Wednesday, March 18, 2009

First EU talks with US raise new barriers to closing Gitmo

US wants to send some Gitmo detainees to European nations, and they are willing to take them.  What's the problem?  The EU has stepped into the process and is imposing what look like new preconditions. The EU says they're not conditions, but reading the press, I think that can be translated as "They're not preconditions, but we want answers to our questions, assurances that you'll reject the legal basis for Gitmo detentions and agreement on a framework for talking to European governments before there'll be any progress."  Here's the excerpt -- see if you can read it differently:

The officials declined to enumerate the questions but said they went to the case against each detainee that Europe might be asked to accept. They also sought assurances that the policies underlying the system of detention in Guantanamo are a thing of the past.

"We have a list of questions, not conditions," said Ivan Langer, the Czech interior minister whose country currently holds the presidency of the European Union. He added at a news conference Monday in Washington, "There is one condition: maximum information."

Accompanying Langer was Jacques Barrot, a vice president of the European Commission. The visit was the first formal senior contact between the European Union and the Obama administration.

Langer said the decision of whether to accept detainees is one for individual states within the union, but because of open borders in continental Europe, officials there would like an agreed framework among the member states in advance of any transfers from Guantanamo.

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