Monday, March 07, 2005

We don't torture suspected terrorists -- we send them to people who do it for us.

The Bush administration sends suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogation that may involve torture. These transfers have been carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency under broad authority that has allowed it to act without case-by-case approval from the White House or the State or Justice Departments, according to current and former government officials. This has been going on since just after the September 11 attacks.

Translation: we may say we don't torture people, but we send them to other countries so they'll do the job for us. No opinion from me at this point on the subject of torture itself (your comments are welcomed, as always) -- but I don't like the government saying one thing and doing another.

[Source: The New York Times]


Aurelius said...

Has this issue only just surfaced in the US media? I know an Australian who was recently released from Guantanamo Bay has accused Aust and US govts of this for the two years of his incarceration - so it's been pretty much well known in Australia anyway. I think there is even a term for the outsourcing of this torture, but can't remember the word for it. "Referring" or something. Not sure. It's in the newspapers, but I rarely read them.


The Misanthrope said...

It’s abominable that our country would stoop so low. We wanted prisoners treated humanely to protect our troops when captured. I doubt any country or terrorist group will have second thoughts about torturing our people.

Aurelius said...

I would have thought you wanted to treat prisoners humanely because you were the good guys.
The idea that "they wont be so nice to us if we get captured" is what led to some of the worst abuses in the war 1941-45 between the Germans and Russians.

The Misanthrope said...

Aurelius, in a perfect world that would be the case. We are good guys compared to most, but we are far from angels. I wish that there was a more alturist reason for treating prisoners humanely, but from what I have read it was solely to protect our people. Personally I don't condone it. I would think that there would be other ways to gain information.

someguy said...

I may be missing something in the article, but the general impression it leaves me with is that we are making a great effort to keep torture from happening. From the article:

[...]But former government officials say that since the Sept. 11 attacks, the C.I.A. has flown 100 to 150 suspected terrorists from one foreign country to another, including to Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Pakistan.

Each of those countries has been identified by the State Department as habitually using torture in its prisons. But the official said that guidelines enforced within the C.I.A. require that no transfer take place before the receiving country provides assurances that the prisoner will be treated humanely, and that United States personnel are assigned to monitor compliance.

"We get assurances, we check on those assurances, and we double-check on these assurances to make sure that people are being handled properly in respect to human rights," the official said. The official said that compliance had been "very high" but added, "Nothing is 100 percent unless we're sitting there staring at them 24 hours a day."
Granted, in the wake of Abu Ghraib, these accusations should be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated. But that includes gathering physical evidence. Ex: if there isn't recorded evidence available (as in the case of the AG photos), shouldn't beatings and electric shock leave evidence that can be detected and verified by a doctor?

In sum, the article could be used to prove that torture could happen, or could have happened under this program. But it doesn't in and of itself seem to prove that we sent anyone to those countries for the express purpose of being tortured. Indeed, it asserts just the opposite.

On The Mark said...

The legal term for this is "extraordinary rendition." I also wrote about this a couple weeks ago. Torture is wrong and the results are unreliable.

Someguy: this came to light when a prisoner who was later released because they had the wrong guy (and this must be true because our government does not release, or even bring to trial or press charges, suspected terrorists)told the story about how he was transferred from the U.S. to Syria and tortured. There have since been other cases reported.

someguy said...

OTM: I don't dispute that anyone was tortured by any of these regimes, since they torture their own people for far less than terrorism. And if our government is sending people suspected of terrorist acts to those countries for the express purpose of having them tortured, that is reprehensible and should stop at once.

I do stand by my original assertion, though, that the article does not prove that we sent these people to those places for that express purpose. And again, the article itself offers neither physical proof nor third party testimony that corroberates the assertions of these former prisoners.

Nevertheless, you make a good point. Even with monitors there, it doesn't make sense to trust such regimes to apply our standards of human rights to any prisoners. And I can't think of any reason why we shouldn't try them ourselves either in military or civil court.

On The Mark said...

someguy -- I concur with your perspective. I believe the response you're referring to was after weeks and weeks of pressure. One has to wonder why the U.S. would send prisoners from places like Guantanamo Bay to there other countries that we know condone torture. Can there be any other reason? The New Yorker had an excellent article on this subject a couple weeks ago citing examples.