Sunday, December 07, 2008

Spain Takes Flack for Guantánamo Involvement

Sources: Financial Times- Notes Implicate Spain in Guantánamo Flights; El País- Accomplices of Shame

Early this week, letters surfaced showing that officers of the Spanish officials aided the C.I.A. in transporting prisoners from Afghanistan to Guantánamo following the U.S. attacks on the Taliban and al-Qaeda regimes in 2001. In the letters, officers from the Ministry of Defense affirmed support for the U.S. and urged that Spain be discreet about its role in extra-territorial rendition. The letters have spurred a renewed court investigation regarding the extent and consequences of Spain’s involvement.

According to Spain’s leftist newspaper, El País, the prisoners were detained without charge and trial on U.S. military aircrafts that utilized Spanish airbases and airspace. The article further asserts that the former populist government, headed by José María Aznar, destroyed evidence of the collaboration between Spain and the U.S.

Internal party politics have undoubtedly played a role in the timing of the leak. Aznar prided himself on strong ties to George W. Bush, thereby alienating the majority of Spanish voters. Spain’s current government, led by socialist prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, disassociated himself from Bush in 2004 by withdrawing Spanish troops immediately following his election. The Populist Party is accusing current foreign minister Miguel Moratinos of jeopardizing national security and diplomacy by leaking the letters. They also claim that 9 of the 11 U.S. military flights that actually landed in Spain since 2001 were during the first term of Zapatero’s administration. Zapatero has repeatedly denied any knowledge of U.S. military flights stopping in Spain on the way to Guantánamo.

What consequences should Spain face for its involvement? What role should the UN play?

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