February 1, 2009

The right-wingers today are gleeful over this article in today's L.A. Times, equating it with the Bush administration's use of rendition:

Reporting from Washington -- The CIA's secret prisons are being shuttered. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being a wind-swept naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.

But even while dismantling these programs, President Obama left intact an equally controversial counter-terrorism tool.

Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.

[...] But the Obama administration appears to have determined that the rendition program was one component of the Bush administration's war on terrorism that it could not afford to discard.

The decision to preserve the program did not draw major protests, even among human rights groups. Leaders of such organizations attribute that to a sense that nations need certain tools to combat terrorism.

"Under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place" for renditions, said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "What I heard loud and clear from the president's order was that they want to design a system that doesn't result in people being sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured -- but that designing that system is going to take some time."

Cernig addresses the difference over at Newshoggers:

"Illegal Rendition" as practised by the Bush administration did not involve notifying the IRC, which is why it kicked up a storm in Europe - because it was a crime involving secretly disappearing people into secret prisons. Renditions which include notifying the correct international body, used only for the purpose of getting wanted people before a proper court, and which are fully in compliance with international and domestic law including (from the Obama executive order):

the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution; the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A; the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441; the Federal assault statute, 18 U.S.C. 113; the Federal maiming statute, 18 U.S.C. 114; the Federal "stalking" statute, 18 U.S.C. 2261A; articles 93, 124, 128, and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 893, 924, 928, and 934; section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 2000dd; section 6(c) of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Public Law 109 366; the Geneva Conventions; and the Convention Against Torture.

Which would also, inter alia, prohibit rendition to a foreign nation for torture "off the books"...

...That isn't illegal. Nor is it preserving torture. The relevant part of the remit of the Special Task Force established by Obama's executive order to examine all US detention and interrogation practices makes that quite clear:

to study and evaluate the practices of transferring individuals to other nations in order to ensure that such practices comply with the domestic laws, international obligations, and policies of the United States and do not result in the transfer of individuals to other nations to face torture or otherwise for the purpose, or with the effect, of undermining or circumventing the commitments or obligations of the United States to ensure the humane treatment of individuals in its custody or control.

That is just normal extra-territorial rendition as practised by the law-abiding world. On this issue, at least, Lefties can sleep easy after all (after they've worried about Obama's war crime of airstrikes indiscriminately killing civilians in Pakistan and his complicity in Bush's torture crimes by apparently ruling out prosecutions of torturers). Some Rightwing pundits should go take a valium and lie down for a while, though.

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.