Give me that old time rendition

Greg Miller in The Baltimore Sun: Rendition might expand in anti-terrorism efforts

The CIA‘s secret prisons are being closed. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being just a naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.

But even while dismantling these discredited [?] programs, President Barack Obama left an equally controversial counterterrorism tool intact.

Under executive orders issued by Obama on Jan. 22, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as “renditions,” or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program is poised to play an expanded role because it is the main remaining mechanism – aside from Predator missile strikes – for taking suspected terrorists off the street.

…the Obama administration appears to have decided that the rendition program is one component of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism that it cannot afford to discard.

…”Under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place” for renditions, said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. “What I heard loud and clear from the president’s order was that they want to design a system that doesn’t result in people being sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured, but that designing that system is going to take some time.”

…”The reason we did interrogations [ourselves] is because renditions for the most part weren’t very productive,” said a former senior CIA official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject.

The most valuable intelligence on al-Qaida came from prisoners who were in CIA custody and questioned by agency experts, the official said. Once prisoners were turned over to other countries, such as Egypt or Jordan, the agency had limited ability to influence how much intelligence was shared, how prisoners were treated, and whether they were later released.

The most valuable intelligence came from prisoners in CIA custody? Like those interrogated at Guantánamo? The argument I’ve heard is that waterboarding wasn’t effective because those subjected to it would say anything. Go figure how that changed in favor of interrogation by Egyptians or Afghanis, at least during the time Obama’s figuring out how to write the executive order making them use the US Army Field Manual. Maybe they get to use the field manual of their own Armies.

Maybe rendition is considered “good” because it was made policy on Bill Clinton’s watch when Leon Panetta was his Chief of Staff. I did understand that Leon would be putting an end to this rendition thing now that he’s DCIA, but apparently I was mistaken. Despite my skepticism, maybe he has got some relevant experience after all.

How long will it be, though, before DemocratUnderground, MoveOn and The Daily Kos start calling Obama “ObaMaoHitler?” (For myself, I’d leave the “Hitler” off, but we know these guys really like it because they mistakenly think he was right-wing.)

I say unto them, be calm. It’s OK. The “right people” are in charge now. It’s a limited, secret plan. Human Rights Watch approves. Nothing will show up on the front page of the New York Times to upset the EU or give away clandestine ops to the enemy. If you want Barack to be successful, you mustn’t let this upset you.

Besides, the ACLU says sending the Gitmo prisoners to maximum security prisons on US soil is torture anyway. Compared to how they’ve been treated at Gitmo, I’d tend to agree.

Without Gitmo, I guess it’s either Egyptian dungeons or 72 virgins.