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Congressman Rohrabacher on extrajudicial renditions

zgrams at zgrams.zundelsite.org
Thu May 3 14:02:08 EDT 2007

     Congressman Dana Rohrabacher Personifies Why Many Dislike America 
and Its Policies

     By Ann Wright
     t r u t h o u t | Guest Contributor

     Monday 23 April 2007

     "I hope its your family members that [sic] die," said US Rep. 
Dana Rohrabacher to American citizens who questioned the Bush 
administration's unlawful extraordinary rendition policies.

     Congressional hearings provide a deep insight into the inner 
spirit of our elected representatives - and sometimes the insight is 
not pretty.

     On April 17, we witnessed Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-California) 
unleashing his anger onto members of the European Parliament's House 
Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights. The members were 
invited guests and witnesses at the hearing. The subcommittee had 
issued a report in January, 2007 that was sharply critical of the 
Bush administration's extraordinary rendition program in which 
persons from all over the world were detained by either the CIA or 
local police, then flown by CIA jet (torture taxi) to other countries 
where they were imprisoned (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Libya, Djibouti, 
Morocco, Yemen. The report was equally critical of European 
governments for allowing the unlawful flights to take place.

     From 2001 through 2005, the governments of fourteen countries in 
Europe allowed at least 1,245 CIA flights with illegally abducted 
terrorist suspects to be flown through their airspace or to land on 
their territory. Germany, Britain, Ireland and Portugal allowed the 
highest numbers of covert flights. As well as at least the 1,245 
flights operated by the CIA, there were an unspecified number of US 
military flights for the same purpose.

     The European Parliament report differentiated between lawful 
extradition of criminal suspects for trial in another country and 
unlawful abduction - sending to a third country usually noted for 
torture of prisoners and imprisoning for years without trial persons 
suspected of criminal terrorist acts.

     The report acknowledged that terrorism is a threat to European 
countries as well as to the United States, but the European 
Parliament committee said that terrorist acts must be handled 
lawfully by both European countries and by the United States. The 
report said: "After 11 September 2001, the so-called 'war on terror' 
- in its excesses - has produced a serious and dangerous erosion of 
human rights and fundamental freedoms." The extraordinary rendition 
program undercuts the exact liberties we are defending, the rule of 
law, the right for a fair and speedy trial and the right to know the 
evidence on which one is held and prosecuted.

     Some who were kidnapped ended up in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Others 
were flown to prisons in other countries for interrogation and 
torture. Many of those who were subjected to extraordinary rendition 
are still in Guantanamo. Many have been there for over five years. 
Over 400 of the 770 persons who have been imprisoned in Guantanamo 
over the five years since it was opened have been released. Only 380 
are left imprisoned in Guantanamo. Only three have been charged by 
the Military Commission, and only one was tried in Guantanamo. After 
five years of being held prisoner, Australian citizen David Hicks was 
convicted in March 2007 of material support to terrorism and 
sentenced to only seven months further imprisonment, which he is 
serving in Australia. The Bush administration has said it will try 
only 50-70 of the 380 remaining in Guantanamo. That means that of 770 
who have been in Guantanamo, only 50-70 will be tried. The others 
eventually will be freed due to lack of evidence of a crime. Many 
will have spent five years or more in prison.

     Virtually every prisoner who has been released reported being 
tortured while imprisoned in countries such as Syria, Uzbekistan, 
Egypt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some prisoners say they were 
tortured by police or interrogators. Some say they heard American 
voices in the background while they were tortured. None were charged 
with any crimes. None went to trial. They were abducted by CIA or 
local authorities at the request of the United States. The United 
States did not present evidence of criminal actions, nor request 
extradition from the country where the person was detained. Nor did a 
central approving authority look at the rationale for spiriting a 
person to the control of a third country for interrogation. Persons 
were "rendered" many times on the say-so of junior CIA officials.

     Back to the Congressional hearing. With eyes narrowed and mouth 
in a contorted grimace, Congressman Rohrabacher attacked the two 
British and one Italian members of the European Parliament who 
testified before the committee. Reminding one of Joe McCarthy in tone 
and substance, Rohrabacher demeaned and degraded the report and 
chastised, belittled and berated the Parliamentarians. Remarkably, 
Rohrabacher said most of the CIA private flights that landed in 
Europe were to transport CIA agents all over the world, not to move 
prisoners. Yet the logs of the 1,245 flights have been tied by date 
and location to the movement of specific individual prisoners from 
one location to another.

     Rohrabacher railed against anyone who questioned the right of the 
Bush administration to do whatever it wanted - legal or illegal - to 
prevent terrorist acts, and said that [European countries] not 
supporting the Bush policies were consigning their countrymen to 
terrorists. In particular, he said that any Americans who questioned 
the extraordinary rendition were un-American.

     Citing historic examples of other countries kidnapping persons, 
Rohrabacher said Israel had every right to kidnap Nazi official 
Adolph Eichmann from Argentina, bring him to Israel and execute him. 
Rohrabacher conveniently forgot to mention that the Israeli 
government did put Eichmann on trial - a trial which none of those 
who have been extraordinarily rendered have had. Rohrabacher then 
attacked and belittled the European Community for outlawing the death 
penalty, saying, "You in the European Community won't stand up to 
evil people, you won't execute them. Eichmann deserved to be 
executed, just like these terrorists must be executed."

     Rohrabacher never once mentioned due process, the rule of law, 
right to a trial for anyone picked up in the extraordinary rendition 
program. Merely because persons were "rendered" and imprisoned by the 
US meant to Rohrabacher they were guilty.

     Rohrabacher said if European countries did not cooperate with the 
United States and go along with whatever the Bush administration 
wanted, they were condemning their countrymen to terrorists by not 
using extralegal methods to imprison terrorist suspects. When 
citizens attending the hearing, including members of Codepink Women 
for Peace and Veterans for Peace, heard Rohrabacher's statement, they 
collectively groaned. Then, much to the shock and disbelief of 
everyone in the hearing room, Rohrabacher said to those who had 
expressed displeasure at his statements: "I hope it's your family 
members that die when terrorists strike."

     At that point, I had had enough of Rohrabacher. I stood up and 
said, "I did not serve 29 years in the US military and 16 years in 
the US diplomatic corps to see demise of the rule of law and 
violation of our own laws. Rohrabacher's statements are outrageous. 
No wonder the world hates us!"

     Chairman Delahunt gaveled for me to stop speaking, and I was 
escorted by the police out of the committee room. I was not arrested.

     Remarkably, I do agree with one thing Rohrabacher said. "They hate us."

     Rohrabacher finished his sentence with, "They hate us because 
they hate our way of life." Unfortunately, many people do hate us, 
but it's not for our way of life.

     Its for exactly the talk and actions that Rohrabacher and the 
Bush administration represent: illegal and unlawful actions, an 
arrogant attitude that America is always right and everyone else is 
wrong, that the world's resources are for the exclusive use of the 
United States and we have the right to invade and occupy any country.

     Until we change the manner in which presidential administrations 
and the Congress operate and the way we approach our membership in 
the community of nations, the world will continue to question what 
America stands for.

     Ann Wright retired as a colonel after serving 13 years on active 
duty and 16 years in the US Army Reserves. After 16 years in the US 
diplomatic corps, she resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war 
in Iraq. She had been assigned in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, 
Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. She 
helped reopen the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December 2001. 

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