Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

America's Polish gulag

by IdiotSavant Thu Dec 28th, 2006 at 05:23:54 PM EST

From No Right Turn - New Zealand's liberal blog:

Just over a year ago, the Washington Post revealed that the US was operating a network of secret prisons and torture centres - "black sites" - in Eastern Europe.  Today, the BBC World Service has a piece on one of them, at a place called Stare Kiejkuty in Poland.  The Council of Europe draft report into Alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers involving Council of Europe member states [PDF] noted that a US Boeing 737, with the tail number N313P - one of the infamous torture planes - had made regular visits to nearby Szymany.  The BBC has pinned it down a little further:

After a week of meetings in smoky Warsaw restaurants and coffee bars with Polish intelligence sources, airport workers and journalists, I obtained what I had been looking for, and something that nobody in authority wanted to reveal, the flight log of planes landing at Szymany airport.

They confirmed my eyewitness's account - that a well-known CIA Gulfstream plane, the N379P, had made several landings at the airport in 2003.

The plane has been strongly linked to the transportation of Al-Qaeda terrorists.

(The leaked flight logs up at Ghost Plane show two arrivals and four departures, all in 2003, but they are far from complete).

According to the report and eyewitnesses, the planes would land in the middle of the night and make a secure transfer at one end of the runway. Whoever was in them was taken to Stare Kiejkuty, a former Warsaw pact intelligence training centre. An investigation by the UK's Sunday Mirror actually managed to get inside the place, and reported

a green hangar the size of a football pitch. Locals say this was built last year to house newly-arrived inmates.

The question now is what the EU will do about it.  They have evidence that an EU member state hosted a secret US prison in violation of international and EU human rights obligations.  That member state is steadfastly refusing to cooperate with any investigation, and behaving like an old Soviet despotism. Surely it is time for the EU to make good on its threats, take a strong stand for human rights, and suspend Poland from membership until it cooperates?

Right now, Poland is using its veto power to block an agreement between the EU and Russia in retaliation for Russia's ban on Polish meat. Being able to suspend The Polish Government's voting rights at the Council would be extremely useful.

The procedure of suspension is quite complex, but it has been done before with lesser cause (when Jörg Haider's far-right party joined the government of Austria).

Treaty on European Union (Consolidated Text)
Article 6

1. The Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member States.
2. The Union shall respect fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed in Rome on 4 November 1950 and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, as general principles of Community law.
3. The Union shall respect the national identities of its Member States.
4. The Union shall provide itself with the means necessary to attain its objectives and carry through its policies.

Article 7
1. On a reasoned proposal by one third of the Member States, by the European Parliament or by the Commission, the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members after obtaining the assent of the European Parliament, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of principles mentioned in Article 6(1), and address appropriate recommendations to that State. Before making such a determination, the Council shall hear the Member State in question and, acting in accordance with the same procedure, may call on independent persons to submit within a reasonable time limit a report on the situation in the Member State in question.
The Council shall regularly verify that the grounds on which such a determination was made continue to apply.
2. The Council, meeting in the composition of the Heads of State or Government and acting by unanimity on a proposal by one third of the Member States or by the Commission and after obtaining the assent of the European Parliament, may determine the existence of a serious and persistent breach by a Member State of principles mentioned in Article 6(1), after inviting the government of the Member State in question to submit its observations.
3. Where a determination under paragraph 2 has been made, the Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide to suspend certain of the rights deriving from the application of this Treaty to the Member State in question, including the voting rights of the representative of the government of that Member State in the Council. In doing so, the Council shall take into account the possible consequences of such a suspension on the rights and obligations of natural and legal persons.
The obligations of the Member State in question under this Treaty shall in any case continue to be binding on that State.
4. The Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide subsequently to vary or revoke measures taken under paragraph 3 in response to changes in the situation which led to their being imposed.
5. For the purposes of this Article, the Council shall act without taking into account the vote of the representative of the government of the Member State in question. Abstentions by members present in person or represented shall not prevent the adoption of decisions referred to in paragraph 2. A qualified majority shall be defined as the same proportion of the weighted votes of the members of the Council concerned as laid down in Article 205(2) of the Treaty establishing the European Community.
This paragraph shall also apply in the event of voting rights being suspended pursuant to paragraph 3.
6. For the purposes of paragraphs 1 and 2, the European Parliament shall act by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast, representing a majority of its Members.

As this requires unanimity in the council, it won't happen. There are too many torjan horses, and who is to say that no member states are susceptible to blackmailing by Poland and the US on this?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 28th, 2006 at 06:07:40 PM EST
I'm no fan of the twins, but wouldn't it be a bit unfair to suspend them for something that was done by the previous government?

It is true that Haider was in some ways less serious than this, but on the other hand nobody suspended the UK for its dirty war in Belfast, or France for its various ugly games in Africa or Spain for its anti-ETA death squads, so...

In general as long as France and Germany feel it is in their interest to have close, friendly relations with Russia, Poland is going to be very close to the US regardless of who's in power in Warsaw. That's the trade off. As for blackmailing... well... how much do you want to bet that various West European countries were involved in this sort of stuff...

by MarekNYC on Thu Dec 28th, 2006 at 07:06:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I understood that the suspension would be for the current refusal to cooperate with the investigation, not for its cooperation with the US.
by Fran on Fri Dec 29th, 2006 at 03:03:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When I referred to blackmailing, that's exactly what I had in mind. Just about every EU member state was involved by action or inaction in the CIA flight/prison operation, and none have cooperated with the Council of Europe's investigation, or with the European Parliament's [which, by the way, is constitutionally unable to probe as deep as any of the national parliaments could]. And while we're on the topic of the Council of Europe, you will note that the European Convention of Human Rights is covered by paragraph 6(2), and only violations of paragraph 6(1) is grounds for suspension in article 7.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 29th, 2006 at 05:25:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not unanimity, qualified majority. What you highlighted is just about the proposal, and about the unanimity of one third of member states.

Still, methinks most conservative and some SocDem governments will prevent this process even from starting. (Where I think that starting it can bring some results before it is carried to the end.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Dec 29th, 2006 at 10:10:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My reading is that the proposal can come from the EP or from 1/3 of the member states, but the council needs to act unanimously.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 29th, 2006 at 10:29:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, sloppy reading.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 29th, 2006 at 10:39:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Europeans history all over again...
Concentration camps? What concentration camps?
Europeans are of very poor sight... they do not see things that are "unpleasant" for them and their political goals... But they see even non-existing camps and other stuff if it's suit their plans.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Fri Dec 29th, 2006 at 10:41:01 AM EST

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]