Trump mulls re­turn of ‘black site’ torture jails

Shut by Obama, cen­tres were used to de­tain ter­ror sus­pects

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - REUTERS WASH­ING­TON

PRES­I­DENT Don­ald Trump may or­der a re­view that could lead to bring­ing back a CIA pro­gramme for hold­ing ter­ror­ism sus­pects in se­cret over­seas “black site” pris­ons where in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques of­ten con­demned as torture were used, two US of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day.

The black sites were used to de­tain sus­pects cap­tured in Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W Bush’s “war on ter­ror­ism” af­ter the Septem­ber 11, 2001, at­tacks and were for­mally closed by for­mer pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

Any re­turn to the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ini­tial anti-ter­ror­ism tac­tics – in­clud­ing se­cret pris­ons and in­ter­ro­ga­tion meth­ods con­sid­ered torture un­der in­ter­na­tional law – would be likely to alien­ate key US al­lies in the fight against mil­i­tant groups like al-Qaeda and Is­lamic State.

The of­fi­cials said Trump was ex­pected to sign an ex­ec­u­tive or­der in the next few days. It would call for a high-level re­view into “whether to re-ini­ti­ate a pro­gramme of in­ter­ro­ga­tion of high-value alien ter­ror­ists to be op­er­ated out­side the United States” and whether the CIA should run the fa­cil­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to a copy of the draft pub­lished by the Wash­ing­ton Post.

Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion spokesman Sean Spicer said the draft was not a White House doc­u­ment. The draft pub­lished by the Wash­ing­ton Post ap­peared to have sec­tions miss­ing, sug­gest­ing that it may not have been a full ver­sion ready for Trump to sign.

US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Speaker Paul Ryan said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion did not write the doc­u­ment.

“My un­der­stand­ing is this was writ­ten by some­body who worked on the tran­si­tion be­fore who’s not in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“This is not a prod­uct of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Ryan said.

Aides to Obama said dur­ing his ten­ure that his pro­hi­bi­tion against torture and ef­forts to close the Guan­tanamo prison in Cuba helped in­crease counter-ter­ror­ism co-op­er­a­tion from US al­lies in the Arab world.

The now-de­funct pro­gramme’s prac­tices dubbed en­hanced in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques – which in­cluded sim­u­lated drown­ing, known as wa­ter­board­ing – were crit­i­cised around the world and de­nounced by Obama and other se­nior US of­fi­cials as torture.

The doc­u­ment ig­nited a bi­par­ti­san out­cry in Congress. Many peo­ple in US in­tel­li­gence agen­cies and within the mil­i­tary are op­posed to re­open­ing the harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­gramme, ac­cord­ing to mul­ti­ple serv­ing of­fi­cers.

“The pres­i­dent can sign what­ever ex­ec­u­tive or­ders he likes. But the law is the law. We are not bring­ing back torture in the United States of Amer­ica,” Se­na­tor John McCain, a Repub­li­can who un­der­went torture as a pris­oner of war in Viet­nam, said.

The CIA “black sites” were lo­cated in Poland, Lithua­nia, Ro­ma­nia, Thai­land and Afghanistan.

In 2006, Bush ended the use of harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques and closed all these sites ex­cept for one in Kabul.

Asked whether he wants wa­ter­board­ing as pres­i­dent, Trump an­swered in an in­ter­view with ABC News: “I will rely on (CIA di­rec­tor Mike) Pom­peo and (De­fense Sec­re­tary James) Mat­tis and my group. And if they don’t want to do it, that’s fine. If they do want to do it, then I will work to­ward that end,” Trump said.

“I want to do ev­ery­thing within the bounds of what we’re al­lowed to do if it’s le­gal. If they don’t want to do it, that’s fine. Do I feel it works? Ab­so­lutely I feel it works.”

Mat­tis and Pom­peo had not been aware such plans were in the works, ac­cord­ing to a con­gres­sional source.


US mil­i­tary guards walk within Camp Delta mil­i­tary-run prison, at the Guan­tanamo Bay US Naval Base, Cuba. A draft ex­ec­u­tive or­der shows Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ask­ing for a re­view of Amer­ica’s meth­ods for in­ter­ro­ga­tion of ter­ror sus­pects and whether to re­open ‘black site’ pris­ons.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump takes the cap off a pen be­fore sign­ing an ex­ec­u­tive or­der to build a wall on the Mex­i­can bor­der.

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