-23: 

The Polish intelligence service, known as Agencja Wywiadu, had a training base with a villa that the CIA could use in Stare Kiejkuty, a three-hour drive north of Warsaw. The accommodations were not spacious. The two-story villa could hold up to a handful of detainees. A large shed behind the house also was converted into a cell.

“It was pretty spartan,” the agency official recalled.

A “villa” and a “shed,” huh? Oh-kaaay. We’re relying on CIA sourcing here, and only that sourcing, and the clear implication is that only a small number of prisoners were processed. (“Move along people, move along. There’s no story here.”) Far be it from me to suggest that the CIA source is completely self-serving, or that WaPo’s single-sourced reporting is at best sloppy, but contemporary reporting from Stare Kiejkuty differs substantially. From the UK’s Sunday Mirror (in a story that’s rapidly succumbing to bit rot):

Sunday Mirror investigators last week breached the one-mile security cordon around the complex in the muddy village of Stare Kiejkuty, 100 miles from the Polish capital of Warsaw. Many of the 250 locals have family working as army conscripts on the other side of a new Iron Curtain – a three-mile long, two-metre high fence.

Posing as tourists visiting the village in Poland’s equivalent of the Lake District, we rented a chalet 400 metres from the main entrance of the base.

Despite claims the site has high-tech surveillance – including infra-red thermal sensors to detect body heat – it seems little has changed from its 1970s Communist-era role as a base to train Soviet agents and assassins. British traitor Kim Philby taught at the base.

The car park contained at least 25 vehicles. At least three watch-towers had been left abandoned, and 150metres away was a green hangar the size of a football pitch. Locals say this was built last year to house newly-arrived inmates. Other buildings in the complex consist of three fortified bunkers above ground and a firing range.

And here’s the back-of-the-envelope calculation for that:

A football pitch is 100-130 yards deep, and 100-50 yards wide. Let’s assume the largest possible size for the hangar, since  Halliburton (say) got the contract. 130 x 100 is 13,000 square yards. Assume a three-story hangar: 13,000 x 3 = 39,000 sq yds. Assume only 2/3 of the space is used for prisoners: Call it 25,000 square yards. Assume a cell is 3 x 3 yards, or 9 sq yds. 25,000 / 9 = 2777, call it 2500 cells.

So, 2500 cells in Stare Kiejkuty at the high end or, assuming one story, one third of that, or 833. Sadly, however, we don’t know when the “guests” “checked in” or “checked out” so we don’t know throughput even if we can guess at the number of “rooms.” And I swear, by whatever you choose to name, that I didn’t know how similar the one-story figgerin’ of 833 would be to 820. Probably means I’m underestimating by an order of magnitude. Because I’m never cynical enough!

Output: How did the prisoners leave, and where did they go?

As for how the prisoners left, and where they went, unless they went to Gitmo, we just don’t know. If I’m anywhere near right on the back-of-the-envelope calculations, then there are a minimum of several hundred prisoners unaccounted for. I hope the CIA got them to sign nondisclosure agreements, as opposed to (say) following the example of the Argentian services in the days of their military dictatorship. Because that would be bad. Of course, the complete release of the Senate Select Committee’s report may lay this issue to rest. What we do know is that a censored or incomplete release will not. 


[1] We know of a third case, Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen who was mistakenly grabbed by the Macedonian police and handed over to the CIA, who tortured him. Here too the European Court of Human Rights did the work of civilization.

* * *

Readers, I’d be very grateful if you checked my work carefully. And since I’m just getting my head round this story again, and I have the feeling it could be big — Versailles is a sack of pus waiting to burst — I’d also be grateful for any original (not aggregated) sourcing on this, as close to primary as you can get — plane spotters are great. The European (non-English speaking) press would also be very useful, especially contemporary accounts. For example, Richard Smith points out in mail via the IICJ:

Surprisingly, or not, the CIA, and both the official and unofficial Russian arms export industry, and investment scammers as well, all use shell companies that have the same nominee director, possibly a sign that just one company formation agent, an Irish chap called Burwell, is acting for all of these outfits.

Bottom feeders, all of ’em. But please, no “Just watch this YouTube!” and no hairballs. Thank you!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. ArkansasAngie

    The ends do not justify the means. The problem of course is that these yahoos don’t agree.

