CIA still operates 'black sites' overseas, senior counterterrorism official says
Update: Bush says US 'does not torture'
The secret CIA overseas detention program first exposed by the Washington Post remains active, according to a senior US counterterrorism official who went on the record in Thursday's New York Times.
Little attention has been paid to the revelation, aside from a Reuters story late Thursday.
The Central Intelligence Agency, through a spokesman, refused to comment on the report.
"We do not comment on this question as a matter of course," CIA spokesman George Little told reporters. "The agency's terrorist detention and interrogation program has been conducted lawfully, with great care and close review."
On Friday, at a hastily called Oval Office meeting with reporters, President Bush said, "This government does not torture people."
"When we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet we're going to detain them, and you bet we're going to question them," he added. "The American people expect us to find out information, actionable intelligence so we can help protect them. That's our job."
(Video of Bush can be seen at this link)
RAW STORY's Larisa Alexandrovna revealed the exact location of a CIA black site in Poland in February of this year.
Intelligence officials identified the site as a component of a Polish intelligence training school outside the northern Polish village of Stare Kiejkuty. While previously suspected, the facility had never been conclusively identified as being part of the CIA's secret rendition and detention program.
Only the Polish prime minister and top Polish intelligence brass were told of the plan, in which agents of the United States quietly shuttled detainees from other holding facilities around the globe for stopovers and short-term interrogation in Poland between late 2002 and 2004.
According to a confidential British intelligence memo shown to RAW STORY, Prime Minister Tony Blair told Poland's then-Prime Minister Leszek Miller to keep the information secret, even from his own government.
“Miller was asked to keep it as tight as possible,” the memo said.
'We don't put out a press release'
The agency continues to hold suspects overseas, Paul C. Kelbaugh, a veteran intelligence lawyer who was deputy legal counsel at the C.I.A.'s Counterterrorist Center from 2001 to 2003, told the Times. Possible sites have been suggested in Thailand and Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean.
The New York Times reported Thursday that the United States was holding prisoners at "black sites" overseas, even after President Bush said all prisoners had been moved out of secret sites.
A U.S. counterterrorism official told the paper: "In late 2006, Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, a high-ranking al Qaeda terrorist who planned and conducted attacks against U.S. military forces, was captured and held in CIA custody."
The White House dodged the question in Thursday's briefing.
"We haven't been in the habit of doing a press release every time we have a prisoner," spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
The Times also revealed that a secret memo endorsed by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales authorized the use of "harsh interrogation" techniques even after the Senate passed a ban on torture that President Bush signed into law.
The opinion "for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures," the paper said.