December 05, 2005

CIA Secret Prisons

I've been sitting on a theory (actually on several but this post is about only one of them) because I thought that speaking about it, even to my limited readership, provided enough possibility of harming our side in the war on terror that it would be better to shut up. I've reassessed and toss my two cents in. I think that the CIA runs zero prisons in E. Europe.

The prisons alleged to exist are there. The bigwig international terrorists speculated about throughout the world are there. They just simply were transferred over to the Polish and Romanian governments and, under well established cooperative agreements, the CIA et al gets access to such prisoners of international interest. No doubt, some very discreet visitors from lots of countries have been visiting.

This scenario has the benefit of everybody in all governments telling the truth. The CIA says they do not run prisons in E. Europe: Truth.
The Polish and Romanian governments say that they have no secret US prisons: Truth.

Nobody seems to be asking whether Poland or Romania hold terrorists in their own prisons. Of course they do. Everybody has some terrorists. Everybody seems to be exercised about the violation of sovereignty that US prisons would mean. But if the Poles and the Romanians already had facilities that were up to snuff in terms of security, why would it be necessary for the CIA to construct its own facilities? What would be the benefit for all that cost?

Let's even say that the CIA built it all. What's the benefit of keeping the title of the facility in the US' name? There is none.

As long as there is an agreement with these countries to turn them over elsewhere if political pressure on their governments starts to get serious, there is little risk to have the prisoners out of US custody. All that will happen is that there will be a great shell game over the years maintained by various allied governments until these prisoners die of old age.

The fact of the matter is that countries are allowed to interrogate terrorists under their own control. This is both normal and desired under any sane system. Furthermore, most national laws give much more leeway than the US with regards as to when such prisoners have to surface in the court system. I don't see any moral dilemma over Poland, Romania, Germany, the UK, France, Spain, or Italy having a go at Khalid Sheikh Muhammed. It's not a particularly nice thing to do but is hardly the stuff of moral nightmares.

The protests over extraordinary rendition have always been about sending people to countries that regularly torture their prisoners. This is because that's the easy case. It's much tougher to protest if you're rendering a prisoner to France.

The game will go on. "Human rights" campaigners will be mesmerized by the shell game while national governments pass these men back and forth on secret flights whenever the campaigners grow too bothersome or the jihadi brigades get too close to executing a successful prison break out. It's a life sentence for terrorist leaders caught up in the system, without the benefit of being able to strike propaganda blows in their trials.

Posted by TMLutas at December 5, 2005 02:26 PM