Rice refuses to deny CIA transported suspects to countries using torture
New investigation opened into Spanish administration for allowing flights to continue; Italy suspends rendition trial
Outgoing Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on Friday refused to deny the CIA had engaged in transporting terror suspects to countries that routinely practice torture, when asked by a Danish television reporter.
A new Danish government report has drawn a blank as to whether the country's airspace was used by the CIA to spirit away targets of interest, a highly controversial practice known as rendition.
Rice was asked by the reporter to comment on whether the intelligence agency had conducted flights, and she did not deny it.
"We have respected Danish sovereignty and will continue to do so, and I have given to the (Danish) foreign minister a guarantee, assurances how we will deal with these issues in the future," she said, according to published reports.
The reporter backtracked, and asked the secretary if that means there had been no CIA flights over Denmark.
"I have given a commitment to the foreign minister about the future, and I have said that we will respect Danish sovereignty," she said, dodging his inquiry.
In Spain, an investigation has been launched into whether the previous administration allowed the CIA to land its rendition flights at Spanish facilities. The probe was launched after a top secret document was leaked to Spanish newspaper El Pais.
Former Prime Minister Aznar, a Bush ally, previously denied any knowledge of CIA flights stopping in his country. On Nov. 30, Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos insisted that the current administration was not informed of the flights, and vowed to see an investigation launched.
"We have nothing to hide," he said in a report published by the Telegraph.
Similarly, in Portugal, the country's top diplomat recently deflected allegations of his government's involvement with the American intelligence agency.
Responding to a Spanish media report claiming the CIA had used Portugal for renditions, Luís Amado said: "I have no further information and add I have no knowledge of any document in Portugal in either the archives of the foreign or defense ministries to compromise in this area any of the governments in office in Portugal up to the present."
As recently as April, the CIA admitted in documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that the program will continue.
And, on Dec. 3, an Italian court moved to postpone the trial of Italian intelligence agents as the administration of Silvio Berlusconi seeks a higher court ruling on the constitutionality of state secrets privileges.
"State secrecy cannot mean impunity," said Armando Spataro, the prosecutor attempting to prove that Italian agents aided CIA kidnappings, according to a report by Adnkronos International. "Despite the all the attempts to do so, you cannot stop the quest for the truth."
A ruling on the government's secrecy privileges is expected in May, after which the trial will resume.
RAW STORY was the first news outlet to identify the exact location of one of the sites in the CIA's secret prison network, which was revealed first by the Washington Post. Raw Story identified a prison in northeastern Poland, Stare Kiejkuty, that was used as a transit point for terror suspects.
Groups highly concerned about the Bush-era program still have reason to hope. On Thursday, President-elect Obama, who has vowed to prevent any further torture by American captors, met with an assembly of anti-torture generals.
The same generals were responsible for legislation that President Bush vetoed, which would have restricted the CIA's interrogation methods to those outlined in the Army field manual.
"President-elect Obama has said that Americans do not engage in torture, that we must send a message to the world that America is a nation of laws, and that we as a nation should stand against torture. He believes that banning torture will actually save American lives and help restore America's moral stature in the world," an unnamed official told the Associated Press. "This meeting is timely and very helpful to advancing this work."
Additional reporting by John Byrne.