Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

May 6, 2014

Military judge orders CIA to list 'black sites'

As first reported by the Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg on April 17, during a pretrial hearing of a Guantanamo prisoner previously held at a series of CIA secret prisons, judge Army Col. James Pohl ordered the agency to provide the long-concealed “names of agents, interrogators and medical personnel who worked at the so-called black sites” (”Guantanamo judge to CIA: Disclose ‘black site’ details to USS Cole defense lawyers,” Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald, April 17).

Furthermore, the judge demanded that prosecutors give the defense lawyers such “closely guarded classified CIA information” as “‘locations, personnel and communications,’ interrogation notes and cables between the black sites and headquarters that sought and approved so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Rosenberg has covered Gitmo and American torture for years, unlike many members of the media. But other reporters here and abroad, including me, have documented some of this CIA torture from our research.

I urge the media to stay on this story of military Judge Pohl’s order to the CIA as the Obama administration tries to bury it — including the renditions by which the CIA brought suspects to be interrogated at places other than the supposedly discontinued black sites. Obama has retained these classified renditions.

What Pohl has ignited should become a historic issue in the 2016 presidential and congressional elections — all the more because, as Rosenberg makes clear, the judge did not “order the government to turn over Office of Legal Counsel memos (from the George W. Bush administration) that both blessed and defined the so-called Torture Program that sent CIA captives to secret interrogations across the world after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — out of reach of International Committee of the Red Cross delegates.”

It was also out of reach of the Constitution and international treaties we signed.

This Guantanamo ferment may be our chance to begin to cleanse what I have previously described as “our worldwide shame of having become a torture nation. As we condemn other nations’ crimes against their citizens — Syria, Libya, Zimbabwe, et al — our government makes it easier for those countries to escape accountability by utterly denying our own complicity in the cruel, inhumane, degrading torture that has given terrorists around the world so valuable a means for recruiting more terrorists” (my column, “Obama Bans War Criminals, but Not Our Own,” Aug. 17, 2011).

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