Sunday, March 06, 2005

Rendition extraordinaire

Not much to say about the NYT story on extraordinary rendition not already well said by Rising Hegemon and LeftI. The official spin is hilariously incompetent and uncredible: it was done to save the American taxpayers the cost of housing these people; it had nothing to do with torture, even though prisoners were sent only to countries which routinely practice torture like Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc and not, say, Denmark.

The key detail, which I think is new, in the NYT is that the CIA was given blanket permission to transfer anyone they want anywhere they want, without individual review by the White House, the Justice Department or the State Department. Remember, the CIA is not a law enforcement agency. Its employees don’t, for example, have the (legal) power to arrest anybody or charge them in a court of law. Giving them this sort of power is therefore an admission that America is no longer a nation of laws.

So when Alberto Gonzales testified to Congress in January that he was “not aware of anyone in the executive branch authorizing any transfer of a detainee in violation of” the policy against transferring people to countries where it’s more likely than not (!) that they’ll be tortured, the weasel word wasn’t “aware,” it was “a.” Bush didn’t authorize a detainee -- one specific named human being -- being rendered for the purposes of torture, but any detainee.

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