Monday, May 02, 2005

The hypocrisy of prisoner transfer

From the NYT's article U.S. Recruits Rough Ally to be Jailer:
The police repeatedly tortured prisoners, State Department officials wrote, noting that the most common techniques were "beating, often with blunt weapons, and asphyxiation with a gas mask." Separately, international human rights groups had reported that torture in Uzbek jails included boiling of body parts, using electroshock on genitals and plucking off fingernails and toenails with pliers. Two prisoners were boiled to death, the groups reported. The February 2001 State Department report stated bluntly, "Uzbekistan is an authoritarian state with limited civil rights."
That was before 9/11. But since 9/11:
Now there is growing evidence that the United States has sent terror suspects to Uzbekistan for detention and interrogation, even as Uzbekistan's treatment of its own prisoners continues to earn it admonishments from around the world, including from the State Department.
So what is it - are we against the use of torture or not? We don't condone torture and believe in basic human rights but we don't have a problem sending off prisoners to places that do condone torture and don't believe in basic human rights? This is some serious double think or it may just be that our gov't isn't being completely sincere when it says that it is against the use of torture.

Why else would Alberto Gonzalez solicit a memo which found that the detainees captured in the "war on terrorism" should not be granted prisoner of war status and afforded the rights granted them by the provision of the Geneva convention? As Reason magazine pointed out
All kinds of semantic games can be played on the topic but the bottom line remains that the Bush anti-terror team has operated under the notion that treating detainees in ways that prisoners of war could not legally be treated might be a good idea post-9/11


John Lombard said...

Did you see Bush's disingeuous comments when he was asked about the practice of extraordinary rendition? Sometimes I really do wonder if he isn't just clueless.

Ah, Uzbekistan, where people are sometimes boiled alive. I wonder if Islam Karamov will be the next decade's Saddam Hussein?

Hume's Ghost said...

Not sure I saw the specific comments you are referencing, but I've heard plenty of things like, "The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example." I'm reminded of Peter Singer's amazement that Bush can say things like this and potentially actually believe them.

John Lombard said...

Ah, you've read Peter Singer's book! It's one of my favorites. When I finish my studies I'm going to start on Worse Than Watergate and maybe re-read The Price of Loyalty. Isn't it fun to be obsessed?

Basically, Bush was asked directly about extraordinary rendition and he said that if people were put in the care of allies it was with the understanding that nothing would happen to them. Like Peter Singer said, how can he say things like that and believe it?