As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, August 28, 2009

The New Rendition

In addition to the other goodies, the release of documents describing the CIA's involvement in Bush-era war on terror programs includes a shocking look at "extraordinary rendition":

The CIA’s lurid description of rendition — which hasn’t yet been reported — describes in clinical detail a process where the detainee is “securely shackled” before being “deprived of sight and sound through the use of blindfolds, earmuffs, and hoods” enroute to a “Black Site.” His “head and face are shaved” and a series of photos are taken “while nude.”

The description of rendition is contained in a document that the ACLU obtained as part of its big FOIA request and posted online late last night. It’s an 18-page fax from the CIA to the Department of Justice in December 2004, and looks like a response to a request by Justice for more info about the CIA’s treatment of “high value detainees,” or HVDs.

The document says the CIA’s rendition procedure is designed to ensure that the capture of a HVD helps create a “state of learned helplessness and dependence” that will facilitate the interrogation process.

The description of “rendition” begins on page three of the document, and describes the process this way:

a. The HVD is flown to a Black Site. A medical examination is conducted prior to the flight. During the flight, the detainee is securely shackled and is deprived of sight and sound through the use of blindfolds, earmuffs, and hoods.

There is no interaction with the HVD during this rendition movement except for periodic, discreet assessments by the on-board medical officer.

b. Upon arrival at the destination airfield, the HVD is moved to the Black Site under the same conditions and using appropriate security procedures.

The procedures, according to the memo, have a dramatic impact on the detainee. It says the process “creates significant apprehension” in the detainee “because of the enormity and suddenness of the change in environment, the uncertainty about what will happen next, and the potential dread” the detainee “might have of U.S. custody.”

What's described is basically the total breakdown of the individual. They mean to condition the detainee into a state of helplessness, through a variety of techniques, including sleep deprivation, slapping, "walling," stress positions, water dousing, and other things, which when delivered in tandem has been identified as a form of torture.

And we're still basically doing this, though not to our own black sites but third-party countries.

The Obama administration will continue the Bush administration’s practice of sending terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation, but pledges to closely monitor their treatment to ensure that they are not tortured, administration officials said Monday.

Human rights advocates condemned the decision, saying that continuing the practice, known as rendition, would still allow the transfer of prisoners to countries with a history of torture. They said that promises from other countries of humane treatment, called “diplomatic assurances,” were no protection against abuse.

“It is extremely disappointing that the Obama administration is continuing the Bush administration practice of relying on diplomatic assurances, which have been proven completely ineffective in preventing torture,” said Amrit Singh, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, who tracked rendition cases under President George W. Bush.

Asking the countries pretty please not to torture (with a wink and a nod attached, I'm sure) is just simply unacceptable. I give leeway when a prisoner is taken into custody and to a trial, but kidnapping people with insufficient evidence and handing them to countries known to torture so we don't have to get our hands bloody does not play. It continues the dispiriting legacy of the Obama Administration with respect to civil liberties that only gets occasionally disrupted with better news.

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