US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refused to answer questions yesterday as to whether the United States government operates CIA secret prisons outside of the US, particularly in Europe.
She said: ‘We cannot discuss information that would compromise the success of intelligence, law enforcement and military operations. We expect other nations share this view.’
Rice insisted that EU states knew that the US was transporting prisoners through their airports.
She said: ‘The United States has fully respected the sovereignty of other countries that have cooperated in these matters.’ She added that the information gathered from a ‘very small number of extremely dangerous detainees’ has helped prevent terrorist attacks and saved lives ‘in Europe as well as in the United States and other countries.’
She continued: ‘With respect to detainees, the United States government complies with its laws, its Constitution and its treaty obligations . . . It is the policy of the United States that this questioning is to be conducted . . . without torture.’
She did not offer an explanation as to why it is necessary to fly quite large numbers of ‘terrorist suspects’ thousands of miles merely to be questioned, when they could be questioned within the US.
The fact of the matter is that the CIA has secret prisons all over the world, including in Afghanistan, other central Asian states and eastern Europe. It is also obvious that the torture techniques that have been exposed at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, which were supervised by special operatives, were derived from a whole practice of torture by the CIA.
In fact, renegade members of the Bush circle, such as former Secretary of State Powell’s chief of staff Colonel Larry Wilkerston, have accused Vice President Cheney of being the sponsor and the inspirer of such techniques, suggesting that he could face war crimes charges.
Wilkerston has said that Vice President Cheney provided the ‘philosophical guidance’ and ‘flexibility’ that led to the torture of detainees in US’ facilities and that ‘his implementer in this case was Donald Rumsfeld and the Defence Department.’
Wilkerston added to CNN that the practice of torture may be continuing in US-run facilities. ‘There’s no question in my mind that we did. There’s no question in my mind that we may be still doing it.’
In fact, Cheney has lobbied Congress against a measure that would outlaw ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment’ of prisoners, calling for an exception for the CIA in cases that involve a detainee who may have knowledge of an imminent attack.
Cheney was also labelled by Stansfield Turner, a veteran who served as director of the CIA during the Carter administration, as ‘vice president for torture.’
Cheney responded: ‘We are aggressively finding terrorists and bringing them to justice and anything we do within this effort is within the law’ – adding that the United States ‘does not torture’.
The British government knows exactly what is taking place, but will support the position of the US administration and Secretary of State Rice to the end.
The only way to put an end to the secret torture chambers is to put an end to the imperialist system that requires them. This means organising the world socialist revolution to smash capitalism and imperialism. There is no other way.