Saturday, November 26, 2005

Black Site: Update 2

Many other bloggers have descended on the CIA secret jail story and are probably doing it better than I am. If you want a round-up I endorse and recommend Soj. But there are some things I feel ought to be flagged. As anyone who reads this regularly ought to know, I suspect that Taszar airbase in Hungary, the location of "Camp Freedom", where Ahmed Chalabi's followers were trained for the invasion of Iraq is one of the sites. Last week, I revealed that an aircraft formerly used by the Bush-Cheney campaign had visited Taszar in April, 2003. I'm trying to find out who was using Boeing 727, N804MA at the time. Mr Hackert, director of sales for its owners Miami Air International, declined to answer an inquiry by email. Readers?

One may remember that an Iraqi general was about to be tried in Denmark on war crimes charges shortly before the war. He vanished, an event that attracted some attention at the time. This site, whose credibility I rather doubt, claims that General Nizar al-Khazraji was taken to Taszar on board a Gulfstream aircraft operated by the CIA. (Two Gulfstreams have been identified as taking part in prisoner transfers.) They also, fascinatingly, claim that the operation at Taszar was run by none other than disgraced New York cop Bernard Kerik!

German weekly Die Zeit described the scene around the base in January 2003: massive security, with an outer ring of Hungarian troops but an inner sanctum guarded by Americans. Apparently the Hungarians were informed of all the people who passed through for border control purposes, but I don't know if any physical control was carried out - in any case no-one was permitted to leave the perimeter.

It was rumoured yesterday that Le Monde was going to run a headline regarding a "little Guantanamo" at Camp Bondsteel, the US Army headquarters in Kosovo, however they didn't (or at least their website didn't). It's here. I suspect I know why: about a year ago, I was told by a former Naval staff officer and specialist in international law who had visited the place that the infamous Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo looked very similar to the POW cage in Bondsteel, which he had visited in connection with war-crimes suspects from the Balkan war who were held there before transfer to the Hague Tribunal. He held that X-Ray looked like it did because the Americans military engineers built the same kind of structure anywhere if they were told to erect a camp for prisoners, whether POWs or Rumsfeld's "illegal combatants".

What differed, presumably, was the treatment they received once they were there..

Edit: this is essentially the Le Monde story, just the person who saw the prison's likeness was Alvardo Gil Robles of the Council of Europe. He was apparently "shocked" by the resemblance but makes no mention of torture or maltreatment.

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