Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

NATO: The agonizing questions

Rice's trip to Europe is the first public admission that there are deep fissures within NATO.

We do not expect NATO to collapse, but member nations are raising questions over whether they have a duty to take more direct action against the United States.

* * *

The EU has been lying to their citizens about rendition -- they agreed in 2003 at Athens to support the Americans efforts.

The former Warsaw Pact said a transition to the EU and democracy would shed the veil of Communist corruption and deception. The former Eastern Bloc citizens rejoice -- their struggle yielded the same deception with just a variation on tone.

Good allies will feign ignorance when promised bounty. Whether the tainted fruit poisons them remains another matter -- it may have been illegal for the UK to fail to investigate.

* * *

The NATO members are concerned about several things:

  • Affect continued support and association with the Americans;

  • Affect continued NATO membership will have on internal stability.

    * * *

    Added: 12 Dec 2005

    Despite American support to European allies, the political winds are changing. Bluntly, the issue becomes whether governments like the UK -- which knew, should have known; failed to investigate -- have violated the law, lied to their constitutents, and could be defeated in the next election.

    Given the glaring misstaments and denials -- all contrary to emerging evidence -- it appears the political fallout will be widespread across Europe. It remains unclear what the fallout will be for NATO and the EU at large.

    End Addition: 12 Dec 2005

    * * *

    The issue becomes: Does the "secrecy about rendition" have more to do with:

  • Denying public knowledge of torture, abuse, secret files, false evidence, war crimes linked to other to-be-understood events;

  • Protecting the system of intelligence agreements, regardless the separate arrangements or the legality of the treatment

  • Protecting the system, mechanisms, and agreements of collecting information that is unrelated to criminal activity or terrorism

    Also, what is to be said when:

  • The underlying agreements "not to talk about" the abuse, or "agree to cooperate" no longer serve a purpose after the disclosure of either

    - [a] the original agreements to cooperate, remain silent, and sanction abuse; and/or
    - [b] the original abuse, which is reported, but a cover-up occurs?

  • The system of collecting information is less linked with bonafide threats, and more self-serving in protecting/preserving its immunity from needed oversight?

  • The actions and subsequent events in the wake of the abuse are more related to obfuscation than in accountability?

    * * *

    Recall the original agreement with the Washington Post over the CIA detention center in Eastern Europe: The countries could not be identified because of security concerns.

  • Why would they want to hide something that apparently everyone already knew about;

  • Who were they really trying to hide the information from;

  • What were they trying to hide;

  • Was this for a lawful purpose?

    However, if the governments involved agreed in 2003 to engage in the conduct, the issue becomes:

  • What suddenly happened in 2005 mandating the disclosure, agreement, and activities more than two [2] years old?

  • Why did the issue not get reported in 2003 when the agreement first occurred;

  • Has the conduct and agreement, originally envisioned in 2003, grown beyond what the intelligence communities originally agreed?

    * * *

    We judge the secrecy over the Rendition is linked to

  • efforts to suppress evidence of conduct the principals knew violated the law;

  • other unlawful activities which remain to be understood;

  • arrangements and agreements to suppress information unrelated to activity by the detainees, and related to the conduct, and criminal activity of the jailers and host nations;

  • the goal of suppressing information the European and American public need to make informed decisions about the appropriateness of government conduct -- conduct individual citizen may be asked to answer for should there be a lawful retaliation against individual citizens by other individuals for the violations of the laws of war;

  • to avoid lawful sanctions for clearly promulgated statutes, standards, and norms.

    Each of the above indicates the scope of the alleged conspiracy to violate human rights is wide; the cooperation is much larger and deeper than understood; and the nature of the unlawful conduct far more entrenched than previously admitted.

    Of concern is the newly admitted nations to the EU, regardless their status in NATO, have not only engaged in a pattern of conduct contrary to their membership status in the EU; but have shown that public statements relative to both the conduct and standards are wholly unsupportable. The EU self-governance is a farce.

    It remains to be understood, in the wake of these agreements in 2003, how the EU can credibly sanction or not sanction any member. If the EU leadership and human rights oversight bodies are serious, then all nations, regardless their status in NATO, would lose their voting rights. If this is the case, then the EU would cease to exist.

