US blasts Council of Europe report on secret CIA flights

Wed Jun 7, 3:06 PM ET

The United States criticized a Council of Europe report on secret CIA flights for "war on terror" suspects, dismissing it as heavy on charges but thin on hard facts.

"We're certainly disappointed in the tone and the content of it," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told a press briefing.

"This would appear to be a rehash of the previous efforts by this group. I don't see any new solid facts in it. There seem to be a lot of allegations but no real facts behind it."

According to the report, 14 European countries colluded in or tolerated the secret transfer of terrorist suspects by the United States, and two of them -- Poland and Romania -- may have harboured CIA detention centers.

Drawn up by Swiss parliamentarian Dick Marty, the report identified a "spider's web" of landing points around the world used by the US authorities for the practice of "extraordinary rendition" -- the undercover transfer of security suspects to third countries or US-run detention centres.

"It is now clear -- although we are still far from establishing the whole truth -- that authorities in several European countries actively participated with the CIA in these unlawful activities. Other countries ignored them knowingly, or did not want to know," the report said.

McCormack said that renditions "are an internationally recognized legal practice. (Venezuelan terrorist) Carlos the Jackal wouldn't be in jail today without the practice of rendition."

McCormack also decried the "tone in the report and some of the discussion that there's something inherently bad or illegal about intelligence activities."

Intelligence cooperation "between the United States and Europe and between the United States and other countries around the world saves lives in the war on terror," he said.

The Strasbourg-based Council of Europe, which is a separate body from the European Union, was set up after World War II to promote democracy and human rights across the continent. It has 46 member states.

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