CIA dissenters helped expose renditions, says inquiry chief
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Wednesday July 18, 2007
American intelligence officials who were deeply opposed to the secret transfer of terror suspects to interrogation centres across Europe cooperated with an investigation into the CIA's undisclosed network of jails, it was claimed yesterday.
Dick Marty, the Swiss senator who produced the Council of Europe's report on the hidden transport and detention of suspects, yesterday told a committee in the European parliament that he had received information about the secret programme from dissident officers within the upper reaches of the CIA. He said the officers were disturbed that the programme, known as renditions, led to the torture and mistreatment of detainees.
"Many leading figures in the CIA did not accept these methods at all," Mr Marty told a committee meeting yesterday. He said senior agency officials had agreed to help his investigation in return for anonymity. "People in the CIA felt these things were not consonant with the sort of intelligence work they normally do," he said.
In his report late last month, Mr Marty presented evidence of a secret programme to transfer terror suspects to a network of detention centres where they could be interrogated without the protection of US or international law. Some of these prisons were on European soil, specifically in Poland and Romania, and were used from 2002 to 2005.
The rendition programme was exposed by the Washington Post in November 2005. The US president, George Bush, confirmed last year that the CIA had conducted such clandestine transfers of detainees, who were interrogated using what he described as "alternative procedures".
The CIA has rejected Mr Marty's report as biased. Mark Mansfeld, a CIA spokesman, defended the detainee flights yesterday, but would not be drawn on Mr Marty's claim to have held conversations with serving officials. "I have no idea what basis he has for making such a claim," he said.
Three former CIA officers yesterday told the Guardian that Mr Marty was correct about the deep divisions within the CIA. However, one former officer, Vincent Cannistraro, said he doubted Mr Marty would have met serving officials.
But the depths of anger within the CIA remained real. "There are people who decided to take early retirement," said Mr Cannistraro. "There were a couple of ... relatively senior officials whose upward career was blocked because of their lack of wholehearted endorsement of the programme."
Another ex-CIA officer, Larry Johnson, said he found Mr Marty's claims credible. "I know officers who thought this was wrong-headed, who thought this was counterproductive and who stayed away from it," he said. "So the fact that there are some people getting up and publicly expressing their concern and dissent is not surprising."