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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Secretary Rice to Europe -

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 008256

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR INR/R/MR; IIP/RW; IIP/RNY; BBG/VOA; IIP/WEU; AF/PA;
EUR/WE /P/SP; D/C (MCCOO); EUR/PA; INR/P; INR/EUC; PM; OSC ISA
FOR ILN; NEA; WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC/WEUROPE; DOC FOR ITA/EUR/FR
AND PASS USTR/PA; USINCEUR FOR PAO; NATO/PA; MOSCOW/PA;
ROME/PA; USVIENNA FOR USDEL OSCE.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR FR
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT - Secretary Rice to Europe -
Allegations About CIA Rendition Flights European Defense
PARIS - Tuesday, December 06, 2005

(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:

Secretary Rice to Europe - Allegations About CIA Rendition

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Flights
European Defense

B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:

Economic stories dominate today's front pages with 8.3 billion
euros worth of Airbus contacts signed with China. Catholic La
Croix devotes its lead and several articles to China's
economic strategy in connection with the Airbus transfer of
technology agreement. Political considerations in the Villepin-
Sarkozy match are also front-page news in Le Figaro and
Liberation as the UMP considers primaries to select the
presidential candidate for 2007, a first in France. A poll in
Liberation shows that after the recent suburban violence,
Villepin is ahead of Sarkozy, with 53 percent of respondents
behind him as opposed to Sarkozy with only 49 percent.

Secretary Rice's trip to Europe is announced in Le Monde's

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front page: "Condi Rice Under Pressure in Europe" and Le
Figaro's inside report carries extensive quotes from her
explanations prior to her departure. Liberation headlines "CIA
Secret Prisons: Rice Explains." "Before leaving for Europe,

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Rice decided not to apologize, but read instead a firm
statement to explain that the U.S. was using `every legal
weapon to fight terrorism.'" La Croix heads its report "Human
Rights - CIA Rendition Flights Shake Europe." For France Soir
"Condi Shows No Regrets." A regional editorialist comments:
"The Europeans are much less outraged than they pretend to be:
they fear, without saying it, that the U.S. might lose `its'
war." (See Part C)

La Croix interviews former CIA agent Robert Baer who contends:
"The fact that the U.S. is not denying the information is
confirmation enough for me. NATO bases were used for the
transfer of prisoners. The CIA does not need the permission of
local governments to use NATO bases. Certain European nations
have looked the other way. After 9/11 and the arrests made in
Afghanistan, no one had the political maturity to think about
the long term consequences, such as violation of the Geneva
Conventions or the impact on transatlantic relationships."

All news outlets report on the kidnapped Frenchman in Baghdad
and Liberation comments: "The recent increase in kidnappings
appears to be related to the impending legislative elections
in Iraq."

Le Figaro reports on Defense Minister Alliot-Marie's weekend
visit to the Gulf and her "support for a European defense" in
a region where "U.S. military presence is strong." "What she
intimated in essence is that nowhere should there be `private
hunting grounds' in matters of security." (See Part C)

(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:

Secretary Rice to Europe - Allegations About CIA Rendition

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Flights

"The Forgotten CIA Flights"
Jean-Claude Kieffer in regional Les Dernieres Nouvelles
d'Alsace (12/06): "Cooperating with Washington in the fight
against terrorism is natural for European capitals. But for
Europe to serve, unknowingly, as an airport hub for
`activities' related to the war in Iraq, is not. Even
Washington's unconditional allies were `surprised' by the
comings and goings of CIA planes that landed in NATO countries
with God only knows what human cargo. Secretary of State Rice
must provide some sort of explanation during her European
tour. She will remain evasive, because for the Americans the
war against terrorism has merged with the war in Iraq. And as
Rice suggested, when faced with an implacable enemy, we need
to free ourselves from certain rules in order to `save lives.'
The Europeans are much less outraged than they pretend to be:
they fear, without saying it, that the U.S. might lose `its'
war."

