- Commentary -
WARSAW — The Washington Post story was both scary and a bit comical: Polish intelligence received $15 million from the CIA to operate secret prisons — or “black sites” — and the money was supposedly delivered in two cardboard boxes. Hmmm.
According to my calculations, the dimensions of the two boxes would have to have been at least 80 x 80 x 20 centimeters each (31.5 x 31.5 x 7.8 inches). That must have been some cardboard, since each parcel would have weighed 154 pounds.
I invite Colonel Andrzej Derlatka, who was responsible for the transaction, to correct me if my estimation is mistaken.
The Polish Secret Agency deliberately demanded cash, as I learned from my sources in Washington. I was also assured that the transaction brought the secret agents from both countries closer. Once the boxes were delivered, the gentlemen went together for a lavish dinner in a “most cordial atmosphere.” Totally understandable, as life experience would suggest that there is a special brotherhood linking two men, even strangers, who carry heavy objects together.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find out the content of the dinner conversations. Nor do I know whether the then-prime minister or president of Poland were aware of what was included in the price. Maybe we gave up the villa in Stare Kejkuty, where the CIA operated its secret prison, without asking too many questions, just like the U.S. army did not so long ago with gays: “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Perhaps we did not ask and they did not tell?
We did know, though — the politicians, I mean — that the airplanes landing in Stare Kejkuty brought passengers. Moreover, the Polish insiders must have imagined that the Americans were doing things to prisoners they could not have done on U.S. soil. Besides, it seems that the rental agreement included a paragraph on procedures to follow in case somebody died in the villa.
Happily, there was no need to apply it. The CIA agents are not murderers, after all.
One of the suspects was waterboarded 183 times until he finally admitted to participating in all the terrorist attempts that have happened during the last decade. The second one was wearing a blindfold when his interrogators put a drill or a gun close to his head. Unless you have heart problems, you do not die from these things.
Once we have finally learned how we benefited for supplying our allies with facilities to conduct these kinds of interrogations, we can ask ourselves the most important question: Was it worth it?
Personally, I think it would have been much better if we had turned over the villa for free, in the name of friendship between the nations and the fight against terrorism, or from gratitude for NATO and the late President Ronald Reagan supporting the Polish trade union, etc. If we had, we would have saved face, at least in some sense. We would be regarded as fools, but disinterested and noble.
Instead, we have turned out to be a bunch of imbeciles with two cash-packed cardboard boxes.