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February 02, 2009

And Dana Priest Was Mysteriously Unavailable For Comment, Part II

Oh, the humanity!

Despite ordering the closure of Guantanamo and an end to harsh interrogation techniques, the new president has failed to call an end to secret abductions and questioning.

In his first few days in office, Mr Obama was lauded for rejecting policies of the George W Bush era, but it has emerged the CIA still has the authority to carry out renditions in which suspects are picked up and often sent to a third country for questioning.

The practice caused outrage at the EU, after it was revealed the CIA had used secret prisons in Romania and Poland and airports such as Prestwick in Scotland to conduct up to 1,200 rendition flights. The European Parliament called renditions "an illegal instrument used by the United States".

According to a detailed reading of the executive orders signed by Mr Obama on Jan 22, renditions have not been outlawed, with the new administration deciding it needs to retain some devices in Mr Bush's anti-terror arsenal amid continued threats to US national security.

...Section 2 (g) of the order, appears to allow the US authorities to continue detaining and interrogating terror suspects as long as it does not hold them for long periods. It reads: "The terms "detention facilities" and "detention facility" in section 4(a) of this order do not refer to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis."

You have to admire the stalwart determination of Lefties to ignore renditions which occurred on Bill Clinton's watch:

"The Clinton policy in practice meant torture," Joanne Mariner, counterterrorism director for Human Rights Watch, told The Washington Times. "We haven't been able to interview the people themselves, but we have evidence that they were tortured."

Muntassir al-Zayyat, an Egyptian lawyer who represented four of the suspects seized in Albania, told The Times that "all were subjected to torture."

Two of the suspects -- Ahmed Ibrahim al-Naggar and Ahmed Ismail Uthman -- were executed in 1999, while two others -- Shawky Salama Mostafa and Mohammed Hassan Mahoud -- remain in prison, Mr. al-Zayyat said.

The men were suspected of plotting an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, Albania, and coordinating actions with a cell in Egypt. Mr. al-Zayyat told Human Rights Watch that these suspects were taken to "ghost villas."

From the Human Rights Watch report:

The London-based Islamic Observation Center, an organization that tracks the treatment of suspected Islamist militants, reported that Shawqi Salama Mustafa was held for several weeks in a room filled with water up to his knees, and he was also subjected to electroshock during interrogation. His interrogators tied his legs together and suspended him from the ceiling several times, and also dragged him from room to room with his face to the floor. The security forces also threatened to rape him during interrogation. Mustafa received a twenty-five year sentence.[82]

`Issam `Abd al-Tawab `Abd al-Alim was held incommunicado from July 13 to September 12, 1998. During his sixty-day detention, `Abd al-Alim was allegedly beaten by his interrogators during questioning. He received a fifteen-year sentence.[83]

Muhammad Hassan Mahmud Tita spent just under two months in incommunicado detention, and finally appeared before the Prosecutor General in mid-September. He told both the prosecutor and his lawyer that he was subjected to electroshock on several parts of his body while being hung from the ceiling. Tita was sentenced to ten years in prison.[84]

But that was then. This is now.

Human rights watch, (having previously called for a permanent end to the rendition program and a full accounting of all detainees rendered since 2001 - so much for those poor unfortunates rendered during the Clinton years!) is ready to let bygones be bygones. Kiss-kiss. All is forgiven:

Under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place" for renditions, said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "What I heard loud and clear from the president's order was that they want to design a system that doesn't result in people being sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured -- but that designing that system is going to take some time."

Malinowski said he had urged the Obama administration to stipulate that prisoners could be transferred only to countries where they would be guaranteed a public hearing in an official court. "Producing a prisoner before a real court is a key safeguard against torture, abuse and disappearance," Malinowski said (emphasis added).

Notably, not one word in the Washington Post this morning. Dana Priest's outrage seems to have cooled considerably.

I am shocked.... shocked. But then the Obama administration promises to ensure these detainees' "rights" are respected.... this is, you see, all a matter of applying the proper definitions; ones that allow us to pretend we're not really doing what we're doing:

Obama officials, of course, are a different story ...It's important, here, to note that extraordinary rendition is not the same as rendition proper. Rendition is just moving people from one jurisdiction (in the cases at hand, one country) to another; includes all sorts of perfectly normal things, like extradition, which are not problematic legally. Extraordinary rendition is rendition outside these established legal processes: e.g., kidnapping someone abroad so that s/he can be brought to the US to stand trial, or delivering someone to another country to be tortured.

The author of the Times article, however, defines "rendition" as "secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States." It's not clear whether he knows that rendition includes perfectly normal things like extradition. It's also not clear that he knows that extraordinary rendition includes not just cases in which we transfer a detainee to another country, but cases in which we capture someone abroad and take them to this country to be tried.

Reconcile that, if you can, with the Obama administration's load of rhetorical horse hockey.

Rendition is, as Al Gore rightly observed, an inherently extrajudicial procedure. We do it because we don't have enough evidence to pick these people up and process them via our own justice system: because, while there may be very good evidence against them, it isn't the kind that stands up well in an American court of law. So what all this talk of "official courts" really means is that we want to find courts that will afford detainees fewer rights than they would receive if we held and tried them.

Again, thank God they're not being sent through those 'kangaroo courts' at Gitmo because we need to give them all the rights due an American citizen:

If the LA Times is right to claim that the Obama administration has left open the possibility of extraordinary renditions, that would be a huge problem. However, I don't think it is. Here it helps to have spent some time reading the actual orders. The order called "Ensuring Lawful Interrogations" contains the following passage:

"Sec. 6. Construction with Other Laws. Nothing in this order shall be construed to affect the obligations of officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government to comply with all pertinent laws and treaties of the United States governing detention and interrogation, including but not limited to: the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution; the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A; the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441; the Federal assault statute, 18 U.S.C. 113; the Federal maiming statute, 18 U.S.C. 114; the Federal "stalking" statute, 18 U.S.C. 2261A; articles 93, 124, 128, and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 893, 924, 928, and 934; section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 2000dd; section 6(c) of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Public Law 109 366; the Geneva Conventions; and the Convention Against Torture. Nothing in this order shall be construed to diminish any rights that any individual may have under these or other laws and treaties."

...not. If I understand this correctly, the Obama administration wants to keep a valuable tool against terrorism that specifies:

1. We can't hold people for very long.

2. We can use only the most non-coercive interrogation techniques (Question for the day: why would a terrorist dangerous enough to merit being kidnapped off the streets betray his colleagues when he knows he can't be held for long, can't be coerced, and can't be sent to countries that ill treat detainees?)

3. We can't even threaten to send them to countries that will treat them any worse than we will (if the executive order can be believed).

4. And though this technique was invented precisely to deal with those situations where there is insufficient evidence under our legal system to detain, interrogate, or obtain a conviction in an American court of law, statements like "renditions lie in that gray area between the rule of law and the nation's security" should not concern us one bit:

... renditions are a perfect metaphor for the dilemmas posed by the war against terrorism. For years, a debate has raged in policy circles about whether we are conducting a war or pursuing a crime. The Bush administration is now doing both, employing intelligence and law enforcement agencies. But each operates under entirely different rules, creating a sort of gray area between national security and the legal system. Intelligence officials might believe they have enough credible evidence to detain someone and possibly disrupt a terrorist plot in progress. Prosecutors might look at that same evidence and say it's not enough to go to trial.

Renditions allow the government to do something rather than nothing.

Despite that pesky due process thing. According to Obama's order their Constitutional rights will all be protected anyway! (So this must mean they'll be released, right?)

