THE European Parliament is slowly making its presence felt in various areas of concern. It brings a different viewpoint from that of national parliaments to pan-European issues and even if it still lacks adequate powers it can influence opinion. A case in point is this week's report from the Parliament on the American CIA flights that have landed at European airports while probably carrying terrorist suspects to countries where their treatment under questioning would be less observable and controllable than in the United States itself. Extraordinary rendition is the technical name. The Parliament's report documented 1'245 CIA flights between 2001 and 2005 which either landed at European airports or passed through European airspace. The report will now have to be considered by the EU's Council of ministers and it will underpin the judicial investigations already underway in Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. It is regrettable that Britain has emerged with its reputation scarred from the hearings about the flights and their purpose. In the final draft of the report Britain was criticised for its lack of co-operation but this was removed under pressure. However, Sir Michael Wood, the chief legal adviser to the Foreign Office, gave evidence in which he said that it was not illegal to possess information extracted under torture, if there was no direct participation in torture. That disgraceful opinion should be challenged as soon as possible.
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