20 Extraordinary Facts about CIA Extraordinary Rendition and Secret Detention

After the 9-11 attacks against the United States, the Central Intelligence Agency conspired with dozens of governments to build a secret extraordinary rendition and detention program that spanned the globe. Extraordinary rendition is the transfer—without legal process—of a detainee to the custody of a foreign government for purposes of detention and interrogation.

The program was intended to protect America. But, as described in the Open Society Justice Initiative’s new report, it stripped people of their most basic rights, facilitated gruesome forms of torture, at times captured the wrong people, and debased the United States’ human rights reputation world-wide.

To date, the United States and the vast majority of the other governments involved—more than 50 in all—have refused to acknowledge their participation, compensate the victims, or hold accountable those most responsible for the program and its abuses. Here are 20 additional facts from the new report that expose just how brutal and mistaken the program was:

  1. At least 136 individuals were reportedly extraordinarily rendered or secretly detained by the CIA and at least 54 governments reportedly participated in the CIA’s secret detention and extraordinary rendition program; classified government documents may reveal many more.
  2. A series of Department of Justice memoranda authorized torture methods that the CIA applied on detainees. The Bush Administration referred to these methods as “enhanced interrogation techniques.” “Enhanced interrogation techniques” included “walling” (quickly pulling the detainee forward and then thrusting him against a flexible false wall), “water dousing,” “waterboarding,” “stress positions” (forcing the detainee to remain in body positions designed to induce physical discomfort), “wall standing” (forcing the detainee to remain standing with his arms outstretched in front of him so that his fingers touch a wall five four to five feet away and support his entire body weight), “cramped confinement” in a box, “insult slaps,” (slapping the detainee on the face with fingers spread), “facial hold” (holding a detainee’s head temporarily immobile during interrogation with palms on either side of the face), “attention grasp” (grasping the detainee with both hands, one hand on each side of the collar opening, and quickly drawing him toward the interrogator), forced nudity, sleep deprivation while being vertically shackled, and dietary manipulation.
  3. President Bush has stated that about a hundred detainees were held under the CIA secret detention program, about a third of whom were questioned using “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
  4. The CIA’s Office of Inspector General has reportedly investigated a number of “erroneous renditions” in which the CIA had abducted and detained the wrong people. A CIA officer told the Washington Post: “They picked up the wrong people, who had no information.  In many, many cases there was only some vague association” with terrorism.
  5. German national Khaled El-Masri was seized in Macedonia because he had been mistaken for an Al Qaeda suspect with a similar name. He was held incommunicado and abused in Macedonia and in secret CIA detention in Afghanistan. On December 13, 2012, the European Court of Human Rights held that Macedonia had violated El-Masri’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, and found that his ill-treatment by the CIA at Skopje airport in Macedonia amounted to torture.
  6. Wesam Abdulrahman Ahmed al-Deemawi was seized in Iran and held for 77 days in the CIA’s “Dark Prison” in Afghanistan.  He was later held in Bagram for 40 days and subjected to sleep deprivation, hung from the ceiling by his arms in the “strappado” position, threatened by dogs, made to watch torture videos, and subjected to sounds of electric sawing accompanied by cries of pain.
  7. Several former interrogators and counterterrorism experts have confirmed that “coercive interrogation” is ineffective. Col. Steven Kleinman, Jack Cloonan, and Matthew Alexander stated in a letter to Congress that that U.S. interrogation policy “came with heavy costs” and that “[k]ey allies, in some instances, refused to share needed intelligence, terrorists attacks increased world wide, and Al Qaeda and like-minded groups recruited a new generation of Jihadists.”