    Do I believe this report see the light of day? Nope.

    It is time to hold people accountable.

    1. James Levy

      Objectively absolutely correct, but the only people with the power to hold these people accountable are the perpetrators themselves. No faction of powerful men and women stood aloof and can now sweep in and clean the Augean Stables. They are all compromised. If BushCo go down, so do Pelosi, Reid, Feinstein, et al. And so, after the drone killings, does Obama and Holder. Who is going to take office, drag all those people to the Dock, and spill all the beans about what they did and continue to do “to keep us safe”, and what American jury the are likely to empanel is going to convict them after Cheney does his “9/11–dangerous world–You can handle the truth!” speech on the witness stand? Not going to happen.

    2. human

      Not a single Congress Critter has the balls to read it into the Congressional Record. Disgusting.

  2. trish

    This is so sick. and the terms, the euphemisms, so seemingly benign.

    processed. on the one hand, like nothing more than what happens to an army enlistee- paper work, given an ID, boots, cammies, blankets…
    but then on the other, what happens to cows, chickens, pigs as their dismembered in meat plants (also out of sight, bloody, ugly and rife with suffering).

    These are human beings who are kidnapped (‘extraordinary rendition’-a special dance by a group of men in black?), then tortured. repeatedly. like chained while naked and cold, blasted by incessant noise, constant light, deprived of sleep and isolated from any human contact except for harsh, brutal interrogation by black-costumed thugs who break their bodies with all sorts of sick, brutal methods and fray their minds…

    tortured. tortured, tortured. not “processed.”

    1. Banger

      Welcome to the jungle
      Watch it bring you to your
      knees, knees
      I wanna watch you bleed

      From Guns n’ Roses

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I deliberately used “neutral” language like “processed.” People who are not already persuaded must be. A spoonful of bitterly ironic sugar, doncha know.

  3. Banger

    The whole post-2001 mini-Gulag the U.S. created seemed to be a bit strange. What I heard and read about the situation in Afghanistan when the U.S. went in was that it was offering bounties on “terrorists” and they didn’t care that much who was brought in. Some were definitely Al-qaida, some were just random people brought in who looked the part–there is no evidence I know of that the CIA/DIA actually went did much checking on these people they just wanted bodies. Why did they want bodies?

    I can see torturing Al-qaida people, particularly senior people but Al-qaida was never large in numbers and what sort of information where they looking for? It is my contention, and that of many other observers, that Al-qaida was indeed infiltrated and perhaps controlled, at the very least, by Pakistani and Saudi intel. The Saudis and the Pakistanis had been cooperating together since the U.S. used both services in their war against the Russians in Afghanistan–the idea that Al-qaida suddenly went rogue is silly. It may have deviated but how would AQ manage to get paid Saudi and Pakistani agents out of its organization so easily? The whole AQ narrative makes very little sense if you understand how the world actually works which is not along the neat little border-lines the American media likes to believe is the case. Intel services, criminal gangs, political groups, religious fanatics all interact in various ways often involving bribery, blackmail, threats to family and so on. Do you suppose, for example, that Osama could simply deviate from Saudi rule when he could have been threatened by, for example, having his children or cousins killed? Members of his family were even in the U.S. and allowed to leave by special dispensation–the only planes allowed to fly after 9/11. My point is this–there is no independent Al-qaida or any independent ISIS, or any other group like that. All are, to some extent, involved in at least organized crime and that is always connected to intel agencies whether its the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel and so on and so on. These organizations exist precisely because they don’t play by the rules and have their own inter-alliances and play their own role in their countries domestic power-elite.

    So I don’t think that the Gulags existed for the sake of merely gathering intelligence–though I believe that was part of the role–really debrief people. Another goal, actually stated by the U.S., was that they wanted GITMO to be a visible example to the world that anyone who opposed U.S. hegemony could go to GITMO which is why the U.S. chose to allow a lot of cameras and press to see just how bad the prisoners were treated and to show the American public that your G-men were on the job etc. But why so many prisoners in secret prisons? Webster Tarpley (who annoys me but who offers very cogent insights–particularly historical ones) claims that these prisons are being used to recruit and train a cadre of “terrorists” to take the field in various parts of the world. Some operating against the Russians, some in Libya, some in Iraq, some in Syria and we could say that ISIS, which is obviously (anybody doubt this please speak up) under the control of the Gulf States and Turkey and, therefore IMHO, the U.S. at least indirectly may be a result of this training program. The leader of ISIS, Al-Baghdadi, is a “graduate” of a U.S. prison for at least four years. Was he trained for his job there? Dosn’t seem beyond the realm of possibilities does it?

