Thursday, November 03, 2005

Naming the guilty

So, which European countries are playing host to secret CIA torture centres? The Times has some followup, and points the finger pretty much where expected:

Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria rushed to issue denials of their involvement.

But Frantisek Bublan, the Czech Interior Minister, said last night that the US had approached his Government a month ago about holding suspects on Czech territory, but Prague had refused.

Human rights groups point at Poland and Romania as two eastern European countries that have taken in America’s “ghost detainees”. They also claimed that the US was running out of countries willing to host its terror suspects.

And as expected, they use the flight logs from the now-infamous torture plane:

Tom Malinowski, the director of Human Rights Watch, told The Times that his investigators had tracked CIA aircraft transferring detainees from Afghanistan to airfields in Eastern Europe that are closed to the public and press, including two in Poland and Romania.

Mr Malinowski said that Human Rights Watch was “90 per cent certain” the CIA used Szymany airport in Poland.

“This is an obscure, rural airport which is very close to a Polish intelligence facility,” Mr Malinowski said.

He said the second major eastern European site was the Mihail-Kogalniceanu military airbase in Romania.

If proven, this will have major repurcussions. These are countries whose which remember what happened under the Soviets, and which will not tolerate their governments doing a dirty deal with the CIA to resurrect secret prisons where people are tortured. At the least, it will force an end to cooperation and a significant change in foreign policy. At the worst, politicians will be forced to resign, or even prosecuted. In Poland, the government is newly elected, and can easily claim clean hands; Romania's colaition government has no such excuse, and may disintegrate. Both may also have significant problems from the EU and Council of Europe. While the European Commission is being cautious, the European Parliament is already on the warpath. These countries will be facing consequences if they are shown to have cooperated with the US in this. Poland's membership was already in question as the new government wants to reinstate the death penalty; Romania had agreed to join the EU in 2007. They may be kissing that goodbye.

Meanwhile, I wonder whether the CIA are frantically evacuating?


Interesting all the "shocked, shocked" comments that have greeted the WaPo story. The Guardian has been reporting on such foreign locales for U.S. POWs since this past January, as here.

And that article also mentioned the Bush Admin's use of prison ships to avoid messy sovereignty issues. Perhaps Bush wasn't able to lease cruise ships to house Katrina refugees because they were all being used for umm, other purposes?

Posted by Anonymous : 11/03/2005 03:49:00 PM

Yes, and I've been linking to it all. But I can think of two reasons for the reaction: Americans will be shocked because it hasn't received widespread coverage in America, while everyone else will be shocked because they thought that no decent country (a term which now includes Eastern Europea) would possibly cooperate with such treatment. Basically, we'd thought they were only doing this in shitty third-world despotisms which could be easily kicked around - not by coopting democratically elected governments.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/03/2005 04:22:00 PM