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Germany and the United States Failed to Train Afghanistan's Police

The creation of a stable and well-functioning state requires a well-trained police force that is not corrupt, but abides by the law and enforces the law without bias. Afghanistan is not anywhere close to such a police force. According to a Congressional Research Service report (see Atlantic Review post) "the United States has become more active in training the Afghan police, possibly as a result of the reported deficiencies in German training." Now it seems that the US training has failed as well: "Five years after the fall of the Taliban, a joint report by the Pentagon and the State Department has found that the American-trained police force in Afghanistan is largely incapable of carrying out routine law enforcement work, and that managers of the $1.1 billion training program cannot say how many officers are actually on duty or where thousands of trucks and other equipment issued to police units have gone." writes the New York Times:
The training experts say the United States made some of the same mistakes in training police forces in Afghanistan that it made in Iraq, including offering far too little field training, tracking equipment poorly and relying on private contractors for the actual training. At the same time, those experts say, the failure to create viable police forces to keep order and enforce the law on a local level has played a pivotal role in undermining the American efforts to stabilize both countries. In Afghanistan, the failure has contributed to the explosion in opium production, government corruption and the resurgence of the Taliban. In Iraq, the challenge is even larger: Sectarian death squads have infiltrated the police force and helped push the country to what many are now calling a civil war.
Ulrich Speck writes in his Kosmoblog (in German) that Germany should conduct such evaluations as well. Indeed, the German police training and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere should be evaluated with scrutiny. In the long run, Germany can only justify its refusal to send troops to South Afghanistan, if the German policies prove successful, argues Ulrich Speck. Thus, a lot has to be done regarding reconstruction in the North and the police training in the entire country. Continue reading "Germany and the United States Failed to Train Afghanistan's Police"

Terrorism News from Germany

Headlines from DW World:
Moroccan Found Guilty of Accessory to 9/11 Murders, also see German Press Review (in English).
The Christian Science Monitor writes about lack of US cooperation in this trial.

Security Officials Promote Integration as Crime Prevention: "Due to its prominent profile in foreign and security policy, Germany is becoming more and more a target of terrorist attacks," said Ernst Uhrlau, president of the German Intelligence Service (BND) on Thursday in Wiesbaden."

Germans Warned to be Vigilant Against Terror Threat: "In her weekly video podcast, the German Chancellor has urged Germans to help police combat terrorism. But she warned that measures such as video surveillance weren't enough."

Politicians and Police Union Disagree on National Security Report

Two American Experts Comment on the European Reactions to the U.S. Elections

The Atlantic Review has already written about German Reactions to the Midterm Elections. Americans are now commenting about the European reactions to the elections: "Aspen Institute Berlin Director Jeffrey Gedmin has an interesting and useful piece, 'Even Happier than the Democrats,' in the Weekly Standard," writes Steve Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation and also adds his own thoughts in his Washington Note.
Gedmin:
When European commentators say they are still yearning for an end to American unilateralism, moral crusades, and the influence of "fundamentalist evangelicals," what they really mean is that they are longing for a United States just like secular, post-national, consensus-seeking, Social Democratic Europe. But, of course, even with Democrats controlling the House and the Senate, it ain't gonna happen.
Clemons agrees to some degree, but adds:
Europe yearns for a pragmatic, problem-fixing America, engaged in the world's real problems and building international collaborations to meet these challenges. America has departed this space on ideological quests and left a giant void in global affairs that the Europeans have had to partially fill.
Related post in the Atlantic Review: Will US Foreign Policy Change if the Democrats Win the Midterm Elections?

