Sunday, June 22, 2008

Transnational Torutre

As production has become more transnational than before, so has torture, it seems. Not only has the United States government used "extraordinary renditions" to offshore torture,1 but it has also had foreign governments' "security officials" interrogate detainees at Guantanamo: "Behind closed doors, the United States has allowed security officials from countries such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Libya, Jordan, China, and Tunisia to interrogate prisoners at the U.S. prison at Guantánamo"(Center for Constitutional Rights, "Foreign Interrogators in Guantanamo Bay," 2008).

What should leftists do with transnationalization of torture? We ought to protest against subcontractors, too, but, as in anti-sweatshop activism, we cannot forget the end of the production chain where much of the surplus value of transnational torture gets appropriated.

1 Usually, when a foreign government commits torture and other human rights violations, depending on the government's ideological orientation and relation to the empire, different groups protest: if it's a US ally or client state, mainly leftists show up; and if it's an enemy of the United States, rightists tend to be louder than leftists, even in cases where leftists, too, take action. Extraordinary renditions have created cases that don't fall into a familiar pattern. Take the case of Maher Arar for example: here's a government with which the United States government is at odds and against which it is taking various actions (accusing it of being a state sponsor of terrorist organizations, backing the faction for the "Cedar Revolution," pushing for an international tribunal on the assassination of Rafik Hariri, letting Israel bomb what it says is a nuclear facility, etc.), and yet the US and Canadian governments render a citizen of Canada to it, outsourcing torture. There are several other known cases of "extraordinary renditions" to not only Syria but also Sudan and Zimbabwe, the states that are also on Washington's bad list (though most detainees appear to be rendered to US client states or US-occupied territories, such as Egypt and Afghanistan: Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann, "Disappearing Act: Rendition by the Numbers," Mother Jones, 3 March 2008).

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