Allegations of secret CIA prisons and flights across Europe overshadow US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit. Europe shouldn't be satisfied with half-hearted answers, says DW's Klaus Dahmann.
Is Guantanamo proof that Europe needs to keep watching the US?
If Condoleezza Rice is to be believed, then the United States preserves the world from the evil of terror, and America is a country that adheres to human rights in everything it does.
Transporting prisoners from one country to another where torture may be applied as a means to help along investigations -- no, that's not something the United States does or ever did do. The United States doesn't use air space nor the airports of other countries to transport prisoners to torture cellars.
If you believe Rice, that is.
Then all speculations about secret CIA prisons in Poland and Romania have been "misunderstandings." The US only takes care of the "first and oldest duty of every government" -- protecting its people.
Too quiet for too long?
Europe cannot and should not be satisfied with these answers.
A CIA prison in Kosovo?
Firstly, the American secretary of state still hasn't answered the central question: Does or did the CIA maintain secret prisons in European countries?
Secondly, a lawless place already exists in the form of Guantanamo. That the CIA has used torture there has not only been confirmed by victims and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, but also former members of the US intelligence service.
It's clear that the torture allegations are not just a domestic American issue -- and not only so since European governments have come under suspicion of knowing about this.
Europe's criticism of Guantanamo and other prisons used by the US government to interrogate terrorists and terror suspects has been too quiet in the past. European politicians too quickly retracted to the standpoint that the US government is obligated by its country's constitution to uphold democratic principles and the rule of law.
Upholding democracy's highest values
Rice and Merkel at a news conference Tuesday
No one can accept that exactly these values are trampled on to defend democratic societies and values in the fight against terror. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was right to emphasize this on Tuesday.
Torture methods of any kind have to remain banned from the repertoire of the military and the intelligence community -- even if you risk failure in preventing a planned terrorist attack because of it. The violation of human rights cannot be weighed against even worse human rights violations that could potentially be prevented this way.
The German government has to stand up for its values, despite its commitment to a trans-Atlantic partnership and the fight against terrorism. And that's why it not only has to uncover the alleged cognizance of the previous government regarding CIA activities, but it also must put pressure on the US government until Washington offers full disclosure.
Paying lip service is not enough.