Assertion, unsupported by fact, is nugatory. Surmise and general abuse, in however elegant language, ought not to pass for truth. Junius

2006/11/15

The Smoking Gun on Torture?

The American Civil Liberties Union today issued a press release on two as-yet unseen documents related to the CIA's practice of extraordinary rendition --- the practice of detaining and "interrogating" prisoners in third countries. These two documents, thus far embargoed, apparently authorized the CIA to engage in this practice, which has been internationally condemned and has caused political headaches in several European capitals. According to the ACLU, the directive was issued right from the top:
The two documents in question are a directive signed by President Bush granting the CIA the authority to set up detention facilities outside the United States and outlining interrogation methods that may be used against detainees, and a Justice Department legal analysis specifying interrogation methods that the CIA may use against top Al-Qaeda members.

In legal papers previously filed before the court, the CIA claimed that national security would be gravely injured if the CIA were compelled to admit or deny even an "interest" in interrogating detainees. But in a letter to the ACLU dated November 10, the CIA reversed course and acknowledged that the Justice Department memorandum and presidential directive exist. The CIA continues to withhold the documents.
A smoking gun? Maybe. Interesting that in an apparently unrelated move, the new U.S. Senate will open investigations on extraodinary rendition. The new chair of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, Carl Levin, has indicated that he's "not comfortable" with current CIA practice. Said Senator Levin: "I think that there's been some significant abuses which have not made us more secure but have made us less secure and have also, perhaps, cost us some real allies, as well as not producing useful information. So I think the system needs a thorough review and, as the military would say, a thorough scrubbing."

Clearly these two documents will play a prominent role in any proceedings. The bipartisan honeymoon --- such as it was --- between the newly elected Democrats and the Bush administration is clearly over, barely a week after the election.

Update: Great minds blog alike. Liberal Catnip posted on the very same subject at the exact same time; her take is well worth reading.

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