No Comment — May 30, 2007, 8:58 am

U.S. Stiffs Allies in Counter-Terrorism Efforts

At the outset of World War II, President Roosevelt said that a good citizen, seeing his neighbor’s house on fire, runs for the fire brigade and brings a bucket himself. Roosevelt adopted a “Good Neighbor policy.” Bush has pledged close cooperation with allies in the battle against terrorism. However, a number of allies dismiss these claims as empty rhetoric. Worse still, they increasingly view the United States not as a “good neighbor,” but as the neighborhood bully, and vow to continue with prosecutions of U.S. government employees engaged in kidnapping, assault and other crimes on their territory.

Europe’s two most prominent investigating judges with responsibility for counter-terrorism matters, Armando Spataro of Italy and Balthasar Garzón of Spain, leveled sharp complaints against the United States at a press conference convened at the Fourth Annual Conference on Counter-Terrorism in Florence, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Although the two judges voiced their complaints in an off-the-record session attended by reporters, they agreed to allow portions of their remarks to be used, and they amplified their comments afterward in separate interviews with The Times. Spataro said he has had problems with other countries, including France and Morocco, but said in an interview that Washington in particular had caused problems by not extending to Italy and other European allies the same kind of cooperation on counter-terrorism matters as it had on organized crime prosecutions and other criminal matters.

“I work many times with U.S. authorities with great satisfaction in other fields. But in this specific field, of counter-terrorism, there is an important difference,” said Spataro, coordinator of the counter-terrorism branch and deputy chief prosecutor in Milan. “The trial and the legal investigation is at the center of our answer to terrorism. We also have the secret services. But there is a balance. I think that in the U.S. situation, the trial is not important.”

As a result, he said, “We have difficulties. We don’t receive important information when we need to.”

The criticism of the Spanish and Italian judges was very close to the criticism made earlier by German judges from Hamburg who attributed the failed prosecution of an Al Qaeda terrorist to a failure of cooperation from the United States Justice Department.

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