If that last didn't cause your head to explode, you're a better person than I am.

Somehow, I am not seeing the logic in this plan. Perhaps the comforting vagueness has something to do with that.

Look for the New York Times to leak a classified memo any day now with the full details. It's that whole accountability journalism thing, you know. That's what the Fourth Estate do.

Update: see no evil, hear no evil... this is priceless:

The extraordinary renditions program involved the operation of long-term detention facilities either by the CIA or by a cooperating host government together with the CIA, in which prisoners were held outside of the criminal justice system and otherwise unaccountable under law for extended periods of time. A central feature of this program was rendition to torture, namely that the prisoner was turned over to cooperating foreign governments with the full understanding that those governments would apply techniques that even the Bush Administration considers to be torture. This practice is a felony under current U.S. law, but was made a centerpiece of Bush counterterrorism policy.

The earlier renditions program regularly involved snatching and removing targets for purposes of bringing them to justice by delivering them to a criminal justice system. It did not involve the operation of long-term detention facilities and it did not involve torture.

Because electrical shock, rape and beatings aren't torture and death sentences pronounced in absentia are all the due process a detainee should require. Evidently this gentleman doesn't read Human Rights Watch reports, does he?

Posted by Cassandra at February 2, 2009 08:29 AM

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Comments

"What I heard loud and clear from the president's order was that they want to design a system that doesn't result in people being sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured -- but that designing that system is going to take some time."

Yup. They want a Gitmo, but it's going to take considerable time to design a Gitmo. I mean, it's not like there's a already a Gitmo readily available, yanno?

Posted by: BillT at February 2, 2009 12:48 PM

Hey. Reinventing the wheel takes *time* :p

I couldn't help but think of Michael Scheuer's testimony and that question: "If you were a terrorist, where would you rather be sent?"

These aren't easy questions. I don't know that we can have an honest debate about this, though. I think in many ways it's incredibly naive to think there is any politically viable consensus. I know it seems like I'm snarking, but I'm trying to point out that this stuff is just inherently extra-judicial, so to pretend to put all sorts of judicial process around it will have the effect of rendering it ineffective while still not really making it just or fair (unless kidnapping people off the streets without a hearing can be said to be fair or just, and I don't think it can). I don't think these people want to face the hard choices old 'Bam was talking about.

But they never went away.

Posted by: Cass at February 2, 2009 01:06 PM

Rendition? Extraordinary Rendition? Extradition? extraordinary extradition?

I haven't seen this much whitewash, sorry, I am a racist, since Tom Sawyer did Becky Thatcher's picket fence!

Fascinating watching the lefty-loons spin this horse pucky like cheap carny cotton candy. If I spray anti-flu medicine up/down my nose is that water-boarding lite?

Give me a break!

Posted by: vet66 at February 2, 2009 01:34 PM

Heh. Give it another year and you'll find the Lefties vehemently defending positions that would have set their hair on fire 'way back in 2008...

Posted by: BillT at February 2, 2009 03:17 PM

Snerk. Must.control.brevity.snark.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at February 2, 2009 03:45 PM

Despite that pesky due process thing. According to Obama's order their Constitutional rights will all be protected anyway! (So this must mean they'll be released, right?)

If that last didn't cause your head to explode, you're a better person than I am.


Don't know about better; more thoughtful, perhaps. (That is, no caput-boom here)

It's interesting though. Of the posts I've seen, it seems like it is those who hail from the Right who are most worked up about "this". Interesting, too, it seems like "this" (for those) is not a question of policy ("what should US policy be on the issue(s)"), but rather "points" (as in, "Your mamma wears combat boots" points and/or hypocrisy points).

To my way of thinking, the foremost question is the policy one; followed by trying to understand what the heck the current US policy is (and it may well (and understandably) be in some flux); then, while "Mamma" points are pretty uninteresting, inquiry/commentary on "hypocrisy points" questions holds the promise (anyway) of being a rather more substantive and interesting question.

That all depends on understanding (or at least trying to understand) what US policy seems to be. And, while Cassandra felt opening para. here to be head-splitting), I expect that she's bringing more than just cool rational thought to the table. No. Protection of a detainee's Constitutional Rights (if any) doesn't necessarily entail that he be released. Why is that difficult to understand or controversial in the least?

Anyway. Cassandra seems to feel that there's something about the whole issue of renditions (extraordinary or otherwise) which precludes having "an honest debate about [it]". I, for one, do not understand such a position at all . . . but perhaps it's simply because I don't understand the following reference to "old 'Bam".
(And, as long as I'm mentioning my reading/comprehension deficits/difficulties, I may as well mention that I don't understand with any degree of precision, either what Cassandra means by "the Obama administration's load of rhetorical horse hockey."

While those who have a concern for human rights always (or almost always) do well to view the actions of States with a critical eye, two further points are perhaps worth making. First, politics is a messy business (the old sausage saw), and (2) this feller Obama's been in office for just a couple of weeks now.

That isn't to say that folks like Obama and Malinowski shouldn't be pressed to "explain themselves" - they should. It's early days, though, and well - patience is a virtue. Political debate in this country clearly could benefit from a little less jumping to conclusions and a little less hyperbole. (E.g., Is it really "notable" that the WP had no story on this today (assuming that that's true)?; or is that just some New-Age figure of speech?)

Posted by: hoover1 at February 2, 2009 04:19 PM

You know, you're right.

From now on I shouldn't bother trying to back up anything I say with multiple references. People should just believe me because I'm me.

Posted by: Cass at February 2, 2009 04:21 PM

Yes, it is notable when one of the nation's largest newspapers (and the one in the nation's capital) has exactly nothing on this story; especially when that same newspaper employs Dana Priest, who won a Pulitzer prize and the Polk award for her investigative journalism on the CIA's rendition and secret detention programs.

But then you knew that, didn't you hoover?

Posted by: Cass at February 2, 2009 04:28 PM

it seems like it is those who hail from the Right who are most worked up about "this". Interesting, too, it seems like "this" (for those) is not a question of policy ("what should US policy be on the issue(s)"), but rather "points"

Maybe that's because we've listened to years of point scoring from the Left and now all of a sudden the same people are willing to give this administration a pass.

Let's not forget: these are the same bloggers who for the most part are still lying about Clinton-era renditions to torture.

Posted by: Cass at February 2, 2009 04:40 PM

Of course, had hoover read the linked articles, he might have a chance of understanding why I said honest debate will be difficult :p

Any fully honest debate on renditions involves admitting that the program operates in that gray area outside the law and can't fully guarantee a detainee's "Constitutional" rights and still remain effective. That tradeoffs thing again.

Posted by: Cass at February 2, 2009 04:43 PM

Yes, it is notable when . . .

Cassandra, I don't pretend to know what Ms. Priest's schedule is, only that you, apparently, don't set it. Oh, that and --

"Dana Priest will be online [WAPO] Thursday, February 6 at 12:30 p.m. ET to discuss the latest developments in national security and intelligence.

Submit your questions and comments before or during the discussion"

Posted by: hoover1 at February 2, 2009 04:47 PM

Any fully honest debate on renditions involves admitting that the program operates in that gray area outside the law and can't fully guarantee a detainee's "Constitutional" rights...

Any fully honest debate involves admitting that detainees *have* no Constitutional rights -- so long as they are incarcerated outside the boundaries of the United States and its Territories.

And Gitmo's *Cuban* property. We're just *tenants*...

Posted by: BillT at February 2, 2009 04:59 PM

MSM during Clinton: What renditions?

