6
   

Obama on Torture

 
 
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 07:29 am
On another thread about President Obama not meeting expectations, the topic of torture and rendition came up. I initially thought that the accusation was that Obama had not addressed rendition at all, for which I defended him. But I did some googling and found that's not the case so I thought this topic deserved a thread of it's own. To start it off, we have this article from the NY Times which was the most recent detailed info I could find.
Quote:
U.S. Says Rendition to Continue, but With More Oversight

By DAVID JOHNSTON
Published: August 24, 2009

WASHINGTON " The Obama administration will continue the Bush administration’s practice of sending terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation, but pledges to closely monitor their treatment to ensure that they are not tortured, administration officials said Monday.

Human rights advocates condemned the decision, saying that continuing the practice, known as rendition, would still allow the transfer of prisoners to countries with a history of torture. They said that promises from other countries of humane treatment, called “diplomatic assurances,” were no protection against abuse.

“It is extremely disappointing that the Obama administration is continuing the Bush administration practice of relying on diplomatic assurances, which have been proven completely ineffective in preventing torture,” said Amrit Singh, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, who tracked rendition cases under President George W. Bush.

Ms. Singh cited the case of Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian sent in 2002 by the United States to Syria, where he was beaten with electrical cable despite assurances against torture.

The announcement, by President Obama’s Interrogation and Transfer Policy Task Force, seemed intended in part to offset the impact of the release on Monday of a long-withheld report by the C.I.A. inspector general, written in 2004, that offered new details about the brutal tactics used by the C.I.A. in interrogating terrorism detainees.

Though the Obama administration previously signaled that it would continue the use of renditions, some civil liberties groups were disappointed because, as a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama had strongly suggested he might end the practice. In an article in Foreign Affairs in the summer of 2007, Mr. Obama wrote, “To build a better, freer world, we must first behave in ways that reflect the decency and aspirations of the American people.”

Mr. Obama continued, “This means ending the practices of shipping away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries, of detaining thousands without charge or trial, of maintaining a network of secret prisons to jail people beyond the reach of the law.” In January, the president ordered secret prisons run by the C.I.A. to be shut down.

The task force has proposed a more vigorous monitoring of the treatment of prisoners sent to other countries, but Ms. Singh said the usual method of such monitoring " visits from American or allied consular officials " had been ineffective. A Canadian consular official visited Mr. Arar several times, but the prisoner was too frightened to tell him about the torture, a Canadian investigation found.

The administration officials, who discussed the changes on condition that they not be identified, said that unlike the Bush administration, they would operate more openly and give the State Department a larger role in assuring that transferred detainees would not be abused.

“The emphasis will be on ensuring that individuals will not face torture if they are sent overseas,” said one administration official, adding that no detainees would be sent to countries known to conduct abusive interrogations.

Rendition began to be used regularly under President Bill Clinton and its use expanded rapidly under President Bush after the terrorist attacks in September 2001. American intelligence agencies often appeared to send detainees to other countries to avoid the legal complications of bringing them to the United States.

Some human rights advocates said they thought the Obama administration was maintaining the rendition program out of fear that its elimination would force the government to accept additional detainees on American soil and threaten Mr. Obama’s pledge to close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, by January.

The task force that recommended the modified transfer policy was set up in January to study changes in rendition and interrogation policies under an executive order signed by President Obama.

Another recommendation approved by Mr. Obama was a proposal to establish a multiagency interrogation unit within the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to oversee the interrogations of top terrorism suspects using largely noncoercive techniques approved by the administration earlier this year.

The creation of the new unit will formally strip the C.I.A. of its primary role in questioning high-level detainees, but agency officials said they would continue to play a substantial role.

“The C.I.A. took active part in the work of the task force, and the agency’s strong counterterrorism knowledge will be key to the conduct of future debriefings,” said Paul Gimigliano, a C.I.A. spokesman. “That won’t change.”

The new unit, to be called the High Value Interrogation Group, will be made up of analysts, linguists and other personnel from the C.I.A. and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies. It will operate under policies set by the National Security Council.