  8. After being extraordinarily rendered by the United States to Egypt in 2002, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under threat of torture at the hands of Egyptian officials, fabricated information relating to Iraq’s provision of chemical and biological weapons training to Al Qaeda. In 2003, then Secretary of State Colin Powell relied on this fabricated information in his speech to the United Nations that made the case for war against Iraq.
  9. Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times by the CIA. FBI interrogator Ali Soufan testified before Congress that he elicited “actionable intelligence” from Zubaydah using rapport-building techniques but that Zubaydah “shut down” after he was waterboarded.
  10. Torture is prohibited in all circumstances under international law and allegations of torture must be investigated and criminally punished. The United States prosecuted Japanese interrogators for “waterboarding” U.S. prisoners during World War II.
  11. On November 20, 2002, Gul Rahman froze to death in a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan called the “Salt Pit,” after a CIA case officer ordered guards to strip him naked, chain him to the concrete floor, and leave him there overnight without blankets.
  12. Fatima Bouchar was abused by the CIA, and by persons believed to be Thai authorities, for several days in the Bangkok airport. Bouchar reported she was chained to a wall and not fed for five days, at a time when she was four-and-a-half months pregnant. After that she was extraordinarily rendered to Libya.
  13. Syria was one of the “most common destinations for rendered suspects,” as were Egypt and Jordan. One Syrian prison facility contained individual cells that were roughly the size of coffins.  Detainees report incidents of torture involving a chair frame used to stretch the spine (the “German chair”) and beatings.
  14. Muhammed al-Zery and Ahmed Agiza, while seeking asylum in Sweden, were extraordinarily rendered to Egypt where they were tortured with shocks to their genitals.  Al-Zery was also forced to lie on an electrified bed frame. 
  15. Abu Omar, an Italian resident, was abducted from the streets of Milan, extraordinarily rendered to Egypt, and secretly detained for fourteen months while Egyptian agents interrogated and tortured him by subjecting him to electric shocks. An Italian court convicted in absentia 22 CIA agents and one Air Force pilot for their roles in the extraordinary rendition of Abu Omar.
  16. Known black sites—secret prisons run by the CIA on foreign soil—existed in Afghanistan, Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Romania, and Thailand.
  17. Abd al Rahim al Nashiri was secretly detained in various black sites. While secretly detained in Poland, U.S. interrogators subjected al Nashiri to a mock execution with a power drill as he stood naked and hooded; racked a semi-automatic handgun close to his head as he sat shackled before them; held him in “standing stress positions;” and threatened to bring in his mother and sexually abuse her in front of him.
  18. President Obama’s 2009 Executive Order repudiating torture does not repudiate the CIA extraordinary rendition program.  It was specifically crafted to preserve the CIA’s authority to detain terrorist suspects on a short-term, transitory basis prior to rendering them to another country for interrogation or trial.
  19. President Obama’s 2009 Executive Order also established an interagency task force to review interrogation and transfer policies and issue recommendations on “the practices of transferring individuals to other nations.” The interagency task force report was issued in 2009, but continues to be withheld from the public. It appears that the U.S. intends to continue to rely on anti-torture diplomatic assurances from recipient countries and post-transfer monitoring of detainee treatment, but those methods were not effective safeguards against torture for Maher Arar, who was tortured in Syria, or Ahmed Agiza and Muhammed al-Zery, who were tortured in Egypt.
  20. The Senate Select Intelligence Committee has completed a 6,000 page report that further details the CIA detention and interrogation operations with access to classified sources. However, the report itself remains classified. 
 

27 Comments

Yes , this American hatred against Islam and Muslims in general is well documented. Right from the fabricated intelligence information from their torture organisation- The CIA on Iraq on weapons of mass destruction, the blood-bath in Afaganstan,some parts of Pakstan and now Syria.
All the killings and mayhem in the Arab world is a hand work of the US in the name of fighting the Islamists, and no one is raising a finger.
The US must adjust its foreign policy,especially on the Arab world if global peace is to be attained the world over.

America does not hate lslam because we also have lslam Americans! We only hate those that kill and hate our citizens and we want them to stop all their evils because God want us all to express love to each other! American is the most loving country in the whole world. We only need to hold who ever commit Crime against Human Right abuse Responsible for the act! Example President Bush need to be held responsible for commiting crime against Humanity!!!!

I knew somebody would say that, but it's simply not true. Most Americans indiscriminately hate all Muslims. Open your eyes!

Look at how muslims treat others around the world. Don't pretend to be the victim.

Neither do all (or most) muslims hate americans (im a muslim) nor do all americans hate muslims...

but the way the us gov't treats muslims, they are bound to create a blowback...

btw americans are very loving, but america (technically always a reference to the gov't) is not...pretty much the whole world is quite pissed off at usa gov't bullying right now...

I hear everyone talking about Bush and his torture treatments, but remember the state of the country at that time in 2001.We had never been attached on our own soil, and everyone was in a state of panic. Yes the world is angry at us, but they are and have always been angry at us. The CIA used these treatments to get much needed information, and just like any war mistakes were made. What blows me away is Bush and company captured and interrogated, where Obama and company sends droids out and kills without any questioning, or facts, or consideration for mishaps. I don't hear much of an uproar about this chosen war tactic. Oh! but wait, we are not in a war according to this administration, so that makes it even worse. Yes, I understand why the world is angry with us, and our military are in extreme danger. Chew on that for a while and quit blaming the American people, and Bush. Who is really the bad guy here?

Torture by American agencies demeans and cheapens the twenty months of military service that I gave to my country in Vietnam. How is it possible that one agency of our government---the CIA--can trump international law and our own laws and mores? It was the Phoenix Program and the tactics of the CIA in Vietnam that were our undoing---not the military force of the NVA or the political protests back home. Semper Fidelis---but not to "spooks."

Our elites support torture because they enjoy watching it, they enjoy doing it, and they especially enjoy enticing others into the evil of it. (Witness Antonin Scalia's enjoyment of 24). It's a form of entertainment for them, and a very successful one. Austerity is a form of economic torture that causes great human suffering and premature death, whether through inferior health care or suicide. The elites impose austerity for exactly those reasons; they enjoy it when others suffer.

Power corrupts,
absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Thank you for publishing the facts.

John E quotes Acton' aphorism incorrectly: it should read "All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely'.
Roger VB

let us start to educate at least one poor child .
it is responsibility of all of us . we are a foolish nation
wasting a lot of money on useless activities . like
marriges parties in big shadi halls and birth day parties
etc .we need to start a compaign on emergency bases
to convence our neaghbours and coummunity
not waste this money just show off .
they will get more good raputation and satisfaction
when they will educate these por children .these children will play the ir role in the development of
country. it will be the best reward of all us .

Allowing leaders like Cheney, Bush, Addington, Yoo and others who brazenly violate the law for whatever reasons opens the door for worse abuses going forward. Read the book "The Dark Side" for solid investigative reporting. After an election that violated voters rights, it made it easy for Bush and Cheney to break any and all laws that got in their way. Any leader must be subject to just laws, we are not a rogue state. We are a rogue state if these abusers are not held accountable for their abuses of power. They don't get a hall pass for position. It mocks justice and morality.

Perhaps the best documented case of rendition is that of Maher Arar, the Canadian/Syrian which was investigated in detail by the Canadian authorities and Arar given a fulsome apology by the Canadian Prime Minister and awarded substantial damages by the state. It was another case of mistaken identity.
What is so shameful is that he was taken from JFK airport, whilst in transit, by the US authorities and rendered from there ultimately to Syria, but has had no proper redress from the US authorities. In particular, the US Supreme Court has refused even to hear his case.

The responsibility for these crimes is also on European governments. As Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, I raised this issue repeatedly with governments. There were those who totally denied (this is still the case with the Romanians); while others referred to their special relationship to Washington. They feared that any investigation into their own support to the CIA program would risk their possibilities of future cooperation with CIA on security matters.
I wrote to the US justice minister Eric Holder appealing that the US government should make clear that investigations into the crimes of torture would not be opposed by the US authorities - there was not even a reply on this letter.
I learned that also the Polish prosecutor had written to Washington and requested cooperation to clarify what had happended in the case of the "black site" outside Warsaw. This letter got a dismissive reply and a second letter was not even recognized.
In other words, European governments are now hiding behind the argument that they cannot investigate these crimes because of the position of the US government. And the US government continues to block any inquiry which would bring out facts on what really happended.
The result is IMPUNITY and an extremely bad example set by governments who otherwise want to be seen as defendefs of human rights.
Thomas Hammarberg
Council of Europe Commissioner 2006-2012

