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Monday, April 03, 2006

Extraordinary Rendition

A journalist friend just asked me for comment about Extraordinary Rendition, the US government policy of sending suspected terrorists on no evidence to foreign torture camps overseas.

Amnesty International and the ACLU have just released demands for inquiry. Good luck to them. The fact that only notorious left-winger organizations can keep the theme alive is cue enough that the issue has vanished from the American imagination.

An extraordinary rendition of narrative indeed, the violence worked on the American imagination by the continuing spin of the War on Terror in defiance of any standard of justice or decency.

The Irish are still outraged, and the European press, from Britain to Turkey, still handles the question several times a week.

The most shocking part of the rendition here is how little attention span the American press has for this story.

The British press covered these stories four months ago, expressing outrage from the middle class population. Even the fact that British airports had been used in the process was too grim to countenance, among middle-class, church-going families in English villages. The rest of the world balks at the merest participation in our torture camps, so morally inexcusable, let alone contradictory of our own legal system, are they.

Governments hide facilities when the governments themselves have something to hide. Governments that dispense with justice, fair trial, and open scrutiny of their proceedings subvert the very rights and systems upon which our Constitution was written. They tread into despotism: the world of secret police, hidden cabals, and secret assassinations, to replace the legitimate punishment of criminals, the trial by jury, and the democratic elections of governments. No threat is so great that we can afford to cannibalize the very democratic principles upon which our own freedoms turn.

Many have already suspected that the War on Terror plunges the nation into an era of wasteful propaganda, corporate enrichment, and needless expenditures of military life, under a false banner of democracy. It is too much if the War on Terror has itself become a War on Democracy and Justice.

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Blogger denounce-torture said...

The perception that Amnesty International is a "lefty" organization fills me with unbearable hopelessness. When will we get past the idea that human rights belong to progressives? Human rights and civil liberties organizations have done hard work to forge alliances on both the right and left, and our allies on the right have had positive results (look at the McCain legislation, as one example). Just as you invoke the Constitution as a document that is above partisan concerns, we need to reinforce the frame that human rights matter to us all regardless of political persuasion.

2:35 PM  
Blogger J said...

that's indisputably true. but fifteen years ago, when i was in high school, amnesty was dismissed as a pie-in-the-sky lefty cell, and it still is, by many a mainstream american.

i'm more inclined to look to other initiatives for human rights. there are UN initiatives, movements in the churches. they mostly take their cues from Amnesty, yes. but as front men they don't have the reputation problem.

fifteen years is a long time for an organization to wear the badge of its demographic like a martyr. sometimes a matter of framing is the only thing that can save an idea. surely the principle of human rights is worth enough to those of us who believe in it that we should be willing to be as clever as possible to see justice done.

11:51 AM  

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