US Will Continue Renditions, But With No-Torture Assurances
We will continue to hand detainees over to other countries, but only if we’re assured they won’t be tortured. That’s what potential CIA director Leon Panetta told a Senate committee. Panetta says he’ll seek the same kind of assurances the Bush administration did. The problem with that is, how can we believe the assurances? Just one day ago, Panetta said the Bush administration transferred prisoners for the purpose of torture. Now he’s retracted that remark, saying, “I’m not aware of the validity of those claims.”
But former prisoners who were victims of what is known as “extraordinary renditions” say they were tortured during the Bush years. For example…
In one of the most notorious instances, a German citizen named Khaled Masri was arrested in Macedonia in 2003 and whisked away by the CIA to a secret prison in Afghanistan. He was quietly released in Albania five months later after the agency determined it had mistaken Masri for an associate of the Sept. 11 hijackers.
Masri later described being abducted by “seven or eight men dressed in black and wearing black ski masks.” He said he was stripped of his clothes, placed in a diaper and blindfolded before being taken aboard a plane in shackles — an account that matches other descriptions of prisoners captured in the rendition program.
…an Egyptian cleric known as Abu Omar was abducted in Italy in 2003 and secretly flown to an Egyptian jail, where he said he was tortured. The incident became a major source of embarrassment to the CIA when Italian authorities, using cellphone records, identified agency operatives involved in the abduction and sought to prosecute them.
Panetta says it was the attitude of the Bush administration that they couldn’t “be bothered by legalisms.” He adds that our willingness to set aside the rule of law and our moral authority damaged our security.
Panetta said the Obama administration will no longer move detainees to secret CIA prisons for interrogation, because the so-called “black sites” have been ordered closed. But it will move prisoners to other countries for prosecution, he said.
President Obama has signed executive orders keeping renditions in place, even if the intention is to do it in accordance with international law. One such order gives the CIA the right to capture and detain suspects as long as they’re not held long-term.
(g) The terms “detention facilities” and “detention facility” in section 4(a) of this order do not refer to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.
Many CIA officials believe renditions just don’t work.
The most valuable intelligence on Al Qaeda came from prisoners who were in CIA custody and questioned by agency experts, [a CIA] official said. Once prisoners were turned over to Egypt, Jordan or elsewhere, the agency had limited influence over how much intelligence was shared, how prisoners were treated and whether they were later released.
“In some ways, [rendition] is the worst option,” the former official said. “If they are in U.S. hands, you have a lot of checks and balances, medics and lawyers. Once you turn them over to another service, you lose control.”
I have a question. Why can’t they be prosecuted here? Do we not believe our system of jurisprudence is adequate to bring justice to anyone who violates the law?Click here for reuse options!
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