MSM during Bush: OMG, THIS PROGRAM IS TEH EV1L!!!!

MSM during Obama: Well, if he says so, I guess it's OK.

You're right hoover, we do need a discussion on what the policy ought to be. The problem is when the 'correct' policy seems to depend on the party affiliation of current occupant of the White House.


Cass, I'll send along a picture I received recently. I doubt, given your recent posts, it'll be appropriate for a (public) caption contest, but I think it's funny anyway.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 2, 2009 04:59 PM

Dear Mr. Hoover:

CONGRATULATIONS! Our dedicated governmental experts have chosen YOUR HOME TOWN to receive an as yet undetermined number of TERRORISTS, MURDERERS, ISLAMO-FASCISTS, RADICAL HOMOPHOBES, MISOGYNISTS, MISCREANTS, and HARD CORE JIHADISTS eager to kiil you and your family BECAUSE YOU DON'T BELIEVE AS THEY DO!!!! Ha ha!

Fortunately, all these poor innocents soon to coming to your town by order of PRESIDENT BARRACK OBAMA, are READY WILLING AND ABLE to become productive citizens. I can guaratee you that the next PTA meeting will be one for the HISTORY BOOKS.

Thanks, Mr. Hoover, for your sincere support in this effort to not only correct THE EVILS OF GEORGE BUSH,but to bring JUSTICE, and HOPE to THE WORLD, AMERICA, and,of course,YOUR COMMUNITY.

Please enter your zip code to complete this transaction.

Ta ta for now.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 2, 2009 05:18 PM

To spd rdr:

But for the CAPS thing-y; I just don't respond well to the CAPS thing-y. Really, you had me, but for (like I say) the CAPS thing-y. :^|p

(Boy, the big C's right; these emoticonidoodles are fun, and adorable!)

All the best.

Posted by: hoover1 at February 2, 2009 05:33 PM

"Any fully honest debate involves admitting that detainees *have* no Constitutional rights -- so long as they are incarcerated outside the boundaries of the United States and its Territories."
Bada boom, bada bing!

As it had been up until June 2008. Unfortunately, if memory serves, the SCOTUS ruling last June IMHO, screwed the pooch.

Not being a legal widget, I think I'll go with Chief Justice John Robert’s dissent on the majority ruling(yeah, the majority being the usual suspects who make up the gang of five EU/International law gazers seeking a frame of reference for interpreting the US Constitution, justices - and I use that term with all due respect).

" So who has won? Not the detainees. The Court’s analysis leaves them with only the prospect of further litigation to determine the content of their new habeas right, followed by further litigation to resolve their particular cases,followed by further litigation before the D. C. Circuit— where they could have started had they invoked the DTA procedure. Not Congress, whose attempt to “determine— through democratic means—how best” to balance the security of the American people with the detainees’ liberty interests, see Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U. S. 557, 636 (2006) (BREYER, J., concurring), has been unceremoniously brushed aside. Not the Great Writ, whose majesty is hardly enhanced by its extension to a jurisdictionally quirky outpost, with no tangible benefit to anyone. Not the rule of law, unless by that is meant the rule of lawyers, who will now arguably have a greater role than military and intelligence officials in shaping policy for alien enemy combatants. And certainly not the American people, who today lose a bit more control over the conduct of this Nation’s foreign policy to unelected, politically unaccountable judges.

I respectfully dissent."

And to further summarize and refresh The justices concluded that the naval base in Guantanamo Bay, officially on Cuban territory, can be treated as US territory where rights enshrined in the US Constitution must be respected.

Factoring in the law of unintended consequences, I wounder if going forward, the will enhance or diminish the chances that illegal combatants will ever see the light of capture?

Things that make one say hmmmmmm.

Posted by: bthun at February 2, 2009 05:45 PM

mr rdr...

WHACK WHACK WHACK!!!

It's the red hair. And the motorcycle. Makes him rather feisty.

Posted by: Sister Mary Ita at February 2, 2009 05:45 PM

Am I big?

Oh boy! Finally! I'm so excited.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 2, 2009 05:47 PM

Correction: Factoring in the law of unintended consequences, I wonder if going forward, this will enhance or diminish the chances that illegal combatants will ever see the light of capture?

I will proof before posting...
I will proof before posting...
I will proof before posting...
I will proof before posting...

Posted by: bthun at February 2, 2009 05:47 PM

Reading Mr. Rdr's Prisoner's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes letter, I can't help but wonder if that is what Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., had in mind when he introduced H.R. 645

Posted by: bthun at February 2, 2009 05:53 PM

Protection of a detainee's Constitutional Rights (if any) doesn't necessarily entail that he be released. Why is that difficult to understand or controversial in the least?

It's only difficult to understand if you're determined to gloss over any details that distress you.

The point of rendition is that it was used BECAUSE one of these conditions was true:

1. We lack sufficient evidence to proceed in a U.S. court of law (i.e., render them back to the US for trial).

Think real hard about this one, hoover. If we lack sufficient evidence to proceed in a U.S. court of law, but we're detaining these folks anyway and holding them without charges, have their rights been protected?

NO.

If, lacking sufficient evidence to proceed against them in a court of law, we send them to a country that gives them LESS protection than they would get under our laws, have we guaranteed their "Constitutional rights" as outlined in the Obama provisions?

NO. But luckily, we can count on the press to ignore whatever Obama does just as they ignored what Clinton did, even if it results in torture or summary executions. And we can rely on Lefty bloggers to show zero curiosity about said torture and executions, even when it is documented by 3rd parties like Human Rights Watch (sources deemed impeccable under the horrid Bush years).

2. We don't have sufficient evidence to proceed against them in a court of law, but we really, really want to ask them questions. So exactly WHAT IS OUR LEGAL/MORAL JUSTIFICATION FOR KIDNAPPING THEM OFF THE STREET AND INTERROGATING THEM? What if we have the wrong guy?

*crickets chirping*

Or more accurately in hoover speak, "the policy is still under formation but I trust Obama to make something that is not possible, magically possible."

You know, at least Al Gore was honest. I'll give him that.

3. We have evidence and want to try them here in the U.S., but the host country refuses to extradite them.

Hmmmm.... this raises pesky questions of national sovereignty and respect for international law. Do citizens of other countries lose their rights just because we want to try them? Can Iran kidnap a U.S. citizen in Boston and render him to Iran for trial under Iranian law?

Payback is hell.

This is the problem with SCOTUS taking international law under advisement and giving Constitutional rights to non-U.S. citizens. Things get muddled and all of a sudden you can't just consider U.S. law - you have to obey all laws, international law included.

It's that reciprocity argument. Not smart. I guarantee France doesn't do it. They surely didn't when it came time to test nukes. But we are all about world opinion now.

This is why you can't decide these things by consensus - because everyone gets to have an opinion and no one will like all the options. Obama is about to find that out. Of course there's always the chance the press will take a page from Ms. Priest's book and simply not show up.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 2, 2009 06:01 PM

There is nothing in the constitution that prevents congress from increasing the protections for the detainees in our own court system. The only/b> reason to render a detainee to another country is to reduce the level of protections they would be afforded here.

That's why prefacing renditions with "But Obama will construct a program where we ensure that their rights are protected" is utter BS. The entire point is to not protect their 'rights'*.

I don't hold that a foreign national on foreign soil is covered under the U.S. Constitution.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 2, 2009 06:26 PM

That's why prefacing renditions with "But Obama will construct a program where we ensure that their rights are protected" is utter BS. The entire point is to not protect their 'rights'*.

Well yeah. That is the point. And that's what prevents the discussion from being honest.

