Friday, February 11, 2005
Information Retrieval Doesn't Make Mistakes
...and any number of other exciting destinations! If you haven't read Jane Mayer's article about "extraordinary rendition" in this week's New Yorker, please do so now. I am inordinately skeptical of the police state ideas about the Bush administration. But this seems well-researched, carefully documented, and, if I can say it once again, a really stupid thing for us to be doing.
To sum up, it looks like waterboarding wasn't the only thing a prisoner at Gitmo could look forward to. The extremely lucky might win an all-expenses paid trip on a G4 (that's a Gulfstream 4, for the non-private-jet set) to Egypt, Uzbekistan, or other torture-friendly countries, in the care of our very own "Special Removal Unit." Did you know we had a Special Removal Unit? I didn't. They even show inflight movies. Perhaps this softens the blow of being whipped with electrical cords, made to lie in electrified beds, and in some cases being executed (since people can be sentenced to death in absentia in many of these countries).
In a lot of ways, of course, it's neater if the prisoners are executed, because once they've been tortured, they're an embarassment to the United States, and nobody knows what to do with them. Mayer alleges that as many as one hundred prisoners at Gitmo are being carefully hidden from Red Cross investigators because of what they might reveal. At least one is being kept away from the Red Cross at the personal orders of Donald Rumsfield.
I could go on, but the article is better. Read the whole thing, and honestly ask yourself if this is the sort of thing the United States should be doing. The Bush Administration has spent an inordinate amount of time and energy on splitting legal hairs to be able to torture suspects; they have, as I see it, three main justifications for this:
- The Constitutional argument: the legislative branch can't limit the president's wartime powers, so legislation forbidding the president from sending people to other countries to be tortured is non-binding.
- The "illegal enemy combatants" argument: anything can be done to people labeled enemy combatants; they fit in a grey area that is not and can never be subject to any law or treaty. Everyone interred at Gitmo fits this definition, no matter where or how they were taken into custody.
- The "what we don't know can't hurt us" argument: In cases of extraordinary rendition, the United States is not in violoation of the U.N. Convention against Torture, which we ratified, and which explicitly prohibits, because we "kind-of know" that people sent to Egypt, Morocco, Syria, and Jordan will be tortured. But we're not one hundred percent sure, so the convention doesn't apply.
All three arguments can be found in the article. You could argue the finer points of this for months. Personally, I think they're all hogwash. But my point is, why on earth are we tolerating a government that goes through these kinds of gyrations to justify torture? Not even waterboarding, which Jody doesn't feel is torture, but honest to god, current-to-the-genitals torture. I don't want my government to do this on my behalf, now, or ever.
It kind of reminds me of this screenplay I read once...