Reprinted from NewsMax.com
EU Report Blasts U.S. Detainee Policy
Wednesday, Nov. 29,
A European Parliament commission issued a draft report in Brussels on Tuesday that vigorously condemned the United States for apprehending terrorists on European soil and transporting them to "secret prisons" around the world.
The report called for the closure of the U.S.-run interrogation and detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "and for European countries to accept the return of their citizens and residents who are being held illegally by U.S. authorities."
Members of the European investigating commission have been publicly critical of the United States, but never before in such harsh terms.
Their draft report, released on Tuesday in Brussels, was a bald condemnation of the U.S.-led war on terror and of the European governments and officials who have assisted it.
It called on the European parliament to issue a resolution that "condemns extraordinary rendition as an illegal and systematic instrument used by the United States in the fight against terrorism," while chastising European countries for "the acceptance and concealing of the practice."
In a throwback to the policies of the Clinton administration, the European report insisted that "terrorism must be fought by legal means," and insisted that the United States "rethink the relationship between the need for security and the rights of individuals."
The Europeans also gave a nod to congressional Democrats, by "[welcoming] the announcement by the incoming majority in the U.S. Senate" that it intended to hold hearings on rendition and CIA secret prisons.
The European Parliament Temporary Committee on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners was established in January, and has sent delegations to Macedonia, the United States, Germany, Britain, Romania, Poland and Portugal to investigate CIA activities.
In a hearing earlier this year, the commission released detailed flight logs of hundreds of secret CIA flights, identifying the airplanes used for renditions and the CIA proprietaries that operated them.
These are considered some of the
Agency's most highly-valued secrets. Shell companies that own and
operate aircraft "cost us a fortune to set up," a former CIA
operations officer told NewsMax. "And now it is going to cost us a
fortune to replace them."
The report revealed that since October 2001, the CIA has operated "at least 1,245 flights . . . into the European airspace," and chastised European governments for "relinquishing their control over their airspace and airports by admitting flights operated by the CIA."
The report called on all European countries that have not already done so to "initiate independent investigations into all stopovers made by civilian aircraft carried out by the CIA" since 2001, and called for a review of existing European anti-terrorism legislation "to avoid any repetition" of the CIA extraordinary renditions.
It revealed that 336 CIA aircraft were stopped in Germany, 170 in Britain, 147 in Ireland, 91 in Portugal, 68 in Spain, 64 in Greece, and 57 in Cyprus.
After the United States, the two countries singled out for the harshest treatment in the draft report — Poland and Romania —ironically had the fewest CIA stopovers, with just 21 in Romania and 11 in Poland.
The anti-American tone of the draft report was stunning, even to close observers of the European investigation.
Members of the investigating committee, headed by Italian parliamentarian Giovanni Claudio Fava, boasted that they had met "confidentially" with former CIA officers, who provided them with inside information.
"Not me," said former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, who met with the committee in Washington this May. "I refused to talk to them at all on these subjects," he told NewsMax on Tuesday. "I only talked on public intel issues."
"My whole meeting with them was in the presence of the press and on the record," he added.
Woolsey is not mentioned in the European report, although the report heaps praise on reporters from the Washington Post and ABC News for helping to break the story.
The Europeans also lauded Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for their role in the initial investigations into so-called "ghost detainees."
In addition to its harsh criticism of the Bush administration, the report also went after Bush allies in Europe, including former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
It singled out several European Union
officials by name for stonewalling the investigation.
Top EU official Javier Solana was guilty of "omissions and denials" in his declarations to the committee, the report said.
EU Counterterrorism coordinator Gijs de Vries was noteworthy for "the lack of credibility of his statements" to the commission, which suggested he be fired and his position be eliminated.
EUROPOL director Max-Peter Ratzel also incurred the commission's ire for his refusal to testify, "especially since it appears that liaison officers, notably from the U.S. intelligence services, have been posted to his office."
Current and previous NATO secretaries general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Lord Robertson took it on the chin for slighting the commission.
Particularly galling to Fava and his fellow commissioners was NATO's refusal to provide the classified minutes of the Oct. 4, 2001 NATO decision to activate the mutual defense clause of the NATO treaty at the request of the United States, thus triggering European assistance in the war on terror.
Helping the European investigation was an organization known as the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation, Eurocontrol, which coordinates air traffic control standards and airport security. Eurocontrol provided the detailed flight logs for the clandestine CIA flights. The report thanked Eurocontrol for its "excellent cooperation and the very useful information" it shared with the commission.
Fava and his fellow commissioners
called on public prosecutors and judges throughout Europe to follow
the lead of the Italian court that has handed down an indictment
against CIA clandestine officer Robert Seldon Lady and 26 others for
allegedly kidnapping an Egyptian Islamist in Milan.
Nasr Osama Mustafa Hassan, alias Abu Omar, was abducted off the street in Milan on Feb. 17, 2003. According to an eyewitness cited in the indictment, "two men in Western clothing" checked his identity papers, then "forced him to get into a white van and drove off immediately at great speed."
They took Abu Omar to the U.S. military airbase in Aviano, and then flew him to Egypt where he was jailed and interrogated.
The Italian court identified Robert Lady and the 26 others through credit card receipts and hotel bills. "If nothing else, they were guilty of incredibly poor tradecraft," two former CIA officers who were aware of the case told NewsMax.
Robert Lady and the others have been charged with kidnapping, a felony which could lead to stiff prison sentences if they are convicted, as observers believe they will be.
The CIA refused to comment on the case, calling it "a legal matter."