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  • Extraordinary Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

    I subscribe to Steven Aftergood's (of the Federation of American Scientists) Secrecy News e-mail newsletter (which is also available in blog form). It comes out a couple times a week often features Congressional Research Service reports, government transparency issues, FISA, FOIA, etc.

    Today's newsletter included a record of testimony from Michael Scheuer, the architecht of the CIA's rendition program, which was apparently started under Bill Clinton. The text of the newsletter article with a pdf link to his statement and testimony is below. It's pretty compelling reading, given the fact that it's from a House committee transcript.

    --
    EXTRAORDINARY HEARING ON EXTRAORDINARY RENDITION

    The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing last April on the
    policy of "extraordinary rendition," referring to the seizure of
    suspected terrorists and their transfer to a foreign country for
    detention and interrogation.

    The record of the hearing, which has just been published, features the
    volatile Michael Scheuer, a former CIA official involved in the
    rendition program. It is exceptionally nasty and occasionally funny.

    Mr. Scheuer, veering from outrageous to absurd and back again, attacked
    John McCain, the Washington Post's Dana Priest and quite a few others in
    remarkably offensive terms.

    See "Extraordinary Rendition in U.S. Counterterrorism Policy: The
    Impact on Transatlantic Relations," House Foreign Affairs Committee,
    April 17, 2007:

    http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2007_hr/rendition.pdf

    "Oftentimes," Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) delicately observed, "people aspire
    to a higher percentage of their thoughts going unspoken than this
    hearing has demonstrated."
    Beatnik

  • #2
    Re: Extraordinary Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

    Sweet Jebus, I don't want that guy in charge of anything my government does.
    In game handle: Steel Scion
    sigpic

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Extraordinary Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

      That was a throughly interesting read.

      Scheuer is a wonderful example of what bureaucracy produces. A person that can cause harm yet feel innocent because they did not make the decision to cause the harm. The lawyers made the decision. The White House gave the order. God declares I must do this. Voices told me to kill them all.

      Nice.
      I’m not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
      - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
      - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
      - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
      - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
      - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
      - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Extraordinary Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

        I read his opening statement and some of the questioning. I don't have time to read the entire 50 pages however.

        What are some the quotables that offend you most?
        New to TG?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Extraordinary Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

          It gets more interesting as it goes on. I wouldn't characterize it as offensive as much as insightful into the mindset behind such covert operations and the people who run them.

          I thought his candor was refreshing, even if I didn't agree with his assessment or complete faith in "lawyers" and the intel being given to him.
          Beatnik

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Extraordinary Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

            Some choice samples:
            Mr. SCHEUER. Let’s be clear, Mr. Chairman. The only reason we
            would have preferred that is because we knew we were going to get
            hung out to dry at the end of the day. No one really cares what
            happens to these people—let me speak for myself.
            Mr. DELAHUNT. All what people?
            Mr. SCHEUER. I don’t care what happens to the people who are
            targeted and rendered. We wouldn’t be operating against them unless
            they were enemies of the United States.
            Mr. DELAHUNT. What about those that clearly eventually were
            determined to be innocent?
            Mr. SCHEUER. Mistakes are made, sir.
            Mr. DELAHUNT. Mistakes are made.
            Mr. SCHEUER. And if you can prove that there was not due diligence
            in designing the target package or assembling the information
            that caused that operation to go forward, then you have a case
            against someone. Otherwise, it is a mistake.
            Mr. DELAHUNT. It is just a mistake.
            Mr. SCHEUER. Yes, sir. They are not Americans. I really don’t
            care.
            Mr. DELAHUNT. And if they were not Americans you don’t care.
            That is very interesting.
            Mr. SCHEUER. I never got paid, sir, to be a citizen of the world.
            Maybe you do.
            Mr. DELAHUNT. I am not paid to become a citizen of the world.
            I am paid to represent the people in my particular district and to
            represent the American people writ large and to respect the Constitution
            and understand that America has justifiably a certain
            claim to moral authority. And we do care. That is why I am paid.
            And, with that, I will yield to the gentleman from California.
            (Dana Rohrabacher then goes on a long rant about how America is awesome. I happen to agree that it is, but I'm not sure how it is relevant to the hearing. Then he talk about dirty bombs and saving Europe in WWII, Churchill, and won't someone think of the children. This all starts on page 21 of the document, 26 of the pdf. Anyway, back to Scheuer.)

