At last we have details regarding “special rendition” (or, if you prefer, “extraordinary rendition” — a phrase which is even more doubleplusgood). This is important. If you are mistakenly kidnapped and tortured by the CIA, it’s useful to know what to expect. The intrepid Dana Priest (WaPo’s new star, now that Woodward has become Dubya’s pet hack), has written yet another remarkable exposé of the Cheney/Bush reign of (t)error — Wrongful Imprisonment: Anatomy of a CIA Mistake. Don’t read this simply because it’s fascinating, and nauseating. Read it because it may come in handy:
Right. So, let’s say you’ve just had a spat with your wife, and you take a spontaneous trip across the border to “blow off steam” — oh, and you happen to have an ordinary Arabic name — then this is a possible outcome. It is in fact what happened to Khaled Masri, an innocent German citizen.
Let’s try to picture this. You’ve taken a quick trip to clear your head, and suddenly you’re surrounded by guys dressed like ninjas, who blindfold you, cut off your clothes, give you an enema, and put you in a diaper. Which is, okay, sort of humorous. Right? Until they take you to a cell and torture you.
Now, it’s hard to argue, in this case, that the coverup is worse than the crime, but it sure competes. And the suggested coverup is nothing short of mind-boggling — by comparison, enough to render credible any conspiracy theorist at his most paranoid. When the CIA recognized that they’d kidnapped and tortured the wrong man — something they’ve done a fair bit of, recently — it was crucial to figure out the PR ramifications. (Perhaps they consulted Rove.)
Unbelievable. (Perhaps they consulted Ludlum?) Ah, but it didn’t happen. Well, not quite. It’s true that when Masri was released — after five months in isolation — they told him “that he would not receive any documents or papers confirming his ordeal. The Americans would never admit they had taken him prisoner.” The compromise, however, is that the German interior minister was told about Masri’s case. Of course, this polite tip came with a specific request: “that the German government not disclose what it had been told even if Masri went public.”
I hope you’re taking notes. This is what can happen to you, at the hands of the Bush administration (let’s remember that this is policy): you can suddenly, for no reason, find yourself bound and stripped by masked men, drugged and imprisoned, held for an unspecified period of time — during which you will be tortured — then released with the suggestion that you keep this unfortunate business to yourself, because nobody’s going to believe you if you try to complain.
The problem is that this kind of story is no longer incredible. We do believe you. I can’t imagine that anyone seriously questions whether Masri’s tale is true — in the Age of Cheney, this is how the United States is expected to act abroad. (Not at home. If the masked men pick you up here, you’ll be shipped off to a “black site,” perhaps in Romania, where they cannot hear you scream.)
Remember when fatuous Republicans were constantly huffing, “where is the outrage?” I believe that the most fatuous of them all, the swinging gambler Bill Bennett, wrote an entire book with a title something like that. Well, I think it’s time to revive that question. Where, for Christ’s sake, is the outrage?