Remember how Candidate Obama promised to close Gitmo?
As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists.
He not only has failed to keep that promise, but he’s opened a new secret prison in Somalia. The Nation:
The CIA’s Secret Sites in Somalia
Nestled in a back corner of Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport is a sprawling walled compound run by the Central Intelligence Agency. Set on the coast of the Indian Ocean, the facility looks like a small gated community, with more than a dozen buildings behind large protective walls and secured by guard towers at each of its four corners. Adjacent to the compound are eight large metal hangars, and the CIA has its own aircraft at the airport. The site, which airport officials and Somali intelligence sources say was completed four months ago, is guarded by Somali soldiers, but the Americans control access. At the facility, the CIA runs a counterterrorism training program for Somali intelligence agents and operatives aimed at building an indigenous strike force capable of snatch operations and targeted “combat” operations against members of Al Shabab, an Islamic militant group with close ties to Al Qaeda.
As part of its expanding counterterrorism program in Somalia, the CIA also uses a secret prison buried in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters, where prisoners suspected of being Shabab members or of having links to the group are held. Some of the prisoners have been snatched off the streets of Kenya and rendered by plane to Mogadishu. While the underground prison is officially run by the Somali NSA, US intelligence personnel pay the salaries of intelligence agents and also directly interrogate prisoners. The existence of both facilities and the CIA role was uncovered by The Nation during an extensive on-the-ground investigation in Mogadishu. Among the sources who provided information for this story are senior Somali intelligence officials; senior members of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG); former prisoners held at the underground prison; and several well-connected Somali analysts and militia leaders, some of whom have worked with US agents, including those from the CIA. A US official, who confirmed the existence of both sites, told The Nation, “It makes complete sense to have a strong counterterrorism partnership” with the Somali government.
According to Scahill’s reporting, based on interviews with U.S. officials, human rights workers, lawyers, Somali politicians and analysts, the U.S. could be complicit in the possible torture of those held in the underground prison and has perhaps overseen the rendering of Somali terror suspects from Nairobi back to Mogadishu. A team of lawyers representing one man known to be in detention there paints the whole set-up as a kind of “decentralized, out-sourced Guantanamo Bay.” An article in Harpers outlines the moral tenuousness of the American position:
On the second day of his presidency, Barack Obama issued an executive order that on its face terminated the CIA’s “black site” program, which had seen the agency operate a series of clandestine overseas prisons for terrorism suspects. A few months later, on April 9, 2009, then CIA Director Leon Panetta stated that the CIA “no longer operates detention facilities or black sites,” and that the sites were being “decommissioned.” At the same time, however, the CIA was also maintaining a series of “special relationships” under which cooperating governments maintained proxy prisons for the CIA.
Whatever the depth of the involvement of the CIA and other intelligence and military agencies in Somalia, the report raises this specter of longstanding and much-loathed U.S. counter-terrorism practices in the Muslim world — policies that many hoped would fade under the Obama Administration and in the wake of the Arab Spring. Before, brutal regimes like those of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and even Muammar Gaddafi in Libya happily collaborated with U.S. agents in the arrest, secret detention and likely torture of Islamists and terror suspects. Scahill’s piece suggests not much has changed, at least in the Horn of Africa, a part of the world that has vexed American policy makers for nearly two decades.
Good thing we got rid of that evil Bush guy, huh? Now that constitutional law professor Obama is POTUS we’re once again a nation that abides by the rule of law.
Where are all the progressive voices that screamed about Bush-Cheney war crimes and secret prisons? Where are the Hollywood stars? Where’s the outrage?
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