Did 24 ever feature a plotline about capturing and abusing suspects’ children? If not the torture fetishists at FOX have some catching up to do.
WASHINGTON – At least 39 people from a half-dozen countries have been held in secret U.S. detention centers worldwide for three or more years, and their fates remain unknown, six human-rights groups say in a report to be released today.
Human-rights advocates said the report, which they called the most comprehensive account yet of so-called ghost detainees, raised new alarms about the Bush administration’s practice of secretly detaining terror suspects without legal proceedings.
In five instances, the report says, U.S. authorities detained the wives or young children of suspects held in secret prisons. And in four instances, terror suspects in U.S. custody may have been transferred to Libya, once a major U.S. adversary.
Detaining innocent children without charges, in essence “disappearing” them just like any other inmate in our black prison system, already defies every value that sets America apart. But the abuses alleged in the actual report and discussed in this post by Hilzoy make me physically ill.
It seems likely that this tactic of capturing and abusing innocent family members was copied from a successful Jordanian campaign against Palestinian terrorists led by abu Nidal.
One hard question is what lengths the C.I.A. should go to. In an interview, two former operations officers cited the tactics used in the late nineteen-eighties by the Jordanian security service, in its successful effort to bring down Abu Nidal, the Palestinian who led what was at the time “the most dangerous terrorist organization in existence,” according to the State Department. Abu Nidal’s group was best known for its role in two bloody gun and grenade attacks on check-in desks for El Al, the Israeli airline, at the Rome and Vienna airports in December, 1985. At his peak, Abu Nidal threatened the life of King Hussein of Jordan—whom he called “the pygmy king”—and the King responded, according to the former intelligence officers, by telling his state security service, “Go get them.”
The Jordanians did not move directly against suspected Abu Nidal followers but seized close family members instead—mothers and brothers. The Abu Nidal suspect would be approached, given a telephone, and told to call his mother, who would say, according to one C.I.A. man, “Son, they’ll take care of me if you don’t do what they ask.” (To his knowledge, the official carefully added, all the suspects agreed to talk before any family members were actually harmed.) By the early nineteen-nineties, the group was crippled by internal dissent and was no longer a significant terrorist organization. (Abu Nidal, now in his sixties and in poor health, is believed to be living quietly in Egypt.) “Jordan is the one nation that totally succeeded in penetrating a group,” the official added. “You have to get their families under control.”
Note the bolded sentence. Even the Jordanians, an undemocratic mideastern state with little history of respecting civil liberties, stopped short of actually harming innocent family members. It stuns the mind to think that America (by America I mean the vice president’s office) might have looked to their example and found it too soft.