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Thread: Barack Obama to allow Rendition to continue

  1. #16
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Monday Feb. 2, 2009 14:54 EST
    The L.A. Times, Obama & renditions

    Other commitments prevented me from writing today (in particular, I finalized the proposal and outline for my next book, an event that prompts great joyousness). But numerous people have emailed all day, and otherwise expressed concern, about this Los Angeles Times article from yesterday that claims -- citing anonymous "current and former U.S. intelligence officials" -- that the Obama administration has preserved and continued the Bush administration's "rendition" program that created so much (justifiable) outrage around the world.

    The L.A. Times article is wildly exaggerated and plainly inaccurate. Harper's Scott Horton and The Washington Monthly's Hilzoy have typically thorough explanations as to why that is the case. Anyone with any doubts should read both of their commentaries. Suffice to say, the objections to the Bush "extraordinary rendition" program were that "rendered" individuals were abducted and then either (a) sent to countries where they would likely be tortured and/or (b) disappeared into secret U.S. camps ("black sites") or sent to Guantanamo and accorded no legal process of any kind. There is absolutely nothing to suggest that Obama will continue any of that and, as Hilzoy documents, there is ample basis to believe he will not. Unfortunately, I don't have the time today to dissect the Times' claims in detail, but they both say virtually everything that should be said on the topic.

    I do, though, want to add two brief points:

    First,
    it is very important to keep in mind that there are numerous factions with a very compelling interest in claiming that the Obama administration is preserving and continuing the most extreme Bush "counter-terrorism" policies, regardless of whether or not it's true:

    (1) Bush followers eager to claim that their leader has been vindicated because Obama is replicating his policies;
    (2) People who have long argued that there is no difference between the parties, that "the system" is irrevocably corrupted, and that Obama will change nothing, who are eager to claim that their "no-difference" worldview has already been vindicated by the 11-day old administration ("see! Obama is no different than Bush, just as we've been saying");
    (3) Members of the intelligence community who do not want any new limits imposed on their activities and thus, hiding behind anonymity, use these leaks to pressure Obama not to impose them ("intelligence officials say that Obama is just pretending to change these policies in order to fool/placate the Left, but he knows and believes we need these powers to keep the U.S. safe and will keep them in place"); and,
    (4) Establishment media figures, eager to depict Obama as supportive of, rather than hostile to, prevailing policies, because they spent the last eight years supporting and enabling those policies as integral members of the establishment and do not want Obama's election to be perceived as a repudition of that establishment and its various behaviors.

    I want to be clear: none of this is to say that Obama won't continue many of the worst Bush policies. He very well might and, in some cases, he probably will. Vigilance in this regard is absolutely required. The point here is that there are all sorts of groups eager to claim that Obama has already decided to embrace Bush policies before there is any actual evidence that he has done so, or -- as here -- even when there is evidence that he isn't. For that reason, these reports about what Obama "intends" to do ought to be taken with a huge dose of skepticism, especially where, as here, it is fed to uninformed, gullible reporters by anonymous intelligence operatives.

    Second
    , I have a question for those who believe that rendition, in all cases (even when it's not used to disappear individuals or send individuals to countries where they will be tortured), is inappropriate and wrong:

    Suppose (for the sake of discussion) that: (a) the U.S. learns exactly where Osama bin Laden is located in Pakistan; (b) there is ample evidence that bin Laden (i) perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and (ii) is in the advanced stage of planning new imminent attacks on the U.S.; and (iii) the Pakistani Government is either unwilling or unable to apprehend bin Laden in order to extradite him to the U.S. for trial. Further suppose that efforts to compel the Pakistanis to do so through the U.N. are blocked (because, say, China or Russia vetoes any actions).

    What, if anything, is the U.S. (under current facts) permitted to do about Osama bin Laden, who -- we're assuming for purposes of these discussions -- clearly perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and is in the process of plotting new attacks? As far as I can tell, the options would be: (a) drop a bomb on him and kill him with no due process; (b) enter Pakistan, apprehend him, and bring him to the U.S. for a trial (i.e., rendition); (c) do nothing, and just leave him be. Those who are arguing that rendition is illegitimate in all cases (rather than in the torture-enabling and disappearance-causing ways used by Bush) have the obligation to answer that question specifically (and the same question would pertain to a common criminal -- say, a mass murderer -- who flees the U.S. to a country which refuses to comply with its extradition obligations to send him to the U.S. for trial).

