The CIA Expansive Use of Rendition

The New York Times reports on a rule change made by Bush shortly after 9/11 that allowed the CIA to to freely send suspects abroad to jails in countries that allow torture.

In most instances in the past, the transfers of individual prisoners required review and approval by interagency groups led by the White House, and were usually authorized to bring prisoners to the United States or to other countries to face criminal charges.

As part of its broad new latitude, current and former government officials say, the C.I.A. has been authorized to transfer prisoners to other countries solely for the purpose of detention and interrogation.

....Since Sept. 11, however, it has been used much more widely and has had more expansive guidelines, because of the broad authorizations that the White House has granted to the C.I.A. under legal opinions and a series of amendments to Presidential Decision Directives that remain classified. T

How many prisoners have been moved so far? Between 100 and 150. They include:

  • Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, who was detained at Kennedy Airport two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks and transported to Syria, where he said he was subjected to beatings. A year later he was released without being charged with any crime.
  • Khaled el-Masri, a Lebanese-born German who was pulled from a bus on the Serbia-Macedonia border in December 2003 and flown to Afghanistan, where he said he was beaten and drugged. He was released five months later without being charged with a crime.
  • Mamdouh Habib, an Egyptian-born Australian who was arrested in Pakistan several weeks after the 2001 attacks. He was moved to Egypt, Afghanistan and finally Guantánamo. During his detention, Mr. Habib said he was beaten, humiliated and subjected to electric shocks. He was released after 40 months without being charged.

The Bush Administration still refuses to acknowledge the existence of the program, but former officials are not so reticent:

.... 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.

....It has long been known that the C.I.A. has held a small group of high-ranking leaders of Al Qaeda in secret sites overseas, and that the United States military continues to detain hundreds of suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan. The rendition program was intended to augment those operations, according to former government officials, by allowing the United States to gain intelligence from the interrogations of the prisoners, most of whom were sent to their countries of birth or citizenship.

Former U.S. officials say the U.S. has been "turning a blind eye" to torture and not complying with its obligations under the Convention Against Torture, of which it is a signatory. Here's one unsatisfactory explanation:

In Congressional testimony last month, the director of central intelligence, Porter J. Goss, acknowledged that the United States had only a limited capacity to enforce promises that detainees would be treated humanely. "We have a responsibility of trying to ensure that they are properly treated, and we try and do the best we can to guarantee that," Mr. Goss said of the prisoners that the United States had transferred to the custody of other countries. "But of course once they're out of our control, there's only so much we can do. But we do have an accountability program for those situations."

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    Re: The CIA Expansive Use of Rendition (none / 0) (#1)
    by Darryl Pearce on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 08:06:37 PM EST
    True Lies "Did you kill people?" "Yeah. But they were all bad." I don't trust people who keep secrets.

    Re: The CIA Expansive Use of Rendition (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 09:49:57 PM EST
    High crimes and misdemeanors. Of course, not likely to get much consideration in the short term. History will be as kind to Dubya as it was to Pinochet and Franco.

    Re: The CIA Expansive Use of Rendition (none / 0) (#3)
    by bad Jim on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 11:38:20 PM EST
    And we wonder why the rest of the world laughs at us when the State Department publishes its human rights report. I want my country back!

    Re: The CIA Expansive Use of Rendition (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 12:20:37 AM EST
    The State Department human rights report is generally quite reliable, but of course there is a big hole in it: no mention of the United States. Well, now China has her own human rights report, with plenty of information about the situation in the US, I'm sure.

    Re: The CIA Expansive Use of Rendition (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 01:15:50 AM EST
    You all miss the point, the fact is our boy bush is sanding people to other countries for the sole purpose of torture, not information or detention. and how many people are being sent? and on what changes and how long before its done to others for other reasons.? who is bush to do this? is it some new idea of laws? and let us look at what bush said to a rally in 2002 to mexican nation inside the U.S., "I Am fighting for our race" in fluent spanish..see Fox/Bush rally 2002, who is the real eichmann? and who is the real enemy? ask where is bin laden?

    Re: The CIA Expansive Use of Rendition (none / 0) (#6)
    by wishful on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:02:57 AM EST
    Maybe this is the result of implementing undemocratic policies and ideologies. Checks and balances had a purpose, as did the loyal opposition, and non-political appointments to such positions and head of CIA and the first several levels right under that that have been recently purged by Goss for political loyalty reasons (as opposed to competence and loyalty to the U.S). How quickly things that have taken brilliance, dedication and over 200 years to build can be destroyed. Especially disappointing is the stealth mode of destruction for those who choose not to see or think there is something in it for themselves above others. There is nothing authentic in the power being sought by this administration and their enablers.

