AP Locates CIA Secret Prison in Romania

The Associated Press and German ARD TV have located the CIA's secret prison in Romania where terror detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh, Abd al-Nashiri and Abu Faraj al-Libi were held and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques. You can view the building here.

Air transportation was provided by CIA contractor Richmor Aviation Inc., which also operated flights to Guantanamo and Morocco. The prison was closed in 2006. Porter Goss was the CIA Chief during the time it was used to hold the detainees.

A few months ago Reprieve published some of Richmor's billing records for its flights, which had been revealed in a civil lawsuit.


Richmon leased a Gulfstream IV N85VM (later changed to N227SV) owned by Phillip Morse, a minority owner of the Boston Red Sox to the CIA for three years. There were flights to Romania in April 4, 2004. According to a European Parliament report,

Since early 2004, the Gulfstream IV has stopped off in Romania three times: on two occasions it had flown from Jordan; on the third, on 12 April 2004, it had flown from Guantanamo, and made a stop-over in Tenerife. After landing in Romania, it then flew to Casablanca, in Morocco, from where it returned to Washington on 13 April.

Another plane flying to Romania:

Boeing 737 N313P. Initially registered by Stevens Express Leasing Inc and subsequently re-registered by Premier Executive Transport Services. Between 2003 and 2004 the aircraft landed once in Poland and twice in Romania, having flown from Afghanistan. There is no
reason to believe that the purpose of the stop-overs was to refuel.

In particular, on 22 September 2003, N313P flew from Kabul to Szymany, an airport in north-eastern Poland, close to the town of Szczytno. Having landed at Szymany, the aircraft flew south-west to Romania. According to the Eurocontrol data, shortly afterwards the Boeing left Bucharest for Rabat, in Morocco. The following evening (23 September), according to the records, it left Rabat at 8.10 p.m. and reached the Guantanamo naval base at dawn on 24 September.

It had previously been reported that Khalid Sheikh Mohammad said he was held in Poland before being transferred to a black site prison nearby.

The Center’s flight data analysis corroborates previous allegations that there was a secret CIA “black site” near Szymany, Poland. It also lends credence to the accounts of former “black site” detainees such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who believes he was held in Poland. For example, data analyzed by the Center shows that a rendition flight left Poland for Romania on September 22, 2003, the same day that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed believes he was transferred from a secret facility in Poland to another secret prison nearby.

Another plane that flew prisoners to and from Romania was the Gulfstream N478GS. According to the European Parliament's 2007 report, it once got in an accident landing in Bucharest. It called on Romania to investigate:

In its 2007 final report on “the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners,” the European Parliament stated that seven passengers had disappeared after the accident at Bucharest airport. The report condemned the CIA’s use of Romania as a location for extraordinary renditions of “terror suspects,” including British nationals such as Binyam Mohammed.

In the document’s section on Romania, the European Parliament said it regretted “the lack of control of the Gulfstream aircraft with Registration Number N478GS that suffered an accident on 6 December 2004 when landing in Bucharest; recalls that the aircraft took off from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and that its seven passengers disappeared following the accident.”

The report, “Expresses serious concern about the 21 stopovers made by CIA-operated aircraft at Romanian airports that on many occasions came from or were bound for countries linked with extraordinary rendition circuits and the transfer of detainees; deplores the stopovers in Romania of aircraft which have been shown to have been used by the CIA, on other occasions, for the extraordinary renditions of Ahmed Agiza, Mohammed El- Zari, Bisher Al-Rawi, Jamil El-Banna, Abou Elkassim Britel, Khaled El-Masri, Binyam Mohammed and Abu Omar; is particularly concerned that, of the flights referred to, two originated from or were destined for Guantánamo; strongly encourages the Romanian authorities to investigate these flights further.”

Whatever happened to Ramzi Binalshibh? He's one of the five 9/11 defendants now charged in a military tribunal proceeding. Both sides concede he has a psychotic disorder (he was held in overseas prisons from 2002 to 2006 and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques. He was supposed to have a competency hearing, but from the court docket, I can't tell if he's had it yet. Is he catatonic? Are we really going to execute a person this mentally disabled?

According to an August ruling by a military judge, prosecutors have made an "apparent concession" that Mr. Binalshibh "suffers from a delusional disorder-persecutory type" disorder. Mr. Binalshibh has been prescribed "a variety of psychotropic medications used to treat schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder, including Haldol, Abilify, risperidone and Ativan," according to commission records.

The concession is also stated in a petition he filed in the D.C. Court of appeals. The military judge granted his lawyers' request to visit the black site prisons where he was held to prepare for the competency hearing. I guess they'll be adding Romania to their tour now.

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  • Display: Sort:
    AHHHHH. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Chuck0 on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 08:52:04 AM EST
    So proud to be an American.

