Friday, April 29, 2005

Outsourcing Torture

In the Emperor's press conference last night, the following exchange took place between a reporter and his eminence:


REPORTER: Mr. President, under the law, how would you justify the practice of renditioning, where U.S. agents scoop up terror suspects abroad, taking them to a third country for interrogation? Would you stand for it if foreign agents did that to an American here?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: That's a hypothetical, Mark. We operate within the law, and we send people to countries where they say they're not going to torture the people. But let me say something. The United States government has an obligation to protect the American people. It's in our country's interest to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm's way. And we will do so within the law, and we'll do so in honoring our commitment not to torture people. And we expect the countries where we send somebody to not to torture, as well. But you bet, when we find somebody who might do harm to the American people, we will detain them and ask others from their country of origin to detain them. It makes sense. The American people expect us to do that. We -- we still at war.

Disregarding the fear-mongering rhetoric designed to dodge the question and the poor grammar, it is important to focus on the one sentence that actually answered the question -- "We operate within the law, and we send people to countries where they say they're not going to torture people."

We do? Perhaps I have not conducted a broad enough search of corporate media bullshit, but I have not come across any articles about renditioning so-called "terror" suspects to Switzerland or even Costa Rica.

What I have found, however, are stories about the U.S. sending so-called "suspects" to, among other places, Saudia Arabia, Egypt and Syria, all of which use torture. Yes, Syria, a country the U.S. accuses of "embracing terrorism as an instrument of policy". Notwithstanding Syria's alleged sponsorship of terrorism, the U.S. outsources its dirty work to Syria.

Take the case of Maher Arar, the Syrian-born Canadian citizen, who made the tragic mistake of traveling on a flight that had a layover in the United States. Two years ago, the software engineer was pulled off a plane and interrogated by U.S. officials while on a stopover in New York. He was then jailed and secretly deported to Syria, the country he left when he was 16 years old, where he was held and tortured for almost a year without charge in an underground cell not much larger than a grave. The following is his account of his time in Syria:

Really, I mean, when I arrived there, I just couldn't believe it. I thought first it was a dream. I was crying all the time. I was disoriented. I wished I had something in my hand to kill myself. Because I knew I was going to be tortured and this was my -- that's all I was thinking about when I was on the plane. And I arrived there, I was crying all time. So, one of them started questioning me and the others were taking notes. The first day it was mainly routine questions, between 8 and 12. The second day, that's when the beatings started because, you know, on the first day, they did not find anything strange about what I told them and they started beating me with a cable, threaded cable, and they would beat me for three, four times. They would stop again and they would ask me questions again and they always kept telling me you are a liar and things like that. So, the beating continued for the first two weeks. The most -- the most intensive -- the intensive beating was really the first week and then after that, it was mostly slapping, punching on the face and hitting. So, on the
third day when they didn't find anything, they -- in my view, they just wanted to please the Americans and they had to find something on me. So, because I was accused of being an al Qaeda member, which is nowadays synonymous with Afghanistan, they told me you've been to a training camp in Afghanistan. And I said, “No.” And they started beating me.
(http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/02/17/1530242&mode=thread&tid=25)


The Syrian government eventually released him after Canada pressured them to let him go -- admitting that Mr. Arar seemed completely innocent and had no connection to Al Qaeda. Mr. Arar is currently suing the U.S. government.

In response to questions from the case, the best response John Ashcroft could come up with is that he "received assurances from the Syrians they wouldn't torture the guy." Hmmm... then why send Arar to Syria in the first place? Why not to Canada, where he was headed? Because there is law and order in Canada.

Lest there be any doubt about what the U.S. knows about Syria's use of torture, the following excerpt from the State Department's 2004 Human Rights Report on Syria belies Ashcroft's incredible naivete:

c. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution prohibits such practices, and the Penal Code provides punishment for abusers. Under Article 28 of the Constitution, "no one may be tortured physically or mentally or treated in a humiliating manner." However, there was credible evidence that security forces continued to use torture frequently. There were reports of death in prison due to torture (see Section 1.a.). During the year, HRAS reported numerous cases of security forces using torture on prisoners in custody, including the case of five Kurdish students detained by the police in April and reportedly beaten and subjected to electric shocks for 3 days (see Section 5). The torture of political detainees was a common occurrence. AI reported the case of four young men arrested in April of 2003 in Daraa and held in Saidnay prison where they were subjected to various forms of torture and ill-treatment, including having their fingers crushed; receiving beatings to their face and legs; having cold water thrown on them; being forced to stand for long periods of time during the night; hearing loud
screams and beatings of other detainees; being stripped naked in front of others; and being prevented from praying and growing a beard. Former prisoners and detainees, as well as the HRAS, reported that torture methods included administering electrical shocks; pulling out fingernails; forcing objects into the rectum; beating, sometimes while the victim was suspended from the ceiling; hyperextending the spine; bending the detainees into the frame of a wheel and whipping exposed body parts; and using a backward-bending chair to asphyxiate the victim or fracture the victim's spine. Torture was most likely to occur while detainees were being held at one of the many detention centers run by the various security services throughout the country, particularly while the authorities were attempting to extract a confession or information. For example, in July, a Syrian-Canadian citizen reportedly was tortured while being questioned by security services (see Section 1.e). (http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41732.htm)

American jobs are being outsourced abroad because multi-national corporations can get away with paying people $1 a day to make Nikes and the items that stock the shelves at Wal-Mart. This is the way that American corporations hide the ugly reality of what it takes to maintain perpetually ascending profits to keep their shareholders happy. Likewise, American intelligence is outsourcing torture to so-called enemies of the U.S. in order to hide the ugly reality of what the U.S. is doing in its struggle to maintain international hegemony.

25 Comments:

At 9:11 PM, April 29, 2005 , Anonymous jason said...

So let me get this straight... You're criticizing the US for sending terror suspects to other countries for interrogation, when these countries knowingly use torture. OK, I am with you, I disagree with this practice...but you make no comment against these Middle Eastern countries themselves, and their evil practices, which clearly go against Int'l laws and God's laws (for any religion I would think). Why don't you write a post about the horrible nature of these Middle Eastern countries, and how they should be stopped... instead of bashing the US. Just seems like you're focusing your anger in the wrong place.

By the way, the practice is to detain them and ask their country of origin to detain them. I haven't heard of any Swiss or Costa Rican terrorists have you? :-)

 
At 11:10 AM, May 01, 2005 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

I could write a treatise about the horrible practices of those countries but the State Dept. reports will suffice. The reason I don't write posts about those countries is that it is a given that they practice torture. It is the U.S. hypocrisy that is noteworthy. Bush is the one who stood up in front of the country and said the U.S. respects law and doesn't send people to be tortured.

The conservative pundits always say, well what about those countries. But, I have never heard Syria announce to the world that it stands for freedom and democracy and respects law.

Syria tortures people and they don't claim otherwise. They repress and they don't say otherwise. Syria doesn't bomb other countries claiming it does so to spread democracy. That is the difference.

I agree that the leaders of those countries should be stopped. Unfortunately, the only way to make that happen is to get the U.S., France and China to stop arming them (please see my post re Arms For Abuses).

 
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