Senate report set to reveal Djibouti as CIA ‘black site’ - (Part 2/ 3)

Posted Date: Saturday, May 24, 2014

But John Sifton, the Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, who has spent more than a decade investigating the CIA's rendition, detention and interrogation program testified before the commission last year and said "the fact that the flight records of CIA aircraft that are public do not include a flight that matches Mr. al-Asad's trajectory is not indicative of anything in and of itself." Sifton said the CIA could "easily circumvent data collection" and "aircraft used by the CIA could easily be rendered untraceable while flying in and around Djibouti." Al-Asad has based his legal case on flight records, collected by Human Rights Watch and the U.K.-based human rights charity Reprieve, demonstrating CIA-linked aircraft flying in and out of Djibouti (PDF). His lawyers have also obtained documents from Tanzanian immigration officials stating that al-Asad was sent to Djibouti on a Tanzanair aircraft after his 2003 arrest. “This is one of the most direct pieces of evidence we have showing that Djibouti is where our client was held before being handed to the rendition team on the tarmac,” said Margaret Satterthwaite, al-Asad’s attorney and a professor at New York University’s Global Justice Clinic. If the case proceeds, it will mark the first such investigation into the workings of the rendition program in Africa, and could open the door to additional legal challenges by former “war on terror” captives. A handful of similar cases are already pending before the European Court of Human Rights. However, U.S. courts — citing state secrecy — have rejected attempts by detainees to hold their former captors accountable. Al Jazeera’s sources noted that in addition to 6 million pages of CIA records, Senate committee investigators obtained some information about the wrongful detentions from people they characterized as “whistleblowers.” The U.S. officials declined to elaborate. Djibouti, a former French colony, has been one of the key U.S. counterterrorism partners for more than a decade, hosting the Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonnier. The U.S. Air Force also reportedly uses Djibouti as a base for a fleet of drones to strike at Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabab suspects in Yemen and Somalia. According to human rights researchers, after 9/11 dozens of suspects captured by the U.S. were secretly detained, interrogated and tortured in Djibouti. The Obama administration, as recently as August 2012, reportedly continued to render suspects to Djibouti for short-term detention. Although President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2009 banning the CIA’s use of black-site prisons, the order states that it does “not apply to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.”

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