Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

22 CIA agents convicted on criminal charges

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This is a fine kettle of fish. It’s another legacy from the Bush Administration. Greenwald:

The criminal conviction of 22 CIA agents (and 2 Italian intelligence officers) by an Italian court yesterday — for the 2003 kidnapping of an Islamic cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, off the street in Italy and his "rendition" to Egypt to be tortured — highlights several vital points:

First, illustrating how these matters are typically distorted by the U.S. establishment media, note that CNN — in the very first paragraph of its story — claims that the CIA agents were convicted "for their role in the seizing of a suspected terrorist in Italy in 2003."  What did Nasr allegedly do that warrants that "terrorist" label?  Did he participate in the 9/11 attacks, or plan attacks on "the American homeland" or U.S. civilians?  No.  According to CNN, this is what makes him a "suspected terrorist":

He was suspected of recruiting men to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So the West invades, bombs and occupies Muslim countries, and when Muslims attempt to find people to fight against the West’s invading armies, those individuals are deemed "terrorists."  Or consider this quite informative 2005 Washington Post article, which details how the CIA’s kidnapping derailed the Italians’ criminal (i.e., legal) investigation of Nasr; that article explains:

Nasr was wanted by the Egyptian authorities for his involvement in Jemaah Islamiah, a network of Islamic extremists that had sought the overthrow of the government. The network was dispersed during a government crackdown in the early 1990s, and many leaders escaped abroad to avoid arrest.

The Egyptian government, long propped up by the U.S., is one of the most tyrannical and brutal in the world.  But Egyptians who work to overthrow that government are deemed "terrorists" by the U.S., and we’re apparently willing to kidnap them from around the world — including from countries where they’ve received asylum — and ship them back to our Egyptian friends to be imprisoned and tortured.

For many Americans — probably most — the word "terrorist" conjures up images of the people responsible for the 9/11 attack.  For that reason, labeling someone a "suspected terrorist" can justify doing anything and everything to those individuals (after all, other than civil liberties extremists, who could object to the "seizing of a suspected terrorist" — or their indefinite detention or torture?).  It’s therefore unsurprising that the U.S. Government would use the term "terrorist" so promiscuously and selectively (see John Cole’s excellent contrast between what we deem to be "terrorism" when it happens to the U.S. versus what we deny is "terrorism" when done by the U.S.).  It’s a powerful term that can justify almost any government action.

But the U.S. media’s willingness to mindlessly apply the term "terrorist" in exactly the subjective, self-serving way the U.S. Government dictates — starkly contrasted with their refusal to use the far more objective term "torture" on the ground that the term is in dispute (i.e., disputed by the U.S. Government torturers) — illustrates the establishment media’s principal function:  to serve American political power and justify whatever our government does.  That’s a major reason — perhaps the primary one — why the U.S. Government has been able to get away with everything it’s done over the last decade.  Those unseen victims of torture, rendition, indefinite detention and other government crimes are all just "terrorists," so who cares?  In reporting on these convictions, CNN immediately and helpfully proclaims Nasr to be a "suspected terrorist" in a way that guts any meaningful definition of that term and — in many minds — justifies whatever was done to him, no matter how illegal.

It’s worth asking this question:  which sounds more like actual "terrorism":  (a) kidnapping people literally off the street and shipping them thousands of miles away to be tortured with no legal process, or (b) what Nasr is "suspected" of having done? …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2009 at 11:09 am

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