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July 14, 2011 6:23 AM   Subscribe

The CIA's Secret Sites in Somalia. Jeremy Scahill at The Nation reports on a CIA facility at Mogadishu's international airport used for a "counterterrorism training program for Somali intelligence agents and operatives," as well as a secret prison "buried in the basement of Somalia's National Security Agency" where "some of the prisoners have been snatched off the streets of Kenya and rendered by plane to Mogadishu."

Amy Goodman interviewed Scahill on Democracy Now. In the next segment, he also gave the location of the prison to a Red Cross spokesman, urging an investigation. The CIA has sort of responded.

More on the Obama administration and extraordinary rendition: 1, 2, 3

The US has recently extended drone strikes to Somalia. The Pentagon has also allocated $45 million in military assistance (including four surveillance drones) to Uganda and Burundi, whose troops make up the African Union peacekeeping force propping up the Somali government.

Somalia is suffering from its most severe drought in 60 years, what the UN has called currently "the world's worst humanitarian disaster."
posted by lullaby (39 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
"They took me to this prison, where I have been up to now. I have been here for one year, seven months. I have been interrogated so many times. Interrogated by Somali men and white men. Every day. New faces show up. They have nothing on me. I have never seen a lawyer, never seen an outsider. Only other prisoners, interrogators, guards. Here there is no court or tribunal.’”

Seems like this site is working as designed and intended. Reassuring that at least some part of the American government is functioning competently. Although if they were really doing their jobs I suppose I wouldn't be reading about it in the left wing Nation. Oh well, you can't expect perfection from government!

Nonetheless, President Obama deserves full marks in this column; he is as untroubled by constitutional restraint and human decency as his predecessor.
posted by three blind mice at 6:42 AM on July 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Clara Gutteridge who has worked extensively tracking the disappearances of terror suspects in Kenya, was deported from Kenya on May 11. She reported what is essentially a sort of decentralised, outsourced Guantánamo Bay in Kampala (Uganda).
posted by adamvasco at 6:45 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's a good time to be in the drone business.

Which companies should I be buying stock in to capitalize on the boom? (No pun intended.)
posted by Trurl at 7:07 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


General Atomics produces Predator and Reaper drones, though Lockheed manufactures the Hellfire missiles.
posted by lullaby at 7:19 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this lullaby. I had read the article and was thinking about posting this myself, but you beat me to the punch. What people have to understand is that this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. In this case the iceberg is a global system of internment camps which operate outside the rule of law. Of course this will all be justified by the Obama apologists as being politically expedient or some other such rubbish. This is fascism plain and simple.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:37 AM on July 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Aww, man "General Atomics" is already taken?

That's what I was goingta name my zeppelin company.

But I guess I can still use "Applied Atomics" for the sno-cone division.
posted by notyou at 7:55 AM on July 14, 2011


{derail} Good business drones. 44 countries around the world are now actively experimenting with military robots of various kinds.{/derail}
posted by adamvasco at 7:58 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is disgusting, but I'm not even surprised. Somewhere there's a manual all about this, and an officer who stated 'you know, AFRICOM needs some detention sites too'. I doubt Egypt and Syria are taking new prisioners right now, after all.
posted by jaduncan at 7:58 AM on July 14, 2011


This is fascism plain and simple
No. Lazy thinking. This has aspects which are fascistic. Yes. However the black shirts aren't kicking in your door or pinning a big yellow geometrical pattern on your shirt. Yet.
Being shrill is not going to get a discussion going or get people involved in understanding that maybe they are too trusting and simplistic in their worldview. The insidious creep of corporate globilization driven primarily by first world investments institutions ignoring the immorality of what they are creating and sustaining can only be approached through rational discussion, explanation and pressure. Most people don't know how their money is invested, what companies are their investment funds supporting, let alone the morality of those companies. Failing that, then the only option is to go to the barricades.
posted by adamvasco at 8:07 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Way previously
posted by euphorb at 8:11 AM on July 14, 2011


However the black shirts aren't kicking in your door or pinning a big yellow geometrical pattern on your shirt.

Well they sure as hell are kicking some people's doors, and just because it isn't yet happening in the "homeland" doesn't mean it isn't fascist. I'd prefer that the American people wake up and put a stop to this before it starts happening here, but that's probably too much to ask. In fact, I'd argue that it is specifically the non-response by the American public that makes this by definition fascism.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:19 AM on July 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also, fascism does not equal Goodwinian entities. It's kinda evolved since then.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:21 AM on July 14, 2011


It's a good time to be in the drone business.

