Europe's 'Special Interrogations' New Evidence of Torture Prison in Poland
Part 2: Investigations across Europe
For more than a year now, Warsaw public prosecutor Robert Majewski has been investigating former Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller's government on allegations of abuse of office. At issue is whether sovereignty over Polish territory was relinquished, and whether former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and his left-leaning Social Democratic government gave the CIA free reign over sections of the Stare Kiejkuty military base for the agency's extraterritorial torture interrogations.
Majewski has questioned a large number of witnesses who worked in the former government, and this year his team even plans to fly to Guantanamo. "No European country is so sincerely and vigorously investigating former members of the government as is currently the case in Poland," says Wolfgang Kaleck from the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin, which supports the investigations.
The public prosecutor's office has also launched a probe to determine whether the Polish intelligence agency made 20 of its agents available to the CIA, as was recently reported by the conservative Polish daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita. A former CIA official confirmed this information to SPIEGEL. There was reportedly a document issued by the intelligence agency that mentioned both the 20 Polish agents and the transfer of the military base to the Americans. Two members of a parliamentary investigative committee in Warsaw had an opportunity to view this document in late 2005, but it has since disappeared.
The Missing Piece of Evidence
The journalists Mariusz Kowalewski at Rzeczpospolita and Adam Krzykowski of the television station TVP Info have been searching for months now for proof of the existence of a secret CIA base in Poland. The journalists have discovered flight record books from Szymany that had been declared lost, and based on refueling receipts and currency exchange rates, they have reconstructed flights and routes, and spoken with informants. Over the past few weeks, the newspaper and the television network have revealed new details on an almost daily basis.
Kowalewski has collected a wide range of documents on his white Apple laptop. He is convinced, though, that he only knows "a fraction of what actually happened." He is certain that there was a CIA base in the Masuria region, where high-ranking al-Qaida prisoners were brought. All that is missing is the final piece of evidence. There are rumors circulating that one of the most important interrogators of Sheikh Mohammed, an American named Deuce Martinez -- the man who didn't torture him, but rather had the task of gently coaxing information out of him -- was in Poland at the time. That is the proof that's still missing.
Similar conclusions were reached by the second investigative report on CIA kidnappings in Europe, which was submitted two years ago by the special investigator of the Council of Europe, Dick Marty. (Eds: The Council of Europe is an international organization and watchdog for human rights in a total of 47 states in the European region.) According to Marty's report, members of the former Polish military intelligence and counterintelligence agency, WSI, were given positions with the border police, customs and airport administration to safeguard the activities of the CIA. "The latest revelations in Poland fully corroborate my evidence, which is based on testimony by insiders and documents that have been leaked to me," says the investigator today. Now, under the "dynamic force of the truth" that Obama has unleashed, Marty says that Europeans must finally reveal "which governments tolerated and supported the illegal practices of the CIA."
All that remains is the question of who in Poland at the time approved the collaboration with the CIA and gave the Americans unencumbered use of sections of Stare Kiejkuty.
"The order to give the CIA everything they needed came from the very top, from the president," a member of the Polish military intelligence agency told the Marty team in 2007. Kwasniewski denies this. He says that there was close intelligence corporation with the US, but no prisons on Polish soil. When asked to comment on the reports, former Prime Minister Miller said: "All of this is just another opportunity for me to say that I have nothing to say."
It's very possible that the debate on torture and responsibility which is currently being conducted in the US will soon also reach Europe. After all, Germany granted the US flyover rights and dropped its bid to extradite 13 CIA operatives in the case of Khalid el-Masri, a German citizen who claims he was abducted by the Americans. The Italian intelligence agency allegedly assisted the CIA with the kidnapping in Milan of the Islamic cleric Abu Omar. Britain's intelligence agency, MI6, reportedly delivered information directly to CIA agents who were conducting interrogations in Morocco. And there are also reports of a secret prison in Romania. Investigations have been launched into these allegations in nearly all of these countries.
Jerry M., the pilot who flew Sheikh Mohammed from Kabul to Szymany in March, 2003, now lives in Birmingham, Alabama, in a brick house with white shutters and box trees planted in front of the door. Two stone lions guard the path that leads to the entrance. For two years, Jerry M. only had a post box address, like everyone else who flew CIA prisoners around the world: P.O. Box 22 99 43, code name Jerry Allen Bostick.
It appears the 62-year-old would rather deny all knowledge of this period in his life. When the SPIEGEL asked him over the phone if he had ever been to Poland, he said, "I have no idea what you're talking about. Really no idea." When he was asked if he had ever worked for a company named Aero Contractors, the line suddenly went dead. Jerry M. had hung up.
Translated from the German by Paul Cohen
- Part 1: New Evidence of Torture Prison in Poland
- Part 2: Investigations across Europe