Commentary on the present and future of culture, politics, economics, and social values................... "At any given instant/All solids dissolve, no wheels revolve,/And facts have no endurance." W.H. Auden.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Outsourcing Torture

It's called "rendition." And it is practiced by the US government.

It is, of course, a word worthy of Orwell's lexicon, a word meant to conceal rather than communicate. It is a slick substitute for "outsourcing torture."

Government agencies - including the CIA - are allowed to send detainees to other countires for interrogation. The countries selected have no bothersome rules like the Bill of Rights to restrain their enthusiasm for vigorous interrogation. These contries routinely torture victims in order to extract information or force confessions. These countries do the dirty work that US law would prevent the US from doing at home. They include Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and others.

This issue may now hit the US courts. An Australian citizen, Mamdouh Habib, was picked up by the US in Pakistanand then sent to Egypt by the US for interrogation on the grounds that he was born in Egypt. He alleges that while there he was systematically and brutally tortured by being hung by his arms from hooks, beaten, nearly drowned, and subjected to electric shock. He is now in Guantanamo, the US gulag in Cuba, and is being threatened with return to Egypt for more inerrogation. He is asking the courts to prevent his return to Egypt.

Outsourcing torture is not quite what the proponents of globalization had in mind when they extolled the advantages of outsourcing. But in the name of fighting terrorism, all things are permitted. A nice way to assert that the US does not torture prisoners. Orwell would be so proud!

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