Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Secret prisons, the EU, and a very strong warning

from The Next Hurrah:

by Plutonium Page

Little by little, over the last year or so, we've begun to learn the extent of the Bush administration's War on TerrorTM as waged by the CIA. I'm not referring to something they'd put on their website. I'm talking about "extraordinary rendition", the practice of transferring terrorism suspects to interrogation camps, often in countries where torture is legal.

Recently, the extent of the CIA's rendition program has become clearer, as a number of European countries have reported that they suspect the CIA has been using their airports - without permission - for their rendition flights (click here for a summary as well as a descriptive EU map, pdf).

Three European countries (Spain, Germany, and Italy) have been discussing challenging the CIA's use of their airports; also, the Council of Europe, as well as the EU parliament have been discussing launching an investigation into reports of CIA interrogation centers in Europe.

Well, things came to a head today with an announcement from the EU Justice Commissioner:

The European Union's top justice official has warned that any EU state found to have hosted a secret CIA jail could have its voting rights suspended.

Franco Frattini said the consequences would be "extremely serious" if reports of such prisons turned out to be true.

This comes amid an EU investigation into claims the US secret service ran clandestine jails in eastern Europe.

The US has refused to confirm or deny the reports, which surfaced in the US earlier this month.

He said a suspension of voting rights would be justified if any country is found to have breached the bloc's founding principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

As the article says, the move would be unprecedented. Also, it would be difficult to achieve, because the other 25 EU member states have to vote unanimously to suspend the voting rights of one state.

Given that the UK is a member of the EU, and Bush's biggest European supporter of the Iraq war (and the War on Terror™), a unanimous vote is not likely, unless the prisons are found as well as explicit proof of torture at those prisons. In that case, it is possible that the UK could be pressured into voting with the other states.

Frattini's proposal is not extreme; if it isn't obvious why, read through "Prevention of Torture and Rehabilitation of Victims" on one of the official EU websites.

It's sad that the US goverment's policies have degraded so badly means that the suspension of your voting rights is deemed an appropriate sanction against cooperating with them.

The trademark (TM) on the war on terror made me laugh out loud.

Don't really know why. (maybe because it signifies it as a marketable idea rather than a real war?)
Why it's so funny is such a philosophical question...

Is it because it's so absurd or terrifying that laughing is the only means we have of dealing with it?

I don't know. Mike, if you're not a Monty Python fan, you should be.

Thanks for all your contributions. I'm going to finally check your site out and add you to our little links section here.
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