Like an Evil Witch, CIA Tortured Prisoners in Polish Forest

Europe's Court of Human Rights has decreed that Poland must pay a ransom of 230,000 euros for allowing the CIA to practice the dark art of tradecraft in the forests near Stare Kiejkuty. Many believe that Romania and Lithuania will also pay for allowing the agency to establish "Black Sites" in their realms.

Spake Reuters:

The court case was brought by lawyers for two men, Saudi-born Abu Zubaydah, and Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who are now both inmates at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. military's prison on Cuba.

They alleged they were flown in secret to a remote Polish airfield, then transferred to the CIA-facility near the village of Stare Kiejkuty where they were subject to treatment they said amounted to torture.

Lawyers for Nashiri said on one occasion he was forced to stand naked and hooded in his cell while his interrogator operated a power drill, making the detainee believe he would be harmed. In another incident, the lawyers said, an interrogator cocked a pistol next to Nashiri's head.

The court ruled that, despite the wall of secrecy around the U.S.-led "extraordinary rendition" programme, there was enough circumstantial evidence to say beyond reasonable doubt that both men were held at a CIA-run facility in Poland.

It said Poland knew about their detention and should have known they were at risk of ill-treatment.

It also should be known that the identity of the dark artist who threatened Nashiri with a power drill's spinning blade was a CIA linguist named Albert El Gamil, according to a January report from the Washington Post, who had no experience as an interrogator and was brought to the black site for his fluency in Arabic. Keepers of the site Cryptocomb believe Gamil was in his early 50s when the threats to Nashiri occurred. They also seem to want to incite a mob by publishing Gamil's home address.

Nashiri was believed by the CIA to have directed the October 2000 terrorist attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen killing 17 sailors: a belief that became deeply contested internally as his interrogation dragged on.

"He was an idiot," a former CIA official told the Post. "He couldn't read or comprehend a comic book."

A debate raged internally over the CIA's Polish coven, a three-hour drive north of Warsaw, after Gamil's treatment of Nashiri was revealed to more senior agency officials by a security guard. The CIA inspector general conducted a report and both Gamil and the site's "project manager" Mike Sealy were dismissed from the program. (They both left the CIA entirely, shortly thereafter.)

The European Court of Human Rights is commanding that Nashiri be paid 100,000 euros recompense and that Zubaydah be paid 130,000.

Like an Evil Witch, CIA Tortured Prisoners in Polish Forest

Codenamed Quartz, the villa that the CIA rented from the Polish Intelligence service outside the village of Stare Kiejkuty, was reportedly also the site of the repeated waterboarding of reputed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed who, also like a witch, refused to be phased by these multiple simulated drownings. The Post:

Mohammed would count off the seconds, between 20 and 40, knowing that the simulated drowning always ended within a certain period.

An agency official said that one time, Mohammed fell asleep on the waterboard between sessions. But agency officials have said that he finally crumbled after extended sleep deprivation.

CIA officials assert that while in Poland, Mohammed, who has a sizable ego, began talking. He liked to lecture the CIA officers, who would then steer the conversations in ways that benefited them. He also liked to joust with his inquisitors. Once a female officer, who was later killed in Afghanistan, questioned Mohammed in Poland. She told him that she knew everything about him and that he shouldn't lie to her, two CIA former officials said.

Mohammed leaned back in his chair and said, "Then why are you here?"

The leaders of Poland say that they will appeal the court's decision, pointing to their own inquiry into the CIA's "Black Site" that was initiated in 2008, but is also admittedly not finished five years later. The European Court of Human Rights, by contrast, began hearing testimony last December 3rd, on the Feast of St. Cassian of Tangiers, a Roman court recorder.

The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is also planning to publish portions of its own previously classified investigation into the allegations of torture conducted by the CIA's rendition program.

The hope and purpose of these disclosures, according to the committee's chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein, is to cast sunlight and public attention on the "horrible details of a CIA program that never, never should have existed."

[Photo by Kacper Pempel for Reuters. A fenced military area in the forest near Stare Kiejkuty village, where the CIA rendition site "Quartz" is believed to have been.]

To contact the author, email matthew.phelan@gawker.com, pgp public key.