Cheney, Rumsfeld could be called to testify in EU parliament's CIA prisons probe

A European Parliament investigation into alleged CIA secret prisons could call top U.S. officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, to testify, an official said Thursday. "Very senior people" would be asked to answer the allegations of human rights violations on EU territory, said Sarah Ludford, vice president of an investigation into the alleged prisons being conducted by the European Parliament.

"I don't see why we should not invite Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney," Ludford said. "I'm sure they would be very welcome and they would be heard with great interest, or (U.S. Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice perhaps, why not?"

But Ludford, a British Liberal Democrat party member, acknowledged that the parliament had no legal power to subpoena them. "I would not be overoptimistic but I don't think it's completely off the planet to think that they might come to see us," she said.

The parliament committee held its first meeting Thursday, electing Portuguese Conservative Carlos Coelho as its president and three vice-chairs, including Ludford.

"I hope that we will be inviting very senior people from governments, from non-governmental organizations and people who have knowledge of the intelligence community," said Ludfurd. "If they are seen not to cooperate then I think we can draw conclusions."

Coelho refused to be drawn on specific names he would favor, but said the committee as a whole would decide who to ask to attend the meetings, after which a report will be drafted and presented to EU governments, some of which, it is claimed, are complicit in allowing the U.S. secret agency to set up retention camps on their territory. The committee's work is to last for four months, Coelho said, reports the AP. I.L.