Attorney General Eric Holder has promised not to torture Edward Snowden. Before Bush-Cheney, one could not imagine any Cabinet officer of this country being publicly forced to make such a disgusting promise. Once the United States possessed the moral authority of a Constitution respected worldwide. We could easily demand that our enemies in World War II be charged with crimes against humanity.
Bush-Cheney authorized torture as a tool early in our world-condemned invasion of Iraq. Heinous practices were not even denied by high government officials.
Over time, records from the CIA and military intelligence revealed these flagrant acts were authorized higher and higher in the government finally reaching the office of the president. Then spin from the White House suggested water boarding was not really torture, despite documents from World War II in which we pushed the United Nations to condemn the Axis powers for using water boarding and other brutal acts on prisoners.
I don’t know if the Bush administration invented the outrageous euphemism “extraordinary rendition,” but they used it to the extreme. “Extraordinary rendition” is the practice of kidnapping suspected enemies and taking them to countries with few scruples about human rights to be tortured, supposedly to acquire information.
As recently as this last month, there was a news article about a famous case occurring in Italy in 2003. An Islamic clergyman named Osama Mustapha Hassan Nasr was kidnapped in Italy and flown to Egypt where he was held for years without charges and allegedly tortured. Twenty-three CIA agents were charged with kidnapping by the Italian government, tried in absentia and found guilty. According to published reports, senior CIA officials including then CIA Director George Tenet, approved the operation even though Nasr was not wanted in Egypt and was not on the list of top al-Qaida terrorists.
Apparently the Obama administration has bought into the Bush love of bureaucratic secrecy. We don’t know if our government has sought FISA court approval (it’s secret) for the wanton spying on the American people, but on the face of it, the fourth Amendment has been ignored because of job security venality.