"Condi Under Pressure in Europe"
Eric Lesser in left-of-center Le Monde (12/06): "The trip is
shaping up as a difficult one because European leaders are
expecting the Secretary to clarify things about CIA `secret
prisons'. While several European nations have asked for
clarification, the State Department is working on a written
answer to the questions raised by Jack Straw. We must not
expect a `mea culpa.' In fact Secretary Rice will probably ask
European nations to `play things down' and to `shoulder their
responsibilities.' Secretary Rice expects to have a difficult
trip but she will reaffirm that the U.S. respects every
nation's sovereignty. While she claims to want to improve
relations with Europe, Rice has no intention of questioning
practices considered to be `unorthodox.'"

"Condi With No Regrets"
Maxime Weigert in right-of-center France Soir (12/06): "Angela
Merkel will probably not raise the question of rendition
flights because the German government refuses to put pressure
on an ally in whom `it trusts completely.' Yet tension is at
its highest. Europe wants an explanation. and clarification
about illegal practices that might have been committed in
several European countries. including France. The situation is
fast becoming embarrassing for Washington. Before leaving,
Secretary Rice practiced her line of defense. She did not deny

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the existence of CIA flights nor did she apologize for them.
She did however mention the `difficult choices' facing
democracies and asked `whether governments wanted to work with
the U.S. to protect their own countries from future terrorist
acts.' Rice is reversing the situation and using fear as an
alibi when she says `that renditions save lives.' In short,
the U.S. is being benevolent. But with such arguments, why did
the U.S. not ask for permission to land?"

"Rice Asks Europe to Shoulder Its Responsibilities"
Philippe Gelie in right-of-center Le Figaro (12/06): "Before
departing, Secretary Rice dealt with the criticism over
rendition flights. She did not acknowledge the existence of
CIA `black sites' but she defended the question of
`renditions' as legal practices used by European governments
themselves, such as France in the Carlos case. Secretary Rice
is forcing European nations to choose sides. This will be the
extent of the `clarification' to the questions raised by the
Europeans. Washington claims `it can do no more' and suggests
European publics should be `more realistic' about what needs
to be done when dealing with enemies such as Al-Qaeda."

"CIA Secret Prisons: Rice to Explain"
Pascal Riche in left-of-center Liberation (12/06): "A
controversy is awaiting Secretary Rice as she gets off the
plane in Europe. After a prolonged silence, Secretary Rice
decided to speak up yesterday just before getting on the
plane, but not to apologize. On the contrary, she read a firm
statement. to remind European governments cooperating with
Washington in the fight against terrorism to shoulder their
responsibilities. `Renditions' have been practiced `for
decades by the U.S. and other countries.' Rice emphasized that
`renditions' saved lives in Europe. She did not explicitly
confirm the existence of secret prisons in Eastern Europe and
invited governments to share in her discretion. As a line of
defense Washington is sticking to its guns. As a European
diplomat said, `our American counterparts were taken by
surprise by the magnitude of the reaction in the media and are
asking us, in essence, to stop bothering them with this and
shoulder our responsibilities.'"

European Defense

"France Praises EU Defense In Bahrain"
Arnaud Girard in right-of-center Le Figaro (12/06): "Over the
weekend, France's Defense Minister spoke in favor of re-
enforcing the strategic relationship with a region where
American military presence is strong. Even where geo-strategic
and energy ambitions are high, Alliot-Marie insisted that
there should be no `private hunting grounds' in matters of
security.. She called for a strong strategic relationship
between Europe and Arab nations in the Gulf. Speaking about a
`new phase,' she suggested the need for a dialogue from pole
to pole and the need for a regional security architecture,
giving the OSCE as an example. In Qatar Alliot-Marie was more
comfortable than in Bahrain because of the privileged
relationship it has with France, which allows Qatar to reduce
its strategic dependency on the U.S." STAPLETON

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