    -- Glenn Greenwald

    The L.A. Times, Obama & renditions - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fluffy View Post
    No, the Telegraph's article is slapdash. It doesn't provide any context for previous renditions like Noriega and those who bombed the US Embassies in Africa, which is what 2(g) is clearly about. The Telegraph is insinuating that previous rendition policy such as that which led to the embassy bombers sitting in jail is equivalent to extraordinary rendition, which was solely instigated by Bush for torture.

    Noriega was captured during an invasion, and then brought to trial here in the US. That's not comparable to what we now are practising as 'rendition'.

    When someone is taken into US custody but delivered to a third-party state, often without ever being on American soil, we now call it "extraordinary rendition". We've been doing it since before Bush. He escalated it wildly

    The CIA was given permission to use 'Rendition' in 1995, in a directive from Bill Clinton- and were turning prisoners over to the Egyptans. This would be 'extraordinary rendition', as it fits the definition. Politicians and lawmakers twist words to mean what they like. The CIA under Clinton's directive were not calling it 'extraordinary rendition', but that doesn't mean it wasn't. Obama's still calling it rendition- that doesn't mean it won't be what would be considered 'extraordinary rendition'.....just like with Clinton.

    So the columnists can parse 'extraordinary rendition' against 'rendition' ad infinitum.......
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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchcurlgirl View Post
    Noriega was captured during an invasion, and then brought to trial here in the US. That's not comparable to what we now are practising as 'rendition'.
    The invasion of Panama was to render Noriega back to the US for criminal charges. There isn't a difference between Noriega's rendition and the hypothetical one Greenwald describes for Osama Bin Laden.

    Quote Originally Posted by witchcurlgirl View Post
    When someone is taken into US custody but delivered to a third-party state, often without ever being on American soil, we now call it "extraordinary rendition". We've been doing it since before Bush. He escalated it wildly

    The CIA was given permission to use 'Rendition' in 1995, in a directive from Bill Clinton- and were turning prisoners over to the Egyptans. This would be 'extraordinary rendition', as it fits the definition. Politicians and lawmakers twist words to mean what they like. The CIA under Clinton's directive were not calling it 'extraordinary rendition', but that doesn't mean it wasn't. Obama's still calling it rendition- that doesn't mean it won't be what would be considered 'extraordinary rendition'.....just like with Clinton.

    So the columnists can parse 'extraordinary rendition' against 'rendition' ad infinitum.......
    Obama's order still prohibits "extraordinary rendition" whether it's the kind most describe under Bush (43) or Clinton as you're describing.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasha View Post
    Kennedy got his head shot off for vowing to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds" so I see what you are saying King. However, to not even PRETEND to have agencies of the gov't under his control can't be good for his image abroad.
    I agree. Obama has to give the appearance of being in complete control of all branches of the intelligence agency. But I don't think Obama, or any other president, would give the appearance that they have no control.

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fluffy View Post
    The invasion of Panama was to render Noriega back to the US for criminal charges. There isn't a difference between Noriega's rendition and the hypothetical one Greenwald describes for Osama Bin Laden.

    Obama's order still prohibits "extraordinary rendition" whether it's the kind most describe under Bush (43) or Clinton as you're describing.

    yes, I understand. my point is that they can disallow 'extraordinary renditions' as a legal term and still practice them by not terming what they are doing as such. There is precedent for that in the Clinton act. Well, in lots of other political acts as well. Doublespeak.

    The world is watching this issue closely, so if it happens I'm sure the story will get out. Europe is on the case
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  6. #21
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchcurlgirl View Post
    yes, I understand. my point is that they can disallow 'extraordinary renditions' as a legal term and still practice them. There is precedent for that in the Clinton act.

    The world is watching this issue closely, so if it happens I'm sure the story will get out.
    Your argument still doesn't work under what was written in Obama's executive order.

