Under Pressure will this Administration watch its words, clean-up its handbook and simply ship prisoners to be tortured out of sight?
We must prevent Vice President Cheney and CIA Director Goss from carving out a special exemption for the CIA to the McCain Amendment barring torture – a “Bush-Cheney-Goss” EZ pass around the law.
But we should also realize that even if we ban torture by U.S. government agencies, the CIA is likely to increase the illegal practice of “extraordinary rendition” – where they seize or kidnap suspects and send them to countries like Syria or Uzbekistan which are likely to subject the prisoners to torture.
The Secretary of State just flew around Europe trying to explain why the United States is continuing to snatch citizens off the streets of Italy and Germany and fly them on CIA planes to secret prisons where they may be tortured. Rice told our allies that we do not use their airports but her words don’t ring true.
If we want to shut down the fast lane for torturers, we need to adopt both the McCain Amendment on Torture and the Markey Amendment on Outsourcing Torture. Otherwise, whatever McCain stops directly will continue indirectly, using a “torture by proxy” method that amounts to outsourcing our dirty work to foreign secret police who have shown little interest in the UN Convention Against Torture and are happy to conduct interrogations at the request of the CIA and in the name of the United States of America.
Under pressure from the public, it looks like the Bush Administration might just change the words it uses regarding torture. But if its deeds remain unchanged – if the Bush Administration continues a policy of “extraordinary rendition” that has “disappeared” hundreds of detainees into the night – all the words in the world will not alter the damage that is being done to the standing of the U.S. in the eyes of our allies and our capacity to capture the hearts and minds of moderates in the Muslim world.