[JURIST] German Chancellor Angela Merkel [official website, in German, BBC profile] Saturday joined other Europeans in criticizing the Bush administration for admittedly operating clandestine Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] detention centers in Europe, a practice which she called "not compatible with my understanding of the rule of law." President Bush acknowledged the existence of secret CIA prisons outside the US [JURIST report] for the first time Wednesday. The announcement was followed by calls from human rights groups [JURIST report] and European officials to reveal more information about the prisons, and on Friday UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile] demanded that they be abolished [JURIST report]. In June, the Council of Europe passed a resolution [JURIST report] condemning alleged collusion between some European governments and the CIA after an investigation and report by Swiss legislator Dick Marty concluded that illegal US detention centers in Europe existed.
Apparently unmoved by the criticisms, President Bush nonetheless used his weekly radio address [recorded audio; transcript] Saturday to praise the program's achievements [AP report] in keeping Americans safe. "Were it not for this program," he insisted, "our intelligence community believes that al Qaeda and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland." Merkel, who has tried to improve relations with the United States since assuming office in November, has commended the Bush administration for acknowledging the existence of the detention centers. AP has more.