Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Extraordinarily Irresponsible

Extraordinarily Irresponsible

In late January of this year, President Bush declared, "torture is
never acceptable, nor do we hand over people
( to countries
that do torture." Yet, hundreds of individuals
have been taken by Central Intelligence Agency agents through the
process of extraordinary rendition, in which detainees are transported to
other countries for interrogation. Also referred to as outsourcing
torture, the CIA has chosen "the most common destinations for rendered
suspects ( [to be]
Egypt, Morocco, Syria, and Jordan, all of which have been cited for
human-rights violations by the State Department, and are known to torture
suspects." Despite President Bush's empty declarations, conservatives in
both chambers of Congress, at times "at the White House's urging,"
continue to block legislation that could "ban the CIA from using cruel and
inhuman interrogation methods."

RENDITION -- THEN: Before President Bush, the Clinton administration
"enforced much greater oversight and restrictions ... and generally used
the practice to send suspects to a country where they would face
criminal prosecutions ( ." Days
after Vice President Cheney cryptically threatened that the
administration would spend time "in the shadows of the intelligence world," a
presidential directive gave the CIA independence that came with " unusually
expansive authority

RENDITION -- NOW: Freeing the agency from various oversights, including
"case-by-case approval from the White House or the State or Justice
Departments," the rendition program soon " expanded beyond recognition
( -- becoming,
according to a former CIA official, 'an abomination.'" The CIA is now
carrying out these rendition expeditions so frequently that relatively
amateur aviation enthusiasts
have begun to document the trips. Once "aimed at a small, discrete set
of suspects (
[it now includes] a wide and ill-defined population," and can be used
"solely for the purpose of detention and interrogation

ideological case against outsourcing torture, the Bush administration's carrying
out of the rendition program has been seriously flawed. Firstly, "
torture is usually counterproductive
( ."
Veteran agents from both the FBI and CIA " doubt the effectiveness
( of physical
coercion as a means of extracting reliable information, " as a prisoner
subjected to intense physical pain
will admit just about anything to end the torture. Intelligence agents
then end up chasing down false confessions instead of devoting time to
real leads. A glaring example of this is that the Bush administration's
pre-Iraq invasion claims of a connection between Saddam Hussein and al
Qaeda ( came
from a prisoner who had been rendered to Egypt, and later "recanted" the
same information that he had provided.

rendition program is flouting years-old legislation passed by Congress
( , international
( to
which we are signatories, and the sovereignty of other nations
that we rely on as allies. Several European countries are carrying out
official investigations into whether the CIA violated local laws by
conducting rendition operations that abducted individuals off European soil
without the "blessing of friendly local intelligence agencies."
Furthermore, it is creating a class of persons that may never be able to be
introduced back (
into the legal system. Once detainees are tortured, their statements
are essentially tarnished because of the circumstances by which they were
obtained, rendering them incapable of being prosecuted or even used as
witnesses. As a member of the 9/11 Commission recently stated, "In
criminal justice, you either prosecute the suspects or let them go. But if
you've treated them in ways that won't allow you to prosecute them,
you're in this no man's land."