EU to investigate gulag claims
Turns out Europe is not so sanguine about having secret detention camps on its soil. Rumors that CIA gulags have been established in Poland and Romania have endangered those countries' status in Europe. Although proudly touted as the stalwart new Europe by Rumsfeld, Poland and Romania are now scrambling to deny any connection with the secret detention program.
Human Rights Watch says the CIA used a secret detention centre to interrogate suspects outside the reach of US law and away from official oversight. Using the flight logs of a Boeing 757 jet, the New York-based group said the plane flew from Kabul to Szymany airport, north of Warsaw and close to a training base for Polish intelligence, then to a military airbase near the Romanian military port of Constanta...The US, of course, issued the standard comic book Rumsfeldian response:
Both countries have tried to dispel the reports, though their denials did not appear totally categorical. The Romanian Premier, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, said: "I repeat: We do not have CIA bases in Romania." An aide to the Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, said authorities there had "no information" of such facilities on its territory...
Poland, as an EU member state, is bound by the European Convention on Human Rights, and by the EU's governing treaty, whose Article Six demands respect for basic rights. In theory, a risk of persistent breach of these rights could lead to Poland being stripped of its voting rights in the EU, though that seems a remote possibility.
But Romania faces a more pressing problem because its bid to join the EU is at a delicate stage. Last week the commission warned that its accession might be delayed by a year from the planned date of 2007 because of problems that include failure to root out corruption. All countries wishing to join the EU must abide by the so-called Copenhagen criteria, which enshrine basic human rights. The new allegations could prove highly damaging to its prospects of joining. Friso Roscam Abbing, a spokesman for the commission, said: "The Copenhagen criteria are clear. I don't think secret prisons would be compatible with this."
In Washington, Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, said Wednesday, "While we have to do what is necessary to defend the country against terrorists and to win the war on terror, the president has been very clear that we're going to do that in a way that is consistent with our values."Other administration officials responded with pure doublespeak, insisting that the US will not tolerate the use of torture at home or in any foreign prisons, just as the White House pushes to exempt CIA agents from a Senate ban on torture.
The Bush administration seems well on its way to garnering the NCTE Doublespeak Award for the third year in a row. Despite their rejection of evolution, they just might be eligible for a Darwin award as well. Let's just hope we don't all join them on that one.
UPDATE: Following up the chain of command
Former Powell aide links Cheney's office to abuse directives(via Billmon)
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, then the secretary of state, told National Public Radio he had traced a trail of memos and directives authorizing questionable detention practices up through Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office directly to Cheney's staff.
"The secretary of defense under cover of the vice president's office," Wilkerson said, "regardless of the president having put out this memo" - "they began to authorize procedures within the armed forces that led to what we've seen." He said the directives contradicted a 2002 order by President George W. Bush for the U.S. military to abide by the Geneva conventions against torture.
"There was a visible audit trail from the vice president's office through the secretary of defense, down to the commanders in the field," authorizing practices that led to the abuse of detainees, Wilkerson said.