The Whole Story: Bush Sent Detainees to Countries that Practice Torture

ACLU: Bush Administration Rendered Detainees In Order To “Employ Brutal Interrogation Methods That Would Be Impermissible Under Federal Or International Law.” According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, however, what had been a limited program expanded dramatically, with some experts estimating that 150 foreign nationals have been victims of rendition in the last few years alone. Foreign nationals suspected of terrorism have been transported to detention and interrogation facilities in Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Diego Garcia, Afghanistan, Guantánamo, and elsewhere. In the words of former CIA agent Robert Baer: ‘If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear — never to see them again — you send them to Egypt.’ Administration officials, backed by Department of Justice legal memoranda, have consistently advanced the position that foreign nationals held at such facilities, outside U.S. sovereign territory, are unprotected by federal or international laws. Thus, the rendition program has allowed agents of the United States to detain foreign nationals without any legal process and, primarily through counterparts in foreign intelligence agencies, to employ brutal interrogation methods that would be impermissible under federal or international law, as a means of obtaining information from suspects.” [ACLU, 12/6/05]

Administration Memo: “President Has An Unfettered Right To Transfer Prisoners … Without Regard For Whether They Would Be Tortured There.” According to the Associated Press, “A Bush-era legal memo gives new detail on how the administration tiptoed around laws and treaties to justify presidential power to transfer prisoners captured in the war on terror to countries where they might be tortured. The March 13, 2002, memo by Jay S. Bybee, then assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, said the president has an unfettered right to transfer prisoners captured in the war on terror to governments around the world without regard for whether they would be tortured there. … The memo suggests ways that U.S. officials could transfer prisoners to countries where they may indeed be tortured without making them legally liable for their treatment.” [Associated Press via Fox News, 3/3/09]

Former Intelligence Officials: No Way To Control What Other Countries Do To Rendered Detainees. According to the Washington Post, “In practice, though, the CIA has little control over prisoners once they leave CIA custody, said three recently retired CIA officials and other intelligence officials who have dealt with foreign intelligence services on detainee matters. … ‘Once they are in the jurisdiction of another country, we have no rights to follow up,’ said Edward S. Walker Jr., a former assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs and now president of the Middle East Institute. The U.S. official who visited foreign detention sites said the issue ‘goes far beyond’ the assurance: ‘They say they are not abusing them, and that satisfies the legal requirement, but we all know they do.’” [Washington Post, 3/17/05]

Bush Administration Worked Closely With Security Forces Of Repressive States. According to Harpers, “The Bush Administration promoted cordial relations with Qaddafi, while the Bush-era CIA worked intensively to develop a close rapport with Qaddafi’s security forces, much as it did in Egypt, Yemen and a number of other repressive Arab states.” [Harpers, 9/6/12]

Bush Administration Rendered Suspects To Uzbekistan After State Department Report Called Country Out As A Human Rights Violator. According to the New York Times, “Seven months before Sept. 11, 2001, the State Department issued a human rights report on Uzbekistan. It was a litany of horrors. … Immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, however, the Bush administration turned to Uzbekistan as a partner in fighting global terrorism. The nation, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia, granted the United States the use of a military base for fighting the Taliban across the border in Afghanistan. President Bush welcomed President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan to the White House … Now there is growing evidence that the United States has sent terror suspects to Uzbekistan for detention and interrogation, even as Uzbekistan’s treatment of its own prisoners continues to earn it admonishments from around the world, including from the State Department.” [New York Times, 5/1/05]

Karimov Has Been Accused Of “Boiling Dissidents To Death.” According to CBS News, “[President of Uzbekistan Islam] Karimov and his regime are frequently accused of harsh and arbitrary crackdowns on human rights workers, journalists and Muslim activists, all in the name of fighting terrorism. The United Nations called the use of torture in Uzbekistan ‘systematic.’ A former British ambassador to Uzbekistan accused it of boiling dissidents to death. More recently, in 2005, hundreds of protesters were slaughtered in the infamous Andijan massacre, which included what some described as mass summary executions by state security forces. Reporters Without Borders calls Karimov one of the world’s ‘Predators of Press Freedom,’ saying he ‘is still breaking his own records for repression and paranoia.’” [CBS News, 5/31/11]

Bush Handed Detainees Over To Gaddafi’s Libya Despite Country’s Record To Torture. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, “The United States government during the Bush administration tortured opponents of Muammar Gaddafi, then transferred them to mistreatment in Libya, according to accounts by former detainees and recently uncovered CIA and UK Secret Service documents, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. One former detainee alleged he was waterboarded and another described a similar form of water torture, contradicting claims by Bush administration officials that only three men in US custody had been waterboarded.” [Human Rights Watch, 9/6/12]

2004 State Department Report On Libya: “Security Personnel Reportedly Routinely Tortured Prisoners During Interrogations Or As Punishment.” According to the State Department, “The law does not prohibit such practices, and there were reports that government officials employed them. Security personnel reportedly routinely tortured prisoners during interrogations or as punishment. Government agents reportedly detained and tortured foreign workers, particularly those from sub-Saharan Africa. Reports of torture were difficult to corroborate because many prisoners were held incommunicado. The reported methods of torture included: chaining prisoners to a wall for hours; clubbing; applying electric shock; applying corkscrews to the back; pouring lemon juice in open wounds; breaking fingers and allowing the joints to heal without medical care; suffocating with plastic bags; deprivation of food and water; hanging by the wrists; suspension from a pole inserted between the knees and elbows; cigarettes burns; threats of being attacked by dogs; and beating on the soles of the feet.” [State Department, 2/28/05]

Innocent People, Including “College Professor Who Had Given The Al Qaeda Member A Bad Grade,” Rendered To Countries That Practice Torture. According to the Washington Post, “The CIA inspector general is investigating a growing number of what it calls ‘erroneous renditions,’ according to several former and current intelligence officials. One official said about three dozen names fall in that category; others believe it is fewer. The list includes several people whose identities were offered by al Qaeda figures during CIA interrogations, officials said. One turned out to be an innocent college professor who had given the al Qaeda member a bad grade, one official said. ‘They picked up the wrong people, who had no information. In many, many cases there was only some vague association” with terrorism, one CIA officer said.’” [Washington Post, 12/4/05]

German Man Mistaken As A Suspected Terrorist Seized In Macedonia, Detained In Afghanistan. According to the Washington Post, “Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, was arrested by police in Macedonia in December 2003 because his name was the same as that of another man suspected of terrorist links and because Macedonian police believed he was carrying a false passport, according to former and current intelligence officials and U.S. diplomats. He was held for five months largely because the head of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center’s al-Qaeda unit ‘believed he was someone else,’ a former CIA official last year said on condition of anonymity.” [Washington Post, 5/19/06]