Tuesday, July 17, 2007

AP: Swiss investigator under fire over CIA prisons report

BRUSSELS, Belgium: A Swiss investigator came under fire from European Union lawmakers Tuesday for using anonymous sources to name and shame officials he said were privy to secret prisons operated by the CIA in Romania and Poland.

Swiss Sen. Dick Marty conducted an 18-month inquiry, on behalf of the Council of Europe, into allegations that the U.S. intelligence agency interrogated key terror suspects at secret prisons in several European countries.

In a report published last month, he identified Marek Siwiec, a former Polish ministerial official in charge of military intelligence who is vice president of the European Parliament, and EU parliamentarian Ioan Mircea Pascu, Romania's former defense minister, as being among a handful of local officials who had firsthand knowledge of secret CIA operations in Romania and Poland after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States.

Responding to criticism of his use of anonymous sources from a European Parliament panel, Marty said some of his informants were officials who needed to be protected.

The report released last month says some of his sources came from within the CIA. Under questioning from lawmakers, Marty said some of those were dissatisfied with the detention policy pursued under then U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

"There were huge conflicts between the CIA and Rumsfeld," Marty said. "Many leading figures in the CIA did not accept these measures at all. They felt they were actually counterproductive."

Marty also accused four high-ranking Poles and five Romanians — including then-Presidents Aleksander Kwasniewski and Ion Iliescu — as being politically accountable for the clandestine jails, where he said prisoners were typically shackled and handcuffed, kept naked and in isolation.

Marty, a former prosecutor, said use of anonymous sources was the only way to find out what had happened, "given the confidential nature of this information."

In his report, he said its conclusions relied upon "multiple sources which validate and corroborate one another." He added that he or his assistants spoke with "over 30 one-time members (serving, retired or having carried out contract work) of intelligence services in the United States and Europe."

But he was lambasted by EU parliamentarians for not disclosing a single source while pointing fingers at Siwiec and Pascu, and for refusing to consult with the two lawmakers before publishing his report.

"It's very dangerous to base accusations against persons on anonymous sources," said Dutch Socialist lawmaker Jan Marinus Wiersma.

Belgian Socialist deputy Veronique De Keyser said the parliamentarians felt "uneasy" about seeing the names of their colleagues in the report without a single source. Polish and Romanian lawmakers from all parts of the political spectrum said they were outraged Marty did not seek testimony from Siwiec and Pascu.

Marty's report said "high value detainees" such as self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and suspected senior al-Qaida operative Abu Zubaydah were held in Poland — in breach of European human rights standards. It said lesser detainees, who were still of "remarkable importance," were taken to Romania.

In an earlier report, Marty accused 14 European nations of colluding with U.S. intelligence in a web of rights abuses to help the CIA spirit terror suspects to illegal detention facilities.

Both Poland and Romania have vigorously denied any involvement. Siwiec and Pascu both said Monday they would take legal action against Marty for harming their reputations.

No comments: