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Prison Industrial Complex

“No other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.” – Report by California Prison Focus


“Prison Industrial Complex” is a term that refers to private prison companies and businesses that supply goods and services to government prison agencies. What is interesting about this term and the concept of “prison labor” is how it’s rise parallels the rapid expansion of the US inmate population.

The Prison Industrial Complex is big growth industry. While other sectors of our economy continue to struggle in this recession, the private prison industry is booming!

Is there a connection between this booming business and the record rise in incarceration in this country? Let’s take a deeper look…

Did you know that for every 100,000 Americans, 743 of them reside behind bars? That is nearly 1 out 100 Americans! Today, the United States has the highest prison population in the world with more than 2 million people either incarcerated in prison or in jail awaiting trail. The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world, surpassing China, North Korea and Russia. A study conducted by the Bureau of Justice in 2005 showed that a record 33-year continuous rise in the number of inmates in the United States despite falling crime rates.

To put this concept into perspective, consider the following:

The major myth associated with our Prison Industrial Complex is that the rise in incarceration rates reflects a commensurate rise in crime. The fact is that crime rates have fallen. One of the driving forces behind the sudden rise in prison populations is a result of the “three strikes laws.”  It is estimated over 500,000 Americans are in prison for drug-related, non-violent crimes.  Another driver is the continued privatization of our prison system where these private companies are actually incented to keep their jails full.  Case in point, CCA has an ultra-modern prison in Lawrenceville, Virginia, where five guards on dayshift and two at night watch over 750 prisoners. In these prisons, inmates may get their sentences reduced for "good behavior," but for any infraction, they get 30 days added – which means more profits for CCA. According to a study of New Mexico prisons, it was found that CCA inmates lost “good behavior time” at a rate eight times higher than those in state-run prisons.

Another big driving force behind our massive prison system is cheap labor.

37% states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations. The list of these corporations include: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more.

In private-run prisons, the working inmates receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison “employer” is CCA in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they call “highly skilled positions.”

Exploitation of cheap labor by Fortune 500 companies has competition from the Military Industrial Complex. Did you know that prison labor — with no union protection, overtime pay, vacation days, pensions, benefits, health and safety protection, or Social Security withholding — makes complex components for McDonnell Douglas/Boeing’s F-15 fighter aircraft, the General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16, and Bell/Textron’s Cobra helicopter? And that prison labor produces night-vision goggles, body armor, camouflage uniforms, radio and communication devices, and lighting systems and components for 30-mm anti-aircraft guns to 300-mm battleship guns, along with land mine sweepers and electro-optical equipment for BAE Systems’ Bradley Fighting Vehicle’s laser rangefinder? Prisoners are also “hired” to recycle toxic electronic equipment and overhaul military vehicles.

Labor in federal prisons is contracted out by UNICOR, previously known as Federal Prison Industries, a quasi-public, for-profit corporation run by the Bureau of Prisons. In 14 prison factories, more than 3,000 prisoners manufacture electronic equipment for land, sea and airborne communication. UNICOR is now the U.S. government’s 39th largest contractor, with 110 factories at 79 federal penitentiaries.

The majority of UNICOR’s products and services are on contract to orders from the Department of Defense. Giant multinational corporations purchase parts assembled at some of the lowest labor rates in the world, then resell the finished weapons components at the highest rates of profit. For example, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Corporation subcontract components, then assemble and sell advanced weapons systems to the Pentagon.

I believe what former Oregon State Representative Kevin Mannix said when he recently urged Nike to cut its production in Indonesia and bring it to his state, telling the shoe manufacturer that “there won’t be any transportation costs, we’re offering you competitive prison labor (here).”

In other words…he is basically offering slave labor!  While our so-called elected officials talk about the massive slave labor camps in North Korea, I think one only has to look into the mirror and let the facts speak for themselves.  Our prison industrial complex is getting out hand, much like our military industrial complex. We need to stand up now and do something about it, before it gets too powerful, too influential, and too out of control.

Until next time, keep your powder dry and your faith strong!

Filed under News Commentary Prison Industry Raytheon Prison

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Court Orders Release of Palestinian Activist Bassem Tamimi After 13 Months Imprisonment

Tamimi was released despite the Military Posecution’s appeal. His release conditions still include harsh restrictions on his movement.


After 13 months in an Israeli prison, the military court accepted a petition to release leading Palestinian activist, Bassem Tamimi from The village of Nabi Saleh. Earlier today the court rejected the prosecution’s appeal against his release, but imposed restricting conditions on his release, including confining his movement to the city of Ramallah and imposing a house arrest every Thursday to Saturday, until the court issues the verdict.

