Implausible Deniability

The fact that the CIA has had secret jail and torture rooms in Romania is not new information. But my email has been blowing up of late on the subject because now there’s new specific information on exactly where one of those torture cells was in Romania. And it turns out it was in downtown (Sector 1) Bucharest.

From CBS News, quoting from the AP:

Unlike the CIA’s facility in Lithuania’s countryside or the one hidden in a Polish military installation, the CIA’s prison in Romania was not in a remote location. It was hidden in plain sight, a couple blocks off a major boulevard on a street lined with trees and homes, along busy train tracks.

Click on the link to see a photo of the building, which is indeed ORNISS or the Orwellian named “Oficiul Registrului National al Informatiilor Secrete de Stat”. Their website helpfully lists their address at Number 4 Mures Street, which is indeed where the torture cells were located.

If you speak German, click here as ARD did most of the heavy lifting in terms of breaking this story. Sadly, of course, Romanian journalists did essentially no investigating whatsoever and as far as I can tell are just translating the original AP story. To see the AP video report in English, click here.

Of course the stupidest part is that the Romanian government continues to deny that they ever helped the Americans torture people. Even in the ARD interview they continue to deny it, despite widespread public knowledge that it existed. It’s like everyone from the Cluj tourism office to the national government in Bucharest is addicted to hiding and lying.

In case you wondering after seeing “Romania” and the “AP” mentioned in the same sentence, alas I am afraid that none of the journalism work was done by Alison “Click!” Mutler but rather by Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, two authentic investigators who have been working on real journalism for a while.

But my favorite part from their report:

For the CIA officers working at the secret prison, the assignment wasn’t glamorous. The officers served 90-day tours, slept on the compound and ate their meals there, too. Officers were prevented from the leaving the base after their presence in the neighborhood stoked suspicion.

Awww… I don’t know if we should feel bad that it wasn’t “glamorous” to torture people or if we should feel sorry that these monkeys couldn’t speak enough Romanian to go buy a cola at the corner store without “stoking” suspicion.

Either way, considering how close the torture cells were to the train tracks, it reminded me of an old Johnny Cash song:

I hear the train a coming,
It’s rolling ’round the bend.
And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when.

For much, much more, see here. Damn what a dirty old world we live in.

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