Rosenholz affair reactions

As you would expect, the papers are full of the Rosenholz affair today. YLE News provides a round-up of reactions:

National Police Commissioner Markku Salminen told YLE Friday that he is considering if the Interior Ministry should take an active lead and publish the information which it can release. However, he pointed out that the materials in the possession of the Security Police are its responsibility and the Ministry cannot make a decision about release on its behalf. [...]

[Interior Minister Anne Holmlund] says that her September schedule includes time to better familiarize herself with SUPO activities and at that time she will likely have talks on matters related to the issue.

The Interior Minister is taking the position that increased parliamentary oversight of the Security Police can be taken under consideration, but she has also noted that it has to be remembered that some of the information held by SUPO is such that it cannot be published. [...]

The Office of the President Chief of Staff Jarmo Viinanen on Friday denied the Aamulehti report claiming that the Security Police had misled President Halonen.

Minister of Interior Holmlund also said Friday that she has not received any misleading information from the Security Police.

President Halonen said on Thursday that she hopes that any cover-up surrounding the Stasi materials affair would come to an end. She said that the materials should be made available, at least to the extent that there can be no claims of secrecy.

It seems to me that the contention that the Security Police (Supo) hasn't acted inappropriately is based on a very fine distinction indeed. The assertion is that Supo's material is not the same as the Rosenholz files that per government policy should have been made accessible, even though Supo has admitted that the relevant content is the same. One might get away with that argument in a purely legal discussion, but in a political debate it's not likely to work too well and I'm surprised that Holmlund is trying it.

The obvious question to Halonen is, if Supo hasn't misinterpreted the Cabinet's 2000 decision and was thus correct to withhold the information up this point, why is it not correct to keep withholding it? Now, in 2007, Halonen thinks the material Supo does have should be released - based on what exactly? If Supo wasn't wrong previously, has government policy now changed?

Helsingin Sanomat carries an interview with Professor Seppo Hentilä (fi), an expert on the Cold War era, who makes some good points. "Supo has no option but to make the information public. In 2000 it was decided that the information must be given to three entities, judicial officials, scholars of history, and concerned parties. There's no need for a permission for the Rosenholz key from the CIA. In Germany and Denmark the corresponding information is already in use." (In the same article, Supo assistant chief Matti Simola says he suspects that a permission from the United States would be needed.)

Hentilä suggests that Supo should give the material to an independent group of researchers and lawyers, which in turn would report to the Parliament. He says that the situation won't be resolved if Supo's actions are checked only by other officials, which I take as criticism of Holmlund's approach.

Speaking of which, Aamulehti contacted opposition leaders (fi), who weren't very positive in their assessment of Holmlund's response to the revelations. Timo Soini (True Finns) used the phrase "miserable monkeying around". Eero Heinäluoma (Social Democratic Party) took a slightly more measured tone: "It's justifiable that Holmlund should clarify for the Parliament what has happened. The report should tell what material has come to Finland and what sort of right-of-access principles have been applied to them." Matti Korhonen (Left Alliance) was the only one to bring up resignation at this point.

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