Tortured News

Vice President Dick “the Dick” Cheney has confirmed the U.S. engaged in waterboarding. Jonathan S. Landay of McClatchy Newspapers reports:

Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed that U.S. interrogators subjected captured senior al-Qaida suspects to a controversial interrogation technique called “water-boarding,” which creates a sensation of drowning.

Cheney indicated that the Bush administration doesn’t regard water-boarding as torture and allows the CIA to use it. “It’s a no-brainer for me,” Cheney said at one point in an interview.

Cheney’s comments, in a White House interview on Tuesday with a conservative radio talk show host, appeared to reflect the Bush administration’s view that the president has the constitutional power to do whatever he deems necessary to fight terrorism.

There’s a more shocking allegation against the U.S. in today’s Guardian. Richard Norton-Taylor writes,

The CIA tried to persuade Germany to silence EU protests about the human rights record of one of America’s key allies in its clandestine torture flights programme, the Guardian can reveal.

According to a secret intelligence report, the CIA offered to let Germany have access to one of its citizens, an al-Qaida suspect being held in a Moroccan cell. But the US secret agents demanded that in return, Berlin should cooperate and “avert pressure from EU” over human rights abuses in the north African country. The report describes Morocco as a “valuable partner in the fight against terrorism”. …

… After the CIA offered a deal to Germany, EU countries adopted an almost universal policy of downplaying criticism of human rights records in countries where terrorist suspects have been held. They have also sidestepped questions about secret CIA flights partly because of growing evidence of their complicity.

Democracy may be on the march, but it’s marching the wrong way.

Norton-Taylor doesn’t mention Big Dick, but I suspect he’s the instigator of the CIA deal with Germany. The Dickster is into torture and intrigue. A New York Times editorial from one year ago described how the Dick made a secret proposal to Sen. John McCain to allow the CIA to torture and abuse prisoners as long as the subjects weren’t U.S. citizens and the nasty stuff took place overseas.

Like Cheney cares whether such activities are legal or not. It’s what he wanted the CIA to do.

Myron Beckenstein writes in today’s Baltimore Sun:

The nightmare still isn’t finished for Maher Arar and, through him, for those who care about what is happening to what once were considered bedrock American values – such naive concepts as liberty, trial by jury and innocent until proved guilty. The latest spasm showed up this month, four years after something that never should have happened had long passed the stage where it should have been over. …

… Maher Arar is a Canadian citizen born in Syria. In 2002, he was returning to Canada from an overseas trip, and this required a brief stopover at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. He was not planning to even leave the airport. But he was seized by U.S. agents as a threat to American security, held for several days and then sent to Syria, where he was jailed and tortured for a year before being allowed to return home to Canada. …

… The Canadians were not even consulted before this was done.

The picture became more complicated by the recent revelation that days before Mr. Arar was flown to Syria, Ottawa had notified the FBI that the information it had posted on him was wrong. It could find nothing linking him to terrorism.

So we have a man with no known terrorist ties being arbitrarily, nonjudicially convicted of having terrorist ties and sent off to a punishment that until recently was deemed unconscionable. [emphasis added]

It seems the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told the U.S. that Arar was an “Islamic extremist” — an error, it turns out. RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli told a Canadian House of Commons investigative committee that he had not been informed about this information. According to James Brown of CNews:

Justice Dennis O’Connor, who headed a public inquiry into the affair, found the Mounties had sent information to the U.S. wrongly identifying Arar as an Islamic extremist with suspected ties to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network.

It was “very likely” that information was the key to an American decision to deport Arar to Syria, where he was tortured into false confessions, said O’Connor.

In fact, Arar was never more than a “person of interest” to the Mounties, who wanted to question him because he’d been seen in the company of another man targeted in an anti-terrorist investigation.

Zaccardelli, in his committee testimony last month, said the force moved to correct the erroneous information while Arar was in custody in New York.

The commissioner said he didn’t personally learn of the mistake until after Arar was already in Syria. He offered no explanation of why he didn’t go public on the matter at that time.

Did the Dick make Zaccardelli an offer he couldn’t refuse? But whatever happened, Becksenstein of the Baltimore Sun writes, the U.S. is shrugging its shoulders and denying responsibility.

Washington’s reaction has been neither apology nor even concern. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said he had not read the report and didn’t know that Mr. Arar had been tortured, although this fact had been public for years. Mr. Gonzales added, “Well, we were not responsible for his removal to Syria.”

The United States had shipped an innocent man to torture in a foreign country, but “we were not responsible.” A day later, a clarification was issued: When Mr. Gonzales said “we,” he was not speaking of the U.S. but just of his own Justice Department.

