The far reach of the CIA's rendition program covers one quarter of the world
“Something Wicked This Way Comes” was the line that came to my mind when I looked over the CIA Torture Report released Tuesday. It was so dark I could only cradle my face in my hands and breath deeply, reading only one or two paragraphs at a time. It made me flash back to seeing the Vietnam War on the news as a child. Except Vietnam seems so small compared to this.
After 9/11, the Bush Administration granted the C.I.A. expansive new authority to carry out renditions without White House approval for each and every case. The rendition program between the United States and other countries exploded. Over the years I have seen headlines like “23 Countries Involved in U.S. Rendition Programs.”
Participant nations in the program also shared air space for transferring terror suspects. This is why President Bush said repeatedly that “If you aren’t with us, you are against us.” He was talking to other countries, not us individually. At least we hoped so.
In 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order ending the C.I.A.’s torture program and closing black-sites for indefinite detention. It also required that all interrogations by the U.S. comply with the Army Field Manual on Interrogation as well as Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. However, the order was carefully crafted and did not repudiate the practice of rendition, specifically for temporary hold and transfer status.
In 2013 an “Open Society Justice Initiative” report was released stating that over 50 countries have been involved in rendition programs with the United States. I believed it then, but with so many other things going on in the world, the gravity of it didn’t have the same impression on me as it does currently.
According to the report from Open Society the 54 governments identified include:
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.That amounts to about one fourth of the world. These countries differ in every way, especially in religions. Notice that Syria and Iran are on this list. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” had to have been a strategy in this program. It’s a bottomless Pandora’s Box.
In July of 2014, The European Court of Human Rights fined Poland 100,ooo Euro’s for holding two suspects and participating in the rendition program. Other European countries are to be censured as well. Professor Joseph Margulies of Cornell University told the New York Times:
“It’s the first time a court has condemned a European state for its role in the rendition program. From top to bottom, the case is a comprehensive condemnation of the C.I.A., the black-site program and Poland’s role in it.”
What is most disturbing is that suspects were transferred to countries that are widely known for their human rights abuses such as Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. The program widened from transferring criminal suspects to another country for prosecution, but under the Bush Administration, suspects were specifically transferred for detention and interrogation. So instead of, say, a Syrian suspect being rendered to his home country for prosecution, he was sent to Morocco, held on behalf of the United States.
Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner 2006-2012, said in February, 2013:
“The responsibility for these crimes is also on European governments. As Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, I raised this issue repeatedly with governments. There were those who totally denied (this is still the case with the Romanians); while others referred to their special relationship to Washington. They feared that any investigation into their own support to the CIA program would risk their possibilities of future cooperation with CIA on security matters.”
“In other words, European governments are now hiding behind the argument that they cannot investigate these crimes because of the position of the US government. And the US government continues to block any inquiry which would bring out facts on what really happened. The result is IMPUNITY and an extremely bad example set by governments who otherwise want to be seen as defenders of human rights.”
That’s just the European countries. Other countries may not be held accountable at all. The need for alternative avenues of accountability in what amounts to a globalized outsourcing of torture, an effort the United States may have led, but in which it did not act alone.
The architects of these techniques throughout the network of countries will hopefully be prosecuted first. It would be a step in the direction to regaining some credibility with the rest of the world, regardless of whether they took part in our rendition program. The problem is that there are so many redactions, pseudonyms, and other deletions, only 528 pages were released out of 6,000. There is little to establish accountability at this point.
Dianne Feinstein (D) – CA pushed for this report to come out before the Republicans took hold of the Senate in January of 2015. If not for her, we may not have known anything about this report and the investigations would have been for not. Feinstein had this to say after the report was released:
“Due to the CIA’s redactions to the report, there are limits to what I can say in this regard, but it is clear fact that the CIA deployed officers who had histories of personal, ethical and professional problems of a serious nature. These included histories of violence and abusive treatment of others and should have called into question their employment with the United States government, let alone their suitability to participate in a sensitive CIA covert action program.”
Only time will tell what happens with this quagmire. Something wicked has taken hold of our democracy. And it hasn’t just come this way, it’s been present for a long long time.