    Sec. 4a, in turn, says:
    "(a) CIA Detention. 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."
    You can speculate all you want that either it's a) that the CIA can't detain someone for even an hour or b) that the giant loophole will be that "short-term,transitory" will be interpreted to mean less than 500 years. Except that Section 4b states that the International Committee of the Red Cross is required to have access to detainees. This would mean that the CIA couldn't have a "secret" detention facility without notifying the ICRC first, which in turn means it's not "secret."

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fluffy View Post
    Your argument still doesn't work under what was written in Obama's executive order.


    "(a) CIA Detention. 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."

    Sec. 4a, in turn, says:You can speculate all you want that either it's a) that the CIA can't detain someone for even an hour or b) that the giant loophole will be that "short-term,transitory" will be interpreted to mean less than 500 years. Except that Section 4b states that the International Committee of the Red Cross is required to have access to detainees. This would mean that the CIA couldn't have a "secret" detention facility without notifying the ICRC first, which in turn means it's not "secret."

    I don't see anything in that regulation to stop them from grabbing someone and turning them over to another government, like Egypt or Syria for detention or torture by that third party. Which is a big part of our rendition program.

    Like in the case of Maher Arar, who we shipped to Syria to be tortured. We outsource.

    So as long as they aren't being held in a CIA or US run facility, that regulation can be gotten around. Just grab them and immediately turn them over to another party.
    Last edited by witchcurlgirl; February 2nd, 2009 at 05:25 PM.
    It's no longer a dog whistle, it's a fucking trombone


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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchcurlgirl View Post
    I don't see anything in that regulation to stop them from grabbing someone and turning them over to another government, like Egypt or Syria for detention or torture by that third party. Which is a big part of our rendition program.

    Like in the case of Maher Arar, who we shipped to Syria to be tortured. We outsource.

    So as long as they aren't being held in a CIA or US run facility, that regulation can be gotten around. Just grab them and immediately turn them over to another party.
    Section 6.
    Sec. 6. Construction with Other Laws. Nothing in this order shall be construed to affect the obligations of officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government to comply with all pertinent laws and treaties of the United States governing detention and interrogation, including but not limited to: the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution; the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A; the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441; the Federal assault statute, 18 U.S.C. 113; the Federal maiming statute, 18 U.S.C. 114; the Federal "stalking" statute, 18 U.S.C. 2261A; articles 93, 124, 128, and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 893, 924, 928, and 934; section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 2000dd; section 6(c) of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Public Law 109 366; the Geneva Conventions; and the Convention Against Torture. Nothing in this order shall be construed to diminish any rights that any individual may have under these or other laws and treaties. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity against the United States, its departments, agencies, or other entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_...nterrogations/
    Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture specifically prohibits extraditing someone to a country where the possibility exists that they may be tortured.
    Article 3

    1. No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

    2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.

    Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    From what I've heard on the news, renditions have been going on in one form or the other for decades. There's a difference between 'renditions' and what Dubya did which were 'extraordinary renditions,' which involved torture and the other illegal crap.

    And some of these anonymous sources that are claiming that Obama will continue Dubya's form may actually just be Bush loyalists trying to justify his tactics.

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    We committed torture and had people executed through rendition under Clinton.


    As The New Yorker's Jane Mayer documented, the U.S. most certainly did abduct and "render" people to torturing countries under the Clinton administration. Here's but one example she describes:
    On September 13, 1995, U.S. agents helped kidnap Talaat Fouad Qassem, one of Egypt’s most wanted terrorists, in Croatia. Qassem had fled to Europe after being linked by Egypt to the assassination of Sadat; he had been sentenced to death in absentia. Croatian police seized Qassem in Zagreb and handed him over to U.S. agents, who interrogated him aboard a ship cruising the Adriatic Sea and then took him back to Egypt. Once there, Qassem disappeared. There is no record that he was put on trial. Hossam el-Hamalawy, an Egyptian journalist who covers human-rights issues, said, “We believe he was executed.

