Stephen Castle / The Independent & Nicholas Watt & Suzanne Goldenberg / The Guardian – 2006-09-07 23:33:30
US and Europe United in Rejection of ‘War on Terror’
Stephen Castle / The Independent
BRUSSELS (September 7, 2006) — George Bush’s beleaguered foreign policy has been dealt a serious blow as a poll showed that Americans and Europeans reject the US President’s pursuit of the “war on terror”.
For the first time in its five-year existence, the Transatlantic Trends opinion poll found that more Americans opposed President Bush’s handling of international affairs — 58 percent — than approved of it — 40 percent.
The survey, conducted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, provides a devastating commentary on the failure of President Bush and Tony Blair to convince the public of the merits of the “war on terror”.
President Bush’s approach has been shown to be increasingly unpopular, despite the fact that citizens on both continents share a growing fear of terrorism. European opposition to US foreign policy has risen over the past five years from 56 percent to 77 percent.
Since 2002 the proportion of Europeans who view US leadership in world affairs as desirable has reversed, dropping from 64 percent positive then, to 37 percent in yesterday’s survey.
Among European countries polled, which included France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the UK, the greatest decline was in Germany — although Europeans distinguish between their views of President Bush and their attitude towards the US.
Craig Kennedy, the president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said: “It’s clear from our survey that Americans and Europeans continue to feel strongly about issues that most fundamentally affect our security. And with a majority of Americans for the first time joining Europeans in disapproving of President Bush’s handling of international affairs, the US cannot afford to go it alone on global challenges.”
The slump in confidence in the White House comes despite the fact that those polled are alarmed by the threat of terrorism. According to the poll, 66 percent of Europeans regard it as “extremely important” (up from 58 percent), as do 79 percent of Americans, up from 72 percent.
While President Bush’s war on terror is failing to convince Americans and Europeans, his policy in the Middle East is having a negative impact in Turkey, the one predominantly Muslim country covered by the poll.
The report saidTurkey had cooled towards the US and Europe but warmed towards Iran. On a 100-point “thermometer” scale, Turkish “warmth” toward the US declined from 28 degrees in 2004 to 20 in 2006.
With the mood souring over talks on Ankara’s ambitions to join the EU, Turkish sentiment towards Europe has also dropped from 52 degrees to 45. Over the same period, Turkish warmth toward Iran rose from 34 degrees to 43.
European Watchdog Calls for Clampdown on CIA
Nicholas Watt & Suzanne Goldenberg / The Guardian
BRUSSELS & WASHINGTON (September 8, 2006) — The head of Europe’s human rights watchdog yesterday called for monitoring of CIA agents operating in Britain and other European countries, after President George Bush’s admission that the US had detained terrorist suspects in secret prisons.
Terry Davis, secretary general of the Council of Europe, said CIA agents operating in Europe should be subject to the same rules as British agents working for MI5 and MI6.
“There is a need to deal with the conduct of allied foreign security services agents active on the territory of a council member state,” Terry Davis said. “In the UK there is parliamentary scrutiny of the intelligence services but there is no parliamentary scrutiny of friendly foreign services. The UK should be in the lead on this issue.”
As part of this process, diplomatic immunity should be reviewed. “Immunity should not mean impunity,” he said.
Mr Davis also called for a ban on the transport of suspects in military aircraft. At the moment the prohibition applies only to civil aircraft.
The former British Labour MP was scathing about President Bush. “Why does the US need to keep people in secret prisons? I thought that was settled by Magna Carta. But King John is alive and well and running the USA.
“There is a smoking gun. We know where it is – it is in the hands of George Bush. His fingerprints are on the gun.”
Mr Davis’s remarks came as the man leading the Council of Europe’s investigation into the secret CIA prisons dismissed Mr Bush’s admission as “just one piece of the truth”. In an attempt to step up pressure on the US and European governments to come clean on the prisons, the Swiss senator Dick Marty said: “There is more, much more, to be revealed.”
Mr Bush said on Wednesday he ordered the transfer of 14 al-Qaida suspects from secret CIA jails to Guantánamo as a step to putting the men on trial. That revived concerns about torture and mistreatment of the detainees during their years in CIA custody, and the fairness of the military tribunals sought by the White House.
Human rights activists expect details of the treatment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, said to have been the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, and the other al-Qaida suspects held incommunicado will emerge now that they are at Guantánamo and able to meet their lawyers. Administration officials said yesterday that Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, had assured the International Committee of the Red Cross it would have access to the prisoners and that discussions were under way to arrange meetings.
However, the administration also said yesterday it had no intention of satisfying European demands for fuller disclosure about the location of the secret prisons. “If the European countries want to continue to try to find out where the secret sites are, that is up to the Europeans,” John Bellinger III, legal adviser to Ms Rice, told reporters.
He also argued, as has Ms Rice, that Europeans were to some extent complicit with the clandestine detention. “Information derived from questioning individuals was shared with European countries, and it was shared in a way that saved European lives.” Washington also wants to use such secret jails in the future, Mr Bellinger said. “The president believes there needs to be a special programme if we capture an al-Qaida leader.”
Mr Marty said he was not surprised by Mr Bush’s disclosures. “This is no news for me,” said Mr Marty, who claimed earlier this year that 14 European countries colluded with US intelligence in a “spider’s web” of human rights abuses. “I have always been certain that these prisons existed, so I am not surprised.”
Other senior figures in the Council of Europe, who plan to intensify their investigations into allegations that Romania and Poland played host to many of the prisoners, also criticised the US. Rene van der Linden, president of the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly, said: “Our work has helped to flush out the dirty nature of this secret war which, we learn at last, has been carried out completely beyond any legal framework.
“Kidnapping people and torturing them in secret, however tempting the short-term gain may appear to be, is what criminals do, not democratic governments. In the long term, such practices create more terrorists and undermine the values we are fighting for.”
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