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Requires transparency about CIA aircraft

"We need transparency and information in the CIA case, and we need to get to the bottom of what these planes have done in Norway," says SVs Bjørn Jacobsen, member of the Defense Committee.


Stiff breeze with storm has been recorded in the throws in SV's internal foreign policy debate in recent weeks. F16 flights to Afghanistan have set minds, while several have called for a clearer SV profile in the government's foreign policy. Particularly difficult is the debate in connection with Afghanistan and Iraq and whether Norwegian soldiers should be sent to these war zones. One of those who have been in the middle of the storm is Bjørn Jacobsen, a member of the defense committee at the Storting. Last term he sat on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

- In Ny Tid, we have in recent weeks revealed that Norwegian airspace and Norwegian airports are used by aircraft that the CIA rents, and aircraft that frequently land on the military airstrip at Guantanamo Bay. Should Norway accept that these aircraft use our territory?

- We must have transparency and information about these aircraft, and I want to clarify what these aircraft have to do in Norway. If it actually turns out that the CIA uses Norwegian airspace and Norwegian airports, then the CIA and the Americans must account for what these planes do here. We absolutely need a public debate on these aircraft. Norway as a nation has pointed out that we do not accept the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo. If it turns out that the CIA uses Norwegian territory to transport these prisoners, then it is a violation of Norwegian policy, and we can have none of that. And that applies regardless of whether the prisoners go to Guantanamo or to one of the secret prisons that the Americans are claimed to have.

- We are allies with the Americans, and would it not be natural for them to use Norwegian airspace and possibly Norwegian airports in connection with these transports?

- These prisoner transports are not official transports. The United States also refuses to accept that these prisoners will be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention and other international laws and regulations governing the treatment of prisoners of war. SV and a majority in the Storting believe that the United States can not ignore, among other things, the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

- The Americans claim that they must be able to go far in their fight against terrorism?

- We will fight terrorism, but we can not use illegal methods. Tony Blair suffered his first serious defeat when the House of Commons rejected Blair's proposal to imprison terror suspects for 90 days without trial. The parliamentarians could finally accept 28 days. This may be the first step in a new direction in which we once again create a world order in which we go out together and fight terrorism. We can not have it like today where some nations take the right to act as liars with their own ideas about what is right and wrong.

- What should the government and possibly the Storting do?

- We have not discussed the matter in SV or raised it with the government partners. Personally, I believe that Norway should say no to this type of prisoner transport or contribute to such by making airports or airspace available to the Americans. In the wake of the fight against terrorism, we have received several serious cases that show that we must be vigilant. Suffice it to mention what happened in the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Guantanamo Bay and the latest about the secret prisons. Therefore, it is important that we investigate what these planes linked to the CIA have done in Norway.

If there is another explanation for these planes, then we should have it. Has Norway agreed to Norwegian territory to be used by these aircraft? When I hear about these planes, I can't help but think of U2 in the distance. The US U2 plane spied on the Soviet Union, and on its way from Peshawar in Pakistan to Bodø in Norway on May 1, 1960 it was shot down by the Russians.

Therefore, I want full transparency and information about these aircraft. Then we will consider what to do. I doubt we can support this activity.

- There is a lot of fighting against terrorism on the agenda during the day. The F-16 planes Norway will send to Afghanistan have created a lot of debate, not least in SV. The government and to some extent you have received harsh criticism in this case?

- I do not mind receiving criticism in the way we have handled this individual case. I still experience that even though I and the government have received a lot of criticism from all sides in SV, I think that many understand our situation. The actual discussion about the ISAF forces and the F-16 aircraft is a matter that goes straight to the SV soul, and it is natural that we get a debate here.

The F-16 case has been an important experience for both me and the SV. We have learned something to take with us. What we also have to deal with, and which the SV has no experience with, is that we as a party have not been in government positions before. We try and fail here in the beginning, but we fight for our cause every single day. As part of a majority government, we sometimes have to give in, and not least we have to take a stand at some point. Decisions must be made.

- Should the party apparatus have been drawn more into the F-16 discussion in advance?

- Maybe. The government came to us in the Storting with a decision and we could relate to it in the large faction between SV, Ap and Sp, or we could put our foot down. We did not do so, partly because the mission is linked to ISAF's role as a defensive party in connection with the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The F-16s will not take part in any offensive warfare, and it is important to keep in mind.

So far I can support what the government has decided. The situation will be different if we come up with a discussion about ISAF and the US Enduring Freedom operation to be merged into one operation. Then we face a far more difficult situation.

- SV receives criticism from party activists for not having won in the foreign policy of the red-green government. Do you agree with this?

- If we take individual cases such as ISAF, then I agree. But when we look at what has happened in the area of ​​foreign policy, I mean that we have had a clear left turn in foreign policy. It is good. That this has happened, we heard clearly during the debate in the Storting on foreign policy on Tuesday. Among other things, Conservative leader Erna Solberg pointed out that the red-green government has gone far left in foreign policy.

- But how will foreign policy be in the future?

- We will invest more in the UN – it is in our country's interest that we have a world order led by the UN. We will again show up with blue helmets. We should have had between 1500 and 2000 Norwegian soldiers in UN service. We do not have 30 pieces today. After Bondevik I and II, we are in practice out of all UN-led operations. We have disappeared from the areas where our soldiers should have been, where protection is given to the poor and persecuted.

I do not see this as a victory for the SV, but through the Soria Moria Declaration we have made sure that the UN is a winner. We should be well underway again with the UN track in 2006, and it will become clear that we as a nation are striving for closer cooperation through the UN to bring about peace and justice in the world. These are wise choices we now make. We will now focus on the UN rather than, as so far under Bondevik, using resources to clean up after the US wars. We choose international law first.

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