The deportation was carried out by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which in 2002 was part of the Justice Department. But now it is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Thus the Justice Department cannot be responsible for INS actions, even if they happened on its watch. And obviously DHS can’t be responsible for something that happened before it was created. Responsibility has fallen safely into the bureaucratic cracks.

But it turns out the Justice Department did know. The deportation order was signed by Deputy Attorney General Larry D. Thompson. Even John Ashcroft, the attorney general at the time, knew. When Canada learned of Mr. Arar’s deportation and protested, Mr. Ashcroft assured Ottawa that Syria had assured him that Mr. Arar would not be tortured.

Even weirder, Arar remains on U.S. terror watch lists. Last week the Associated Press reported:

Syrian torturers could find nothing to implicate Canadian Maher Arar in al-Qaida or any other terrorist ties. An official Canadian government report agreed with that finding and recommended that Arar be compensated for his 10 months in a Syrian prison.

Still, Arar remains on the U.S. government terror watch list. And the United States has not admitted fault for holding him incommunicado for a week, then, five days after his first telephone call, putting him on a private jet and flying him to the Syrian prison.

Because the watch list will not let Arar enter the United States, he had to stay in Canada and participate by telephone in a discussion of his case and of the U.S. law signed Tuesday by President Bush on treatment and prosecution of detainees.

I guess the Gubmint figures that even if Arar wasn’t an anti-American extremist before they sent him to Syria to be tortured, he may be one now.

3 thoughts on “Tortured News

  1. Pingback: The Heretik : Slam Dunk on Torture

  2. GREAT NEWS!!!!!!!Lets start by having the CIA water board cheney and his family till they tell us who was at the meeting that shaped our energy policy…then we will call on the CIA to water board the bush klan until they get to the bottom of the whole leaking of a CIA agents name thing……it is great to know we can FINALLY get to the bottom of 911 by having the CIA waterboard those who are being less than forthcoming in our government with the truth.Six years of cover-ups,lies and secrets can come to an end in what the righties believe is humane….I will fill up the tub for the CIA and lets start a new prime time game show called bobbing for truth with OUR government employees trying to win prizes with their breath holding skills…..

    So CIA….lets get busy….it is,after all,it’s a no brainer!I am on board and I agree 100% it is time to start getting rough with the big threats to our country, indeed to our constitution….the biggest terrorist threat this country faces is bush co…lets fill up that tub and make this nation safe once again from dictators and their axis of evil….hell broadcast it on national television…and let that be a reminder to the next piece of crap dictator who tries to hi jack my country!

    As a matter of fact , lets not have another political debate with out this GREAT new tool…from now on all debates will include the oh so humane pratice….NO ONE will be president again without meeting the publics need to see them nearly drown first…I will make the popcorn.

    The next time I think someone has lied , or if my paranoid mind thinks someone may be planning to do me harm …I reserve the right to fill up my tub and play along at home… if it is good enough for our EMPLOYEES to use as a tool why not us too?I can think of several people who might just need to be put under water until the truth floats to the top….

    Since it works so well…I think wives should use it if they suspect a cheating spouse…lets expand this so we can all get in on the wet wild fun….it could be a fun game to play with the family over the upcoming holidays…Why wait until christmas morning to know what your getting when you can just water board your kids for the information?Why should the CIA have all the fun?

    And why we are on the subject…who will water board the CIA to make sure they are staying honest?I say we rotate so we all get a chance….we should all be citizen water boarders….(wave flag here)…..if this bothers your liberal ideals we will put scented oils in the water and it will be like aroma therapy for the bad guys….mmmmm lavender,,how nice!

    Then, just to let the world know who we are,and how much we love the water,we build the wall on the mexican border,right?, only we make it a water wall and fill it with the bodies of those we kill by accident playing our waterboarding games, just to serve as a reminder to those stupid enough to come live in torture ville….hmmm a new idea……how about teaching immigrants english via water boarding…. don’t give me that look! Water boarding is not mean, it is not torture it is a tool….it seems silly to keep it in the old tool box and never use it….lets start this “humane” pratice with our biggest liars…line em up!

    Happy water boarding my fellow Americans..let the eagle soar, until we can catch the lying bastard and water board him too!

  3. Yeah, it’s a no-brainer alright…Cheney’s gotta have no brains if he can’t see the deficit in the cost to benefit relationship. The sadistic asshole was spouting off about winning hearts and minds in Iraq, but he’s too stupid to realize that he’s losing hearts and minds in America and in the world..Not that he held any hearts personally… because he’s a total puke.

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