A Recipe for National Health: More Colin, Less Rice

This post, written by Jayne Lyn Stahl, originally appeared on Lady Jayne's Blog

Colin Powell, former secretary of state, isn't stalling when it comes to speaking his mind on closing down the naval base at Guantanamo Bay unlike his successor, Condeeleezza Rice who approaches Gitmo the way most of us approach doing our taxes. In fact, Powell says that he would close Gitmo "not tomorrow but this afternoon," acknowledging that the detention center, in Cuba, has done more damage to America's reputation, and national security than good. (Reuters) And, while many remember him for his counterfeit claims to the United Nations about weapons of mass distraction, he must also be remembered as being the first public figure, in the Bush admihnistration, to assert that the U.S. is breaking international law, and the Geneva Conventions by its handling of prisoners of war.

Not only does the former general talk about getting rid of Gitmo, but of the revisionist "military commission system" established by the Military Commissions Act, last year, by the Bush administration which skirts the law in innovative, and singularly terrifying ways, he tells Reuters that turning close to 350 Gitmo detainees over to our federal courts would be "more understandable in constitutional terms."

While it would be wonderful if Monday's headlines read "prison in Guantanamo Bay closed until further notice," the underlying, ongoing, and odious problem of transporting terror suspects over global airspace to secret prisons, and/or countries, where torture is not prohibited by international law, so-called extraordinary rendition, would remain unsolved.

And when, only a few days ago, British police insisted they have no proof that CIA planes involved in the activity landed "illegally" at British airports, they did so in defiance of findings by the European Parliament, last year, that the CIA flew 1245 secret flights into European airspace with the United Kingdom coming in second only to Germany in the number of stopovers. As director of the human rights group, Liberty, says: "When politicians spin it's disappointing. When police engage in the same activity it is rather more dangerous." (Reuters)

What's more, a senator from Switzerland, Dick Marty, contends that he was told by American intelligence that Poland and Romania hosted jails to "kill, capture, and detain terrorist suspects deemed of 'high value'," naming Britain as one of the countries that provided "refueling stopovers" while illegally, and covertly, transferring detainees. As the Dylan song goes, " But to live outside the law you must be honest," a concept increasingly missing in action over the past six plus years.

For openers, how does one refuel without landing? Also, is there anything more than a rhetorical difference between flying over a country's airspace, and landing at its airport? Clearly, allowing the CIA to fly in U.K. airspace would require the same degree of collaboration as allowing the aircraft to land at one of its airports. If, as chief constable of Greater Manchester Police suggests, there is no evidence to substantiate claims, by the human rights group Liberty, that the CIA planes landed in England more than 200 times since 2001, how is it that the European Parliament reported more than 170 flights into the U.K. as of late November? Somebody is not clearly not telling the truth here.

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