Thursday, January 1, 2009

More on Jack Devine

Since Clinton authorized extraordinary renditions during his second term, I thought I would take a look at our CIA candidates a little more closely, since some of them have significant Clinton-era experience.

One of the early Clinton-era renditions is described by Jane Mayer in her book, "The Dark Side." It occured on Sept 13 1995. US agents took Talaat Fouad Qassem, captured by Croatian police, to Egypt where he had been sentenced to death in absentia.

An old article at Obsidian Wings by Katherine R. describes a 1998 rendition. At the end she makes an important distinction:

"Whether or not we could have broken up this terrorist cell by lawfully charging these men under the Albanian criminal code, I have no idea. It is conceivable that we had to break the law to prevent these men from killing innocent people. It is not conceivable that we had to send them to a prison where they had electric shocks applied to their genitalia."

I agree with that. Obama has said he will end renditions, period. But it's important to make sure we don't fall into the trap of "if Clinton can, then Obama can..."

Since Jack Devine was heavily involved in Clinton-era operations, I thought I would cross-check the dates of his service with the germination of rendition policy. From May 14, 1995, Devine was Acting Deputy Director of Operations. Not great for him - the renditions program was hatched in 1995 [link via wiki]. Stephen Grey in his book Ghost Plane discusses a classified (and thus redacted) section of the June 21 1995 memo. This section was summarized in a 9/11 commission staff report:

"If extradition procedures were unavailable or put aside, the United States
could seek the local country's assistance in a rendition, secretly putting the
fugitive in a plane back to America or some third country for trial." p.136

Grey says that some at the CIA would say, "at least at the outset, the purpose was not to torture, even if it was a certain outcome." [p.136]

That is pretty interesting.

On August 1 1995 David Cohen was chosen as the Deputy Director of the CIA. Devine became the CIA senior representative at the US Embassy in London. So he is gone before the first extraordinary rendition happens in September. But since Devine was there - at the top of CIA Operations - when the program was hatched, I wonder what he thought then.

A letter writer to Salon, ondelette, commenting on Greenwald, draws distinctions between Bush and Clinton era renditions that I will have to address further later.

"The terms originally meant 'rendition to justice' as in bringing, in this
case terrorists, to justice by trial and charges. It was a covert and
extraordinary process because it bypassed extradition, or circumvented the lack
of extradition treaties.

Olshansky states that the program was changed to include interrogation
and indefinite preventive detention by the Bush administration within days after
September 11."

Something to think about.

Also worth thinking about - not to get all Bill Ayers on you. But Brennan and Devine are both on the board of Global Strategies Group, an intelligence/military contractor. They've both been advising Obama anyway.

Here at History Commons has a timeline for renditions. As does PBS and Mother Jones.

IMO this stuff is relevant esp. because Devine considers himself a "covert ops" guy. Of course Devine didn't implement any of Bush's abuses. I am just keeping an eye on all concerned in the hopes that we will have strong leaders who can nip said Bush abuses in the bud.

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