In a recent interview on Hardtalk, former Secretary of Homeland Security (and co-author of the PATRIOT Act) Michael Chertoff was asked about extraordinary rendition and why the US government sent captured detainees to other countries known for widespread torture. Not only does he deny that the purpose of sending detainees to other countries was so that they would be tortured, but he denies anyone in the US government had knowledge that subjects were tortured when sent to various countries. He says, “I’m not sure I’m going to agree with you that they necessarily knew that people were going to be tortured.”
It’s a virtual certainty at this point, thanks to brilliant journalists beginning with but certainly not ending with Jane Mayer, that everyone involved in the post 9/11 extraordinary rendition program know it was based on torture. Rather than Chertoff’s lies and denial, knowledge of the reality of the program more closely matches with what Dana Priest and Barton Gellman were told very early on:
According to one official who has been directly involved in rendering captives into foreign hands, the understanding is, “We don’t kick the [expletive] out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the [expletive] out of them.” Some countries are known to use mind-altering drugs such as sodium pentathol, said other officials involved in the process.
I wonder what Chertoff might have said had he been asked these questions by Maher Arar: