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28 Nations Helped U.S. Detain Terror Suspects

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Twenty-eight nations have cooperated with the U.S. to detain in their prisons, and sometimes to interrogate and torture, suspects arrested as part of the U.S. "War on Terror."

The complicit countries have kept suspects in prisons ranging from public interior ministry buildings to "safe house" villas in downtown urban areas to obscure prisons in forests to "black" sites to which the International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC) has been denied access.

According to published reports, an estimated 50 prisons have been used to hold detainees in these 28 countries. Additionally, at least 25 more prisons have been operated either by the U.S. or by the government of occupied-Afghanistan in behalf of the U.S., and 20 more prisons have been similarly operated in Iraq.

As the London-based legal rights group Reprieve estimates the U.S. has used 17 ships as floating prisons since 2001, the total number of prisons operated by the U.S. and/or its allies to house alleged terrorist suspects since 2001 exceeds 100. And this figure may well be far short of the actual number.

Countries that held prisoners in behalf of the U.S. based on published data are Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Libya, Lithuania, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Somalia, South Africa, Thailand, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zambia. Some of the above-named countries held suspects in behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA); others held suspects in behalf the U.S. military, or both.

Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Champaign, termed the detention policies used by the U.S. "Crimes against Humanity":

"These instances of the enforced disappearances of human beings and their consequent torture, because they are both widespread and systematic, constitute Crimes against Humanity in violation of the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court, which have been ordered by the highest level officials of the United States government""

Referring to President Bush and his principal advisers, Boyle continued, "Since these criminal activities took part in several states that are parties to the ICC Rome Statute, that renders these U.S. government officials subject to prosecution by the International Criminal Court on the grounds of territoriality of the offense, even though the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute."

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According to Human Rights Watch, as of Jan., 2004, the U.S. held detainees from 21 different countries including Algeria, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israeli-occupied Gaza and West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Yemen.

The nations that cooperated with the U.S. to detain these prisoners have done so even though detainees commonly were held --- in the words of an Associated Press report of Sept. 18, 2006 --"beyond the reach of established law." Efforts by this reporter to learn from the Pentagon the total number of prisoners held captive and related information proved futile.

However, in Feb., 2005, Maj. Gen. Donald Ryder, Army Provost Marshal General, said, "In all, roughly 65,000 people have been screened for possible detention, and about 30,000 of those were entered into the system, at least briefly, and assigned internment serial numbers." Possibly, to date, the U.S. and its allies have detained 100,000 suspects or more.

It is not known whether the customary legal rights of any of these tens of thousands of captives have been honored. But given the absence of due process, trials, and convictions compared to the vast numbers of those detained, the "War on Terror" takes on the appearance of a monumental fraud.

As Jane Mayer wrote in "The Dark Side" (Anchor Books), "Seven years after the attacks of September 11, not a single terror suspect held outside of the U.S. criminal court system has been tried. Of the 759 detainees acknowledged to have been held in Guantanamo, approximately 340 remained there, only a handful of whom had been charged. Among these, not a single "enemy combatant' had yet had the opportunity to cross-examine the government or see the evidence on which he was being held." Similarly, Nick Turse of reported U.S. intelligence officials themselves estimated that 70-90% of prisoners detained in Iraq "had been arrested by mistake."

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According to the German weekly Der Spiegel in a Dec. 10, 2005, article: "It is likely that nobody will ever know how many terror suspects abducted by the CIA have died in the torture chambers of Egyptian, Algerian, Syrian, or Saudi Arabian prisons."

It was "because of the gruesome treatment of prisoners that made it expedient to remove suspects as much as possible from the responsibility of American judges. This practice gave birth to the Guantanamo prisoner camp, as well as a whole range of so-called black sites, or secret interrogation areas, where the CIA keeps its most valuable prisoners under continuous observation," Der Spiegel said. Writing in The Washington Post on Nov. 2, 2005, Dana Priest put it this way: "It is illegal for the government to hold prisoners in such isolation in secret prisons in the United States, which is why the CIA placed them overseas, according to several former and current intelligence officials and other U.S. government officials. Legal experts and intelligence officials said that the CIA's internment practices also would be considered illegal under the laws of several host countries, where detainees have rights to have a lawyer or to mount a defense against allegations of wrongdoing."

In a concise observation that appears to summarize the U.S. campaign of detention, Patrick Quinn of the Associated Press wrote, "Captured on battlefields, pulled from beds at midnight, grabbed off streets as suspected insurgents, tens of thousands now have passed through American detention, the vast majority in Iraq. Many have said they were often interrogated around the clock, then released months or years later without apology, compensation, or any word on why they were taken."

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Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular "Workplace" column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public (more...)

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