TRIPOLI, Libya The Bush administrations sent terror suspects to Libya for interrogation, despite that country's reputation for torture, according to documents found in the abandoned office of Libya's spy chief.
The intelligence documents were left behind when Tripoli fell to the rebels. They show a close working relationship between the Central Intelligence Agency and Muammar Qaddafi's intelligence service.
The CIA declined to comment on the documents. But it did say the U.S. works with foreign governments in an effort to fight terrorism.
"It can't come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats," CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood told the Associated Press. "That is exactly what we are expected to do."
The CIA was among a number of foreign intelligence services that worked with Libya's agencies. Reports of such cooperation have surfaced before, but the documents provide new details on the ties between Western countries and Qaddafi's regime.
Many of those same countries backed the NATO attacks that helped Libya's rebels force Qaddafi from power.
One notable case is that of Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, commander of the anti-Qaddafi rebel force that now controls Tripoli. Belhaj is the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a now-dissolved militant group with links to al Qaeda. Belhaj says he was tortured by CIA agents at a secret prison, then returned to Libya.
Two documents from March 2004 appear to be American correspondence to Libyan officials to arrange Belhaj's rendition.
Referring to him by his nom de guerre, Abdullah al-Sadiq, the documents say he will be flown from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Libya and asks for Libyan government agents to accompany him.
It also requests American "access to al-Sadiq for debriefing purposes once he is in your custody."
"Please be advised that we must be assured that al-Sadiq will be treated humanely and that his human rights will be respected," the document says.
Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch, which found the documents, called the ties between Washington and Qaddafi's regime "a very dark chapter in American intelligence history, and it remains a stain on the record of the American intelligence services that they cooperated with these very abusive intelligence services."