What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Torture, American Style

Imagine for a moment you're George W. Bush (I know, I wouldn't want to imagine what's going inside his head, but stay with me for a moment) and you have a problem: trying to extract information from terrorism suspects. What do you do? After all, as leader of a nation bound by the Geneva Conventions you can only do so much with your prisoners.

The answer: much like many customer-service call centers, you outsource the job to another country. Well, not just any country, but one that isn't bound by international law in its treatment of prisoners. See? That's a clever solution. You take your prisoners, ship them off to Egypt or Pakistan and bam! The prisoner is tortured, and intelligence is gathered (of course, intelligence gathered through torture isn't always accurate, but hey, gotta think outside the box).

It's a nice loophole. As the New York Times reported on March 6, President Bush approved policy to allow the CIA to transfer terror suspects without approval from the Bush administration (instead of the old policy of approving the transfers on a case-by-case basis) in the days following Sept. 11, 2001.

The process is known as "rendition" and it may itself be in violation of international law and the Geneva conventions against torture, according to the group Human Rights Watch.

Here's what the Geneva Convention against torture stipulates:

Part One, Article Three

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.

I can just hear the right-wing nutters out there: "How can you defend terrorists!"

I'm not defending terrorists. I'm suggesting that there might be moral and ethical problems in a nation deciding to violate laws it has agreed to uphold. We are signatories to the Geneva Conventions. But hey, sometimes you have to break the law to gather useless intelligence. For instance, the intelligence revealing the location of Osama Bin Laden.

Of course, the Bush administration has claimed that no prisoners had been tortured in the rendition program. Which might be true. Then again, the Bush administration claimed Iraq had huge stockpiles of weapons, and that turned out to be false.

Oh well. One of these days we'll actually bring Osama Bin Laden to justice. Probably around the same time we fix social security.


Blogger elendil said...

It gets worse: renditions to Uzbekistan. 03 June 2004 a memo was written by Ambassador Murry to the UK Foreign Office denouncing the use of intelligence gathered by America through renditions to Uzbekistan. I don't think the story got much coverage.

3:47 PM  

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