Council of Europe Report Puts Bush on Defensive
|June 9, 2006||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Council of Europe Report Puts Bush on Defensive
Europe Tells U.S. to Stop Torturing
Here is a combined report from Amnesty International and EurasiaNet.
by Amnesty International and Avilah Hoffman
A Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly report on US rendition practices is putting the Bush administration on the defensive.
The councils report, released June 7, examines US efforts to counter radical Islamic terrorism, specifically the use of the Guantanamo military base as a prison camp for suspected extremists, as well as the widespread use of renditions in order to gain added insight into the global Islamic militant network.
The lead author of the report, Dick Marty, takes the Bush administration to task for creating a new legal doctrine to justify dubious American practices, writing: “This legal approach is utterly alien to the European tradition and sensibility, and is clearly contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” The Guantanamo facility, Marty alleged, was operating outside the recognized bounds of international law and the Geneva Convention governing the treatment of POWs.
“These people [Guantanamo detainees] have been arrested in unknown circumstances, handed over by foreign authorities without any extradition procedure being followed, or illegally abducted in various countries by United States special services,” the report states. “They are considered enemy combatants, according to a new definition introduced by the American administration.” In implementing the new legal doctrine, the United States has sanctioned the widespread use of torture, “disappearances” and arbitrary detention in order to obtain information, the report says. “The absence of human rights guarantees and the introduction of “enhanced interrogation techniques” have led … to detainees being subjected to torture,” it states.
The report goes on to suggest that the Bush administrations use of allegedly unsound means to confront the Islamic terrorist threat may cause the United States to lose its moral authority as an advocate of democratic values, and thus may be eroding US national security rather than enhancing it.
“This is a sharp reminder of the great democratic tradition of the United States and its exemplary commitment to human rights. The United States is, and remains, a deeply democratic country. Indeed, criticisms of some of the current administrations decisions also reflect a concern that a country which unquestionably serves as an example to the rest of the world is committing what we consider to be mistakes that not only violate fundamental principles, but also constitute a counterproductive anti-terrorism strategy,” the report asserts.
US officials have sought to dismiss the report, saying that it contains no hard facts about alleged US abuses. “Were certainly disappointed in the tone and the content of it [the report],” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told journalists June 7.
McCormack did not deny U.S. torture.
Meanwhile, human rights groups lauded the report. “Amnesty International continues to urge [the US] Congress to establish an independent commission to fully investigate the US governments use of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the war on terror,” Larry Cox, the human rights groups executive director in the United States, said in a statement.
The Council of Europe report details a “global spider web,” involving up to 14 European states, which facilitated the CIAs rendition program. It contains circumstantial evidence suggesting that two European nations Romania and Poland may have hosted CIA interrogation centers. Officials in both countries made carefully-worded denials.
The report also touches upon the role of Uzbekistan in rendition operations, characterizing Tashkent as an important hub for rendition flights. “The axis between Tashkent and Kabul was well known for detainee transfers,” the report said in discussing rendition practices concerning suspected Islamic militants taken into custody in Afghanistan. The report also cited a May 1, 2005, report published by The New York Times, which stated that Uzbekistan acted as Washingtons “surrogate jailer” in the years following the September 11 terrorist tragedy. The Times report quoted unnamed former US intelligence officers as saying “dozens” of suspected militants were sent to Uzbekistan for interrogation, even though President Islam Karimovs regime was widely known as a practitioner of torture. An unnamed CIA official, also cited in the story, denied that the United States knowingly received intelligence information obtained through the use of torture.
The Times article was published less than two weeks before Uzbek security forces opened fire on a largely unarmed crowd in the Ferghana Valley city of Andijan. The massacre and its aftermath caused a break in US-Uzbek relations in mid 2005, and thus Tashkent ceased to play a rendition role for the United States.
The report also implicates Council of Europe member state Turkey as being part of the United States “reprehensible network” of rendition. It characterizes the Turkish airport at Adana-Incirlik as a “staging point” for rendition flights involving “the unlawful transfer of detainees.” The report detailed the improper detention of six Bosnian men of Algerian origin who in January 2002 were transported to Guantanamo Bay for interrogation over alleged involvement in a terrorist plot. Their route to Guantanamo likely included a stopover in Turkey.
The June report generally confirms Martys preliminary findings, released in late April, holding that rendition flights were a “widespread regular practice in which the majority of European countries were involved.” The Council of Europes inquiring began in January, aiming to follow up on numerous reports by media outlets and human rights groups on possible abuses.
An Amnesty International report, titled “Below the Radar: Secret Flights to Torture and Disappearance,” documented almost 1,000 flights purportedly operated by the CIA for rendition operations. Admitting that the data was “indicative rather than conclusive,” the report, released April 5, alleged that the flights in question were carried out by “planes that appear to have been permanently operated by the CIA through front companies.”
“The intelligence and military community of the USA has long used private air carriers for secret operations. Some of the covert carriers identified by past US congressional inquiries and other investigations are still in business,” the report also stated.
National Council of Churches Calls on US to Shut Down Guantanamo
Guest Essay: The Wickedness of Torture
U.S. Torture Scandals Continue to Expand
What are your views? Share your opinions with The Progress Report!