The Spanish authorities had arrested 11 suspects of terrorist activities in
Spain (they were accused of cooperating with al-Qaeda in one or another way),
and the US was considering to request their extradition. Since the first
rumors were that Spain might deny such extradition, my friend Tim sent a
pretty aggressive email accusing the Spanish Government of being an accomplice
to the terrorists.
From email@example.com Mon Nov 26 21:28:29 2001
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2001 21:28:13 -0600 (CST)
From: Jesus Ortega
To: Tim Kramer
Cc: Sam Moreno
Subject: Re: Spanish Government
On Sat, 24 Nov 2001, Tim Kramer wrote:
> I just heard on the radio this morning that the government of Spain
> refuses to hand over suspected terrorists unless we guarantee that they
> will not receive the death penalty _and_ they will not be tried in
> military courts that President Bush has set up.
As far as I know, and aside from the remarks published in the media in
order to make it more "sellable", the main reason why the Spanish Government
is considering the extradition of those 11 people accused of terrorism is
not so much the death penalty but the military order recently signed by
President Bush. The death penalty is _constitutionally_ banned in our
country by article 15 (under the Fundamental Rights section), but the very
same article also acknowledges the possibility of applying the death
penalty in military courts _and_ during wars. In other words, the application
of death penalty in circumstances where the country is not at war is not
constitutional either, even in the case of military courts.
Yet, the main issue here is not so much the one about death penalty (as I
explain above) but the use of military courts to try people who are still
_suspected_ of belonging to terrorist groups. As you know from other emails
I sent in the past, I _do_ share these criticisms of the military order.
> You're probably not going to like what I have to say about this, but here
It's not a matter of liking or not liking your opinions. If you have to say
something, go ahead and say it. After all, that's the very basis of the
democratic debate. The only thing I ask in return, and I must say you've
never denied to me, is that I can also say whatever I have to say about
the American policies.
> Needless to say, I completely disagree with the Spanish government's
> position here. It is an absolute outrage!! This is nothing more than
> pure politics, being played out by those in the Spanish government who
> oppose the death penalty and/or the military commissions President
> Bush has set up.
I have a hard time believing that this is simply "pure politics". Keep
in mind that our current Government is a conservative Government, and it
has been so for the last 6 years or so. It can hardly be accused of holding
an anti-American position, and nobody who knows either the party that's
currently in Government in Spain or their leaders can hold that view
> President Bush said to all the nations in the world in his address to the
> Congress, "you're either with us, or against us." That means, there is no
> middle ground. Spain cannot pretend to be our friend and, at the same
> time, play political games and consequently provide safe harbor to
Spain does _not_ provide safe harbor to terrorists. They are arrested
and in jail right now. As a matter of fact, the Spanish anti-terrorist
laws have been applied to them and they remain imprisoned and incomunicado.
That can hardly be considered providing "safe harbor" to terrorists, unless
you have a definition of the term that I don't understand.
Now, the issue at hand is not whether Spain provides safe harbor to these
terrorists but rather whether the country should extradite these people to
the US in the even that the American authorities request it. That's
precisely the key here, and this is what we should be discussing.
> I'm sorry, but unless Spain _unconditionally_ turns over these men to the
> United States, Spain is no longer our ally, but an enemy harboring
The Spanish Government should most emphatically _not_ accept absolutely
_any_ unconditional demand from the American authorities regarding this
or any other issue. Our Government responds to the Spanish citizens and
abides by the Spanish Constitution. It does _not_ respond to the American
citizens or abides by your laws. That should be pretty clear. It is
precisely this attitude of requesting "unconditional" fulfillment of
whatever the US pleases what leads so many people to hate the USA and
promotes anti-American attitudes in the world. If you needed any reason
to explain why things like September 11th happen, you only have to read
your own words above this paragraph.
As for the accusation of "harboring" terrorists, I must repeat again that
these people are currently imprisoned under the hard terms of the Spanish
anti-terrorist laws. They are _not_ being harbored under _any_ of the
possible meanings of the word. If you're checking a different dictionary
than me and the rest of English-speaking people, please share your wisdom
with me. Falsifying History and even the language itself is not a good
way to discuss _any_ political issue, unless we do so with the intention
of manipulating and distorting the whole debate.
> The Spanish government, by attempting to hijack established U.S. law
> which provides for the death penalty for terrorism, and by
> attempting to thwart President Bush's executive order which set up the
> military commissions, is going to find herself, as President Bush put it,
> "on the wrong side of history."
Excuse me, but the Spanish Government is _not_ trying to hijack _any_
US law. Quite the contrary, it is in this case you who is trying to hijack
the Constitution and the law of an independent country (Spain). As far as
I can see, my Government is _not_ forcing the American Government to change
its laws, while you're asking for your Government to impose your own laws
and military orders upon us. Let me remind you that President Bush may
be the American President, but I do _not_ owe any allegiance whatsoever to
him because he is _not_ my President. I certainly owe him respect, but not
allegiance. I seriously doubt my Prime Minister would disagree with me on
this one, in spite of the fact that we often find ourselves on opposing
sides of the political trenches.
> P.S. Yes, this statement was intended to be inflammatory. It's my gut
> reaction to what I heard this morning.
I will not comment on the inflammatory nature of your email, which is
certainly there. As I've repeatedly told you, I firmly believe that
inflammatory messages should be left out of the political debate because
when we talk with our guts, we tend to say a lot of irrational things.
In any case, I find it very peculiar that the very same Americans who have
ignored terrorism for decades and never seemed to care much for helping
the Spaniards, the British, the French or anybody else to fight terrorism
are showing such quasi religious fervor in the "war on terrorism". Neither
the American citizens nor the American authorities never seemed to care
much for this international problem until the death came calling on your
door, and lo and behold it seems now as if you are all ready to step up
to the bully pulpit and preach against the evils of terrorism with the
faith of the newly converted to the new religion.
If you are so interested in pontifying about harboring terrorism, please
feel free to handle the guys of the Irish Norther Aid or Noraid who have
been hanging around your country for decades now, collecting money in
several American cities, and pumping it into the coffers of the IRA and
other like-minded "national liberation movements" in Europe such as ETA
in Spain or the FLNC in France. Feel free to check out their website at
http://www.noraid.com/ and explain to me why the US authorities have
allowed this type of activities go unpunished for decades (mind you, not
a few years, but _decades_) while other people abroad had to suffer from
the shots to the head and the car bombs. Now, since the US authorities
have never imprisoned these people, I have a feeling it is far more fitting
with the meaning of the word "harboring" than what the Spanish authorities
are doing right now. Yet, in spite of this behavior, we still have to
put up with certain Americans climbing onto their soap box and claiming
that everybody else has to abide by their own laws whether we like it or
not because apparently they have some sort of natural right to impose
their ways on the rest of the world.
By the way, the American authorities _still_ have to even send a formal
request of extradition to the Spanish authorities regarding these people
so whatever you read out there is only based on opinions.