Last week, a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee held a hearing on the Bush administration’s practice of extraordinary rendition, whereby hundreds of “terror suspects who had never been indicted for any crimes” have been abducted and flown to either secret agency prisons or to foreign countries such as Egypt or Syria where they are tortured.
Throughout the hearing, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) aggressively defended the U.S. rendition program and attacked the witnesses, three members of the European parliament, who testified that rendition actually hinders prosecutions of terrorists.
Rohrabacher told the witnesses that Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann would still be alive if they were in charge. He said the witnesses were free to doubt the motives of U.S. rendition since “I know there’s a lot of people who hate America.”
At one point, Rohrabacher argued that imprisoning and torturing one innocent person was a fair price to pay for locking up 50 terrorists who would “go out and plant a bomb…and kill 20,000 people.” When members of the audience groaned, Rohrabacher said, “Well, I hope it’s your families, I hope it’s your families that suffer the consequences.” Watch it:
One member of the audience was Army Col. Ann Wright, who served 13 years on active duty and 16 years in the U.S. Army Reserves. “After 16 years in the US diplomatic corps, she resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq.” Wright rose to protest Rohrabacher’s remarks but was quickly removed from the hearing room. You can read her account of the experience HERE.
ROHRABACHER: After 9/11, we established different operations because we needed to do it, because we knew at that time there were people who were willing to kill tens of thousands of other human beings because they hate our way of life. Now, we’re only talking about the question at hand — we’ve looked at your report — we’re talking about a minuscule number of people here as compared to the number of people who are being protected. And does that mean — and of the minuscule number of people, 100, 200 people who are being held in this way, how many of those have been mistreated? How many of those have actually suffered the type of unfair treatment because they themselves really aren’t members of al Qaeda and they were just, their name was mistaken. For example, I know in one or two cases you have a man whose name was exactly the same name as a Muslim that was involved in al Qaeda. To the degree there are a few of those cases, we should do our best to make sure those cases don’t exist, try to find a system to root them out.
But, here’s the other shoe dropping, we are at war, and we’ve got to make sure that we do not let go 50 terrorists who will go out and plant a bomb in London and kill 20,000 people in order to protect that one person who we arrested accidentally because his name was the same. That’s the type of unfortunate consequence.
Well, I hope it’s your families, I hope it’s your families that suffer the consequences. Mr. Chairman, I will be very happy to talk to everybody afterwards if you want to talk to me, but in terms of the hearing, I’d like to make my points without having it animated. One person — if we let, if in order to protect the rights of one or two people, or five people or ten people, who are mistakenly abducted because their names were the same or because they went to a mosque that they didn’t know this thing was going on in the back room, if 10 of those people suffer those consequences, but in order for us to take 90 other people off the street who are intent and involved in plans that would slaughter tens of thousands of our citizens, I’m afraid that’s the price we pay in a real world. And the United States, we’re not ghouls. We’re not, we don’t, we’re not, we don’t want to torture somebody because he has a bad name. We want to get information from somebody that we think might want to kill our children and kill your children. And if you doubt our motives, you’re welcome to, I know there’s a lot of people who hate America, but when the pressure’s on, quite frankly, we have known all along that at times America has to go it alone, and people will try to find fault with us rather than trying to at least understand our morality.