Obama to Continue Bush Outsourcing of Interrogations

Saturday, August 29, 2009
Rendition map ((graphic: Council of Europe)

Renditions will continue to be used by the U.S. government under President Barack Obama, but with the goal of making them kindler and gentler, according to administration officials. Rather than bringing terrorism suspects to the United States, which supporters of the president had expected based on campaign rhetoric, many will be delivered to foreign governments—a practice that previously led to numerous individuals being tortured by regimes like Syria.

The primary difference between Obama’s rendition policy and that of George W. Bush hinges on the presumption of better oversight. Officials promise that the State Department will be more involved in monitoring the conditions of those handed over to other governments.
Some civil rights advocates are not convinced the new policy will eradicate abuses. The ACLU points to the example of Canadian Maher Arar who was shipped to Syria by the U.S. in 2002 and subjected to beatings with electrical cables, despite the fact he was visited on multiple occasions by diplomats. Arar was simply too afraid to tell about his treatment until after he was released, it was later revealed.
In 2007, Obama wrote in the journal Foreign Affairs that the U.S. needed to end “the practices of shipping away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries, of detaining thousands without charge or trial, of maintaining a network of secret prisons to jail people beyond the reach of the law.” Shortly after taking office, the president did close down the CIA’s secret prisons, but he did not address the outsourcing of interrogations.
-Noel Brinkerhoff


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