But you see, if you just define "rights" differently depending upon who is in the Oval Office, such trivial distinctions cease to matter. I don't buy that a foreign national on foreign soil is covered under our Constitution either, Yu-Ain.

But that is the standard that was levied on the Bush administration by Gitmo critics.

And that is the standard set forth by Obama's executive order quite explicitly:

Nothing in this order shall be construed to affect the obligations of officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government to comply with all pertinent laws and treaties of the United States governing detention and interrogation, including but not limited to: the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution; the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A; the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441; the Federal assault statute, 18 U.S.C. 113; the Federal maiming statute, 18 U.S.C. 114; the Federal "stalking" statute, 18 U.S.C. 2261A; articles 93, 124, 128, and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 893, 924, 928, and 934; section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 2000dd; section 6(c) of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Public Law 109 366; the Geneva Conventions; and the Convention Against Torture. Nothing in this order shall be construed to diminish any rights that any individual may have under these or other laws and treaties."


Posted by: Cassandra at February 2, 2009 06:32 PM

And regarding reciprocity in the treatment of captured combatants... captured U.S. service members have not enjoyed humane treatment or anything approaching same from an enemy since, what, WWI?

That must be why I route all reciprocity arguments from those angling to confer US Constitutional protections on enemy combatants, particular combatants defined by the GC to be of the illegal variety, around the consideration pipe and route it as the seepage/spewage that it is, to the septic system.

Military Tribunals are the ticket.

Posted by: bthun at February 2, 2009 06:42 PM

Obama: I intend to construct a rendition program that will respect the rights of all detainees.

Reporter actually doing his job: Mr. Obama, if we are going to protect all the detainees rights, why not just prosecute them in our own court system.

Obama: Because what I'm going to claim we are doing and what is actually going to happen aren't the same thing. Now run along son, and write me another story on Hopenchange*.

*Hopenchange, because the amount you gave us is a whole lot more than what it is worth.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 2, 2009 06:42 PM

Other than that, I really don't have an opinion on the matter.

Posted by: bthun at February 2, 2009 06:45 PM

You know, Cassandra, I often disagree with what you write. Nothing personal. I often disagree with my mother, and with my sister. Indeed, it's not altogether unknown for me to disagree with myself. (But I do hate it when that happens, I confess.)

But we apparently do agree (& I can scarcely believe it, and I'm a little giddy, truth be told) that the Bush years were "horrid". >:p and/or |;+p)

Now that we've finished dealing with the gist of your last post (Cassandra at February 2, 2009 06:01 PM), we can move on to some of tangential points you apparently intended to make.

If you start out and tell me a story of how the US came to exert custody over person X, and then how the US proposes to render that person X to sovereign Z (and some details about how Z is likely to treat X etc.), I may well be able to tell you (a) whether I believe such rendition was lawful [read: unobjectionable as a matter of law/policy] and (B) whether I happen to believe that the policy as recently expounded by Obama conflicts yields the same or similar result.

In other words, the way you've phrased it, doesn't give me enough information for me to say you've got it wrong or got it right, really as to any particular fact scenario. That said, I think I can say straightforwardly that I disagree with you on several points I think you're making.

You write (for example):

If, lacking sufficient evidence to proceed against them in a court of law, we send them to a country that gives them LESS protection than they would get under our laws, have we guaranteed their "Constitutional rights" as outlined in the Obama provisions?

Why do you write that? What right does anyone have to be afforded the equivalent of US constitutional rights if that person is properly subject to the control of a jurisdiction which is not the US? Where is it in the Executive Order, precisely, where you believe that that is contained?

Anyhow. Maybe we're inching closer to an actual debate on the merits. Maybe not.

As a final thought, while I haven't gone back to review the materials you cited (and Yes, I did read them all, and others to boot; not saying I read them perfectly or remember half of what I read . . . but read they were) it strikes me that the (First) Trade Towers Sheik Whoever, was picked up jointly by us (US) and Pakistan and then "rendered" to the US. Once here, he indeed have Constitutional rights, and those rights were preserved and he was (God Bless our Judicial Institutions and Servants) convicted. Such rendition (so far as I can tell/believe) was hunkey-dorey.


Anyway. If you think it would be profitable, I'm willing to continue the discussion. But frankly I don't do well in a vacuum -- And I need more facts and specificity than I've been heretofore provided in order for me to have anything of potential substance to add to the debate (whatever it is, exactly, that we're debating . . .) :-p

Posted by: hoover1 at February 2, 2009 06:49 PM

I apologize for "the CAPS thingy," Hoover, it wasn't meant to SHOUT at you, but only to get your attention.

So how's that zip code coming, partner? If you will pardon me me for being presumptive, I'm guessing, just guessing, mind you, that your junk mail ain't being delivered within walking distance of 10048. I could be wrong, of course, but I find it highly unlikely in this case. Otherwise you would have already smacked me silly with the facts.

Perhaps, Hoover, my friend, you have somehow steeled your consciousness against the suffering of those who were burnt alive or who leapt to their deaths rather than confront prolonged agony that bright Tuesday morning in Zip Code 10048. Perhaps, my friend, you did not know those folks, or their families, or their dreams. These neighbors were not numbers, my friend. Their deaths were not intended by their murderers to become mere casualties in a war, a war the purposes for which we in the West cannot yet even comprehend, much less accept or respond to in the responsible fashion we have adopted. These Americans were murdered as a means to shock us into confused inaction. It would have worked, too, except for some asshole cowboy from Crawford that plunked-down that most powerful extension of diplomacy smack-dab in the middle of the hive.

To be honest, I'm feeling safer these days, Hoover. How about you?

Zip Code?

Posted by: spd rdr at February 2, 2009 06:55 PM

CORRECTION: (one of several I could note, but . . .)

. . . Obama provisions? NO

Why do you write that . . .

Posted by: hoover1 at February 2, 2009 06:56 PM

Why? Because that is the entire lefty argument against GITMO and Rendition: That it doesn't protect the detainee's rights.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 2, 2009 07:08 PM

As for where it is in the Exec Order, just read the bolded section Cass already cited.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 2, 2009 07:10 PM

As for where it is in the Exec Order, just read the bolded section Cass already cited.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 2, 2009 07:10 PM

Well, I expect that Cassandra can answer for herself, but if that were her answer it would be manifestly wrong. Those words simply do not mean to create any rights (point no. 1).

All due respect, to believe otherwise is to have simply grossly misread the Order.

And so far as I am aware (and I'm fairly confident that this is true), no "such rights" (as referenced in my and/or Cassandra's post) otherwise exist (point no. 2).


Posted by: hoover1 at February 2, 2009 07:25 PM

These Americans were murdered as a means to shock us into confused inaction. It would have worked, too, except for some asshole cowboy from Crawford that plunked-down that most powerful extension of diplomacy smack-dab in the middle of the hive.

To be honest, I'm feeling safer these days, Hoover. How about you?

Zip Code?


Posted by: spd rdr at February 2, 2009 06:55 PM,

[Hoping that this time the italics thingy works in-post as it does in-preview . . .]

--spd rdr

Well, guy, we disagree about alot of things, but I will confess that I too am feeling alot safer these days. It's nice to have something to agree on.

Posted by: hoover1 at February 2, 2009 07:37 PM

So why does it do that! Lying, cheating, Preview!


[Italics should (& were previewed to) have ended after " 6:55PM, " ]

Posted by: hoover1 at February 2, 2009 07:41 PM

"Neca eos omnes. Deus suos agnoset" or "Kill them all. God will know His own."

