Stephen C. Webster
Friday, May 8, 2009
Under fire from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder revealed that he had approved of rendition — essentially, legalized kidnapping — apparently more than once during his tenure as President Bill Clinton’s deputy attorney general.
Cautioning Holder that any potential investigation into the Bush administration’s torture program could result in Democrats being roped in, “Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Richard Shelby of Alabama pressed Holder on the CIA’s ‘rendition’ program that moved terrorism suspects from one country to another,” reported Domenico Montanaro with MSNBC.
“Didn’t that happen during the Clinton administration?
“Yes, Holder said.
“‘How many did you approve?’ they asked.
“Holder said he’d check the record.”
Despite frequent condemnation of the practice around the world, rendition — the secret capture, transportation and detention of suspected terrorists to foreign prisons in countries that cooperate with the U.S. — remains in the CIA’s playbook, thanks to a Jan. 22 executive order issued by President Obama.
Under President George W. Bush, renditions became “extraordinary renditions,” in which suspects were handed over to nations where torture was not illegal. Rendition under Presidents Clinton and Obama has not been linked to torture.
Holder has been, at least in public, an opponent of the torture program.
“Waterboarding is torture. My justice department will not justify it, will not rationalize it and will not condone it,” Holder said in a speech to the Jewish Council of Public Affairs in March.
“The use and sanction of torture is at odds with the history of American jurisprudence and American values. It undermines our ability to pursue justice fairly, and it puts our own brave soldiers in peril should they ever be captured on a foreign battlefield.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was briefed in 2002 on the torture tactics the Bush administration wanted to use against terror war prisoners. At the time, she did not object. In April of 2009, she denied knowing the techniques would ever be applied to prisoners.
“[They] did not tell us they were using that,” she said. “Flat out. And any — any contention to the contrary is simply not true.”
RAW STORY was the first news outlet to identify the exact location of one of the sites in the CIA’s secret prison network, used in conjunction with Bush-era extraordinary renditions. RAW STORY identified a prison in northeastern Poland, Stare Kiejkuty, that was used as a transit point for terror suspects.
According to filings, the CIA has over 7,000 documents related to Bush-era renditions.
Attorney General Eric Holder has said that “no one is above the law” and that his office would “follow the evidence.” He has not appointed a special prosecutor.
President Obama said Holder will be the person who ultimately decides whether to prosecute Bush administration lawyers who wrote opinions providing a legal basis for interrogation techniques widely denounced as torture.
President Obama also said CIA agents who tortured prisoners will not be prosecuted.
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