    Much depends whether you accept the official story of 9/11 which, obviously, since I believe no official stories unless they make sense and have evidence. I don’t believe the official story of anything much these days. I believe the main threats to the U.S. public come not from “terrorism” or Russia or Iran but from Washington and Wall Street.

    1. LifelongLib

      My take on official stories is that they are not so much outright lies as they are radically incomplete.

      Yes, a bunch of Islamic terrorists flew a couple of airplanes into the World Trade Center, and the buildings collapsed as a result. But most of terrorists were from an “ally” (Saudi Arabia), their leader had a lot of embarrassing connections to people in the U.S. establishment, their organization had been (still was?) being funded by U.S. intelligence agencies, etc. etc. etc. But after 9/11 it was “Osama who?” and a mad scramble to obscure all this.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Certainly plausible, although what I’d really like is a credibly sourced copy of a catering bill for 820 Polish Happy Meal-equivalents at the facility in the right time frame.

    3. Jagger

      –Why did they want bodies? —–

      Do you know how the Israeli would get informers amonst Palestinians back in the 90s. Next to impossible, right. No, wrong. Remember the Israelis would round up hundreds of Palestinians at a time. Once in prison, they would be sexually humiliated and photographed while being humiliated. Then the prisoner would be given a choice, you have been privately humiliated and now we will publically humiliate you by revealing these photographs to your parents, your wife, your children, your siblings, your friends… everyone will know you are no longer a man…..or you become an informer for us. Doesn’t work on everyone but works on most. Barbaric and evil, yes, but effective. And it doesn’t matter whether the individual is guilty of anything or not, you now have an informer.

      The US has picked up a lot of tactics first developed by Israel. I would not be surprised if we used and still use the same tactic. Remember all those humiliating photos from Abu Ghraib. MPs were just having some sick fun with their photos but I strongly suspect there were CIA doing the same thing for other purposes.

      And all you need to do is round up the bodies. So another possible reason for just rounding up large number of any bodies.

  4. YY

    If some enterprising reporter decides to check locally, the local catering contractor could be found for food consumption estimate that will yield the number of detainees.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      And much else along those lines. Electrical contractors for lights in the cells. The water bill. (Of, course, if all this evidence shows up later in WaPo, still single-sourced to the CIA, and contains line items like “install light fixture in single cell in >>>>VILLA<<<<<, yeah really, single ....... 1000 zlotys" I'm gonna wonder and start sleeping with the lights on.)

  5. Tom Stone

    Good grief, Yves. Of course the majority of the prisoners were killed. There would be exceptions for those that still had some value or were sources of embarassment that couldn’t be covered up with a disappearance. It’s SOP.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Er, lambert. Quite possibly so. Again, I’m looking at building a case (and understanding the report to come, especially if its censored). Incidentally, I’m not sure it is SOP, as you aver. Not all the torture victims in Argentina or Chile were killed, and AFAIK, some of them were quite ordinary people, neither sources of embarassment or “high value” (another disgusting Orwellian euphemism).

  6. ST

    A couple of things to consider: At least on the “executive jets” I’ve read or heard the prisoners were transported in unheated portions of the aircraft, hooded, naked, drugged and with an adult diapers on. If this is true, they weren’t in seats.
    Hangers are necessary for aircraft parking during storms. It would be interesting to find out from locals if they ever put planes inside during bad weather. If they do, that would indicate a different density of detainee accommodations. If they only ever fly in and then right back out in good weather, then they may risk losing an aircraft someday if they are surprised by bad weather.

  7. Jill

    Here are several accounts of torture, but not in Poland. They will show just how common the rendition of human beings for torture by the USG was. (This rendition is still going on.) The accounts all have the same actions by members of the CIA and OGA that we see with the renditions to Poland:

    I will try to find more information to post. I have read about this prison and need to relocate my information.

  8. indio007

    When the CIA participated in the Algerian torture program, they found when people were released they wouldn’t go home. They mostly forgot about their pre-torture lives and assumed new personas.

