Secret prisons revealed

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By Desiree Perez

By Desiree Perez

When prisoners suddenly disappear from official radar, they have to go somewhere. Many suspected that captives accused of terrorism secretly disappeared into the custody of the Central Intelligence Agency. Now, due to recent news reports, people’s fears have been confirmed.

On Wednesday, Sept. 6, President Bush verified that 14 detainees had been transferred from secret prisons to Guantanamo Bay. Some say that the release of the information is an attempt to repair a sense of American morality and honesty. However, when looking at the facts, this is better described as a calculated political strategy.

At first glance, confirming the existence of secret prisons appears to be political suicide. The head of Amnesty International declared secret prisons to be against international law. Amnesty International holds that forced disappearance is against the civil rights of the detainees. The Human Rights division of the United Nations also expressed displeasure with President Bush’s admission. UN spokesman Jose Diaz addressed the issue, urging that “the program of secret detention be abolished.”

The general concern stems from the reasoning that, if the operations within the prisons were legal, there would be no need for such extreme secrecy. Many believe that the prisons are stealthy in order to conceal torture. The President confessed that the methods of interrogation used were “tough”. Still, he maintained that Americans do not use torture as a method of interrogation. On the other hand, he never denied that other countries might be using torture on the CIA’s prisoners.

Sources claimed that CIA planes made covert flights to countries that participated in torture. In fact, Amnesty International published documents proving that the CIA made around 800 clandestine flights. While the destinations of many of these classified flights are still unknown, numerous European nations are thought to be involved. Ireland and Romania are under particular scrutiny.

In the face of all the negative press, it seems strange that the administration would openly admit to authorizing such a program. There is, however, an underlying logic to the disclosure.

A recent Supreme Court ruling held that suspected terrorists are eligible to prisoner’s rights spelled out in the Geneva Convention. Namely, no detainee should be subject to humiliating or degrading treatment.

This ruling immediately halted CIA operations, since agents were afraid of lawful consequences. As a response, instead of developing legal methods of questioning, the administration chose to reveal the secret prisons. By publicizing the CIA’s operations as advantageous and even “life-saving”, the President hopes to gain support for a flawed system of interrogation.

In short, President Bush is trying to get after-the-fact approval for questionable practices. He wants America to be exempt from stipulations of international law. He wants the American public to be too afraid of “the enemy” to question his methods.

Even if you don’t agree that terrorist suspects should have rights, imagine the possible repercussions toward our own citizens. George W. Bush wants to weaken the power of international law for his benefit. However, bending the rules in our favor, just once, sets precedent for other nations to do the same in situations that might prove harmful to America.

We should not be willing to accept the aftermath of this administration’s actions, and we can’t stand by and allow them to put us, or any other person at risk.

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