ENDNOTE: There was quite a stir in the blogosphere about the news that former Abu Ghraib prisoners, supported by an American NGO, seek prosecution of Secretary Rumsfeld in Germany. Several popular American bloggers misunderstood the Time Magazine article and incorrectly blamed the German government and vented their anger. Some even made Nazi references, as reported in a previous post.
U.S. law professor Andrew Hammel writes in his blog that there have been 53 petitions to invoke Germany's "universal jurisdiction" law for war crimes (adopted in 2002), but "none has been acted on, according to this week's Die Zeit, so there's pretty much zero chance of Rumsfeld going to prison in Germany."
Besides, yesterday, an association of peace groups filed a lawsuit against Chancellor Merkel and Defense Minister Jung for "preparing an offensive war." They claim that the White Paper on German Security Policy violates Germany's constitution, reports Die Welt (in German). Thus, the significance of the lawsuit against Rumsfeld should not be exaggerated.

Prosecution of Secretary Rumsfeld in Germany? (UPDATE)

According to Time Magazine, "new legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany's top prosecutor, will seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, for their alleged roles in abuses committed at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." The plaintiffs include 11 Iraqis who were prisoners in Abu Ghraib. They have chosen Germany for the court filing because
German law provides "universal jurisdiction" allowing for the prosecution of war crimes and related offenses that take place anywhere in the world. Indeed, a similar, but narrower, legal action was brought in Germany in 2004, which also sought the prosecution of Rumsfeld. The case provoked an angry response from Pentagon, and Rumsfeld himself was reportedly upset. Rumsfeld's spokesman at the time, Lawrence DiRita, called the case a "a big, big problem." U.S. officials made clear the case could adversely impact U.S.-Germany relations, and Rumsfeld indicated he would not attend a major security conference in Munich, where he was scheduled to be the keynote speaker, unless Germany disposed of the case. The day before the conference, a German prosecutor announced he would not pursue the matter, saying there was no indication that U.S. authorities and courts would not deal with allegations in the complaint. (...)
"The utter and complete failure of U.S. authorities to take any action to investigate high-level involvement in the torture program could not be clearer," says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a U.S.-based non-profit helping to bring the legal action in Germany. He also notes that the Military Commissions Act, a law passed by Congress earlier this year, effectively blocks prosecution in the U.S. of those involved in detention and interrogation abuses of foreigners held abroad in American custody going to back to Sept. 11, 2001.
Continue reading "Prosecution of Secretary Rumsfeld in Germany? (UPDATE)"

Comparing Chancellor Merkel's and Schroeder's Perception of Russia and the US

Ex-Chancellor Schroeder is giving outspoken and controversial interviews to promote his autobiography. He is very critical of Chancellor Merkel, the trade unions, and of the growing influence of religious conservatives in the US, while at the same time defending Russia's president Putin.
As probably most Germans (and perhaps even Schroeder), Chancellor Merkel considers the US-German friendship much closer than the German-Russian strategic partnership.
 
Continue reading "Comparing Chancellor Merkel's and Schroeder's Perception of Russia and the US"

Rieff: Ideology of Exceptionalism is Dangerous to America's National Interest

On Tuesday, President Bush signed into law a bill that critics consider "one of the most un-American in the nation's long history," writes Dan Froomkin for the Washington Post:
The new law vaguely bans torture -- but makes the administration the arbiter of what is torture and what isn't. It allows the president to imprison indefinitely anyone he decides falls under a wide-ranging new definition of unlawful combatant. It suspends the Great Writ of habeas corpus for detainees. It allows coerced testimony at trial. It immunizes retroactively interrogators who may have engaged in torture. Here's what Bush had to say at his signing ceremony in the East Room: "The bill I sign today helps secure this country, and it sends a clear message: This nation is patient and decent and fair, and we will never back down from the threats to our freedom." But that may not be the "clear message" the new law sends most people. Here's the clear message the law sends to the world: America makes its own rules.
And the LA Times points out that "the Justice Department moved immediately to request the dismissal of dozens of lawsuits filed by detainees challenging their incarceration."
 