    I’m not sure if modern torture techniques have the same psychological results.

    1. Banger

      The aim of modern torture is to destroy the original personality by fragmenting it and then nurturing new if potential “selves” that live quietly within all of us. This is how torture victims are “turned” so they are able to do the bidding if their torturers through a number of fairly well-known techniques using drugs and hypnosis and surgical manipulation of the brain.

      The aim of the old fashioned torture was just to discourage the populace from resisting the authorities. Torture victims were routinely paraded through streets alive or dead–plus, for many torture was fun–that element still appears to be in play today.

      1. Jill

        Torture has been intensely studied by this govt. The primary result of torture is a confession. I believe that is why the govt. used and still does use it. The govt. needs confessions. They don’t want truthful information or they would never use torture.

        Banger, really, there are studies showing how to obtain false confessions via torture. These confessions were used to link Saddam to 9/11 etc. among other things.

  9. TedWa

    Timely post from Ron Paul on this subject – it’s under the title “End Torture, Shut Down the CIA!”

    The US not only tortured people in its own custody, however. Last week the European Court of Human Rights found that the US government transferred individuals to secret detention centers in Poland (and likely elsewhere) where they were tortured away from public scrutiny. The government of Poland was ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to two victims for doing nothing to stop their torture on Polish soil.

    How tragic that Poland, where the Nazis constructed the Auschwitz concentration camp in which so many innocents were tortured and murdered, would acquiesce to hosting secret torture facilities. The idea that such brutality would be permitted on Polish soil just 70 years after the Nazi occupation should remind us of how dangerous and disingenuous governments continue to be.

    This is the first time the European court has connected any EU country to US torture practices. The Obama administration refuses to admit that such facilities existed and instead claims that any such “enhanced interrogation” programs were shut down by 2009. We can only hope this is true, but we should be wary of government promises. After all, they promised us all along that they were not using torture, and we might have never known had photographs and other information not been leaked to the press.,-shut-down-the-cia!.aspx

  10. Seal

    That’s a nice little story you got here – wouldn’t want anything to happen to it! Brilliant! No wonder your own blog is unreachable as of a few minutes ago.

    Love the comment about getting a hold of the caterers records – lol. There HAS to be a $$$$ angle here also. These scum Polish politicians and “intel” guys got PAID for assisting the CIA is setting up this network of secret torture chambers.

    No wonder the CIA has ramped up opium production in AFG to pay for this black budget stuff.

  11. Jill

    This post links to much important, primary source material.”

    WHY DID the director of the CIA, John Brennan, surreptitiously come to Poland last month for meetings at the ministry of interior and the ministry of foreign affairs? The American embassy in Warsaw and Polish government sources did not confirm or deny his visit, but a local tabloid stated that Mr Brennan travelled to Warsaw and that he went to Romania on the same trip. And on June 18th, the Romanian president’s website confirmed that Mr Brennan was in Bucharest.

    Romania, Poland and the CIA are involved in extraordinary rendition, which means the outsourcing by the CIA of torture sessions. (The CIA prefers the term “enhanced interrogation techniques”.)

    This practice is well documented. An in-depth report by the Open Society Justice Initiative entitled “Globalizing Torture” quotes no less than 54 countries as participants in this programme in which 136 individuals were subject to secret detention and extraordinary rendition…

    The Polish prosecutors are not very proactive though. The inspector general of the CIA published in 2004 a report on “Counterterrorism Detention and Interrogation Activities”. It is on the internet, a Google search away, but the Polish prosecutors seem to believe only in hard-copy delivery.

    The fact that two of those alleged “high value” terrorist suspects (Abd al Rahim al Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah) were given in Poland the “victim status” amounts to a recognition that indeed for roughly a year, starting in December 2002, something very fishy may have happened in the Polish military intelligence centre in Stare Kiejkuty (pictured), situated by a beautiful lake. Mr Al Nashiri was, according to the aforementioned report by CIA, subjected to mock executions with a handgun and a power drill and threatened with sodomy and the arrest and rape of his family; Mr Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times. A third man, Waleed Mohammed bin Attash, a Yemeni citizen, held like the other two in Guantanamo, has now requested “victim status” too, through his Polish attorney.

    The Polish prosecutors allege that they cannot proceed without information from America. Three requests for information were made to the American Department of Justice. The answer to the first one was “we will not answer”. The other two went unanswered.

