Thursday, December 08, 2005
TORTURING THE FACTS
By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times
"Our secretary of state’s tortuous defense of supposedly nonexistent C.I.A. torture chambers in Eastern Europe was an acid flashback to Clintonian parsing.
Just as Bill Clinton pranced around questions about marijuana use at Oxford during the ‘92 campaign by saying he had never broken the laws of his country, so Condoleezza Rice pranced around questions about outsourcing torture by suggesting that President Bush had never broken the laws of his country.
But in Bill’s case, he was only talking about smoking a little joint, while Condi is talking about snatching people off the street and throwing them into lethal joints.
“The United States government does not authorize or condone torture of detainees,” she said.
It all depends on what you mean by “authorize,” “condone,” “torture” and “detainees.”
Ms. Rice also claimed that the U.S. did not transport terrorism suspects “for the purpose of interrogation using torture.” But, hey, as Rummy likes to say, stuff happens.
The president said he was opposed to torture and then effectively issued regulations to allow what any normal person – and certainly a victim – would consider torture. Alberto Gonzales et al. have defined torture deviancy downward to the point where it’s hard to imagine what would count as torture. Under this administration, prisoners have been hung by their wrists and had electrodes attached to their genitals; they’ve been waterboarded, exposed to extreme heat and cold, and threatened with death – even accidentally killed.
Does Ms. Rice think anyone is buying her loophole-riddled defense? Not with the Italians thinking of rounding up C.I.A. officers to ask them whether they abducted a cleric in Milan. And with Torquemada Cheney slouching around Capitol Hill trying to circumvent John McCain, legalizing torture at the C.I.A.’s secret prisons, by preventing Congress from requiring decent treatment for U.S. prisoners.
As The Times’s Scott Shane reported today, a German man, Khaled el-Masri, says he was kidnapped, beaten and spirited away to Afghanistan by C.I.A. officers in an apparent case of mistaken identity in 2003. He is suing the former C.I.A. chief George Tenet and three companies allegedly involved in the clandestine flights.
Mr. Masri, a 42-year-old former car salesman, was refused entry to the U.S. on Saturday. He had intended to hold a news conference in Washington yesterday, but ended up talking to reporters over a video satellite link, telling how he was beaten, photographed nude and injected with drugs during five months in detention.
Mr. Masri said through an interpreter: “I don’t think I’m the human being I used to be.”
When Ms. Rice was a Stanford professor of international relations, she would have flunked any student who dared to present her with the sort of willfully disingenuous piffle she spouted on the eve of her European trip.
Maybe she figures that if she was able to fool people once with doubletalk about W.M.D., she can fool them again with doubletalk about rendition.
As chatter spreads about Condi as a possible presidential contender, we are left wondering, once more, who this woman really is. Is she doing this willingly, or is she hemmed in by the powerful men around her? As a former national security adviser who has had the president’s ear for five years, did she try to fight the appalling attempt to shred the Geneva Conventions, or did she go along with it? Is she doing Vice’s nefarious bidding on torture, just as she did on ginning up the case for invading Iraq?
As Condi used weasel words on torture, Hillary took a weaselly position on flag-burning. Trying to convince the conservatives that she’s still got a bit of that Goldwater Girl in her, the woman who would be the first woman president is co-sponsoring a Republican bill making it illegal to desecrate the American flag. The red staters backing this measure are generally the ones who already can’t stand Hillary, so they won’t be fooled.
The senator doing Clintonian triangulating is just as transparent as the secretary doing Clintonian parsing.
Speaking of silly masquerades, who does Judge Samuel Alito Jr. think he’s fooling by presenting himself as a reasonable jurist? Here’s a guy whose entire career seems to be based on interfering with women’s lives. He wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade, condoned the strip search of a 10-year-old girl and belonged to a conservative alumni club that resisted the admission of women to Princeton.
All in all, a bad week for women – sheer torture to watch."
• t r u t h o u t - Sidney Blumenthal: Condi's Trail of Lies
Sidney Blumenthal asserts that Condoleezza Rice's contradictory, misleading and outright false statements about the US and torture have taken America's moral standing - and her own - to new depths.
