According to Wikipedia, the internet encyclopedia, “the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) runs a global abduction and internment operation of suspected terrorists, known as ‘extraordinary rendition,’ which since 2001 has captured an estimated 3,000 people and transported them around the world persons have undergone torture by the receiving states….” (“Extraordinary Rendition by the United States,” Wikipedia). George W. Bush has been credited for having descended to the lowest shades of humanity for this practice. Can you imagine the Founding Fathers consenting to such hedonistic levels?

In 2004 the Justice Department outlined, in a 20-page once top-secret memo, the process of “rendition” after the detainee is kidnapped. “The process starts with ‘capture shock.’ The detainee is … shackled, and deprived of sight and sound through the use of blindfolds, earmuffs and hoods” during flight and is also “stripped naked and shaved” and “a series of pictures are taken of him while nude.” Once in a “black prison” the detainee is subjected to “nudity, sleep deprivation and dietary manipulation” considered standard preparatory steps if operated by the CIA (New CIA Docs Detail Brutal “Extraordinary Rendition” Process, by Scott Horton, Special to the Huffington Post, 8 Aug 09. Accessed Jan 2, 2010).

Black sites are secret prisons in other countries ran by the CIA purposely outside the legal jurisdiction of the United States for the intent of allowing the U.S. Government to do as it wishes with those accused of terrorism without benefit of any defense or contrary evidence. It also allows for the government’s plausible denial. After years of such, and much leakage regarding the black projects, the European Union (EU) adopted a report on February 14, 2007 stating that “the CIA operated 1,245 flights and that it was not possible to contradict evidence or suggestions that secret detention centres were operated in Poland and Romania” (“EU Endorses Damning Report on CIA,” BBC, February 14, 2007). President George W. Bush also finally admitted the existence of CIA operated secret prisons in a speech made Sept. 6, 2006 covered by BBC News (Bush Admits to CIA Secret Prisons, BBC News 2006-09-07. See speech,

Where was the American press? Apparently 28 countries have “cooperated with the U.S. to detain their prisons, and sometimes to interrogate and torture, suspects arrested as part of the U.S. ‘War on Terror’… the total number of prisons operated by the U.S. and/or its allies to house alleged terrorist suspects since 2001 exceeds 100” (The Public Record “More Than Two-Dozen Countries Complicit in US Torture Program,” by Sherwood Ross, 1 April 1010).

If the detainee has been “rendered” to a country without a black site administered by the CIA, there is no limit to the procedures. For Canadian Maher Arar, who was kidnapped by the CIA in New York on his way to Montreal and “rendered” to Syria, his torture included “beatings on his palms, hips, and lower back with a two-inch thick electric cable and punches to his stomach, face, and back of the neck, along with threats of added torments with a spine-breaking chair and electrical shocks.” Later he was “found to be innocent of all charges and was awarded $10.5 million and an apology by the Canadian government thereafter” (New American, 5 July 2010, p. 7). On October 18, 2007, Maher Arar received apologies from the U.S. House of Representatives for the kidnapping and rendering as well(“U.S. Legislators Apologize to Maher Arar,” CBS News, 18 Oct. 2007). Another detainee, Bin Yan Mohammad, shipped to Morocco, complained of receiving monthly painful razor cuts on his genitals as torture (CNN News, “Most News in the Morning,” 23, May 2009, Report of Republican Lt. Col. Yvonne Bradley Defense Counsel).

Upon taking office President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order “Ensuring Lawful Interrogation” that gave hope for an end. It seems that the procedure is not as common as during the Bush administration but the “practice of sending terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation,” countries having no moral qualms about exceeding the CIA approved torture methods, continues although the Obama administration “pledges to closely monitor their treatment to ensure that they are not tortured.” This does not satisfy human right groups who argue that Bush also requested “diplomatic assurances” from countries with a history of torture which, for these groups, translate to “no protection against abuse.”

For Raymond Azar, a more recent detainee, there was no difference between the “new” standard procedures of the Obama administration from the “old” standard procedures of the Bush administration. What is worse, torture formerly reserved for “High-Value Detainees” in the Bush administration was used by the new administration “on businessmen involved in petty contract fraud cases” (New CIA Docs Detail Brutal “Extraordinary Rendition” Process, by Scott Horton, Huffington Post, 28 Aug. 2009). Other information also suggests that real change in this area was mostly just words (Obama’s War on Terror May Resemble Bush’s in Some Areas,” by Charlie Savage, 17 Feb. 2009).

In any case, this is a far cry from candidate Obama as expressed in Foreign Affairs, Summer 2007, who wrote: “To build a better, freer world, we must first behave in ways that reflect the decency and aspirations of the American people .… This means ending the practices of shipping away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries, of detaining thousands without charge or trial, of maintaining a network of secret prisons to jail people beyond the reach of the law” (U.S. Says Rendition to Continue, but With More Oversight,” by David Johnson, New York Times, Aug. 24, 2009. Retrieved May 5, 2011). If only the words matched the action.

Harold Pease

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