Saturday, September 09, 2006

Europe to suffer from CIA secret prisons

It's nice to know that there are still some patriotic European politicians left who recognise that our interests as civilised countries who want to remain so are diverging increasingly sharply from those of the USA. Note to American readers expect more stories like this. Expect to see European governments and politicians frantically trying to dissociate themselves from their links to the US over the next few years. Particularly expect a wave of Anti-Americanism if, as I confidently expect to happen:

  • Attacks by Israeli forces cause deaths of European UN peacekeepers in Lebanon.
  • There are sharply increased deaths amongst European NATO troops in Afghanistan.

- mfi

Europe to suffer from CIA secret prisons

Bush's revelation of secret CIA prisons, whose locations remain unknown, could have grave consequences for Europe once the willing hosts are uncovered.

By Jen Alic for ISN Security Watch (08/09/06)

Following US President George W Bush's revelation on Wednesday that the CIA had detained terror suspects in secret prisons outside the US after long-standing allegations to that effect, the European Parliament is urging European governments who willingly hosted the covert operations to admit their involvement and face the consequences.


European parliamentarian Sarah Ludford, a figure long at the center of the investigation into CIA secret prisons and rendition flights on EU territory, said those European governments involved would no longer be able to maintain their silence.

"I think what has happened with this statement by George Bush, I think it's rather pulled the rug out from under the wall of silence by European governments and it makes them look either fools or liars really," the BBC quoted her as saying on Thursday.

European politicians are also demanding that Washington reveal the locations of the secret prisons on EU territory, saying Bush's announcement left out some vital information that the EU had a right to know.


Human Rights Watch last year identified Poland and Romania as possible hosts - claims both countries have firmly denied. On Thursday, the two countries issued fresh denials.

In Warsaw, Polish President Lech Kaczynski repeated that he had no knowledge of secret CIA prisons in his country.

"If the issue continues to come up and if there is international pressure, the president will ask appropriate services to investigate the issue once again," Kaczynski's foreign policy adviser, Andrzej Krawczyk, told Reuters.

Romania, likewise, repeated its denial, with government spokeswoman Oana Marinescu telling Reuters: "Romania's position on the matter of CIA prisons remains unchanged."
Grave consequences for Europe

Analyst Victor Mauer, deputy director of the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, says Bush's announcement will have grave consequences that will reverberate throughout Europe and across the Atlantic.

"The costs [related to Bush's public announcement] are most certainly higher than any possible benefit the secret prisons might have rendered. If there is anything that we have learnt over the past five years, it is that the fight against Islamic terrorism has to be perceived by the world public as legitimate and just. The [US] president's announcement does just the opposite," Mauer told ISN Security Watch on Friday.

The revelations of secret CIA prisons on European soil "further undermine the administration's credibility; and with it the credibility of those European governments who assisted the US government in their unlawful undertakings," Mauer said.

"[Swiss Senator] Dick Marty's report to the Council of Europe of earlier this year named no less than 14 European countries, including former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Germany. If proven right, this would, above all, severely undermine the moral high ground European governments, and in particular the German government under Schröder, have claimed for themselves," the analyst said.

"Some might simply have joined forces with the US in the hope they would, at worst, get away with it, and, at best, be rewarded by the US administration. Instead, they get neither."

According to Mauer, the consequences will be severe. Among other things, he said, "EU aspirant countries, if found guilty of collaborating with the US government on secret CIA prisons, might encounter a serious setback of their ambition to join the EU at the earliest possible."

He also said the EU as a whole would "have to answer for the violations of international conventions by individual member states."

"For many years now, the EU has included in its treaties with third parties human rights clauses as a condition sine qua non for the establishment of closer ties with the Union. If individual member states violated this principle themselves, they will have done the Union as a whole a major disservice."

Mauer also predicted that Bush's revelations would create a "climate of mistrust" and a "policy of shaming" among the EU's 25 member states, and as such "result in an overall weakening of the EU."

Finally, though by no means least significantly, he said "trans-Atlantic ties will most certainly be weakened further."

"Any government, initially hoping to get away with such a policy, will feel betrayed by the US government and will in future think twice before entering bilateral secret deals of an unlawful nature," Mauer said.

Mauer said that one issue that seemed to have gone relatively unnoticed in Bush's announcement that the 14 secret detainees had been transferred, was its indication that the Guantanamo Bay facility "will not be closed for the foreseeable future."

"This comes as a blow for those European governments - friendly to the US - which have urged Washington to close this symbol of malignant US power," he said.
Europe's differing views

Though Europe is clearly of two minds on the issue, more often than not, European leaders criticized the secret prison operation.

"The fight against terrorism can only be done through democracy and respect for the law. It is not compatible with the existence of secret prisons," Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said in a statement.

[snip - nobody in their right mind gives a damn what Kofi Annan says, does, or thinks.]

In interviews with The Associated Press and other news agencies, Swiss Senator Dick Marty, head of the Council of Europe's investigating committee in the case and the author of an earlier report that had accused the US of operating secret prisons and rendition flights in Europe, said he was certainly not surprised at the revelation.

"I have always been certain that these prisons existed, so I am not surprised," AP quoted him as saying on Thursday.

Marty speculated, as have many others, including US conservatives, that Bush's revelation was timed right before crucial elections in the US that the Republicans were expected to suffer losses. The revelation that the remaining 14 key terror suspects, some of them believed to have been connected to the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US, had been transferred to Guantanamo backs the Democrats into a corner by refocusing on national security issues, which favor the Republicans, and likely reducing pressure on Bush to close down the Cuba-based military prison camp.

"[Bush's announcement] probably has to do with the fact that the elections are coming up in the United States," Marty was quoted as saying.

[Snip - no civilised human being gives a damn about what the current Australian foreign minister thinks, or says either.]

"A great deal has been achieved through these kinds of programs," news agencies quoted him as saying.


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