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Tuesday, June 28, 2005


our global prison network

allegations are surfacing at the united nations which accuse the united states of maintaining prison ships for counterterrorism detainees.

this would be, if true, yet another strange extension of a massive global prison system which operates well outside american law and jurisdiction.

These prisons and jails are sometimes as small as shipping containers and as large as the sprawling Guantanamo Bay complex in Cuba. They are part of an elaborate CIA and military infrastructure whose purpose is to hold suspected terrorists or insurgents for interrogation and safe-keeping while avoiding U.S. or international court systems, where proceedings and evidence against the accused would be aired in public. Some are even held by foreign governments at the informal request of the United States.

"The number of people who have been detained in the Arab world for the sake of America is much more than in Guantanamo Bay. Really, thousands," said Najeeb Nuaimi, a former justice minister of Qatar who is representing the families of dozens of prisoners.

The largely hidden array includes three systems that only rarely overlap: the Pentagon-run network of prisons, jails and holding facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and elsewhere; small and secret CIA-run facilities where top al-Qaida and other figures are kept; and interrogation rooms of foreign intelligence services -- some with documented records of torture -- to which the U.S. government delivers or "renders" mid- or low-level terrorism suspects for questioning.

All told, more than 9,000 people are held overseas by U.S. authorities with the vast majority under military control, according to Pentagon figures and estimates by intelligence experts.
reports have periodically surfaced about the network, including the frightening stories of some resurfaced detainees and their abductions.

these prisons are not a matter of record -- indeed, no one is really sure of their extent or nature. abu ghraib and guantanamo bay are as close to a public face as the network possesses.

i would simply observe that, if these contrivances to escape the law are necessary to do whatever it is that the administration has decided to do, this society is in a great deal more danger from within than without.

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