Thirteen months after his arrest during a raid on his house, a military judge ordered Bassem Tamimi’s release on bail from an Israeli prison. The decision was given after Tamimi’s elderly mother has fallen gravely ill. Bassem Tamimi, a Palestinian activist from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, has been in jail since March 24th last year, indicted on protest-organizing charges.

Tamimi has been recognized by the European Union as a human rights defender and recently pronounced a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. 

During the course of Tamimi’s trial, new evidence has emerged, including first hand verification given by a military commander of disproportional use of force by the army in response to peaceful demonstrations, as well as police admittal of systematic violations of Palestinian minors’ rights during police interrogations, when a police interrogator who questioned both material witnesses against Tamimi, said on the stand that in his 25 years as an officer, he cannot recall a single time in which a Palestinian minor was allowed the presence of his parents during questioning.

Filed under News Palestine Prisoner Prison Release European Union Amnesty International

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Number Of Hunger-Striking Detainees Could Reach 3,000

 by Saed Bannoura

The number of hunger-striking Palestinian political prisoners, held by Israel in various prisons, detention camps and interrogation facilities around the country, will likely reach 3,000 persons as waves of detainees intend to join the strike, demanding their rights guaranteed under international law.

Israeli Prison - File Nablus TV
Israeli Prison - File Nablus TV

Dozens of detainees are currently on hunger-strike that officially started last Tuesday. The strike, described as “the battle of empty bowels”, aims at ending Israel’s illegal administrative detention polices, halting all violations against the detainees and their families, and improving the living conditions of the detainees. 

Head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), Qaddoura Fares, told the Ma’an News Agency that the first group of detainees, held under administrative detention without charges, have reached the “no return point” as they have been on hunger-strike since 56 days, and insist on not breaking their strike until they are released. 

Fares added that the second group of detainees have been on hunger strike for seven days now, and are demanding Israeli to improve their living conditions, allowing visitation rights, halting violations against their visiting family members, ending all solitary confinement policies, allowing them the right to education, and ending all night raids, and searches, targeting them and their rooms.

“The current number of detainees who are on hunger-strike is 1,400-1,600, and will likely increase to 3,000 in the coming few days” Fares said and added that it is unlikely that all 4,700 detainees will join the strike, but could hold solidarity hunger strikes, such as two days a week. 

Fares said that the striking detainees are from different political factions and groups, and that they are all united in their legitimate demands regardless of their political affiliation. 

It is worth mentioning that Israel conducted punitive measures against 1,200 Palestinian detainees by denying their visitation rights, and isolating them from the detainees who are not part of the protests yet.

Furthermore, a spokeswoman of the Israeli Prison Administration, stated that all “privileges” have been taken away from the detainees, including family visitations, and all electrical equipment has been removed.

Filed under News Palestine Hunger Strike Israel Prison

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U$A: New vindictive prison measures against Sadie and Exile

War On Society

New prison measures vindictively applied against eco-anarchist comrades Sadie & Exile, unrepentant members of the Earth Liberation Front. Letters of solidarity are appreciated by the two wild ones… nothing forgotten, nothing forgiven…

Text by Leslie James Pickering

Earth Liberation prisoners Joyanna “Sadie” Zacher and Nathan “Exile” Block, who are a married couple, have been disallowed correspondence by their captors with the excuse that Sadie is “unrepentant” of her crimes. Sadie and Exile are nearing the end of their seven-year-and-eight-month federal prison sentences for two million-dollar arsons prosecuted under the FBI’s Operation Backfire investigation into the Earth Liberation Front. Specifically, the couple has been convicted of the the $959,000 arson of the Romania Chevrolet dealership on March 30, 2001 and the $994,412 arson of Jefferson Poplar on May 21, 2001.

For the past 4 years, the couple has been allowed correspondence between the Federal Correctional Facilities in Dublin, California (where Sadie is locked up) and in Lompoc, California (where Exile is imprisoned). However, shortly after Sadie released a public statement on her case, their correspondence ‘privileges’ were revoked. When Sadie’s lawyer wrote the sentencing Judge on the matter, the US Attorney’s Office in Portland, Oregon sent a rebuttal directing the Judge to an online video of the release of Sadie’s statement being read by former Earth Liberation Front Press Office spokesperson, Leslie James Pickering, at Burning Books [click for videos] in Buffalo, New York.

In the statement in question, Sadie wrote, “There have been some dark days in here, when the rage of being imprisoned boils over into tears of frustration – but never regret, not ever. Even knowing this would be the price to pay – seven years of my life here, I still would not change my actions in any way.”