    She also details the 1998 abduction of numerous individuals in a joint operation by the C.I.A. and Albanian government:
    Over the next few months, according to the Journal, Albanian security forces, working with U.S. agents, killed one suspect and captured Attiya and four others. These men were bound, blindfolded, and taken to an abandoned airbase, then flown by jet to Cairo for interrogation. Attiya later alleged that he suffered electrical shocks to his genitals, was hung from his limbs, and was kept in a cell in filthy water up to his knees. Two other suspects, who had been sentenced to death in absentia, were hanged.
    Yet in those cases, Mayer suggests (citing CIA agent Michael Scheuer, who designed the rendition program) that there was legal process underlying the abductions, as they had all been convicted of serious crimes, mostly in abstentia. There, the purpose was to return convicted criminals to their homeland, not to have them tortured for interrogation purposes. By contrast, few if any of the individuals "rendered" during the Bush years were convicted of anything. Mayer also cites claims that there were numerous safeguards to ensure no innocent person was "rendered" -- safeguards which disappeared during the Bush years. It's difficult to assess how valid those claims are.

    Critically, Richard Clarke, the whistle-blowing terrorism expert in both the Clinton and Bush administrations, in his 2004 book Against All Enemies, conveyed an obviously disturbing scene that he says took place in the 1993 (.pdf - p. 27):

    As always, it's worth underscoring that while the blatant disregard for, and systematic violations of, international norms were far worse in the Bush years than ever before, that behavior in general, in the U.S. long pre-dated January, 2001.

    The L.A. Times, Obama & renditions - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com


    Even at that time we were under obligation to follow the Convention Against Torture, we just didn't. And just because we say we'll follow it now, doesn't mean we will. It doesn't mean we won't...but past history under both parties shows we haven't.
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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    ^^So, I guess torture didn't start under Dubya. But, then again, I can't say I'm too shocked.

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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchcurlgirl View Post
    We committed torture and had people executed through rendition under Clinton.

    Even at that time we were under obligation to follow the Convention Against Torture, we just didn't. And just because we say we'll follow it now, doesn't mean we will. It doesn't mean we won't...but past history under both parties shows we haven't.
    You cut out Glenn's opening paragraph of that section:
    One other point: the claim is often made that there was nothing new about the Bush administration's "extraordinary rendition" program because they did nothing that the Clinton administration, which pioneered the program, didn't also do. The record in this regard is unclear in several respects. Clearly, nothing even remotely approaching the scope of the Bush administration's program was attempted before 2001, and there's no evidence, at least that I'm aware of, that any abducted individuals were simply "disappeared" to American-run facilities.
    I wouldn't go so far to say that "we tortured" under Clinton, a seemingly knee-jerk response after a few snippets of information provided in GG's brief segment, i.e. the full process and circumstances are not known or described here. There is also reason to believe that the US sought assurances that rendered suspects under Clinton wouldn’t be tortured as required by US law. But that isn't mentioned here either. Your narrow rationale that, "Even at that time we were under obligation to follow the Convention Against Torture, we just didn't," would mean that Sweden could/would/should be held liable for allowing two men extradited from Stockholm to Egypt who were then tortured.
    On December 18, 2001, at Stockholm’s Bromma Airport, a half-dozen hooded security officials ushered two Egyptian asylum seekers, Muhammad Zery and Ahmed Agiza, into an empty office. They cut off the Egyptians’ clothes with scissors, forcibly administered sedatives by suppository, swaddled them in diapers, and dressed them in orange jumpsuits. As was reported by “Kalla Fakta,” a Swedish television news program, the suspects were blindfolded, placed in handcuffs and leg irons; according to a declassified Swedish government report, the men were then flown to Cairo on a U.S.-registered Gulfstream V jet. Swedish officials have claimed that they received assurances from the Egyptians that Zery and Agiza would be treated humanely. But both suspects have said, through lawyers and family members, that they were tortured with electrical charges to their genitals. (Zery said that he was also forced to lie on an electrified bed frame.) After spending two years in an Egyptian prison, Zery was released. Agiza, a physician who had once been an ally of Zawahiri but later renounced him and terrorism, was convicted on terrorism charges by Egypt’s Supreme Military Court. He was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison.
    Annals of Justice: Outsourcing Torture: The New Yorker

