The latest report about kidnappings, rendition, ‘black sites’ and torture is a remarkable piece of investigative work. It provides us with nothing less than a litany of shocking evidence and testimony and at 403 pages it makes for truly grim reading. This article is made up of a very brief set of extracts from the just-released CIA Torture Unredacted report. It presents the findings from a four-year joint investigation by The Rendition Project and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism into the use of rendition, secret detention and torture by the CIA and its partners in the ‘War on Terror’.
Attempts to hold UK authorities to account for their role in the rendition (kidnapping and/or movement of suspects) and torture programme have been thwarted at every turn. Successive governments have repeatedly denied any involvement of UK security service or military personnel in torture or CIDT. Even as credible evidence mounted, officials were slow to fully investigate, were reticent about holding anyone to account, and have done very little to offer meaningful redress. In 2010, the incoming UK Coalition government led by David Cameron finally launched a judge-led inquiry chaired by Peter Gibson, which was closed down before witnesses were even called, in part because of the considerable constraints placed on the Inquiry by government. Indeed, successive UK governments have gone to great lengths to suppress vital evidence, including passing legislation precisely for this purpose and continue to this day to resist repeated calls for a new inquiry.
Between 2001 and 2009, the CIA established a global network of secret prisons (‘black sites’) for the purpose of detaining terrorism suspects, in secret and indefinitely, and interrogating them through the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The abuses which took place were severe, sustained, and in clear violation of domestic and international law. The perpetrators have never been held to account. The Rendition Project’s website (www.therenditionproject.org.uk), provide the most detailed public account to date of the CIA torture programme.
Information about CIA torture programme prisoners had to be prised out of the US military’s unwilling bureaucracy. But already at that time, there were rumours of an even more secretive programme, run in parallel by the Central Intelligence Agency outside the Pentagon’s chain of command. Press stories spoke of people abducted in the middle of the night, manhandled onto planes and never heard of again.