    Re: The CIA Expansive Use of Rendition (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:54:58 AM EST
    "The patriotic ardor with which you serve at the (fore)front is quite understandable. But for whose benefit are you working so hard?" --WWII Japenese psyops text All sides are the same. If one can't see all sides as the same then one is representing loyalty to a side in the most basic instinctive sense. Blind loyalty ignores the transgressions of oneself and one's group. Simple(?) incarceration could be considered torture. The denial of freedom (restricted locale), the control of diet which results in physiological transformation, the impact of specific stimuli are all torture, No? So when the word "torture" is used it is an arbitrary matter of degrees of which the extreme is death. All authority comes from force ultimately. There is never a lack of authority. Any belief system is borne of authority. Conciously or unconciously we are loyal to our belief-system hence loyal to our authority. An authority and it's adherents are one in the same because in the extreme they represent the same ideas and cooperate where they would not cooperate in the same manner with outsiders. You either lay down and die at the hands of an opponent or you fight. There's no middle of the road. The heavy lifting is done by the state for most of us. Quite literally if for any reason one refuses to resist aggression then one is in the only position where they are not involved in war/torture/aggression by proxy. If the state tortures then so do all of it's members by proxy. All states torture, it's all over history from parking tickets to decapitation. Bin Laden used this proxy as the "stated" reason to attack opponent civilians. And you cannot "not" take a side. If you find fault with your authority then, subtle as it may be, you support the opponent of your group by promotion of the denigration. In this existential sense the ideas define the group. In the overlapping patterns all groups are doing the same thing/s because all central ideas have the same purpose which is to define the group. To have the same purpose IS to be the same. (Don't underestimate syllogisms.) To be in disagreement is to take a side. To be in agreement is to take a side. People either agree or disagree so all people take sides. All sides are the same. You either lay down and die or you fight, by proxy(through your group's soldiers) or by physical confrontation yourself. The battle of words is the battle too. (Don't have a link to the story of the monks who were killed by machete weilding attackers. The story goes that the monks didn't fight, didn't resist. They apparently just stood there and took the death blows. I surmise that they believed in ultimate equilibrium and to fight was to deny their inevitable mortality. To fight was literally and intellectually to deny mortality which is futile in an equilibrium. In an equilibrium everything has a cancel. Life must be cancelled by something, death. They literally laid down and died but apparently not out of weakness or deference or malice toward their conquerers but because they knew that they had it coming sooner or later and to deny it was futile.) Subjugation is thorough and time tested over centuries, built-in. If the belief system (of conquest) was overtly represented then it would reveal the threat. The also time-honored practice of deception (lying) is therefore the approach of adherents. The use of deception creates a void where intentions are masked thus subduing the naive opponent in order to conquer them. You cannont "not" take a side. All states torture in varying degrees. If you haven't overtly tortured another then it has been done for you by your group again by proxy. History is a box of infinite details but it is still a box and a pattern exists (or a pattern can be perceived.)

    Re: The CIA Expansive Use of Rendition (none / 0) (#8)
    by Darryl Pearce on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 01:48:24 PM EST
    "free parking" is a little too theoretical. A year or two in a remote detention facility for unlawful combatants should allow him to hone his logic and focus his principles.

    Re: The CIA Expansive Use of Rendition (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 05:29:17 PM EST
    Mr. Darryl Pearce, LOL. It's inconceivable to me that I would be detained. Ya see, I'm part of the Brown Shirts (formerly of the Resistance then indoctrinated into the Hitler Youth). I have soo many flags on my house and cars that Persian Cats and French Poodles cross the street rather than directly pass my property. (P.S. I was once detained in a third world country. I have three versions of the experience. If I wrote just one of them down I'd be taking a side. I lean toward the third version which, of course, is wrapped inside the iron bars of the theoretical but isn't everything?)

    Re: The CIA Expansive Use of Rendition (none / 0) (#10)
    by theologicus on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 06:43:44 PM EST
    The NYT still lags behind the Washington Post on the rendition issue. Dana Priest of the WP has been on top of this issue and just had a front-page article this past week that did not leave any doubt about the deeply troubling nature of rendition. The new NYT article strikes a tone of "balance," by contrast. You have to read deep into the article to learn that renditon may mean torture by proxy, and that the torture can be particularly repugnant, even for torture. The NYT's columnist Bob Herbert has been as forceful as anyone in the mainstream media on these horrors. But the NYT news coverage and its editorials fall well below the standard set by the Post. The Post had an outstanding editorial on March 5. Meanwhile we are not seeing the kind of public outrage that the issue demands. The general silence that in effect condones torture is one of the most disturbing aspects of American life today.

