April 2, 2012
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — For years, the notion that Poland could allow the CIA to operate a secret prison in a remote lake region was treated as a crackpot idea by the country’s politicians, journalists and the public.
A heated political debate this week reveals how dramatically the narrative has changed. In a string of revelations and political statements, Polish leaders have come closer than ever to acknowledging that the United States ran a secret interrogation facility for terror suspects in 2002 and 2003 in the Eastern European country.
Some officials recall the fear that prevailed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and defend the tough stance that former U.S. President George W. Bush took against terrorists. But the debate is sometimes tinged with a hint of disappointment with Washington, as if Poland’s young democracy had been led astray — ethically and legally — by the superpower that it counts as a key ally, and then left alone to deal with the fallout.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Thursday that Poland has become the “political victim” of leaks from U.S. officials that brought to light aspects of the secret rendition program. In his most forthcoming comments on the matter to date, Tusk said an ongoing investigation into the case is proof of Poland’s democratic credentials and that Poland cannot be counted on in the future in such clandestine enterprises.