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CIA Linked to Palestinian Authority Torture

Torture in the Palestinian Authority previously has been documented by rights groups, but a new report says the PA has a good role model: the CIA.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/21/2009, 10:48 PM / Last Update: 12/22/2009, 8:26 AM

Flash 90

The CIA is aware of, if not helping, PA “special forces” to torture prisoners and terrorists, mainly those of the rival Hamas faction, the London Guardian reports. The use of torture by both the Fatah and Hamas factions has been well-documented in the past, but this is the first time that the United States has been directly linked with the practice.

A PA minister responded to the report that torture “happens all the time in every country in the world.”

The Bush and Obama administrations have pumped tens of millions of dollars directly into the fledgling PA army, trained by U.S. Army General Keith Dayton. The American Congress several days ago approved a new foreign aid package that for the first time includes the PA and awards it half a billion dollars, on condition that it halt terror and incitement and that it formally recognizes the State of Israel.

It now appears that some of the American funding for the PA has been used by the CIA to work with PA forces, some of whom routinely use torture, despite orders signed last year by U.S. President Barack Obama prohibiting torture of those in American custody. Human rights groups have not charged the CIA with authorizing or teaching torture, but they also have not ruled it out.

They accuse the agency of turning a blind eye instead, rather than ordering PA forces to cease the practice. At least one diplomat said that the CIA is aware of the use of torture.

The Guardian reported, “The relationship between the CIA and the two Palestinian agencies involved – Preventive Security Organization (PSO) and General Intelligence Service (GI) – is said by some Western diplomats and other officials in the region to be so close that the American agency appears to be supervising the Palestinians' work.”

PA human rights groups have documented several deaths of victims of PA torture, such as forced sleeplessness and victms being forced into staying in painful positions for lengthy periods of time.

Sa’id Abu-Ali, Interior Minister for the PA, admitted to the Guardian that the “Americans help us” but denied they supervise the PA forces. The CIA also denied it supervises PA forces but conceded its operatives work with the PA. Concerning the use of torture, Abu-Ali declared, “[Abuses] happen in every country in the world.“

Ibrahim Hewitt, senior editor of the Middle East Monitor, wrote that he is concerned by the report and that the Interior Minister is “in the government regarded as the "moderates" by the U.S., Europe and Britain.”

Last year, the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group released a report that documented 14 years of extra-judicial brutality under the Palestinian Authority, with the direct and explicit support of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas.