Obama's Order: Continued CIA Renditions are Okay

By Larry Jones

“Rendition” is the term to describe the secret kidnapping of people the CIA may believe to be linked to “terrorism.” Such abductees are then sent to undisclosed nations which cooperate with the U.S. where they have often been tortured. This practice received widespread criticism during the regime of George W. Bush, especially in Europe.
 
But now President Barack Obama has issued an executive order which allows this heinous practice to continue. The wording is hidden in the order Obama issued on January 22 entitled “Executive Order – Ensuring Lawful Interrogations.” A quick reading of it may lead one to say, “Well, good, at last the Bush torture years are finally past.”   The order requires that interrogation of prisoners must follow the no-torture rules of the Army Field Manual, the Geneva Conventions and various other conventions making torture illegal.
 
BUT, and it’s a big “but,” after stating in Section 4 (a) that “The CIA shall close as expeditiously as possible any detention facilities that it currently operates and shall not operate any such detention facility in the future,” Obama goes on to write in Section 2(g) that “The terms "detention facilities" and "detention facility" in section 4(a) of this order do not refer to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.” That means rendition facilities, although so far the CIA has had a very flexible view of what “short-term” means.
German citizen Khaled El-Masri tried to sue the CIA for wrongfully kidnapping and abusing him. But in May of 2006, a U.S. District Court dismissed the case on the grounds it would jeopardize state secrets. Secrets like the U.S. really does torture.
 
Rendered Prisoner Khaled El-Masri
Soon after Bush began his war of terror, El-Masri was abducted in Macedonia and taken to a facility in Afghanistan, Here is how he described his treatment at the hands of the CIA:
 
[Translation] They took me to this room, and I had handcuffs and I had a blindfold. And when the door was closed, I was beaten from all sides. I was hit from all sides. I then was humiliated. And then I could hear that I was being photographed in the process, when I was completely naked. Then my hands were tied to my back. I got a blindfold, and they put chains to my ankles and a sack over my head, just like the pictures we have seen from Guantanamo, for example. Then I was dragged brutally into the airplane, and in the airport I was thrown to the floor. I was tied to the floor and to the sides of the airplane. At some point when I woke up again I found myself in Afghanistan. I was brutally dragged off the airplane and put in the trunk of a car. I was thrown into the trunk of a car. 
[Photo: Khaled El-Masri]
 
In a February 1 article in the Los Angeles Times, Greg Miller wrote: “Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program might be poised to play an expanded role going forward because it was the main remaining mechanism - aside from Predator missile strikes - for taking suspected terrorists off the street. The rendition program became a source of embarrassment for the CIA, and a target of international scorn, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures, mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries where they were tortured.” 
PRISONS IN IRAQI AND AFGHAN HANDS
This month the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq will reopen under Iraqi control, according to a report in the Times of India. Abu Ghraib was closed in 2006 after the abuses at the hands of the U.S. in 2003 were revealed to the world and the insurgency received a huge boost leading to a major setback for the U.S. war of terror. The Iraqis will rename the facility Baghdad’s Central Prison because the tem “Abu Ghraib” causes such bitterness in the minds of Iraqi citizens. Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim told the Associated Press that the prison will house 3,500 inmates when it reopens in mid-February and will have a capacity for about 15,000 by the end of this year. 
The United Nations has recently warned about overcrowding and "grave human rights violations" of detainees in Iraqi custody. Attorney Sahar Yasiri, representing the Federation of Prisoners and Political Prisoners in Iraq, said there are more than 400,000 detainees in Iraq being held in 36 prisons and camps and that 95 percent of the 10,000 women among them have been raped. Children, he said, “suffer from torture, rape, (and) starvation” and do not know why they have been arrested. He added the children have been victims of “random” arrests “not based on any legal text.” 
 
As Jill McLaughlin wrote on this site on February 1: “Then there is also the prison outside of Kabul, Afghanistan called Pul-i-charki which expanded in 2006 and is run by U.S. allies in Afghanistan. There is little known about this prison since the detainees there are denied legal counsel, and the International Red Cross has been denied access there.. There are also possible loopholes in this ban on torture. Obama may decide to employ some interrogation techniques not outlined in the Army Field Manual.”
 
Large numbers of very good and progressive people are excited about Obama’s election and many of them are allies and potential World Can’t Wait activists. But they and all of us must not let hope in the new head of the U.S. empire blind us to the realities of a world for which we must accept responsibility.