The officials said all interrogations would comply with guidelines contained in the Army Field Manual, which outlaws the use of physical force. The group will study interrogation methods, however, and may add additional noncoercive methods in the future, the officials said.

Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch said the new interrogation policy represented a significant step toward more humane treatment, though he expressed dismay that administration officials failed to impose stricter limits on rendition.

But he praised the Obama administration’s overall approach to difficult counterterrorism issues, saying the government had adopted “some of the most transparent rules against abuse of any democratic country.”


My sense is that diplomatic assurances are too weak and the monitoring mechanism sounds loosey-goosey. Thoughts?
 
revel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 07:37 am
Quote:
The emphasis will be on ensuring that individuals will not face torture if they are sent overseas,” said one administration official, adding that no detainees would be sent to countries known to conduct abusive interrogations.


Actually this one statement, mostly the latter part where the official said "no detainees would be sent to countries known to conduct abusive interrogations" is new to me and is somewhat encouraging. I mean it is pretty clear statement if they truly do follow through, then it clears up the whole issue of renditions and detainees being sent to other countries to be tortured.



FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 07:46 am
@revel,
It is encouraging, but I'm easily confused on these things. The DOJ announcement says:
Quote:
In keeping with the broad language of the Executive Order, the Task Force considered seven types of transfers conducted by the U.S. government: extradition, transfers pursuant to immigration proceedings, transfers pursuant to the Geneva Conventions, transfers from Guantanamo Bay, military transfers within or from Afghanistan, military transfers within or from Iraq, and transfers pursuant to intelligence authorities.

Which makes me wonder if the assurances given above apply to all of these scenarios -- especially the last one.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  4  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 08:33 am
@revel,
It's somewhat encouraging, but let's put it in context. Rendition is illegal. That's not open to debate. Yet the Bush administration somehow figured out that rendition wasn't really illegal because it decided that torture isn't really torture. Unfortunately, I'm not really seeing a big difference with the change in administrations. I am extremely disappointed in the Obama administration's waffling on the torture issue. It has allowed torture to continue at Guantanamo, which should have been closed months ago. It has not investigated previous acts of torture and has given a blanket amnesty to both torturers and those who authorized the torture. Obama's position on this issue is nothing less than shameful, and I have little confidence in his administration's promises regarding rendition.
revel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 09:03 am
@joefromchicago,
Why do you think the administration allows torture to continue at Guantanamo merely because the prison (whatever term is used there) still exist? Apparently they are still working on closing it but may miss the deadline which was Jan. 22 of next year.

U.S. may miss Guantanamo closure deadline: Gates

I wasn't aware the practice was illegal, according to the article the practice has been used since President Clinton.

I was simply encouraged that they said no detainees would be shipped to countries known to torture detainees rather than just saying they would monitor to make sure they won't be tortured.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 09:04 am
My take is that he's doing little more than talking about not torturing while continuing to torture. In some ways it's more dangerous, because the he's successfully dampened the public backlash against torture without stopping it. When even typically reasonable people like Freeduck are apologists for it we have a problem. Now we are back to out of sight out of mind on the issue.
revel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 09:08 am
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
My take is that he's doing little more than talking about not torturing while continuing to torture


That is a fine declarative statement, but from where do you draw you take on it? Is it merely continuing the rendition program even though they said they would not send any detainees known for torturing detainees?
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 09:15 am
@revel,
What's the point of rendition to countries that torture if not for the torture? My opinion, which naturally is hard to show evidence for, is that this is a tool primarily intended to allow intelligence agencies to torture while giving our leaders plausible deniability.

The ole have it both ways, where you torture but condemn torture.
revel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 09:26 am
@Robert Gentel,
Perhaps it is to clear up space so to speak so that they can close the prison in Gitmo or simply not have so many detainees to have deal with to be more cost effective. Or they could be secretly trying to torture detainees.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 09:31 am
@revel,
The practice predates Gitmo, so I don't think it's motivated by "space" concerns there.
kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 09:39 am
Haven't we been doing this for decades? Why do they talk about it like George W. Bush came up with the idea? He, like every other president we've had for the past half a century or so, was just continued doing what we do. And Obama seems to be doing the same.
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 09:51 am
@kickycan,
kickycan wrote:

Haven't we been doing this for decades? Why do they talk about it like George W. Bush came up with the idea? He, like every other president we've had for the past half a century or so, was just continued doing what we do. And Obama seems to be doing the same.


