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Friday, December 31, 2004

Road to Rendition

Posted by: Hammer / 1:03 PM

It's only evil when someone else does it
My view from the left Mainstream Media says Views from the right
So far as I know

So far as I know, Michael Ledeen is guilty of base conduct incompatible with civilization: he lulls friends into false senses of security and stabs them in the back; he betrays the confidences of those closest to him for pure, spiteful joy; he encourages acquaintances to watch "The Ninth Configuration". Maybe worse.

So far as I know, there's no way to verify what I do or do not know. So far as I know, there is no actual requirement that a columnist do any actual research or analysis before typing. So far as I know, Ledeen is utterly incapable of doing research or analysis because he spends all day trying to combine fisking and fisting into one extremely clever, irrefutable, santorum-producing act.

I don't know why Priest focused on the machinations of the front organization rather than the fact that the highest level of our government condones torture. I don't know why Priest doesn't use the word "torture", except to describe the affiliation of one expert. I don't know why Priest prefers sanitized terms like "rendition" or ambiguous terms like "harsh interrogation methods". I suspect it's because torture is the inference in the story, rather than a fact. I suspect it's because Americans do not want to confront the evil our government does behind closed doors. I suspect it's far easier to condemn torture "over there", than right here, which is why we all can condemn the despicable brutality of Saddam Hussein's regime, but only foreign papers, from Australia, China, and Qatar put "torture" in the headline.

Ledeen might be correct that people who wish us ill now have new targets. I do know this, without doubt. People who wish our nation well have a target, too. To remove from office the miscreants who debase this great nation by adopting the tactics of despots most vile.

Jet Is an Open Secret in Terror War

From The Washington Post, December 27, 2004

The airplane is a Gulfstream V turbojet, the sort favored by CEOs and celebrities. But since 2001 it has been seen at military airports from Pakistan to Indonesia to Jordan, sometimes being boarded by hooded and handcuffed passengers.

The plane's owner of record, Premier Executive Transport Services Inc., lists directors and officers who appear to exist only on paper. And each one of those directors and officers has a recently issued Social Security number and an address consisting only of a post office box, according to an extensive search of state, federal and commercial records.

Bryan P. Dyess, Steven E. Kent, Timothy R. Sperling and Audrey M. Tailor are names without residential, work, telephone or corporate histories -- just the kind of "sterile identities," said current and former intelligence officials, that the CIA uses to conceal involvement in clandestine operations. In this case, the agency is flying captured terrorist suspects from one country to another for detention and interrogation.

The CIA calls this activity "rendition." Premier Executive's Gulfstream helps make it possible. According to civilian aircraft landing permits, the jet has permission to use U.S. military airfields worldwide.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, secret renditions have become a principal weapon in the CIA's arsenal against suspected al Qaeda terrorists, according to congressional testimony by CIA officials. But as the practice has grown, the agency has had significantly more difficulty keeping it secret.

According to airport officials, public documents and hobbyist plane spotters, the Gulfstream V, with tail number N379P, has been used to whisk detainees into or out of Jakarta, Indonesia; Pakistan; Egypt; and Sweden, usually at night, and has landed at well-known U.S. government refueling stops.

As the outlines of the rendition system have been revealed, criticism of the practice has grown. Human rights groups are working on legal challenges to renditions, said Morton Sklar, executive director of the World Organization for Human Rights USA, because one of their purposes is to transfer captives to countries that use harsh interrogation methods outlawed in the United States. That, he said, is prohibited by the U.N. Convention on Torture.

The CIA has the authority to carry out renditions under a presidential directive dating to the Clinton administration, which the Bush administration has reviewed and renewed. The CIA declined to comment for this article.

"Our policymakers would never confront the issue," said Michael Scheuer, a former CIA counterterrorism officer who has been involved with renditions and supports the practice. "We would say, 'Where do you want us to take these people?' The mind-set of the bureaucracy was, 'Let someone else do the dirty work.' "

Journalists at War

From National Review Online, December 30, 2004

I’m surprised that no one has picked up on the article by Dana Priest on the front page in Monday’s Washington Post, entitled "Jet is an Open Secret in Terror War." Dana Priest is a pretty big star in the Post’s firmament, and gets to write lots of stories that the editors consider important. But this one is very peculiar, because most of the ink is spilled on a single CIA operation: the use of a Gulfstream aircraft to transport suspected terrorists and accomplices to places where they are interrogated and/or arrested.

We learn a lot about the plane, including its tail number, the company that owns it, the names (which Priest reasonably infers are "cover" names) of the company’s executives, and several sightings of the plane, from Pakistan and Cairo to Stockholm, Riyadh, Rabat, and of course Washington.

Amidst all these data, Priest raises a serious issue, namely whether the terrorists and their pals were brought to foreign countries in order to be subjected to far harsher interrogations -- perhaps including torture -- than could be used here. In that connection, she quotes Martin Sklar of the World Organization for Human Rights USA, who claims that we are in violation of the U.N.’s Convention on Torture, and she trots out "Anonymous," a.k.a. Michael Scheuer, who slams his previous employers, saying they just do what they’re told.

...It is all too easy to read this and conclude that the Post is outing CIA operations and personnel just for the fun of it. Or because they hope it will encourage somebody to do something really newsworthy.

What public interest is advanced by all this detail? None I can think of. Are there any other consequences of such a story? You bet: People who wish us ill, including officials and agents of hostile intelligence services, now have a target, and they have some names (phony though they may be) to put into their databases, thereby placing those people at risk of exposure or worse.

At a minimum, this story will cost money (the CIA might well decide to cash in the Gulfstream and use a different aircraft). At worst, some people will be damaged, embarrassed, physically hurt, or subjected to gratuitous harassment....

...I wish Dana Priest had devoted her considerable talents to the pony buried in the mountain of aeronautical detail, the torture issue. (I have long questioned both the morality and the utility of torture, because a normal person under torture will say most anything to stop the pain.) If she decides to do that, I hope she writes the really hard story: torture in its many forms, all over the world: U.N. officials’ torturing of little African girls; Iranians’ torturing of young bloggers; Saddam’s torturing of his own people...Some time ago, the Post was given tapes of public torture sessions in Baghdad before the liberation of Iraq. It showed tongues being cut out, hands and arms cut off, legs broken, and decapitations. So far as I know, the Post only mentioned it once, and then only to "blame" advocates of Operation Iraqi Freedom for trying to counter bad news from Abu Ghraib.


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