A kinder, gentler rendition under Obama

This week, we learned that the Obama administration will continue the Bush administration's practice of relocating war-on-terror detainees to other countries for offshore imprisonment and interrogation, with promises that their treatment will now be more closely monitored to ensure that they are not tortured. Human rights advocates condemn the decision as an extension of a program that creates conditions in which abuse is likely to flourish with impunity. U.S. Says Rendition to Continue, but With More Oversight (NYT).

The news came on the same day the ACLU released documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request which detail acts of torture committed against detainees held by the United States, domestically and in overseas "black sites."

In related news, the ACLU is protesting an agreement between the US and Britain which may lead to hacker Gary McKinnon being extradited to the US, after he penetrated the defenses of poorly secured US Government computers. According to reports, McKinnon suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, and has testified that he was searching for evidence of extra-terrestrials and UFO activity.

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  1. Why is rendition described as a Bush administration policy when it was the Clinton administration that started it?

    The policy is bad on its own merits without the need to misguide the public as to its origins.

  2. Actually I heard on a news report today that the Reagan administration started it. Try to get the facts before engaging mouth.

  3. In related news, orders have been sent out that the practice of “waterboarding” will now be done not only with water but with a beverage of the detainees’ choice.
    A government spokesmodel was quoted as: “We’re very excited to bring real choice, and dare I say it, freedom to our foreign guests. I think this is the sort of change we can all believe in.”

  4. So, can we get a complete list of these ‘black sites’?

    And can we get a complete list of names of the people the U.S. has chosen to detain in these ‘black sites’?

    And can we get an explanation from the U.S. concerning the current legal status of detainees held by the U.S. off shore?

    I suspect there will be a very short answer to these questions.

  5. From Xeni‘s write-up at the top of the article:

    the Obama administration will continue the Bush administration’s practice of relocating war-on-terror detainees to other countries for offshore imprisonment and interrogation, with promises that their treatment will now be more closely monitored to ensure that they are not tortured. [Emphasis Added]

    Just one question, why send prisoners to other countries if they won’t torture them? I was under the impression that the Clinton/Bush/whenever administration created rendition to create “plausible deniability” that they weren’t aware of torture/EIT, but by retaining the program and adding oversight, the current administration is giving away even the hint of deniability.

    Maybe we could get the administration to commit to posting interrogation reports on a new website, I’ll call it “rendition.gov” in near real-time – with photos?

  6. “In related news, the ACLU is protesting an agreement between the US and Britain which may lead to hacker Gary McKinnon being extradited to the US, after he penetrated the defenses of *poorly secured US Government computers*.”

    I don’t know much about this case, so I’m not going to comment on that directly. But the last sentence I’ve quoted is a bias I see on this site all the time.

    If someone leaves their car door unlocked, and the car is stolen, the thief is still a thief, even though the car owner is stupid. A hacker (although maybe not a hacker with a poor sense of reality) is still doing something illegal.

  7. #7 jokes, but my understanding is that — at least under Clinton — most of the people we rendered over were sent to Middle Eastern countries like Egypt to suffer the usual sort of abuses you get in Middle Eastern interrogations. I know it continued under Bush II, but I have to think they became more selective about where they sent prisoners, because if they sent the wrong prisoners to the wrong countries, wouldn’t the transferee government just let them go? That, and we were developing our own interrogation facility where we could control the process better (and, you know, punish interrogators for using electric shocks and beating them with rubber hoses, as opposed to that just being standard protocol).

    I’m sure Obama intends them to be sent overseas to be wink/nod “interrogated;” I’m just not sure where we’d be sending them.

  8. Just a note — it’s better to describe someone as “having” Asperger’s Syndrome, rather than “suffering” from it. It’s not a disease, it’s a non-neurotypical orientation, and any ‘suffering’ is produced by societal intolerance, not AS itself.

  9. Stories about this BS and the warrantless wiretapping…well, what can one say? Even Obama can’t fight the military-industrial-intelligence complex and you were a little naive, frankly, if you thought he would and/or could. Sorry. They’re listening to your phone calls, hiding people in torture states, and continuing to wage war in Afghanistan and they’re going to keep doing it until the people completely turn against it, or they abolish the CIA, the Pentagon, and the NSA. You tell me which of those things will happen first. Dream a little dream, friends.

  10. @Vidya108: Some people have Asperger’s Syndrome, but McKinnon clearly suffers from it. Just because not everyone does doesn’t mean that one person can’t.

  11. Just one question, why send prisoners to other countries if they won’t torture them?

    Because they’ve committed crimes in the host countries and none in ours. We render people all the time for utterly uncontroversial reasons: because we’re better off if someone is holding them, even if we’re not.

    “Rendition” has gotten a bad name because it’s been used for torture, and because we’ve rendered to countries that torture more casually than we have. But so long as we monitor it for compliance with our international obligations, there’s no reason we shouldn’t round up other people’s criminals and send them where they belong.

  12. #3,

    After some googling it appears that according to the Washington Post Reagan used rendition once as did George H W Bush. Clinton began what is now known as extraordinary rendition and used it roughly 70 times. The ACLU also considers Clinton to have originated it. I can’t find anyone that claims that GWB started it, but in the past week I frequently see articles that describe it as a Bush administration policy, implying that GWB started it, which I think we can agree it misleading.

  13. How much reality can you stand ?
    Look up American Service Member’s Protection Act 2002.
    Your Congress at work.
    Here’s a sample of discussion online
    http://www.politicalforum.com/middle-east/89999-shadow-bagram-torture-continues.html
    It’s policy. Has been for decades. The best argument against war crimes prosecutions post WW II was that all were guilty and it would make American hypocrisy undeniable!
    Neither Belgium nor Spain will enforce their Treaty Obligations to prosecute war crime.
    Nothing has changed…except citizens of OTHER nations will be kidnapped and charged for practices the U.S. won’t prosecute its own people for perpetuating.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Convention_Against_Torture
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2005/03/bagram-abu-ghraib
    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-langguth3-2009may03,0,6987276.story

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