Waves over the leaks about Extraordinary Rendition
Reading about the firing of CIA officer Mary McCarthy
, it becomes clear that the seriousness of the case lies primarily in information about the secret program for outsourcing torture of prisoners. Ms McCarthy allegedly divulged details of the so called "extraordinary rendition" program, including names of countries to which the prisoners were sent. Very sensitive issue indeed."The CIA said in a statement last week that omitted McCarthy's name that the officer was fired for discussing operational intelligence matters with journalists. Officials have said the journalists included Washington Post correspondent Dana Priest, who last week was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for national security reporting that included the revelation of secret, CIA-run prisons for suspected terrorists in Eastern Europe and elsewhere."
Intelligence gathering by nations is necessary and a fact of life. Intelligence agencies,however,do more than gather and interprete data. They participate in covert actions that are often border-line and sometimes clear violations of international laws. The "extraordinary rendition" program falls under that category. One can understand the embarrassment of high officials who had at one time flatly denied existence of it.
Jane Meyer in The New Yorker
,Feb.14,2005: On January 27th, President Bush, in an interview with the Times assured the world that "torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture."
A report broadcast by the BBC
on March 20th describes in detail the case of one Abu Omar, renditioned by CIA agents from Italy to Egypt and the torture he underwent. "The Italian Government has issued "arrest warrants for 22 alleged CIA operatives involved".
Egypt's role is easy to understand. It is the second largest recipient (after Israel) of U.S. aid. If all it took was to torture some prisoners to stay in the good graces of America, Hosni Mobarek's government saw nothing wrong.
It is, however, the conduct of European nations that is murky....and shameful.
- Despite their professions of ignorance and outrage, almost all European governments are now facing questions about how much they have known about CIA operations.
- Have they been turning a blind eye? Have they allowed European airspace to be used for rendition?
- There is a suspicion in some quarters that they co-operate in secret but back off fast when CIA operations become public.
- Others believe that governments simply choose not to ask too many questions about what may be going on, even when it involves their territory.
- Whatever the case, the CIA's increasingly toxic reputation in Europe is causing some serious headaches, and may be making vital co-operation in the war against terrorism even harder to maintain.
(This edition of Secret Wars by Gordon Corera was broadcast on BBC World Service on Monday 20 March.)