    The EU and NATO members appear to have agreed to assent to violations of human rights; make public statements that sanctions were possible; yet, the while time knowing the public statements were devoid of any serious intention to hold the individuals or member-states accountable.

    It is one thing to assert the rule of law, or proclaim high-minded principles; it is quite another to parade oneself as being above conduct which one actually engages.

    * * *

    It remains unclear whether the value of the intelligence gained will offset the likely undesirable consequences:

  • Loss of public support

  • Continued erosion of the moral authority of NATO

  • Perceived risks associated with continued membership rising faster than the disadvantages of distancing oneself from NATO

    * * *

    The issue is whether the intelligence gathering efforts are have a net negative effect, and putting their collective security at risk.

    We judge the short term perceived benefits of continued cooperation outweigh the risks associated with perceived loss of public safety.

    Yet, there is a concern that this is not assured: There may be sooner than expected a perceived risk of continued association with the Americans.

    No longer is it seen that their collective security is bolstered by continued association with a nation who is less on the side of collective security, and more on the side of security at any price, even safety.

    * * *

    It remains to be seen whether the US is protecting the collective security; or protecting the collective arrangement. The two are vastly different.

    Most troubling is the fear the US efforts are not simply backfiring, but the US is contributing to the torture problem once reserved for despotic regimes.

    It's one thing to threaten to isolate Syria; quite another to have it revealed the Americans have been cooperating in private the very regime the US has been publicly berating over human rights issues.

    * * *

    However, things have gotten serious -- A Secretary of State doesn't simply embark on a winter holiday out of the blue. There's big trouble.

    Rice wanted to put a nice face on things. Yet, the visit, discussions, and speeches were supposed to calm the worried. Unfortunately, for Rice things have backfired.

    Rice's loss of public standing is not longer a hypothetical. It is one thing to listen, quite another to agree. The issue for Europe is how far they are willing to go, either through silent assent, or active involvement.

    What's most likely is the US will ask the world to embrace a wide view of the conduct: That the US conduct, however bad, is not as bad as others -- all in an effort to distract attention from the arguably certain line in the sand in re torture.

    The Americans, when they cannot demonstrate they are in compliance with the laws, have asked others to "take another look" and "see if they can't justify in their own minds whey the violations, however horrendous, are practical, reasonable." Curiously, the same words used to describe the original, "reasonable" prohibitions against abuse, or the standard "practically applied" to Chile will get no mention from Bolton or Rice.

    The US public and private statements are just that -- words, without evidence or credible action. The US privately knows there is a problem which Rice's trip failed to address.

    * * *

    The doubts are not isolated to America's long-time allies Ireland and Germany. Poland's Prime Minister has used the word "dangerous" in describing continued cooperation with the American efforts. Ref

    Even if cleared of the charges, Poland's leadership fears their reputation, and the Marcinkiewicz government specifically, will suffer. Ref

    We judge the Polish Military in the ensuring embarrassment will look for some stable ground, yet this will prompt them to publicly renew their commitment to Iraq while they privately posture how to regain their statute.

    Jerzy Szmajdzinski, former defense minister, continues to gather support: Regardless the outcome, he appears most pragmatic. We judge NATO and specifically the Americans will continue to work with the Iraqis in providing evidence the "opposition" in Poland is wrong; and that there is pressure to create any result, however fabricated in Iraq, to undermine the Polish opposition.

    We judge the Americans are already forming media messages to rationalize the abuses as a larger cause of democracy, something the ordinary Poles will have trouble swallowing this many years after liberation.

    We judge there could be hidden subsidies for the energy suppliers in an effort to create a winter season "benefit of democracy" for the ordinary Pole, thereby shoring up public opinion for the current regime.

    We judge the Americans and British are likely to orchestrate an event in Iraq where it is the Poles who are perceived to have a unique experience, something which the NATO alliance desperately needs -- land mind clearing.

    We judge the Americans have a growing need to demonstrate any payoff, benefit, or substantial civil result to simply avoid an Iraqi backlash, and maintain new EU/NATO members confidence in the alliance and Americans efforts in Iraq. Despite largely going alone, we judge we will hear renewed reminders of the "grand coalition" which embarked on combat operations in Iraq; and memories of the "dastardly deeds" Saddam committed against Americans and the alliance during the "no fly zone."

