Well... you'd think that they would have at least looked for those WMD's the Bush apologists keep saying Saddam shipped to Syria while they were there.

MULTITASK, people!

LONDON — The CIA employed Syria as a contractor for detention and torture of Al Qaida suspects, a report said.

The Council of Europe released a report that outlined CIA cooperation with Syria from 2001 through 2004. The report, which focused on secret CIA flights of Al Qaida suspects, asserted that the U.S. intelligence agency sent abducted Syrian natives from Europe to Damascus, where they were imprisoned and tortured by Syrian intelligence.

[The United States has disputed the findings of the report. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the report contained "a lot of allegations but no real facts."]

The report cited Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen of Syrian origin, abducted by the FBI during a stopover in New York and flown to Syria. Arar was said to have been tortured for 10 months in a prison operated by Syrian intelligence.
"According to Mr. Arar, the [CIA] agents on board the aircraft never identified themselves, but he heard that they belonged to a 'special removal unit,'" the report said. "In this specific case, the handing over of Mr. Arar to Syria seems to be a well established example of 'outsourcing of torture,' a practice mentioned publicly by certain American officials."

"CIA aimed to take terrorist suspects in foreign countries 'off the streets' by transporting them back to other countries, usually their home countries, where they were wanted for trial, or for detention without any form of due process," the report said.

Syria, deemed by the State Department a terrorist sponsor, was said to have been a leading contractor of the CIA, the report, released on Wednesday, said. The Council of Europe said the regime of President Bashar Assad accepted Syrian natives, including dissidents, who had renounced their Syrian citizenship and resettled in the West.

The CIA did not expect to obtain intelligence from the Al Qaida suspects, the report said. The council quoted former CIA agent Michael Scheuer, who designed the program in the mid-1990s, as saying that the agency doubted the veracity of any information extracted from Al Qaida suspects.

"It was never intended to talk to any of these people," Scheuer told the council. "Success, at least as the agency defined it, was to get someone, who was a danger to us or our allies, 'off the street' and, when we got him, to grab whatever documents he had with him. We knew that once he was captured he had been trained to either fabricate or to give us a great deal of information that we would chase for months and it would lead nowhere. So interrogations were always a very minor concern before 9/11."

Western diplomats said the 67-page report elaborated the U.S.-Syrian intelligence cooperation on the war against Al Qaida. For several years, the CIA and State Department — arguing that Damascus was helping the U.S. intelligence community — opposed congressional sanctions against the Assad regime.

Authored by Swiss parliamentarian Dick Marty, the report said some of those abducted and sent to Damascus were Syrian opposition members without ties to Al Qaida. In at least one case, the Western media were provided disinformation that suggested that the detainee was an Al Qaida operative.

In October 2001, the report said, Mohammed Zammar, a German of Syrian origin, was detained in Morocco. Several weeks later, Zammar was taken on a CIA-linked aircraft for a flight to Damascus.

"There have been allegations that Mr. Zammar's arrest in Morocco was facilitated through the provision of information by German services, that he was tortured by Syrian services and that he was questioned in Syria by German officials," the report said. "Mr. Zammar's arrest in Morocco was objectively facilitated by exchanges of information between the German services and their Dutch, Moroccan and also American counterparts."

The report said Jordan and Morocco also cooperated with the CIA in the secret flights and detention of Al Qaida suspects. Other countries cited were Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq and Turkey, described as detainee transfer or drop-off points.

In October 2003, the report said, Muhammad Bashmila and Salah Ali Qaru were arrested in Jordan and "disappeared." In 2002, Binyam Mohamed Al Habashi, an Ethiopian national and resident of Britain, was arrested in Pakistan, interrogated by U.S. officials and sent to Morocco for detention.

"Upon asserting his [Al Habashi] right to a lawyer, and later upon refusing to answer questions, American officers are alleged to have told him: 'The law has been changed,'" the report said. '"There are no lawyers.

You can cooperate with us the easy way, or the hard way. If you don't talk to us, you're going to Jordan. We can't do what we want here, the Pakistanis can't do exactly what we want them to do. The Arabs will deal with you."