February 22, 2005

And Now, For My Rendition of "April in Damascus"

In the Feb 14th-21st New Yorker, staff writer Jane Mayer's article "The Outsourcing of Torture" blows the lid off the U.S. government's "extraordinary rendition" program, a program in which the C.I.A., at the behest of the Defense Department and with the simple John Hancock of C.I.A. legal counsel, can seize a terror suspect without charge and whisk him or her off to another country to be interrogated. The most popular destinations for rendered suspects are Egypt, Syria, Morocco and Jordan--"all of which," according to Mayer, "have been cited for human rights violations by the State Department, and are known to torture suspects."

Mayer continues: "To justify sneding detainees to these countries, the Administration appears to be relying on a very fine reading of an imprecise clause in the United Nation Convention Against Torture (which the U.S. ratified in 1994), requiring 'substantial grounds for believing" that a detainee will be tortured abroad."

And they are being tortured. Ayer's brings us the story of a Syrian born Canadian national who was nabbed walking off a plane after returning from vacation with his family. He was flown to Syria and tortured for a year. In the end, no charges were filed and he was set free, but only after the Canadian government took up his case.

What kind of message does this send to the rest of the world concerning America's dedication to human rights? We are currently putting the heat on Egypt and Syria to not support terrorism and to improve civil rights for their citizens. Is this the way we win the hearts and minds of millions of muslims while convincing them to demand democracy over totalitarianism?




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