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Irelands Role in the Torture Jigsaw?

11.16.2005

Recently a number of bloggers were posting (1, 2)on the possibility of Irish airports being used to facilitate torture flights on behalf of the CIA. The thrust of the argument, correctly to my mind, was that continued evidence of abuse of detainees, despite denials by George Bush, raised serious doubts about the role of Shannon in the rendition of terror suspects potentially en-route to torture.

However, I voiced serious concern over whether there was any hope of actually examining our role in this sorry mess without being able to put all the jigsaw pieces together from the number of countries implicated in torture. I stand by the view that on our own, we will be stonewalled and end up with a dodgy looking set of neutered findings which allow the status quo to go on unhindered. As evidence seems to mount that torture is but one tool in the war on terror, there are major questions to be raised about the role of Shannon among others. This ranks alongside the questions being asked of Palma in Spain.

According to the Guardian yesterday, the Spanish authorities are looking at the role of the airport in acting as a stopover from Afghanistan to Poland. While the investigation there can be initiated by a judge, the basic fact is that there exists discomfort that the airports of major states in the west are being implicated in an illegal act enabling torture, alleggedly.

The information from Spain and Italy on the activities of the CIA shows that there is a growing network of international investigations into suspect activities and detentions. So there is no longer even the pretense that the Irish would be unable to figure out what in the name of holy moses is going on in Shannon. We like to think that we respect human rights, we are a republic after all. Human Rights are never furthered by torture, that is the position of many across the world.

If it can be done elsewhere, if others are willing to ask questions of the activities of the CIA, on whose behalf Dick Cheney has been lobbying for a n exemption from torture bans, why are we sticking our heads in the sand? That Shannon could have facilitated a single abuse of detainees, that the airport facilitated flights carrying supects to jails which willingly abuse them, is nothing to be proud of. Standing up to terror is simply standing up to abuse of all citizens for political purposes. Not turning a blind eye to torture.

There needs to be an answer to the questions of the use of Shannon, we facilitate troops and whether one likes it or not that is policy. Vote them out. On torture, it can never be policy to facilitate or ask no questions of those who may engage in it. What do the government, authorities and others know and do we accept it as OK that our airports and facilities are complicit in human rights abuses? If the Spanish and Italians can pursue a case, why cant we cooperate and integrate the investigation?
We need to know where we fit in the torture jigsaw.

RR

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