Rendition & torture
After 9/11, the White House authorized the CIA to engage in a program of extraordinary rendition -or the transfer without due process- of suspected terrorists to foreign governments for the purpose of detention and interrogation. Once there, detainees were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EITs). For the past decade, many Americans assumed these methods consisted of moderate sleep and sensory depravation or overload, and waterboarding -pouring water over the cloth-covered face of a restrained suspect to simulate drowning. It is known a single suspect was waterboarded 183 times, and that interrogators held suspects underwater in bathtubs until near death, while doctors stood by for revival. These assumptions have been confirmed by a recent government report which also revealed additional details of EIT methods. Some detainees were deprived of sleep for days, kept awake by bright lights and loud music. Others had their arms shackled above their heads or were confined in coffin-size boxes 22 hours a day for days at a time. CIA operatives and military contractors threatened blindfolded suspects with pistols and power drills, and also threatened to harm to their families. At least five detainees were subjected to “rectal hydration and feeding.” EITs resulted in one detainee’s death and serious injuries to others, including broken limbs, psychological problems resulting in self-mutilation and suicide attempts, and the loss of one suspect’s eye.

The EIT program was founded by two psychologists with no experience in counterterrorism and little knowledge of Middle Eastern culture. Their company received at least 80 million taxpayer dollars for devising a dozen torture techniques and they participated in subjecting detainees to these measures. It is estimated that at least 119 people, including at least 26 innocent people, were held by dozens of complicit foreign governments and tortured. The Bush administration, CIA and their supporters claim EITs were justified by 9/11 and the War on Terror, claiming these methods uncovered valuable information and saved American lives. However, FBI agents, questioning suspects before contractors assumed jurisdiction, claimed non-coercive methods were much more effective in obtaining actionable intelligence from detainees, who often stopped talking or gave bad information once they were subjected to torture.

The secret rendition and torture program was conducted in places beyond reach of our laws. The CIA and the White House went to great lengths to mislead Congress, the National Security Council -including our secretaries of state and defense, and the American people. Critics lament this program because it totally disregarded the rule of law, yet no officials have been charged with these crimes. Many believe torture is not who we are as a nation, and say the time has come to definitively repudiate its use. Since many domestic and international laws prohibiting torture are already on the books, they say the only way to deter future administrations from employing these methods is to prosecute those who approved, directed or committed the crimes which occurred during the time when our rendition and torture program was the official policy of our nation.

Pending Legislation: None

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Poll Opening Date
February 13, 2020
Poll Closing Date
February 19, 2020

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