‘WE DO NOT TORTURE’ WATCH

Should we feel sorry for Condi Rice? She wasn’t exactly the architect of the torture policies of the current administration, but she sure hasn’t stopped them. And now, after hurriedly closing secret torture sites in Eastern Europe, she has to greet the fact that America’s natural allies – such as Poland or Britain – have been profoundly alienated. Listen to my old friend Radek Sikorski, now defense minister for Poland, and as pro-American a man you will ever find, squirming his way through a non-denial denial:

Polish Defense Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told ABC Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross today: “My president has said there is no truth in these reports.”

Ross asked: “Do you know otherwise, sir, are you aware of these sites being shut down in the last few weeks, operating on a base under your direct control?”

Sikorski answered, “I think this is as much as I can tell you about this.”

Maybe Radek can tell his wife, the Washington Post columnist, Anne Applebaum, who documented the Soviet gulag. Then listen to Condi herself:

“The captured terrorists of the 21st century do not fit easily into traditional systems of criminal or military justice, which were designed for different needs. We have had to adapt,” Rice said.

Hmmmm.

THE TORTURED ELEVEN: Do we torture captured terrorists? Nah. Not according to John “Milosevic-was-a-wimp” Yoo’s definition, that limits it to treatment threatening imminent death or major organ failure. We just subject them to “the harshest interrogation techniques in the CIA’s secret arsenal, the so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ authorized for use by about 14 CIA officers and first reported by ABC News on Nov. 18.” Those include “waterboarding,” an offence that before Donald Rumsfeld became defense secretary, was subject to court-martial if a soldier were found committing it, and that violates basic Geneva protections even for captured terrorists. Do we send these prisoners to countries where we know they will be tortured? Money quote:

These same sources also tell ABC News that U.S. intelligence also ships some “unlawful combatants” to countries that use interrogation techniques harsher than any authorized for use by U.S. intelligence officers. They say that Jordan, Syria, Morocco and Egypt were among the nations used in order to extract confessions quickly using techniques harsher than those authorized for use by U.S. intelligence officers. These prisoners were not necessarily citizens of those nations.

11 out of 12 suspects were, however, “waterboarded” by Americans. The issue of torture is now building to a real fever pitch in Europe. Check out this latest typical report in the London Times, again not a paper hostile to the U.S. The damage this policy is doing to the alliance is incalculable. The whole idea that this country liberated Poland from totalitarianism only to practise secret torture on its territory would be beyond belief, until only recently. The Washington Post gets it right again. The only way to win this war is to abandon the illegal and immmoral detention policies rammed through the system by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. As for Condi, she has rebuilt our alliances rather successfully so far. Surely she must see that until the McCain amendment passes, her good work will have been in vain.

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