    Re: The CIA Expansive Use of Rendition (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 08:52:40 PM EST
    Whew, the [political?] theory that going along w/any authority equals going along w/torture was way over the top. The dichotomy between autonomy and authority is false; there simply is no autonomy unless there is a system of authority, true, but the mere fact of establishing an authority to protect people does not excuse the use of authority to abuse them. I don't trust authority and oppose granting it carte blanch, but I know from my ghetto childhood what it's like to live without it. It means there is no protection from robbery, rape or murder; "might makes right", and there is always someone willing to abuse to get the right. It's kind of what we have right now - little or no protection by our government from predators, be they after our jobs and savings, our kids, our hard-earned homes, or our very sanity. The so-called Homeland (shivers of Nazi propaganda) Security measures aren't protecting regular folks in towns and cities; they're protecting government, military and corporate assets. In reality, regular folk are living in near anarchy or oppressed by our government's policies, and financiers are extremely protected by systems of authority. I think we don't make as much noise as we "should" about prisoner abuses overseas because we refuse to face abuses of prisoners here in the US. We already stopped worrying about US prison guards' abuses of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan and Guantanamo, and those guards are back home and at their old jobs with no opposition from US activists to speak of. We've already allowed our government to racial profile groups of people for centuries, to damn the poor to no meaningful legal defense and a life in prison or a death sentence, and to do absolutely nothing about the average 50-70% of former prisoners who end up right back there thanks to rape and abuse instead of rehabilitation in prisons, and "legitimate" discrimination by employers, landlords, and in the government services for the poor when they get out. We've accepted abuse here, gulag-level imprisonment rates here, a death penalty even if the convicted murderer was mentally ill here, so why would we get off it to fight for suspected "terrorists" overseas? It starts at home, and as we continue to ignore the corruption in our own "justice" system, we can only ignore it overseas. While enlightment on one issue often leads to an avalanch of enlightment on other related issues, our capacity to coalesce, agree, and take action decreases with the onslaught of obligations that comes with consciousness. We fight among ourselves for which issues take precedence, and all the issues end up the worse for it. I honestly think it has to start at home, though, not to be isolationist because my ancestral country's one of the ones being oppressed and exploited into oblivion, but to be effective. We can't feel strong and righteous fighting for the rights of people overseas when we're stepping over the homeless and hungry and abused here. My ancestral country is a speck in the ocean; this country's the powerhouse that impacts all others. In many countries people have to fear for their lives if they speak against government and business, but they fight louder and harder than we do for the right to do it. Here, it seems we must go shopping or balance our exploded checking accounts before we can take time to make some noise, create a spectacle, or help anyone. In many countries, there are no jobs, pathetic paychecks or credit cards to feed an illusion of autonomy, no need to spend hours and weeks and months trying to figure out how to turn 10 bucks into 100 in the stock market or the track or the card table. They simply never have the 10 bucks to spare. If the very fact of our relative wealth makes us incapable of striving for justice anymore, it's not authority in itself that's screwing the world; it's a false sense of autonomy and invulnerability and thence a lack of a sense of obligation to our fellow humans, if only to insure they'll be there when we need them. In this country we allow poor families to live in their cars or under bridges, we let kids be penned up with adult convicts, we let women who raise most of the country's kids be paid less for the same work, we accept that only the rich can have true legal representation and quality healthcare. We condone so much domestic institutional abuse that we can only feel our consciences demand we act locally, as well, when we object to our nation's global injustices. And we seem to feel so helpless or put upon to change things at home that worrying about anyone else "out there" seems futile at best, hypocritical at worst. If we would take on activism like it was any other job, we could accept that (1) it ain't over 'til it's done, and it's never done, (2) most of the time it's frustrating but an occasional achievement makes it all worthwhile, and (3) we can work together even if we aren't always on the same page. As it is, activists are about as competitive about their issues as the opposing regions in the NBA, we are losing ground on every single front, and all the poor, here and in the world, are paying the price. Most likely, it will be some other up-and-coming democracy that will push for radical changes, one where there are no "minority" symbols of success and no credit cards (thanks to Ronald Reagan for the debtor nation of citizens too busy paying interest to organize!).

    Re: The CIA Expansive Use of Rendition (none / 0) (#12)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Mar 07, 2005 at 08:05:24 AM EST
    Thank you, Inaru! Well said! You have just inspired me for the week. Your word speak my heart and give me the courage to keep shouting in the wilderness.

    Re: The CIA Expansive Use of Rendition (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Mar 07, 2005 at 12:24:59 PM EST
    Funny how this article implies that this is a Bush initiative, when in reality, Rendition was conceived of, kicked off, and funded by the Clinton administration. No actually thats not true. The complete misinformation spewed out by the NYT isn't even funny anymore.

    Re: The CIA Expansive Use of Rendition (none / 0) (#14)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 08:48:31 AM EST
    Doesn't matter who started it, the fact is that Bushco is using it for their own twisted ends.