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New Details on CIA ‘Black Sites’

The New York Times has a blockbuster story this morning about the infamous secret prisons — or “black sites” — operated by the CIA for housing and interrogating high-value terror suspects. The article contains new details about the locations of the sites:

One jail was a renovated building on a busy street in Bucharest, Romania, the officials disclosed. Another was a steel-beam structure at a remote site in Morocco that was apparently never used. The third, another remodeling project, was outside another former Eastern bloc city. They were designed to appear identical, so prisoners would be disoriented and not know where they were if they were shuttled back and forth. They were kept in isolated cells. [...]

Eventually, the agency’s network would encompass at least eight detention centers, including one in the Middle East, one each in Iraq and Afghanistan and a maximum-security long-term site at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, that was dubbed Strawberry Fields, officials said. (It was named after a Beatles song after C.I.A. officials joked that the detainees would be held there, as the lyric put it, “forever.”)

The C.I.A. has never officially disclosed the exact number of prisoners it once held, but top officials have put the figure at fewer than 100.

Also of note, The Times sheds some light on what life was like inside the prisons:

[T]he jails were small, and though they were built to house about a half-dozen detainees they rarely held more than four.

The cells were constructed with special features to prevent injury to the prisoners during interrogations: nonslip floors and flexible, plywood-covered walls to soften the impact of being slammed into the wall.

The detainees, held in cells far enough apart to prevent communication with one another, were kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day. For their one hour of daily exercise, they were taken out of their cells by C.I.A. security officers wearing black ski masks to hide their identities and to intimidate the detainees, according to the intelligence officials.

Just like prisons in the United States, the jailers imposed a reward and punishment system: well-behaved detainees received books, DVDs and other forms of entertainment, which were taken away if they misbehaved, the officials said.

And the CIA operative charged with overseeing the creation of the network of secret jails: Kyle “Dusty” Foggo — whose name you may have heard before.

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