Monday, November 15, 2004

Torture by proxy - the evidence mounts

For some time the US has been accused of using "extraordinary rendition" to transfer terrorist suspects to despotic regimes so that they can be tortured. There have been several documented cases of this occuring - for example, that of Muhammed Al Zery and Ahmed Agiza who were rendered from Sweden in 2001. According to a Swedish TV report, they were arrested by Swedish police, then driven to the airport, where they were handed over to masked US agents:

The two prisoners have their clothes cut from their bodies by scissors, without their hand- and footcuffs being loosened. The naked and chained prisoners have a suppository of unknown kind inserted into their anus, and diapers are put on them. They are forcibly dressed in dark overalls. Their hands and feet are chained to a specially designed harness. On the plane, both men are blindfolded and hooded.

They were then hustled into a plane, and flown to Egypt - where they were tortured.

The TV report identified the plane - a Gulfstream jet with the tailnumber N379P, leased to the US government - and linked it to another prisoner transfer, from Karachi. And it mentioned at least two other similar cases of prisoners transferred into US custody and then flown to Egypt or Jordan for torture. The program has since resulted in attention from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other human rights advocates.

Now the Sunday Times has acquired the flight logs of the aircraft involved, and they make interesting reading.

Movements detailed in the logs can be matched with several sightings of the Gulfstream at airports when terrorist suspects have been bundled away by US counterterrorist agents.

Analysis of the plane’s flight plans, covering more than two years, shows that it always departs from Washington DC. It has flown to 49 destinations outside America, including the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba and other US military bases, as well as Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco, Afghanistan, Libya and Uzbekistan.

They torture people in Egypt and Jordan - and they boil prisoners alive in Uzbekistan. In fact, the British ambassador to that country was recently sacked after saying that Britain was "selling our souls for dross" by accepting "intelligence" from the CIA that originated from Uzbek torture chambers. He at least could not stomach what was going on, and chose to speak out.

Transferring prisoners to another jurisdiction so that they can be tortured is banned by the UN Convention Against Torture. It is also simply monstrous. For the US to stoop to such levels signifies a total abandonment of that countries values, and a desecration of the promise America holds out to all nations. The only way America can regain its soul is to identify those responsible, drag them kicking and screaming into the light of day, and prosecute them to the full extent of the law. Until then, the United States should be treated in accordance with its actions, as a pariah nation.