So 500 Cathars in Bezier were murdered by Papal forces in the 13th Century. This afterthe Papal forces first sacked the town and killed perhaps 100,000 inhabitants. These "left over survivors" renounced the Albigensian Heresy--but the Papal priests could not tell which ones were lying to save their mortal skin, and which had in fact truly renounced their heresy. So they killed them all.

So what DO you do with folks captured on a terrorist battlefield? If the choice is giving them a full up trial in a Federal courthouse in downtown Richmond Virginia, or helping the fellow along to an earlier meeting with his 72 virgins, well the ACLU is likely to lose a client by means of a hot brass verdict.

Gitmo was a halfway house; the planning there deliberately involved keeping the captured combatants off of US soil. There was a line of cases dating from shortly after WW II that said that foreign nationals held in prisons outside the United States did not have much, if anything, in the way of due process and procedural protections--the U.S. court system simply had no jurisdiction over those facilities.

The lefties raised holy hell about Gitmo. Congress worked on creating a military tribunal solution to this problem--which the Supreme Court ultimately overturned--after it was pushed up through the lower courts. Chief Justice Roberts was right--no one was helped by that SCOTUS decision. No one is being helped by Obama's grandstanding either. Real terrorists or "freedom fighters" [take your pick] shoot real bullets, and plant real bombs, kill real people, and create real problems--that need to be dealt with other than by empty posturing and bloviating pundits of all stripes.

Now I hear Hoover say "give the man a chance, he's only been in office for two weeks". Well Mr. Hope N Change said that on the day he clinched the nomination that in future it would be said that "this is the day the water level stopped rising . . . ."(and a lot of other blather as well). One is entitled to hold the Miracle Worker to his word. Why wasn't this problem fixed the day he finally took office?

Posted by: Mike Myers at February 2, 2009 08:24 PM

BHO is learning a lesson, as will most of his "team". Reality is a bitch. They will revert to what they think works, which is socialism, secrecy and marginally illegal activities and then justify it by saying it had to be that way....

Sad, sad, sad.

Reality is a bitch. I wish I could tell the Pee-resident that. And then tell him that the long term goal is not served well by short term actions and concessions for "peace in our time", as Mr. Chamberlain discovered in 1938.

Reality is a bitch. How is what BHO is doing - or not doing - good for Michelle Obamas children? It's not. It's terrible that someone would have to be told that they need to do the right thing to protect their own children. Doing the right thing should be the thing a person of honor does without reason, without cause. It is character.

I am convinced that the current resident of the White House has no honor, no character and no respect for the traditions and customs that make the position he holds more than a "job." He is just a thug from Chicago who found a way in the back door and is pretending to be a decent person. His transparency is opaque. He won't even open his birth certificate or college transcripts to the public.

How stupid is the public at large? Pretty damn stupid. I just can't believe how fast it happened.

K

Posted by: kbob in Katy at February 2, 2009 08:29 PM

I fixed it for you. You have to use italics before and after every block. Old version of Moveable Type - it's a bug.

As to "Those words simply do not mean to create any rights (point no. 1)."

You just go on believing that, hoover. Good Lord :)

Posted by: Cassandra at February 2, 2009 09:00 PM

Dude, if you can read "Nothing in this order shall be construed to affect the obligations ... to comply with all pertinent laws and treaties ... including but not limited to: the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution" as "the prisoners have no rights whatsoever under the Constitution not even the 5th nor the 8th" then you and I are arguing from two completely different realities.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 2, 2009 09:09 PM

Per Cassandra -- You just go on believing that, hoover. Good Lord :)

Okie-doke, Cassandra. I will (though it's not really a question of "belief").

If you don't understand the language of the Order (and it's clear you don't) that's about "all she wrote" on this sub-topic, anyway. (You might want to contemplate, however, how you are apparently unable to specifically identify the language by which this Order supposedly "creates" any such rights . . . Alternatively, you might consider running it by some lawyer-friend, if you're so blessed/cursed.)

[Thanks for the heads-up on the formatting; with luck I might actually remember the point]

To Yu-Ain Gonnano:

Dude back atcha, youngster. I have no doubt that we are operating under two very different realities. :-p . That said, I confess I don't follow your post -- in part (no doubt) because I don't have a clue who you're referring to when you talk about "the prisoners" (much less why you're talking about these unidentified prisoners)

All that said, Be Well, All.

Posted by: hoover1 at February 2, 2009 09:32 PM

We're talking about renditions and you don't know what I mean be prisoners? Really? Who else do you render but prisoners? The Arizona Cardinals?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 2, 2009 09:52 PM

Well guy, we disgree about a lot of things, but blah blah blah blah blah blah...

Oh ferchrisakes, Hoover, the best you can do when you get called out is to fold like a lawn chair and play passsive-agressive possum? Whatever, you won't be the first possum that I left in road. But should you ever find your pair again, Zip Code, I'll be right here.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 2, 2009 10:03 PM

"...but read they were) it strikes me that the (First) Trade Towers Sheik Whoever, was picked up jointly by us (US) and Pakistan and then "rendered" to the US. Once here, he indeed have Constitutional rights, and those rights were preserved and he was (God Bless our Judicial Institutions and Servants) convicted. Such rendition (so far as I can tell/believe) was hunkey-dorey." -Hoover1

No. Sheik Abdel-Rahman (pronounced Rak-man) was arrested in the US (while here on a visitors visa, he is an Egyptian citizen, believed to be part of the conspiracy that assasinated Anwar Sadat), tried and convicted of conspiracy to commit (various) terrorist acts. He was also tried as an accessory to the murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane (aquitted). He is now serving a life sentence at a Federal medical prison in North Carolina.
Nice guy, meet 'em everywhere.

Ramzi Yusef was the man who admitted (proudly) in court to making the bomb for the first WTC bombing after his conviction, was arrested in Pakistan and EXTRADITED (there was no rendition) to the US, was convicted of conspiracy and murder in Federal Court in New York City in 1998, and is now serving a life sentence at the Federal Supermax prison in Colorado.

And isn't it great how lawfare worked to deter future terrorism attacks?

Oh, and Ramzi Yusef's uncle is Kahlid Sheik Mohammed, who is now in Guantanamo, alleged "mastermind" of the 9/11/01 plot. What should we do with him now, hmmm?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 2, 2009 11:17 PM

Shame that keel hauling is no longer an option...

Posted by: bt-barnacle-hun at February 2, 2009 11:22 PM

Don Brouhaha -- aRamzi Yusef was the man who admitted (proudly) in court to making the bomb for the first WTC bombing after his conviction, was arrested in Pakistan and EXTRADITED (there was no rendition)

Obliged. I stand corrected.

And isn't it great how lawfare worked to deter future terrorism attacks?

I would agree that it's both likely and fortunate.

What should we do with him now
Try him, of course.

Posted by: hoover1 at February 2, 2009 11:56 PM

hoover, it is a complete waste of my time to attempt to have a conversation with someone who can't be bothered to read carefully and isn't interested in an honest conversation:

Nothing in this order shall be construed to diminish any rights that any individual may have under these or other laws and treaties."

It's beyond stupid to think the President explicitly listed two amendments to the Constitution and a long list of statutes and treaties and *then* (just in case he left anything out) threw in a garbage clause to say, "If I screwed up and left anything out, that doesn't mean detainees don't have rights arising from those documents, too."

I'm not wasting any more time on you.

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 06:52 AM

Y'all wouldn't talk this way about renditions if you had bothered to see the movie Rendition.

