By Jordan Hooks
In the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the CIA bartered with prisoners regarding any information they had that would lead the U.S. to the terrorist group. In return for promised freedoms, safety for their families and monetary awards, the prisoners were sent back home to kill terrorists within their country who were planning attacks on the United States.
Although it was kept a secret from the public for years, the CIA knew this was a dangerous risk but felt that the payoff was more beneficial in the long run. The program, dubbed Penny Lane, was facilitated in eight small cottages that stood a few hundred yards from the administrative offices of the Guantanamo Bay prison. They were hidden deep within a ridge covered in thick shrubs and cactus. The cottages were designed with a ‘hotel-like’ feel and included a real mattress, kitchen, shower and television.
Lee Caldwell, current infantryman in the U.S. Army, said: “The efforts made by the CIA were risky, but had greater benefits than the U.S. public realizes. Being in the military, I know the government only acts with the country’s best interests in mind. Penny Lane helped save American lives and was a strong attempt to keep our lands safe.”
Several current and formal U.S. officials said that many of the men who passed through Penny Lane helped the CIA find and kill many top al-Qaida operatives. Others stopped providing useful information and eventually lost touch with the CIA.
Penny Lane is still standing and can be seen on satellite images, but has long been abandoned. Operations have ceased to exist since the program was shut down in 2006.