“The consequence of this cavalier approach to human rights, as witnessed from Guantanamo Bay to Abu Ghraib and beyond,” comments the Observer (4 December) on new revelations that the CIA regularly flies prisoners to foreign countries where they can be tortured with impunity, “is to undermine the very values that the War against Terror was supposed to encourage.”
If the Observer was written by honest, clear-headed, consistent democrats, and not by liberal apologists for capitalism, it might have drawn a different conclusion: that the governments fighting the “War on Terror” were not serious about these values in the first place.
The US government is transporting prisoners — many of whom have been arrested simply for knowing the wrong person, or having the wrong name, or the wrong appearance — to parts of the world where the minimal liberal-democratic safeguards current in the USA do not apply, the easier to mistreat them and squeeze confessions or information out of them.
As Condoleeza Rice pointed out in her defence of “rendition”, the USA has been doing it for decades. What’s new is a senior government representative admitting and justifying it so shamelessly. Bourgeois governments’ concern for democratic institutions and human rights seems to decline in exact proportion to the growth of the rhetoric in which they claim that their bombings are sanctified by their devotion to democracy.