You would only be about one out of 1,987 other people that saw the movie. Of those, 267 were movie critics, 355 were at a MoveOn.Org film showcase, and the rest were teen-age boys hoping Reese Witherspoon would show some skin.

The movie was really good despite the Bush-Hitler-Reich Nation not watching. Reese got a Teen Choice Award for best acress after all, and it won best movie at the Pickens County Fair Movie Showcase or something.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0804522/awards

Posted by: Wild Eyes Ideological Leftwinger Going Into Conniption at February 3, 2009 12:14 PM

Rendition?

You mean they actually released it? I wasn't even impressed with the *trailer*...

Posted by: BillT at February 3, 2009 01:00 PM

Today is the 50th anniversary of Buddy Holly's untimely death, and all day long I've had the lyrics of Buddy's "Well All Right" and Paul Simon's "Me and Julio" running rampant through my vacant head. There's no real connection here other than both are snappy tunes with lyrics long memorized. But as for the last 30 years I have awoken with the horror of ABBA's "Dancing Queen" playing in my head, this was a gift. Indeed, that I have not yet killed myself, or anyone else, as a result of "Dancing Queen", proves, not only that I am a better man than you, but also how dangerously close to the edge of your life you will be if you ever, I mean ever, lob snark to me about this. Got me?

Posted by: spd rdr at February 3, 2009 06:59 PM

You are so adorable when you're angry :p

But it's true. You are a better man than I am.

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 07:12 PM

... lob snark to me about this."

What about direct fire? Maybe a ricochet or three? I know! Nu'cu'lar wedgies!!!

Posted by: Snarkammando at February 4, 2009 12:35 AM

"But it's true. You are a better man than I am." - Cassandra.

For which The Unit is undoubtedly grateful. :)

I dunno. The last few days it seems like I have woken up to "I Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher.

You know, it was so cold this morning that Bernie Madoff had his hands in his own pockets. (rimshot!)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 4, 2009 10:35 AM

Here ya go Don... A rimshot push button.

I suspect that this push button will be worn out over the next four years. So much material, so little time.

Posted by: bthun at February 4, 2009 10:52 AM

I don't awaken to *any* mental muzak.

The Voices drown it out...

Posted by: BillT at February 4, 2009 11:06 AM

Be thankful always for small respites that, for whim or wisdom, you can carry forward.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 4, 2009 06:34 PM

FOR THE RECORD

hoover1 at February 2, 2009 11:56 PM wrote that he "stood corrected" with respect to the question of the rendition/extradition of Ramzi Yusef.

This post is an update; apparently I should not have "stood corrected" so swiftly. (Not that this is a terribly important issue, but I supplement for purposes of accuracy and FYI.)

The "stood corrected" remark issued in response to Don Brouhaha's earlier comment in this thread that:

". . . Ramzi Yusef was the man who admitted (proudly) in court to making the bomb for the first WTC bombing after his conviction, was arrested in Pakistan and EXTRADITED (there was no rendition) . . ."

I "stood corrected" based on my cursory (partial) reading of the wikipedia entry on Yusef, not noticing (apparently) that that article's assertion that Yusef had been extradited was unsourced.

I read today Richard Clarke's 01.29 Boston Globe article on renditions( http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/01/29/the_confusion_over_renditions/ ), and if Clarke is accurate, it turns out that Yusef was in fact "rendered" (as opposed to extradited), insofar as he was turned over to the US, not through the normal extradition process:

"[Pakistan] waived [its] own extradition process and handed [Yusef] over to US officials on the guarantee that they would be brought to the United States and afforded the same rights of the accused in the US justice system."

I found the Clarke article informative, and would recommend both it and the recent Glenn Greenwald (salon.com) posts on rendition (which pointed me to the Clarke piece) to be highly worthwhile, for those interested in bettering their understanding of the facts and the issues involved.

Posted by: hoover1 at February 5, 2009 05:00 PM

hoover, again you are playing about with definitions that neatly allow people to forward dishonest narratives.

Clarke conveniently doesn't bother to mention the instances where the Clinton administration rendered suspects to torture and summary execution, making this paragraph absolutely laughable:

the return to the United States of Yousef and Odeh were "renditions" as defined by a directive from the first President Bush. Although all renditions have become controversial, these examples did not involve dragging criminals to a third country for torture or interrogation, nor did they violate US law or human rights. In these cases, the country in which the criminals were arrested waived their own extradition process and handed them over to US officials on the guarantee that they would be brought to the United States and afforded the same rights of the accused in the US justice system. The Supreme Court has even ruled that renditions occurring without the cooperation of the nation of arrest are legal if the accused is expeditiously brought into the US justice system.

Let's take a little trip in the wayback machine.

We weren't even at war, back then. Yes, Pakistan agreed to waive their formal extradition proceedings. So what? How does that change anything WRT the prisoner's rights? If anything, it lessened them b/c he never got a hearing.

The fact that our SCOTUS has ruled everything is perfectly legal is of little comfort to a foreign citizen seized off the streets of another country and summarily shipped back here without so much as a by-your-leave.

To see this, all you need to do is answer my question: how would WE react if Iraq or Iran "arrested" an American citizen on the streets of Boston or Paris, France and shipped him back to Iraq or Iran for "trial"? Would we be likely to give a rat's behind that THEY considered it "legal" under their laws? Think about it for a minute and I believe you'll see the problem.

Again, that's my point. No one is being honest about what is being done here.

Posted by: Cass at February 5, 2009 05:23 PM

...and all this is especially laughable from the perspective of the right.

We actually contend that in some cases, the national interest outweighs some of this stuff and all nations are going to do crappy things (Al Gore's "go grab his ass, he's a terrorist", which I find hilarious in light of his subsequent hypocrisy on the subject of renditions). But the far Left, of which I fully realize you may not be a member, won't admit there are any circumstances under which our national sovereignty or security outweigh this fiction that is 'international law' (just who enforces international law, anyway? The UN? Don't make me laugh).

The problem with all this bleeding heart nonsense is that when the rubber meets the road, someone has to work out the ugly details and these folks never seem to be around when that part comes. Or, like Richard Clarke, they write dishonest op-eds that don't mention the messy bits.

How convenient.

Posted by: Cass at February 5, 2009 05:27 PM

Cassandra -

I was just trying to set the record straight, as best as I understand the facts. And to pass on information for those who might find it useful.

I suppose I could succumb to your invitation to further discussion, but I don't think that will be fruitful for you or me or any hypothetical reader. When (for example) I am unable to grasp how you can so thoroughly mis-read the cited portion of the Obama executive order (see, supra), I have no faith in any ability on my part to constructively address posts like your last two -- which I view as unhelpfully unfocused and disjointed and unedifying. I have, for example, no better idea now than before you posted, if you believe that the current administration position on rendition is proper, or what it is that you would have the US position on that subject be. And why do you phrase things in the form of questions (how would "we" react if... ) I find such manner of discourse/argument particularly unhelpful -- at least where (as here) you fail to * * *

Shut up hoover1.

Simply said, to engage on this subject as you seem to invite, seems like just too much work -- with too little prospect of me learning something, or you learning something.

Be well.

Posted by: hoover1 at February 5, 2009 07:15 PM

Drop dead.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 5, 2009 10:12 PM

I am unable to grasp how you can so thoroughly mis-read the cited portion of the Obama executive order...

And I am unable to grasp how you think your interpretation of what you believe you read but could have been mistaken about because you're unfamiliar with the citations but nonetheless ties in with something on a different tangent but is nonetheless not germane to Cass' argument.

