Friday, June 08, 2007

Council of Europe nails Kwasniewski and WSI as CIA stooges?

The report headed by Dick Marty (above) claims that CIA prisons in Poland were known about by the then president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski, and operated in collaboration with agents from the now disbanded Military Intelligence Agency (WSI).

The report’s main finding, I suppose, is that Poland and Romania both operated clandestine CIA prisons, but the one near Szymany airstrip in northern Poland was set up to hold so-called High Value Detainees (HVD) – in other words, the most dangerous of suspected al-Qaeda type terrorists. Poland was the site of the CIA’s most important and sensitive ‘prison’ in Europe.

The 9,000 word report – much of which I have waded through – paints a picture of the now disbanded Military Intelligence Service (WSI) as a ‘cartel’ operating on behalf of ‘self-interested elites’, and beyond the oversight of civil bodies, such as parliament, or even the prime minister’s office.

But not the president’s office. One ‘military intelligence source’ (the report is full of unnamed ‘sources’) told Dick Marty:

“Listen, Poland agreed top down…from the president, yes….to provide the CIA all it needed.”

The recruitment

CIA agents apparently identified ‘point men’ within the WSI – which the present PiS government, when giving reasons for disbanding it last year, described as operating as if it was a ‘state within a state’. The report seems to make the same allegations.

Once identified and recruited these ‘point men’ would be told things on a need to know basis, and that information stayed within this small circle of operatives.

The WSI had two functions, says the report, when aiding the CIA in the rendition program. It provided military security when prison transfers were taking place; and it infiltrated other state organs, such as the Air Navigation Services Agency, the Border Guards and Customs Office to make the smooth running of the transfers a very closed secret.

Top agent – Jerzy Kos?

One of the top agents was apparently Jerzy Kos, who was head of the Board of Mazury-Szczytno Airport Company. ‘He was our man,’ says one ‘source’.

Later Kos went to work for a private construction company (Wroclawska Jedynka – in which the public National Investment Fund has a stake, and which has received state loans in the past of over 1 million zloty to pay off redundant workers) which gained contracts in war torn Iraq. This Mr Kos is quite a guy.

The plot thickens

When, in June 2004, Kos became a kidnap victim in Baghdad, the American Special Forces staged a rare raid to free him (see Fox News report of rescue). The implication is that Kos is a very valuable guy to the CIA.

CIA sources said that they picked Poland initially, then Romania, as they believed that much of central and eastern Europe does not, yet, have trustworthy secret services.

But Poland, in particular, was different. One source told Marty:

“We have an extraordinary relationship with Poland. My experience is that if Poles can help us, they will.”

Poland negotiated its agreement with the CIA, says the report, in late 2002, early 2003.

“We have established that the first HVDs were transferred to Poland in the first half of 2003,” says the report’s author.

The most highly prized HVDs to have been detained in Poland were Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Shekh Mohamed. Both were subjected to ‘enhanced interrogation techniques...' These ‘techniques’ have been controversial, to say the least (and described here).

The evidence for all this comes from the many ‘unnamed sources’, and from flight logs (see here), which have detailed the landings and taking off of CIA planes – evidence, most of which identified by Human Rights Watch when it first made the allegations back in November 2005.

The ‘new evidence’ – or ‘proof’ as Marty has termed them - appears to come from the interviews with the unnamed sources.

So they are impossible to verify.

But the picture that the report paints is plausible. The government disbanded the WSI because it thought it was out of control, and was operating, just as the report says, as a state within a state, on behalf of ‘elites’ – the present government, of course, would refer to these elites as the infamous ‘uklad’.

So it is perfectly possible that renditioned prisoners were being held in Poland, before being flown off to even more darker places, under the noses of prime ministers and parliamentarians. Hence their genuine ignorance.

But the accusation that former president Aleksander Kwasniewski was in on all this is a dangerous one for him, just as he is making his ‘political comeback’.

Yesterday, Kwasniewski said: “I deny it. I have as much many times.”

Yes, Olek, but do we believe you, anymore?