November 02, 2005

I hear Constanza is lovely this time of year

This is depressing for all the obvious reasons:

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.

What's really interesting is that it's not just the basement of some building these people are being held in, Pulp Fiction-style, but an actualy military base. Given the scrutiny bases get from friends and foes alike, I'd imagine it's pretty unlikely this is being done in the EU- can you imagine the stink the French would raise if they had gotten wind of this?

But what's interesting is this is happening in more than one country in Europe:

The Eastern European countries that the CIA has persuaded to hide al Qaeda captives are democracies that have embraced the rule of law and individual rights after decades of Soviet domination. Each has been trying to cleanse its intelligence services of operatives who have worked on behalf of others -- mainly Russia and organized crime.

One of them had set this up by mid-2002, the other[s] at an indeterminate time...

Any guesses? My immediate thought was Romania, and I can't decide whether Bulgaria or Ukraine (which could be broadly described as having embraced democracy and the rule of law...) is the other. Maybe this is how Poland is really contributing to GWOT...

I can't imagine we have anything worth offering the Baltics or the Visegrad countries to do this, though. But US influence towards having Romania, Bulgaria or Ukraine join the EU (or NATO) "quickly" might be enough, and certainly cash/aid would be more welcomed. What else could we be offering?

Take it away, AFOE...

UPDATE: The brother of the Washington Post's White House correspondent has it "on good authority" to be Romania and Poland.

Posted by Mike at 08:19 PM GMT

The existence of these prisons isn't news - anyone who's been paying attention knew they existed. I've long suspected they were on Navy-owned atolls in mid-Pacific, but if Poland and Romania are willing, then I don't see the problem.

Put this one on the list of things I'm not going to lose any sleep over.

Posted by: Sterling on November 3, 2005 05:21 AM

They LOST an Al Qaeda leader?? He escaped from a "high-security" prison in Afghanistan and rejoined the Taliban in the hills??

So then the question becomes, why did they keep this a secret? It's not as if the enemy doesn't know if he is still alive or not (they gleefully broadcast his return). The only reasons to keep this a secret is to keep it secret from us, to save further embarrassment to an administration that doesn't know at which end its priorities lie. All those troops in Iraq, all of them, could be running around in Afghanistan, perhaps even manning prisons.

Posted by: Stefan on November 3, 2005 07:48 AM

I don't think it is a problem for you, Sterling dear, you would be queuing up outside Gitmo with your CV if the "assistant torturer" position became vacant.

It might be a problem for the E. European govts. that sanctioned it, seeing as some are in the EU (where as you know we are better than you in respecting individual freedoms like habeus corpus) and some of the opposition parties and press there might also work themselves into a high dudgeon.

Posted by: eurof on November 3, 2005 09:51 AM

Lots of questions asked by French hacks about this in the EU commission today. Whachagonnadoboutit? The answer was reassuringly EU. Urr no evidence it's happened, urr nothing. It's got all the ingredients for the French press this, CIA infiltrating civilised euroland. The horreur.

Posted by: Jez on November 3, 2005 03:06 PM

My brother isn't the source of the Romania/Poland info, I got it from human rights workers.

Posted by: Michael Froomkin on November 3, 2005 05:33 PM

Are you related to the human rights workers, too?

Posted by: Sterling on November 4, 2005 01:24 AM