Europe Reacts to the American Gulag

From Holden:

Looks like Chimpy’s secreet chain of terror prisons has Europe in an uproar.

[T]he new German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, raised concerns on Tuesday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about reported American practices in the handling and interrogation of captives, according to American and German officials.

In addition, European officials said the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, sent a letter to Ms. Rice on Tuesday on behalf of the European Union asking for clarifications. Britain currently holds the union’s presidency.

[snip]

“All U.S. actions comply with U.S. laws,” Mr. McCormack said. “They comply with the United States Constitution, and they comply with our international obligations.” Mr. McCormack declined to answer whether he was sure American actions complied with European laws.

European and American officials say Ms. Rice is beginning to realize that the issue has become so inflamed that she will probably have to prepare a more lengthy response before traveling to Europe next week.

“It’s becoming one of the public issues she’s going to have to address on her next trip,” said a European official, asking not to be identified in discussing the delicate matter of pressures on the United States. “The mood in Europe is one of increasing concern over what people call the American ‘gulag’ and the reports of all these stopovers in Europe for prisoners.”

[snip]

There are two investigations of American practices under way, one by the 25-member European Union and the other by the Council of Europe, a 46-member group founded after World War II that specializes in human rights inquiries. The United States sits on the council as an official observer.

A European official said Mr. Straw presided over a tense meeting of European foreign ministers on Nov. 21, where several of them voiced growing unease over the allegations of secret prisons and harsh treatment that some view as torture, a characterization the administration disputes categorically.

[snip]

Administration officials said this week that they were taken aback by the intensity of the European reaction to the reports. They acknowledged that the furor had been fed by two years of disclosures about American treatment of detainees at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and in Afghanistan.

The uproar has been especially strong in Spain, Germany, Italy, Romania and Poland. Although the British press has covered the issue extensively, the government there has not been critical of the American position.

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