Rule-of-Law Extremism Engulfs Primitive Eastern Europe

Lithuania is currently embroiled in a bizarre and deeply confusing
political controversy which reveals what happens when a country becomes
gripped by extremist ideologies. Evidence has emerged that Lithuanian
intelligence agencies allowed secret CIA prisons to be maintained in
their country during the Bush era.

Lithuania is currently embroiled in a bizarre and deeply confusing
political controversy which reveals what happens when a country becomes
gripped by extremist ideologies. Evidence has emerged that Lithuanian
intelligence agencies allowed secret CIA prisons to be maintained in
their country during the Bush era. Just because such prisons would be
"illegal" under the so-called "law" of Lithuania and various
international conventions to which that nation is a signatory,
irresponsible leaders of that country are demanding "investigations"
and even possibly legal consequences if it turns out crimes were committed. What kind of a backwards, primitive country would do something like this?

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.

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 like this:

Adamkus, who was president when the CIA prison was reportedly in
operation, from 2004 until 2005, said he had no personal knowledge of
the covert program. But he raised the possibility that Lithuanian
security officials could face prosecution if the reports are confirmed.

this actually did occur, and it is grounded with proof, we have to
apologize to the international community that something like this went
down in Lithuania," he told the Baltic News Service. "And those who did
it," he added, "in my eyes are criminals" . . . .

Dainius Zalimas, a legal adviser to the Lithuanian Defense Ministry, said the existence of a covert prison would violate both Lithuanian statutes and international human rights conventions that the government signed. If firm evidence is gathered by the Parliament, he said, prosecutors would be obligedto open a case and could target both Lithuanian and U.S. officials.

"From a legal point of view, it would mean that Lithuania, along with the United States, was contributing to quite serious violations of human rights," said Zalimas. . . .

"Criminals"? "Prosecutions"? "Obliged
to open a case"? "Violations of human rights"? Just because they
maintained a few secret prisons in violation of domestic and
international law? 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. Even
worse, with intemperate and shrill language of the type they're
throwing around, it's seems clear that the Lithuanian press is sorely
in need of some David Broders, Fred Hiatts, and David Ignatiuses to
explain to them that subjecting law-breaking political officials to
"investigations" and "prosecutions" is quite disruptive and unpleasant
when those crimes involve matters other than consensual sex between

Even more alarming, this "rule of law" and
"human rights" fetish seems to be spreading: "In neighboring Poland,
prosecutors in the capital of Warsaw have opened a criminal probe into
reports that the CIA operated a prison for al-Qaeda suspects near a
former military air base." Last month, an Italian court convicted
22 CIA agents of the so-called "crime" of kidnapping someone off their
street and sending him to Egypt to be tortured. And the British High Court this week
released its written Opinion -- over the objections of British and
American officials -- ordering the release of details of Binyam
Mohamed's torture at the hands of U.S. agents.

the U.S. remains a bastion of pragmatic sanity in this rising sea of
accountability extremism. Unlike those strange Eastern Europeans and
absolutist Western European purist judges, we know there are far more
important priorities than "investigating" war crimes, compelling
transparency, and holding political criminals accountable. As the rest
of the world gets distracted by all this chatter about The Past, our
President gallantly protects us from such divisive unpleasantries by aggressively blocking any war crimes investigations and concealing evidence -- even modifying decades-old transparency laws to do so if necessary. Even more inspiring, our patriotic media enthusiastically plays a crucial helping role; The Washington Post has known since 2005
in exactly which countries the CIA maintained its illegal, secret
prisons but still refuses to say, even though they've now been banned
by Executive Order and even though Lithuania and Poland are launching
investigations which the Post could easily answer, but chooses not to.

When President Obama was in China last week, he proudly boasted of the American commitment to transparency
and lamented that China lacked such values. Fortunately, he doesn't
get carried away with "principles" the way that these short-sighted
Lithuanians and Polish and others do. Unlike those unhinged primitive
nations with no democratic traditions, we understand that government
crimes should be disclosed, investigated and punished only when they occur during a time other than the Past.
It's vital that we maintain our leadership role in teaching this
critical value to the world, lest the type of crazed
accountability/rule-of-law fetish currently engulfing Lithuania spreads
even further like some uncontrollable virus.

UPDATE: 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:

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?"

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