Politics at its most corrupt is the art of promising something for nothing; or more realistically, concealing the price for services rendered. Nobody wants to mention that "free health care" is paid for by tax deductions. Still fewer want to admit that security is obtained by force; information by compulsion; or that war involves violence. The process of "extraordinary rendition" is a case study in laundering responsibility; a description of how a commodity is provided by an astute political division of labor. The commodity in question is defense against Islamic terrorism. The Washington Post reports:
Before a CIA paramilitary team was deployed to snatch a radical Islamic cleric off the streets of Milan in February 2003, the CIA station chief in Rome briefed and sought approval from his counterpart in Italy, according to three CIA veterans with knowledge of the operation and a fourth who reviewed the matter after it took place. The previously undisclosed Italian involvement undercuts the accusation, which has fueled public resentment in Italy toward the United States, that the CIA brashly slipped into the country unannounced and uninvited to kidnap an Italian resident off the street. In fact, former and current CIA officials said, both the CIA and the Italian service agreed beforehand that if the unusual operation was to become public, as it has, neither side would confirm its involvement, a standard agreement the CIA makes with foreign intelligence services over covert operations.
Italy wanted to be rid of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, a suspected terrorist, but was unwilling, for domestic political considerations, to act against him. Therefore it arranged to have the United States snatch him from Milan. The United States wanted information from Nasr, but for domestic political reasons, was unable to apply torture to get it, however much the Left wanted that to be true. Therefore it passed him to Egypt for actual questioning. It goes on. Canada wanted to move on a Syrian-born Canadian citizen suspected of terrorist links, which is, as everyone knows, a very un-Canadian thing to do. So it got America to do it for them. "In Canada, a government inquiry has revealed a greater role by Canadian intelligence in the Justice Department's secret 2002 'expedited removal' of a Syrian-born Canadian citizen to Syria after he was detained as he changed flights at a New York airport." The New Yorker described that incident in these terms:
Arar, a thirty-four-year-old graduate of McGill University whose family emigrated to Canada when he was a teen-ager, was arrested on September 26, 2002, at John F. Kennedy Airport. He was changing planes; he had been on vacation with his family in Tunisia, and was returning to Canada. ... Ten hours after landing in Jordan, Arar said, he was driven to Syria, where interrogators, after a day of threats, “just began beating on me.” They whipped his hands repeatedly with two-inch-thick electrical cables, and kept him in a windowless underground cell that he likened to a grave. “Not even animals could withstand it,” he said. Although he initially tried to assert his innocence, he eventually confessed to anything his tormentors wanted him to say. “You just give up,” he said. “You become like an animal.”
Then the righteous can turn around and point the finger of accusation at George W. Bush after they have gotten what they want. The New Yorker again: "A year later, in October, 2003, Arar was released without charges, after the Canadian government took up his cause." Okay. The Post described how Italy had its cake and ate it, too.
Last Thursday, an Italian magistrate issued arrest warrants for 13 U.S. intelligence operatives. The warrants charged that they kidnapped a suspected terrorist, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr -- also known as Abu Omar -- held him hostage at two U.S. military bases and then flew him to Cairo, where he alleged to his wife in a phone call that he was tortured under interrogation.
And was that before or after Italy got is share of the information take? And any day now, US human rights organizations are going to go on about how brutality is being practiced in Syria and Egypt, though one really can't expect better of the inferior races. These would be the very same organizations who will ask what is being done to safeguard the United States against another Al Qaeda secret attack and why it wasn't done sooner. The question implicit in this cynical political game is what purpose is served by conscious self-deception. The World War 2 generation now being criticized for dropping the atomic bomb on Japan at least had the sand to do it under its own name. Twenty first century men have another slogan: Not In My Name. It's an organization which wants the annihilation of Israel without the taint of anti-Semitism. It is separate and distinct from Not In Our Name, though one can hardly see why, because its "mission is to build, strengthen and expand resistance to stop the U.S. government's entire course of war and repression being waged in the name of 'fighting terrorism.'" Not that it is for terrorism, lest anyone misunderstand, just that whatever must be done to stop it should not be done in "our name". So to keep everybody happy what's necessary will be done in the name of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Morroco and the CIA. This is called moral behavior. But what's in a name?
Yet acquiescence to this cynical game of political correctness represents the greatest debasement of all. Not only is it cowardly and irresponsible, it allows polite society to evade, for however long it wishes, substantive debate on moral choices which should concern us all. A society which wants to wage war without seeming to shed blood is one which has no intention of confronting the ethical issues. Then we are blind in heart as we are in sight. Nothing to see here, just Move On.