Boycott through Silence

WASHINGTON/KANDAHAR/BERLIN | | usa

WASHINGTON/KANDAHAR/BERLIN (Own report) - Recently released US documents on CIA use of torture have brought to light crimes against humanity, committed by the West, with German support, in its "War on Terror". As became known from an internal CIA report, released Monday, even the new interrogation guidelines for the foreign intelligence agencies handed down in 2002, permitting numerous torture techniques, had been violated by both intelligence agents and employees of private repression firms. Simulated executions and suffocation attempts were used on presumed Islamists. Some were tortured to death. The US services could always count on a supply of information from German officials. The German government has taken no measures to halt US torture transports over its territory. German government efforts to thwart an investigation into what has been happening have now been ruled illegal by the German Constitutional Court. Whereas the change of administration has cracked, for the time being, the boycott through silence in Washington, nothing comparable is expected in Germany.

Disclosure

Last Monday, US officials disclosed parts of a previously confidential "Special Review" of the CIA's use of torture in the "War on Terror". The document was written in 2004 and was intended to provide a résumé of the "success" of the new interrogation guidelines handed down in 2002. In these guidelines well known methods of torture, including "waterboarding" - nearly drowning the presumed Islamist to force a confession - were declared permissible. According to the CIA's 2004 "Special Review," even those rules laid down in the new interrogation guidelines were violated by both government interrogation specialists (CIA) and private institutions (Blackwater/Xe), who employed even more brutal means of torture. The "Special Review" lists "Specific Unauthorized or Undocumented Techniques".[1]

Torture Techniques

The methods range from psychic brutality to physical violence. Specialists ("Debriefers") threatened naked, blindfolded prisoners with drills and firearms and announced the intention of committing brutal sexual violence to female members of their families. An "interrogator" threatened a prisoner, "we will kill your children". The torture included maintaining painful postures, "stress positions," scratching open the prisoner's skin with a scrub brush,[2] mock executions as well as sleep-deprivation. Prisoners were knocked to the floor, slammed against the wall or doused for 15 minutes with cold water, while lying on a plastic sheet. Others had their carotid arteries throttled. It has been admitted since some time that not all prisoners survived this torture. Reports of deaths have been documented.

Walking the Beat

Murat Kurnaz, from Bremen, who had been in Guantanamo for more than four years, reported such a killing. Before being kidnapped to Guantanamo, Kurnaz had been imprisoned in a US camp in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan, where he was tortured also by hanging. US soldiers hanged him alongside another prisoner, who died during the hanging.[3] Kurnaz remembers that he was mishandled in Kandahar also by German soldiers - an accusation that German instances consistently refute. But it is a known fact that, at the time in question, the German special KSK unit (Special Forces Commando), which included an official of the BND (German Federal Intelligence Service), was on active duty in Kandahar. According to the press, quoting States Secretary in the Defense Ministry, Peter Wichert, "the duties of the KSK soldiers consisted of a 'reinforcement of the guard' for the US armed forces in the prison camp." German soldiers were not only deployed "in the guard towers" but also "walked the beat inside the camp" and helped with the transport of prisoners.[4] These soldiers have never reported cases of torture or death, even though these could not have been overlooked, according to former prisoners.

Sealed Dossiers

The German government persists in claiming not to have any concrete knowledge of US use of torture, even though it was not only applied during a period under German guard in a US camp, but also on German territory and in the EU. According to a report by the European Council's special investigator, Dick Marty, the CIA had been maintaining torture chambers in at least two European countries. Marty had also proven that CIA planes were crossing through German airspace, transporting prisoners to torture prisons.[5] According to Marty, a thorough investigation of the CIA's kidnappings has been blocked by Berlin. With its refusal to testify, under pretexts such as data security or an alleged consideration for matters of state security, the German government has blocked the path to a decisive elucidation. Last June, a German parliamentary committee made a similar experience, when submitting its final report. "The German government and German intelligence services have, at times, massively hampered the work of the BND Investigation Committee" concluded the human rights organization, amnesty international "drastically impeding the search for the truth."[6] The German government's use of sealed dossiers and denying permission to testify to impede the investigation, have been ruled illegal by the German Constitutional Court.[7]

Secret Agreement

Marty presumes that Berlin's boycott through silence is based on an accord reached October 4, 2001. NATO member states obligated themselves to fulfill US demands for closer cooperation of the intelligence services in the "War on Terror". Marty, a former prosecutor, has access to information indicating that a secret annex was added to the official Oct. 4, 2001 accord. The Swiss politician, referring to sources with access to the secret document, says that according to this annex, all US agents in the "War on Terror" are to be guaranteed freedom of movement and impunity within the territorial sovereignty of the NATO allies.[8]

Main Command Headquarters

This accord is of special significance to Germany. As the intelligence service expert, Erich Schmidt-Eenboom ascertained back in 2006, the CIA command headquarters, in charge of the Near and Middle East, is located in Frankfurt/Main. With its approx. 200 CIA operatives, it is "the most important command facility in the world" that the US foreign intelligence service has for kidnapping Islamists. With this facility on its territory, Germany "has accommodated the planning staff and the main command headquarters of illegal international kidnapping" concludes Schmidt-Eenboom.[9]

Not in Europe

After the sabotage, above all by Berlin, of his efforts to carry through his investigation, Dick Marty presumes that the elucidation of the kidnapping and torture, during the West's "War on Terror," will not happen in Europe, and certainly not in Germany. It could possibly happen in the USA, said Marty in March and added optimistically: "The truth will come out - even if not in Europe, which I sorely regret as a European."[10] The most recent development - the first disclosures of secret papers in the USA and the persistence of a boycott through silence in Germany and the EU - seem to confirm him.

Please read also Where is Haydar Zammar?, In Accordance With the Law, The Torturers, And Still Waiting, Lapse into Barbarism, Steinmeier and His Accomplices, Sinking Into Barbarism (II) and Examined and Interrogated.

[1], [2] Special Review: Counterterrorism Detention and Interrogation Activities (September 2001 - October 2003), 7 May 2004. C.I.A. Abuse Cases Detailed in Report on Detainees; The New York Times 25.08.2009
[3] Murat Kurnaz: Fünf Jahre meines Lebens. Ein Bericht aus Guantanamo, Berlin 2007. See also Zwei weitere Männer
[4] KSK war an Gefangenentransporten beteiligt; Die Welt 11.11.2006
[5] Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights: Secret detentions and illegal transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states: second report, 7 June 2007
[6] Staatsgeheimnisse statt Geheimdienst-Kontrolle? Pressemitteilung von Amnesty International 19.06.2009
[7] Verfassungsrichter rügen Informationspolitik der Regierung; Spiegel Online 23.07.2009
[8] Marty: Geheimes NATO-Abkommen deckte CIA-Flüge; tagesschau.de 26.03.2009. See also Oktober 2001
[9] Erich Schmidt-Eenboom: BND. Der deutsche Geheimdienst im Nahen Osten. Geheime Hintergründe und Fakten, München 2007
[10] Marty: Geheimes NATO-Abkommen deckte CIA-Flüge; tagesschau.de 26.03.2009