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fluffy View Post
    You cut out Glenn's opening paragraph of that section: I wouldn't go so far to say that "we tortured" under Clinton, a seemingly knee-jerk response after a few snippets of information provided in GG's brief segment, i.e. the full process and circumstances are not known or described here. There is also reason to believe that the US sought assurances that rendered suspects under Clinton wouldn’t be tortured as required by US law. But that isn't mentioned here either. Your narrow rationale that, "Even at that time we were under obligation to follow the Convention Against Torture, we just didn't," would mean that Sweden could/would/should be held liable for allowing two men extradited from Stockholm to Egypt who were then tortured. Annals of Justice: Outsourcing Torture: The New Yorker

    I did not make my comments regarding how we took people to other countries to be tortured based solely on the Salon piece. I've been reading about these abuses for years - there was nothing knee-jerk about it.

    and yes, the Clinton admin claims they sought assurances that there would be no torture....but:


    "The option of not doing something is extraordinarily dangerous to the American people," says Michael Scheuer, who until three months ago was a senior CIA official in the counterterrorist center. Scheuer created the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit and helped set up the rendition program during the Clinton administration.

    "Basically, the National Security Council gave us the mission, take down these cells, dismantle them and take people off the streets so they can't kill Americans," says Scheuer. "They just didn't give us anywhere to take the people after we captured."

    So the CIA started taking suspects to Egypt and Jordan. Scheuer says renditions were authorized by Clinton's National Security Council and officials in Congress - and all understood what it meant to send suspects to those countries.

    "They don't have the same legal system we have. But we know that going into it," says Scheuer. "And so the idea that we're gonna suddenly throw our hands up like Claude Raines in 'Casablanca' and say, 'I'm shocked that justice in Egypt isn't like it is in Milwaukee,' there's a certain disingenuousness to that."

    "And one of the things that you know about justice in Egypt is that people get tortured," says Pelley.

    "Well, it can be rough. I have to assume that that's the case," says Scheuer.

    But doesn't that make the United States complicit in the torture?

    "You'll have to ask the lawyers," says Scheuer.

    Is it convenient?

    "It's convenient in the sense that it allows American policy makers and American politicians to avoid making hard decisions," says Scheuer. "Yes. It's very convenient. It's finding someone else to do your dirty work."

    CIA Flying Suspects To Torture?, Scott Pelley Reports On The CIA'S Rendition Program - CBS News

    Bush also confirmed that it is the policy and practice of the United States neither to use torture nor to hand over detainees to countries that use torture. www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/04/20050428-9.html

    But that doesn't mean we didn't.
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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchcurlgirl View Post
    I did not make my comments regarding how we took people to other countries to be tortured based solely on the Salon piece. I've been reading about these abuses for years - there was nothing knee-jerk about it.

    and yes, the Clinton admin claims they sought assurances that there would be no torture....but:

    Bush also confirmed that it is the policy and practice of the United States neither to use torture nor to hand over detainees to countries that use torture. www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/04/20050428-9.html

    But that doesn't mean we didn't.
    There are still distinctions between the Clinton and Bush rendition programs. Just because you don't find them vastly persuasive doesn't mean that they're the same as you're insinuating. Again, the section you cite of the article does not mention any of the legal background used by the Clinton administration on how people were to be treated by their home countries.
    Scheuer says, in his experience, the United States asks receiving countries to promise that suspects will be treated according to the laws of that country.

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fluffy View Post
    There are still distinctions between the Clinton and Bush rendition programs. Just because you don't find them vastly persuasive doesn't mean that they're the same as you're insinuating. Again, the section you cite of the article does not mention any of the legal background used by the Clinton administration on how people were to be treated by their home countries.

    There are huge differences in the Clinton and Bush programs. I am not trying to say otherwise. There are similarities as well.

    The Clinton program doesn't have clean hands in handing people over to be tortured and killed by third parties. And enough people involved in those episodes have come forward publically for the admin to pretend that they didn't know what was being done.

    In fact I'm sure that few administrations post WW2 didn't do this.....whatever they may or may not have termed it. The CIA has been involved in covert wars all over the world, I'm sure that in all of them they have tortured prisoners, or handed over prisoners to be tortured by others, despite US or international law.

    So in that sense, I can't even fault the new president, I'm sure he be no worse than all the others before (dubya excepted).
    Last edited by witchcurlgirl; February 3rd, 2009 at 04:14 PM. Reason: added last paragraph
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