I'm thinking all the real money is to be made in non-military applications, like HOA enforcement.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:37 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd argue that it is specifically the non-response by the American public
And I would argue that is specifically the fault of the American media.
posted by adamvasco at 8:40 AM on July 14, 2011


And I would argue that is specifically the fault of the American media.

That's a valid argument, but that just means that our fascism is structural rather than being an endemic characteristic of the American populace. In fact, historically, most forms of fascism have been structural, with varying degrees of public support. In America what you see is a strong collusion between 4 powerful institutions: the large media corporations, the large arms manufacturers, the military, and the civillian government. Compartmentalization is key to the success of this now decades old collusion.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:14 AM on July 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Putting aside the perennial argument over what is or isn't fascism for a second, I'm a little confused here.

Hypothetically, if the US really did get specific requests from a close ally to help them set up and run a counter-terrorism operation in their own country, would it be morally wrong to agree to help, or would it be morally wrong to refuse?

See, while I don't doubt the US played a big role in pressuring Somalia to put more effort into counter-terrorism, on the other hand, I'm not convinced on the basis of the circumstantial evidence put forth in the Nation's piece that the CIA isn't actually operating here at the request of the Somalian government just as it claims. Has the Somalian government denied the response of the CIA to this story? Do they claim this is a CIA site and not their own?

If not, without appealing to my prejudices against the CIA (which are not hard to access), why shouldn't I accept the CIA's account of this situation--that it's a Somali Government operation they've been supporting at the request of the Somalian government--as plausible? I don't get what the evidence is supposed to be here that this actually is a CIA operation. Please don't knee-jerk: it's not my intent to apologize for anything here. I'd like a little more light before I get too hot over this.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:29 AM on July 14, 2011


(And what I mean by "actually is a CIA operation" is that it's an operation imposed and under the primary control and authority of the CIA on Somalian soil to narrowly serve US interests there. I'm not ruling that out; just wondering what, specifically, is the proof of that here, because I didn't see it in the links.)
posted by saulgoodman at 9:34 AM on July 14, 2011


Actually there hasn't been a real government in somalia for decades. which makes all kinds of fucked up shit possible. Like industrialized countries decimating their fishing grounds through overfishing and waste dumping. Like the pirates and myriad warlords and mercenaries having free reign. And
posted by jake1 at 9:49 AM on July 14, 2011


However the black shirts aren't kicking in your door or pinning a big yellow geometrical pattern on your shirt. Yet.

And I would argue that is specifically the fault of the American media.
It's not fascism because it's only happening to brown people and it's not our fault because we don't get the BBC?

Before I mount this rather splendid high horse I just happen to have here, can you point out what I'm missing.
posted by fullerine at 9:57 AM on July 14, 2011


It's not fascism. Say what you will about fascism, at least it's a form of government.
posted by LogicalDash at 10:27 AM on July 14, 2011


US drone strikes in Somalia likely to rally local support for militants
posted by homunculus at 10:31 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


would it be morally wrong to agree to help, or would it be morally wrong to refuse?

Not to state the obvious or anything, but it depends on what form that help takes, yes? Torture camps, renderings, and midnight disappearances = morally wrong. Analysis, intelligence, and training = morally ok. There's a blurry line in there, but some things are clearly on one side or another.
posted by hattifattener at 10:35 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually there hasn't been a real government in somalia for decades. which makes all kinds of fucked up shit possible.

Well, in that case, might that not account for the CIA playing an outsize role in this operation by request of the interim governing authorities in Somalia, since they don't really have much to work with on their own?

I mean, is it all that unlikely to think that a weak, interim government in a region with a recent history of widespread political violence and civil war might legitimately ask its richest, most powerful ally to help it set up operations aimed at preventing terrorist violence? It's not as if Somalia doesn't really have problems with this kind of violence and the US is just brazenly using that as a fig leaf here; Somalia obviously does have real problems with domestic terrorism. Maybe they really don't have the resources to handle those problems without outside help.

Do you think the fighting in Somalia would just stop if the US weren't involved there? Because the violence started long before we got there, as I understand it. I'm sure drone attacks aren't exactly winning us any new admirers in the region. But just what is the moral responsibility of the US in a situation where an ally asks for this kind of help, if any?

Torture camps, renderings, and midnight disappearances = morally wrong.