This “unrepentant” tone is anything but new. Shortly after their sentencing, the two released a joint statement, which righteously criticized those of their codefendants who opted to cooperate with the state in their own prosecution. The statement made clear their“opposition to cooperation with, or apology to, the state” and read, in part, “Those who now work in collaboration (under the innocuous term ‘cooperation’) with the same powers which they once felt compelled to raise themselves in opposition to, have in their wicked apostasy, desecrated the sacred covenant that exists between nature and those who align themselves with the very Element of Fire and the very Essence of Destruction in the defense of the Wild… for in the hour when the struggle returned for them, when the predator had once again become the prey, they failed in spirit and resolve, cowardly breaking long held oaths and begging for mercy from their captors, hoping to gain leniency by offering as a sacrifice to the altar of a perverted ‘justice’ their former friends, trusted colleagues and any dignity they once held.”

It appears that what the government is really after is a 1984-style public apology, but when that isn’t forthcoming something less than repentance will suffice, so long as it is silent. However, when strong examples of outspoken resistance are set by prisoners they are punished for their thoughts and words. Daniel McGowan, the most vocal of the Operation Backfire targets, and who was the focus of the Oscar-nominated 2011 documentary If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, has been housed in a new, ultra-restrictive Communications Management Unit in response to his being continuously outspoken.

You can currently write Sadie and Exile at:

Joyanna Zacher #36360-086, FCI Dublin, 5701 8th St., Camp Parks, Unit F, Dublin, CA 94568, USA

Nathan Block #36359-086, FCI Lompoc, 3600 Guard Road, Lompoc, CA 93436, USA

Sadie and Exile are due to be reunited at a halfway house this spring. The struggle continues…

Filed under News Anarchy Anarchism Prison ELF Resistance

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The Outer Limits of Solitary Confinement

This free San Francisco event organized by the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3 will mark 40 years of solitary confinement for Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3, by exploring the expansion and overuse of solitary confinement, and mobilizing support for the Amnesty International Petition to remove them from solitary confinement and support for the California Hunger Strikers. Includes Keynote with Angola 3’s Robert H. King, 2 films and additional speakers.

The International Coalition to Free the Angola Three is presenting a free public forum and film screening entitled “The Outer Limits of Solitary Confinement,” at UC Hastings College of the Law,Louis B. Mayer Lounge, 198 McAllister Street,San Francisco, on Friday, April 6, 2012, from 6pm - 8pm, and co-hosted by the Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal and the Hastings chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
The International Coalition to Free the Angola 3 stands in solidarity with the courageous prisoners that recently initiated hunger strikes throughout California prisons. The event will examine how the torture and wrongful convictions of the Angola 3 are part of a much larger problem throughout US prisons. With presentations from several speakers involved with supporting the hunger strikers, the audience will be presented with many ways in which they too can lend their support in the fight against solitary confinement and other forms of torture in California prisons.

Filed under News Prison Solitary Confinement Slavery Human Rights

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Jailing Americans for Profit: The Rise of the Prison Industrial Complex

By John W. Whitehead 

“Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today—perhaps the fundamental fact, as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850. In truth, there are more black men in the grip of the criminal-justice system—in prison, on probation, or on parole—than were in slavery then. Over all, there are now more people under ‘correctional supervision’ in America—more than six million—than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height.”—Adam Gopnik, “The Caging of America”

In an age when freedom is fast becoming the exception rather than the rule, imprisoning Americans in private prisons run by mega-corporations has turned into a cash cow for big business. At one time, the American penal system operated under the idea that dangerous criminals needed to be put under lock and key in order to protect society. Today, as states attempt to save money by outsourcing prisons to private corporations, the flawed yet retributive American “system of justice” is being replaced by an even more flawed and insidious form of mass punishment based upon profit and expediency.

As author Adam Gopnik reports for the New Yorker:

[A] growing number of American prisons are now contracted out as for-profit businesses to for-profit companies. The companies are paid by the state, and their profit depends on spending as little as possible on the prisoners and the prisons. It’s hard to imagine any greater disconnect between public good and private profit: the interest of private prisons lies not in the obvious social good of having the minimum necessary number of inmates but in having as many as possible, housed as cheaply as possible.

Consider this: despite the fact that violent crime in America has been on the decline, the nation’s incarceration rate has tripled since 1980. Approximately 13 million people are introduced to American jails in any given year. Incredibly, more than six million people are under “correctional supervision” in America, meaning that one in fifty Americans are working their way through the prison system, either as inmates, or while on parole or probation. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the majority of those being held in federal prisons are convicted of drug offenses—namely, marijuana. Presently, one out of every 100 Americans is serving time behind bars.

