Monday, March 14, 2005

Extraordinary Rendition

The recent slew of stories on extraordinary rendition (ER) seem to all dodge a central point of the procedure: detainees are sent back to their home country regardless of where that country is. This is not a policy designed to facilitate torture. The NYT last week had a story on ER that completely bypassed this point even as the sidebar graphic made it clear that half of the Gitmo detainees that had been subject to ER went to Britain, France, Russia, Australia, Kuwait, Spain, and Sweden.

Today's WaPo article does the same suggesting that lawyers for a group of Yemeni men are "worried the government will try to move them from the Guantanamo Bay facility to another country". No word from WaPo on where that other country is. Let's call it Yemen. You know, based on the fact that the men are Yemeni.

Also, while I know Tolles will disagree with me here, I don't get why a prisoner of war (or in the case of most of the terrorists we have rounded up in Gitmo: a enemy combatant) should be entitled to the protections of the American legal system. They are POWs captured in a war on foreign soil and detained on foreign soil. Our Supreme Court ruled in 1942 that American citizens who worked for the enemy could be dealt with in military tribunals. Why foreign enemies should get better is nonsensical to me.

I also love the consistancy here: what ever happened to the "Gitmo is a tortuous hellhouse" complaint. Now all of a sudden judges are passing injunctions to prevent the US from transferring people out of Gitmo. Why? Because Gitmo was never the den of iniquity liberals wanted it to be. They just needed something to attack America about in the "post-Saddam capture" phase of the war. The "Oh yeah, well Bush still hasn't caught Osama" line seemed a little stale. "Gitmo is the new Hanoi Hilton" worked well until they decided "sending prisoners back home to countries that torture" sounded even better. Not that President Bush should do anything about middle east countries that practice torture, mind you. That would be wrong, too.

Best line of the article:

My clients were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Yes, that time would be: after terrorists attacked the United States. And that place would be: in a terrorist camp in Afghanistan. But, I'm sure that was just part of a Yemeni holiday package tour gone sour, no?


Blogger Tolles said...

Remind me again which country Maher Arar was sent to? Oh right, Syria. And why was he sent to Syria (his birth country) as opposed to Canada (his adopted country)? He was detained with a Canadian passport and requested to be sent to Canada, knowing full well what awaited him in Syria.

Max’s assertion that detained suspects are always sent back to their home countries is false. Khalid el-Masri, born in Lebanon and emigrated to Germany. On vacation in Macedonia, he was arrested and flown to Afghanistan where he was tortured, uh, I mean where he was “rendered”. Again, not Germany – Afghanistan, to be “rendered” by you know who.

Masri’s case isn’t unique. Why do you insist that the US is just following policy here? The US has real choices when it comes to where to send suspects, and it consistently chooses to send suspects to the worst regimes when it thinks it can get away with it. That, despite this quote: “torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture.” From Mr. Bush himself.

The US is also in violation of the UN Convention Against Torture. (ratified by the US in 1994) I know how big a believer you are in enforcing UN resolutions.

But that’s not the point. In your post, you make it sound like sending people to their “home countries” is something like an act of deference or diplomatic protocol, when really it’s just an excuse to torture people more easily.

As for Guantanamo, gotta love the strawman argument there. C’mon liberals. It’s either Guantanamo with no trial and no access to courts or back to the middle east to be tortured. One or the other! What a crock.

To borrow a phrase from you, “Here’s the deal”: You’re willing to take the word of the Bush administration when they say, “Here, we caught some terrorists.” I’m not. Given the choice between a court hearing and the word of the executive, I’ll take the court hearing nine times out of nine. You wonder why “foreign enemies” should have access to the courts. Well, how about to determine if they’re foreign enemies in the first place? If that can’t be challenged, then Bush’s word is the supreme law I guess. Let me see…Bush’s word against a court….hmmm…Courts have these things called judges and lawyers and evidence. The Bush administration has…John Ashcroft ranting and raving.. Hey, I’m sure they bagged some terrorists down in Guantanmo. Great, put ‘em in prison. But let’s have some sort of system of accountability here, with a chance for you know, a perspective that’s not the government’s. The government doesn’t help its credibility when stories like this come out:

"Mr. Wilner [a defense lawyer] said that when he interviewed a Kuwaiti, a 28-year-old whom he declined to name, the man told him that his interrogator was a young woman known to him as Meghan. He described her as attractive and blond with shoulder-length hair and said she had engaged in the kind of flirtatious techniques that have been the basis of accusations that female interrogators have tried to flaunt themselves sexually… ‘She told him several times not to trust his lawyers,' Mr. Milner said. He said she told the detainee that he would be tortured if he returned to Kuwait. When the detainee said his lawyer had told him otherwise, she replied: ‘Don't trust your lawyers. Don't you know they're Jews?'"

Nice, huh? Freedom is on the march. As long as the government gets its way and gets to imprison whom it chooses. Can’t wait to see your post when the Supreme Court orders Jose Padilla released.

Finally: "Gitmo is a tortuous hellhouse" 1) That’s not a quote from anything or anybody, but it works better when you pretend it is and 2) “tortuous” doesn’t mean what I think you think it means. At the very least, it will confuse even your most erudite readers.

Check it:




6:19 PM  

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