From Pine View Farm

America’s Concentration Camps 0

Eugene Robinson:

If the secret prisons where U.S. agents interrogated “high-value” terrorism suspects with “alternative” techniques are so legitimate and legal, if they’re so fully consistent with American values and traditions, then why are they overseas?

That’s one thing the Decider didn’t tell us Wednesday in his forceful yet obfuscatory speech confirming the existence of the CIA prisons and announcing the transfer of 14 detainees to Guantanamo Bay, including boldface-name miscreants such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh and Abu Zubaida.


Since the president didn’t address this question, I’ll try. The only reason that makes any sense to me is that the Decider wanted to put his secret prisons beyond the reach of U.S. courts. I think the president and his lawyers knew from the beginning that detaining suspects indefinitely and wringing information out of them with methods that international agreements define as torture — “an alternative set of procedures” was the president’s delicate euphemism — wouldn’t amuse even the most law-and-order federal judge.

The full story of what has taken place at Guantanamo Bay and in the CIA’s overseas prisons will come out someday. But even with the little we know so far, I remain convinced that history will view these acts of arbitrary detention, extraordinary rendition and coercive interrogation with strong censure and deep shame. The president’s claim that “the United States does not torture” comes with an asterisk, since his definition of torture is as tortured as Bill Clinton’s definition of “is.”


No, an American “detained” by al-Qaeda wouldn’t enjoy a guarantee of due process. But we’re not al-Qaeda. I thought that was the whole point.

Oh, one more thing the president didn’t mention, for some reason: Those 14 most-wanted terrorists who were kept in the secret prisons? As far as we know, not a single one was captured in Iraq.


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