Friday, March 30, 2012

Justice for rendition in Poland

Between 2002 and 2005, the US operated a Black Site in Poland at the Stare Kiejkuty military base. An unknown number of prisoners were secretly rendered there and subjected to brutal interrogation. One of them was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded approximately one hundred times to force a confession. The facility was established with the full support and collaboration of the Polish intelligence services, who were eager to please their US "allies". Now the Polish government is holding them to account for those crimes:

The former head of Poland’s intelligence service has been charged with aiding the Central Intelligence Agency in setting up a secret prison to detain suspected members of Al Qaeda, a leading newspaper here reported on Tuesday, the first high-profile case in which a former senior official of any government has been prosecuted in connection with the agency’s program.

The daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported that the former intelligence chief, Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, told the paper that he faced charges of violating international law by “unlawfully depriving prisoners of their liberty,” in connection with the secret C.I.A. prison where Qaeda suspects were subjected to brutal interrogation methods.

And he's not the only one. Former Prime Minister Leszek Miller could end up in the dock as well.

Compare this to the US, where the new political leadership has quietly collaborated in sweeping the crimes of the old under the table. The contrast couldn't be greater. The Poles see this as a crucial test of the rule of law. What happened at the prison was clearly criminal. Those responsible need to be held to account for it, regardless of their position. That's what a nation ruled by laws, not men, does. The US is clearly no longer such a nation. As for Poland, they're at least making the effort.