Thursday, November 03, 2005

If not the King, then at least the governing powers....

Update to the impossibly long post from yesterday.

Via Holden, we learn that the European Union considers secret, "Soviet-style" prisons, to be illegal, too.

Gee, just like in America!

Who knew?

Not surprisingly, the New York Times is only reporting on the question of the existence of such prisons. However, it's a bit of a political hot potato for the countries involved:

Human Rights Watch, a US lobby group, on Wednesday said there was strong evidence - including the flight records of CIA aircraft transporting prisoners out of Afghanistan - that Poland and Romania were among countries allowing the agency to operate secret detention centres on their soil.

“We have a high degree of confidence that such facilities exist in at least Poland and Romania,” said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director.

If the allegations were confirmed, they would be likely to provoke serious concern in the European Union.

Leszek Laszczak, spokesman for the Polish defence ministry, said: “No people suspected of terrorist activities were held in military bases on the territory of the Republic of Poland, either as a result of an agreement with the US government or with any other institutions of the US.”

A spokeswoman for Traian Basescu, Romanian president, declined to comment.
Washhington, of course, insists its all in the interest of "national security," which translates as: "Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for we are the meanest son of a bitch in the valley." The question of how that attitude is working needs to be addressed separately.

The CIA on Wednesday declined to comment. Stephen Hadley, President George W. Bush's national security adviser, said: “We do what is necessary to defend the country against terrorist attacks and win the war on terror in ways that is consistent with our values.”

“The fact that [the alleged prisons] are secret, assuming there are such sites . . . some people say the test of your principles is what you do when no-one is looking. The president has insisted that whether in public or private, the same principles will apply.”
At least now we know why the Washington Post didn't want to identify the countries involved. They don't want to identify themselves. A sort of international "5th Amdendment" defense, apparently.

Here's a fuller version of the AP story, too:

The European Commission said Thursday it will investigate reports that the CIA set up secret jails in eastern Europe. The governments of the European Union's 25 members nations will be informally questioned about the allegations, EU spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing said.

"We have to find out what is exactly happening. We have all heard about this, then we have to see if it is confirmed."

He said such prisons could violate EU human rights laws and other European human rights conventions, and as the watchdog to ensure EU rules are properly adhered to the Commission would look into the issue. He cautioned that the EU head office as such could not take action against member states if they violated human rights.

"As far as the treatment of prisoners is concerned ... it is clear that all 25 member states having signed up to European Convention on Human Rights, and to the International Convention Against Torture, are due to respect and fully implement the obligations deriving from those treaties," Roscam Abbing told reporters.
First: wouldn't it be lovely to hear the emphasized language from a U.S. government official; say, the U.S. Senate?

Second: are we going to hear any other U.S. official telling us that treaties are "quaint"? Somehow, I don't think so.

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