The new law is relevant to the discussion about American Exceptionalism: Gregory Djerejian suspects in The Belgravia Dispatch that many historians will view the Iraq war as a "vanity" war.
Continue reading "Rieff: Ideology of Exceptionalism is Dangerous to America's National Interest"

Amnesty International Accuses US of "Secret Flights to Torture and 'Disappearance'"

Secret detention and "disappearances" of dissidents and political opponents are something that only happen in evil, undemocratic countries in South-or central America, right? Wrong. It happens on behalf of the United States all over the world, including Europe, says amnesty international USA. In a report dated April 5, 2006, the US is accused of "rendition" and "disappearance". Rendition, as defined by the human rights organization, is "the transfer of individuals from one country to another, by means that bypass all judicial and administrative due process." The number of cases appear to be in the hundreds, and "every one of the victims of rendition interviewed by Amnesty International has described incidents of torture and other ill-treatment."
In addition, the USA has acknowledged the capture of about 30 "high value" detainees whose whereabouts remain unknown. While before September 11, 2001, the rendition program was mainly intended to render terrorist suspects to the United States for trial, since the "War on Terror" it seems to be aiming more and more to deny detainees access to American courts. New Directives implemented under the Bush administration remain classified, but are said to give the CIA and the other 15 members of the American "intelligence community" the power to capture and hold terrorist suspects.
Secret detention is the corollary of a secret rendition programme. (…) Rendition provides the means to transport them to the CIA-run system of covert prisons that has reportedly operated at various times in at least eight countries.
Amnesty describes some cases of rendition, secret detention and "disappearance" in detail, including German national Muhammad Zammar's, about which Amnesty says:
The secret arrest and subsequent "disappearance" of Muhammad Zammar has all the hallmarks of a case in which an individual has been rendered for the purposes of interrogation under torture. Zammar's family in Germany has received one letter from him dated 8 June 2005. His current whereabouts are unknown. According to the Amnesty-report, intelligence information supplied by Germany is thought to have been instrumental in his arrest in Morocco and rendition to Syria.
Deutsche Welle opines that the CIA controversy is becoming a sharper thorn in transatlantic relations:
European leaders were initially slow to react to allegations of secret flights carrying suspected terrorists landing on their soil after reports of them first leaked in November. Experts say that is because European governments were more informed than they wanted to admit.  But since EU Commission officials first downplayed the issue late last year, the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog, has continued to investigate. At the same time, countries such as Germany and Italy are probing the issue -- the Bundestag will hold more hearings this week to find out what German officials knew. Most officials say it is unlikely that European governments were kept in the dark. Meanwhile, an EU parliamentary committee issued a report last month saying that the CIA carried out as many as 1,000 secret flights in the past five years, transporting suspected terrorists to third countries.

The Guantanamo detainee from Germany

One of the more than 500 detainees at Guantanamo is the 23 years old Murat Kurnaz, who was born and raised in Bremen in northern Germany. He travelled to Pakistan in October 2001, was arrested shortly afterwards and detained at Guantanamo Bay since at least January 2002, because a military panel ruled that he was a member of Al Qaeda. However, according to a March 2005 article in The Washington Post:

Evidence, recently declassified and obtained by The Washington Post, shows that U.S. military intelligence and German law enforcement authorities had largely concluded there was no information that linked Kurnaz to al Qaeda, any other terrorist organization or terrorist activities. (…)

The Command Intelligence Task Force, the investigative arm of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the Guantanamo Bay facility, repeatedly suggested that it may have been a mistake to take Kurnaz off a bus of Islamic missionaries traveling through Pakistan in October 2001. "CITF has no definite link/evidence of detainee having an association with Al Qaida or making any specific threat against the U.S.," one document says. "CITF is not aware of evidence that Kurnaz was or is a member of Al Quaeda."

According to a Wall Street Journal article from January 2005, Murat Kurnaz isn't an isolated case:

American commanders acknowledge that many prisoners shouldn't have been locked up here in the first place because they weren't dangerous and didn't know anything of value. "Sometimes, we just didn't get the right folks," says Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, Guantanamo's current commander." 

Continue reading "The Guantanamo detainee from Germany"