Which is:

1. Lefties did not scream that the rendition process was inhumane and immoral during the Clinton Administration, from whence it originated.

2. Lefties *did* scream that the rendition process -- not about the people who were rendered, about the process itself -- was inhumane and immoral under the Bush Administration.

3. Lefties now believe that rendition is hunky-dory under the Obama Administration.

4. The point of the post is about the hypocrisy of the Left declaring a policy to be humane and moral when administered by a *Democrat*, then erupting in high dudgeon and declaring the same policy to be inhumane and immoral while a *Republican* is POTUS and then again declaring that same policy to be humane and moral merely because a *Democrat* is occupying the Oval Office.

5. And all the while, acting as though they continue to hold the Moral High Ground against all comers because their position is unchanged.

I apologize for using words composed of more than one syllable...

Posted by: BillT at February 6, 2009 04:22 AM

hoover is having problems because he insists upon reading things into my posts that aren't there while glossing over anything he doesn't like (or which makes him uncomfortable) in arguments from lefty pundits :p

If you're not even going to try to be even handed about things, you'll find that knee jerking every time. He doesn't know my position on renditions because I didn't take one.

First of all, "the cited part of Obama's executive order" (I read the entire order) is incomplete. In all our back and forth on the topic, hoover never mentions that. It would have been a natural argument to make and I kept waiting for him to do so. In vain. There is an additional sentence after the portion cited in the article I linked - a disclaimer of responsibility. It's a complete crock, but it's there. So Obama, after specifically ordering government officials to comply with that long laundry list of laws and treaties in their treatment of detainees, then unilaterally absolves the U.S. govermnent and its agents of legal liability if they fail to do what he just told them to do! Pretty amazing, no? I'd throw in a 'sua sponte' or two here, but I don't want to get ahead of myself.

Such one sided disclaimers of responsibility almost never stand up in court when challenged, especially when an act is unconscionable on its face. That's why I ignored it :p

As for Glenn Greenwald, he didn't say anything I haven't said in my last two posts. In fact, his commenter brings up the exact same scenario I did regarding how we would like it if a foreign country tried to render one of our citizens for war crimes. Greenwald finds this a helpful question, though obviously since I asked it, hoover considers it preposterous :p

Got bias? hoover does.

Posted by: Cass at February 6, 2009 06:00 AM

To sum up, hoover (perhaps because of his support for Obama) seems unable or unwilling to grasp the larger argument here.

1. Some righty bloggers are arguing that Obama WILL continue the renditions program (and that is a valid argument given the history of the last few presidencies - that circumstances will make it hard for him to keep a foolish promise made in haste).

2. But the majority of righty bloggers are *not* arguing that he WILL do so, but rather that Obama has not (as Lefty bloggers are claiming) ended renditions to torture. What we're saying is that as with the other hastily written and ambiguous executive orders Obama has issued in the past few weeks, this one contains a big old escape hatch.

And we're saying that when you write a rule full of loopholes, it's asking too much of the American people to expect us to believe you won't use them. It's just like the lobbying thing - he issues this ostensibly draconian ban on lobbyists that looks wonderful in theory, but soon finds that in practice, it doesn't work and he ends up issuing all sorts of exceptions to the rule right from the get-go.

I don't think this is an unfair observation. We have used evidence from the past few presidencies to show that even when we weren't at war and even when past presidents claimed they weren't rendering to torture, they did in fact do precisely that. And Lefty bloggers are STILL lying about the record. And the media did NOT expose the Clinton era renditions to torture, so if these folks think the media will hold Obama accountable, I personally think they're smoking crack.

The media didn't get outraged about Echelon either and that was just as bad as the NSA wiretap thing. Clinton era again. They didn't get outraged when Clinton used warrantless PHYSICAL searches against residents of public housing.

There is a double standard at work, but that's just fine with them because their party happens to occupy the Oval Office. I am actually in agreement with Greenwald here - I don't believe Obama presently intends to render anyone.

I just think that in the fullness of time, sooner of later a situation will arise where he's going to have to make a difficult decision or two and because he issued this exec. order that looks nicey-nicey but is in practice not airtight, no one will be watching him when they ought to be. And that never makes for good governance. If we take Greenwald at his word, he shouldn't be happy with that outcome either.

3. Though hoover just hates to be reminded of it, there's absolutely nothing wrong with righty bloggers pointing out the serial dishonestly of lefty pundits and bloggers on the renditions to torture issue.

They continue to lie about easily verifiable facts such as renditions to torture under Clinton.

This stuff matters when you have people talking about trying the Bush administration for war crimes. It matters a lot, because this stuff has gone on under every administration even when we weren't at war. So get used to it. We're going to keep bringing it up. And when people like Richard Clark continue to "leave out" huge gaping swaths of the historical record, we'll continue to remind people that they're lying, and that renditions to torture and execution were a part of the Clinton legacy too.

Oh. And the argument that trials in absentia in an Egyptian court are "due process" is just ludicrous. These are the same folks that think military tribunals are "kangaroo courts".

It is to laugh, but that just shows you how willing some people are to excuse anything that happens under a Democrat administration.

Posted by: Cass at February 6, 2009 06:57 AM

"It is to laugh, but that just shows you how willing some people are to excuse anything that happens under a Democrat administration."
After but roughly a fortnight of the BO Administration's actions, I have to admit that for me, laughter is rapidly becoming the last action under consideration.

I wonder if President BO will have the brass, much less the spine, to follow through on his meeting with the U.S.S Cole and 9/11 survivors/families today, at the White House, as reported here?

Posted by: bthun at February 6, 2009 07:49 AM

I am not happy with many of this administration's actions, bthun.

But I am trying very hard, while remaining true to my principles, to remember that I love my country more than my party. And so I'm trying to limit my criticism to actions and policies and not the person. That's not a rebuke, though it may sound one, but an explanation of my tactics and motivation. I can't read Obama's mind.

The guy doesn't think like I do.

I will continue to assume, though it is often hard for me, that he is acting in good faith. My beliefs and his are hard to reconcile but he's my president and I do want this country to succeed. It's hard for me to write under these circumstances, especially when I hear news like today's about the troop deployments to Afghanistan. All I can is wait and see. And offer my thoughts, unsatisfactory as folks like hoover may find them :p

We are what we are!

Posted by: Cass at February 6, 2009 08:18 AM

IOW, yes, I think he will. And I hope he does continue to meet with military families of all kinds (not just the bellyachers and malcontents he and Mrs Obama surrounded themselves with during his campaign). He needs not to isolate himself from those who disagree with him.

Posted by: Cass at February 6, 2009 08:20 AM

One final thought.

As angry and worried as I get at times, I do have a deep and abiding faith in this country.

There are many ways to skin a cat, and many forces we don't control. I think we'll be all right. We just need to speak up, try and make ourselves heard as the minority party, and try not to go off the deep end so we aren't marginalized. That's why I'm so harsh with those on the right who are adopting the very tactics the Left used against us - if you act like a nut job, you can't very well complain when people conclude that you are, in fact, an extremist nut job who cares more about winning or scoring points than about your country. That may not be the case in point of fact.

But if you let the end become your be-all and end-all to point that you're willing to countenance methods you condemned when the other party was in power, you lose any credibility or moral authority you may have possessed. Considering that it's the middle 20% of voters who decide elections in this country every freaking time, I guess dont' see that as either a moral choice or particularly smart strategy in the long run :p

Posted by: Cass at February 6, 2009 08:25 AM

The high road is the preferred path and I too place my nation above any political party.

Now I think I'll hush, lest the Black Crown Vic reappear out front.

