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Spain as 51st state

by danps Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 07:53:49 AM EST

The release of diplomatic cables by WikiLaeaks has provoked a strong reaction from the United States, but perhaps the most interesting part about them is what they reveal about an ally.

For more on pruning back executive power see Pruning Shears.

front-paged by afew


No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post

The WikiLeaks release of some (not all!) of the diplomatic cables in its possession has generated an unprecedented response.  Glenn Greenwald did an excellent roundup of the different ways both public and private entities are putting the squeeze on its founder Julian Assange.  This is somewhat noteworthy considering WikiLeaks has previously released sensitive US government data.  The uncharitable interpretation would be that the issue of potential war crimes committed against ordinary Iraqis is not as urgent as the mild embarrassment of American diplomats.  Feel free to drop more generous ones in the comments.

One of the most interesting parts of the cables is the American stance towards Spain.  More so than perhaps any other country in Western Europe, America has leaned on the Spanish government to do its bidding.  Scott Horton translated the following summary from El País, the Spanish paper given access to the cables:

Over the last several years, the Embassy of the United States in Madrid wielded powerful resources in an extraordinary effort to impede or terminate pending criminal investigations in Spain which involved American political and military figures assumed to have been involved in incidents of torture in Guantánamo, violations of the laws of war in Iraq or kidnappings in connection with the CIA's extraordinary renditions program.
The American approach here seems similar to its approach to WikiLeaks: Do not overtly interfere, but work through back channels in order to get relevant parties in line.  While it may seem too heavy handed to actively derail investigations in the areas Horton outlines, applying different kinds of pressure through diplomatic, um, persuasion may be as effective here as it is to have partners sever ties with WikiLeaks.

This is not just a Bush-era strategy, either.  Barack Obama has energetically pursued the same policy.  Until 2009 it could have been wishfully described as the radical agenda of a lawless president, but now that it has been given the bipartisan endorsement of his successor it is only fair to call it America's formal, official stance.

That is not the only WikiLeaks story El País is pursuing.  They are also looking at the death of Spanish television cameraman José Couso, killed "on April 8, 2003 during a tank shelling of the Hotel Palestine where he and other journalists were staying while they were covering the war in Baghdad."

Writer Mónica Ceberio Belaza details how then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and then-Defense Secretary Colin Powell helped frustrate an investigation and defeat the dreaded triumvirate of "family, leftist groups and the press."  (As a footnote, Spain's Supreme Court reopened the case in July.  However, while it is possible indictments and prosecutions could still come down, it seems like a cold case at this point.)

War and terrorism related issues are obviously the most urgent, but the WikiLeaks cables tell some other interesting tales as well.  It turns out the US has been going full throttle in trying to get Spain to adopt America's regressive and punitive stance on intellectual property.  (This issue has received even less attention Stateside than the other cables, so I have ventured into the still-evolving world of Google Translate to get some stories from Spanish outlets.  While some of the translated language is awkward, wrong and at times impenetrable, the main points come across just fine.)

Once again, it happened in true bipartisan fashion.  During the Bush administration the groundwork started to get laid for an Internet crackdown, and last year the Obama administration began applying pressure for an industry-friendly law on P2P networks.  One report about the proposed Sustainable Economy Act said that it would allow "the Ministry of Culture could close sites without judicial authorization."  The cable dump revealed (via) that the US entertainment industry was heavily involved in writing the language for it.  Now that the bill is coming up for a vote, a question hangs in the air: Will lawmakers rush it through as scheduled, or will they pause for a week or two in order to asses the impact of the cables?

Prosecutor Vicente González Mota vehemently denied the charge of US influence in his rendition investigation, saying "what I did was in the interests of Spain and the courts, and did not represent American interests."  The revelations of America's meddling in Spain's judicial and legislative systems suggests at the very least a cloudier picture.  If there turns out to be a pattern - if, over and over again, Spain's government acts against popular opinion and according to US wishes - then observers could be forgiven for seeing blurred lines between ally and client, or client and protectorate.

Display:
by danps (dan at pruningshears (dot) us) on Sat Dec 11th, 2010 at 06:25:15 AM EST
Thanks for this.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 11th, 2010 at 02:23:12 PM EST
EE UU forzó a bancos y empresas españoles para que dejasen Irán · ELPAÍS.comThe USA forced Spanish banks and firms to leave Iran - ElPais.com
La Embajada de Estados Unidos en España ejerció una permanente presión sobre el Gobierno y las empresas españolas para tratar de limitar al máximo su actividad en Irán. Reuniones y contactos con miembros del Gobierno y altos directivos buscaron frustrar posibles operaciones con Irán, disuadir de realizar inversiones o forzar el repliegue de entidades como Repsol, Iberia, Unión Fenosa, Banco Santander y Banco Sabadell, según muestran las comunicaciones confidenciales entre la Embajada de EE UU en Madrid y el Departamento de Estado. La embajada llegó a conseguir que el subgobernador del Banco de España, José Viñals, facilitase información detallada sobre las operaciones del Santander y el Sabadell.The US Embassy in Spain exerted constant pressure on the Spanish Governments and firms to try and limit as much as possible their activities in Iran. Meetings and contacts with high executives and members of the Government sought to frustrate possible operations with Iran, discourage investments, or force the withdrawal of entities such as Repsol, Iberia, Union Fenosa, Banco Santander, and Banco Sabadell, as shown by confidential communications between the US Embassy in Madrid and the Department of State. The Embassy even got the deputy Governor of the Bank of Spain, José to provide detailed information about the operations of [banks] Santander and Sabadell.

Central Bankers, Central Wankers. And American spies.

What the fuck is the deputy Central Banker doing handing over to the American government material business information obtained by virtue of regulatory powers?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 12th, 2010 at 08:43:09 AM EST
Industrial espionage.

This has been another edition of Simple Answers to Simple Questions.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Dec 12th, 2010 at 10:28:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EE UU forzó a bancos y empresas españoles para que dejasen Irán · ELPAÍS.comThe USA forced Spanish banks and firms to leave Iran - ElPais.com
A la presión ejercida por la embajada se unió la realizada por la SEC, el órgano regulador de los mercados en EE UU. En agosto de 2007, la SEC envió una carta en tono inquisitorial a la petrolera pidiéndole explicaciones por sus actividades en Irán y Cuba. Además de exigirle información exhaustiva al respecto, pedía a Repsol que evaluara "el potencial impacto de las actividades sobre la reputación de la compañía y el valor de las acciones". Además, la SEC hacía referencia a cartas de inversores estadounidenses enviadas a la petrolera inquiriendo por esa presencia y recordaba a Repsol que varios Estados de EE UU tienen leyes o están preparándolas que previenen a sus sistemas de pensiones sobre inversiones en compañías "que hagan negocios con los países que EE UU considera patrocinadores del terrorismo".The pressure exerted by the embassy was compounded by that of the SEC, the USA market regulator. In August 2007, the SEC sent a letter to the oil company [Repsol] in an inquisitorial tone demanding an explanation of its activities in Iran and Cuba. In addition to demanding exhaustive information about it, it asked Repsol to weigh "the potential impact of these activities on the firm's reputation and the value of its shares". In addition, the SEC referred to letters submitted by investors to the company and reminded Repsol that several US states have laws in their books or in preparation preventing their pensions systems from investing in companies "doing bsiness with countries that the USA considers sponsors of terrorism".
Repsol no fue la única que se encontró con la presión de la SEC. Los documentos de la embajada muestran que la división de Riesgos para la Seguridad Global del organismo supervisor exigió al Banco Santander entre agosto de 2006 y abril de 2007 información detallada sobre sus actividades en Irán. La SEC pidió inicialmente al Santander que incluyera una advertencia sobre sus relaciones financieras (muy marginales) con bancos iraníes en su informe anual (20-F), pero el Santander prefirió cortar del todo esa relación y evitar esa advertencia en el informe.Repsol was not the only one that encountered pressure from the SEC. The embassy's documents show that the regulator's division of Risks for GLobal Security demanded from Banco Sanander between August 2006 and April 2007 detailed information on its activities in Iran. The SEC asked Santander initially to include a warning about its (very marginal) financial relations with Iranian banks in its 20-F annual report, but Santander preferred to completely cut this relation and avoid that warning in its report.


Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 04:29:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some banks pull out, some others push in...

El jefe del primer banco portugués ofreció a EE UU informar sobre Irán · ELPAÍS.comThe boss of the first Portuguese bank offered to the US to report about Iran - ElPais.com
La relación entre negocios y política transita a veces por el filo de la navaja. Carlos Santos Ferreira, presidente del Banco Comercial Portugués, conocido como Millennium BCP, primera entidad privada del país, intentó cuadrar intereses tan contradictorios como hacer negocios con Irán sin que ello afectara la excelente relación de Portugal con Estados Unidos. Para ello, propuso poco menos que hacer labores de espionaje al servicio de EE UU, al proponer desembarcar en Irán y, a cambio, ofrecer a Washington información de las actividades financieras de la República Islámica. La operación, según un despacho remitido en febrero de este año por la Embajada estadounidense en Lisboa, cuenta con el conocimiento del primer ministro portugués, José Sócrates, y de miembros de su Gobierno.The relationship between business and politics sometimes goes on the knife's edge. Carlos Santos Ferreira, president of the Portuguese Commercial Bank, known as Millennium BCP, first private entity in the country, tried to square such contradictory interests as doing business with Iran without affecting Portugal's excellent relationship with the US. To that end, he proposed no less than doing espionage work in the US' service, when he proposed to land in Iran and, in exchange, offered to Washington information about the financial activities of the Islamic Republic. The operation, according to a dispatch submitted last February by the US Embassy in Lisbon, is known by the Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates and by members of his Government.


Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 09:06:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
51st state??? I think Spain will have to stand in line behind Israel, Canada, and Britain at least... Those alone are another 1+13+4=18 states. So Spain might have a chance at state number 69...
by asdf on Sun Dec 12th, 2010 at 10:35:43 AM EST
First, I strenuously object to including Israel in that list. Israel has far more say on US policy to be included in a list that includes Spain, Canada and the UK.

And I find it highly unlikely that the US would want Spain, Canada or the UK to be upgraded from the Autonomous Commonwealth status they share with Puerto Rico.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Dec 12th, 2010 at 03:03:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When did we bump Air Strip One and Spain up to Autonomous Commonwealth status?

Canada, sure, but only because they drink milk from bags, and that's fucked up.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 01:52:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
AFAIR, so they could join the EU. Need to make sure that that business does not take off.

Luckily it seems that Germany wants to avoid that as well, so it may have been over-thinking the different scenarios. DoD does that sometimes.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 09:35:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To be fair, aren't many US states more resistant to US Federal power than the likes of Spain or <insert list here>?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 12th, 2010 at 10:42:16 AM EST
To be fair, does Washington ask as much of them?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 12th, 2010 at 12:33:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To be absolutely fair, "Washington" isn't the only nation to exert "diplomatic" pressure when in its interest. Every country does so, right or wrong, to the limits of their ability.  The real difference would seem to be that "Washington" has a lot of leverage in some areas and the misfortune of having evidence of that leverage revealed recently via Wikileaks.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Dec 12th, 2010 at 03:25:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The misfortune is not for the US but for its foreign quislings.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 12th, 2010 at 04:11:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would guess you are partially correct. The "quislings" may suffer in the short term, but  US's diplomacy, which is not always on the wrong side, will likely suffer as well.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Dec 12th, 2010 at 05:30:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... the right or wrong side in a particular dispute, it is persistently on the side of the perpetuation of American Empire, which places it on the wrong side of the long term interests of the US Republic.

The rejoinder to that observation is that there are things that are likely worse for the US Republic than the American Empire, and while that is almost certainly true, the fact that its normally better to be hit on the head with a stick than to be shot in the heart with a pistol does not imply that its good to be hit on the head with a stick.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 12:06:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it is persistently on the side of the perpetuation of American Empire

Well, that's true, but someone has to do it - I suppose. As they say, paraphrasing Lord Palmerston, nations have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies only permanent interests."

On the other hand, there are some virtuous activities carried out by American diplomats that are usually overshadowed or given short shrift, perhaps owing to the time spent on bashing others with that stick.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 10:11:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
in the end, when al the data is out, i suspect it will end worst for the US.
by wu ming on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 04:37:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What this thing is exposing is the extent to which the US runs an empire. The American ambassador acts as a Proconsul and everyone who is anybody dispatches with them and casually discloses to them internal affairs of their organizations.

Maybe a good analogy to what we're seeing in Spain is Canada's Governor General. Superficially, people seem to be telling the American ambassadors the kids of things they might tell our figurehead King. And even nominally anti-American politicians (or at least people whose base is suspicious of the US) seem to be doing it once they get into a position of responsibility. Which to mee seems to indicate that dispatching with the American Ambassador is just part of the way the business of government is done, and not much of a personal choice. Of course, the cadres of the right-wing party PP discuss internal party politicking with the Ambassador while in opposition, and the Ambassador seems to support their return to power, so in their case they're more intimately tied to the Empire, ideologically.

So I don't see this as damaging the US much even if there is a backlash against the politicians and public servants exposed by the leaks. As far as the voters go, the more loosely attached left supporters of the PSOE are more likely to desert it in disgust than PP supporters, so electorally this is a net gain for the PP and therefore the US since they are natural allies.

For "the business of government" to cease to include dispatching with the American Ambassador, a large international realignment needs to occur, not unlike the collapse of the Soviet bloc or the Delian League. And that may be in the cards but to predict its timing is impossible.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 04:55:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And how is this story being handled in the Spanish MSM?  
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 10:07:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see anyone drawing political conclusions. They're satisfied with the general egg-flinging and breathless debates about "the future of journalism in the Wikileaks age".

But I'm not looking very hard.

On the other hand, El Pais is "Spanish MSM" and they're the ones carrying the stories. All of my quoted bits in this thread are from ElPais.com or ElPais.com/english

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 10:23:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think your understanding of the matters at hand may reflect a certain point of view, and my point of view could be a little different. I am not ready to make the same assumptions/draw the same conclusions that either you, danps or some others have.  A little more research might change my mind (I only know what has been written here and in a few other media sources, and to me that kind of information (particularly the conclusions) are not necessarily supported. I have seen instances where I believe quotes from State Dept cables have been placed out of context, etc. to support a particular statement/interpretation.

I have read some of the wiki released State Dept cables published by El Pais (regarding Jose Couso), and could find nothing alarming or unusual in the content.  Perhaps your views of the same cables are different.

Do you have any El Pais releases that might provide  cables in addition to those below, as I haven't found others in twelve pages of searches?

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/espana/Otros/cables/caso/Couso/elpepuesp/20101207elpepunac_25/Tes

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/espana/Cable/fiscal/general/considera/caso/llegara/parte/elpepuesp/20 101201elpepunac_9/Tes

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Dec 14th, 2010 at 12:32:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gringo:
I have read some of the wiki released State Dept cables published by El Pais (regarding Jose Couso), and could find nothing alarming or unusual in the content.  Perhaps your views of the same cables are different.
Well, obviously the family is alarmed, and so is (I think) most of public opinion. About "unusual", they themselves say it's one thing to suspect it and another to have confirmation.