Mr. Hammarberg is absolutely right. There needs to be a coordinated push for accountability and disclosure in the U.S. as well as outside the U.S. The recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Khaled el-Masri is a landmark development on the issue of accountability for extraordinary rendition. The case is important for delivering some measure of justice to Mr. El Masri, whose case was dismissed on state secrets grounds in U.S. courts. But it also has longer term implications for European cooperation with U.S. counterterrorism operations. The next time a European state decides to cooperate with illegal U.S. counterterrorism operations, it will have to think twice for fear of exposing itself to liability and censure. Additional challenges before the European Court relating to extraordinary rendition include cases against Poland, Romania, Lithuania, and Italy. It will be interesting to see how the Court moves forward on these cases.
Amrit Singh
Senior Legal Officer
National Security and Counterterrorism
Open Society Justice Initiative

I read most of the comments & they are pretty much off the real issue. The so called "war on terror" is the same old conflict between Islam on one side & Judeo-Christian on the other side. It is a clash of ideologies. Most people are no prepared to accept it. The political leadership of the Muslim world already accepted the humiliation that was imposed by successive military & colonial wars fought by the West. Actually, the corrupt leaders of the Muslim world have adopted the status quo as way of surviving & have been cooperating with the Judeo-Christian party in suppressing the Muslim masses. Emile I like one part of your comment "...being victim..". It is true the Muslims never stopped being victims for the longest time. As brother Khalid said "... America must adjust it foreign policy....". We want the one who is hell bend on the destruction of core values to change the same policy that they devised to battle us are successful to a certain degree. Also, Esther you commented that "... Muslims hate & kill our citizens...". You know that is not true. That very same sentence was drafted very carefully to occupy & control people's minds in the West for the purposes of the actual war.

The deception on the part of the government and lack of outcry from the public is deeply disturbing. This abuse of human rights must be stopped through the courts.

One crime or bad deed gives way to another. I wish people in general and in power understood that.

The issue is one of human rights. This is a world wide issue. For the United States citizens, it is a complete violation of its original Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is right that all of this see the light of day.

"Another Life" is a new play about the U.S. torture program. It will run at Theater for the New City, March 28-April 21, along with A Festival of Conscience, talks by major human rights activists.

"because God want us all to express love to each other!" then why are they inflicting pain on others? the way they traeated american indians. no way. thats not an act of god.

Mr. Carey is absolutely right on all accounts. What amazes me is the lack of willingness to learn the truth from my fellow citizens, here in the U.S. I work in a factory here in Illinois and a large percentage of the people I talk to about these issues thinks it's perfectly alright to torture "other" human beings. They have also voiced their opinions that it is fine for the government to tap their phones (when all that came out). I am amazed at their lack of understanding history or what is going on in the world. Ignorance is widespread here in the land of milk and honey.

If man fails to do justice between human beings on the earth, definitely he (man) will be accounted for his/her deeds in the Next life.

If there were no terrorist cells, there would be no need for rendition cells. The short answer - stay out of terrorism.

The empire breaks basic human rights law in the thought of making itself stronger and safer when basically it is just adding more fuel to the fire of empire hatred. The world over.
No empire in history has lasted forever. They all fall eventually. The cracks are showing now.

Waterboarding is torture. The Japanese who practised it on captured US soldiers during the Pacific War were found after the War guilty of a war crime and sentenced to death. The US Empire says: do as I say and I'll bloody well do whatever I want to do. I'm the bully on the block and the block is the wide world that I control with my nearly 1000 military bases, and with my military fleets and my annual military spending that can only be matched by the combined spending of the next ten countries -- half the amount the world spends on the military, I spend. I make up 5% of the world's population and I consume 25% of the world's resources and I promote this model for China, India, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America to follow, and I don't care if this can only be done, if we need to acquire at least another 5 planets like ours but without people. Yes, I am the great US of A.

First of all the cia didn't just go after random people.they do thier homework, abs anyone that has actually been to Afghanistan our Iraq knows exactly the caliber of people were dealing with. It's amazing how quickly people forget all the beheadings and nasty shit they do, but when we get hands on then were supposed to be civil??? You don't fight terror with bubblegum and lollipops.

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