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Updated 08/24/2006

Renditions

U.S. allegedly engaged in extraordinary renditions

The Washington Post reported in January 2005 that the U.S. was considering moving detainees they want to hold indefinitely to countries with poor human rights records, where they will be held without trial. The Post had first reported renditions in June 2002. [Washington Post, 2/2/05; Washington Post, 12/26/02] 

State Department reports acknowledge torture in rendition countries

On Feb. 28, 2005, the State Department released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. According to the reports for Yemen, Egypt and Syria, security forces engage in torture of detainees. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, the United States is rendering detainees to these and other countries known to have poor human rights records, relying on “diplomatic assurances” that the detainees will not be tortured. [U.S. State Department, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2/28/05; Human Rights Watch, Developments Regarding Diplomatic Assurances Since April 2004] 

Detainees sent to Egypt for torture, says Human Rights Watch report

A Human Rights Watch report entitled “Black Hole: The Fate of Islamists Rendered to Egypt” identified 61 people who have been rendered to Egypt, a country the State Department acknowledges still practices torture, since 1994. The report also cited analysts who believe the number of detainees sent to Egypt since Sept. 11, 2001, is between 150 and 200. [Human Rights Watch, 5/05] 

Yemenis held in secret detention, says Amnesty report

An Amnesty International report, “Torture and secret detention: Testimony of the ‘disappeared’ in the ‘war on terror’” revealed descriptions by two Yemeni detainees who say they were held in secret U.S. detention centers for over a year and a half without access to family, lawyers or the Red Cross and without being charged with any crime. At the time of the report’s release, the men were being held in a Yemeni prison without charge at the request of U.S. officials, according to Yemeni authorities. [AI, 8/4/05] 

Inaccurate justification for Iraq war allegedly obtained through abuse

According to government officials, the Bush administration used now-discredited information as justification for the war in Iraq that may have been obtained through torture. A suspected al-Qaeda operative was detained by U.S. forces and then transferred to Egypt for further interrogation. There he gave interrogators descriptions of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, later used by the Bush administration. After being returned to U.S. custody, he recanted his testimony, saying he had been abused. [Guardian (UK), 12/9/05] 

Blair administration seeks to stifle rendition debate

A leaked British memo revealed that the government was developing strategies to avoid discussion of British involvement in U.S. renditions. Subsequent public outcry called for a thorough investigation of British involvement. [Guardian (UK), 01/19/06] 

CIA flights have landed 74 times in Canada since Sept. 11

The Canadian government revealed that 74 CIA flights had landed in Canada since Sept. 11, 2001. The information was released under the Canadian Access to Information Act. The documents do not reveal the purpose of the flights, but the Canadian government says there is no evidence to suggest that the flights were used for extraordinary renditions, a process by which prisoners are transferred to other countries for allegedly tortuous interrogations. Human rights groups have called for more information. [AP, 02/23/06] 

Amnesty International accuses CIA of using front companies to mask rendition

An Amnesty International report accuses the CIA of using front companies to transfer prisoners to countries where they may be tortured, a process known as extraordinary rendition. Amnesty said it has records of nearly 1,000 flights involving the planes of supposed private air charter companies that were permanently operated by the CIA and 600 other flights by planes that were at least temporarily used by the CIA. The report says that one plane made over 100 stops at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the site of the U.S. detention center. Private flights are allowed to fly and land without notifying governments, whereas military or police flights must have authorization. [AI, 04/06] 

Detainee says he was tortured in Morocco

Binyam Muhammad, a detainee at the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay, said that he was tortured after his U.S. captors handed him over to Moroccan authorities. Muhammad said he was subject to physical and mental torture, including being sliced with a scalpel and given mind-altering drugs. After a year and a half of detention in Morocco, he was transferred back to U.S. custody. Muhammad’s civilian lawyer provided the account of his detention. [AP, 04/06/06] 

Committee says CIA secretly flew 1,000 flights over Europe

Investigators for a European Parliament committee looking into Central Intelligence Agency counterterrorism activity in Europe reported they had data showing the CIA had secretly flown 1,000 flights over Europe since 2001. The investigators also found evidence that some countries, including Italy, Sweden and Bosnia and Herzegovina, knew about CIA activity in their territories such as kidnapping terrorism suspects for extraordinary rendition. This report was first of several planned by the European Parliament. [NY Times, 04/27/06] 

Government lawyer says U.S. does not outsource torture 

John Bellinger, a lawyer for the U.S. State Department, told the U.N. Committee Against Torture that the United States does not send terrorism suspects to countries where they would be subject to torture. Bellinger was responding to allegations made in a European Parliament investigation suggesting that the CIA had used European airspace and airports for extraordinary renditions, a practice during which suspects are handed over to countries that often have poor human rights records. The investigating committee, however, did not produce any firm evidence. Bellinger told the U.N. committee that there had been “very few” cases of extraordinary rendition. [Reuters, 05/04/06] 

Judge throws out extraordinary rendition case

A district court judge in Virginia threw out a case against the CIA brought by a victim of extraordinary rendition. Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen, claims he was detained in Macedonia and then transferred to Afghanistan and was tortured with beatings and drug injections. He sued then CIA director George Tenet and others, demanding reparations and an apology. Judge T.S. Ellis threw out the lawsuit, saying it endangered national security. [BBC News, 05/18/06] 

European countries collaborated with CIA 

According to a report released by the Council of Europe, several European countries either collaborated with or turned a blind eye to CIA activities including the extraordinary rendition of terrorism suspects and the transferring and holding detainees in CIA “black sites” or secret prisons. Italy, Sweden, Bosnia and Macedonia are accused of allowing the CIA to abduct residents for renditions, and Britain, Ireland, Portugal and Greece provided stopovers for CIA planes, according to the report. The U.K. is also accused of providing information on a former resident that led to rendition and torture. In addition, the report says there is strong evidence to suggest that the CIA operated secret prisons in Romania and Poland. [Guardian (UK), 06/07/06] 

Cheney exempts himself from reporting on classified information 

The Office of Vice President Dick Cheney has failed to meet reporting requirements on classified material for the third year in a row. Although Cheney’s office is not alone in failing to meet requirements, it is unique in that the office issued a public justification for its failure on June 5, 2006. Cheney argued that his office is exempt from reporting requirements of the Information Security Oversight Office because of its dual executive and legislative role. The ISOO publishes an annual report detailing the amount of information classified by each office, though it does not reveal content. Government transparency advocates say that shrugging disclosure requirements is part of a trend of increasing executive secrecy. [New Standard, 06/07/06]