06 September 2006

George Bush acknowledges secret CIA prisons

It's not that often something happens that's no surprise and yet totally surprises me. It's no surprise that the CIA is in fact operating clandestine prisons in foreign jurisdictions, but I was pretty taken aback to hear him admit it like that.

The strangest thing to me is that he can admit it without admitting it's wrong. I mean, you can only imagine that what's going on in these places must be worse than in Guantanamo and in Abu Ghraib, because those are guys that, while threats to security, you can at least admit you have, and keep in a place you can admit to having control over. It's a lot of work to go to - disappearing someone is pretty drastic, and to do it somewhere else suggests you're going to disappear them and then still be freaked out about the possibility that their disappearance and detention would be happening in a place for which you can be held responsible. Even whatever's left of Jimmy Hoffa is almost certainly somewhere in the USA.

What goes on in a secret CIA prison?

So this is all pretty cloak and dagger, and I'm not even a soldier or policeman much less a trained spy. What can a normal person hope to fathom about this kind of skulduggery?

First, you know you have to love Scottish words like skulduggery. Second, you can know that it's pretty tough to let people go after that sort of treatment. They might turn up in Albania and embarrass you in front of your allies, which is exactly the sort of thing you are trying to avoid by disappearing the captive into a foreign land in the first place.

Perhaps even more importantly, if these were dangerous people before, how dangerous are they going to be after your through doing whatever it is you do to people in a secret CIA prison? Jack Napier fell in acid and he came back with an army of toys to destroy Gotham. I'm not saying these guys would do that, I'm just saying they'd probably be about as dangerous as The Joker, just in a different way. Maybe more suicide-y.

So we don't really know what the CIA does to people in these secret places yet, but we can be pretty confident that when they're finished doing it, they dispose of the evidence.

Lots of "Alternatives"
Bush said the Central Intelligence Agency employed "alternative" procedures to extract information from the suspects. The president insisted those techniques complied with U.S. laws, the constitution and international treaty obligations
And hey, maybe torture complies with the constitution - once you get the right opinion, all you have to do is make sure it never gets to court, and bob's your uncle: waterboarding, mock executions, releasing the hounds: legal the whole time!

"It has been necessary to move these individuals to an environment where they can be held in secret, questioned by experts and, when appropriate, prosecuted for terrorist acts." -GWB
Well, that's a load of bull. These guys are so dangerous just saying you had captured them would be a security threat. How long could it take to learn what they know and prosecute them if you wanted to? You've got experts, for crying out loud, and you've had these guys in some cases five years or more. They're never being prosecuted - it's just not an "appropriate" alternative.


Oh, but how low must we sink to ensure they are never prosecuted? Kidnappings? Abductions? Disappearances? No friends, this is a new kind of war, and it requires new kinds of abuse of language. In a post 9/11 world, it's "extraordinary rendition". And that, apparently, is something the President of the United States can admit to doing without resigning. Or, y'know, without batting an eyelash. Same-same.


Blogger Gavin Neil said...

PS the title is the link to the original CBC article that inspired this post.

September 07, 2006  

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