Thursday, February 05, 2009

Obama Back In My Good Graces

A couple of days ago, I took WMK and Red State at their words (and the far-left liberal Los Angeles times, though note I'm being snarky and ironic with that designation) when they said that Obama had signed an executive order allowing the practice of extraordinary rendition. It's possible (in fact probable) that the LA Times and Red State were mistaken.

"Sec. 6. Construction with Other Laws. Nothing in this order shall be construed to affect the obligations of officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government to comply with all pertinent laws and treaties of the United States governing detention and interrogation, including but not limited to: the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution; the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A; the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441; the Federal assault statute, 18 U.S.C. 113; the Federal maiming statute, 18 U.S.C. 114; the Federal "stalking" statute, 18 U.S.C. 2261A; articles 93, 124, 128, and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 893, 924, 928, and 934; section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 2000dd; section 6(c) of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Public Law 109 366; the Geneva Conventions; and the Convention Against Torture. Nothing in this order shall be construed to diminish any rights that any individual may have under these or other laws and treaties."
So the notion that Obama is going to allow renditions is based on the premise that he agrees with the Bush administration about how to interpret the Geneva conventions. After all, Red State knows that no one could POSSIBLY disagree with Bush about that.

Hilzoy in the the Washington Monthly attempts to figure out how the LA Times got this idea in the first place.
The Times cites "Current and former U.S. intelligence officials" in support of its thesis. I don't take the statements of former administration officials as evidence of anything in this regard, since they would not be privy to the Obama administration's thinking. Moreover, there have been a whole lot of "former administration officials" wandering around saying that once Obama got into office and saw how tough things really were, he would be forced to adopt their policies, only to discover that -- surprise, surprise! -- he doesn't. I don't see much reason to take their opinions as probative this time.

The author of the Times article...defines "rendition" as "secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States." It's not clear whether he knows that rendition includes perfectly normal things like extradition.
I have to remember that the right is pretty good at shaping the narrative, and they're not exactly scrupulous about fact-checking what they throw into the echo chamber. Memo to self - always assume it's a lie first.

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