Little wonder, then, that public prisons are overcrowded. Yet while providing security, housing, food, medical care, etc., for six million Americans is a hardship for cash-strapped states, to profit-hungry corporations such as Corrections Corp of America (CCA) and GEO Group, the leaders in the partnership corrections industry, it’s a $70 billion gold mine. Thus, with an eye toward increasing its bottom line, CCA has floated a proposal to prison officials in 48 states offering to buy and manage public prisons at a substantial cost savings to the states. In exchange, and here’s the kicker, the prisons would have to contain at least 1,000 beds and states would have agree to maintain a 90% occupancy rate in the privately run prisons for at least 20 years.

Read more …

Filed under Commentary Prison USA Corporatism

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Wave of hunger strikes in Greek prisons


Prisoners throughout Greece, some connected to the Fire Cells Conspiracy and some unconnected, have gone on hunger strike to confront various abuses by the state and its jailers. The strikers and their communiqués are as follows:

Stella Antoniou, Giorgos Karagiannidis, Alexandros Mitrousias, and Costas Sakkas

Panayiotis Argyrou and Gerasimos Tsakalos

Christos Tsakalos

Vangelis Kailoglou

And finally, in solidarity with the hunger strikers, a rejection of prison food by 130 prisoners in the 1st Wing of Korydallos Prison.

Filed under News Greece Prison

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Wanted: Criminals to Fill Empty Prisons


A declining prison population should mean good news for taxpayers. But it can still result in heartache for local communities in need of jobs that had borrowed to build jails in anticipation of a law and order boom.
In Texas, many counties operate large jails that not only house prisoners awaiting trial, but also convicted inmates serving time. These jails, however, are increasingly running out of people to house.
The Austin American-Statesman found that more than 30,000 of the state’s 93,000 county beds are currently vacant. The newspaper attributed the situation to “declining crime rates, government budget cuts and increased use of treatment programs” which have “deflated a 20-year boom in building jails and prisons.”
For communities like Anson, the lack of criminals has been a disappointment. About two years ago, local leaders spent $35 million to build a new 1,100-bed jail. The town of 2,300 hoped the investment would yield nearly 200 jobs and $5 million for the local economy. Instead, the facility sits vacant and unused.
Some counties have tried to gain contracts with the federal government to house illegal immigrants awaiting deportation, but the market for deportees is already saturated. In February the nation’s largest private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), caused an unintended sensation when it offered to buy existing prisons…but only on the condition that states guarantee a 90% “occupancy” rate.

Filed under News Prison Empty Police State Criminals Inmates Jails jobs Crime rates decline

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Supreme Court Ruling Allows Strip-Searches for Any Arrest


 The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, joined by the court’s conservative wing, wrote that courts are in no position to second-guess the judgments of correctional officials who must consider not only the possibility of smuggled weapons and drugs, but also public health and information about gang affiliations.

“Every detainee who will be admitted to the general population may be required to undergo a close visual inspection while undressed,” Justice Kennedy wrote, adding that about 13 million people are admitted each year to the nation’s jails.

The procedures endorsed by the majority are forbidden by statute in at least 10 states and are at odds with the policies of federal authorities. According to a supporting brief filed by the American Bar Association, international human rights treaties also ban the procedures.

The federal appeals courts had been split on the question, though most of them prohibited strip-searches unless they were based on a reasonable suspicion that contraband was present. The Supreme Court did not say that strip-searches of every new arrestee were required; it ruled, rather, that the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches did not forbid them.

Daron Hall, the president of the American Correctional Association and sheriff of Davidson County, Tenn., said the association welcomed the flexibility offered by the decision. The association’s current standards discourage blanket strip-search policies.

Read more …

Filed under News Supreme Court Police State Jail Prison Arrest Human Rights Totalitarianism intimidation strip search naked nude law

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Poles talk about CIA prison, breaking silence


 For years, the notion that Poland could allow the CIA to operate a secret prison in a remote lake region was treated as a crackpot idea by the country’s politicians, journalists and the public.

A heated political debate this week reveals how dramatically the narrative has changed.

In a string of revelations and political statements, Polish leaders have come closer than ever to acknowledging that the United States ran a secret interrogation facility for terror suspects in 2002 and 2003 in the Eastern European country.

Some officials recall the fear that prevailed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and defend the tough stance that former U.S. President George W. Bush took against terrorists.

