Romanian President Traian Basescu said he was misquoted in a Washington Post (imagine that! ~Patriot) report which said he allowed the CIA to land planes at a Romanian air base and underlined he has no authority to give such approvals.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other US agencies are allowed to land planes at the Mihail Kogalniceanu base, in Constanta, but authorities never allowed the existence of secret detention centers for suspect terrorists or any mistreatment of the detainees, The Washington Post said yesterday, quoting President Traian Basescu.
The newspaper also said that the president revealed that personnel from the CIA and other US agencies work in Romania at a joint anti-terrorism intelligence center that opened within months of the September 11 attacks, Bucharest Daily News reported.
“You can’t be a partner of the United States only when you need the advantage and support of their alliance”, Basescu said. “Sometimes the United States needs your support, and this is what we are doing”.
The issue of detention centers allegedly set up by the CIA in several European countries, mostly former Soviet states, has set the continent afire, as reports of the centers’ existence were repeatedly denied by state authorities and several investigations into the allegations were started. Romanian Army Chief of Staff General Eugen Badalan did not comment on the issue, saying only the Defense Ministry sent all documents and information it had regarding this issue to a parliamentary committee to look into the allegations. Defense Minister Teodor Atanasiu also said authorities run periodic checks on incoming flights, including American aircrafts, and none were found to have carried prisoners. “We never found any flights that carried suspected terrorists”, he said.
Also, an analyst for daily Adevarul said in comments on Realitatea TV that he was certain the president had more information about the CIA flights and the fact that he said he approved the landing of the planes places him in a “key-position.” According to Cosmin Popa, the Council of Europe’s investigator into the issue, Senator Dick Marty said intelligence agency chiefs could have given the approval.The fact that Basescu has knowledge of this fact makes one think that he knows a lot more. Popa also said that the moment the president chose to reveal this fact was very well chosen and expressed his opinion that more information about the U.S. intelligence center set up in Romania will be made available, because “you cannot keep something like that hidden”. Contacted by Realitatea TV, Basescu denied the report, saying The Washington Post misquoted him.
He also underlined that the President has no duty or right to approve flights to land in Romania. Basescu explained that the interview to The Washington Post was made two weeks ago and could not say why it was published so late.
“I did not say I allowed CIA planes to land, this is what the (Washington Post) journalist understood or wanted to understand”, Basescu said.