Migeru:

The [family's court] filing claims that the published data could "be an indication of the existence of a criminal conspiracy between functionnaries or high-ranking Administration officials on the one hand, and functionaries of a foreign power on the other" the latter being who, always according to the text submitted to the public prosecutor, ordered to the Spanish funcionnaries how to act.
As JakeS has pointed out, if the wikileaks had involved the Russians rather than the Americans, most people named in the cables would be under investigation for spying for a foreign power. But maybe "your understanding of the matters at hand", based on your professional experience, would indicate that even if it had been the Russians it would be nothing out of the ordinary?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 14th, 2010 at 04:13:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can find all the Couso cables here: http://www.elpais.com/documentossecretos/tema/el_caso_couso/

Individual cables follow - with my translations of the (obviously editorializing) ElPais headlines

A few cables are entirely devoted to the Couso case.

Cable on the Ministry of Justice's alleged effort to archive the case · ELPAÍS.com

SUBJECT: SPAIN/COUSO CASE: JUDGE CHARGES US SERVICEMEN WITH
"CRIMES AGAINST INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY"
Cable which assures that [deputy PM] De la Vega is "very involved" · ELPAÍS.com
SUBJECT: SPAIN/COUSO CASE: UPDATE; CONVERSATIONS WITH KEY
SPANISH LEADERS
The embassy communicates to Washington that "it appears the [US servicemen] arrest orders are imminent" · ELPAÍS.com
SUBJECT: COUSO CASE: JUDGE REINSTATES CHARGES AGAINST U.S.
SOLDIERS

Cable by the Ambassador to Condoleezza Rice on the Spanish Government's involvement · ELPAÍS.com

On our side, you should note
continued USG concern about the court case against the three
US servicemen charged with alleged &war crimes8 in the case
of the death of Spanish TV camerman Jose Couse in the
Palestine Hotel in Baghdad in 2003. The GOS has been helpful
behind the scenes in getting the case appealed by the Spanish
Prosecutor.
The case now moves to the appeals tribunal of
the National Court, which will rule on the substance of the
charges. We want continued vigilance and cooperation by the
GOS until the case is dropped.
(My emphasis: while in public supporting Couso's family and claiming to them in private that they are resisting US pressures)

The US announces that it will take measures if its servicemembers are indicted over the Couso case · ELPAÍS.com

Charge took the opportunity to convey our concerns
(using talking points in reftel) about the dormant, but
possibly still pending, Spanish court case on the Couso
incident, noting our desire to avoid a situation in which US
soldiers could be indicted by a foreign court. In the event
of any indictments, Charge urged the MFA to issue a strong
"friend of the court" type of brief clearly expressing
opposition to such a development. Leon was unaware of the
pending court case, and undertook to look into the matter. He
emphasized, however, the completely independent nature of the
Spanish judiciary and the lack of ability of the government
to influence decisions on court cases. Charge noted that if
such indictments occurred, USG would go back to MFA to again
raise the matter and urge a strong statement of opposition
from the GOS.

Cable on the work of Spanish ministers "to defy the arrest warrants" · ELPAÍS.com

SUBJECT: SPANISH MINISTERS WORKING TO CHALLENGE ARREST
WARRANTS
Here I am unsure whether "challenge" has been mistranslated (in a judicial context) as "defy" intentionally or unintentionally.

Deputy PM [De la Vega] is grateful for the US Government's response to a request for judicial cooperation · ELPAÍS.com

She
expressed the Spanish government's appreciation for the USG
response to the Spanish request for judicial cooperation in
the Jose Couso case. De la Vega said Attorney General Conde
Pumpido had briefed her on the excellent cooperation he had
enjoyed from the Embassy and U.S. authorities in helping
bring this case to a conclusion.
Cable in which the Embassy seeks contact with the National Court's chief prosecutor · ELPAÍS.com
SUBJECT: SPAIN/COUSO CASE: JUDGE ISSUES DETENTION ORDER
AGAINST THREE U.S. SERVICEMEN
Cable in which it is assured that the prosecutor understands the political implications of the 'Couso case' · ELPAÍS.com
SUBJECT: SPAIN/COUSO CASE: MEETING WITH CHIEF PROSECUTOR
 


Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 14th, 2010 at 04:56:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for providing the rest of the locators and for your comments.  I'll provide my comments once I've had time to read and digest.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Wed Dec 15th, 2010 at 12:01:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru,

Thank you for providing the additional cable locator information and for your comments.

I've finally managed to read through each of the cables while trying to understand how their release could cause so much concern.  My comments relate to the nature of such documentation, the actual content of the cables and the meaning I give to certain sections particularly with regard to the reporting (in the documents) on dialogue between various members of the Government of Spain and the staff of the US Embassy Madrid about Spanish court proceedings about the death of Journalist Jose Couso.  I chose to focus on the Jose Couso case because of its long running nature and the opportunity it affords to respond to some of the issues raised in this diary.  Some may have read, in the few comments I have made previously about the Wikileaks releases of Dept of State cable traffic, that I generally do not believe the content of these cables are likely to be of much importance or the source of great revelations.

Now, for a few disclaimers.  I do not know any of the persons named in these documents, and I know very little about the Couso case.  I do not pretend to know the workings of the Spanish judicial system or the government.  My comments may, therefore, be prejudiced towards the workings of the US systems.  Nothing I write should be interpreted to mean that I personally believe these documents are actual US Government documents or that I am expressing an opinion about the legitimacy of past, pending or future court proceedings, the legitimacy or adequacy of the US Govt. investigation into the death of Jose Couso, or about the strength of the US Govt. or Spanish National Court (Magistrate Pedraz's) cases, or the correctness of the Govt. of Spain's (non-judicial branches) efforts regarding the case.  I have nothing but sympathy for the deceased and his family and can only hope that whatever the outcome they are able to find closure at some point in time.  I am certain, however, that they will always carry the scars of their loss and for that I express my sincere condolences.  

Nine purported Embassy Madrid "cables" are published on the El Pais web site.  They range in date from 2004 to 2009 and likely do not represent all reporting regarding the Couso matter.  In fact several references appear to other cables that are not included with those published.  For reference purposes these cables are listed below in order of date dispatched together with their reference numbers and date time groups as follows:

a.  04Madrid 002804, 230824Z APR 04
b.  05Madrid 003694,  211556Z OCT 05
c.  06Madrid 000722, 221733Z MAR 06
d.  07Madrid 000082, 161709Z JAN 07
e.  07Madrid 000101, 181739Z JAN 07
f.  07Madrid 000800, 271955 APR 07
g.  07Madrid 000899, 111630Z MAY 07
h.  07Madrid 001021, 251127Z MAY 07
i.  09Madrid  000496, 221316Z MAY 09

These documents represent reporting that I would characterize as very typical between an American embassy and the US Govt. in Washington.  I strongly suspect that they are also typical of such correspondence between most embassies (regardless of nationality involved) and their central governments.  One must remember that each document represents the embassy staff's recollections, in the case of reports on meetings and personal analyses/assessments. It would be unusual for a foreign interlocutor to be asked to approve or even read such correspondence prior to its release/dispatch.  So, it is possible that the Spanish Government participants named in these documents may not agree with the wording or conclusions one might draw after reading these documents.

Regarding the representations and requests made by Embassy staff members to Govt. of Spain representatives in the Jose Couso case. I found nothing unusual.  This is what diplomats do every day.  They represent the position of the government of the country whose flag they fly to the government of the country in which they are resident/represented. They talk to people in the host Government and express their government's goals and wishes.  This is nothing more than the day to day business conducted between national governments.  One might imply that activity of this character only takes place between American diplomats and foreign governments, but that would be an erroneous conclusion.  Foreign diplomats speak to members of the US executive, legislative and judicial branch as well.  This is the every day bread and butter of diplomacy.  In the Couso case these discussions legitimately concern a citizen of Spain and his family, three American soldiers, and the respective governments' responses to the issues involving these persons.

