A window into CIA’s embrace of secret jails

A window into CIA’s embrace of secret jails

In March 2003, two C.I.A. officials surprised Kyle D. Foggo, then the chief of the agency’s main European supply base, with an unusual request. They wanted his help building secret prisons to hold some of the world’s most threatening terrorists.

Mr. Foggo, nicknamed Dusty, was known inside the agency as a cigar-waving, bourbon-drinking operator, someone who could get a cargo plane flying anywhere in the world or quickly obtain weapons, food, money — whatever the C.I.A. needed. His unit in Frankfurt, Germany, was strained by the spy agency’s operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, but Mr. Foggo agreed to the assignment.

“It was too sensitive to be handled by headquarters,” he said in an interview. “I was proud to help my nation.”

With that, Mr. Foggo went on to oversee construction of three detention centers, each built to house about a half-dozen detainees, according to former intelligence officials and others briefed on the matter. One jail was a renovated building on a busy street in Bucharest, Romania, the officials disclosed. Another was a steel-beam structure at a remote site in Morocco that was apparently never used. The third, another remodeling project, was outside another former Eastern bloc city. They were designed to appear identical, so prisoners would be disoriented and not know where they were if they were shuttled back and forth. They were kept in isolated cells. [continued…]

Interrogator: ‘intolerance’ led to torture

Former Air Force Maj. Matthew Alexander, whose questioning of a captured terrorist led to the elimination al Qaeda’s top man in Iraq, said a pervasive “intolerance” of Arabs and Muslims among American interrogators led to abuses at Abu Ghraib and other prisons.

“Soldiers referred to them as rag heads and so on,” Alexander said during a Monday talk at the International Spy Museum, in Washington, D.C. to promote his book, “How To Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq.”

“They had read things like ‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam,’ which characterizes its practitioners as potential terrorists, he added.

An Air Force criminal investigator for over a decade before being assigned to Iraq in March 2006, Alexander was careful not to characterize all, or even most, interrogators as bigots, although he said, “it was not just a few bad apples” who tortured prisoners.

“It was not a majority of interrogators. If I had to guess, maybe 20 per cent,” he told a packed room at the International Spy Museum, which opened its doors in July 2002.

“A small minority with a lot of power” at the top of the chain of command was responsible for fostering at atmosphere in which abuses could flourish, he said. [continued…]

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