  12. Jill

    This is interesting as it dates from 2006: “…In Poland, cooperation with the CIA has always been strongly denied. The new government refers to the explanation given by the outgoing president Kwasniewski. “Such a prison has never existed,” he said.

    Really? The camp in the small town of Szczytno in Mazury is certainly tailor-made for secret missions. Official flights to what has become Poland’s most famous airport stopped long ago. Gone are the big plans whose remnants can only be seen in the multi-lingual signs: “Welcome to the international airport of Szczytno-Szymany.”

    Only private aircraft land and take off here. When, for example, King Juan Carlos of Spain wants to do a bit of hunting in the forests full of wild beasts. Or, possibly, when American friends have urgent business which needs to be dealt with?

    “The airport is always ready for action, the technical equipment is all intact,” says the uniformed border guard. Local residents report that black minivans with darkened windows and military markings are always driving by. Vehicles like this belong to the official fleet of the military unit 2669, 20 kilometers away in Stare Kiejkuty.

    Two barbed wire fences separate the tiny village from the site with its watch-towers, barriers and far-off red and white radio masts. Photos are strictly prohibited and Polish journalists have had film and memory chips confiscated over the last few days.

    Unit 2669 is officially the “training center for news service cadres.” And the fact that it is so near, politically to the new American allies, and geographically to the airport, makes the site of particular interest. Respected village resident Krzysztof Uminski, 45, the last farmer in the area, does not like answering pushy questions. After all, he says, most of the other villagers live from “work provided by the state.” Only hesitatingly does he admit what that means. The spy school is the only major employer in the remote area surrounding the lake…”

    1. Banger

      Again, it is likely a “spy school” where personalities are dismembered and the victims turned into operatives–these sites are not punishment camps or camps to exact information but to probably create a virtual army of “mad” bombers, terrorists and assassins to serve the Empire.

        1. Banger

          Ok, I’m not a lawyer or a journo and I don’t want to be either. There is, however, some pretty interesting stuff online about the old MK Ultra project but I know you don’t want to go there–I’ll stay away from commenting on this today.

    2. Crazy Horse

      Just wondering if there is a gas oven facility nearby? Cremation certainly reduces the waste volume after information processing is complete.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Not something you would wish to expose to the locals, even cowed locals, I would say. Issues of good and evil aside, think of the PR disaster. Unlikely.

      1. zadoofkaFlorida

        This is not off subject at all. Just compare the rendering, kidnapping and torture to the Ariel Castro kidnappings of three women in Cleveland Ohio. It is the same to kidnap someone off the street, keep them captive for 10 years, starve them and torture them. These three women should hook up with Amnesty International or some public out cry to say that this rendering is WRONG!. These women have a lot to say politically if they would speak out with some help from an organization. I do not think they are able because they are still in the healing process and it will take a long time. Kidnapping off the street, rendering, starving, torture ARE ALL THE SAME THING. It is a crime here and it is a global CRIME!

  13. digi_owl

    CIA have been a black mark against USA ever since its inception.

    After WW2 the OSS should have been disbanded, Not turned into the CIA.

    Ever since the CIA has operated pretty much as spooks for hire for the US moneyed elite…

    1. human

      Crossing the Rubicon
      by Michael Ruppert

      from chapter 3:

      The CIA is Wall Street. Wall Street is the CIA. This is perhaps one of the easiest landmarks to establish on our map. We do it by looking at key players in the CIA’s history and their relationships to America’s financial engine.

      Clark Clifford: The National Security Act of 1947 was written by Clark Clifford, a Democratic Party powerhouse, former secretary of defense, and one-time advisor to President Harry Truman. In the 1980s, as chairman of First American Bancshares, Clifford was instrumental in getting the corrupt CIA drug bank BCCI (founded by a Pakistani national) a license to operate on American shores. His profession: Wall Street lawyer and banker. BCCI and its particular web of characters have been a virtual cut-and-paste overlay linking up Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and terrorist financing. 3 It was Clark Clifford who was retained by former CIA Director Richard Helms when the latter was indicted and prosecuted for lying to Congress in 1976. 4

      Clifford and his banking partner Robert Altman were eventually indicted on criminal charges for their role in illegally helping BCCI purchase an American bank, First American Bancshares. At the time BCCI had been connected to both drug money laundering and financial support for Afghan rebels supported by the CIA through its director Bill Casey. 5

