From Socialist Voice, December 2005

Dermot Ahern—knave or fool?

George Bush confirmed to the world on 6 December that the United States does not send prisoners for rendering “to countries that torture.” Why would the United States send prisoners to a third country for interrogation in the first place? Have they no-one in America who can question a prisoner? Have they not got one detective or special agent with the necessary skills to question someone suspected of being a terrorist? Have they no-one to “waterboard” suspects (submerging them in water)—Donald Rumsfeld’s preferred method of “questioning”?
    Throughout Europe and further afield the question of secret CIA flights ferrying prisoners for “rendering” has regularly surfaced. All such reports have been strenuously denied by the US junta. So if George Bush is telling the truth—that they send prisoners abroad, but not to countries that torture—then they must pass through some airport somewhere.
    On his recent visit to the United States the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, stated that he had sought and was given assurances that neither Shannon Airport nor any other Irish airport was used or had been used by the CIA as a hub in transferring prisoners for “rendition” to third countries.
    But documents secured by RTE under the Freedom of Information Act show that thirty-eight unmarked CIA flights landed at Shannon. This is in complete contradiction to what Dermot Ahern has publicly claimed and runs contrary to the assurances given by the US administration. This government continues to take the US government’s word at face value, without questioning. They have not got the political will or the moral strength to stand up to the United States.
    It has now emerged that Dermot Ahern did not directly receive assurance from Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State. A senior State Department official, who requested anonymity because he was relating a private conversation, said that Rice pointedly did not make the assurance personal to Ahern, because her message was “You’ve got those assurances from the US ambassador to Ireland. You should have confidence in that.” The United States is increasingly on the offensive in pressuring Europeans and others to take it at its word, without questioning, in relation to secret flights and secret detention centres.
    There is growing evidence that secret torture centres and prisons have operated in Poland and Romania, while other prisoners are sent to Afghanistan, Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco. The dirty work has been sub-contracted to third countries, so American fingerprints do not appear on the mutilated bodies.
    In early December the United States and Romania signed a long-term agreement for an American military presence in that country. It has similar agreements with all the former socialist countries. This is ironic, as most of the “pro-democracy” campaigners condemned the Soviet Union for having Red Army soldiers stationed in their countries. Of course Romania was far too close to the west during Soviet times to allow Warsaw Treaty forces on its territory. These countries, with their governments that come and go, are nothing more than American colonies, with Germany also attempting to build influence.
    In Chambers’ Dictionary the meaning of the word “render” is given as “to melt down, to give or provide.” So if we have prisoners being “rendered” this means they are being sent to be broken down, to make them more pliable for further interrogation. The torturers live in another jurisdiction. The United States can then claim that it does not carry out torture; but it does benefit from those who do practise it.
    First we had the British government found guilty of “inhuman and degrading treatment” (i.e. torture) here in Ireland, and now it has been refined further, with suspects being “rendered” (i.e. tortured). We really do live in Alice’s Wonderland, where words mean what the ruling elite want them to mean.
    All flights by US military either through Shannon Airport or through Irish air space should be stopped now; otherwise we as a people are complicit in the use of torture. The time for taking the US government’s word at face value is long past its sell-by date.

Home page  >  Publications  >  Socialist Voice  >  December 2005  >  Dermot Ahern—knave or fool?
Baile  >  Foilseacháin  >  Socialist Voice  >  Nollaig 2005  >  Dermot Ahern—knave or fool?