Poland’s officials have essentially admitted that they hosted a secret CIA (U.S. Central Intelligence Agency) prison. In a series of statements made by Polish leaders, they as much as acknowledged the existence of a “black site” in in a remote area of the country in 2002 and 2003. The prison was reportedly used as a secret interrogation facility for terror suspects.
Some of the Polish officials defended the site, saying that after the September 11, 2001 attacks, it was important to take a tough stance on terrorists. They believe that George W. Bush‘s actions were well-conceived.
In a statement on Thursday, Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk stated that his country has become the “political victim” in the situation after leaks from U.S. officials have brought to light some aspects of the secret program.
He also assured that an investigation is ongoing into the matter, in an attempt to prove that Poland cannot be counted on the future to agree to something like this again.
Tusk, who took office 4 years ago, declared that:
“Poland is a democracy where national and international law must be observed…this issue must be explained. Let there be no doubt about it either in Poland or on the other side of the ocean.”
He as much as admitted that Poland’s higher government officials were aware of the CIA’s secret prison when charges were brought against a former intelligence chief in connection with the cover-up. He reacted, saying:
“This may be painful, but concrete evidence that Poland is no longer a country where politicians can fix something under the table and expect it not to [eventually] come out — even if they do so with the world’s greatest superpower.”
Adam Bodnar, a numan rights lawyer with the Helsinki Foundation in Warsaw, Poland, believes that the government was aware of the site. He believes the Prime Minister’s reaction to the news was:
“Quite different from any others…from the general context, he’s kind of admitting that something is in the air. You can feel that this is an indirect confirmation.”
For years, many people, including Polish officials brushed off the idea of a CIA-run prison in Poland as absurd and rumors, even in the face of the United Nations and the Council of Europe, who claimed they had evidence of the “black site”‘s existence. The idea only received serious consideration after Polish prosecutors opened an official investigation about the prison in 2008.
The charges placed against Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, the former spy chief accused of allowing the site, further solidify suggestions that Poland was informed of the site. Siemiatkowski’s charges included “depriving prisoners of war of their freedom”, and “allowing corporal punishment.”
The AP received a statement from former CIA officials that the prison operated in Stare Kiejkuty, a small village in remote Poland, and about either terror suspects were kept at the location from December 2002 to the fall of 2003. The former officials state that prisoners were subject to harsh questioning and waterboarding.
Included in the possible detainees are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is the self-proclaimed mastermind behind the September 11th attacks; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi Arabian national, who was charged with organizing the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 sailors; and Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian terror suspect.
Bodnar went on to state that Poland’s investigation into the CIA secret prison gives him some satisfaction. He said that:
“The most important thing is accountability. Intelligence agencies cooperate with each other, but after this they will remember that they need to obey the constitution and that some things they cover up could become public at some point.”
Check out the report of the investigation here: