Daily archives: December 18, 2005

Torture: security vs. values

The U.S. struggles to draw the line on interrogation

By Douglas Birch in the Baltimore Sun

Last year on an Afghan mountainside near the Pakistan border, a group of U.S. paratroopers on patrol spotted a 14-year-old hiding a cache of weapons and explosives. In the presence of a Sun reporter, they forced the boy to kneel on the rocky ground and put all his weight on his knees for an hour while heavily armed soldiers angrily questioned him.

Several times, the boy grimaced from the pain, closed his eyes and tottered, looking as though he were ready to faint. But he never admitted hiding weapons, even as soldiers scouring nearby caves stacked rockets, rifles and thousands of bullets in the dust nearby.

The weapons could have been used in deadly attacks. But the paratroopers were clearly uneasy about inflicting pain to leverage information, and – although they threatened to arrest their suspect – finally released the teenager with a warning. He was, as one said, “just a boy.”


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Tortuous Distinctions

The bitter row over secret “renditions” of terrorist suspects has highlighted fundamental differences between Europe and America over law and morality, Ian Black argues

From The Guardian

It’s not every day that the Council of Europe (CoE) tops the news bulletins, and unusual for a little-known Swiss senator to make headlines across the world. The 46-member human rights watchdog is routinely confused with the European Council – that’s the EU when it meets at head of government level. The Strasbourg-based body has no power at all – except to suspend members who break the rules.

But the CoE’s Dick Marty dropped a bombshell this week when he suggested that European governments may have been secretly cooperating with the US in its practice of kidnapping terrorist suspects -“extraordinary rendition” in American bureaucratese. That has given the organisation its rare moment in the limelight – and generated fresh embarrassment around a highly controversial issue.


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