Friday, December 6, 2013

International (Un) Law: 54 Countries collaborated with US extraordinary rendition program/ Washington Post

How do governments do business with each other?  Of course they often share goals, and may benefit jointly from certain actions.  But at the most basic level, they offer each other carrots and threaten each other with sticks.

Using some combination of these two strategies, the US government obtained the cooperation of 54 governments to conduct its admittedly illegal (in the US and in the majority, if not all of the cooperating countries) program of extrajudicial kidnapping, torture and withholding of due process. To cloak these actions in euphemism, the term "extraordinary rendition" was invented.

The nations form  an odd collection, including countries at both the bottom and the top of Transparency International's corruption index (report here). According to the Washington Post, discussing a report by the Open Society Justice Initiative, these nations include:
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe
Governments colluded together to commit the most heinous crimes, repeatedly breaking national and international laws.   The victims and acts numbered in the hundreds or thousands, over years.  Systematically transgressing the law on this scale (and we are talking serious crimes: kidnap, rape, torture, murder, incarceration for years without trial) have made a mockery of our system of law.  

Think of recent, well-known cases of men, like Ariel Castro in Cleveland, who kidnapped, imprisoned and raped women during many years, and  how the public felt about those men.  Now consider that our government committed those identical crimes, in our name, with our tax dollars, around the world. And it was aided and abetted by 54 other governments in these crimes.

Officials of 54 other countries collaborated in highly illegal activities to benefit a foreign country, committing and/or conspiring in crimes against nationals of yet other countries.

The US government obtained the cooperation of officials in 54 countries, officials who could potentially face serious charges if their activities were made public.  Some of these countries are famous for lack of corruption.

What did it take to obtain this degree of cooperation?  What did it cost the American taxpayer? To whom were monies/weapons/other 'gifts' paid? Which American officials arranged for and paid bribes?

What sticks were employed? How much information obtained through NSA surveillance was used to pressure foreign officials to obtain their cooperation? Were low level officials corrupted individually, or was cooperation obtained from the highest levels?

Why did we choose to use secret prisons scattered around the world, anyway?  Why did we avoid due process?  Because we knew we had no proof of guilt, and were harming many innocent people? Weren't we terrorists in fact, meting out gruesome punishments to hundreds of innocent people to terrorize potential enemies?

The only way I can see to reduce such abuses is through increased government transparency: ending surveillance and its attendant potential to control those under surveillance.  Unless public officials who conspired to break the law and committed serious crimes are charged with those crimes, and pay the penalties, the system of checks and balances is only a myth. 

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