Did the CIA exclude Israel from its extraordinary rendition program?

Open Society Foundations report coverBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The most comprehensive non-classified account of the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s extraordinary rendition program has been published by a human-rights advocacy group. It details for the first time the fate of nearly 140 known targets of the controversial program, who were abducted by the CIA mostly during the administration of US President George W. Bush. Under the controversial program, individuals were systematically detained and transferred without due process to countries where the use of torture on prisoners was –in the words of the report– standard practice. The report, entitled Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition, was authored by Amrit Singh, formerly of the American Civil Liberties Union and currently senior legal officer at the National Security and Counterterrorism program at the Open Society Justice Initiative. It concludes that the CIA was able to build and maintain the program with significant assistance from 54 countries, including 13 in Africa, 14 in Asia and 25 in Europe. The long list of countries that willingly cooperated with the CIA’s extraordinary rendition practices includes Canada, Denmark, Australia, Finland, Mauritania, Romania and South Africa. It even includes countries that are known to have had tense relations with Washington in the past decade, such as Zimbabwe, Syria, Pakistan, Libya, and even Iran. Certainly, the Open Society Justice Initiative report points to the fact that it is both shortsighted and inaccurate to refer to the Bush administration’s post-9/11 extraordinary rendition program as “an American operation”. It was informed and supported at all levels by America’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies, as well as by many countries which, for one reason or another, wished to be on the good side of the US. But the list of complicit states is also interesting for what it doesn’t include. Most importantly, it doesn’t include Israel. One could be excused for questioning how it is possible for countries like Iran and Syria to be listed as collaborators of the CIA’s rendition program, when Israel, widely viewed as Washington’s closest ally, is conspicuously missing. Could the list be incomplete, perhaps? I posed this question to officials from the Open Society Foundations, which funded the report, and was told that there is no evidence whatsoever that Israeli authorities participated in the CIA’s worldwide rendition program. One possible explanation, they said, is that, in order to secure the cooperation of Arab governments, the CIA had to ensure that Israel would not be directly involved in the program. One source told me that Langley saw the assistance of intelligence agencies from Muslim countries as essential for the success of the program. It therefore went to great pains to ensure that there would be no operational link between these agencies and Israel. Does this mean that the CIA did not collaborate with Israel in the so-called “war on terrorism”? Certainly not. But this collaboration presumably took place under a separate program, which probably remains classified to this day.

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5 Responses to Did the CIA exclude Israel from its extraordinary rendition program?

  1. AlbertE. says:

    OH! This “report” was done by the ACLU. So it must be believe 1000% in entirety then. That ACLU is just so totally balanced and without political agenda. If the ACLU says it is so then it must be so. They have been on the side of right all the time and just such exemplars of fairness and good ness and who knows what else. Count on them always.

    By the way, the U.S. did invoke Article 5 of the NATO charter after 9/11. Those constituent states as far as I know WERE LEGALLY OBLIGATED TO RENDER ALL HELP AND ASSISTANCE TO THE U.S. THAT WOULD INCLUDE THE CAPTURE OF UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANTS!, THEIR INCARCERATION AND INTERROGATION.

  2. Pete says:

    Not only a separate Israeli-US program but probably a program that has existed since the late 1960s when the PLO, Islamic and Euroterrorist groups began to fight against Israel, the US and the West generally.

    Frequently Israel did not or could not capture and render “terrorist’ leaders. Israel has carried out targetted killings instead http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Targeted_killing#Use_by_the_Israeli_Government

    Such killings included assassinations by Mossad and non-UAV airstrikes. The US has adopted Israel’s targeted killing program in some respects. Though the US has perfected the killer drone/UAV (moral cutout) methodology. Israel is a far behind the US No. 2 in killer drones.

  3. Tom says:

    In his book entititled Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas describes Israel’s so-called “role.” Mossad did have a “seat at the table” for purposes of planning the program and Mossad interrogators were given access to detainees. Israel, however, appears to have avoided hosting “black sites” and basically “sat in” on the program in order to have a card to play if the US ever started to give it a headache on the Palestinian treatment issue.

    Eventually, Thomas notes, Israel appears to have distanced itself in the view that the CIA program was not providing real intelligence. An interviewed Mossad officer said that the program provided “invaluable propaganda” for enemies and that while Mossad itself was “not averse” to harsh questioning, it drew the line at methods like beatings, sexual assaults, electric shocks, and threats to families because the methods were ineffective.

    See pages 544-51 of the book. Take it for what you will.

  4. marc says:

    This is because israel doesnt torture prisoners, does this upset you?
    Headline could have read us excludes south pago pago from rendition program or us excludes mali from rendition program or us excludes…

  5. intelNews says:

    @Tom: Thanks for sharing Gordon Thomas’ view. The possibility that Israel distanced itself from the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, rather than the other way around, should certainly be considered. On the other hand, in order for Israeli intelligence planners to conclude that the rendition program was not providing “real intelligence”, they would have to have been privy to the data generated, as well as the methods employed. Does this mean that Israel was, at some point, part of the program, before bailing out? A question worth asking, in my opinion. [JF]

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