      John Foster and Allen Dulles: These two brothers “designed” the CIA for Clifford. Both were active in intelligence operations during World War II. Allen Dulles had been America’s top Office of Strategic Services (OSS) spy in Switzerland, where he met frequently with Nazi leaders and looked after US investments in Germany. He also held an executive position with Standard Oil. John Foster went on to become secretary of state under Dwight Eisenhower, and Allen served as CIA director under Ike, only to be fired by JFK after the abortive 1961 US-led covert invasion of Cuba known as the Bay of Pigs. Their professions: partners in the most powerful — to this day — Wall Street law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell.

      Enron is only one of Sullivan and Cromwell’s current clients, and it employed a dozen “former” CIA officers before its fall from grace. 6 Other prominent Sullivan and Cromwell clients are AIG, Global Crossing, ImClone, Martha Stewart, and the Harvard Endowment.

      After the assassination of JFK in 1963, Allen Dulles became the staff director and lead investigator of the Warren Commission, which asserted that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone assassin who had fired a bullet that had caused JFK’s throat wound, hung suspended in mid-air for several seconds, changed directions twice, then wounded Texas Governor John Connally in the chest, wrist, and thigh only to fall out of his body in nearly pristine condition on a stretcher at Parkland Hospital in Dallas about 30 minutes later. When asked about how he could have offered the Warren Report, full of inconsistencies, to the American people with straight face, Dulles is reported to have said, “The American people don’t read.”

      Bill Casey: Reagan’s CIA director and the OSS veteran who served as chief overt wrangler during the Iran-Contra years was, under Richard Nixon, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. His profession: Wall Street lawyer and stock trader.

      In 1984 ABC News was devoting serious attention to a CIA scandal in Hawaii connected to the investment firm BBRDW (Bishop, Baldwin, Rewald, Dillingham, and Wong). The BBRDW story was lifting a veil connected to money laundering, drugs, and the failed CIA drug bank named Nugan-Hand. Bill Casey and the CIA’s general counsel Stanley Sporkin put extreme pressure on both the network lid anchor Peter Jennings to stop their coverage. During the semi-public battle, ABC’s stock dropped from $67 to $59 a share, and by December, the firm Capital Cities was trying to buy the network. Capital Cities successfully completed the buyout of ABC in March of 1985, after which the CIA conveniently dropped a suit against the network.7

      Bill Casey had helped to found Capital Cities and had served both as its lawyer and as a member of its board of directors in the years between his service as SEC chairman for Nixon and as director of Central Intelligence for Reagan. ABC became known thereafter as “the CIA network.”

      Other sources, including the family of the late Colonel Albert Vincent Carone — about whom I have written extensively — confirm that Casey was a lifelong resident of Long Island and that Carone, a “made” member of the Genovese crime family, retired NYPD detective, and CIA operative, routinely exchanged insider trading information with Casey. Multiple witnesses have confirmed that Casey attended the christening of Carone’s grandson.

      Stanley Sporkin: Sporkin served as the CIA’s general counsel under Casey. But he had previously served for more than 20 years at the Securities and Exchange Commission, rising to the post of general counsel. Casey’s right-hand man, he was one of the first people Casey brought with him to the CIA in 1981. Almost all of Sporkin’s tenure at the SEC was spent in the enforcement division, charged with prosecuting corporate and stock fraud.

      During the Iran-Contra investigations it was revealed that Sporkin had routine contact with Lt. Col. Oliver North, who was later convicted on several felony counts including lying to Congress. 8 At times the e-mails between the two men, alluding to the 1920s comedy team Laurel and Hardy, read “To Stanley from Ollie.”

      After retiring as CIA general counsel in 1986, Sporkin was soon appointed a US district court judge in Washington, DC, where he presided over some of the most important trials (including Microsofts) in the country. He resigned from the bench in January of 2000 and joined the Wall Street law firm of Weill, Gotschall, and Manges, self-described as specializing in “Wall Street Management and Capital.” Weill, Gotschall, and Manges is currently serving as Enron’s bankruptcy counsel. Although Sporkin received praise for many of his decisions from anti-corporate critics such as Ralph Nader, he presided over a number of more nefarious cases, including that of former Federal Housing Commissioner Catherine Austin Fitts, whose firm Hamilton Securities had been targeted for malicious and unfounded harassment after uncovering evidence of covert operations that tied the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to drug operations, slush funds, “friendly” Wall Street interests, and political corruption.

