Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Brave New World or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Secret Detention Facilities

We've heard bits and pieces about secret detention/interrogation facilities for suspected terrorists since the WOT began, but today's Washington Post article was the most informative I've seen to date. According to Dana Priest, the CIA has been operating secret detention facilities in various Eastern European countries, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan (among others) where it keeps suspected terrorists and uses its "enhanced interrogation techniques" to (hopefully) obtain actionable intelligence.

Critics have alleged that the US is rendering (transferring) people suspected of terrorism to states where they will be subjected to harsh interrogation techniques prohibited in the United States, including torture (see a Congressional Research Service Report on the topic of rendition). While the Bush Administration has not disputed charges that persons have been rendered to foreign states believed to practice torture, officials have denied rendering persons to states for the purpose (italics added) of torture.

Clearly, these people are being held and interrogated abroad in order to avoid pesky domestic legal constraints like the US Constitution and Supreme Court and perhaps international legal constraints like the Geneva Convention. Even some US intelligence officials question the legality and, I daresay, the morality of such actions. I certainly understand the need for gathering intelligence, but is this the best way? Does this concern anybody other than me? What does a person have to do in order to land in one of these detention centers? And how long can they be kept there? For the rest of their lives? And who decides all of this? Is it acceptable for the most powerful nation in the international system to behave this way? Or do the Ends justify the Means in this Brave New World? I don't know, but there's something rather unsettling about all of this. Thoughts?

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