Believe What We Say, Not What We Do
November 12, 2005
by Ken Sanders
Bush administration thinks we are all a bunch of idiots, too stupid
to know the difference between truth and lies. Bush & Co. seem to
think that, regardless of what the facts are, they can get us to
believe the opposite. If it’s day, they’ll convince us it’s night.
Black, white. You know the drill. They operate under the arrogant
assumption that if they say it is so, we’ll accept that declaration
as the incontrovertible truth, even if that “truth” is unsupported
by anything other than, “Trust us.”
Why shouldn’t Bush and his henchmen operate under the assumption
that we’re too moronic to know when they’re lying to our faces?
So far, their assumption has been all-too-true. Iraq was involved
in September 11. Iraq nearly obtained uranium from Niger. Abu Ghraib
was the work of a few bad apples. They feed us shit, call it pate`,
and laugh as we eat it up.
Take, for instance, the Bush administration’s ongoing insistence
that the U.S. does not engage in torture. As recently as November
7, 2005, despite the administration’s vehement and open opposition
to a Senate bill that would outlaw torture, Bush nonetheless declared
(straight-faced and with all the appearances of sincerity), “We
do not torture.” Apparently, the administration believes that the
word of our “straight-shooting” President is enough for most Americans.
Sadly, they’re right. Most Americans are far more willing to believe
what the Bush administration says than what it does. If that were
not the case, the nation would collectively shout, “LIARS!,” descend
upon Washington, and throw the bastards out of office. Instead,
most of us, like the gullible dolts we are, take the administration
at its word and blithely ignore the facts staring us in the face.
The most recent example of the Bush administration’s policy of
“believe what we say, not what we do,” are the recent revelations
that the U.S. maintains “ghost prisons” the world over. Ominously
referred to as “black sites” in government documents, these secret
prisons are thought to be located in Thailand, Afghanistan, as well
as several former members of the Soviet Union such as Uzbekistan
and Romania. Operated by the CIA, the “black sites” were heretofore
unknown to most members of Congress, even (or especially) those
charged with overseeing the CIA’s covert activities. Almost nothing
is known about who is detained at the sites, how long they have
been held there, or what interrogation methods are used on them.
In response to the revelation of the CIA’s global network of secret
prisons, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley would neither
confirm nor deny their existence (thereby confirming they exist).
Nevertheless, Mr. Hadley assured the good people of the U.S. that
“assuming there are such sites” (wink, wink), “the United States
will not torture” and “will conduct its activities in compliance
with [the] law and international obligations.”
Really? If the U.S. is so willing to detain and interrogate suspects
in compliance with the law and international treaties, why the need
for secret prisons? Why hold people in undisclosed locations throughout
the world if there is nothing to hide? National security is not
a valid excuse. These sites weren’t even disclosed to most members
of Congress. Are we to believe that members of Congress pose a security
risk? Besides, it simply strains credulity to argue that the U.S.
could not securely detain high-level terror suspects in facilities
other than black sites. It already does so.
More likely, the CIA keeps its black sites secret because it knows
that what it’s doing there is illegal. Indeed, according to the
Washington Post, the CIA wants to keep the sites secret in order
to prevent legal challenges to its tactics. Put simply, the CIA
has hidden prisons because it has something to hide. These are not
the acts of a government interested in complying with domestic and
international legal obligations. These are the acts of criminals.
The European Union has its suspicions. Upon learning of the CIA’s
black sites, the EU promised an investigation. Likewise, Scottish
police are investigating CIA “torture flights” which stop off at
Scottish airports en route to such “torture-friendly” destinations
as Egypt, Uzbekistan, and Morocco. Iceland has promised its own
investigation into the CIA’s use of Icelandic airports for extraordinary
rendition. Denmark, too. A Swedish investigation concluded the CIA
violated Swedish law by flying two Egyptian men from Stockholm to
Cairo where they were tortured. In Italy, an arrest warrant remains
outstanding for 19 CIA agents for kidnapping an Islamist cleric
and shipping him to Egypt to be tortured.
Nothing to hide, indeed.
As troubling as these black sites are in isolation, they become
even more disturbing when placed in context. Obsessed with protecting
the administration’s “right” to torture people, Vice President Cheney
has waged war against any attempts to ban, or even limit, torture
of terror suspects. Last October, in an effort to defeat passage
of the Senate’s ban on torture, Cheney and CIA Director Porter Goss
pleaded with Congress to make an exception for the CIA. After the
legislation passed 90 to 9, in early November Cheney made a closed-door,
personal appeal to Republican senators to exempt the CIA from the
Senate’s ban. According to Cheney, while the U.S. absolutely does
not engage in torture, the CIA should nevertheless be exempted from
any ban on the practice. Just in case.
The CIA operates secret prisons in various locations around the
world. The White House wants the CIA exempted from any ban on torturing
terror suspects. You do the math.
Keep in mind, we already know that waterboarding, electric shocks,
beatings, and sleep deprivation has been widely practiced in Abu
Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. If such clear acts of torture are occurring
in facilities that we know about and that are subject to Congressional
oversight, are we really supposed to believe that nothing improper
is happening in ghost prisons and black sites? Somehow I doubt the
CIA and the White House want to keep such facilities secret because
they’re embarrassed by how well the detainees there are being treated.
Since at least January of 2002, Bush & Co. have exempted terrorists
from requirements of humane treatment; they have redefined torture
so as to exclude anything short of death or organ failure; they
have authorized such acts of “non-torture” as electrocution, waterboarding,
and stress positions; they have vowed to veto any legislation limiting
the administration’s ability to torture terror suspects; they operate
secret prisons around the world; they send terror suspects to countries
known for torture; and they have fought tirelessly to exempt the
CIA from any prohibition of torture.
Nonetheless, they indignantly declare, “We do not torture.”
Ken Sanders is a lawyer and writer in Tucson whose publishing credits
include Op Ed News, Z Magazine, Common Dreams, Democratic Underground,
Dissident Voice, and Political Affairs Magazine, among others. All
of his articles may be found at http://www.politicsofdissent.blogspot.com.