But what concrete evidence is there that this is what's happening? From the Nation article:
The US agents “are here full time,” a senior Somali intelligence official told me. At times, he said, there are as many as thirty of them in Mogadishu, but he stressed that those working with the Somali NSA do not conduct operations; rather, they advise and train Somali agents. “In this environment, it’s very tricky. They want to help us, but the situation is not allowing them to do [it] however they want. They are not in control of the politics, they are not in control of the security,” he adds. “They are not controlling the environment like Afghanistan and Iraq. In Somalia, the situation is fluid, the situation is changing, personalities changing.”
It sounds like they're doing just what you said they should be doing: providing training and logistical support, under the lead of the Somali intelligence agency. The Nation article isn't very clear about its evidence or specific claims regarding alleged renditions (prisoners "snatched off the streets of Kenya"). Is the claim that US intelligence agents have done this, or that Somali intelligence agents have done it, and because the CIA has been helping them generally, the CIA is culpable too?
posted by saulgoodman at 10:50 AM on July 14, 2011


It is so appropriate that the US is doing this in the "libertarian paradise" of Somalia.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:04 AM on July 14, 2011


If not, without appealing to my prejudices against the CIA (which are not hard to access), why shouldn't I accept the CIA's account of this situation...

Because they have a strong incentive to lie and decades of practice?
posted by Trurl at 11:22 AM on July 14, 2011


why shouldn't I accept the CIA's account of this situation

Because the CIA has a history of deception when it comes to illegal activities.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:24 AM on July 14, 2011


Sorry didn't mean to parrot you Trurl...you comment didn't show up on preview for some reason.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:26 AM on July 14, 2011


Because the CIA has a history of deception when it comes to illegal activities.

I specifically said without appealing to my prejudices.

It just doesn't seem to me that there's anything specific in the Nation piece that contradicts the CIA's version of the story on any point of material fact. In fact, it seems to me both versions are entirely consistent, with the exception of how the material facts are being subjectively interpreted. That doesn't seem like a lot to hang a serious charge of wrongdoing on.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:10 PM on July 14, 2011


I'm not saying this isn't something nefarious--just that I'd like a little more insight into what's going on. To me, it's not unreasonable seeming that the CIA might want to help the interim Somali government conduct counter-terrorism operations. It seems more complicated than it's being characterized to me, but so what. Don't get me wrong: The CIA shouldn't get the benefit of the doubt here; I just don't feel like I know enough about this situation yet.

Like, for example, how does the passage I quoted here from the nation piece square with the take-home conclusion of the article, that this is a US operation? The two claims seem contradictory to me.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:14 PM on July 14, 2011


I'm not pickpocketing you, I'm just keeping your wallet warm.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:48 PM on July 14, 2011


Maybe you are pick-pocketing me, or maybe I asked you to get the wallet out of my coat pocket for me because I've got my hands full. Frozen in time, the picture looks the same, but the story's different.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:58 PM on July 14, 2011


No. Lazy thinking. This has aspects which are fascistic. Yes. However the black shirts aren't kicking in your door or pinning a big yellow geometrical pattern on your shirt.

They sure as fuck kicked in his door, whether literally or metaphorically.
posted by Malor at 10:47 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


U.S. uses media servants to attack real journalism: A vital investigative report by Jeremy Scahill is first ignored, and then maligned, by subservient media outlets
posted by homunculus at 11:34 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Misery Follows as Somalis Try to Flee Hunger
posted by homunculus at 2:20 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


U.S. Red Tape Could Doom Somalia: Three million drought-stricken Somalis' lives hang in the balance because of an ill-defined law that prevents Secretary Clinton from getting them the aid they need.
posted by homunculus at 1:48 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jeremy Scahill on Democracy Now
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:24 AM on July 28, 2011


It is interesting that this article has disappeared from both AP and Washington Post even though the conservatives are so proud of the results. Here is a little more from Scott Horton which ends:
President Obama pledged when he signed his executive order that the United States would win the struggle against terrorism “in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals.” The latest report from Mogadishu shows that his order has instead been interpreted very narrowly, leaving CIA proxy-prison regimes in place. The result is a considerable gap between the values Obama articulated on the campaign trail and in his speeches, and those of the nation’s clandestine services under his leadership.
Of course this shouldn't surprise anyone who knows about Prison Ships and Ghost Prisoners. In this respect nothing much has changed in the last three years.
posted by adamvasco at 1:05 AM on July 28, 2011


U.S. Weapons Now in Somali Terrorists’ Hands
posted by homunculus at 2:12 PM on August 2, 2011


U.S. Hires Shady Mercenary for Somali Proxy War
posted by homunculus at 10:41 AM on August 11, 2011


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