Secretary of State Condi Rice is off to Europe to neither confirm nor to deny that the US government in an operation known as rendition kidnaps people, often the wrong ones, and flies them to foreign countries to be tortured.
“Trust me” is her line. According to Reuters, “Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said Rice told him in Washington she expected allies to trust that America does not allow rights abuses.”
Who will trust this woman who, as President Bush’s National Security Advisor, said that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction capable of producing a “mushroom cloud” over an American city?
Who will trust this woman who, as National Security Advisor, said Saddam Hussein sheltered al Qaeda terrorists in Baghdad and helped train some in chemical weapons development (CNN report, Sept. 26, 2002, 1:28 PM EDT)?
Who will trust this woman who won’t answer a question but says “trust me”?
On November 14, 2005, Middle East expert Juan Cole reported that the 911 Commission Report revealed that captured al Qaeda members Khalid Shaykh Muhammad and Abu Zubayda informed the US government that Osama bin Laden prohibited al Qaeda operatives from cooperating with the secular Arab nationalist Saddam Hussein. In the run-up to the Iraqi invasion, this critical information was withheld from Congress and the American people. Instead, the Bush administration worked to create the belief that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the September 11 attacks.
The Bush administration has made it abundantly clear that it believes, with no apologies, that the ends justify the means. Lying is simply a means to an end. What Condi Rice is telling Europeans is “pay no attention to our lies; just accept that we are liars for a good and proper cause.”
What other proof do we need of the Bush administration’s low esteem for truth than the fact, revealed by the Los Angeles Times, that the Bush administration has been caught paying journalists to write favorable stories about the war in Iraq? First they rigged the “intelligence” used to start a war; then they rigged the news reports about the war.
And these people think they should be trusted?
Details of specific rendition cases are so much in the news as to make Condi Rice’s stonewalling absurd. On December 4 the Washington Post reported that in May of last year the US ambassador to Germany was dispatched by the White House to inform the German Interior Minister that the CIA had kidnapped a German citizen, Khaled Masri, and flown him to a CIA prison in Afghanistan where he was held for five months.
The Americans told the Germans that Masri was innocent and would be released. The Germans were instructed to say nothing about the incident even if Masri went public, because the US did not want to acknowledge the rendition program. In other words, the Bush administration expects any other government that finds out about its wrongful actions to keep quiet about them even when its own citizens are victimized.
Gentle reader, who could possibly believe Rice’s reassurances that the US respects the sovereignty of other countries when it is established fact that the US kidnaps other countries’ citizens abroad and flies them off to torture prisons?
To comprehend the importance of due process, a process that the Bush administration has destroyed for “suspects” be they American citizens or foreigners, entertain that on the way to work one morning you are forcefully intercepted and spirited away to Afghanistan or to Egypt or any of the other locations of US torture prisons. Why are you there, you wonder. Did a personal enemy or envious colleague report you on a false charge? Did a tortured suspect somewhere utter a name that resembled yours?
Nonsense, it can’t happen, you say? Alas, it happened to Masri and perhaps 3,000 others who are estimated to have been “renditioned.” According to the Washington Post, a CIA official said that Masri was kidnapped and held secretly for five months because the woman in charge of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center’s al Qaeda unit “believed he was someone else. She didn’t really know. She just had a hunch.”
Isn’t it reassuring that the US government toys with people’s lives on the basis of female intuition?
This is justice in America, a country that is teaching Iraq about democracy through force of arms.
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS has held a number of academic appointments and has contributed to numerous scholarly publications. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. His graduate economics education was at the University of Virginia, the University of California at Berkeley, and Oxford University. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He can be reached at: email@example.com