Black Sites? What Black Sites? Must have been confused with the Culinary Institute of America’s black bean sightings.
Whatever happened to the so-called “black sites,” where suspected terrorists were held overseas by the CIA and submitted to harsh interrogations that included torture? On April 9, CIA chief Leon Panetta issued a statement notifying CIA employees that the agency “no longer operates detention facilities or black sites”—which were effectively shut down in the fall of 2006—”and has proposed a plan to decommission the remaining sites.” In the months since then, lawyers for several terrorism suspects have been trying to determine the status of these sites, as they seek evidence for their cases. But the US government has refused to disclose anything about what it has done with these facilities.
In his statement, Panetta noted, “I have directed our Agency personnel to take charge of the decommissioning process and have further directed that the contracts for site security be promptly terminated.” (He added that the suspension of these private security contracts would save the agency up to $4 million.) Though Panetta’s order might have seemed like good news to civil libertarians and critics of the Bush-Cheney administration’s detention policies, lawyers for several detainees who had been held in such sites immediately worried about one thing: “We thought they would be destroying further evidence,” says George Brent Mickum IV, a lawyer for Abu Zubaydah, a captured terrorism suspect whom President George W. Bush described (probably errantly) as “one of the top three leaders” of al Qaeda. (In 2007, the CIA disclosed that it had destroyed videotapes of interrogations of Zubaydah, who was waterboarded 83 times.)
Was anything left at these black sites to preserve? No doubt, some of these facilities were makeshift and could have been packed up rather quickly and their equipment destroyed or shipped off. If records existed at these facilities, they could have been easily shredded. In any case, even though Panetta has publicly discussed the sites, the CIA is refusing to discuss them. “Because this involves a matter before the court, it’s not something on which I can comment publicly,” remarks CIA spokesperson Paul Gimigliano. That is, he won’t confirm or deny if Panetta’s public decommission order has been carried out. The final status of these facilities remains in the dark.
[Click to continue reading Whatever Happened to the CIA’s Black Sites? | Mother Jones]
Suddenly, it is as if the scenes of crimes against humanity1 never existed. Down the memory hole, never to be discussed again in polite Washington society or by the Washington sycophants in the corporate media. Since the sites have vanished, lawyers don’t need to visit to collect evidence. Amazing.Footnotes:
- torture, and related abominations [↩]