Administration’s Secret Prison System Violates Law

Earler this year, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the United States was adhering to both U.S. law and treaty obligations outlawing torture:

And as we carry out the war on terrorism, and seek to prevent attacks from happening, we must adhere to those laws, and we must adhere to those treaty obligations and we must adhere to — we must adhere to our values. [White House, 3/17/05]

But the Washington Post reports today that the U.S. is keeping prisoners in a system of secret, “black-site” prisons around the world, where they can be treated to punishment which the U.N. Convention on torture and U.S. military law does not allow:

Host countries have signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as has the United States. Yet CIA interrogators in the overseas sites are permitted to use the CIA’s approved “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques,” some of which are prohibited by the U.N. convention and by U.S. military law. They include tactics such as “waterboarding,” in which a prisoner is made to believe he or she is drowning. [Washington Post, 11/2/05]

The prisons were approved “by a small circle of White House and Justice Department lawyers and officials, according to several former and current U.S. government and intelligence officials.” It helps explain why the White House wants to exempt the CIA from legislation banning the inhumane treatment of detainees.

UPDATE: Those responsible for justifying these policies are getting promotions. David S. Addington, Vice President Cheney’s choice to replace Scooter Libby as his Chief of Staff, was a “principal author of the White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects.” The memo said, “Congress may no more regulate the president’s ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield.”