When Human Rights Watch came to Brussels last week everybody expected some New Evidence of gulags and US Auschwitzes in Poland. But we were disappointed. (photo: Szymany airstrip – number one destination for War on Terror Package Tours?)
Instead, Joanne Marines from Human Rights Watch seemed to go over the same material that the NGO released to the Washington Post, so sensationally, last November.
HRW told the Euro parliament that it has "convincing circumstantial evidence" that Poland and Romania had harbored CIA prisoners on their territory. Presumably they are referring to the famous flight logs which show that CIA planes landed a few times in Szymany airstrip to and from Afghanistan and Guantanamo and other ‘black sites’.
All that we knew already. This blog has always been skeptical of the slightly hysterical accusations of gulags and worse. You would have thought from the reports that Poland had turned itself into the Central European equivalent of Abu Graib.
That’s not to say that the CIA is full of angels and saints - that would be silly. Monstrous things have happened in the name of ‘national security’ – especially since the ‘war on terror’ has given governments and secret services carte blanch to act as they see fit. But laying the blame on Poland and Romania ignores that fact that plenty of other countries have been allowing planes full of people, who didn’t willingly book a flight on War Against Terror Package Tours, to land at their airports
Some members of the special EU parliamentary committee seem to agree. Italian MEP Jas Gawronski said, “Hundreds of such flights take place in Europe. If we don't get solid proof that the ones in question transported prisoners then the whole issue is not worth debating.”
Don’t expect the parliamentary committee to get to the bottom of the matter. It has no powers to make witnesses swear an oath, nor has it any powers to make the witnesses come and testify. They have already asked Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell etc to come and have a chat but the US doesn't seem to think the committee is important enough to bother with. And they are probably right.
The HRW accusations have implications for Poland’s image in the world in general, and the Muslim world in particular. So it’s time for HRW to put up some decent evidence, or shut up.
And then maybe we can get back to debating if we should be having this war against abstract nouns in the first place.
Lots more Polish news stories here.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Posted by beatroot at 3/02/2006