Contradicting own reporting, Wash. Post asserted that U.S. "unwilling" to send detainees to countries that torture


In a December 18 article headlined "U.S. Sends Home 33 Detainees From Guantanamo Bay," The Washington Post uncritically reported that "the United States is unwilling to release detainees into the custody of nations where they would likely be abused, tortured or killed."

The article concerned detainees held at the Pentagon's detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, but the Post's Josh White did not limit the claim to Guantánamo detainees. In fact, The Washington Post itself has reported a clear willingness on the part of the Bush administration to turn over detainees to countries known to abuse prisoners, as Media Matters for America has noted. On November 2, 2005 -- in an article by Dana Priest, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize -- the Post reported that "more than 70 detainees," some of whom were at one point held at "black sites," secret prisons around the world, were rendered to the intelligence services of African and Middle Eastern nations known to engage in abusive prisoner treatment. According to the Post:

A second tier -- which these sources believe includes more than 70 detainees -- is a group considered less important, with less direct involvement in terrorism and having limited intelligence value. These prisoners, some of whom were originally taken to black sites, are delivered to intelligence services in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Afghanistan and other countries, a process sometimes known as "rendition." While the first-tier black sites are run by CIA officers, the jails in these countries are operated by the host nations, with CIA financial assistance and, sometimes, direction.

Morocco, Egypt and Jordan have said that they do not torture detainees, although years of State Department human rights reports accuse all three of chronic prisoner abuse.

Also, as the Post more recently reported on December 16:

All, told [prior to 2004] the U.S. agency [CIA] took part in the seizure of at least 10 European citizens or legal immigrants, some of them from countries not cited in that list of "dangerous people" received by the Italian spies. Four renditions occurred on European soil: in Sweden, Macedonia and Italy. Six operations targeted people who were traveling abroad or who had been captured in Pakistan; European intelligence agencies provided direct assistance to the CIA in at least five of those cases, records show.

Each prisoner was then secretly handed over to intelligence services in the Middle East or Africa with histories of human rights abuses. Some remain imprisoned in those countries; others have been taken to the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. One man was later released after being taken from the Balkans to Afghanistan, the victim of an apparent case of mistaken identity.

Additionally, as Media Matters previously noted, The New York Times reported on May 1, 2005, that "there is growing evidence that the United States has sent terror suspects to Uzbekistan for detention and interrogation, even as Uzbekistan's treatment of its own prisoners continues to earn it admonishments from around the world, including from the State Department." During the March 7, 2005, edition of ABC's World News Tonight, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray said that the CIA knew the Uzbeks were torturing prisoners, including one case in which he received photos of a prisoner who was boiled alive.

From the December 18 Washington Post article:

With the transfer of the 33 detainees -- nearly 8 percent of the facility's population -- Guantanamo now holds about 395 detainees, almost none of whom have been charged with a crime. State Department officials have been working to ... reduce the number of Guantanamo detainees through lengthy negotiations with other countries, although the United States is unwilling to release detainees into the custody of nations where they would likely be abused, tortured or killed.

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Interrogation
The Washington Post
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