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December 18, 2005

Common Threads: Of Torture and Security

One of the goals of this blog has been to discuss the changing role of security, and the torture debate is not inseparable here or when otherwise analyzing global perceptions of the United States.

Stateside, the debate about the Bush Administration's war on terrorism seems to have hit an upsurge with reports from the New York Times that the President allowed the National Security Agency to spy on its citizens. This is, of course, coupled with the news that certain sunset provisions ofthe Patriot Act will probably not be renewed. And though his recent series of speeches on the Iraq War have attempted to redraw connections between a concerted military action and disperse terrorist ones, this effort does not appear to be as trenchant as it once was.

Of course, the international coverage of these stories has yet to coalesce, perhaps because their implications are domestic. It appears that said news media has been captivated far more by the question of the CIA black sites. This is fitting considering how many countries were potentially involved, as noted in Francis Pisani's post.

When Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice made her trip to Europe over a week ago, one can assume responses to black site revelations were not at the top of her agenda. Nevertheless, she was met by an avalanche of criticism after every stop she made; from Berlin to Bucharest to Kiev, and everywhere in between. Much of it focused on the method of extraordinary rendition, which was a catchphrase difficult to explain in legalese, let alone in any extant language. In the end, as Nagomi Onda observes in her post on an Asahi article, both the U.S. and European countries had much face-saving to accomplish given their professed regard for "humanitarianism."

And thus the situation simmers. There are reports that the U.S. has since moved these prisons, but there is still some reticence from at least one of the states implicated (Poland) to consider what once transpired. Jakub Wrzesniewski posted to this effect, when he noticed that two stories in some prominent Polish dailies parroted much of their coverage from U.S. sources. This is especially peculiar given the ripe possibilities for a story with the scope of international terrorism.

There are of course a plenitude of posts that were never made on other facets of the black site story, from the strange and tragic apprehension of Khalid al-Masri, to how some around the world view the United States' apparent implementation of Krauhammer's "ticking time bomb". We have but a small cast at our disposal.

Regardles, the Bush Administration's sudden garnering of attention in the thicket of domestic security concerns doesn't seem to bode well for its immediate future. The way in which both foreign governments, and for the purposes of this blog, foreign media have grasped on to this issue is also not easily dismissible, though. Take the Swiss NZZ, which announces every action of special prosecutor Dick Marty in the minutest of detail.

American conduct in its war on terror is under more intense scrutiny as the days roll on, mostly because its ephemerality leads so easily to skepticism. One can argue, perhaps, that the Administration's governance of this conflict has never been given a fair shake by the international media, that few in the foreign ranks seem to understand that the stakes include some of the most serious security consequences of our time. But then maybe all of the coverage is duly warranted.

Some more, still, have it that the best thing to do is to question those nattering nabobs head-on: As Colin Powell relayed in yesterday's BBC World TV program, none of this rendition business is "new or unknown."

If this is the case, this blogger would hate to think that WorldAndUs's occupancy of the information superhighway was merely idle.

Posted December 18, 2005 03:16 AM

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