      Fitts was the target of a 1996 qui tam whistleblower lawsuit, which allows charges to be filed under seal for 60 days while the Department of Justice (DoJ) investigates whether there is merit to the case. As a result, Fitts was nor allowed to know who had made allegations against her, or even what the allegations were. Sporkin extended that seal for five years, thereby turning a brief investigation peri-od into a nightmare that prevented Fitts and her attorneys from being able to know, or even address, an accuser or his allegations. Sporkin was able to do this with no evidence of any wrongdoing, yet his decisions in the case routinely favored the unnamed parties seeking to discredit Fitts and upheld illegal actions by the federal government, including the seizure of her company offices (a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment).

      During this period the government destroyed the company’s proprietary software tools and databases that documented community financial flows, and kept the backup tapes under the control of Sporkin-appointed trustees. Fitts has subsequently been completely exonerated (no formal charges were ever filed), and it has been officially admitted that there was no basis for any action against her in the first place. Fitts has also documented several attempts by the Department of Justice investigators to falsify or destroy evidence. According to Insight Magazine, Department of Justice and HUD officials admitted off the record that it was a political vendetta.

      After a nine-:year herculean struggle, Fitts is still in court defending against the qui tam lawsuit (indirectly supported all this time by generous government payments and contracts to the government informant who originally brought the suit) and trying to recover an estimated $2.5 million in funds owed to her company, Hamilton Securities. A court of claims ruling in 2004 concluded that the government had breached its contract with Hamilton by refusing to pay Hamilton’s outstanding invoices. DoJ has indicated that the government will not pay, but will appeal.

      Hamilton had successfully helped HUD auction defaulted home mortgages, saving the Federal Housing Administration Fund over $2.2 billion. 9 In 2001, after finally succeeding in getting the seal removed from the original lawsuit and obtaining some of the transcripts of sealed hearing — one crucial item was “missing” from court records, Fitts and her attorneys discovered that Sporkin, apparently frustrated at DoJ’S inability to make anything stick, had actively coached DoJ attorneys on how best to keep the case going in spite of its transparent lack of merit and that DoJ was taking contradictory positions in an unsealed case before a different judge in the same court.

      David Doherty, who replaced Sporkin as CIA general counsel in 1987, is now the executive vice president of the New York Stock Exchange, for Enforcement.

      A. B. “Buzzy” Krongard: until he joined the CIA in 1998, Krongard was the CEO of the investment bank Alex Brown. In 1997 he sold his interest in Alex Brown to Banker’s Trust, where he served as vice chairman until “joining” the CIA in 1998. A close friend of CIA Director George Tenet, the colorful, cigar-smoking former Marine specialized in private banking operations serving extremely wealthy clients. It has been heavily documented by official US government investigations into money laundering that private banking services are frequently used for the laundering of drug money and the proceeds of corporate crime.10 Private banking services were especially criticized in investigations of money laundering connected to the looting of Russia throughout the 1990s. 11

      John Deutch: Deutch retired from the CIA as its director in December 1996. He immediately accepted an offer to join the board of directors of the nation’s second largest bank, Citigroup, which has been repeatedly involved in the documented laundering of drug money. This includes Citigroup’s 2001 purchase of a Mexican bank known to launder drug money, Banamex. 12 Deutch narrowly escaped criminal prosecution after it was learned that he had kept a large number of classified CIA documents on non-secure personal computers at his private residence. 13

      Maurice “Hank” Greenberg: The CEO of American International Group (AIG) insurance and manager of the third largest pool of investment capital in the world was floated as a possible CIA director by Bill Clinton in 1995. 14 FTW exposed Greenberg’s and AIG’s long connection to CIA drug trafficking and covert operations in a two-part series that was interrupted by the attacks of September 11. Under Greenberg’s stewardship, an AIG subsidiary severely bent several laws in conjunction with the Arkansas Development Financial Authority (ADFA) to establish what many have alleged was a first-class money laundering operation for drug funds arising from CIA-connected cocaine smuggling into Mena, Arkansas, in the 1980s.

