Under Article VI of the US Constitution:
Under Article 1 of the Convention against Torture:
Under Article 2 of the Convention against Torture:
Under Article 4 of the Convention against Torture:
Under the US Foreign Assistance Act:
Under Article I, Section 8, of the US Constitution:
Under US Alien Tort Claims Act (1789):
|WASHINGTON POST REPORTS SECRET GLOBAL NETWORK OF EXTRAJUDICIAL CIA INTERROGATION CAMPS
3 November 2005
Dana Priest, a Washington Post writer, reported yesterday astounding revelations about the existence of a global network of secret CIA-managed prisons which appear to violate numerous provisions of international law. The so-called "black sites" are said to exist or to have existed in at least 8 countries, including in eastern Europe, a fact which has sparked outrage across the continent.
Priest reports "The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound", adding that "The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents."
There are calls now for independent investigations into the prison system, whose legality cannot be substantiated except under the Bush administration's to-date failed arguments before the courts that the president retains extraordinary war powers.
The Post report suggests the system of secret prisons "depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress", including those "charged with overseeing the CIA's covert actions", an apparent violation of the constitutional checks and balances and separation of powers principles designed to prevent the erosion of democratic processes.
According to Priest's research, only "a handful of officials in the United States" have been made aware of the prisons, and likely only the president or one or two top officials would be permitted to know of their existence in the complicit host countries.
The White House has refused to acknowledge the existence of the so-called "black sites", and the CIA will not disclose details of the system, citing security and operational concerns, but both have offered rhetorical defense of the techniques used, which fall under the controversial policy of "extraordinary rendition": the transfer of prisoners across borders, possibly without charge, and without judicial review or consent. [s]
Amid growing concern relating to press reports of undisclosed CIA flights through or over European nations, with possible connections to the abduction of terror suspects and the use of secret detention centers, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has sought to defend US policy. She admitted that the US might make mistakes in the "war on terror", but did not make specific reference to controversy over the alleged abduction of an innocent German citizen who, after 5 months of questioning in Afghanistan, proved to be a case of mistaken identity.
As reported by the Washington Post, this announcement appears to signal an essential shift in Bush administration policy. The administration had previously argued that obligations under the Convention Against Torture, the Geneva Conventions and other international treaties did not apply on foreign soil —this was the reasoning behind using the Guantánamo Bay naval facility for interrogations—, but now official policy appears to be in line with Sen. McCain's proposed total ban.
8 December Update:
Tom Malinowski, Washington director of Human Rights Watch, is quoted in the statement, saying the administration "should close secret prisons and get rid of waterboards" and "drop its opposition to Senator John McCain's legislation, pending in the U.S. Congress, which would strengthen the legal prohibition against all cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment against all detainees, worldwide."
Investigations into the possible complicity of European governments in secret detainee rendition flights and secret detention and interrogation facilities on European soil are ongoing through the European Union. Governments have been reminded that official complicity in illegal covert detentions could result in their nations having EU voting rights restricted.
9 December Update:
The ACLU has filed suit on behalf of el-Masri in US federal court, "charges that George Tenet and other CIA officials violated U.S. and universal human rights laws when they authorized agents to kidnap el-Masri, and that his unlawful abduction and treatment were the direct result of an illegal CIA policy known as 'extraordinary rendition'." The German foreign minister is now under pressure to resign, as has the former interior minister, for their concealing knowledge about the affair.
Not only is it legal for a foreign national to sue in federal courts for human rights violations, but under an act of the very first US Congress, the Alien Tort Claims Act, "the district courts should have original jurisdiction of any civil tort action by an alien... committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States". That provision was broadened significantly under the 1992 Tort Victim Protection Act, which expressly permits foreign nationals to sue their torturers in US courts.
Under Part I, Article II, Section 1 of the treaty, "Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction." [emphasis added] the US Constitution specifically requires that ratification of any treaty binds the standards of the US system of laws to those of the ratified treaty. Some legal clauses relevant to stories in this special section can be found in selected excerpts to the left of this page, above.