Two recent stories highlight NPR's longstanding commitment to the enabling of US torture policy. In the first, a civil lawsuit in New York State exposes details of the CIA's longstanding rendition/torture program. The second story - which is creating headlines and investigations in the UK - involves the discovery of documents in Libya's Intelligence and Foreign Ministry offices which clearly show that the CIA was sending kidnapped suspects to Libya to be tortured.
The first story is dispensed with on ATC on September 1, and features NPR's intellectual heavyweight, Robert Siegel interviewing WaPo reporter, Peter Finn about the "details." There is a lot of discussion about the millions spent on the CIA's rendition (kidnapping) flights and the focus of the story is Siegel's amazement that the US government even allowed this case to come to light:
(Siegel) "Now, the mystery in all this is the absence of mystery. You quote the lawyer...as saying that he kept on waiting for the government to step into this case. Don't they usually do that, and why didn't they do it in this case?"
What is completely absent is any indication that kidnapping people and flying them around the world to be tortured and disappeared is completely illegal (and morally reprehensible).
The second, more recent story - coming out of Libya - reveals documented evidence that the CIA flagrantly violated the US Convention Against Torture. On Weekend Edition Sunday, September 4, NPR runs cover for the US/CIA. There is no gray area in the law - unless one supports the the US being able to torture suspects:
"It shall be the policy of the United States not to expel, extradite, or otherwise effect the involuntary return of any person to a country in which there are substantial grounds for believing the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture, regardless of whether the person is physically present in the United States."
NPR is well aware of Libya's systemic use of torture:
(Melissa Block on September 1) "Under Moammar Gadhafi's rule, tens of thousands of people disappeared into prisons. According to human rights groups, the Libyan state security apparatus tortured detainees and held them without due process."
If it's common knowledge that Libya, under Gadhafi, tortured prisoners, that means there are "substantial grounds" for believing anyone handed over to Libya then would be tortured, and therefore makes the US and CIA officials guilty of violating both US and international law, right? Not on NPR. It's worth reprinting Sunday's interchange between Cornish and coup-cozy Beaubien:
Cornish: "And, of course, we're seeing reports about files uncovered in the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Ministry."
Beaubien: "Yes, that's right. And actually Human Rights Watch got a hold of an entire batch of documents....And these documents show that clearly, you know, from what was in these documents, apparently the CIA was using Libya as a place of rendition; to move the suspects in, have them interrogated in Libya."
Cornish: "And, of course, at this point these documents have not been authenticated. But the idea that the - that even the idea that the U.S. might be having suspects moved to this country with the traditional - with a tradition of brutal questioning is something that's raising a lot of eyebrows.
Beaubien: "Yeah. And I should add that in these documents it does explicitly say - these communications between the CIA and the Gadhafi regime, it does say that Libya, you must respect the human rights of these people. So I should add that. But it certainly does raise questions about who the U.S. and the British intelligence services were using to interrogate terror suspects in (t)his global war on terror."
How's that for hedging, qualifying, minimizing, and excusing? If torture weren't such a perverted, disgusting, pornographic, and pathological practice, then Beaubien's straight-faced assertions that the CIA-linked document "does explicitly say...it does say...'you must respect the human rights of these people'" would be laughable naivete, instead of what it is: an intentional and ethically bankrupt attempt to obscure the fact that the US and CIA willingly participate in the torture of human beings.