      In that series FTW reported that AIG employed in its San Francisco legal offices the wife of Medellin Cartel co-founder Carlos Lehder. I actually went to San Francisco and had lunch with her in the summer of 2001. Our investigations later disclosed that AIG had been tied to US covert operations going back to the World War II and conclusively linked to the heroin trade.15 We also reported that AIG owned and operated the largest private fleet of full-sized airliners and cargo planes on the planet.16

      As an illustrative example of how the quiet connections operate behind the scenes to conceal criminal activity, it was an AIG subsidiary, Lexington Insurance, that was involved in the ADFA deal and that also acted as the errors and omissions carrier for Catherine Austin Fitts’s Hamilton Securities. At the start of Fitts’s harassment by DOJ, Lexington reneged on obligations to pay Fitts’s attorneys, who then dropped out of the case. This effectively enabled the DoJ with support from Judge Stanley Sporkin to seize Hamilton’s computers and data, destroy the computers and software, and tie up the backup tapes for years. Those tapes likely contain data — originally supplied to Fitts by HUD — that could expose many illegal covert government operations.

      I was not surprised then when Greenberg — a staunch supporter of Israel — was chosen by the Council on Foreign Relations in 2002 to lead an investigation of terrorist financing. The CFR report, not surprisingly, was extremely critical of Saudi Arabia. 17

      Professor Peter Dale Scott of the University of California at Berkeley, author of many historically crucial books on covert operations and deep politics, observed in the early 1970s that six of the first seven CIA deputy directors were from the New York social register, and all seven deputy directors “under Walter Bedell Smith and Truman, came from New York legal and financial circles.” 18 The headquarters of the CIA’s World War II predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services, was in the New York financial district.

      1. lambert strether

        Well, as I said above: Certainly plausible, although what I’d really like is a credibly sourced copy of a catering bill for 820 Polish Happy Meal-equivalents at the facility in the right time frame.

  14. Synopticist

    A fair number of the gitmo returnees went straight back to fighting jihad. (about 150 supposedly.) Lots of them are in Syria and Iraq right now, ethnically cleansing Christians as we speak. I’m a little short on sympathy for these people.

    1. Yulek

      After such treatment I would want some blood. You would not? Unfortunately such unjust treatment breeds hatred, which gives birth to bloodshed. I wonder why the Israeli did not understand that. Their grand parents lived through hell of second world war, holocaust, yet they seem to have learned nothing out of that experience. I have read, that their indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza and West Bank has created about 72 thousand children, who were wounded or lost their family members to such actions. Do you think that some of those children, once they grow up will not desire revenge, will not wish to revisit their horrors on the other side, only to fuel the cycle of stupidity and hatred even further? Such actions unfortunately breed monsters in human skin.

    2. human

      Backed by our good allies, the Saudi monarchy. So, you’re all right with governments acting extra-judicially?

    3. Doug Terpstra

      You obviously assume, but really have no way of knowing, that these untried suspects were waging jihad before they were imprisoned and tortured. The US war of terror is alot like a breeder reactor, producing more fuel than it consumes. It’s a diabolical perpetual motion machine…by design, and torture is a key part of it. If they’re not monsters to begin with, they will be turned into them. Witness Israeli society.

  15. Jonathan

    What I find most incredible about all this is that we know who these fine citizens are since most of them have popped up in news reports. Most recently I saw that bastion of credibility, George Tenet, was reviewing Panetta’s CIA report. Now why would he be doing that? Could it possibly be that his name is there and he wants to be able to redact it? It has gotten to the point where our ruling elites act completely out in the open with no apparent fear of being held to account. And I think they are right.
    When I mention to people that their elected president assasinates American citizens, invariably the reaction I get is, “They must have done something.” I find this chilling.

    1. lambert strether

      People want to believe the best, I think. Why detail is important. “They can’t have meant to do that.” “Yes, they meant to do that, and here’s why.” And so forth.

  16. Oregoncharles

    “Now, presumably Ron Wyden” –
    Has no intention of using the “speech and debate clause”. He’s one of my Senators, and I’ve asked him about it. No response.
    Yes, he’s been very good on intelligence abuses in general; he’s also been pretty chicken, refusing to use the powers he has.
    He is, in the end, just a Democrat, and pretty bad on issues like health care.

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