But the debate is sometimes tinged with a hint of disappointment with Washington, as if Poland’s young democracy had been led astray — ethically and legally — by the superpower that it counts as a key ally, and then left alone to deal with the fallout.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Thursday that Poland has become the “political victim” of leaks from U.S. officials that brought to light aspects of the secret rendition program.

In his most forthcoming comments on the matter to date, Tusk said an ongoing investigation into the case is proof of Poland’s democratic credentials and that Poland cannot be counted on in the future in such clandestine enterprises.

"Poland will no longer be a country where politicians — even if they are working arm-in-arm with the world’s greatest superpower — could make some deal somewhere under the table and then it would never see daylight," said Tusk, who took office four years after the site was shuttered.

"Poland is a democracy where national and international law must be observed," Tusk said. "This issue must be explained. Let there be no doubt about it either in Poland or on the other side of the ocean."

To some, it sounded like a long-delayed admission that Poland allowed the U.S. to run the secret site, where terror suspects were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics that human rights advocates consider torture.

"This statement is quite different from any others," said Adam Bodnar, a human rights lawyer with the Helsinki Foundation in Warsaw. "From the general context, he’s kind of admitting that something is in the air. You can feel that this is an indirect confirmation."

For years Polish officials and the public treated the idea that the CIA ran a prison in Poland as absurd and highly unlikely — even after the United Nations and the Council of Europe said they had evidence of its existence. Polish officials repeatedly rebuffed international calls for serious investigations. The idea slowly only began to get serious consideration after Polish prosecutors opened an investigation into the matter in 2008.

A new breakthrough came Tuesday when a leading newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, reported that prosecutors have charged a former spy chief, Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, for his role in allowing the site. Siemiatkowski was reportedly charged with depriving prisoners of war of their freedom and allowing corporal punishment.

Siemiatkowski has refused to comment, telling The Associated Press he was bound by secrecy laws on the matter. But he did not deny the report.

The issue is hugely sensitive because any Polish leaders who would have cooperated with the U.S. program would have been violating Poland’s constitution, both by giving a foreign power control over part of Polish territory and allowing crimes to take place there.

Any officials who were involved could — in theory — be charged with serious crimes, including crimes against humanity.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush writes in his memoir “Decision Points” that he ordered the CIA to subject about 100 terror detainees to harsh interrogation techniques, arguing the methods did not constitute unlawful torture and that they produced intelligence that prevented further attacks. Neither he nor the CIA have officially said where the “black sites” were based, but intelligence officials, aviation reports and human rights groups say they included Afghanistan and Thailand as well as Poland, Lithuania and Romania.

Former CIA officials have told the AP that a prison in Poland operated from December 2002 until the fall of 2003, and that prisoners were subjected to harsh questioning and waterboarding in Stare Kiejkuty, a village set in a lush area of woods and lakes. Human rights groups believe about eight terror suspects were held in Poland, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national charged with orchestrating the attack in 2000 on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors; and Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian terror suspect.

Poland is the only country that has opened a serious investigation into the matter, something which Bodnar says is a sign of maturing in this 23-year-old democracy, with prosecutors, journalists and human rights lawyers all trying to seek truth and accountability.

"Poland deserves credit for this step, as the first European state to begin to deal with CIA torture on its own soil," said Cori Crider, legal director for Reprieve, a British human rights group.

The Polish leaders in office at the time — former President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former Prime Minister Leszek Miller — have vehemently denied the prison’s existence.

But they nonetheless have voiced support for the rendition program in principle, arguing that the U.S. and its allies were at war with terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks and that tough measures were needed.

"I will always stand on the side of hurt women, children and the victims of attacks," Miller said in a radio interview this week. "I won’t shed tears for murderers. A good terrorist is a dead terrorist."

Even former President Lech Walesa, the iconic democracy fighter, said he is “against torture … but this is war and war has its particular rules.”

Miller, the head of the Democratic Left Alliance, an opposition party, has been the main target of criticism by political opponents this week. Some even say he should face the State Tribunal, a special court charged with trying state figures.

Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, a senator who was the foreign minister when the site operated, said Miller should take responsibility for what happened 10 years ago.

"About a CIA prison in Poland, if it existed, I didn’t know," Cimoszewicz said on Radio RMF FM. "But everything indicates that the CIA used a villa in Stare Kiejkuty."

Human rights lawyers and activists welcome the new openness.

"There is some satisfaction here," said Bodnar. "The most important thing is accountability. Intelligence agencies cooperate with each other, but after this they will remember that they need to obey the constitution and that some things they cover up could become public at some point."

Filed under News Poland CIA Prison Gulag Terrorism Terror USA Government Detention Warsaw United Nations

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