What relevance that has to a debate on whether Obama has lived up to his promises on torture is not clear to me.

The relevant thing is the HE has not stopped it.



0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 09:51 am
@kickycan,
kickycan wrote:
Haven't we been doing this for decades?


Yes. The scale went off the charts after 9/11 though.

It's also worth noting that the Bush administration (specifically Condoleezza Rice) denied that it was used for torture as well, and said that we don't send the kidnapped individuals to countries to be tortured.

Not much different from the Obama administration there either.
revel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 09:52 am
@Robert Gentel,
I realize that, I thought merely that could be one reason, as the article indicated, for continuing the practice under modified terms. If they are not going to send detainees to countries known for torture, then presumably those countries won't be torturing them.

Apparently they are going to have task force set up just to monitor this sort of thing to ensure detainees are not tortured.

Quote:
The Task Force was also directed to study and evaluate "the practices of transferring individuals to other nations in order to ensure that such practices comply with the domestic laws, international obligations, and policies of the United States and do not result in the transfer of individuals to other nations to face torture or otherwise for the purpose, or with the effect, of undermining or circumventing the commitments or obligations of the United States to ensure the humane treatment of individuals in its custody and control."


source

Unless you think the Obama administration is going to elaborate lengths to pull the wool over our eyes with the above and plans on just releasing prisoners to be tortured in other countries.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 09:53 am
@revel,
Then why are they being sent to other nations?
revel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 09:59 am
@dlowan,
I don't know, I was simply encouraged by their stated position of not sending detainees to countries known to torture and with the mechanisms they have in place ensure they are not tortured.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  4  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 09:59 am
@revel,
revel wrote:
I realize that, I thought merely that could be one reason, as the article indicated, for continuing the practice under modified terms. If they are not going to send detainees to countries known for torture, then presumably those countries won't be torturing them.


I think it would be very naive to believe that. The Bush administration said the same thing.

http://www.rferl.org/content/Article/1063551.html

Quote:
Earlier, Rice acknowledged that the United States has flown terrorist suspects abroad for interrogation. However, she denied that the detainees were ever tortured in U.S. custody or knowingly transferred to other countries to be tortured.


revel wrote:
Unless you think the Obama administration is going to elaborate lengths to pull the wool over our eyes with the above and plans on just releasing prisoners to be tortured in other countries.


That's almost exactly what I think. There's no point in transferring the prisoners to other countries to interrogate if not for the techniques they are willing to employ.

If this were all on the up and up they could arrest the individual and use due process. The kidnapping to black sites alone is wrong enough, and when they are handed to countries that have no compunction about torture to be interrogated and then handed back to us it would take a degree of gullibility that I don't possess to believe that it's not for the purpose of "enhanced" interrogation.
0 Replies
 
revel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 10:01 am
If you are right, then I agree with you.
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 10:37 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

When even typically reasonable people like Freeduck are apologists for it we have a problem. Now we are back to out of sight out of mind on the issue.

I'm going to ask again that you quote me. There is a huge difference between defending the practice and defending (admittedly erroneously, again) the absence of action to stop it. Dial down the moral outrage for a second.
joefromchicago
 
  4  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 10:39 am
@revel,
revel wrote:

Why do you think the administration allows torture to continue at Guantanamo merely because the prison (whatever term is used there) still exist?

According to Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the treatment and detention of detainees at Guantanamo Bay has actually worsened since President Obama took office in January of 2009.

revel wrote:
I wasn't aware the practice was illegal, according to the article the practice has been used since President Clinton.

You mean rendition? Of course it's illegal.

United Nations Convention Against Torture:
Art. 3, Sec. 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.

The United States interprets the phrase "where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture" to mean "if it is more likely than not that he would be tortured."
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

 
  1. Forums
  2. » Obama on Torture
Copyright © 2020 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 07/07/2020 at 04:01:52