Although Bush is Blasted for "Rendition", It Was Clinton's Baby

Although, President Bush was blasted this week from those on the left for the “rendition” program, it was actually Bill Clinton, Sandy Berger and Richard Clark who developed this practice.

The US “rendition” program of capturing and questioning terror suspects on foreign soil was launched under US president Bill Clinton, said a former US counterterrorism agent today.

Michael Scheuer, a 22-year veteran of the CIA who resigned from the agency in 2004, told Thursday’s issue of the newsweekly Die Zeit that the US administration had been looking in the mid-1990s for a way to combat the terrorist threat and circumvent the cumbersome US legal system.

“President Clinton, his national security advisor Sandy Berger and his terrorism advisor Richard Clark ordered the CIA in the autumn of 1995 to destroy al-Qaeda,” Scheuer said, in comments published in German.

“We asked the president what we should do with the people we capture. Clinton said ‘That’s up to you’.”

Scheuer, who headed the CIA unit that tracked al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden from 1996 to 1999, said that he developed and led the “renditions” program, which he said included moving prisoners without due legal process to countries without strict human rights protections.

At the time, he said, the CIA did not arrest or imprison anyone itself.

“That was done by the local police or secret services,” he said, adding that the prisoners were never taken to US soil. “President Clinton did not want that.”

He said the program changed under Clinton’s successor, President George W. Bush, after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

“We started putting people in our own institutions – in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo. The Bush administration wanted to capture people itself but made the same mistake as the Clinton administration by not treating these people as prisoners of war.”

He accused Europeans of being hypocritical in criticizing the US administration for its anti-terror tactics while benefiting from them.

“All the information we received from interrogations and documents, everything that had to do with Spain, Italy, Germany, France, England was passed on,” he said.

Earlier this week former Ambassador Craig Murray of Great Britain released memos he wrote to British officials before he was replaced as ambassador to Uzbekistan. The anti-Blair Bloggers in England were furious over the documents proving that the British Government had used information gained during torture in Uzbekistan. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had said earlier that the British Government did not support “obtaining of intelligence by torture, or its use.”

The colourful Mr. Murray is expected to publish a book on his years of foreign service in the near future.

Although the mainstream media made it sound as if this was new news, Mr Murray had discussed this topic publicly several times in the past year. (See here and here)

But, the anti-war, anti-Bush, and anti-Blair crowd ran with the news anyway lashing out at President Bush for not taking human rights offenses seriously in Uzbekistan regardless of evidence that proves otherwise.

Today Central Asian blogger expert Nathan Hamm at the Registan was able to respond to this news concerning Uzbekistan after traveling for the holidays. Nathan commands much respect in the blogosphere and Craig Murray himself comments on Nathan’s posting on this rendition/human rights/torture story from Uzbekistan.

Obviously, Nathan knows his stuff. You’ll have to check it out.

(How about that? I managed to fit a “Dick Clark” into a New Year’s Eve Posting!)
Happy New Year!

Captain’s Quarters has more on the story.

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