Thursday, April 09, 2009


"[Leon Panetta] says the CIA has terminated contracts with private companies that provided security at secret overseas CIA prisons," reported Associated Press minutes ago. "That will save up to $4million," adds the news agency.

That's certainly good to know. When taxpayers have spent billions to enrich the failed directors of Wall Street institutions, it's a sure sign that responsible management has taken over when $4 million which would have gone to privatized CIA imprisonment and torturing is clawed back.

Readers are informed: "Panetta [said] if more prisoners are taken, they will be interrogated by agency employees and handed over quickly to their home country or a country with a legal claim."

It needs to be noted that releasing those scooped up in US anti-terror sweeps to the countries of origin by no means guarantees those detained won't be jailed and tortured by their own governments. In fact, it's a substantial risk. Even if a person is innocent, just by being grabbed by American forces almost guarantees they will generally be assumed to be guilty of something when released to the standard array of human rights-abusing Middle Eastern governments.

This is just a fact and it is something well known in Britain. After the outcome of the ricin trial in 2006 in which an English jury aquitted everyone but one maniacal loner, Kamel Bourgass, the UK government attempted to reverse the verdicts through a series of unusual detentions and control orders.

The aim of these measures was continued detention of those deemed not guilty until they could be deported to their countries of origin, which in the case of the ricin case, was Algeria, where the government is know to torture its prisoners.

BY example, one defendant -- Moloud Sihali -- had been cleared by the jury verdict.

Although acquitted, Sihali was still a target of the British government. It eventually rearrested him with the intent of deporting him. During the time he was kept under onerous house arrest conditions. Subsequently, Britain's Special Immigration Appeals Commission considered his case and a judge ruled there was no reason to send him to Algeria because there was no evidence that he had been an Islamic extremist.

During this period, Sihali was jailed for an additional fifteen months on immigration violations.

Paradoxically, Sihali had been fingered in the ricin case by UK government informant Mohammed Meguerba. Meguerba was the subject of an extensive legal wrangle in the case wherein it was decided his confession could not be used in court because it had been obtained through torture while being held in an Algerian prison and later recanted. Therefore, British defendants in the ricin case, even though cleared by a jury, had very good reason to fear re-imprisonment and harsh treatment should they be deported to their home country.

Nevertheless, after being subject to years of control orders in Britain or continued detentions, some did lose their appeals to stay in Britain.

"An Algerian who was cleared of any involvement in the supposed 'Ricin plot' today lost his appeal against Home Office moves to deport him," reported the Guardian in 2006.

"The man, who can be identified only by the initial 'Y', was ruled to be a danger to national security by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) ... The crucial ruling - which will affect the government's ability to deport 15 other Algerian terror suspects - also indicated that the panel believed there had been improvements in the stability of the Algerian regime and a reduction in the number of allegations of torture .... The government [had] been seeking diplomatic assurances from the Algerian government that anyone returned to the north African country will not be harmed."


Anonymous risa said...

Did you see this?

1:53 PM  
Blogger George Smith said...

Yeah, I've been reading the Danner pieces. They're astounding.

Unusually, I knew in 2005 that information on the ricin
case, stuff which had gone into Colin Powell's UN speech on terror connections with Iraq, had been obtained by torture because I was a pro bono consultant to the defense. When the verdict on the case was announced in the US, it was generally assumed that the jury had gone rogue and done the wrong thing when just the opposite was true. It was then the scales fell from my eyes on the issue. The mainstream press continued to ignore what was in front of their noses, out of fear of the administration, for years.
Which is what Danner's reporting goes into in embarrassing and abhorrent detail.

2:00 PM  

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