[Posted by Karl]
The L.A. Times report that Pres. Obama has preserved renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the US in the war on terrorists — and may expand them — had bloggers like Moe Lane chuckling that Obama-supporting pundits like Andrew Sullivan were now “pro-torture.”
Sully rose to the bait, claiming that:
It is not the practice of “extraordinary rendition” that the Bush-Cheney administration pioneered to supplement its own torture program. It is the practice of capturing terror suspects and rendering them to non-torturing foreign governments for detention, interrogation or prosecution.
Sully avoids the charge leveled by critics that such renditions are illegal kidnaping, regardless of whether they result in “torture” however described. He also avoids asking why we would be keen to snatch someone in country A and hand him over to country B, as opposed to bringing him to the US, aside from avoiding legal problems here and the probability that the target may cough up info when left to the tender mercies of the authorities in country B.
to study and evaluate the practices of transferring individuals to other nations in order to ensure that such practices comply with the domestic laws, international obligations, and policies of the United States and do not result in the transfer of individuals to other nations to face torture or otherwise for the purpose, or with the effect, of undermining or circumventing the commitments or obligations of the United States to ensure the humane treatment of individuals in its custody or control.
Clearly, neither Sully nor Hilzoy knows much about Chicago politics. The establishment of “blue-ribbon commissions” to make nasty problems vanish into black holes for extended periods of time is a well-established tradition in the Windy City. To note two prominent examples, Mayor Richard J. Daley did it after the 1968 Democratic Convention; his son did it regarding allegations of police torture in the 1970s and 80s. A task force is a great way to move an issue onto a back burner, in hopes that people will stop paying attention.
What happens while all that studying is going on? Obama’s executive order directs everyone to comply with the law. Of course, so did Pres. Bush’s EO. To Sully, the difference seems to be that the evil Boosh was a lying liar with flaming pants, while Obama is full of Hopeyness and Changitude. To maintain that illusion, Sully really must avoid reading about Obama’s classified loopholes, which may secretly allow enhanced interrogation tactics in “extraordinary cases.” Sully claims his past opposition was out of a concern for “ensuring that intelligence is not filled with torture-generated garbage,” despite the former CIA official quoted by the L.A. Times as noting that renditions were largely unproductive and less effective at protecting the rights and health of the targets.
Andrew Sullivan’s contortions to keep his lips planted firmly to The One’s posterior may qualify as a new entry for the Kama Sutra.