    Could be any industrial park in the world (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by ruffian on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 09:00:29 AM EST
    Chilling. I note the conveniently close railroad tracks. I'm sure that shielded a lot of sounds from the neighbors.

    I noticed that too (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 09:17:00 AM EST
    How close the trains are.  Not a lot of family style living around there that would notice "bad" sounds or strange comings and goings.

    Can't go through every link (none / 0) (#9)
    by sj on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 12:44:30 PM EST
    right now, but haven't seen the image and would like to see what you're talking about.  Which link should I follow?

    It's the Bing map (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Zorba on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 01:25:35 PM EST
    Here.  And it certainly does look like an industrial park.  

    Thanks! (none / 0) (#11)
    by sj on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 02:06:17 PM EST
    And you're right.  It really does.

    Part of the delivery (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Edger on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 09:27:50 AM EST
    of freedom and democracy to every corner of the globe. Soon it will be ubiquitous.

    Scribe, here at Talkleft, April 20, 2007...

    What we do, and what we vote and say, today, will ring down through the centuries.  And those who stand with Bush and Cheney, or oppose removing them, will do so at the peril of being on the wrong side of history.

    I wonder what it will be like to live, say a century or two in the future, when people may well look back at these days, shake their head and wonder "what ever possessed them, that they discarded all the rights they'd won, defended, and brought into other nations, merely for the illusory promise of 'security'?"

    Every now and again, when I listen to Austrian radio, I'll hear them refer to the "Grossdeutsche Wahn*" - that's the mass hysteria which accompanied the bullsh*t Hitler and his cronies sold the German-speaking (and a lot of the rest of the) world.  Sixty years on, they're still shaking their heads wondering "what the hell were we thinking".

    *"Wahn" means, roughly, "Craziness", "insanity" or "Hysteria".

    On the other hand, in a century or two, torture, degradation and authoritarianism may, because of Bush, Cheney and their henchmen, be as normal and accepted as breathing, eating and drinking.  After all, in ancient Rome, not only were there multitudes of slaves, but a slave could not testify without having been tortured first.  And everyone thought that normal.

    The paradigm for the future - for the descendents of those who may have kids today - is what the choices made today will decide.  And that is why the precedent we set today is eternal.  Once that choice is made, or ducked, it's done and the alternative path now available, is gone and can't be gotten back.


    Until it is "fixed" (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 09:31:23 AM EST
    It is the status quo

    Ceausescu Would Be So Proud (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 10:51:13 AM EST
    What's the saying go about the more things change, the more they remain the same...

    I don't understand the part about the Romanians investigating these flights, are they suggesting they didn't know the US was doing this ?

    Maybe, but more likely they chose these sites because they know exactly what we wanted to do and probably have the structure to make it happen.  The more pertinent question is what did we give them ?

    Maybe we gave them a (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by ruffian on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 10:56:03 AM EST
    "DEA operation" to be named later.

    The changes in government in (none / 0) (#8)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 11:34:00 AM EST
    Romania from 2000 to now have been sweeping... I'm not surprised that nobody now knows about it except perhaps some bureaucrats. The fellow in charge during the time the prison opened, Ilescu, was rumored to have been a long-term KGB operative, and his government's leaders had strong ties to the former Soviet Union.

    He was the one who brought thousands of miners to Bucharest with bats, sticks, and knives, to attack people protesting the communists in the Ilescu government. There's another prison in Romania, the Mihail Kogălniceanu International Airport, in Costanta, that has been implicated for years as a CIA prison site.


    "harsh interrogation techniques" (none / 0) (#12)
    by Andreas on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 11:28:27 PM EST
    It is interesting that Talkleft uses the euphemism "harsh interrogation techniques" instead of the appropriate term: torture.

    When the authors of TL (none / 0) (#13)
    by NYShooter on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 02:57:57 AM EST
    use the euphemism, "harsh interrogation techniques," they are usually quoting directly, or indirectly, how the term was used in the document/report being discussed. That's simply accurate reporting.

    When it come to their "opinion," however, I've never noticed any reluctance on the posters' part to use any term they deem appropriate....including "torture."


    Well..... Except.... (none / 0) (#14)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 09:07:29 AM EST
    ... you are wrong, at least with this post.


    I don't get it either, I was under the impression the more politically correct, and less illegal, 'harsh interrogation techniques' was what Bush & Co. used to describe torture because of legalities.  But lately, I see a real reluctance to call torture, torture, anywhere... and that is some pretty damn weak tea.

    Words have meaning, and that is why I suspect the reluctance to use the word torture, but make no mistake, they brought people to the Eastern block to bring them excruciating levels pain in hopes of extracting information.  They tortured them.

    Torture is forbidden by international law, enhanced interrogation in not.


    I found that a little jarring as well (none / 0) (#15)
    by sj on Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 11:06:12 AM EST
    I don't recall what TL's history is on this.  NYShooter may be correct, I don't know.  But I have always the euphemism a really awkward way of trying to not say "torture".