The Washington Post began the reporting on the United States using European prisons to ferry terrorist suspects to for interrogation. Today's WaPo story sums up their original reporting and the European response:
"The Washington Post reported on Nov. 2 that the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe as part of a covert prison system that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe. The Post did not identify the Eastern European countries at the request of senior U.S. officials, who said the disclosure could disrupt counterterrorism efforts in those countries and elsewhere and make them targets of retaliation."
The article begins with putting Secretary of State Rice on the hot seat with this opening:
"Rice's tour of Europe has been dogged by questions concerning the treatment of prisoners at secret CIA prisons. She issued a detailed statement on U.S. policy before she left for Europe on Monday, intending to dampen the furor, but there has been confusion in the United States and Europe over its precise meaning."
Poland is one of these countries and the story has been covered well by Beatroot. The United Kingdom is another, which makes Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's request for US "clarifaction" silly.
Can one honestly think for a moment that the US intelligence agencies are not working in concert with their European counterparts in a fight against terrorism? Only the most die-hard liberal would think the US is running its own clandestine prisons on European soil without the host government's knowledge.
Fortunately this WSJ Opinion piece puts it all into perspective while declaring the Europeans opportunistic and political cowards:
"One of Europe's moral conceits is to fret constantly about the looming outbreak of fascism in America, even though it is on the Continent itself where the dictators seem to pop up every couple of decades. Then Europe dials 9-11, and Washington dutifully rides to the rescue. The last time was just a few years ago, as U.S. firepower stopped Slobodan Milosevic, who had bedeviled Europe for years.
In return, it would be nice if once in a while Europe decided to help America with its security problem, especially since Islamic terrorism is also Europe's security problem. But instead the U.S. Secretary of State has to put up with lectures about the phony issue of 'secret' prisons housing terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans.
We put 'secret' in quotes because the CIA could hardly carry on operations in Europe without the knowledge of the countries involved. Rather, as Ms. Rice dryly put it, the U.S. often engages "the enemy through the cooperation of our intelligence services with their foreign counterparts." So the so-called "rendition" programs at issue -- involving the transportation, detention and questioning of terror suspects -- are precisely the kind of anti-terror efforts that multilateral Europeans ought to love."
Europe is a relativist, post-Christian (post believing in good-evil), society. Along with this moral relativism coincides a collection of governments who have abdicated their ability to project military power and defend their interests abroad. However, their ability to hold press conferences and badger the US on human rights and torture, aside from being laughably disengenious, is about all that Europe can muster.
On trade, security, immigration, terrorism and economic growth, the Europeans have proven, over the past decade, an impotent lot. Carping on a Ms. Rice matches the dignity of the position of strength Europeans now find themselves in. Dawn's Early Light has advocated often why Europe matters. It is stories like this that give me second thoughts.