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November 01, 2007


Perhaps the CIA flights really are about smuggling things other than people...

I'm being sarcastic. This is definitely an interesting response from him though.

Maybe that's why Blackwater needed all those silencers. They wouldn't need them in Iraq, but maybe for other activities around the world...

"But I wonder. Is the State Department--and it's beefy Blackwater contracts--currently involved in renditions in a way we don't know about?"

1) You can't have an answer to that question; National Security, States Secrets, yada, yada, yada.

2) If it is beyond the pale, this Administration is probably doing it; so safe bet State is indeed involved.

3) Will we have to grant the State Department retroactive immunity? Brings new meaning to the term "diplomatic immunity". (Actually, diplomatic immunity may be a reason for having State Department people involved in such a program).

4) No. Of course not. Blackwater is a private company. As Eric Prince would say, "What part of private do you not understand"? (Again, as with diplomatic immunity above, this was meant to be somewhat in jest, but has an element of feared truth to it. Since Blackwater is arguably not subject to ANY law, yet through the State Dept., is an arm of the government. Not being subject to any laws would come in handy for forced rendition purposes; especially ones from Iraq. Maybe that is what Blackwater is doing with all those planes they confiscated and won't give back.)

StateWater Comedy Shock Troopers' motto: If it walks like a duck, then it must be wrapped in duct tape.

Allowing that renditions have to be negotiated, and that CIA doesn't negotiate, who but State could handle those negotiations? ....Well, Defense, or so it seems--and if so, I find myself rather shocked to learn that Defense can be tasked with diplomatic assignments (because treaties--as in "North Atlantic Treaty Organization"--are acts of diplomacy).


Cannonfire has actually done some work to support the hypothesis that the CIA's fleet flies drugs, not bodies.

Or more likely both.

I recommend "Ghost Plane" by Stephen Grey for anyone interested in renditions.

And always remember that there is most often a CIA Station Chief in embassies and State and the CIA, as well as military attaches, etc., all work these things hand in hand.

To quote Grey on the "they promised not to torture alibi" on pages 222-223 of "Ghost Plane":

"When the CIA's rendition process was founded in Egypt, it was supervised by Edward Walker, Jr., then U. S. ambassador to Cairo. He supported the process, and years later still defended it. But he described the assurance process as highly informal. "I can't say to you with any candor that there was anything more than the verbal assurance, or even a written assurance. There was little effort to follow up on that."" (Walker quote from an interview that Grey had with Walker on March 13, 2006.)

Perhaps Connectable Dots...

Recently Eric Prince founded a new business -- an Intelligence Service that is headed by Cofer Black, CIA Retired major operative. Prince said in one announcement statement that the organization would contract with and for both CIA and State.

Perhaps the ultimate hiding place for the torture as well as the secret prison system, as well as the necessary airline, is with Condi's favorite Private Outsource contractor? Afterall, the immediate post 911 CIA Counter Terrorism Center, eventually taken apart by the CIA's IG -- was under Cofer Black, and when he left CIA in early 2005 after he was out of the CTC -- he set up his consulting firm, using the same phone number as Eric Prince, and located just down the block from the CTC. (See Jeremy Scahill's "Blackwater"). This was before he officially was hired by Blackwater. I think it a classic case of "privatizing" beyond the reach of Congress and Oversight what had become difficult in CIA.

(First comment on this board, Emptywheel you totally rule btw).

I think the questions should be:

(a) Do renditions to places that torture violate us law?
(b) Would you prosecute people known to be involved in renditions?

It's not so much State negotiating with countries before we kidnap people out of country, it is the veneer of legality they are getting by having State get a representation of some kind by the recipient state that they will not torture the person they are receiving.

OTOH, I think it is hard to call what happened to Arar anything other than an extraordinary rendition. It doesn't pigeonhole perfectly anywhere, but that's certainly where it hits closest. On the Arar shipment to torture, DOJ was actively involved. Larry Thompson, DAG at the time and acting AG at the specific time (bc Ashcroft was travelling) specifically signed off on the paperwork to send Arar out of country to Jordan/Syria.

That's why he is personally named in Arar's lawsuit. That lawsuit was filed just a couple of months before the hospital showdown (I know, hard to believe that it wasn't any kind of topic of discussion in the press, even in an election year, bc DOJ had convinced the whole country to be pro-"legal torture" by then and that we never made mistakes and tortured the "wrong" people).

That is the kind of thing (direct lawsuits against specific members of DOJ for their specific actions/responsibilities) that IMO got people like Comey and Goldsmith's attention as much as anything. Time to draw in the torture reins if it means the lawyers actually get sued on a case that has merit on its face.


Ben Cardin, bless his soul, asked pretty nearly that question--whether Mukasey would prosecute torture.

Mary, did Thompson sign off at State's insistence? Just wondering....

Alabama - that kind of info isn't public and I'm probably not his type on the confidant front, but I'd say not.

In general, here's how they work in State. They have someone helpless in their control and they want to hand them over to a known state sponsor of torture - other than the US. However, under the Conventions Against Torture, they are not supposed to hand someone over to a country if it seems likely the person will be tortured there.

So what they do is have someone at State skip in, with a basket and singing tra la las and say, "oh, we made a diplomatic inquiry and ______________ says they won't torture this guy if we hand them over, [wink wink wink wink] especially under *our* [wink wink] definition of torture, which means nothing is torture if the President gets his chuckles from it"

Then the military, CIA, ICE/INS, DOJ or whoever has custody says, okeydokey - call the torture taxi.

And they go home to their children and plaster a post it note on their mirrors, saying "This Is Not A Monster" so that when they brush their teeth every morning they have a piece of paper to tell them they aren't vile.

Supplementary to Mary's comments about the Arar case, it is the State Department, I believe, that is in charge of the continuing campaign to cast suspicion on Arar, in spite of Justice O'Connor's commission (and isn't it sad that we're in the business of proving people innocent?), in spite of the Canadian government's acceptance of O'Connor's conclusions, their public declaration of Arar's innocence, and their payment of a ten-million-dollar settlement to him, and in spite of the fact that the Canadian minister of Foreign Affairs and select congresscritturs have seen the files that State continues to fuss over, and all have declared, as Rep Delahunt said publicly, that there is NOTHING THERE, NOTHING THERE.

Plus, someone is continuing to salt the press up here with gossip about Arar.

Is there a connection between the small State Dept. rebellion about being sent to Iraq and the Mukasey allegation that State has done renditions?

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