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Loopy Lithuania

November 22, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

[Laris Karklis/The Washington Post]

I try to keep my references to Glenn Greenwald’s blog posts to a reasonable minimum, but I can’t resist this one from yesterday on the decision (reported here in the Washington Post) of the Lithuanian Parliament to investigate for a third time “reports that the CIA secretly imprisoned al-Qaeda leaders in this Baltic country.”

[I]ncreasingly, after years of issuing denials, Lithuania’s leaders are no longer ruling out the possibility that the CIA operated a secret prison in this northern European country of 3.5 million people, and that its government will have to deal with the fallout.

Last month, newly elected President Dalia Grybauskaite said she had “indirect suspicions” that the CIA reports might be true, and urged Parliament to investigate more thoroughly.

The Washington Post first revealed the CIA’s overseas prison network’s existence in 2005. At the time, it withheld the names of Eastern European countries involved in the covert program at the request of White House officials, who argued that disclosure could subject those countries to retaliation from al-Qaeda.

Greenwald contrasts Lithuania’s extremist response to that of a more enlightened nation. One example:

What sort of a newly elected President would get into office and then start demanding that actions From the Past — rather than the Future — be investigated, just because they might be “criminal”? This deeply irresponsible Lithuanian leader apparently doesn’t care about inflaming partisan divisions, and worse, appears blind to the dangers of criminalizing policy disputes. Even more outrageously, Lithuania faces one of the steepest recessions in all of Europe; obviously, this is a time, more than ever, that Lithuanians should be Looking to the Future, Not the Past. Instead, they’re wallowing in deeply inflammatory, partisan and extremist rhetoric …

What kind of crazy, purist, Far Leftist utopians are running that place? They need a heavy dose of pragmatism so they can understand all the reasons why so-called “crimes” like this can be overlooked — just blissfully forgotten like a bad dream.

In an update, Greenwald refers to a related post by Jonathan Schwarz.

Jonathan Schwarz notes that in 2005, Donald Rumsfeld traveled to Lithuania and visited a museum in Vilnius which once housed a KGB prison, where the Soviets tortured prisoners. That museum exhibits “solitary confinement rooms which were used to break down the prisoners and make them confess.” Shockingly, “the walls are padded and soundproofed, made to absorb the cries and shouts for help,” as it was the site of barbaric acts like this:

Prisoners either had to stand in ice-cold water or to balance on a small platform. Every time they got tired they fell down into the water.

After his visit, Rumsfeld released an “Open Letter to the People of Vilnius,” in which he solemnly observed that “the museum was a stark reminder of the importance of preserving our liberty at all costs.” Schwarz asks: “Did Rumsfeld Tour KGB Torture Museum to Pick Up Useful Tips?”

Categories: Politics, Torture
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