US Worldwide Torture Network

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THE Council of Europe has announced it is investigating 31 reports of unmarked executive aircraft being used by the CIA to transport ‘suspected terrorists’ via European airports to places where they were tortured in eastern Europe and in Azerbaijan.

Jack Straw the British Foreign Secretary has been involved in writing to the US administration, on behalf of EU foreign Ministers, about this practice by the CIA, called ‘extraordinary rendition’.

The British government however may know more than it is prepared to acknowledge, since the UK is now prepared to use ‘evidence’ acquired through torture in cases against suspected terrorists.

As well, there is the case of the sacked British ambassador to Uzbekistan. He was removed after he repeatedly complained to his superiors in London that people were being brought into Uzbekistan by Americans, and handed over to local torturers for questioning. One of the methods used was to tip them into vats of boiling water.

His reward for blowing the whistle on these practices and the US worldwide terror and torture network was the sack.

The European Council is now opening ‘a formal inquiry’ into ‘terrorist suspects’ being secretly detained in or transported through a number of member states ‘with the possible involvement of foreign agencies’.

The probe comes after the Austrian Air Force has confirmed that a C-130 Hercules aircraft suspected of transporting prisoners for the CIA flew through Austria’s airspace in 2003.

The New York Times reported in May that Austrian fighters had intercepted a CIA Hercules transport plane equipped with military communications on its way from Germany to Azerbaijan on January 21, 2003.

Austrian fighter pilots photographed the Hercules and allowed it to proceed on its flight from Frankfurt to Baku.

Such CIA planes have been spotted at airports in Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden as well as Morocco.

The European Council is to look at governments’ compliance with European human rights law and whether officials have been involved in ‘unacknowledged’ detentions or transport of detainees, including ‘at the instigation of any foreign agency’. Britain would be a good place to begin such an investigation.

Elsewhere, last week, Sweden launched an investigation after reports that CIA planes had landed at Swedish airports.

In Iceland, where the media has claimed CIA planes had landed at least 67 times since 2001, Foreign Minister Geir Haarde said the US response to the allegations had been ‘unsatisfactory’.

The Norwegian Government said last week that it had spoken to the US ambassador in Oslo who had denied allegations that US aircraft that had landed in Norway were carrying prisoners.

Several countries, including Poland and Romania, insist that there are no such camps within their border. However Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, all new EU members, have yet to issue denials. Since these are places which continue to celebrate the deeds of their nationals who joined the SS during the Second World war to ‘fight the menace of Bolshevism’, they certainly have the qualifications for playing host nation to the CIA torturers.

However, the only way to rid the world of the torturers and the torture chambers, whether at home or abroad, is to get rid of the capitalist system whose crisis is thrusting forward bourgeois dictatorships using torture as their daily investigative tool.

To do this requires building sections of the Fourth International in all the major countries, to lead the developing world socialist revolution, also being thrust forward by the crisis, to its victory.