It's one of the worst kept secrets that European governments, despite their ocassional whining and criticism, more or less, do the bidding of Washington. However when that inconvenient reality is rubbed in their collective face the little bureaucats sitting on their fannies in Brussels become apoplectic. Reports the CIA were whisking terrorist suspects through their airports and operating secret prisons on their soil is making the Europeans look, at best, weak, at worst, hypocritical accomplices to their own sceptical publics.
A top EU lawmaker has told the Reuters news agency that nothing less than the credibility of the EU is at stake. Oh dear! Not that.
"There must be no Guantanamo on European soil," foreign affairs committee chair Elmar Brok told the agency. "We want to be clear to our people and to the rest of the world that we do not violate human rights."
Meanwhile, another committee has been set up to look into the reports of secret U.S. camps in Romania, Poland and other countries who have all denied letting the American set up camp, as it were. This committee is being created by the European Parliament, something of a joke here due to its toothless growl. A British member of the parliament, Sarah Ludford, said the parliamentary committee would pressure member states to find out the truth, (editorial interlude: yeah right.) Ludford wants top EU honchos, like Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, to visit some of the sites said to house the aforementioned U.S. camps.
The Europeans are already suffering a black eye from reports the Germans, despite all the anti-war rhetoric of erstwhile chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, did help the U.S. a bit during bombing raids in Iraq in 2003. The German parliament has heard the testimony of two German BND agents who said they did not tell the Americans what to bomb, but what not to bomb. According to Deutsche Welle, they also said they had no direct contact with US forces before they entered Baghdad. Norbert Roettgen, the committee's chairman, said their evidence was credible.