• Pentagon Memo on Torture-Motivated Transfer Cited- By Ken Silverstein - Los Angeles Times
A court filing describes a classified proposal to send a detainee away for information extraction.
"Although Bush administration officials have denied that they transfer terrorism suspects to countries where they are likely to be abused, a classified memorandum described in a court case indicates that the Pentagon has considered sending a captured militant abroad to be interrogated under threat of torture. The classified memo is summarized-- its actual contents are blacked out -- in a petition filed by attorneys for Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmad, a detainee held by the Pentagon at its Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facility...."
• America can't take it anymore by Mark Follman
"The Bush administration has embraced torture as a key part of the "war on terror." Finally, members of Congress, the military and the CIA are speaking out against the abuse....
Dec. 5, 2005 | Five days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney instructed the nation that the U.S. government would begin working "the dark side" to defeat its enemies in a new global war. "A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion," Cheney declared on NBC's "Meet the Press." He added, "It's going to be vital for us."
• Rice Fails to Clarify U.S. View on Torture - By David Holley and Paul Richter - Los Angeles Times
• CIA 'closes terror prisons' - Europe - Breaking News 24/7 - NEWS.com.au Eleven al-Qaeda prisoners who were held in Eastern Europe have been transferred and were being relocated "to a CIA site somewhere in north Africa," ABC reported, citing CIA sources.
• Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Britain's role in war on terror revealed 200 ghost flights logged across nearly 20 airfields. MPs urge government to state level of cooperation.
• Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | UK 'breaking law' over CIA secret flights
The British government is guilty of breaking international law if it allowed secret CIA "rendition" flights of terror suspects to land at UK airports, according to a report by American legal scholars.
• Victims Could Sue for Human Rights in European Court of Justice
The Munich human rights attorney Georg Note speaks with Spiegel Online about Germany's responsibility and possible repercussions of the affair.
• U.S. Interrogations Save European Lives, Rice Tells Europe...s Leaders - By Joel Brinkley - New York Times
"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chastised European leaders on Monday, saying that before they complain about secret jails for terror suspects in European nations, they should realize that interrogations of these suspects have produced information that helped 'save European lives....'”
•No exceptions to the ban on torture - Louise Arbour - International Herald Tribune "The absolute ban on torture, a cornerstone of the international human rights edifice, is under attack. The principle we once believed to be unassailable -- the inherent right to physical integrity and dignity of the person -- is becoming a casualty of the so-called war on terror...."
• Ex-CIA Agent in Milan Asks for Immunity - By Tracy Wilkinson - LA Times"An Italian judge rejects the request of the retired station chief, wanted in a suspect's abduction."
• MPs dismiss US denials as 'disingenuous' and 'beyond belief' - By Colin Brown - Independent
• Keep quiet about secret flights to secret jails, Rice tells Europe By David Charter - Times "CONDOLEEZZA RICE challenged European leaders to back controversial American anti-terrorism tactics yesterday as she robustly defended the CIA’s extrajudicial seizure, transportation and interrogation of thousands of suspects."
• MONTHS OF TERROR FOR MAN HELD BY 'MISTAKE' By Jeremy Armstrong - Mirror.co.uk "...With his arms held high behind his back he was driven to a plane, thrown on the metal floor and given an injection...."
• Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | German Man Claims U.S. Tortured Him - By Pete Yost "'I am asking the American government to admit its mistakes and to apologize for my treatment,' al-Masri said in a written statement. 'I am hoping that an American court will say very clearly that what happened to me was illegal and cannot be done to others.'''
• Congressional Black Caucus to Oppose Alito By Jesse J. Holland, Associated Press
• '84 Alito Memo Backed Police Who Shot Unarmed Suspect - By David G. Savage - Los Angeles Times
"Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s views on abortion caused a stir this week, but another memo that surfaced from his years as a Reagan administration lawyer was notable for its strong support of the police. Alito wrote that he saw no constitutional problem with a police officer shooting and killing an unarmed teenager who was fleeing after a $10 home burglary...."
• Specter Predicts Long, Tough Questioning for Alito By Charles Babington, Washington Post
"The Senate Judiciary Committee will demand that Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. answer more questions than did Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and it may subject him to extra hours of grilling...."