Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Consequences of Covering Up

The Consequences of Covering Up:
Without the basic fact of where these prisons are, it's difficult if not impossible for 'legal challenges' or 'political condemnation' to force them to close. As the Post notes, there has been 'widespread prisoner abuse' in U.S. military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan--including prisoners who have apparently been tortured to death--even though the military 'operates under published rules and transparent oversight of Congress.' Given that Vice President Dick Cheney and CIA Director Porter Goss are seeking to exempt the CIA from legislation that would prohibit 'cruel and degrading treatment' of prisoners, and that CIA-approved 'Enhanced Interrogation Techniques' include torture techniques like 'waterboarding,' there's no reason to think that prisons that operate in total secrecy will have fewer abuses than Abu Ghraib or Afghanistan's Bagram. Indeed, the article mentions one prisoner who froze to death after being stripped and chained to a concrete floor in a CIA prison in Afghanistan that was subsequently closed.

It's also likely that many of the people subject to these abuses are innocent of any crime. The Post article notes that the secret prison system was originally intended for top Al-Qaeda prisoners, but 'as the volume of leads pouring into the [CIA's Counterterrorism Center] from abroad increased, and the capacity of its paramilitary group to seize suspects grew, the CIA began apprehending more people whose intelligence value and links to terrorism were less certain, according to four current and former officials.' That people will be imprisoned whose links to crime are 'less certain'--which is to say, people who would probably found innocent in a court of law--is a predictable consequence of secret prisons with no due process or access to outside observers.

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