Reprinted from NewsMax.com
EU ReportBlasts U.S. Detainee Policy
Wednesday, Nov. 29,2006
A European Parliament commission issued a draft report inBrussels on Tuesday that vigorously condemned the United States forapprehending terrorists on European soil and transporting them to"secret prisons" around the world.
The report called for the closure of the U.S.-run interrogationand detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "and for Europeancountries to accept the return of their citizens and residents whoare being held illegally by U.S. authorities."
Members of the European investigating commission have beenpublicly critical of the United States, but never before in suchharsh terms.
Their draft report, released on Tuesday in Brussels, was a baldcondemnation of the U.S.-led war on terror and of the Europeangovernments and officials who have assisted it.
It called on the European parliament to issue a resolution that"condemns extraordinary rendition as an illegal and systematicinstrument used by the United States in the fight against terrorism,"while chastising European countries for "the acceptance andconcealing of the practice."
In a throwback to the policies of the Clinton administration, theEuropean report insisted that "terrorism must be fought by legalmeans," and insisted that the United States "rethink the relationshipbetween 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 theU.S. Senate" that it intended to hold hearings on rendition and CIAsecret prisons.
The European Parliament Temporary Committee on the alleged useof European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegaldetention of prisoners was established in January, and has sentdelegations to Macedonia, the United States, Germany, Britain,Romania, Poland and Portugal to investigate CIA activities.
In a hearing earlier this year, the commission releaseddetailed flight logs of hundreds of secret CIA flights, identifyingthe airplanes used for renditions and the CIA proprietaries thatoperated them.
These are considered some of theAgency's most highly-valued secrets. Shell companies that own andoperate aircraft "cost us a fortune to set up," a former CIAoperations officer told NewsMax. "And now it is going to cost us afortune to replace them."
The report revealed that since October 2001, the CIA hasoperated "at least 1,245 flights . . . into the European airspace,"and chastised European governments for "relinquishing their controlover their airspace and airports by admitting flights operated by theCIA."
The report called on all European countries that have notalready done so to "initiate independent investigations into allstopovers made by civilian aircraft carried out by the CIA" since2001, and called for a review of existing European anti-terrorismlegislation "to avoid any repetition" of the CIA extraordinaryrenditions.
It revealed that 336 CIA aircraft were stopped in Germany, 170in Britain, 147 in Ireland, 91 in Portugal, 68 in Spain, 64 inGreece, and 57 in Cyprus.
After the United States, the two countries singled out for theharshest treatment in the draft report — Poland and Romania —ironicallyhad the fewest CIA stopovers, with just 21 in Romania and 11 inPoland.
The anti-American tone of the draft report was stunning, evento close observers of the European investigation.
Members of the investigating committee, headed by Italianparliamentarian Giovanni Claudio Fava, boasted that they had met"confidentially" with former CIA officers, who provided them withinside information.
"Not me," said former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, who metwith the committee in Washington this May. "I refused to talk to themat all on these subjects," he told NewsMax on Tuesday. "I only talkedon public intel issues."
"My whole meeting with them was in the presence of the pressand on the record," he added.
Woolsey is not mentioned in the European report, although the reportheaps praise on reporters from the Washington Post and ABC News forhelping to break the story.
The Europeans also lauded Human Rights Watch and AmnestyInternational for their role in the initial investigations intoso-called "ghost detainees."
In addition to its harsh criticism of the Bush administration,the report also went after Bush allies in Europe, including formerItalian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and British Prime MinisterTony Blair.
It singled out several European Unionofficials by name for stonewalling the investigation.
Top EU official Javier Solana was guilty of "omissions anddenials" in his declarations to the committee, the report said.
EU Counterterrorism coordinator Gijs de Vries was noteworthyfor "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 thecommission's ire for his refusal to testify, "especially since itappears that liaison officers, notably from the U.S. intelligenceservices, have been posted to his office."
Current and previous NATO secretaries general Jaap de HoopScheffer and Lord Robertson took it on the chin for slighting thecommission.
Particularly galling to Fava and his fellow commissioners was NATO'srefusal to provide the classified minutes of the Oct. 4, 2001 NATOdecision to activate the mutual defense clause of the NATO treaty atthe request of the United States, thus triggering European assistancein the war on terror.
Helping the European investigation was an organization known asthe European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation,Eurocontrol, which coordinates air traffic control standards andairport security. Eurocontrol provided the detailed flight logs forthe clandestine CIA flights. The report thanked Eurocontrol for its"excellent cooperation and the very useful information" it sharedwith the commission.
Fava and his fellow commissionerscalled on public prosecutors and judges throughout Europe to followthe lead of the Italian court that has handed down an indictmentagainst CIA clandestine officer Robert Seldon Lady and 26 others forallegedly kidnapping an Egyptian Islamist in Milan.
Nasr Osama Mustafa Hassan, alias Abu Omar, was abducted off thestreet in Milan on Feb. 17, 2003. According to an eyewitness cited inthe indictment, "two men in Western clothing" checked his identitypapers, then "forced him to get into a white van and drove offimmediately at great speed."
They took Abu Omar to the U.S. military airbase in Aviano, andthen flew him to Egypt where he was jailed and interrogated.
The Italian court identified Robert Lady and the 26 othersthrough credit card receipts and hotel bills. "If nothing else, theywere guilty of incredibly poor tradecraft," two former CIA officerswho were aware of the case told NewsMax.
Robert Lady and the others have been charged with kidnapping, afelony which could lead to stiff prison sentences if they areconvicted, as observers believe they will be.
The CIA refused to comment on the case, calling it "a legalmatter."