Category Archives: rendition

>Evil

>Via Andrew Sullivan, we learn that Glenn Beck thinks changes to the charitable contribution deduction affecting only 5% of taxpayers and returning the tax deduction to where it was during the Reagan Administration is more evil than this.

There simply are no words for this kind of stupidity. Never forget, this assclown was on CNN’s payroll for years.

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Filed under Glenn Beck, rendition, taxes

>What A Legacy

>Bush vetoes anti-torture bill. Wow, what a headline.

There are things I just don’t understand, and this is one of them:

Bush’s Veto of Bill on C.I.A. Tactics Affirms His Legacy

By STEVEN LEE MYERS
Published: March 9, 2008

WASHINGTON — President Bush on Saturday further cemented his legacy of fighting for strong executive powers, using his veto to shut down a Congressional effort to limit the Central Intelligence Agency’s latitude to subject terrorism suspects to harsh interrogation techniques.

Mr. Bush vetoed a bill that would have explicitly prohibited the agency from using interrogation methods like waterboarding, a technique in which restrained prisoners are threatened with drowning and that has been the subject of intense criticism at home and abroad. Many such techniques are prohibited by the military and law enforcement agencies.

First, boo-hiss to the New York Times for using the polite euphamism, “harsh interrogation techniques.” It’s torture. No need to polite here, let’s call things what they are.

Secondly, Bush’s legacy will not be “strong executive powers” but supporting the use of torture. Own it, folks. This will be Bush’s legacy, and what a sick one it is. It will be the legacy of the Republican Party, including John McCain, himself a victim of torture, who voted to allow the CIA to use these techniques.

That is something else I just don’t understand.

Torture is one of those things that didn’t seem real to me until I did this post on rendition back in December:

… a University of Glasgow pathology report shows one man “died of immersion in boiling liquid” after being seized by the authorities. Post-mortem photos of an 18-year-old Samarkand resident reveal similar marks: “The right hand looked like cooked chicken.” In addition, Murray writes, “one technique was widespread throughout the country — they would strap on a gas mask and then block the filters. I presume that the advantage of this was that it would suffocate without bruising.”

This is torture, Uzbekistan-style, which is relevant because Uzbekistan is reportedly one of the destination countries for our CIA rendition program. To America’s credit, we have routinely criticized Uzbekistan’s human rights record. Well, sorta:

President Bush welcomed Uzbek President Islam Karimov to the White House, and the United States has given Uzbekistan more than $500 million for border control and other security measures.

Add that to the Bush legacy while you’re at it.

This is insane, Upside-Down Day stuff. What president wants fear, torture, violence and war as his legacy?

It is generally known that the information one gets from torture is unreliable. A person being tortured will say anything to get the torture to stop. So, what does work? We don’t know. We haven’t studied it, not since the 1970s (with good reason, too: the studies we did were barbaric and horrific).

Right-wingers agree with the President that

[…] information from the C.I.A.’s interrogations had averted terrorist attacks, including plots to attack a Marine camp in Djibouti; the American Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan; Library Tower in Los Angeles; and passenger planes from Britain.

but there’s no evidence that this is true. None. Just Bush’s word, which we all know is as good as $3 bill. For instance, it’s not the “Library Tower” in Los Angeles — it’s the U.S. Bank Building. Secondly, there was no “plot,” it was debunked long ago. Bush likes to bring it up, though, along with a host of other phony terror plots, because the government wants you scared.

What better way to keep people scared than to keep reminding us that they need “tools” like torture, warrantless wiretaps and telecom immunity. Whether they actually use these new powers is beside the point: they are telling us that they need them — just in case. It’s another way of saying “Boo!”

Keep the people scared, which is another Bush legacy. It’s the oldest trick in the book:

“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs: when he first appears, he is a protector.” — PLATO, The Republic

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Filed under fear, President Bush, rendition, torture

The Horror of “Cooked Chicken”

Queasy stomach alert: if you don’t want to be thoroughly revolted by what our government has done in our name, stop reading now.

I really mean it.