    We expect the Americans to emphasize the larger good of fighting terrorism in Iraq, despite it having no relationship with 9-11, WMD, or the original goals for entering.

    We expect the Israelis to provoke Hamas, and other organizations previously aligned with Saddam, in an effort to remind the world "the basis for entry was valid" and "Saddam was linked with those who still cause problems for our friends."

    * * *

    The US has already threatened to cut off funding for the Brussels Headquarters, but the questions persist.

    We judge the Americans have prepared destruction plans in the event the NATO members choose to take collective action against the United States.

    We judge the current checklists the Americans plan to use in the event of an adverse action are out of date; they cannot rely on the original data and opinion polls used to create the safe areas.

    It is likely the Americans are less confident they will get domestic popular support, and will increasingly rely on the agreements to a narrower group of people within the intelligence and military communities.

    The Americans are likely to offer lucrative contracts, favorable trading promises, and other valuable consideration in the form of favorable military weapon systems. It remains to be seen whether the EU or WTO is brought into the nexus to evaluate these expected, and possibly, illegal arrangements.

    * * *

    Goss has publicly stated that there is alot of misinformation floating around, yet has done nothing to address the facts. We judge the Senior Executive Service within the CIA continues to talk out of both sides of their mouth:

  • Continuing to report "the public just doesn't understand"; while

  • Offering no credible plan forward to provide factual information

    * * *

    We judge the alliance is going through a stage of adolescence, where the partners are reviewing the lessons of the Warsaw Pact:

  • How did the individual members evaluate the perceived risks of continued involvement with the former USSR vs. the risks of asserting themselves as did Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia

    * * *

    Despite this likely planning, the rumblings out of NATO are getting louder:

    A. What to do when one of your own crosses the line?

    B. What happens when a member nation violates the sovereignty of another?

    C. How far are we willing to go in our cooperation with the Americans -- how many statutes, treaties, and lives will be discarded?

    Here are the options

  • Say nothing, do nothing, continue supporting the major military power, and hope nobody finds out;

  • Sanctions

  • Force them to withdraw

  • Members take collective action

    The last three are on the periphery. The alliance is more inclined to continue with option A, focusing its collective power on areas they can jointly agree.

    The issue will be: How many governments could fall, and will the NATO members perceive a greater threat with continued membership and association than in asserting the rule of law.

    We judge the Americans, with their military, contracts, and ability to undermine governments will tip the balance in favor of continued lawlessness. The EU and NATO reviews of the CIA detentions are not expected to produce anything earth shattering.

    * * *

    We judge the Americans are developing contingency plans in the event NATO members decide to take action to distance themselves.

    It is possible these plans are in the form of a false attack; or an event the NATO alliance would be quickly convinced to rally together to defeat.

    At the extreme end of the scenario is a likely facility destruction plan aimed precisely at denying the Europeans access to the very evidence needed to indict American CIA agents, supporting staff, and other American personnel for war crimes.

    * * *

    The issue isn't simply one of veracity, but legitimacy. The Americans are unable to provide a single credible voice to justify confidence in what they are saying.

    Rather, their solution is to accuse those who dare ask questions as, "Being part of some sort of rogue element" or feigning outrage at the "concerns raised."

    Nothing they do addresses the issue -- more telling, in that the best they can do is flounder.

    We judge they have a major problem, and have no checklist to address the crisis.

    * * *

    CIA agents are known for their tenacity. But the rumblings of a crisis within the Directorate of Operations appear to be overblown.

    Yet, while the agents continue their typical mischief, there's a large cadre of staffers continuing their support work.

    They have plenty of checklists, safe areas, and polls to do. And their work continues.

    * * *

    America is less sure of the public support, and more likely to align itself with the former Soviet Bloc intelligence services. We judge the opposition candidates within the new NATO and EU member states will face more than one single political opponent – they will have to fend for themselves against the CIA and American propaganda.

    The American CIA has traded hats with the Soviet KGB. If the Americans, and specifically the CIA DO, succeed in preserving the secrecy, despite the growing reports of abuse, we see little stopping them from committing more abuses to silence discussion about the original lines of evidence.

    Europeans will have to ask whether they are ready to draw the line in the sand now; or retroactively wish they had done so after sinking deeper into the American quagmire, not just in Iraq but Europe and North Africa.

    They agreed in 2003 to march arm in arm with the democratic abuse.