A tortured silence

Two items on something we’re not supposed to talk about. Shhhhh…shhh, the word of the day is TORTURE.

First, from the UK Guardian:

According to a secret intelligence report, the CIA offered to let Germany have access to one of its citizens, an al-Qaida suspect being held in a Moroccan cell. But the US secret agents demanded that in return, Berlin should cooperate and “avert pressure from EU” over human rights abuses in the north African country. The report describes Morocco as a “valuable partner in the fight against terrorism”.

Yeah, I’ll just bet. Say, isn’t Morocco the country Michael Moore said offered an army of trained monkeys to help fight the War on Terra?

Sorry. Digression. Onwards:

The classified documents prepared for the German parliament last February make clear that Berlin did eventually get to see the detained suspect, who was arrested in Morocco in 2002 as an alleged organiser of the September 11 strikes.

He was flown from Morocco to Syria on another rendition flight. Syria offered access to the prisoner on the condition that charges were dropped against Syrian intelligence agents in Germany accused of threatening Syrian dissidents. Germany dropped the charges, but denied any link.

After the CIA offered a deal to Germany, EU countries adopted an almost universal policy of downplaying criticism of human rights records in countries where terrorist suspects have been held. They have also sidestepped questions about secret CIA flights partly because of growing evidence of their complicity.

And to think all this went on while the wingnutters in the US were running their mouths about “Old Europe” and flapping their pyorrheic gums about “cheese-eating surrender monkeys”. (Sorry, we can’t seem to get away from monkeys here lately. They’re flying out of the woodwork at me. Help! Auntie Em!)

The disclosure is among fresh revelations about how the CIA flew terrorist suspects to locations where they were tortured, and Britain’s knowledge of the practice known as “secret rendition”. They are contained in Ghost Plane, by Stephen Grey, the journalist who first revealed details of secret CIA flights in the Guardian a year ago. More than 200 CIA flights have passed through Britain, records show.

He describes how one CIA pilot told him that Prestwick airport, near Glasgow, was a popular destination for refuelling stops and layovers. “It’s an ‘ask-no-questions’ type of place and you don’t need to give them any advance warning you’re coming,” the pilot said.

The CIA used planes of Air America, a group of private companies it secretly owned, and a second company, Aero Contractors. A CIA Gulfstream V jet, frequently used for the secret rendition of prisoners, flew to Diego Garcia, the British Indian Ocean territory where the US has a large base, the book says. Grey plans to publish more than 3,000 logs of the CIA flights on the internet this week.

CIA pilots, sometimes using false identities and whose planes regularly passed through Britain, ran up huge bills in luxury hotels after flying terrorist suspects to secret locations where they were tortured. But they revealed their whereabouts and identities by indiscreet use of mobile phones and allowed outsiders to track their aircraft’s flights.

On one occasion, CIA pilots and crew lived it up in Majorca after rendering Benyam Mohammed, an Ethiopian brought up in Notting Hill, west London, to Afghanistan where he was tortured. Benyam was detained in Pakistan early in 2002, and then flown to Morocco, where he says he suffered appalling torture. He is being held at Guantánamo Bay.

Benyam has said in a statement to his lawyer that he was tortured for more than two years after being questioned by US and British officials. He says that while in Morocco he was shown photos of people he knew from a west London mosque, and was asked about information he was told was supplied by MI5.

The government has consistently denied it has ever actively cooperated in the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” programme”. The Foreign Office said yesterday that the government had “not approved and will not approve a policy of facilitating transfer of individuals through the UK to places where there are substantial grounds to believe they face a real risk of torture”.

Looks like that much-talked about hushed-up denial is still going on. Rule Britannia? CRUEL Britannia is more like it! So glad I didn’t buy into that “We are all Londoners” crap on 7/7/05. I wouldn’t want to be one right now, as I’d be hanging my head in shame over that modern Neville Chamberlain, Toady Blair.

Now, for something completely different…uh, not really:

Some countries try to refute criticism over their treatment of prisoners by saying they are only following the U.S. example on handling terror suspects, a U.N. human rights expert said on Monday.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. investigator on torture, told a news conference that “all too frequently” governments respond to criticism about their jails by saying they handled detainees the same way the United States did.

“The United States has been the pioneer of human rights and is a country that has a high reputation in the world,” Nowak said. “Today, other governments are kind of saying, ‘But why are you criticizing us, we are not doing something different than what the United States is doing.'”

He said nations like Jordan tell him, “We are collaborating with the United States so it can’t be wrong if it is also done by the United States.”

The United States can do no wrong! They torture, we torture, everybody tortures. Whatsamatteryou? You still believe in those quaint old Geneva Conventions? You must be another surrender monkey. Don’t you know that if we don’t torture people, even completely innocent ones, the terrorists will win???

Nowak, an Austrian law professor, said the new U.S. law adopted earlier this month, which outlaws rape and most forms of torture, still allows harsh interrogation methods rights advocates say border on torture. And it does not permit appeals in U.S. federal court.

But he acknowledged U.S. difficulties in closing Guantanamo, saying other countries were refusing to accept prisoners and that Washington did not want to send them to countries where torture was certain. In Europe to date, only Albania has offered to accept them.

Albania! Now THERE’s a place you don’t hear much about. Gee, I wonder why.

And say, isn’t freedom on the march in Iraq now that Saddam is gone?

In Iraq, however, Nowak said there were improvements in U.S.-run jails and those of its allies following the torture scandals at Abu Ghraib. But now prisoners say jails run by Baghdad’s Interior Ministry and militia are brutal.

“They would prefer if they are in detention to be in the international detention facilities rather than the Iraqi detention facilities,” he said.

So, to recap: We don’t torture, we don’t turn them over to others to torture, we certainly don’t send them to other countries to be tortured, and above all else, we do not call it torture. It’s “extraordinary rendition”, got that?

And if you disagree, we’ll waterboard you till you pass out and can’t say nothin’ not no more.

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