CBS Frets Over 'Dark Stain' of Bush CIA's 'Troubling' Actions in Libya
On Saturday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Barry Petersen filed a report which highlighted Human Rights Watch's analysis of government records in Libya which document that, during the Bush administration, the CIA sent prisoners to Libya as part of its renditioning program. Anchor Russ Mitchell saw the papers as potentially "troubling" as he introduced the report:
Overseas now, newly discovered documents in Libya suggest the regime of ousted dictator Muammar Qaddafi had a working relationship with the CIA. Barry Petersen in Tripoli tells us the once-secret papers could prove troubling.
Correspondent Petersen showed a clip of Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch tying in former President Bush and former Defense Secretary Doanld Rumsfeld, calling the program a "dark stain on American history." Bouckaert:
This is at the height of Bush and Rumsfeld's rendition campaign. It's a dark stain on American history.
Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Saturday, September 3, CBS Evening News:
RUSS MITCHELL: Overseas now, newly discovered documents in Libya suggest the regime of ousted dictator Muammar Qaddafi had a working relationship with the CIA. Barry Petersen in Tripoli tells us the once-secret papers could prove troubling.
BARRY PETERSEN: Strewn all over the place, the secrets of Libya's spy masters and torturers and how the CIA and British intelligence apparently worked hand in hand from 2003 and 2004 with the man then in charge - Musa Kusik - then head of Libyan intelligence. And later as foreign minister, he was the first high-profile defection from Qaddafi's regime. The documents, discovered and analyzed by Human Rights Watch.
PETER BOUCKAERT, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: This is at the height of Bush and Rumsfeld's rendition campaign. It's a dark stain on American history.
PETERSEN: Rendition means that U.S. prisoners captured in Iraq or Afghanistan were sent to third countries where sometimes prisoners being interrogated were subjected to torture. In one case, the Americans arranged for this man - Abdel Hakim Bel-Haj - to be captured in Bangkok and then transferred to Libya as a suspected terrorist. One document apparently from the CIA says, quote, "We must have assurances from your government that he will be treated humanely and that his human rights will be respected."
BOUCKAERT: It's just words on paper.
PETERSEN: And that did not happen?
BOUCKAERT: Absolutely not. Al-Sadik was tortured, and he was subjected like all of the other prisoners there to inhumane and abusive treatment.
PETERSEN: Bel-Haj is now a commander of rebel forces in Libya and told reporters he bears no ill will towards the CIA. Both British intelligence and the CIA refused to confirm or deny their authenticity. Amid the documents, a silly moment, British agents arranging that then-Prime Minister Tony Blair would meet Qaddafi in a tent while visiting Tripoli. As the document says:
BOUCKAERT: The plain fact is that the journalists will love it.
PETERSEN: It is worth noting that while the CIA worked with Qaddafi then, it is working with the rebels now. It helped the rebels topple Qaddafi's regime, and it's believed CIA teams are still here on the ground, as the civil war goes on. Russ?
MITCHELL: Barry Petersen, in Tripoli, thanks.
- Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center