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Human Rights Court Holds Hearing on CIA's Use of Poland

The European Court of Human Rights is holding hearings to determine Poland's complicity in the CIA's extraordinary rendition and torture program. The court is gathering evidence pertaining to the kidnapping, detention and torture of detainees Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Abu Zubaydah was ultimately determined not to be a member of al Qaida, and al-Nashiri is one of the detainees scheduled to be tried by military commission at Guantanamo.

Here is the Court's fact-sheet on the two cases. In addition to waterboarding, the unauthorized interrogation techniques used by the CIA included the "powerdrill" and "handgun": [More...]

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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.

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Court Case Exposes Principal Role of DynCorp in Operating Ghost Air Rendition Flights

A lawsuit between two private contracting companies that transported detainees between the U.S., Guantanamo and secret black-hole overseas prisons has revealed major new details about the Government's secret rendition program under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

The company is DynCorp, now known as Dyncorp Internatiobal.[More...]

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9th Circuit: No Relief for Ghost Air Detainees

Sixteen months ago, a three judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court's order dismissing the ACLU's lawsuit in Mohamed et al. v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. The ACLU sued the Boeing subsidiary in May, 2007 for its role in the Bush administration's unlawful extraordinary rendition program. Once Bush was gone, Obama stepped in and maintained the Bush position. The three judge panel rejected the Bush and Obama Administrations' "state secrets" claim, holding that the government must invoke the state secrets privilege with respect to specific evidence, not by moving to dismiss the entire suit.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of five men, Binyam Mohamed, Al-Rawi, Abou Elkassim Britel, Ahmed Agiza and Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, who were kidnapped and secretly transferred to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas where they were interrogated and tortured.

Today the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, en banc, changed course and dismissed the lawsuit, based on the state secrets claim. In other words, the court denied the detainees, victims of the extraordinary rendition program, their day in court. Today's opinion is here. [More...]

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AP: Detainees Whisked Out of Gitmo To Avoid Compliance With Anticpated Court Ruling

Through an examination of flight records and interviews with U.S. officials and others, the AP has learned the Bush Administration used "Ghost Air," the secret airline that flew detainees to overseas "black hole" prisons for harsh interrogation, to whisk four high-level detainees out of Gitmo and back to a black hole overseas prison -- right before the Supreme Court was to rule on whether detainees can have access to the courts.

Who were they? None other than Abu Zubaydah, Abd al-Nashiri, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mustafa al-Hawsawi. [More...]

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9th Circuite Reinstates "Ghost Air" Rendition Lawsuit

As Big Tent Democrat wrote earlier, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today reversed the dismissal of the ACLU lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. for its role in the Bush administration's unlawful extraordinary rendition. The opinion is here (pdf.)

The Bush and Obama Administration's "state secrets" claim was expressly rejected. The opinion says the government must invoke the state secrets privilege with respect to specific evidence, not by moving to dismiss the entire suit.

The ACLU brought the suit on behalf of five men, Al-Rawi, Binyam Mohamed, Abou Elkassim Britel, Ahmed Agiza and Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, who were kidnapped and secretly transferred to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas where they were interrogated and tortured. The case is Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen. The ACLU's brief is here.

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British Judges Blast U.S. For Withholding Gitmo Evidence

Binyan Mohamed's allegations of torture while at Guantanamo are making their way through the British courts. In a joint ruling, two British Judges issued a ruling blasting the U.S. for not releasing evidence that would show if British agents were complicit in torturing Mohammed and for threatening Britain.

The ruling implies that torture has taken place in the Mohamed case, that British agencies may have been complicit, and most important of all, that the United States Government has threatened our High Courts that if it releases this information, the US Government will withdraw its intelligence co-operation with the United Kingdom on matters of security.

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Obama's No-Torture Order and CIA Secret Renditions

Last week I wrote that the Center for Constitutional Rights questioned President Barack Obama's January 22 orders on interrogation and closing Guantanamo, cautioning that while they in no uncertain terms stated the CIA must close its secret black hole prisons, they may have left a loophole for the CIA to resume them. A secret or extraordinary rendition refers to the practice of the CIA whereby it kidnaps suspects and flies them to a country where they are held in secret prisons and interrogated by non U.S. personnel, where the Red Cross has no access to them and no lists are made available as to who or how many people are victims of the practice. Some of the countries these suspects are shipped to practice torture.