Posted by: bthun at February 6, 2009 08:34 AM

If it's the one with the trailer hitch, run out and tell him to get his butt back here and turn in the strip map to MathMom's place -- I've got a Black Helicopter wandering aimlessly out there because the idiots can't read a Garmin 2000.

Posted by: BillT at February 6, 2009 11:34 AM

There's a map that shows guys how to strip?
Kewl.

Posted by: Snarkammando at February 6, 2009 11:42 AM

Need a copy?

Posted by: BillT at February 6, 2009 01:41 PM

Well. Perhaps there is some degree of progress being made on this thread, and some prospect of additional progress.

To start off, I commend Cassandra on the last several of her posts (starting with Cass at February 6, 2009 06:00 AM, insofar as they seem (to me at least) to clarify some questions and to positively forward learning/the debate.

Cassandra states clearly (6:00 am) that my ignorance of her position on renditions was unsurprising ". . . because I [Cassandra] didn't take one." That was my read of the matter, though it seemed to me odd that so many keys could have been stroked in a thread of this nature, without the principal complainant actually taking a substantive position on the very substantive issue of what US policy should be.

As I read Cassandra's subsequent post (6:57 a.m.), she still does not take a stand on what US policy on renditions should be. I continue to find that odd in the extreme. Nonetheless, she renders it much clearer (to me at least) what is the gist of her complaint about the subject executive order:

"But the majority of righty bloggers are *not* arguing that he WILL do so, but rather that Obama has not (as Lefty bloggers are claiming) ended renditions to torture. What we're sayingis that as with the other hastily written and ambiguous executive orders Obama has issued in the past few weeks, this one contains a big old escape hatch." [Bold in original]

From this I gather that the following would be a fair precis of Cassandra's position:

"Mr. President: I do not have any position on the subject of renditions "proper", or if I do have any, I prefer not to make them known. Notwithstanding my (non-)thoughts on that matter (and irrespective of what they might be), I do have a legitimate bone to pick with you. To wit: your EXECUTIVE ORDER ENSURING LAWFUL INTERROGATIONS is in effect a fraud on the American people and indeed the world, for it contains enough loopholes to drive a battalion of Mack Trucks through it -- all without changing US policy one whit from that of the previous Administration (or the one before that), even if the executive order is in fact adhered to."

I expect that Cassandra will correct me (hopefully with details), if the above precis is incorrect in any substantial way.

Assuming its correctness, however, I offer the following points.

(1) It still remains unclear to me to what Cassandra is referencing as loopholes (". . .a big old escape hatch."

(2) Is this alleged "escape hatch" that which is the subject of the Telegraph piece (which "prompted" commencement of this thread, to begin with) ?

(2.1) If so, then presumably it (the loophole) is limited to details concerning the apparent fact that ". . . the new president has failed to call an end to secret abductions and questioning. . . "

(2.2) However, Cassandra has complained that loophole allows the Administration to "render into torture" -- i.e., that even if the EO is adhered to, it may be adhered to and still persons may be rendered into torture. [Again, while Cassandra expresses no opinion as to whether that (rendering into torture) is a good thing or a bad thing, this purported loophole is objectionable not as a matter of public policy per se, but because it perpetrates a fraud on the citizenry.]

(2.3) Therefore (unless I'm missing something - always a possibility), the loophole must reside elsewhere.

(3) Is this alleged "escape hatch" found in the concluding sentence of the EO's Sec. 6? That is the sentence which (so Cassandra states in her 6:00 a.m. post) ". . . unilaterally absolves the U.S. govermnent and its agents of legal liability if they fail to do what he just told them to do . . . " [That sentence reads: "This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity against the United States, its departments, agencies, or other entities, its officers or employees, or any other person."]

I dunno if that's what Cassandra has in mind. Such a provision, however, is a fairly uncontroversial and a fairly common one in Executive Orders, however. Moreover, to the extent that Cassandra believes that such a provision somehow "authorizes" or allows for "rendition into torture" (for example), that's just plain wrong. It has no such effect or intent.

(4.) Consequently, I'd be obliged if Cassandra could, with all possible specificity, identify the language of the loophole and why (if it isn't unmistakeably and self-evidently obvious from the language itself) why such language amounts to "a big old escape hatch" concerning rendition into torture.

I have other disagreements with Cassandra's recent posts but they can certainly await further developments (or simply remain unvoiced.)

That said, I certainly do agree with Cassandra when she writes that there is "nothing wrong with righty bloggers pointing out the serial dishonestly of lefty pundits and bloggers on the renditions to torture issue." (6:57 a.m.). I expect that we may disagree as to who has been "serially dishonest", but of course dishonesty in discourse is properly the subject of rebuke where it can fairly be said to be fairly found.

Be Well.

Posted by: hoover1 at February 6, 2009 02:31 PM

Richard Clarke may not be the most reliable of sources to base an argument on. On the face of it, his position in the Clinton Administration's Counter-terroism efforts were less than successful, considering:

1) the time it took to investigate and round up the conspirators of the 1993 WTC bombing. This was largely facilitated by an Egyptian informer (who viewed himself as an Egyptian patriot who hated the people who assasinated Anwar Sadat), that penetrated the group (Rahman's mosque) and risked his life by wearing a wire that allowed the FBI to get incriminating information. Without him, they were getting nowhere, fast.

2) Khobar tower bombings in Saudi Arabia in 1995. We NEVER got to the bottom of that, to Louis Freeh's personal disgust. The FBI investigation was blocked and hamstrung by other elements in the government. Who, we don't know.

3) Double emabassy bombings in 1998. Al Qaeda claimed credit, but were there any arrests ever made?

4) The bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. Perpetrators committed suicide in the act, but those "planners" that were caught are now,....free?

The purpose of the Guantanamo Bay facility was not to create a team of sadists bent on "torturing" wayward Muslims and other Arabs. The failure of rendition as practiced by the Clinton administration, was that we got little or no working intelligence out of that method. We could find people connected, but because we (the US) were unwilling to interrogate these people, keeping our skirts and hands clean, we were in the dark as to what was going on.
Hence, the tragedy of 9/11/01. 3,000 people dead. Sweet.

I don't personally know how ALL the detainees were treated at Guantanamo Bay. We should care, to a point. But if they are locked up and being fed three squares a day and aren't being brutalized routinely (or at all), my sympathy is limited. If they are being routinely questioned, that's part of the game they were playing. The ultimate purpose of the Guantanamo Bay prison was to collect intelligence from those members of Islamic terror cells that were captured.

To my understanding, only THREE people were waterboarded, one being Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

Again, I wouldn't particularly take Richard Clarke's viewpoint on this, as he FAILED in his job and has been out of the loop for over 7 years now. He has a vested interest in whitewashing his failures as the lead member of the anti-terrorism Task Force inside the NSC in the Clinton White House.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 6, 2009 03:26 PM

Hoover, stop ignoring the inconvinient.

Cass is pointing out two issues of hypocrisy:

Obama while campaigning: Rendition must be ended.
Obama while in office: Rendition must be ended (but not if I really really want to).

And

Lefties on Rendition during Clinton: No big deal.
Lefties on Rendition during Bush: IT IS TEH EVIL!!!!
Lefties on Rendition during Obama: No big deal.

Trying to change the subject to what her opinion on the practice is, is a red herring. It is irrelevant to the discussion.

1) You can't argue with someone's take on a matter when it keeps changing. 2) "Fine for me, but not for thee" is wrong regardless of what position you take.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 6, 2009 06:54 PM

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