Major study sheds new light on CIA secret prisons
Today sees the launch of the “Global Rendition System” database and interactive map – the most comprehensive resource so far created illustrating the CIA’s programme of renditions and secret prisons as part of the ‘war on terror’.
On the eve of President Obama’s major speech on counter-terrorism policy, the database illuminates the transportation network used to implement the US Government’s programme of “rendition, detention and interrogation”, which traversed Asia and Europe in a string of secret prison sites, ultimately sending over 800 men to Guantanamo Bay – where 166 remain.
The database – a collaboration between Reprieve and the Rendition Project based at Kingston and Kent Universities – uses data from freedom of information requests, legal cases, published first-hand accounts, investigations by NGOs and authoritative news reporting to detail dozens of prisoner transfers between secret “black sites”. Through analysis of more than 11,000 flights by over 120 aircraft, linked to more than 50 private companies, the site reveals the roles of different countries and shows how companies tried to cover their routes by filing false flight plans or by switching aircraft halfway.
Reprieve and the Rendition Project compiled documents from Reprieve’s Renditions Inc. investigation with previous work by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Warsaw, the Human Rights Monitoring Institute in Vilnius, Access Info Europe and other NGOs and investigators worldwide. All of the site’s source material is made publicly available and search results can be downloaded for further research and analysis. The data is plotted on an interactive map – users can zoom in on countries, flight routes and known or possible prisoner transfers, and move through the network via studies of individual cases and summaries of corporate complicity.
A recent report by The Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment – chaired by former Bush-era officials – heavily criticised the US’ programme of rendition and torture, pointing out the key role of European countries noting that the “CIA created its own…‘black sites’ in…Poland, Romania and Lithuania.”