More on torture

It has been hard for me to write anything about this whole business about "rendition" and torture and secret prisons, because both the scale and rankness of it have, to be honest, struck me personally, and the sort of string of foul language I am most inclined to produce would not make for a good blog post. The only insight I have relates to the Bush administration's apparent habit of demolishing the credibility of its secretaries of state (in the case of this one, not a difficult task). Beyond that, all I have to offer is the expectation that this administration's extremism, adventurism and intentional disregard for international law will have us paying a very high price for a very long time.

Government spokespeople have been unable to explain who is being held illegally, why they are being held, and what they hope to accomplish by torturing them (their impossibly narrow definition of torture does not change the facts, nor does it change any existing legal definitions). They have been unable to explain why they have been operating unregulated prisons on the territory of other countries, including Poland and Romania. They have been unable to explain why they have kidnapped a German citizen in Macedonia to be tortured in Afghanistan, or a refugee cleric in Milano to be tortured by Egyptian security agents.

Nor have they denied reports that are out. Rice's strategy has been to tell European governments to "back off," offering incentive in the invitation of governments to examine their own complicity. In fact, there may well be good legal ground for examining the complicity of any state involved in the process, and it appears that there have been several.

The movements and landings of aircraft can be reconstructed, and efforts to cover them up traced. Khaled al-Masri's lawsuit will force the creation of a public record. What is done in secret will not remain secret. The people responsible will carry fewer of the consequences than everybody else.

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