            Mr. FLAKE. Thank you. This has been illuminating.
            Mr. Scheuer, do you believe that we can win this war on our
            own?
            Mr. SCHEUER. Yes, sir.
            Mr. FLAKE. The Americans?
            Mr. SCHEUER. Yes, sir. I believe Americans can do anything, sir.
            Mr. FLAKE. Without the assistance of Europe?
            Mr. SCHEUER. Europe is a declining continent. Its demographics
            are going over the edge. There are two popular and permitted bigotries in Europe, anti-Americanism and anti-Roman Catholicism. It
            is even today——
            Mr. FLAKE. I think you would concede that, if they might be declining,
            they are going to be around for a while.
            Mr. SCHEUER. They may be, sir. They may not be.
            Mr. FLAKE. Well, while they are, while they are, do you look to
            balance at all, if your main goal—and I understand your main goal
            is to protect me and my children.
            Mr. SCHEUER. More selfishly, sir, my grandchildren.
            Mr. FLAKE. Good. But if that is your goal, do you at the CIA try
            to balance it all, what the best means to do that should be? Should
            it be with cooperation with our allies or to go it alone?
            Mr. SCHEUER. If they were willing to cooperate, sir, absolutely.
            But we cannot put up—we cannot cooperate very effectively with
            a continent who allows terrorists, either wanted or convicted, to
            have residency and live on the dole and refuse to send them back
            to countries simply because there is the death penalty. There is a
            very vibrant cooperation with Europe, but it is very limited.
            Mr. FLAKE. Ms. Smith, have we received cooperation? Was there
            not an incident just a while ago where Europe was quite helpful
            with regard to suspected terrorists flying over here?
            Ms. SMITH. Absolutely.
            This guy has a chip on his shoulder a mile wide.

            Anyway he goes on a little later to rightly describe the fundamental folly of preemptive war in Iraq and the nonsense of neocon nation-building, while at the same time supporting preemptive and unapologetic civil or covert action against specific terror suspects. Sounds like he thinks he's been hung out to dry for other people's bad decisions. I can certainly respect that, although his candid American exceptionalism and disdain for non-Americans is unsettling.
            In game handle: Steel Scion
            sigpic

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Extraordinary Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

              Right, I read all that. I just didn't see anything to get excited about. I think it's refreshing to know that the guy who was in charge of chasing Bin Laden isn't a silver-tongued ex-attorney pining for a political career.

              "his candid American exceptionalism and disdain for non-Americans" is, in my opinion, a job description for the head of a CIA anti-terrorist unit. His disdain for non-Americans was directly pointed at those that conflicted with our national security policies, as it should be.

              Unfortunately, he's also publicly contradicted himself both supporting, and denying any al Qaeda ties to Iraq. Certainly not good for Ron Paul's Campaign.
              New to TG?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Extraordinary Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

                Originally posted by USN_Squid View Post
                His disdain for non-Americans was directly pointed at those that conflicted with our national security policies, as it should be.
                That's not accurate. In fact, the context of those statements was specifically regarding to those who were rendered "mistakenly". That's who he was talking about there.

                Originally posted by Quote
                Mr. DELAHUNT. What about those that clearly eventually were
                determined to be innocent?
                Mr. SCHEUER. Mistakes are made, sir.
                Mr. DELAHUNT. Mistakes are made.
                Mr. SCHEUER. And if you can prove that there was not due diligence
                in designing the target package or assembling the information
                that caused that operation to go forward, then you have a case
                against someone. Otherwise, it is a mistake.
                Mr. DELAHUNT. It is just a mistake.
                Mr. SCHEUER. Yes, sir. They are not Americans. I really don’t
                care.
                Mr. DELAHUNT. And if they were not Americans you don’t care.
                That is very interesting.
                Mr. SCHEUER. I never got paid, sir, to be a citizen of the world.
                Maybe you do.
                Beatnik

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Extraordinary Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

                  Wow, what a find Beatnik. This is awfully (and I mean that in more ways than one) rich material.

