Thursday, September 21, 2006

New and Improved Rule of Law!

It's not just for breakfast anymore!

The Bush administration had to empty its secret prisons and transfer terror suspects to the military-run detention centre at Guantánamo this month in part because CIA interrogators had refused to carry out further interrogations and run the secret facilities, according to former CIA officials and people close to the programme.

The former officials said the CIA interrogators' refusal was a factor in forcing the Bush administration to act earlier than it might have wished.

When Mr Bush announced the suspension of the secret prison programme in a speech before the fifth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, some analysts thought he was trying to gain political momentum before the November midterm congressional elections.

The administration explained its decision in light of the legal uncertainty surrounding permissible interrogation techniques following the June Supreme Court ruling that all terrorist suspects in detention were entitled to protection under Common Article Three of the Geneva Conventions.

But the former CIA officials said Mr Bush's hand was forced because interrogators had refused to continue their work until the legal situation was clarified because they were concerned they could be prosecuted for using illegal techniques.

In an interview with the Financial Times, John Bellinger, legal adviser to the state department, said there had been "very little operational activity" on CIA interrogations since the passage last December of a bill proposed by Senator John McCain outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners.

Key figures among the 14 prisoners transferred to Guantánamo, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, had been held in secret centres for three years or more.
So it wasn't about November, and it wasn't Karl's idea. It was Hamdan, and McCain. Which explains Bush's last press conference; and ties him even more closely to the war crimes that have so clearly been committed. But some of the pressure probably came from Europe, too:

The US has set out on a "new course" in engaging with its international allies over its treatment of terrorist suspects, according to a top Bush administration lawyer.

John Bellinger, legal adviser to Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, challenged Europeans to offer constructive suggestions about how to deal with this "really difficult" area, rather than simply making "criticism after criticism after criticism".

Mr Bellinger's comments come as the administration faces increasing domestic and international pressure in areas ranging from the interrogation techniques used on terrorist suspects to the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay.

Mr Bellinger said in an interview with the FT that he had visited a dozen or more European countries in the past year and a half as part of an effort to establish a "common approach" to the problems of dealing with international terrorists.

"It may be that this would be not a binding multilateral treaty but an agreed approach to the policies and the rules," he said. "My prediction is that over the next six months there will be more conferences, more meetings and more discussions over what the rules and the policies ought to be going forward."
And still the lies go on:

Mr Bellinger conceded that questions raised about the US commitment to human rights and "moral clarity" had a "ripple effect" across the world, but he added that some of the criticisms were unfair and inaccurate.

He denied that the US used the practice known as "extraordinary rendition" to take suspects to other countries to be tortured. He said it was "ridiculous" to suggest there had been hundreds or even thousands of detainee flights, forming a "spider's web of rendition across Europe, and kidnapping people off the streets of every European capital from Ireland to Spain".
Alright, not a "spider web." Let's just talk about Mr. Arar's case. Seems to me the burden of proof is on the Bush Administration.

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