Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In Cahoots with the Cahooters

Have we become so jaded that the word "unconstitutional" barely rouses us from our Christmas shopping? It was announced yesterday that, in Los Angeles, a federal judge used the word "unconstitutional," and condemned the president's 2001 executive order claim that he has the right to label certain groups as "specially designated global terrorists." The decision comes from the same judge who challenged portions of the U.S.A Patriot Act in 2004. While U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins' ruled on November 21st that the 2001 order was "unconstitutional and vague," and may well encroach upon First Amendment rights, the ruling was only made public yesterday. (AP)

While the court decision allows for penalizing those who "service" so-called terrorist groups, it represents a substantial challenge to the Tagger-in-Chief who, through his use of amorphous labels, looks to divest anyone it deems a threat, for any reason, of their constitutional rights. Still, the irony of categorizing any individual, or group, as a "specially designated global terrorist" can't be lost on anyone in light of a new report from the European Parliament of the widespread practice of clandestine CIA kidnappings, exporting, and detention of terror suspects.

The inquiry concludes that nearly 1,250 CIA-operated flights flew throughout Europe, and that the many European nations that insisted they knew nothing of the U.S. practice of extraordinary rendition were flat out lying. Claudio Fava, who was in charge of the special investigation, insists that: "Many governments cooperated passively or actively. (with the CIA). They knew." (International Herald Tribune). Poland and Romania are listed as the most active partners with the CIA in the practice of transferring those who are detained in countries that prohibit torture to those willing participate in those interrogation methods proscribed by Geneva.

The Council of Europe, a prominent European human rights group, previously found, in their investigation into extraordinary rendition, that there the CIA created a European network that was nurtured by "intentional or grossly negligent collusion." (IHT) You'll recall, in the fall, the president confirmed the Washington Post's report that the CIA has a covert detention program abroad, and said that more than a dozen held in secret cells in Europe would be transferred to Guantanamo Bay. Clearly, with more than 1200 flights, one would expect to unearth more than 14 detainees in these clandestine detention centers. Where are the others? When will they be transferred? How can any government, wherever they happen to find themselves on the globe, not be complicit in the practice of torture simply by turning the other cheek.

Logic would lead one to assume there would have to be some cooperation on the part of many European nations in order to enable more than 1,000 CIA-orchestrated flights transferring "specially designated global terrorists" to countries that have mechanisms in place to do our dirty work for us. That said, it changes the equation now that we know that many countries, in Europe, have been in cahoots with the cahooters, passively or actively, aiding and abetting the CIA in their efforts to outsource torture despite repeated denials that they knew anything about these secret abductions, and detentions.

It would be an egregious understatement to say that this news, from the European parliament, is disheartening. This president's executive order, and its phrase "specially designated global terrorist" takes on new meaning in light of this report which proves that we've not only exported Big Macs across the pond, but have forced that continent to look the other way with respect to human rights abuses instigated, and carried out, by our government.