Sunday, March 06, 2005 - CIA sends terror suspects abroad for interrogation - CIA sends terror suspects abroad for interrogation: "WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The CIA has been allowed to secretly transfer terrorism suspects overseas for interrogation, a former U.S. official said Sunday, but a White House spokesman denied that the United States used the practice to 'export torture.'
The official, who asked not to be named because there are classified issues involved, emphasized that the process -- known as 'rendition' -- is conducted with strict government oversight and with approval from the White House and the Department of Justice.

The practice had existed for years, but President Bush expanded it after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, The New York Times reported Sunday.

'This program of renditions is fully authorized, so the CIA is not doing anything illegal that has not been authorized by the president,' the former official said. He said both the chairmen and ranking Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees are entitled to know about it or have been briefed on it."

60 Minutes - CIA Flying Suspects To Torture?

"The option of not doing something is extraordinarily dangerous to the American people," says Michael Scheuer, who until three months ago was a senior CIA official in the counterterrorist center. Scheuer created the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit and helped set up the rendition program during the Clinton administration.

"Basically, the National Security Council gave us the mission, take down these cells, dismantle them and take people off the streets so they can't kill Americans," says Scheuer. "They just didn't give us anywhere to take the people after we captured."

So the CIA started taking suspects to Egypt and Jordan. Scheuer says renditions were authorized by Clinton's National Security Council and officials in Congress - and all understood what it meant to send suspects to those countries.

"They don't have the same legal system we have. But we know that going into it," says Scheuer. "And so the idea that we're gonna suddenly throw our hands up like Claude Raines in 'Casablanca' and say, 'I'm shocked that justice in Egypt isn't like it is in Milwaukee,' there's a certain disingenuousness to that."

"And one of the things that you know about justice in Egypt is that people get tortured," says Pelley.

"Well, it can be rough. I have to assume that that's the case," says Scheuer.

But doesn't that make the United States complicit in the torture?

"You'll have to ask the lawyers," says Scheuer.

Is it convenient?

"It's convenient in the sense that it allows American policy makers and American politicians to avoid making hard decisions," says Scheuer. "Yes. It's very convenient. It's finding someone else to do your dirty work."


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