Andrew Sullivan must have been miffed by the pantsing he took over his slavish defense of Pres. Obama’s expanded renditions policy, as he now resorts to quoting Scott Horton (someone who is almost as fond of conspiracy theories as Sully himself):
There are two fundamental distinctions between the (Clinton and Bush) programs. The extraordinary renditions program involved the operation of long-term detention facilities either by the CIA or by a cooperating host government together with the CIA, in which prisoners were held outside of the criminal justice system and otherwise unaccountable under law for extended periods of time. A central feature of this program was rendition to torture, namely that the prisoner was turned over to cooperating foreign governments with the full understanding that those governments would apply techniques that even the Bush Administration considers to be torture.
The ACLU has taken the opposite position since at least 2005:
Beginning in the early 1990s and continuing to this day, the Central Intelligence Agency, together with other U.S. government agencies, has utilized an intelligence-gathering program involving the transfer of foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism to detention and interrogation in countries where — in the CIA’s view — federal and international legal safeguards do not apply. Suspects are detained and interrogated either by U.S. personnel at U.S.-run detention facilities outside U.S. sovereign territory or, alternatively, are handed over to the custody of foreign agents for interrogation. In both instances, interrogation methods are employed that do not comport with federal and internationally recognized standards. This program is commonly known as “extraordinary rendition.”
The current policy traces its roots to the administration of former President Bill Clinton. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, however, what had been a limited program expanded dramatically, with some experts estimating that 150 foreign nationals have been victims of rendition in the last few years alone. Foreign nationals suspected of terrorism have been transported to detention and interrogation facilities in Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Diego Garcia, Afghanistan, Guantánamo, and elsewhere. In the words of former CIA agent Robert Baer: “If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear — never to see them again — you send them to Egypt.”
Coincidentally, Michael Scheuer, who developed the program when he was at the CIA, also specifically mentions Jordan, Syria and Egypt as places we sent targets. So when Sully and Horton raise a stink about detainees being outside the criminal justice process, mentally add, “in countries whose ‘process’ includes ‘serious’ interrogation, torture and ‘disappearing’ people, never to be seen again.”
Although I would not subscribe to all of Scheuer’s views, it is also worth excerpting a bit from his interview with Die Zeit:
Die Zeit: One of your former colleagues has designated these “extraordinary renditions” as “atrocities”.
Michael Scheuer: If defending the USA is an atrocity, this critic would feel quite at home within the left wing of the Democratic Party. I believe that this shows only a lack of courage to do the dirty work oneself.
Die Zeit: Critics within the agency affirm that the program got out of control after 2001.
Michael Scheuer: Until today it remains very difficult to obtain the lawyers’ consent for an operation. The Europeans should not underestimate the paralysing nature of the American administrative system.
Die Zeit: Which legal changes have taken place since 2001?
Michael Scheuer: We have stopped being such Pharisees as we now imprison the persons ourselves. At least one can say in favour of the Bush government that it behaves more manly and that it takes care of the dirty work itself. And in the media I read that they now apply “improved interrogation techniques”, probably meaning that a little bit more force can be used now than before.
People like Sully would prefer to pretend dirty work never gets done, and to avert their eyes to reports that Obama may even secretly allow enhanced interrogation tactics in a classified annex to the Army Field Manual. Obama, however, is primarily interested in maintaining the political viability of Obama, which would be nil if the US suffered another attack. Consequently, Obama will engage in the Kabuki theater of very publicly declaring that Santiago is not to be touched, while issuing different orders afterward. In return, Sully will twist himself into whatever position necessary to justify his mancrush on the Lightworker.