Skip to main content

Report: Numerous countries involved in CIA interrogation programs

By Jamie Crawford, CNN National Security Producer
updated 9:51 AM EST, Thu February 7, 2013
The report says 136 people have been subjected to rendition or held in
The report says 136 people have been subjected to rendition or held in "black site" prisons, in programs overseen by the CIA.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The report says 136 people have been subjected to rendition
  • The findings were derived from public sources
  • Supporters say rendition was an important part of national security policy

(CNN) -- As many as 54 countries participated in the overseas detention and rendition programs overseen by the CIA in the years following the September 11 attacks, according to a new report from a human rights watchdog group.

The report from the Open Society Justice Initiative is an extensive look at a program that has remained largely unreported in its size and scale despite official acknowledgment from former President George W. Bush and other U.S. officials.

According to the report, 136 people have been subjected to the process of rendition - the transfer of a terrorism suspect by the United States to a third country for interrogation - or have been held in one of the so-called "black site" prisons in third countries run by the CIA.

"The consequence of having so many partners engaged in these operations is that the United States is exposed to continuing embarrassment, liability and censure in multiple jurisdictions outside the United States," Amrit Singh, the report's author told CNN.

The findings were derived from public sources, including documents from U.S. and foreign governments, inquiries from the European Parliament and Council of Europe, findings from human rights investigations and news reports.

Read more: UK pays large sum to Libyan family over rendition case

Torture haunts the CIA
'Zero Dark Thirty' torture controversy

The CIA secretly held detainees at detention facilities in Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Romania and Thailand in addition to Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba according to the report.

The report said that countries as varied as Azerbaijan, Canada, Denmark, Malawi, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malaysia and Sri Lanka also participated through their interrogation, torture or role in capturing terror suspects.

Cooperation could also include permitting the use of airspace for overflight rights of planes carrying terror suspects, the report said.

The findings also discussed reports of a secret prison in Somalia run with CIA involvement, along with a two-month secret detention of a terror suspect aboard a U.S. Navy ship.

The Italian Supreme Court last year upheld convictions of 23 Americans tried in absentia for the kidnapping of a Muslim cleric from the streets of Milan.

They were accused by prosecutors of whisking the cleric to Egypt for interrogation as part of a CIA team working with Italian intelligence officials on a terrorism investigation.

Read more: Italian Supreme Court upholds guilty verdict against 23 Americans

Separately, the European Court of Human Rights recently held that the government of Macedonia violated the rights of Khaled El-Masri, a German national who alleged the CIA abducted him from Macedonia and sent him for interrogation in Afghanistan as part of a terrorism investigation.

The U.S. Supreme Court had earlier refused to hear El-Masri's case, after lower federal courts rejected his legal claims.

A consequences of cases like El-Masri, according to Singh, is that "governments will be increasingly reluctant to cooperate with the United States in counter-terrorism operations that could potentially expose them to liability."

While President Barack Obama issued an executive order in 2009 disavowing the use of torture, banned the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects, and ordered the closure of secret detention facilities, the order did not repudiate the practice of rendition.

"In fact, the order was specifically to permit short term detention for rendition purposes," Singh said. "Exactly how rendition is being carried out in practice still remains unclear."

Supporters of the rendition and detention programs say they were an important component of national security policy in the uncertain threat environment following the 2001 attacks.

"All of these plots, everything that was planned after 9/11 never happened," Marc Thiessen, chief speech writer for President George W. Bush told CNN. "Today, people sit back from the security of a dozen years since 9/11 and judge what the CIA. did back then. But the reality is without it, we would not have gone 12 years without a terrorist attack."

In December, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to approve a wide-ranging report on CIA detention and interrogation policies that is still classified.

The issue is likely to be prominent at the committee's confirmation hearing for John Brennan, who has been nominated to be the next CIA director.

Read more: John Brennan Fast Facts

He characterized the practice as an "absolutely vital tool" in combating terrorism in a 2005 interview.

But critics of the administration's counterterrorism policy say increased use of armed drones against terrorism suspects, instead of interrogations, comes at the expense of important intelligence gains.

"When you send a drone to kill a terrorist, you not only vaporize the terrorist, you vaporize all the intelligence in his brain and so you might as well be setting file cabinets in the CIA on fire," Thiessen says. "The destruction of intelligence that has taken place under this administration's watch is unfathomable."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:09 PM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
Beyond military surveillance and warfare, drones have proven themselves useful in a number of ways.
updated 5:09 PM EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
It's almost entirely illegal to use drones for money-making purposes in the United States. But a little Hollywood magic could change that.
updated 3:33 PM EDT, Thu May 22, 2014
A bird's eye camera sweeps over the green fields of Ireland, flies over the towering Cliffs of Moher and pans the ocean hundreds of feet below.
updated 11:58 AM EST, Fri January 24, 2014
Marque Cornblatt's interest in drones began with a bit of playful drone-on-drone violence.
updated 5:57 PM EST, Mon December 2, 2013
drones amazon
Imaginations everywhere have been stoked since Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced his company plans to start offering 30-minute deliveries via drone-like "octocopters."
updated 10:03 AM EST, Mon February 3, 2014
Ice fishers in Minnesota are reeling from a recent FAA decision prohibiting beer delivery by drone.
updated 8:56 PM EDT, Tue May 13, 2014
Drones are everywhere. They are our present and our future, especially concerning warfare, Peter Bergen writes.
updated 9:25 AM EDT, Fri March 28, 2014
Two thirds of the world population does not have Internet access. Before Facebook can sign up the rest of world it needs to get them online.
updated 5:23 AM EST, Mon November 18, 2013
Apart from what they do for the military; drones have already proven themselves capable sheep herders, delivery boys, tour guides, filmmakers, archaeologists, and -- possibly -- spies.
updated 9:32 AM EST, Fri December 6, 2013
The evolution of drones continues.
updated 8:47 AM EST, Wed November 20, 2013
Flying robot Skycall guides a student around MIT.
It's your first day at university and you've got 15 minutes to get to room 9-209. Easy, right?
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Fri July 19, 2013
Deer Trail, a small Colorado town, is considering a measure that would allow its residents to hunt for federal drones and shoot them down.
updated 3:24 PM EST, Tue November 12, 2013
The Federal Aviation Administration's "Road Map" to integrate drones into civilian airspace by 2015 has provoked strong reactions from privacy advocates.
updated 2:39 PM EST, Wed November 6, 2013
"Live every week like it's Shark Week." Those immortal words come not from the Discovery Channel's marketing department but from Tracy Morgan on "30 Rock."
updated 9:26 AM EDT, Tue August 6, 2013
Click through our gallery to learn more about the varied appearances of drones.
updated 9:16 PM EDT, Wed May 22, 2013
Catch up on everything you need to know about drones.
updated 8:20 AM EDT, Thu July 12, 2012
Drone sixton-a
Drones are currently a growth industry in the aviation sector, with scores of new companies competing for a slice of the market.
updated 3:43 PM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
Here are some key facts about the U.S. drone program, including how and when they are used, and where.
updated 11:12 AM EST, Fri February 15, 2013
The use of drones to carry out military strikes is controversial, to say the least.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT