According to the cable, Bellinger started giving his well known views on the nature of the GWOT, detention issues, treatment of prisoners, review of detainees, renditions etc. On renditions the cable says the following:
Bellinger sought to dispel allegations that hundreds of people had been kidnapped from European streets. He pointed out that there is no evidence for such allegations, and that the United States respects the sovereignty of European governments. On renditions, CIA flights, and other intelligence operations, the U.S. will not confirm or deny specific allegations, in order not to compromise the confidentiality of intelligence operations as such. Bellinger noted that denying five out of six such allegations would in effect confirm the sixth. The U.S. trusts that European governments will continue to follow the same policy.
It is now well-known of course that the US kidnapped Abu Omar in 2004 in Milan, two years before this meeting took place.
Interestingly, some EU interlocutors “expressed concern” at the meeting that some EU member states would support a Cuban resolution against U.S. actions in Guantanamo at the upcoming UN Human Rights Commission.
Bellinger warned that European support for a Guanatanamo resolution would be a serious setback to U.S.-EU cooperation against terrorism, and give the unacceptable impression that the EU was aligned with Cuba against the U.S. EU Council Director-General for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Robert Cooper, said some EU member states might feel obliged to support the resolution because they had agreed last year not to in return for U.S. commitment to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Novak, to visit Guantanamo; now, the U.S. had gone back on that agreement.
Bellinger explained that the U.S. had invited Novak to visit, but that Novak had chosen publicly to reject the U.S. offer (to visit under normal conditions, but not to able to interview individual detainees, as only the ICRC may do that). Cooper said the EU, having cooperated with the U.S. in resisting Chinese attempts to impose conditions on visits of Special Rapporteurs, was having difficulty justifying the U.S. attempts to impose conditions on Novak’s Guantanamo visit. Both sides agreed that the U.S. and EU needed to consult further in order to avoid a train wreck at the Human Rights Commission on this.)
The cable concludes with the US assessment of the meeting:
It is clear that many Europeans continue to believe that Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions can be applied to enemy combatants, and still afford the United States the flexibility it seeks. It is also apparent that lingering concerns (fed by negative public perceptions) remain about the treatment of detainees, and protection against wrongful detentions. Some governments remain focused on renditions, and the possibility that there will be negative revelations that impact on them directly.
That said, the visit was very helpful in beginning to dispel European misunderstandings and misgivings about our pursuit of the war on terror. Continued engagement on these issues is critical in the coming months to persuade EU governments to stand more firmly and publicly in the face of their public’s concerns and suspicion regarding Guantanamo, renditions, and the legality of U.S. actions against Al Qaeda. The Austrian Chair of the COJUR meeting, Ferdinand Trauttmansdorf, concluded the meeting with the following message: “We leave this discussion with the notion that America is carefully considering these difficult questions in good faith.” He said also that the fight against terror was a burden shared by the EU, and that the U.S. has as much of a right to ask questions of the EU, as the EU does of the U.S. On the upcoming Human Rights Commission, urgent consultations with the EU will be necessary to avert the possibility of EU support for a Cuban Guantanamo resolution.