I see nothing (from the cable content) that would lead me to believe that anything illegal took place during or as a result of these meetings, although I cannot know what actual actions Government of Spain representatives took and the documents provide no indication of such.  Several of the cables explicitly state that both sides acknowledged that neither the embassy nor Govt. of Spain representatives have any ability or the intent to subvert the cause of justice or illegally interfere with the judicial process in Spain (see Ref a, para 2; ref b, paras 2-4 (e.g. Ref b, para4 indicates that Attorney General Candido Conde-Pumpido publicly announced that the prosecutors who practice before the National Court have challenged the warrant (arrest) for lack of jurisdiction...), but these would appear to be perfectly legitimate steps.

Ref d, para 2, indicates the Embassy has been engaged with Spanish authorities at various levels...to determine the full range of possibilities in the case.  I would take this to mean legal possibilities under Spanish law having no reason to think otherwise.

Ref e, para 1, Embassy officials met with National Court Chief Prosecutor Zaragoza and asked him if Spanish authorities would be filing bilateral extradition requests.  Zaragoza responded that he hadn't reviewed the case but that his office would proceed at a deliberate pace.  They also asked if the examining magistrate (Pedraz) had made a request to Zaragoza's office to prepare a report on whether US assets could be frozen as part of the Couso's family suit against the US servicemen. Zaragoza responded that he did not.  Ref e, para 4 further indicates that the meeting with Zaragoza was to sensitize him to the US Govt's concerns in the case and its political implications.  I saw nothing there to indicate that the intent of the meeting was to dissuade Zaragoza from proceeding in a legal and professional manner.  In fact Ref f. reports that the National Court subsequently filed formal charges against the three American servicemen. The cable also notes that respected figures in the Ministry of Justice and Interior and within the Zapatero Administration agree with the US Govt's view on the legal validity of the case and had assured the Embassy that the case was so weak it would eventually crumble.

Ref g. reports contact by the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) and Spanish State Secretary for Justice Julio Perez Hernandez regarding the formal charges.  DCM expresses US Govt.'s strong concerns.  Perez states there is still time for an appeal and he understands Chief Prosecutor Zaragoza is considering an appeal.  Perez noted that "his government" shared the US Govt's concern... but that the government does not control the judiciary and it might be counter-productive to launch a formal government approach. This section would seem to imply that the government of Spain might not wish to oppose the judiciary formally, but would assist the US Govt. in a response.  This seems to be a backing down by the Govt of Spain from its previous stance.  Based information in Ref g., however, it appears the Spanish Prosecutor (Zaragoza) did appeal the case to the appeals tribunal of the National Court.

Ref h. is a routine pre-trip "scene setter" for Secretary of State Rice to help prepare her for her upcoming visit to Spain.  The Couso case is mentioned, along with a myriad of other multilateral and one other bilateral issue.

Ref i.(May 2009) reports that Judge Pedraz has issued new indictments against the three American soldiers and includes new "evidence."  It also reports that the previous case was dismissed by the Criminal Division of the National Court for lack of sufficient evidence to support the allegations.  The comment section speculates that this indictment is also likely to be appealed by the National Prosecutor's Office again for insufficient evidence. It also suggests that "Washington might wish to raise" the issue with National Court Prosecutor Zaragoza during his upcoming visit there.

 To be sure, both sides were aware of political ramifications and public opinion in Spain, (see ref b, para 5) but I see nothing to indicate that special favors or guarantees were given or implied.  It would seem that some may believe, though I can't imagine why, that a national government is required to support every judicial action that transpires within its borders.  I would guess that every day in the US, multitudes of US Government attorneys go into court somewhere to represent the government's position (by presenting a case, filing an appeal, defense, amicus brief, or other process papers) in opposition to a private party or local government plaintiff or defendant.  A prominent recent case was the US Justice Department's brief before the US Supreme Court on Arizona's immigration law SB1070. Furthermore, the Government of Mexico joined in the suit against the Arizona law.  Would anyone consider from this that US Govt. officials were spying for or conspiring with Mexico against the hapless citizens of Arizona?  Could it be possible that Government of Mexico diplomats presented their case against the Arizona law to US Government representatives in Washington and asked for their assistance in formulating a brief according to US Supreme Court standards?  Or, is it just that the US really is just the 32nd state of Mexico?

How is it possible that Govt. of Spain attorneys had a case challenged or dismissed (how many times) and the plaintiff's didn't know?  It would seem quite clear from the cables and follow-up actions that the Govt. of Spain supported the US Govt. position (following the release of the report of investigation detailed summary) all along (See Ref b, paras 1 and 2, 3 and 4 and Ref i.).  


I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Thu Dec 16th, 2010 at 03:49:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for your comments. I can only say this: the problem is now that illegalities were committed, the problem is that the government of Spain was duplicitous. Politically, it could not publicly oppose the Couso prosecution, so all they did was underhanded while denying any pressure form the US. The Cables do give the impression that the Spanish government considered the Couso case impertinent or at the very least inconvenient. But that was never their public stance. So I am not sure that "Govt. of Spain attorneys had a case challenged or dismissed" ever. I don't think the Spanish government has actually been part in the proceedings - the Attorney General or the Chief Prosecutor at any of the courts are not part of the executive branch in Spain.

El Pais has published a bunch of material and written articles about how the Spanish government grovelled to the US government over the years. There is one cable in which the Embassy staff write that the "carrot and stick" strategy "is working" but shouldn't be overdone due to the risk of frustrating the Spanish government too much. There appears to be nothing the Spanish government would not sacrifice policywise to be best buddies with the US. And, of course, the fact that Obama has refused to visit Spain (even cancelling his attendance to a bilateral EU-US summit) to this date continues to bug the Spanish government, so they will continue to sacrifice policy to make good.

El Pais has just published an op-ed by its director (Editorials are unsigned, this is not). I'll translate some paragraphs of it in a separate comment.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 19th, 2010 at 07:21:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...the problem is that the government of Spain was duplicitous. Politically, it could not publicly oppose the Couso prosecution, so all they did was underhanded while denying any pressure form the US.

There appears to be nothing the Spanish government would not sacrifice policywise to be best buddies with the US.

My view is that most governments will usually give little more than lip service to matters that concern individual citizens and only really dedicate time and attention to broad issues of national concern.

The Couso family, I sense, would be far better off filing a wrongful death suit in US courts assuming there is solid evidence of wrong doing. Here their access to documents and major witnesses would be enhanced and some of the larger barriers they have faced that may involve face saving efforts by two governments would be minimized. I don't think they will ever get the accused soldiers before a Spanish court without some significant legal work in the US.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Dec 19th, 2010 at 02:14:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think they will ever get the accused soldiers before a non-US court, period.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 20th, 2010 at 04:06:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They could if Die Seriöse Leute weren't such a bunch of Quislings. They'll never get those who were politically responsible for the murder, but they might get the soldiers if they withdrew from NATO and told the US that they wouldn't come back in until and unless the US stopped murdering their citizens.

