Finding the ordinary in the extraordinary
February 20, 2009
A Channel4 news report [9min 40sec into the clip] has highlighted worries that the Obama administration may not be moving as far away from Bush-era anti-terror excesses as hoped for (or even suggested). Sworn in yesterday as new head of the CIA, Leon Panetta seems to have been offered the job on the strength of his anti-torture statements made while Bush was still in office.
“We cannot and we must not use torture under any circumstances,” he said.
He repeated this during his grilling before the Senate Intelligence Committee but with qualifications detailed by BBC News.
US President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, Leon Panetta, has condemned the interrogation technique “waterboarding” as “torture”.
But he made it clear that agents who had carried out waterboarding in the past should not be prosecuted if they believed they were following the law.
He also made it clear that should more ‘effective’ techniques be required in future, he’d seek further presidential authority. So torture is wrong … unless absolutely necessary. (And what, the Bush administration was doing it for FUN?)
Mr Panetta also spoke about the Bush White House’s “rendition” of prisoners to other countries.
He made it clear that the Obama administration would not make use of “that kind of extraordinary rendition – when we send someone for the purpose of torture or actions by another country that violate our human values”.
But he drew a distinction between the “rendition” of prisoners to another government to be prosecuted by its judicial system, and the “rendition” of suspects to be interrogated by foreign governments known to practise torture.
“I think renditions where we return individuals to another country where they prosecute them under their laws, I think that is an appropriate use of rendition,” he said.
Not so much “We’ll do good things” as “We’ll also do bad things, but for BETTER reasons”… (how very New Labour).