Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Thursday, June 07, 2007

  "We choose freedom and the dignity of every life."

In his 2002 State of the Union address, George Bush had recourse to some inspiring rhetoric about upholding human dignity. A newly released human-rights report about Bush's policy of having people around the world kidnapped and "disappeared", however, puts matters in a different light.

In 2002, this is what Mr. Bush had to say about American policy:

I know we can overcome evil with greater good...

America will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity... No people on Earth...eagerly await the midnight knock of the secret police...

Our enemies send other people's children on missions of suicide and murder. They embrace tyranny and death as a cause and a creed. We stand for a different choice, made long ago, on the day of our founding. We affirm it again today. We choose freedom and the dignity of every life.

As it turned out, Mr. Bush couldn't even accord other people's children the basic dignity of leaving them alone.

By the 2003 SOTU address, Bush had found his form.

To date, we've arrested or otherwise dealt with many key commanders of al Qaeda... All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way -- they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.(Applause.)

You may remember the wild, sickening applause that greeted that statement, which evidently referred to an official policy of "disappearing" terror suspects.

Over the years, and in the face of threats of prosecution by Bush & Co., reporters and activists have exposed the worldwide network of secret CIA prisons; kidnapping of suspects; "extraordinary rendition" flights; Soviet-style torture; abuse; murder; coerced confessions supplied by allies such as Uzbekistan and Syria; and so on ad nauseam.

One by one, the terrorists are learning the meaning of American justice.

The latest revelations about Bush-style abuses are contained in a report prepared by a coalition of rights groups, Amnesty International, Cageprisoners, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law, Human Rights Watch, and Reprieve. The 21-page report released today, Off the Record, documents twenty-one "disappeared" men very likely held in secret CIA prisons at some stage, whose whereabouts now are unknown. (None were ever transferred to Guantanamo.) Off the Record adds a further seventeen men and one woman for whom evidence is somewhat less decisive than for the first group.

The evidence for these findings came from various sources, including interviews with US officials. Many of the names appear on a seemingly official 2006 list of "Terrorists No Longer a Threat". The imprisonment of some others has been officially confirmed by other means.

It is of course illegal under both US and international law to hold prisoners in secret or to "disappear" them (for example, under the UN Convention against Torture). There are no legal provisions for the CIA to operate any prisons abroad, secret or otherwise.

The report, Off the Record, also documents allegations of torture, cruel, and degrading treatment of these "ghost detainees".

It also shows that despite the administration's frequent claims that the men held at CIA prisons are "the worst of the worst," in fact some of the "disappeared" were at worst low-level operatives.

As for George Bush's profession of concern for the children, that didn't prevent the US from holding children in secret, abusing and coercing them, and threatening their parents through them. The best-documented child prisoners are the seven and nine year-old boys of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, seized in 2002 when the CIA could not capture their father. After the father was captured, the CIA held onto the boys to use as leverage to force him to the CIA itself confirmed.

But other children as young as infants have been taken into custody along with fathers and mothers. In one case, the brother, sister-in-law, and one-month old niece of a suspect (Majid Khan) were seized along with him and imprisoned for up to a month.

* *

Well, we'll always have 2002:

America will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity.

crossposted from Unbossed

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