Which, incidentally, does not strike me as an unreasonable demand. Y'know, being allies and all.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Dec 20th, 2010 at 04:25:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I agree with Gringo that there's a better chance of success in the US courts. For example:

Cavalese cable car disaster - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The pilot of the military plane, Captain Richard J. Ashby, and his navigator, Captain Joseph Schweitzer, were put on trial in the United States and were found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide. Later they were found guilty of obstruction of justice and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman for having destroyed a videotape recorded from the plane and were dismissed from the Marines.
And, in this day and age, suing in another country is not as daunting a prospect as before.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 20th, 2010 at 04:33:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the problem is nownot that illegalities were committed

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 19th, 2010 at 06:40:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends on who the president is.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 01:48:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Spain as 51st state
War and terrorism related issues are obviously the most urgent, but the WikiLeaks cables tell some other interesting tales as well.  It turns out the US has been going full throttle in trying to get Spain to adopt America's regressive and punitive stance on intellectual property.

Same in Sweden, and I suspect when more cables has been published it will be the same everywhere. Absentee ownership of imaginary property gives a steady flow of profits to the imperial core.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 03:15:16 AM EST
What does the US have, but for the nickel cigars of the entertainment and software businesses?

The huge computer companies, like HP and Dell get copy-cat products made in China and sent from there around the world, for which the scrape a few percent for the right to use their logo.

The oil companies make sweetheart deals to siphon petroleum from around the world and deliver it to the rest of the world (except, typically, from where they drain it from), for which they scrap a huge percentage.

The banking cartels who siphon the american public's money so that they can play with it for a while and siphon off a huge percentage.

These provocations then require that the USians subsidize the enormous "need" for keeping a hegemony over their trading areas with a military that is larger than everyone else's combined, while selling more arms around the world than everyone else combined. (I wonder if that is a coincidence.)

All that to say, the imperial core gets money to perpetuate the game, and an  ever smaller percent of ruthless rich get a steady flow of profits, but there are few who get anything else but scrapes.

Oh. That's what 'core' means. Uhm, I guess I just made the point you made earlier and much more succinctly. Sorry. I can't give you back the minute you spent reading this.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 01:25:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
HP and Dell are not the best examples to use. HP has under its previous CEO dropped its R&D budget to a suicidal level, and Dell has never been a technology developer. There are plenty of other examples in the computer industry who would be better demonstrations of why the U.S. is still economically powerful. Cisco and EMC for example, have incredible internal (U.S.-based) development organizations. Not to mention Google, Facebook, Microsoft, eBay, Amazon, etc. which are not just software companies, but pretty powerful forces in the changing global social environment.

Despite our economic problems and questionable politics, if the metric is global influence, the U.S. is still up there...

by asdf on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 09:04:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of these do very little real R&D. Or if they do it's poor quality.

Microsoft's last decade has been an epic history of constant R&D failure. Successful MS-branded R&D, like Kinect, was actually bought in from outside.

Apple plays this game too. Apple is far more successful as a packaging, marketing and industrial design corporate than as an R&D factory. Apple's two key skills are being a monopoly that can span different market segments and link them together, and collaging ideas that have been developed to a reasonable level of polish by third parties.

Amazon finished most of its critical systems development a decade ago. The only new product is a scalable server business, and that's not exactly on the technical edge. Likewise Kindle and ePub which have been around as ideas for a decade or so. (I was talking to my then-publisher about ebooks in 1998.)

eBay is also stuck around 2000, and the software seriously sucks. But it has a de facto monopoly, and there's no real incentive to develop it further.

Google does real R&D but its product labs are spread around the world.

The fact that HP's R&D was raped by Fiorina and Dell is a packager is evidence of the contrary - a lack of serious interest in R&D in most of corporate America.

What the US has is a de facto monopoly in many areas - search engines, core networking, e-commerce, desktop software, and so on.

But the corporations that own the monopolies are actually multinationals. And creating a monopoly is one of the best ways to end useful innovation. You're often left with something that looks like R&D, but most of the time it produces non-threatening incremental rather than dynamic change. (See also Adobe, Intel, and so on.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 09:35:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you carefully examine MicroSoft you'll find all of their breakthrough products were bought or developed outside of the company.

Msdos?  The product that made the company what it is today?  Bought from Seattle Computer Products.

Excel?  Bought.

Windows?  Developed at PARC (1970-1975,) developers hired by Apple for the Lisa (started in 1978,) and MicroSoft copied it and jumped in with Windows 3.0 ... in 1990.  

There are some first class people doing first class work but management insistence on a 3 month pay-back time horizon shoots the ability to sit and think and fail.  Which is the sina qua non of research.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 10:11:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ATinNM:
There are some first class people doing first class work but management insistence on a 3 month pay-back time horizon shoots the ability to sit and think and fail.  Which is the sina qua non of research.
You could say the same about academia - in this case the payback being publication.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 14th, 2010 at 04:08:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nah, academia has a payback horizon of about 12 months.

Besides, one of the dirty little secrets of publication is that as long as your paper is intelligible, you can usually find a journal that will publish it after a couple of tries. In a pinch, you can submit it as a conference poster. So there are safety valves for failed projects, although of course they should not be called upon too often.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Dec 14th, 2010 at 04:19:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is pretty much dead-on.

Looking only at big companies doesn't really do much though.  I think most of the real innovation in America is done at universities.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 16th, 2010 at 09:14:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Military sales to Venezuela produced a bitter ministerial rift in Madrid · ELPAÍS.com in English
Dozens of confidential documents released by WikiLeaks illustrate how the United States exerted pressure on the Zapatero government to keep Spain from selling military equipment to Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez. In the end, Spain sold the boats to Caracas but Washington blocked the sale of the planes by claiming rights to the air technology.

...

But it was the military sales agreement, signed by Bono in 2005 during a visit to Caracas, that pushed Washington over the edge. In February that year, the defense minister called the US Embassy to explain that Chávez had promised the patrol boats would only be used to guard Venezuela's Caribbean coast and not for offensive purposes. "The principal reason Spain was making the sale to Venezuela - reportedly worth over 600 million euros($780 million) - was to give a shot in the arm to ailing state-owned ship building firm Izar. The sale would be 'very significant for Izar,' said Bono, but would not tip the military balance in the region," wrote Chargé d'Affaires Robert Manzanares on February 24, 2005.

...

On April 20, 2005, Francisco Pardo, then-secretary of state for defense, met with Manzanares at the Embassy to demonstrate to diplomats that Spain wasn't selling "corvettes," as the opposition Popular Party was charging, but instead coastal patrol ships. Pardo then showed the chargé a copy of the agreement signed between Spain and Venezuela. "I do not have to show you this classified document [...] but I want us both to be absolutely clear on what we are and are not selling," Pardo said according to cable dated two days after the meeting.

...

"We are the eighth-largest power in the world but the [US government] treats us like a fifth-rate power," [[Foreign Minister]] Moratinos told the ambassador. "We want to work with you, but need a minimal political signal that you want to work with us. We need to demonstrate that the bilateral relations are on track and are not just about what we are doing in Venezuela and Cuba."



Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 06:55:29 AM EST
European Tribune - Spain as 51st state

They are also looking at the death of Spanish television cameraman José Couso, killed "on April 8, 2003 during a tank shelling of the Hotel Palestine where he and other journalists were staying while they were covering the war in Baghdad."

Writer Mónica Ceberio Belaza details how then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and then-Defense Secretary Colin Powell helped frustrate an investigation and defeat the dreaded triumvirate of "family, leftist groups and the press."  (As a footnote, Spain's Supreme Court reopened the case in July.  However, while it is possible indictments and prosecutions could still come down, it seems like a cold case at this point.)

La familia de Couso denuncia a Gobierno, jueces y fiscales tras las filtraciones de Wikileaks · ELPAÍS.comCouso's family sues the Government, judges and prosecutors after the leaks - ElPais.com
La denuncia asegura que los datos publicados pueden "ser indicativos de la existencia de una conspiración o concierto delictivo entre funcionarios de la Administración y altos cargos españoles, por una parte, y funcionarios de una potencia extranjera por otra parte" que es quien, siempre según el texto dirigido a la fiscalía, ordenaba a los funcionarios españoles cómo actuar.The filing claims that the published data could "be an indication of the existence of a criminal conspiracy between functionnaries or high-ranking Administration officials on the one hand, and functionaries of a foreign power on the other" the latter being who, always according to the text submitted to the public prosecutor, ordered to the Spanish funcionnaries how to act.


Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 07:00:39 AM EST
European Tribune - Comments - European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - December 15
EE UU ordenó impedir que España levantara el embargo a China · ELPAÍS.comThe USA demanded to prevent Spain from lifting the arms embargo to China - ElPais.com


Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 15th, 2010 at 04:12:54 AM EST
Portugal bank offered to "spy" in Iran for US · ELPAÍS.com in English
Political and financial circles in Portugal reacted strongly to revelations that the country's largest private bank, Banco Comercial Portugués (better known as Millennium BCP), attempted to reach a secret deal with the US government that would allow it to conduct business in Iran in exchange for confidential information about financial transactions by account holders there.
There have also been some revelations on the CIA Flights. The top-level link at ElPais.com is http://www.elpais.com/documentossecretos/tema/vuelos_cia/

Cable en el que se dice que Sócrates autorizó los vuelos de repatriación de prisioneros de Guantánamo · ELPAÍS.com

Socrates agreed to allow the repatriation of
enemy combatants out of Guatanamo through Lajes Air Base on a
case-by-case basis. This was a difficult decision, given the
sustained criticism by Portuguese media and leftist elements
of his own party over the government's handling of the CIA
rendition flights controversy. Socrates's agreement has
never been made public. The Attorney General's Office was
forced to review a dossier of news clippings and
unsubstantiated allegations regarding CIA rendition
operations through Portugal provided by a member of the
European Parliament. The AG's report should be released in
the near future. Although we cannot predict its conclusions,
government insiders and legal scholars have told us there was
no useful or prosecutable information in the dossier.
This authorisation was never made public. The following provides some additional context as to why.

Cable en el que Luis Amado compromete la dimisión si se prueban las acusaciones de los vuelos de la CIA · ELPAÍS.com

SUBJECT: PORTUGUESE FM OFFERS TO RESIGN IF CIA FLIGHT
ALLEGATIONS PROVE TRUE

...

The normally unflappable Amado lost his cool during the testimony; an event that is completely out of character
and shows the effects of unrelenting media and political
attacks. Despite this outburst, we believe Amado will

continue to reiterate what the investigation has revealed -
the government has no evidence of illegal CIA flights
on/through Portuguese territory. However, Post underscores
the delicate balancing act Amado is confronting in minimizing
damage to his government - however unwarranted - due to the
CIA Rendition investigation while trying to convince it to
grant our request to repatriate Guantanamo detainees through
Lajes. Right now, it would be to our advantage to stroke him
a lot.

Cable del embajador Hoffman a Condoleezza Rice: "Portugal es un firme aliado" · ELPAÍS.com

CIA Flight Inquiry Complicates Gitmo Repatriation Request
--------------------------------------------- ---------------
9. (S/NF) Amado has told me that he would like to assist us
in our efforts to repatriate Guantanamo detainees through
Lajes AirBase. However, given intense CIA Rendition scrutiny
and his own party's left wing opposition to his pro-US slant,
Amado underscored the need to be on firm legal ground before
consenting to do so. Subsequent conversations with MFA staff
indicate that Amado is awaiting the US to address his
concerns before responding to our request.

10. (S/NF) I would like to underscore the delicate balancing
act Amado is confronting in minimizing damage to his
government - however unwarranted - due to previous CIA
Rendition investigations while trying to convince it to grant
our request for access to Lajes AirBase. Unrelenting media
and political attacks which have been ongoing for months
resulted in an atypical outburst before Portugal's Parliament
earlier this week. Amado publicly offered to resign if anyone
could prove the government was complicit in an illegal act
related to CIA flights on Portuguese territory. It would be
of great assistance if you could personally express
appreciation for Amado's steadfastness in supporting the US
position on this issue and his continued contribution of
troops to global operations.

Cable en el que Amado dice: "Ha sido una decisión difícil por las críticas de los medios y de los izquierdistas" · ELPAÍS.com

Amado agreed to allow the repatriation of
prisoners through Lajes Air Base on a case-by-case basis
under limited circumstances. This was a difficult decision,
given the sustained criticism by Portuguese media and leftist
elements of his own party of the government,s handling of
the CIA rendition flights controversy. Amado,s agreement
has never been made public. The Attorney General,s Office
was forced to review a dossier of news clippings and
unsubstantiated allegations regarding CIA rendition
operations through Portugal provided by a member of the
European Parliament. The AG,s report should be released in
the very near future. Although we cannot predict its
conclusions, government insiders and legal scholars have told
us there was no useful or prosecutable information in the
dossier.

There are also some revelations about Spain:

"Los españoles no ponen reparos a los vuelos secretos" · ELPAÍS.comThe Spanish have no objections to secret flights - ElPais.com
El escándalo de los vuelos de la CIA -el tránsito clandestino por aeropuertos europeos, de sospechosos de terrorismo capturados ilegalmente y torturados en centros de detención secretos- sorprendió en 2005 al Gobierno de José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero y a la Embajada de EE UU en Madrid, pero ambos coincidieron en un objetivo común: minimizar su impacto en la opinión pública y evitar que la investigación judicial que se abrió en España complicase las ya delicadas relaciones entre el inquilino de la Moncloa y el de la Casa Blanca, que entonces todavía era George W. Bush. Así se deduce de los cables confidenciales enviados a Washington por la representación diplomática estadounidense en España entre 2006 y 2008.The CIA flight scandal - the undercover transit through European airports of terrorism suspects illegally captured and tortured in secret detention centres - took ZP's Government and the US Embassy in madrid by surprise in 2005, but both coincided in a common goal: to minimize its impact on public opinion and prevent the judicial investigation opened in Spain from complicating the already delicate relations between the residents of Moncloa and the White House, who was still George W. Bush. This can be deduced from the confidential cables sent to Washington by the US diplomatic representation in Spain between 2006 and 2008.

Cable donde la embajada asegura que el Gobierno español no pone reparos a los vuelos · ELPAÍS.com

... Regarding the CIA flights issue, Vice
President de la Vega said Spain's inclusion in the Council of
Europe report had caught the Zapatero Government totally off
guard and she insisted Spain had nothing to hide on the
issue. She said the Spanish Government felt comfortable that
it could contend with domestic concerns regarding CIA flights
through Spain, asking only that the USG provide Spain any
relevant information to avoid any surprises. ...

...

/CIA FLIGHTS/

4. (C) The Ambassador said that FM Moratinos had recently
advised him that Spain's National Court had accepted a case
filed by a private individual alleging USG wrongdoing in
Spain during the transit of Spanish airports by CIA aircraft.
Moratinos indicated the Spanish Government's desire to give
this issue as low a profile as possible, though, as a
judicial case, the government had a limited capacity to
influence the direction of the case. De la Vega said she was
aware of FM Moratinos' communication on this issue and
expressed confidence that the Zapatero Government could
manage it with little difficulty. (NOTE: According to June 9
press reports, government prosecutors have expressed
opposition to the National Court's hearing of a case in which
there is no evidence of a crime having been committed. END
NOTE).

