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Keith A. Comess
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Paglen and Thompson have written an excellent exposition of the "extraordinary rendition" program currently extant in the US. While there are many other articles and books that deal with this new and perverse twist in American Executive Branch authority, this one is unique in it's detailed exposition of the grassroots international network of "plane spotters". These dedicated amateurs initially identified the involved aircraft (the "torture taxis") and their efforts ultimately lead to the public exposure of the program.
A brief historical note places the program in context: it was begun during the Reagan Administration, continued and amplified under Clinton and reached it's zenith during the current Bush Administration. All evidence, the authors assert, suggests it is permanently with us. The litany of terrorist actions that lead to it's creation is briefly summarized.
The argument of the book is as follows: The Executive Branch, under whose aegis this program falls, does not trouble to deny the existance of the program. Rather, it asserts that it's war making authority encompasses "necessary defensive measures" such as this one; these claims are simply preposterous infringements on the accepted legal standard. The mendacious justifications offered by John Yoo and his colleagues at the US Justice Department for this gross and self-evident breach of human rights and de facto abrogation of a plethora of applicable treaties renders the position of the US vis-a-vis our Western Allies and our role as a "model" for the "benighted" Second (former USSR) and Third World risible. Further, Justice's claims are so all-encompassing that they create for the Executive Branch the legal pretext for a variety of encroachments on civil liberties and our established system of governance which genuinely threaten the basis for our current Constitutional form of republican government.
It would be reasonable to conclude that, as a result of precedents such as this program, when US civilians and military personnel are captured and tortured by our enemies, only a perverse, paralogical and cynical objection to their treatment can be proffered by Americans, given the standard successive US governments have set for their own official behavior. Complicity of a variety of "enlightened" EU governments exposes their own hypocritical stances on human rights. Their involvement further undermines Western moral credibility and promotes the "moral equivalence"/post-modernist arguments that frequently derail any attempt to establish standards for individual and nation-state behavior.
The book could benefit from an index and a somewhat more thorough reference section. The occasional use of the "present historical" tense is annoying, as this adds a sensationalist tinge to the otherwise excellent reporting. However, these are truly minor quibbles.
The book really soars in the "conclusion" section. The authors' condemnation of the program is best encapsulated in this paragraph: "Nonetheless, when one is talking about disappearing people, about torturing people, about holding people incommunicado at secret locations throughout the world, one cannot make sensible distinctions between innocence and guilt. Those are legal terms...Indeed, in the absence of law, guilt and innocence become meaningless, even misleading." In short, as Bob Dylan wrote, "To live outside the law you must be honest": our government is not.
Successive US Administrations have undermined the concept of law,, but the Bush Administration, by virtue of this program, has effectively abrogated the American system of jurisprudence. Take, for example, the McCain anti-torture ammendment, overwhelmingly passed by the Congress: it was rendered meaningless, as the Bush Administration "exempted" itself from the law.
The renditions program embodies the very worst and most arbitrary standards of human rights abuse previously thought to be the "exclusive" pervue of various despotic regimes; it is the very same system of extrajudicial retributive policies that our own government has cynically inveighed against over many, many decades. It is, in summary, a disgrace and a shameful episode in American history.
It should be noted that important, new details have been and are being added to the public knowledge-base of the renditions program since this book was written in 2006. Despite the lapse of two years time, Paglen and Thompson have done a fine job in exposing the program in this short and important book. It deserves attention.