Tuesday, April 12, 2005


A very unfunny farce

A few weeks ago Dana Priest of the Washington Post reported on the CIA's "special renditions" program, which is the U.S. outsourcing program for torture. It's against the law in the U.S., of course, to send someone to a country where they may be tortured. But when has the law stopped this gang of criminals?

A part of the CIA's ever-so-flimsy cover is that they receive assurances—only verbal, at that—that the host country will not torture the prisoner.

But the effectiveness of the assurances and the legality of the rendition practice are increasingly being questioned by rights groups and others, as freed detainees have alleged that they were mistreated by interrogators after the CIA secretly delivered them to countries with well-documented records of abuse.

President Bush weighed in on the matter for the first time yesterday, defending renditions as vital to the nation's defense.

In "the post-9/11 world, the United States must make sure we protect our people and our friends from attack," he said at a news conference. "And one way to do so is to arrest people and send them back to their country of origin with the promise that they won't be tortured. That's the promise we receive. This country does not believe in torture. We do believe in protecting ourselves." One CIA officer involved with renditions, however, called the assurances from other countries "a farce."

One popular destination has been Egypt. But "plausible deniability" of knowledge of the Egyptians' use of torture has just been greatly lessened. According to Heba Saleh of BBC News,

A government-backed human rights council in Egypt has given official credence to widespread allegations of torture by the security forces.

The Egyptian Supreme Council for Human Rights first annual report is unexpectedly strong for a body funded and appointed by the government.

'Standard practices'

The council says it is normal investigative practice for the Egyptian security forces to arrest everyone at the scene of the crime and torture them to obtain information.

Citing reports it received during the year, it says suspects in Egyptian police stations are given electric shocks, hung by their arms or legs from the ceiling, or beaten with sticks, whips and rifle butts.

These allegations have long been made by independent human rights groups, but it is the first time that a government-appointed body has endorsed them.

Related post
Why are we torturing people?

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