                  I am familiar with Scheuer insofar as having read Imperial Hubris, which was highly critical of the Bush Administration's handling of the so-called broader 'war on terror,' specifically with regard to Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. It would seem to me that Scheuer is indeed a product of the American intelligence bureaucracy - he's obviously beyond disenfranchised with the mishandling (both by the government and by the public/press) of an interrogation system that he himself designed.

                  I'm curious as to who the 'voice' belongs to that interrupts Delahunt - asking to be allowed to testify - and is subsequently threatened with removal.

                  I have to agree with folks in here, though, Scheuer's attitutude is frightening. It's as though he doesn't agree with the principle that the hearings are founded on. Here is a man who cares not for the broader effects of his actions and lacks even the vision to see that as fact. He lambasts lawyers claiming they are the 'bane of the CIA's existence,' yet he consistently hides behind legal precedent and protection in his testmony - as in "And I have to say again, no rendered al-Qaeda leader has ever been kidnapped by the United States. They have always first either been arrested or siezed by a local security or intelligence service." It's as though he is proud of how deceptive the system is - and also how proudly unaccountable his position is (or so he believes).

                  This quote on page 20 really sums up his most fundamental flaw, in my opinion: in speaking about released 'enemy combatants, Scheuer states "no one really cares what happens to these people - let me speak for myself." Delahunt: "All what people?" Scheuer: "I don't care what happens to the people who are targeted and rendered. We wouldn't be operating against them unless they were enemies of the United States."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Extraordinary Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

                    Addition - I wish Scheuer would have finished this thought (p. 38)

                    "I need to be very clear. Unqualified support for Israel, our ability at least until recently to limit the price of petroleum, our support for states who are deemed oppressors of Muslims throughout the world, especially Rusiia, China and India, our present civilian and military on the Arabian Peninsula, our military presence elsewhere in the Islamic world and probably, most damagningly, 50 years of support for Arab tyranny around the world in which our European- "

                    Where was he going with this (other than the Bin Laden-Saudi connection), because if it's where I think he's going, he's painting a pretty accurate picture of why Arabs are hating Americans (not America) more and more. Scheuer has also said numerous times that Bush's administration has done a tremendous disservice by stating that Arabs (or Muslims) 'hate' America and its freedoms. That statement is completely false, and training Americans to believe it is only going to perpetuate the kinds of attitudes and policies that are consistently misinterpreted and resented by the Arab world.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Extraordinary Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

                      Originally posted by Beatnik View Post
                      That's not accurate. In fact, the context of those statements was specifically regarding to those who were rendered "mistakenly". That's who he was talking about there.
                      I stand corrected.
                      New to TG?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Extraordinary Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

                        Originally posted by AMosely View Post
                        Addition - I wish Scheuer would have finished this thought (p. 38)

                        "I need to be very clear. Unqualified support for Israel, our ability at least until recently to limit the price of petroleum, our support for states who are deemed oppressors of Muslims throughout the world, especially Rusiia, China and India, our present civilian and military on the Arabian Peninsula, our military presence elsewhere in the Islamic world and probably, most damagningly, 50 years of support for Arab tyranny around the world in which our European- "

                        Where was he going with this (other than the Bin Laden-Saudi connection), because if it's where I think he's going, he's painting a pretty accurate picture of why Arabs are hating Americans (not America) more and more. Scheuer has also said numerous times that Bush's administration has done a tremendous disservice by stating that Arabs (or Muslims) 'hate' America and its freedoms. That statement is completely false, and training Americans to believe it is only going to perpetuate the kinds of attitudes and policies that are consistently misinterpreted and resented by the Arab world.
                        Agreed. I've gotta admit I'm very ambivalent about the whole thing, the testimony, the practice of rendition itself, Scheuer and his blase attitude, the perception that creates at home and abroad, etc. He certainly makes valid points in his criticisms of both the Clinton and Bush efforts using the program. But then his xenophobic, myopic, careless characterization of everyone they capture being a legitimate threat (even the "mistakes" don't warrant any type of redress in his mind), and his blind faith in the judgement of lawyers, especially given the respect we've seen afforded to the law from Bush's lawyers like Gonzoles, Miers, et al, makes me want to smash his head in.

