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The issue at hand.

ON NOVEMBER 2, 2005, the Washington Post revealed in an article by Dana Priest the existence of "a covert prison system set up by the CIA" in the wake of 9/11. Within this global network of hidden, U.S. government-run facilities, called "black sites," unnamed terrorist suspects are held and interrogated by U.S. intelligence officers. But because the operation of such a secret program would be unconstitutional in the United States, the facilities have been located in at least eight countries: "Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba." This first tier of the program handles perhaps thirty of the leading suspects while a second tier of about seventy has been handed over "to intelligence services in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Afghanistan and other countries, a process sometimes known as 'rendition'."

That's where this issue of the Humanist comes in. Starting on page 11, Professor Donald Gutierrez describes "The Extraordinary Cruelty of 'Extraordinary Rendition'," explaining how, by this method, the United States effectively outsources its torture to countries where it is legal.

Nonetheless, according to the Post, even at the U.S.-run first-tier sites, CIA-approved "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" may be used, "some of which are prohibited ... by U.S. military law" as well as by the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Therefore, starting on page 16, in "Everything but the Truth," Maggie Ardiente provides an update on the situation at Guantanamo and the efforts of the administration of George W. Bush to publicly disavow torture on the one hand while asserting on the other that the CIA should be exempt from any legislative ban on the same thing.

This cuts to the core of a central set of Humanist ideas that emerged during the Enlightenment and expresses itself in the U.S. Bill of Rights as the fourth, fifth, sixth, and eighth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. To sum it up succinctly, people aren't to be "disappeared," tortured, or denied due process of law. If the concepts of liberty and human rights mean anything, such practices must be banned.

Never mind for the moment the numerous practical considerations regarding the consequences of ignoring these principles--such as that U.S. citizens traveling abroad can become fair game for foreign human rights violators. For a Humanist it is enough to say, in the words of Humanist Manifesto III, "We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity" and that "Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences." This is a direct application of the Golden Rule. In other words, we don't want to live in a society where we can secretly be abducted and abused with impunity and therefore we won't visit this treatment upon others.

So, under the standard ideals and practicalities of human rights law, as well as under Humanist principles, there is no place for torture, secret prisons, or denial of due process--whether for the guilty or the innocent.
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Author:Edwords, Fred
Publication:The Humanist
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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