For those of you still reading, we’re going to talk about rendition. You know, where the American government works with the governments of foreign countries whose human rights standards aren’t quite the same as ours. Our government gets these foreign agents to perform outrageous acts of torture on our behalf–things that would spark outrage in Americans if it were discovered U.S. agents were doing this. So we get someone else to do it for us.

See the difference?

Last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review contained a story on “Dirty Diplomacy” by Craig Murray. Murray was British ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004. Despite (or perhaps because of) its “despotic leader” and the brutal torture of prisoners, since 2001 Uzbekistan has been an important ally to the U.S. and Britain in the “war on terror.” They are one of the chief countries in the CIA’s rendition program.

I think when we’re talking about torture, we should be absolutely clear what we’re talking about here. Torture isn’t just a word or a fuzzy concept, it’s actual suffering perpetrated by one human being on another. Murray’s book provides a shocking example of the kind of torture that happens in Uzbekistan, and I thought I’d share it with you here.

Last chance to navigate away. Anyone still here? OK, read this:

… a University of Glasgow pathology report shows one man “died of immersion in boiling liquid” after being seized by the authorities. Post-mortem photos of an 18-year-old Samarkand resident reveal similar marks: “The right hand looked like cooked chicken.” In addition, Murray writes, “one technique was widespread throughout the country — they would strap on a gas mask and then block the filters. I presume that the advantage of this was that it would suffocate without bruising.”

Let’s repeat: an 18 year old whose right hand looked like cooked chicken.

What have American and British officials done with this knowledge of what goes on? Endorsed it:

Uzbek officials seemed to use coercive techniques routinely during investigations, he says, yet there was little outcry from the Americans or the British. The executive director of Freedom House, a Washington-based organization that monitors political rights and civil liberties, tells him in 2003 that the group has decided to back off from its efforts to spotlight human rights abuses in Uzbekistan. The shift in policy occurred, she explains, because some Republican board members (in Murray’s words) “expressed concern that Freedom House was failing to keep in sight the need to promote freedom in the widest sense, by giving full support to U.S. and coalition forces.” Meanwhile, British officials insisted that information from coercive interrogations was valuable and that relying on it did not violate the United Nations Convention Against Torture. “That is my view of the legal position,” a Foreign Office legal adviser tells Murray in London. “I make no comment on the morality of the case.”

It has been documented repeatedly that torture does not reveal reliable information. If someone were holding my hand over a boiling hot Fry Daddy, I’d say anything to get them to stop. Anything. I’m sure some 18 year old kid would feel the same. Regardless, there’s simply no way to know whether the information received is true or not. This is the worst way to get information about terrorists.

America and Great Britain have turned a blind eye to these atrocities, even taken part in them by allowing Uzbek agents to perform them on our prisoners. We won’t do it ourselves, but we have no problem getting someone else to do it for us.

Remember this:

Uzbekistan’s role as a surrogate jailer for the United States has been confirmed by a half-dozen current and former intelligence officials working in Europe, the Middle East and the United States. The CIA declined to comment on the prisoner transfer program, but an intelligence official estimated that the number of terrorism suspects sent by the United States to Tashkent is in the dozens.

There is other evidence of the United States’ reliance on Uzbekistan in the program. On Sept. 21, 2003, two American-registered airplanes — a Gulfstream jet and a Boeing 737 — landed at the international airport in Tashkent, according to flight logs obtained by the New York Times.

[…]

The logs show that at least seven flights were made to Uzbekistan by those planes from early 2002 to late 2003, but the records are incomplete.

That’s the same time period that Murray was operating in Uzbekistan.

So, did American prisoners get boiled alive in Uzbekistan at the behest of the U.S. government? We can’t know exactly what happened, but it’s likely. We would’t have sent prisoners to Uzbekistan if we didn’t want some acts of horrible torture performed on them; otherwise, we’d have kept them in Gitmo. The mere fact that this activity goes on while we continue to consider Uzbekistan a “great ally” is incomprehensible.

America, I fear, has lost its mind and its soul.

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Filed under rendition, torture, Uzbekistan