                        From my perspective, he articulated the very best (the intention to try to protect us) and the very worst (the method in which they choose to realize those intentions) aspects of this very complicated issue. Really fascinating stuff, with no easy answer or perspective to take.
                        Last edited by Beatnik; 06-22-2007, 03:47 PM.
                        Beatnik

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Extraordinary Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

                          Originally posted by USN_Squid View Post
                          Right, I read all that. I just didn't see anything to get excited about.
                          Squid, I'm curious - if you were mistakenly kidnapped or 'siezed' by a foreign security agency, would you want someone in that organization to care what happened to you? Would you think you deserved to be heard? Would you think you were entitled to fair treatment while waiting to be heard or evaluated? If everyone involved claimed to be numb to your case and in no way involved in its legitimacy, would you feel frustrated? Excited, perhaps?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Extraordinary Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

                            Originally posted by AMosely View Post
                            Squid, I'm curious - if you were mistakenly kidnapped or 'siezed' by a foreign security agency, would you want someone in that organization to care what happened to you? Would you think you deserved to be heard? Would you think you were entitled to fair treatment while waiting to be heard or evaluated? If everyone involved claimed to be numb to your case and in no way involved in its legitimacy, would you feel frustrated? Excited, perhaps?
                            That's a mischaracterization of his attitude towards the law. This is what he said that struck me:

                            Mr. SCHEUER. And if you can prove that there was not due diligence
                            in designing the target package or assembling the information
                            that caused that operation to go forward, then you have a case
                            against someone


                            But to answer your question, they have no obligation to "care" about me. I would want a fair legal process of course, and Scheuer's testimony made it pretty clear to me that the law was followed, even where there were mistakes. I believe he said there were 3...3 mistakes out of the hundreds of arrests. So, again, the fact that he doesn't care about them, whatever that means, doesn't bother me so much. If the law was followed, what were the consequences of him not caring? Our damaged reputation in the world? I'll reiterate that I think the world should be afraid of our CIA.

                            Also, notice how his attitude is much more professional and relaxed when Rohrabacher asks him some questions. Scheuer obviously is hostile to the line of questioning from Delahunt. I think it's understandable that he'd be more flippant when he thinks he's the target of a witch hunt.
                            New to TG?

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                            • #15
                              Re: Extraordinary Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

                              Originally posted by USN_Squid View Post
                              That's a mischaracterization of his attitude towards the law. This is what he said that struck me:

                              Mr. SCHEUER. And if you can prove that there was not due diligence
                              in designing the target package or assembling the information
                              that caused that operation to go forward, then you have a case
                              against someone


                              But to answer your question, they have no obligation to "care" about me. I would want a fair legal process of course, and Scheuer's testimony made it pretty clear to me that the law was followed, even where there were mistakes. I believe he said there were 3...3 mistakes out of the hundreds of arrests. So, again, the fact that he doesn't care about them, whatever that means, doesn't bother me so much. If the law was followed, what were the consequences of him not caring? Our damaged reputation in the world? I'll reiterate that I think the world should be afraid of our CIA.

                              Also, notice how his attitude is much more professional and relaxed when Rohrabacher asks him some questions. Scheuer obviously is hostile to the line of questioning from Delahunt. I think it's understandable that he'd be more flippant when he thinks he's the target of a witch hunt.
                              I certainly see where you are coming from, and the purpose of my questioning isn't to prove you wrong but to better clarify our viewpoints.

                              So with those 3 'mistakes', we know there is the possibility of error in the system. Also, based on the testimony we know the system was cleverly designed to essentially make breaking US law (regarding the fair and judicial treatment of prisoners) legal, and absolving all US officials of any responsibility.

                              Back to the rendition of Squid: let's assume that you are mistakenly siezed, and the law as you know it is not followed (you are given no rights, you are interrogated, etc.) Let's take it a step further. Suppose that Scheuer is French, and you were siezed by Albanian agents who (as you later find out) were operating under the Scheuer's French rendition program. Would you find his description of the system under which you were held for several years to be acceptable and fair? Further - would you think anyone in your home town (or country) wrong for despising the French?

                              Edit: I think the quote from Scheuer's testimony that you provided above is evasive and slightly arrogant. How is the public expected to make a case against a secret system that has been designed to shed accountability? He may as well have said 'no one' instead of 'someone,' because that would have been a more accurate description of the outcome.

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