Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Obama to continue secret CIA "renditions" - secret abductions and transfers of prisoners


Well, I was excited about the closing of Guantanamo Bay and other reforms (I still am, actually, very much), but Obama's recent decision granting approval to the CIA for the continuation of their "extraordinary renditions" program has me thinking he may just be rearranging the deck chairs on our nation's moral Titanic.

Renditions - secret CIA abductions and transfers of government prisoners to "friendly nations" (where they are sometimes tortured) have been understandably controversial. When torture occurs following a rendition, it allows our government to avoid directly participating in the torture process while looking the other way and allowing it to happen. As a commenter said following DailyKos's report that members of Bush's rendition team were heading Obama's intelligence transition team : "We've got someone who can make our torture look better. That's the change we need, right?"

If we really believe in God-given human rights, we will do our best to make certain that people aren't tortured on our watch. The fact that we won't always be the ones doing it is of dubious comfort.

Obama preserves renditions as counter-terrorism tool (LA Times)

Related links:

The agonizing truth about CIA renditions (Salon)
Americans in opposition to torture
Why torture is ineffective

UPDATE: When writing this post I did not make a distinction between the practice of openly shuttling a prisoner to another country for purposes of law enforcement - also termed a "rendition" - and renditions in which subjects have been secretly shuttled away for long periods or tortured. The term "extraordinary rendition" connotes torture and the Obama Administration has explicitly banned renditions which may result in torture. Of course we are not the only nation on Earth which has stake in prosecuting terrorists, and there may be a variety of reasons that a prosecution in another nation may be more appropriate. Nevertheless, we are responsible to assure that prisoners we transfer or allow to be transferred are treated humanely.

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