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The New Yorker's Jane Mayer discusses the fallout from the Red Cross' shocking report on CIA torture and its serious legal implications.
On the night of April 6, a long-secret document was published -- in its entirety for the first time -- that provided a clear, stark look at the CIA torture program carried out by the Bush administration. [...] Just as Americans have known about Bush-era torture for years, lawyers and human rights activists have long known about the ICRC report and its contents. Both are due in large part to the work of journalists and their sources, who have brought to light the many post-9/11 abuses committed in the name of counterterrorism.
In February 2005, Jane Mayer of the New Yorker magazine published a story called "Outsourcing Torture: The Secret History of America's 'Extraordinary Rendition' Program," which reported in intricate detail the sordid mechanisms of the Bush administration's kidnap-and-torture program -- a practice so violent and dramatic that it inspired a major Hollywood film a few years later.
As Mayer wrote at the time, however, "Rendition is just one element of the administration's new paradigm."
For some time now it has been an open secret that the CIA has flown terror suspects across the globe and handed them over to governments notorious for their poor human rights record. Critics see this as a ruse to outsource torture seeking to avoid legal responsability. But not all 'delicate' questioning is delegated to foreign governments.
In cooperative countries so-called 'black sites' were set up where US agents had full control but due to fact that the sites were nominally under foreign jurisdiction (like Guantanamo Bay) human rights garanteed by US law were considered not applicable by the administration. Yet still the agents would assume typically governmental activities like arresting, detaining and interrogating suspects, even under foreign jurisdiction.
The CIA itself is holding dozens of 'high value' terrorist suspects outside of the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S., in addition to the estimated 550 detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The administration confirmed the identities of at least 10 of these suspects to the 9/11 Commission -- including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a top al-Qaida operative … -- but refused to allow commission members to interview the men, and would not say where they were being held. Reports have suggested that CIA prisons are being operated in Thailand, Qatar and Afghanistan, among other countries. At the request of the CIA, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld personally ordered that a prisoner in Iraq be hidden from Red Cross officials for several months, and Army Gen. Paul Kern told Congress that the CIA may have hidden up to a hundred detainees."