Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Extraordinary Rendition: The CIA's Worst-Kept Secret.

What has been done in our name really is shocking:

Kidnap subject. Strip off his clothes and dress him in a tracksuit. Blindfold and shackle him. Force headphones over his ears. Fly him to an unknown location to be interrogated, tortured, and imprisoned. Repeat.

This is the practice of "extraordinary rendition," and the experience of 35-year-old U.K. resident Binyam Mohamed on his journey home to London from Pakistan in July 2002. He was kidnapped to Morocco, where he was held for 18 months and tortured repeatedly. "They cut off my clothes with some kind of doctor's scalpel," he wrote in his diary. "I was totally naked…One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make a cut…He did it once, then stood still for maybe a minute, watch my reaction. It was an agony, [I was] crying, trying desperately to suppress my feelings, but I was screaming. There was blood all over."

This was just one of 20 to 30 incidents in which Mohamed was cut on his genitals while detained in Morocco. Interrogators routinely beat him, breaking bones and sometimes knocking him unconscious. He was frequently threatened with rape, electrocution and death, drugged repeatedly, and forced to listen to loud music day and night.

In January 2004, he was handcuffed and blindfolded again, placed in a van and driven to an airfield, then stripped, photographed extensively and put on a plane to a "Dark Prison" in Kabul, Afghanistan. Mohamed endured similar torture and daily interrogations in Kabul. In May, he was sent to Bagram. In September, he was sent to Guantánamo Bay. Mohamed was in Guantánamo for more than four years, and was released in February 2009. His military commission charges were dropped in October 2008.

This was the reality of Bush's war on terror and these were the kind of actions which some Republicans, to this day, continue to argue are needed to win that battle.

Some people need to go to jail for what was done here, if only to wake the rest of them up to the utter illegality of what they are supporting. And I would start prosecutions at the top rather than at the bottom of the food chain.

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