Saturday, December 03, 2005

Trust, But Verify

This is a follow-up on my post the other day about Condoleezza Rice's plans to tell European leaders to stop pushing the U.S. about the C.I.A.'s secret prisons for suspected terrorists.

An Observer article dated December 4 mentions that Jack Straw, Britain's Foreign Secretary, told Rice in a letter that he wanted her to explain why approximately 80 C.I.A. planes had passed through the UK.

Rice's response, apparently, will be that she will not explain. That she does not have to explain, nor does anyone else representing the U.S. government have to explain, despite the fact that a network of secret prisons on European soil accessed by flights through European countries violates international laws against torture.

But you know, it's like the old joke about police officers breaking the law. Who are you going to report them to -- the police?

It also occurs to me that these hundreds of C.I.A. flights (it must be hundreds overall, if the flights in the UK alone number 80), with people in the countries involved strongly suspecting what the planes are for and where they're going, but no one saying it out loud, are not unlike the hundreds of nameless, unmarked trains that traveled through Eastern Europe carrying Jews to the Nazi death camps.

But these are thoughts one is not supposed to express, especially if you are part of the European leadership that agreed to "cooperate" with the U.S. in the war on terror. Kind of like when you get money from a loan shark: "You agreed to the terms for our help: no questioning our methods. You want to back out now because you're getting a little queasy? There's a price to pay for that. Are you fond of your kneecaps?"

State Department officials have hinted that Rice's response to Straw and other European ministers will remind them of their "co-operation" in the war on terror. She is expected to make a public statement today stressing that the US does not violate allies' sovereignty or break international law. She will also remind people their governments are co-operating in a fight against militants who have bombed commuters in London and Madrid.

In other words, "The U.S. is keeping you safe. Don't argue with us about how we do it."

At least one European legislator has an answer for that:

Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP who will be chairing a Commons committee of MPs along with Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, has said Rice needs to make a clear statement. She "does not seem to realise that for a large section of Washington and European opinion, the Bush administration is in a shrinking minority of people that has not grasped that lowering our standards [on human rights] makes us less, not more, secure."

Condoleezza Rice and the U.S. leadership she represents are demanding that Europe (and for that matter the entire world) give to the U.S. the benefit of the doubt that the U.S. refuses to give the rest of the world.

Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said Rice told him in Washington she expected allies to trust that America does not allow rights abuses.

But what reason has America given allies or anyone, anywhere, to "trust" that America does not abuse human rights? Rice asks for trust where trust has not been earned.


The Heretik said...

Some nice imagery and analysis here, K.

Kathy said...

Thank you! :)