5. (C) By contrast, she said, the Zapatero Government had
been surprised by the Council of Europe report alleging that
Spain "permitted or failed to investigate" the use of
Mallorca as a staging point for the "illegal" transfer of
individuals by the CIA. (NOTE: An MFA spokesperson roundly
denied any involvement by Spain in the illegal transfer of suspected terrorists. END NOTE). De la Vega said Spain was
prepared to deal with this issue, but wanted to be certain
that it had all the information available regarding the
flights to avoid being caught unprepared. The Ambassador
noted that we too had an interest in preserving our
credibility and were careful to share whatever information we
had and to avoid any actions that might create problems for
the Spanish authorities. De la Vega emphasized that Spain
had no objection to USG intelligence flights through Spanish
territory; they simply wanted to be kept informed and, if
necessary, to be able to demonstrate that they were
exercising proper oversight of foreign aircraft passing
through Spain.

Cable in which the Madrid Embassy alerts on Judge Moreno's investigation · ELPAÍS.com

SUBJECT: SPAIN/CIA FLIGHTS: JUDGE ORDERS DECLASSIFICATION


Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 16th, 2010 at 04:46:01 AM EST
Javier Moreno, director of El Pais, writes an op-ed in today's edition. Editorials are not signed, this is not an editorial.

Lo que de verdad ocultan los Gobiernos · ELPAÍS.comWhat governments are truly hiding - ElPais.com
El interés global concitado por los papeles de Wikileaks se explica principalmente por una razón muy simple, pero al mismo tiempo poderosa: porque revelan de forma exhaustiva, como seguramente no había sucedido jamás, hasta qué grado las clases políticas en las democracias avanzadas de Occidente han estado engañando a sus ciudadanos. ...The global interest aroused by the Wikileaks papers can be explained mainly for a very powerful reason: because they reveal exhaustively, as surely has never happened before, to what extent the political classes in advanced Western democracies have been misleading their citizens. ...
......
... Más que un agudo estado de crisis de seguridad supranacional, como anticiparon algunos, lo que verdaderamente se ha instalado entre las élites políticas en Washington y en Europa es una espesa atmósfera de irritación y de embarazosa contrariedad que resulta extremadamente reveladora del alcance y del significado real de los papeles de Wikileaks. ... More that an acute state of supranational security crisis, as some had anticipated, what has truly installed itself among the political elites in Washington and Europe is an atmosphere of irritation and embarrassing disappointment which is extremely revealing of the reach and true meaning of the wikileaks papers.
......
... No sólo quedaban al descubierto algunas de sus maniobras u órdenes menos confesables, sino que también se acumulaban pruebas del doble discurso de los aliados de Washington en los más diversos asuntos -muchos de ellos en clave estrictamente nacional-, que veían con estupefacción cómo la publicación de los despachos les dejaba en evidencia, ora frente a países vecinos y aliados, ora frente a sus conciudadanos, quienes descubrían con comprensible irritación opiniones, declaraciones o acciones de sus líderes que les habían sido convenientemente ocultadas.... Not only some of [the State Depatrment's] more or less confessable manoeuvres were uncovered, but evidence accumulated of the two-faced discourse on the most diverse issues -many of them strictly national- kept by Washington's allies, who saw with surprise how the publication of the dispatches left them exposed, be it before neighbours and allies, be it before their fellow citizens, who discovered with understandable irritation opinions, statements or actions by their leaders which had been conveniently hidden.
... Así que pronto se articuló otra muy distinta que encontró con rapidez su camino en hartos editoriales y artículos de opinión en importantes periódicos, revistas y televisiones de Estados Unidos y de otros países.So, soon a new strategy was articulated which quickly found its way into editorials and op-eds in important newspapers, magazines and TVs in the US and other countries.

We've even had our share of this here on ET.

Más que mentiras o engaños, los telegramas mostrarían las habilidades de los diplomáticos estadounidenses, según esta nueva interpretación apoyada sobre todo por medios conservadores. Más que sus fracasos, la información que se iba conociendo pondría de relieve cómo la maquinaria de Washington se conduce, in situ y en privado, según los mismos altos principios proclamados en público desde los púlpitos oficiales del Capitolio. Y en toda ocasión, América demostraría profesar más atención a los intereses de la seguridad internacional que a los suyos propios.More than lies or deception, the wires would show the skills of US diplomats, according to this new interpretation suported primarily by consevative media. More than its failures, the information that was becoming known would highlight how Washington's machinery conducts itself, on-site and in private, according to the same high principles proclaimed publicly from the official pulpits of the Capitol. And, in each occasion, America would show to pay more attention to the interests of international security than to its own.
......
... Según revelan los despachos de Wikileaks, ninguna de las principales potencias occidentales involucrada cree firmemente en la posibilidad de que el país sea viable a medio plazo, por no hablar ya de su altamente hipotético ingreso al club de las democracias, objetivo declarado de los combatientes. ...... As the Wilikeaks dispatches reveal, none of the main Western powers involved have a firm belief in the possibility that [Afghanistan] be viable in the medium term, not to speak of its highly hypothetical accession to the democracies' club, avowed goal of the belligerents. ...
......
... No voy a insistir más en la falacia de tal aseveración. Me interesa más señalar que la publicación de los cables secretos revela por añadidura que, colectivamente, la clase política en Occidente era consciente de la situación en Afganistán, de las turbias maquinaciones de Pakistán o de las ambigüedades de los países árabes aliados de Washington, por limitarme únicamente a los ejemplos antes citados, en un ejercicio de doble moral sin muchos precedentes conocidos. Sabían, pero ocultaban. Y los destinatarios de semejante impostura eran sus electores, las sociedades con cuyo esfuerzo en soldados y en impuestos se sostiene la guerra en Afganistán. ...... I'm not going to insist on how fallacious the statement is [that the public already knew all that has beed revealed]. I'm more interested in pointing out that the publication of the secrets reveals in addition that, collectively, the Western political class was aware of the situation in Afghanistan, or the dark machinations of Pakistan, or the ambiguity of the Arab countries allied with Washington, to limit ourselves to the aforementioned examples, in an exercise of moral duplicity without many known precedents. They knew, but they hid it. ...
......
... Las clases políticas a ambos lados del Atlántico vienen por ello a transmitir un mensaje tan sencillo como ventajista: confíen en nosotros; no intenten desvelar nuestros secretos; a cambio, les ofrecemos seguridad.... The political classes on both sides of the Atlantic come thus to transmit a message as simple as it is self-serving: trust us, do not try to reveal our secrets; in exchange, we offer you security.
¿Pero cuánta seguridad ofrecen realmente a cambio de aceptar tamaño chantaje moral? Poca o ninguna, pues se da la triste paradoja de que se trata de la misma clase política que se mostró incapaz de supervisar adecuadamente el sistema financiero internacional cuyo estallido provocó la mayor crisis desde 1929, arruinó a países enteros o condenó al desempleo y a la depauperación a millones de trabajadores. Los mismos responsables del deterioro de los niveles de vida y de riqueza de sus conciudadanos, del incierto destino del euro, de la falta de un proyecto europeo de futuro y en fin, de la crisis de gobernanza global que atenaza al mundo en los últimos años y a la que no son ajenas las élites en el poder en Washington y Bruselas. No estoy seguro de que mantener ocultos los secretos de las embajadas nos garantice una mejor diplomacia o un desenlace más benigno a las encrucijadas actuales.But how much security do they really offer in exchange for accepting such a moral blackmail? Little to none, given the sad paradox that this is the same political class which was unable to adequately supervise the international financial system whose blowup caused the worst crisis since 1929, ruined entire countries or condemned millions of workers to unemployment and poverty. The same people responsible of the decay of their citizens' wealth and living standardss, of the undertain fate of the Euro, of the lack of a project for Europe's future and, in all, of the global governance crisis that grips the world in the latter years and to which the elites in power in Washington and Brussels are not alien. I am not sure that keeping the embassies' secrets under wraps guarantees us a better diplomacy or a more benign resolution to the current quandaries.
Las incompetencias de los Gobiernos occidentales respecto a la crisis económica, el cambio climático, la corrupción o la agresión militar ilegal en Irak y otros países han quedado abundantemente expuestas ante la opinión pública en los últimos años. Ahora sabemos además, gracias a los papeles de Wikileaks, que todos ellos son conscientes de su desgraciada falibilidad, y que sólo la inercia de las maquinarias oficiales y el poder de mantener los secretos les evitan tener que rendir cuentas ante los ciudadanos, razón última en una democracia. The imcompetences of Western government regarding the economic crisis, climate change, corruption of the illegal military aggression in Iraq and other countries has been abundantly exposed to public opinion in the latter years. We now know also, thanks to the Wikileaks papers, that all of them are aware of their disgraceful fallibility, and that only the inertia of official machineries and the power to keep secrets saves them from being held accountable, which is the ultimate reason in a democracy.


Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 19th, 2010 at 12:09:42 PM EST
wow, just wow...

so amazing to see what should be normal, a newsman doing his job.

shakes head in wonder

sounds like the consensus narrative, canonic for decades/centuries, is about to definitively crumble like an oatmeal cookie under the pressure of reality.

it's awful, yet in some weird way a relief, as the false comfort of lies has been so suffocating for genuinity in general, and real creativity too.

so damn toxic, on every level. we can't build anything new till this ugly soulsucking squid has sated itself, and burst apart from its own suicidal greed.

not long now, it would seem...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Dec 19th, 2010 at 12:49:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sounds like the consensus narrative, canonic for decades/centuries, is about to definitively crumble like an oatmeal cookie under the pressure of reality.

Not really, no. The article suggests that the right-wing press in Spain has been downplaying the importance of the leaks as "gossip", not having bothered to make the documents available to their readers.

Como casi siempre y para desgracia de los españoles, se dio también una versión castiza de las exculpaciones anteriores, que devino en estrambote nacional cuando fueron los propios periódicos los que sostuvieron sin rubor que la mayor parte de los contenidos de los cables filtrados, y aun el conjunto de ellos en su totalidad, no pasaba de la categoría de cotilleos o chismes sin valor alguno para los ciudadanos en general y para sus lectores en particular, a los que consiguientemente se les hurtó la información. No pocos comentaristas y tertulianos en España les siguieron en esa tosca argumentación, por pereza mental o por otras motivaciones igualmente espurias, ignorando así de forma bochornosa la oleada de interés público que la publicación de los papeles de Wikileaks ha suscitado en todo el planeta.
The article also, while lambasting the Western political elites, doesn't suggest that public opinion is going to stop voting for quislings, or that elected officials are going to be able to rein in their civil services.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 19th, 2010 at 01:30:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Missing sentence:
I'm more interested in pointing out that the publication of the secrets reveals in addition that, collectively, the Western political class was aware of the situation in Afghanistan, or the dark machinations of Pakistan, or the ambiguity of the Arab countries allied with Washington, to limit ourselves to the aforementioned examples, in an exercise of moral duplicity without many known precedents. They knew, but they hid it. And the recipients of such imposture were their electors, the societies on whose effort in blood and treasure the war in Afghanistan is sustained. ...


Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 19th, 2010 at 06:00:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And now an Editorial: Weighing up the leaks · ELPAÍS.com in English
Members of the Spanish government spoke far differently in public and in private on the secret CIA rendition flights, on the torture of Spanish citizens in Guantánamo, on the death in Baghdad of TV cameraman José Couso and on relations with Morocco. Some of them, meanwhile, unveiled to the US ambassador internal quarrels in the Cabinet, offering, in search of personal political and image benefits, information that might weaken the defense of the country's general interests. All this forms part of the still-provisional conclusions from the revelations on Spain contained in the documents divulged by WikiLeaks.

...

The pact that seems to have been established between government and opposition, so that no one will be called to account for the actions described in these documents, is a further step in the degradation of our public sphere, depriving the citizens of the explanations they deserve to hear and avoiding the inconvenience of anyone having to pay a political price for what he has done. Some of the deceptions and falsities described in the documents have even been sustained in Congress.

...

The recent tensions with Morocco are more easily understood now that we know of Spanish diplomacy's option for an autonomous-region solution for the disputed Western Sahara territory, however much this option was once denied in public. The breaking of neutrality in the Moroccan conflict brought, as a first result, a sharp cooling of relations with Algeria; later, a deepening of tension with Morocco; and, in short, the complete dismantling of a coherent policy on the Maghreb, already gravely damaged by the diplomacy of former Prime Minister José María Aznar.



Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 21st, 2010 at 02:24:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is embarrassing to read the compromising confessions made to the US ambassador by certain highly-placed political figures. The diplomatic legation of the world's largest power is not the proper place to air the struggles going on within the Spanish Cabinet.

Just like members of the German government in earlier leaks. Who in particular was named?

The prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has tended to avoid homogeneity in his cabinets, while often intervening in second-echelon appointments, against the desires of the ministers concerned. Above and beyond the already well-known lack of coordination that the prime minister's attitude has caused on some key occasions, the WikiLeaks documents have revealed further undesirable effects of this style of running a government.

Are they blaming Zapatero's authoritarianism for the quisling attitude of ministers here?

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

by DoDo on Tue Dec 21st, 2010 at 03:09:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
Are they blaming Zapatero's authoritarianism for the quisling attitude of ministers here?
No, they are saying that internal government tensions caused by Zapatero's presidential (see Bliar, Tonee) style of government have been exposed by the content of some cables.
Who in particular was named?
Everybody and their mother, also within the PP opposition, who discussed internal party politicking with the US ambassador.

I'll dig up some links...

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 21st, 2010 at 04:01:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
El País cable repositories: on Aznar and the PP. For instance,

La Embajada de EE UU duda del liderazgo de Rajoy · ELPAÍS.comThe US Embassy doubts Rajoy's leadership - ElPais.com
"Creemos que debe su longevidad en el cargo más que nada a la ausencia de un sucesor creíble dentro de su partido", escriben.- ... Aguirre es "hiperambiciosa", Gallardón "encantador", y el líder, "sin carisma""We believe he owed his longevity in the position more than anything else to the absence of a credible successor within the party, they write. ... [Esperanza] Aguirre is "hyperambitious", Gallardón "charming, and the leader "lacks charisma".

It appears in a different cable Gallardón confided to Ambassador Aguirre that he could seek the party leadership only at the risk of splitting the party. His rivalry with Esperanza Aguirre is well-known, bitter, and the rift does affect the party cadres, the Madrid base, and the allied press.

... Casi todos los dirigentes clave pasan por allí: Acebes, Zaplana, Gallardón, Moragas...... Almost all key [PP] leaders go by [the Emabssy]: Acebes, Zaplana, Gallardón, Moragas...

Another repository: dissension within [Spain's] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One news item and 4 cables, where differences among ministers are documented, and Spanish diplomats and Ministry staff tell the US ambassador about their dislike of the Minister.

Repository: How the Americans see us including profiles of prominent ZP cabinet members, and cables where these profiles are given or discussed.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 21st, 2010 at 05:02:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
El Gobierno pidió a EE UU que presionase al PP, CiU y PNV · ELPAÍS.comThe Spanish government asked the US to pressure PP, CiU and PNV - ElPais.com
El Gobierno español solicitó a los representantes de Estados Unidos en Madrid su ayuda para suavizar las posiciones del PP , PNV y CiU ante la llamada ley antidescargas y hacer más fácil su trámite parlamentario.The Spanish government asked US representatives in Madrid for help softening the positions of the PP, PNV and CiU on the so-called 'anti-downloads law' and to make its parliamentary process easier.


Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 21st, 2010 at 04:09:11 AM EST


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