I’m not nearly as sanguine about this as Ed was:
President Obama’s executive order closing CIA “black sites” contains a little-noticed exception that allows the spy agency to continue to operate temporary detention facilities abroad.
Current and former U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition that they aren’t identified because of the sensitivity of the subject, said such temporary facilities around the world will remain open, giving the administration the opportunity to seize and hold assumed terrorists.
The detentions would be temporary. Suspects either would be brought later to the United States for trial or sent to other countries where they are wanted and can face trial.
…I wasn’t sanguine when I noticed this last week, and I’m not sanguine about it now.
I might as well be explicit about this: this essentially means that we’re back in the rendition business. If we’re really going to be closing Gitmo – you tell me; this administration is already notorious for having expiration dates on all of its promises – we can do three things with the irregular fighters that we encounter:
- Shoot them on the spot.
- Put them through the American civilian judicial system.
- Hand them off to somebody else.
Shooting them on the spot is going to happen a lot more; this may come as a surprise to some people, but American military personnel are not actually obligated to accept surrenders from terrorists, in the sense that we are so obligated when it comes to actual, legitimate military personnel. For that matter, the Geneva Conventions were originally set up to discourage irregular fighters: the signatories were all for being able to string up guerrilla troops caught in arms and out of uniform. We will now pause for the usual regurgitated, half-understood “rebuttals” to this fact: smile; nod; and move. as they say, on.
So that gets rid of the small fish, and most of the medium fish – but we still have the rest to consider, and they may have information that could benefit us. So, we send them out to be tried in civilian courts… whoops! Mind the horrified laughter from the military and civilian intelligence operatives. No way in heck that they’re going to hand over suspects to a system that can demand that said operatives appear in public to answer questions, reveal their identity and operations, and explain their operating methodology. Again, we will pause for the “rebuttals:” again, we shall respond with an eye-roll at the precious naivete of the theoreticians, and keep going.
So… we give them to somebody else. And, unlike the ones that we have in custody now, we can give them to somebody else, because nobody will know that we have them. And there’ll be somebody who’ll be willing to take them, either because the people we’re handing off have done things of mutual interest, or because everybody wants to be owed a favor by an American government agency. We aren’t what you call chintzy about paying back, you understand. And thus we hand them off, and it’s not our problem any more, and if a little while later one of our allies tips us the wink that something was going on, and we never ask how they knew… well. However it happened, It’s Not Our Fault. All hail the great God Plausible Deniability.
Yeah, this should sound familiar: it’s called “extraordinary rendition,” and it was quite the thing in the last Democratic administration. Which was full of personnel who are now in the current Democratic administration. And because it’s one of those nasty little bureaucratic workarounds that thrive in the shadows, they know that they can probably get away with reimplementing it… particularly since everybody who might care about it on their side is so busy screaming about Gitmo that they’ve got no time alloted for screaming about anything else. So, what’s stopping them?
No, really. The New York Times had an op-ed on this last month. Sure, you could make the argument that Reuel Gerecht’s just being freaking all right-wing wistful about the notion, but you should also note that he points out that Sandy Berger is the guy who came up with the notion in the first place. And where’s Berger now? Why, he’s with the National Security Network. And what has NSN President Rand Beers been doing lately? Why, he’s been in charge of Obama’s Homeland Security transition team. Yes, yes, I know, Beer’s supposedly against “torture,” just like Panetta supposedly is. You may want to focus on the fact that it’s much more accurate to say that these guys are against us committing “torture.”
I mean, how do you know what other countries are doing, really?
PS: No, I’m not happy about this. I also voted for the other guy, so what happens next is not my fault.
Crossposted at Moe Lane.