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Friday, February 06, 2009


Leon Panetta: Plus ça change...

No, he didn't complete the phrase with "plus c'est la même chose." He chose to emphasize the alleged "change." You know, "waterboarding is torture," "we don't torture," etc.

But the fundamental change would be an acknowledgment that international law applies to the U.S. And that, not so much. The Convention Against Torture, ratified by the U.S., says quite clearly, "An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture." And what does Panetta say about the people who were involved with torture in the Bush administration? "It was my opinion we just can't operate if people feel even if they are following the legal opinions of the Justice Department" they could be in danger of prosecution. That is, no prosecutions. Nevermind that the orders were not legal.

And renditions, from which even more tortures ensue, most of which we undoubtedly don't even know about? They'll be continuing, but don't worry: "I will seek the same kind of assurances that they will not be treated inhumanely," says Panetta. Not "better" assurances, not "ironclad" assurances, but "the same kind" of assurances! Oh, but, he's got it covered: "I intend to use the State Department to be sure those assurances are implemented and stood by, by those countries." If the subject weren't torture, I'd say, "now pull the other leg." Except I'm afraid I'd be taken literally.

Topping everything off, yesterday Panetta apparently said (can't find a link) that the Bush administration rendered people to be tortured, but today under questioning in his confirmation hearing he recanted. No, Leon, they just do it because the U.S. just doesn't have enough prison cells and interrogators, and if we weren't able to outsource that function like everything else being outsourced, why, we'd be helpless.

Bringing the discussion back to one of my favorite subjects, I remind readers that the reason that Luis Posada Carriles hasn't been extradited to Venezuela is becomes of the testimony (by his former lawyer and partner!) that he would be tortured if returned to Venezuela. And indeed, Venezuela does have a record of torturing prisoners. Not under the Chavez government, mind you, but at an earlier time...When Luis Posada Carriles was its chief torturer! The U.S. doesn't just not prosecute torturers...it protects them.

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