19 January 2011

Greenland Questions Denmark over US Rendition Flights

A Wiki leak suggesting government (Danish) duplicity on CIA renditions draws opposition criticism.

Edited by Julian Isherwood

Greenland’s Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist says that he plans to approach the Danish government over  weekend disclosures in a Wiki leak in Politiken, suggesting that the Danish government was not as interested in investigating CIA renditions as it made out.

“I will study the documents before commenting on them. But it sounds serious and is therefore a subject I will be discussing with Foreign Minister Lene Espersen and Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen when I meet them this week,” Kuupik Kleist tells Sermitsiaq, adding that until he has studied the documents he cannot comment furtherGreenland air space and territory is said to have been frequently used by the CIA in its rendition operations.

Greenland members of the Danish Folketing are critical of the government following the disclosures. “The issue has already caused unnecessary differences, so we need to find out what happened and what was said,” says Juliane Henningsen MP for Inuit Ataqatigiit.

Over the weekend, Politiken disclosed a WikiLeak report suggesting that while the government on the one hand told Parliament a full investigation would be carried out into CIA renditions using Danish, Greenland and Faroese territory, a US Embassy memo on talks with Denmark’s Foreign Ministry suggested Denmark wanted the issue to go away quickly and quietly.

Henningsen says she sees the apparent duplicity as a breach of trust in the Danish government.

The Danish opposition has also called for an explanation from the government, both in the form of a debate in Parliament and at the next meeting of the Foreign Policy Committee.

The Danish People’s Party’s Foreign Policy Spokesman Søren Espersen, on the other hand, supports former Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller (Cons) in his understanding of the memo that was written following a meeting between then US Ambassador James P. Cain and a senior Danish Foreign Ministry official.

“He was not the best diplomat that America has had in Denmark. I don’t have much faith in his judgment,” Espersen says.

Former Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller says the memo is Cain’s own view. “I have no way of knowing how Cain has understood discussions with Danish civil servants and during discussions at which I was not present,” Stig Møller says.

Editor's Note: Greenland is an autonomous country in association with the Kingdom of Denmark, and enjoys a broad degree of self-governance, whilst retaining voting representation in the Danish Parliament.

Former top US diplomat questions Danish Govt. Claims

The former US State Dept. Chief of Staff says the CIA does not use (Greenland) airspace without permission.One of the most senior figures in former President Bush’s government has questioned the Danish government’s position regarding CIA rendition flights. The Danish government has said that it had no knowledge of the flights, despite the fact that the aircraft used by the CIA repeatedly flew through Danish airspace and landed at airports in Greenland.
“I find it difficult to believe that the Danish government was unaware of the flights,” says Colin Powell’s former Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson. Wilkerson was chief of staff from 2002 to 2005. Wilkerson says that he has not taken part in any meetings on the CIA’s rendition programme and thus does not have firsthand knowledge of the flights.

“But I have been involved in several other military operations in the past,” says Wilkerson who was also one of Powell’s closest employees when the latter was defence chief. He says that he has also been involved in other military operations which sometimes included the CIA.

“The CIA does not just fly through another country’s airspace without permission. The normal procedure is that the head of the CIA approaches the head of intelligence in the country concerned and says that the United States is about to carry out some missions that will involve that country’s airspace and that the missions are central to American national security,” Wilkerson says.

“It is then up to the intelligence chief of the other country to decide whether he will inform his political masters – but he will normally do that in order to keep his back free,” Wilkerson says adding that permission is normally given without further questions as to what the missions involve.

The former chief of staff says it is normal procedure for governments to say one thing in public and something else to other countries.

“Particularly if it is about confidential conversations and things which – if they became public knowledge – could endanger national security. So that happens in particular when the discussions involve the CIA,” Wilkinson says.

Meanwhile, the Copenhagen Post reported a subsequent reply from the Danish Prime Minister:

PM silent on charges of double-dealing
DV News

Leaked documents suggest government was not interested in confronting US over CIA transports.

The prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, has refused to comment on the government’s role in the alleged illegal transport of CIA detainees over Danish airspace, including Greenland. The issue appeared after Wikileaks published documents from the US Embassy in Copenhagen.

“I will not comment on leaked documents,” the PM told TV2. “The issue has been dealt with and the former foreign minister has answered questions about it in parliament.”

The leaked documents indicate that on the one hand, the government promised parliament to ask the US about CIA’s transfers of detainees while, on the other hand, telling the opposite to the then US ambassador in Denmark at the time. Danish government officials, according to Politiken newspaper, made it clear to the Americans at the time that they wanted the issue to die away.

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