Friday, December 09, 2005

Rice lied

In her statement before beginning her tour of Europe, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a very clear statement on the allegations that the US had used extraordinary rendition for the purposes of torture by proxy:

The United States does not transport, and has not transported, detainees from one country to another for the purpose of interrogation using torture

According to a story from today's LA Times, she lied. A memo submitted as evidence in a federal court case to prevent a prisoner at Guantanamo from being returned to Yemen shows that Defence Department officials explicitly recommended transferring the prisoner to a foreign jurisdiction so that he could be tortured:

The March 17, 2004, Defense Department memo indicated that U.S. officials were frustrated in trying to obtain information from Ahmad, according to the description of the classified memo in the court petition. The officials suggested sending Ahmad to an unspecified foreign country that employed torture in order to increase chances of extracting information from him, according to the petition's description of the memo.

The precise contents of the Pentagon memo on Ahmad were not revealed, but the memo was described in the petition by New York attorney Marc Falkoff, who contested the transfer of Ahmad and 12 other Yemenis in Washington this year.

Falkoff's petition quoted a section of the memo. After the quotation is Falkoff's interpretation of the classified memo's significance: "There is only one meaning that can be gleaned from this short passage. The government believes that Mr. Ahmad has information that it wants but that it cannot extract without torturing him." The petition continues, with one segment redacted (indicated by ellipsis): "Because torture is not ... allowed personnel at Guantanamo, the recommendation is that Mr. Ahmad should be sent to another country where he can be interrogated under torture."

Falkoff's description was not disputed by U.S. government lawyers or by U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, who read the actual Pentagon document. The judge ruled in favor of the Yemenis on March 12, and Ahmad has not been transferred from the Guantanamo Bay prison.

So much for the Secretary of State's - and the US's - credibility.