All the C.I.A.'s men - a "black site" prison in Poland

Article published on Jan. 30, 2014
Article published on Jan. 30, 2014

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

After 10 years yet an­other in­for­ma­tion about se­cret CIA pris­ons in Eu­rope came up. Leszek Miller, who was a Pol­ish prime min­is­ter while the "black site" has been used, de­nies every­thing. But the fact, that the CIA has tor­tured pris­on­ers of war in the Stare Kiejkuty vil­lage, is no longer an open se­cret and Pol­ish au­thor­i­ties will have to reckon with some se­ri­ous charges.

"It sounds like a Hol­ly­wood movie sce­nario" - said Miller in the TV in­ter­view. And so the story writ­ten by Adam Gold­man, The Wash­ing­ton Post re­porter. It all started in early 2003 when two CIA of­fi­cers ar­rived at the head­quarters of Pol­ish in­tel­li­gence in War­saw with $15 mil­lion crammed into a pair of large card­board boxes. There they met with Col. An­drzej Der­latka, deputy chief of the in­tel­li­gence ser­vice. They con­cluded a gen­tle­man's agree­ment under which the Poles will rent an old villa in Stare Kiejkuty to Amer­i­cans. CIA needed a quiet fa­cil­ity to in­ter­ro­gate al-Qaeda sus­pects dur­ing the on­go­ing War on Ter­ror. Amer­i­cans have ap­plied to Poles the old rule "don't ask, don't tell" - Pol­ish in­tel­li­gen­ce­ did not know what was going on in the es­tab­lish­ment, be­cause they were only let­ting into the din­ing room, but they did not want to know. The villa in Stare Kiejkuty was the most im­por­tant el­e­ment of the "black site" pris­on sys­tem cre­ated by the CIA after the at­tacks of 9/11 (they were also in Ro­ma­nia and Lithua­nia).

poland - a coun­try for rent

We, Poles, are send­ing a won­der­ful mes­sage to the world - that we are some kind of ba­nana re­pub­lic, which can be eas­ily used by any for­eign coun­try with big money. Jacek Pro­tasiewicz, MEP from the Civic Plat­form (the rul­ing party) said - "money, as I un­der­stand it, were re­im­burse­ment for adapt­ing the build­ing for U.S. in­tel­li­gence. It is good that Amer­i­cans have paid, and not us. Be­cause if Amer­i­cans have needs in Poland, they have to pay for it". 

It is in­ter­est­ing that no­body knows any­thing. Pol­ish au­thor­i­ties and pub­lic opin­ion are shocked, al­though ar­ti­cles on the topic have been pub­lished in "The Wash­ing­ton Post", "The New York Times" and "The Wall Street Jour­nal". A for­mer vice prime min­is­ter, Roman Gier­tych, said that these il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties are a crime against Poland. The Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs, Radosław Siko­rski, does not com­ment, be­cause the case is under two in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The for­eign one is con­ducted by The Eu­ro­pean Court of Human Rights in Stras­bourg re­gard­ing Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. He was ac­cused by Amer­i­cans to be part of the ter­ror­ist at­tack on the USS Cole in 2000. The CIA has tor­tured him, be­cause the of­fi­cers could not agree as to the role he played in the at­tack. In May 2011 al-Nashiri filed a case against Poland with the Eu­ro­pean Court of Human Rights, which this year will give a rul­ing. If Poles lose it, they will face se­ri­ous con­se­quences.

The do­mes­tic in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been con­ducted since 2008 in War­saw, but in Feb­ru­ary 2012 the case was trans­ferred by At­tor­ney Gen­eral, An­drzej Seremet, to the of­fice in Kraków, be­cause, for him, the area is more fa­mil­iar. Ac­cord­ing to the Pol­ish media, in­ves­ti­ga­tors were ready to apply for the State Court for then Prime Min­is­ter Leszek Miller. The case went to Kraków to have been dis­con­tin­ued.

What's eat­ing poland

But what Pol­ish jour­nal­ists do not no­tice is their own de­feat. It was Amer­i­can media who have dis­cov­ered the truth about the net­work of se­cret CIA pris­ons in East­ern Eu­rope. Stare Kiejkuty is only three-hour drive from War­saw. But it ap­pears to be too much. Politi­cians have de­nied any knowl­edge about se­cret CIA op­er­a­tion and the duty of the fourth es­tate is con­tin­u­ous de­mand­ing the truth. But Pol­ish jour­nal­ists pref­erred their cushy jobs in War­saw, while cov­er­ing an­other mean­ing­less po­lit­i­cal wran­gling. But this is PR, not a jour­nal­ism.

The War on Ter­ror in­volves con­stant dis­charg­ing of the blame on so called "rot­ten ap­ples". In this case Pol­ish au­thor­i­ties blame the United States. Yes, Amer­i­cans have used us as an ally, but we only splayed out our hand in the wel­come ges­ture. Poles rented the villa thus get­ting rid of any bad con­science - and so they wanted the whole re­spon­si­bil­ity to fall on the U.S. For $15 mil­lion the state's in­de­pen­dence was sold, and the money was enough to lose in­ter­est on who is com­ing to the coun­try. Amer­i­cans just wanted a place where they can do every­thing that they are ashamed to do at home. Pol­ish of­fi­cers were so pleased with them­selves, that they did not no­tice, while de­ter­min­ing price list, that the rates in this sec­tor re­volve not around mil­lions, but bil­lions of dol­lars. Thanks to the "black sites", Poland has be­come just an­other po­ten­tial tar­get for ter­ror­ist at­tacks. 

Leszek Millers' de­nial means one of two things. He is ei­ther a cyn­i­cal liar and wants only to save his own skin or he re­ally had no idea what was going on around him. And I am not sure which of these things is worse.