‘Poland paying damages to CIA inmates may force US officials’ accountability for tortures’

An aerial view shows a watch tower of an airport in Szymany, close to Szczytno in northeastern Poland, September 9, 2008.(Reuters / Kacper Pempel)
The current US administration hasn’t done enough to hold accountable leading officials who orchestrated a worldwide torture program, says Prof. Ben Davis, University of Toledo College of Law. But there’s hope that may change some day, he adds.

Poland is paying $262,000 to CIA detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, previously held and tortured on its soil. The two Saudi Arabian citizens are still held at the American Guantanamo detention center in Cuba.

Poland lost its appeal at the European Court of Human Rights. It was found guilty of allowing the CIA to torture people at a so-called 'black site' on its territory after the US Senate published a report on the CIA's interrogation programs.

RT:Poland is ready to make its first payments. Do you think that'll encourage the European Court to chase other countries alleged to have been involved in CIA black sites, such as Lithuania for example?

Ben Davis: There is the case of Abu Zubaydah in Lithuania that was also decided. So I think there are other cases in Romania, and in other sites. Yes, I think what will happen is that the lawyers who are representing these detainees are bringing cases where they can to encourage the European court of Human rights to uphold the rule of law. I’m optimistic about those efforts and I salute the European Court Of Human Rights for raising and getting the Polish decision, salute Poland for starting to comply with it, and I just wish we can get this kind of accountability even at that minimal level back in the States here.

Reuters / Larry Downing

RT:Poland always denied accusations it hosted a black site, until the CIA's torture report was published. So can we not trust anyone over this issue if such high ranking denials mean nothing? Just how far does it spread?

BD: You have to understand that it was a worldwide torture program in a number of countries around the world. The Senate Intelligence Committee report reveals some of that even though it is kind of redacted and names are changed. But various efforts have shown a various counties in the world - I’m thinking of at least 15 or something along those numbers in Africa, in Asia, in Europe - that participated.

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You have a lot of countries that have their hands dirty. I know there is a case against Djibouti that has been raised before the African Court of Human Rights. It is a worldwide program that was orchestrated from Washington DC by the highest levels of the past administration, and the current administration has not really done enough to hold the high-level people accountable in the US. These efforts abroad are good because they highlight that the lies, or the misrepresentations, or misdirection bit by bit are being shown to be what they are. Hopefully, it forces the accountability here in the States so that we could make sure that there is justice with regards to this never happening again, with regards to the US torturing people.

RT:Do you think it will be necessary to make examples of those people who are in charge of what happened on their watch? Do you think political heads should roll?

BD: I’ve been working for about 10 or 11 years now on trying to get accountability for the high-level civilian and military leaders of the US for their role in the torture program. That row goes right up to former President Bush.

There is a book that came out in 2014 by the former General Counsel of the CIA called “Company Man: [Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA]” that details in quite clear detail just who are all the people at the highest levels who were involved in this. We know who the actors are from these public available things. We just can’t seem to get a prosecutor of the Department of Justice to bring a prosecution of a high-level CIA, a former President of CIA, intelligence services, or former member of the White House, DOJ, Department of State, etc. for their clear actions of enabling torture and torturing people. But I’m hopeful that we’ll get there.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.