Jewish World Review March 11, 2005/ 2 Nisan, 5765
Sunlight on CIA's secret kidnappings
The media took little notice of this bipartisan move to try and end
the administration's outsourcing of torture which President Bush
continually says is not happening, despite mounting evidence from
human rights organizations, freed tortured detainees, and
As Congressman Markey says: "The war against terrorism includes a
war against those who engage in torture. ... This amendment
reaffirming our commitment to end the practice of torture is just
the beginning. ... Torture is unacceptable and the U.S. has a
responsibility to take the lead in ending this practice."
On March 17, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced a bill, "The
Convention on Torture Implementation Act," that would end these
"extraordinary renditions," as the CIA calls them.
The CIA claims, with a straight face, that its station chief in the
countries to which these suspects are transferred must obtain an
assurance from that country's security offices that these prisoners
sometimes kidnapped by the CIA off the streets of other nations
will not be tortured.
Dana Priest of The Washington Post, who has broken many stories
about this outsourcing since late 2002, quotes a CIA official
engaged in these renditions that violate both American and
international laws. That person describes these so-called assurances
torture will not happen as "a farce."
She writes that "another U.S. government official who visited
several foreign prisons where suspects were rendered by the CIA
after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, said: 'It's beyond that. It's
widely understood that interrogation practices that would be illegal
in the U.S. are being used.'"
It's not only Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Human
Rights First who are indignant over what they have learned about
this practice. In countries where these kidnappings have taken place
such as Italy, Germany, Sweden and Canada there are now
official investigations of the complicity of their own security
forces in these violations of the international Convention Against
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment (signed by President Reagan and ratified years later by
the Senate in 1994).
Meanwhile, the CIA declared on March 18 that "all CIA interrogation
techniques, both past and present, are lawful and do not constitute
torture." I have doubts about the credibility of that statement,
especially concerning past techniques; but what about the methods of
extracting information from prisoners the CIA sends to countries
where there is no doubt that torture is a regular method of
obtaining information (which is then provided back to the CIA)?
Says CIA Director Porter Goss that "of course, once they're out of
our control, there's only so much we can do." When Goss appeared
before the Senate Armed Services Committee he was asked by Sen. John
McCain (R-Ariz.) about his agency's own use of waterboarding, a
technique where a prisoner is convinced he will be drowned unless he
gives up the required information. Goss answered that waterboarding
is "an area of what I would call professional interrogation
It has long been up to Congress, under the separation of powers, to
thoroughly investigate the CIA's past and present adherence to the
International Convention Against Torture, and the CIA's outsourcing
of torture. The Markey amendment ending the funding for
"extraordinary renditions" could become a law if Sen. Leahy's bill
on implementing the convention is passed.
As of this writing, however, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) chairman of
the Judiciary Committee shows no sign of holding a hearing. Leahy
may have to get his bill on the floor by proposing an amendment to
another bill. If he does, and if he succeeds in the
Republican-controlled Senate, and the subsequent House-Senate
conference committee, will President Bush sign into law an assurance
to the world that, indeed, we will not violate American and
international laws against torture?
More to the point, how many Americans care enough about our
involvement in torture to emphatically declare their opposition to
this practice by telling their members of Congress?
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