Condoleezza Rice will confront European queasiness with covert operations head-on during her tour of EU nations this week, according to the London Telegraph, by staunchly defending American transit of suspected terrorists on CIA chartered flights that sometimes refuel in EU nations. The revelation of such flights and secret detention centers in Eastern Europe caused some consternation among Europeans, who have protested the practice:
Condoleezza Rice, the United States Secretary of State, will urge European governments to back off in the continuing row over alleged secret terrorist detention camps in Eastern Europe and clandestine CIA “prison plane” flights.
Dr Rice, who begins a four-country European tour tomorrow, is preparing a “robust” defence of American treatment of terror suspects, as Washington belatedly comes out fighting on the controversy, senior European diplomats told the Sunday Telegraph.
Although Dr Rice is keen to improve diplomatic relations with Europe, she will use her visit to argue that unorthodox tactics are needed to obtain information from detainees and to prevent terror attacks.
The problem with our European friends and allies is that they still refuse to believe that we’re fighting a war. They claim to believe it, but then they act as though one should treat terrorists the same as fugitive bank robbers. Our intelligence services need time and access to get information from the detainees so that we can prevent further attacks, not just on Americans here and in Iraq but on Europeans in London, Madrid, Paris, Vienna, and so on. That intelligence then needs to get checked out in the field and corroborated or disproved to determine whether the detainee has helped or hindered our efforts and to possibly extend the intelligence with more captures of key terrorist personnel.
Publicly identifying the flights on which these transitions occur and the centers where the CIA interrogates the terrorists only will add to the security risks presented. The flights themselves will come under attack, as will the centers. The notion of making those flights public, or simply not moving detainees at all for intelligence review, shows a lack of seriousness on the part of Europeans about the nature and scope of this war. That doesn’t exactly come as breaking news to Americans, who have long since resigned themselves to European cluelessness even after two major attacks on European capitals over the past three years. The Brits understand the nature of the war, and most Eastern European nations understand the stakes based on their collective experience of oppression for most of the past 60 years. As for the rest — they have always preferred to assume the worst about American efforts, and this just presents them with one more opportunity to do so.
Rice needs to make clear that our war effort wasn’t designed to make terrorists feel comfortable and imbued with legal options after capture. We need to know what they know as fast as possible, and we’re going to continue to make every effort to ensure that. The Geneva Convention does not cover them, and our treatment of them has remained humane; that’s as much as they will get. We are fighting this war to win it, not to look good while losing it, and if some Europeans can’t deal with that, that will be their problem, not ours.