Sunday, February 12, 2006

US building new “terrorist” prison in Morocco

There is little hope that the US practice of “extraordinary renditions” will come to an end any time soon. According to the Times Online, the US is currently building a new facility in Morocco for US “terrorist” prisoners.

The new prison is being built just outside the Moroccan capital of Rabat and will be under the nominal direction of the Securite du Territoire (DST), the Moroccan secret police.

I suppose this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Firstly, building “black site” detention facilities using US money is not exactly a secret.

Most of the facilities were built and are maintained with congressionally appropriated funds, but the White House has refused to allow the CIA to brief anyone except the House and Senate intelligence committees' chairmen and vice chairmen on the program's generalities.

Secondly, sending prisoners to countries who have no qualms about torture is also well known.

On March 7, the Minister of Human Rights, Mohamed Oujjar, stated that a body composed of officials from the Ministries of Human Rights, Justice, and the Interior (of Morocco)were investigating reports that persons detained in connection with the May 2003 Casablanca explosions had been subjected to torture and human rights violations.

AI and other human rights organizations reported torture and ill treatment during initial interrogations of prisoners, including beatings, electric shocks, and sexual abuse. Former detainees reported that they were held in secret detention and denied contact with lawyers or family. The AI report also documented accusations of arbitrary detention and forced confessions of detained terrorism suspects.

In addition, we are all well aware that the US “rewards” those countries willing to do their dirty work for them.

Morocco is an important ally of the United States because of its cooperation in fighting terrorism, the 2004 signing of a bilateral free-trade agreement, and its generally pro-West policies. In June 2004, the United States designated Morocco “a major non-NATO ally,” thus easing restrictions on arms sales.

So, why is this news? I think many of us thought that after the public outcry over “black sites”, after the international beating Condie Rice took on her December European tour over the matter, after the international furor and investigations into which countries hosted or abetted in the disappearances, the Bush administration just might have left things in a condition that was at least no more expansive than what already existed. No such luck. To be still building NEW facilities shows that not only will extraordinary renditions (along with their accompanying and inevitable torture) continue, but will undoubtedly continue well into the future.

The building, like the US policy, is meant to last a long time.

No comments: