Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Render his sorry butt anywhere you like.

Have a look at Salman Rushdie's take, in the Sidney Morning Herald, on the U.S. government's policy of "rendition" (via MoorishGirl).

For those of you too lazy to click on the link above, here is a highlight:

The US authorities have been taking a characteristically robust line on this issue. On her recent European trip, the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, more or less told European governments to back off the issue - which they duly, and tamely, did, claiming to have been satisfied by her assurances.

At the end of December, the German Government ordered the closing of an Islamic centre near Munich after finding documents encouraging suicide attacks in Iraq. This is a club which, we are told, Khaled al-Masri often visited before being extraordinarily rendered to Afghanistan. "Aha!" we are encouraged to think. "Obvious bad guy. Render his sorry butt anywhere you like."

What is wrong with this kind of thinking is that, as Isabel Hilton of The Guardian wrote last July, "The delusion that officeholders know better than the law is an occupational hazard of the powerful and one to which those of an imperial cast of mind are especially prone … When disappearance became state practice across Latin America in the '70s it aroused revulsion in democratic countries, where it is a fundamental tenet of legitimate government that no state actor may detain - or kill - another human being without having to answer to the law."

In other words, the question isn't whether or not a given individual is "good" or "bad." The question is whether or not we are - whether or not our governments have dragged us into immorality by discarding due process of law, which is generally accorded to be second only to individual rights as the most important pillar of a free society.

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