The ACLU, Center for Constitutional Rights and other human rights groups have been campaigning for several years to stop secret renditions. I have always agreed with them that secret renditions must stop. Now there's a question over whether Obama fully ordered it stopped or not. The Timesonline today: [More...]

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Bush Admits U.S. Used British Territory During Transport of Ghost Prisoners

The Bush Administration has admitted for the first time using a British territory in its transporting of Ghost Air prisoners as part of its secret rendition program.

The Bush administration is bracing for a diplomatic backlash after conceding it used British territory to transport suspected terrorists on secret rendition flights despite repeated earlier assurances the U.S. had not.

U.S. officials have sought to quell the fallout by apologizing to Britain for what they said was an "administrative error." The admission, however, may reopen a bitter debate between the United States and its allies over how the fight against terrorism should be conducted and compromise future cooperation.

The territory at issue: Diego Garcia.[More...]

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Another Sensitive Guantanamo Document Leaked

Via Wired Magazine, a second sensitive Guantanamo document has been leaked and published by Wikileaks. It contains details about transporting detainees in secret renditions.

You can read it here (pdf).

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Where Are the Ghost Air Prisoners Now?

The Washington Post reports on the CIA's Ghost Air prisoners. Some have been sent to Guantanamo, some were returned to their home countries (some of whom were never heard from again) and some are....missing.

Where are they? Who's keeping track? Human Rights Watch and Reprieve are trying to. According to the Post, HRW says at least 39 of those seized remain unaccounted for.

There's further reading today on this at Alternet: The Bush Era's Dark Legacy of Torture.

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Supreme Court Rejects CIA Kidnapping Case

Khaled el-Masri, (also spelled al-Masri) the 42 year old German shoe salesman and father of five who was plucked off a street in Macedonia while on holiday, beaten and flown to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan where he was held for 5 months until the U.S. and Condoleeza Rice admitted he was picked up by mistake (a case of mistaken identity) has had his lawsuit against the U.S. rejected by the Supreme Court today. Reuters reports here and the AP here.

All of TalkLeft's coverage of el-Masri is accessible here. The ACLU filed the lawsuit on his behalf and has this webpage about extraordinary rendition.

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4th Circuit Dismisses Suit By CIA Ghost Air Victim

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed the lawsuit by wrongly kidnapped and detained (and allegedly tortured) Khaled El-Masri. The opinion is here.

The ACLU may appeal to the Supreme Court. In a statement today, the ACLU says:

Although El-Masri’s case has been discussed and investigated throughout the world, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that it could not be either discussed or reviewed in an American court because of the government’s invocation of the “state secrets” privilege.

“Regrettably, today’s decision allows CIA officials to disregard the law with impunity by making it virtually impossible to challenge their actions in court,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “With today’s ruling, the state secrets doctrine has become a shield that covers even the most blatant abuses of power.”

You can read much more about his case on their website here.

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Italy Orders Trial for CIA Agents in Kidnapping Case

A judge in Italy has ordered 26 people, most of them CIA agents, to stand trial on kidnapping charges. In 2003, Egyptian cleric Osama Mustafa Hassan was kidnapped in Italy and flown to an Egyptian prison where he alleges he was tortured.

Now the question is, will Italy seek extradition of the CIA agents from the U.S.

Lawyers say they have compiled thousands of pages of documents and testimony from Italian agents past and present, some of whom have acknowledged working with the US in planning the abduction. The trial is due to begin on 8 June.

Here's more on Ghost Air.

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German Prosecutor Issues 13 Arrest Warrants for CIA Agents

Via Scribe in the diaries:

Today, a prosecutor in Munich disclosed the existence of arrest warrants for 13 members of Ghost Air crews, relative to the kidnapping of Khaled al Masri from Macedonia to a US prison in Afghanistan. He was left to molder there for months while Condi and others debated exactly what to do with him, seeing as he really was the wrong guy. Ultimately, they had him flown back to and dumped off pretty close to the same spot he'd been kidnapped from. The US District Court has dismissed his tort suit, on the "state secrets" doctrine; he's appealing to the Fourth Circuit.

TalkLeft background on al Masri is here.

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