Obama Orders Continuation Of Illegal CIA Renditions
Human Rights Watch: Illegal kidnapping and imprisonment
under Bush = "basic violation", illegal kidnapping
and imprisonment under Obama = "legitimate"
One of president Obama's first actions in office was to sign
an executive order securing the continued practice of secretly
capturing, transporting and imprisoning so called "enemy
combatants" it has been revealed.
orders issued by Obama just two days into his tenure,
the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions,
secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that
cooperate with the United States, the Los Angeles Times reports.
"The Obama administration appears to have
determined that the rendition program was one component of the
Bush administration's war on terrorism that it could not afford
to discard." writes Greg Miller.
A minor provision within one executive order states
that instructions to close the CIA's secret prisons "do
not refer to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term,
transitory basis", meaning that some so called "black
sites" can remain open.
Though former CIA officials have admitted that
rendition is mostly unproductive, an administration official
told the LA Times anonymously: "Obviously you need to preserve
some tools -- you still have to go after the bad guys. The legal
advisors working on this looked at rendition. It is controversial
in some circles and kicked up a big storm in Europe. But if
done within certain parameters, it is an acceptable practice."
(Article continues below)
The black sites hit
the headlines in late 2005 when U.S. and foreign
intelligence officials blew the whistle on the CIA's practice
of hiding and interrogating "al Qaeda" captives at
a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe.
The secret facility was revealed to be part of a covert CIA
prison system, set up after 9/11, that at various times included
sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and
several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center
at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. The Washington Post refused
to name the European countries involved after pressure from
senior U.S. officials.
Horror stories of brutality
and psychological torture of detainees at the secret
prisons emerged soon after.
rights lawyers, as well as The
European Parliament have declared rendition illegal
under international law. In late 2007, the U.S. House voted
to end CIA renditions, however, the prohibition was never passed
in the Senate.
Claude Moraes, a British Labour MEP who was part
of the European committee investigating CIA renditions, said
it was hard to criticise Mr Obama because he had
"god-like status at the moment", adding: "We
should be pleased he has closed Guantanamo and acknowledged
the existence of the secret CIA prisons. But if he's going to
complete the change, he must see that rendition is part of the
package. I have heard testimony from people who have clearly
been tortured in Egypt and Jordan. To deposit people in those
prisons still speaks volumes about American foreign policy."
The "god like status" that Mr Moraes
speaks of is highlighted by the response of Human Rights Watch,
the global oversight organization. Despite vehemently
opposing Bush-era secret detentions facilities
and torture tactics HRW seemingly supports Obama's
decision to allow rendition to continue.
"Under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place"
for renditions, Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director
for Human Rights Watch, told the Los Angeles Times. "What
I heard loud and clear from the president's order was that they
want to design a system that doesn't result in people being
sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured..."
Illegal kidnapping and imprisonment is abhorrent when George
W. Bush is the cowboy commander in chief but if the new messiah
says it's OK then that's just dandy huh?
So much for last month's headlines that read Barack
Obama’s new CIA boss signals end of waterboarding and
Of course, as evidenced recently by several researchers and
journalists, Obama's much lauded declaration to "ban"
torture and his commitment to close down detention facilities
are chocked full of
loopholes and hidden
clauses designed to allow such practices and premises
to be continued.
As writer Tom Eley has pointed out, Obama's
orders leave torture, indefinite detention intact.
The orders signed by Obama do not undo the Bush administration’s
attacks on constitutional and international law... They do
not challenge the supposed right of the president to unilaterally
imprison any individual, without trial and without charges,
by declaring him to be an 'enemy combatant... Nor do they
end the procedure known as 'extraordinary rendition...
They do not affect the hundreds of prisoners - 600 at the
Bagram prison camp in Afghanistan alone — incarcerated
beyond the barbed wire of Guantanamo...
On the question of so-called 'harsh interrogation techniques,'
i.e., torture, Obama’s orders leave room for their continuation...
White House Counsel Gregory Craig told reporters the administration
was prepared to take into account demands from the CIA that
such methods be allowed...
Obama announced the creation of a task force that will consider
new interrogation methods beyond those sanctioned by the Army
Field Manual, which now accepts 19 forms of interrogation,
as well as the practice of extraordinary rendition...
Furthermore, as reported by Brian Ross of ABC news, If Guantanamo
is ever closed, the US government intends to will ship alleged
terrorists caught up its international dragnet to other
secret American-run prison camps.
If Obama were truly committed to ending the legacy of torture
and secret detention, he would authorize the prosecution of
those officials responsible, all the way up to the top. Instead,
he has said he will
do no such thing.
Perhaps the president has been taking advice from Rep. Silvestre
Reyes (D-TX), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee,
who last December said that the continuation
of the CIA's illegal practices "might be necessary".
In the words of Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley,
Obama has set out a stall that indicates he is quite willing
ownership of Bush's war crimes by looking the other
way on torture and rendition.
Of course, this is all part of the glorious CHANGE, that we
were promised. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed hit the nail squarely on
the head in his excellent article, Obama:
While around the world, Obama’s measures were interpreted
as completely reversing the Bush administration policies of
torture, extraordinary rendition and secret prisons –
starting with the declaration of the complete closure of Guantanamo
Bay – deeper inspection of the details of his Executive
Orders suggests, unfortunately, that cries of joy are slightly
Obama’s public disavowals of torture do not actually
represent the end of the systemic practice of the CIA’s
traditional interrogation techniques, conducted without public
scrutiny for decades. Rather, they portend a sheepish return
to secrecy – or in other words, a return to the obvious
recognition that open declarations of covert US practices
such as torture as official policy are detrimental, not conducive,
to US hegemony.
The end result was a successful re-configuration of the public
presentation of US military intelligence practices, coupled
with nominal legal caveats permitting them to continue relatively
unimpeded – essentially a giant PR exercise. Meanwhile,
the vast post-9/11 domestic national security apparatus denying
habeas corpus, undermining due process, and facilitating mass
surveillance as well as intrusive social control powers brought
in by the Bush administration was not repudiated, but retained.
No where else is the false left/right political paradigm more
evident than here. The illegal and brutal practices of the secret
U.S. intelligence apparatus date back decades, they did not
arrive with George W. Bush and they will not depart with him.
These policies are part of a more overarching expansion of
global empire, demanded by the establishment classes who continue
to crave the wealth and power that the expansion of the military
industrial complex provides.
It is for this purpose that the U.S. economy and its people
are being churned up and used as fuel by the very same elite
responsible for elevating Obama to the top of the political
Obama recognises this and his actions have proven one of two
things, either he is powerless to stop it or he has no intention
of stopping it.
Can we still torture? Yes we can!
Can we still carry out extraordinary rendition? Yes we can!
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