Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Thanks Page. I was going to do a story on this as well, so now I don't need to. Let me add a few other articles (you can find several more already in the Breakfast thread) - feel free to use them as you need:

`Secret CIA jails' deepens US/EU divide (FT)

The senior European diplomat could not have been clearer: "You don't talk about torture in the morning and then say in the afternoon: `Democratise yourself'."

His comments, on the contrast between the Bush administration's use of intensive interrogation techniques abroad and its public message about worldwide democratisation, underlined how Iraq-war tensions have found an echo in the controversy over the CIA's alleged "secret prisons".

They also show how, despite President George W. Bush's high-profile attempt this year at rapprochement with Europe, the two sides of the Atlantic are still often at odds over international law and the fight against terrorism.

The storm has steadily grown ever since the Washington Post claimed this month that Europe had hosted secret facilities used by the Central Intelligence Agency to interrogate terror suspects.

The issue is also likely to overshadow the inaugural trip to Washington on Tuesday of Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany's new foreign minister, who will discuss the issue with Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state.


"We cannot limit ourselves solely to the `secret prisons' issue," said Dick Marty, the Swiss politician who has headed the main political investigation into the incidents under the auspices of the 46-member Council of Europe, covering countries from east and west Europe, including Russia.

He said that further investigation needed to look into "illegal detention, even of a short duration" of US prisoners on European soil, such as stops to refuel aircraft.

At heart, many European countries recoil from Washington's approach to its "war on terrorism", preferring instead the legalistic approach for which the Bush administration criticises its Democratic predecessor.

The controversy is strongest in the "old Europe" countries to the west of the continent, where US diplomacy is often seen as particularly heavy-handed. Despite Mr Bush's multiple trips to Europe this year, public opinion has not warmed to his administration. (...)

"This is a reflection of how the two sides see the world differently and how they see terrorism differently," says Jeremy Shapiro, director of research at the centre for US and Europe at the Brookings Institution in Europe.

"But I don't see this as a huge problem for EU-US relations, because there's not going to be any hugely public spat on this issue. The US won't say that there weren't any secret prisons in Europe, but it will give assurances that they are not there now."

He added that a quiet US backdown was all the more likely because of the attempt by Senator John McCain to provide firmer checks against the use of torture - an initiative that has led to a public relations disaster for the White House.

But in the meantime the dispute has only served to highlight, once again, the profound difference in philosophy between the EU and the Bush administration.

I think this Shapiro guy is wrong. If Frattini, a close Berlusconi ally and a tough right wing law'n'order guy can talk about stripping a country of its EU votes, that means that Europe is starting to take these stories pretty damn seriously - and not just talking about it.

The Council of Europe, which has been shamefully lenient with Russia, can probably use this an opportunity to restore its human rights credentials (and that Swiss prosecutor seems intent to get things moving).

It's going to pollute relationships with Germany, and prevent any rapprochement with Merkel, and it's going to put Blair/Straw in an impossible position (as current presidents of Europe) to have to convey Europe's deep unhappiness over this to Washington or lose all credibility inside Europe.

I was not hopeful when this came out that there would be any meaningful reaction, but now I am getting optimistic that this good become really huge.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 29th, 2005 at 05:38:31 AM EST

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