Friday, December 18, 2009

Obama's Torture Logic

Democrats like to claim that Obama 'ended torture'. The reality is of course just a bit different. All Obama did was to end some of the Bush era executive orders. Effectively, Obama returned to the Clinton policy. But, this is very, very different from 'ending torture'.

Before Bush, America tortured, just under some rather tortured logic. It meant that an American CIA officer would not attach the electrodes, would not ask the questions, and would not throw the switch that turned on the electricity that made the victim scream in agony. They would however work the people from other countries who did this, sometimes turning victims over to them via 'extraordinary rendition.'

Now we are starting to see news reports on what Obama's Torture Logic really looks like.

From the UK's Guardian, we get

CIA working with Palestinian security agents: US agency co-operating with Palestinian counterparts who allegedly torture Hamas supporters in West Bank

Palestinian security agents who have been detaining and allegedly torturing supporters of the Islamist organisation Hamas in the West Bank have been working closely with the CIA, the Guardian has learned.

Less than a year after Barack Obama signed an executive order that prohibited torture and provided for the lawful interrogation of detainees in US custody, evidence is emerging the CIA is co-operating with security agents whose continuing use of torture has been widely documented by human rights groups.
The most common complaint is that detainees are severely beaten and subjected to a torture known as shabeh, during which they are shackled and forced to assume painful positions for long periods. There have also been reports of sleep deprivation, and of large numbers of detainees being crammed into small cells to prevent rest. Instead of being brought before civilian courts, almost all the detainees enter a system of military justice under which they need not be brought before a court for six months.
Some of the mistreatment has been so severe that at least three detainees have died in custody this year. The most recent was Haitham Amr, a 33-year-old nurse and Hamas supporter from Hebron who died four days after he was detained by GI officials last June. Extensive bruising around his kidneys suggested he had been beaten to death. Among those who died in GI custody last year was Majid al-Barghuti, 42, an imam at a village near Ramallah.
Sa'id Abu-Ali, the PA's interior minister, accepted detainees had been tortured and some had died, but said such abuses had not been official policy and steps were being taken to prevent them. He said such abuses "happen in every country in the world". Abu-Ali sought initially to deny the CIA was "deeply involved" with the two Palestinian intelligence agencies responsible for the torture of Hamas sympathisers, but then conceded that links did exist. "There is a connection, but there is no supervision by the Americans," he said. "It is solely a Palestinian affair. But the Americans help us."

That last piece shows the semantics of Obama's Torture Logic. "Supervision" is a very precise word. And its unlikely that any country, state or even puppet government would willingly put its own intelligence officers and police under the direct supervision of agents of a foreign power. So, I believe the PA official when he says there "is no supervision". The CIA officer probably merely 'suggested' that the prisoner should be left hogtied for another day. And maybe the CIA officer only 'suggested' that maybe one more slightly more powerful blow to the kidneys might be what was needed to make the victim break. There was no "supervision". But there were "links", and "the Americans help us".

Amongst all these word games, we "helped" to beat a nurse to death this year. Ain't life just wonderful with Obama's Torture Logic?

No comments: