Monday, February 14, 2005


Well, you can't expect America to bring democracy to the rest of the world, and still be good at everything else. Chinese factories are busy making our sneakers and cut-price chinos. Operators in Hyderabad and Manilla are servicing our consumer complaints. Millions of hard-working Japanese salarymen lay down savings so Japanese banks can continue to fund the US's massive and growing deficit. And we're now starting to learn how much our allies in the Middle East -- and even some erstwhile enemies -- are doing to take up the slack in America's torture needs.

Jane Mayer's article in the current New Yorker looks at the practice of 'extraordinary rendition', where US intelligence agents, mostly from the CIA, collect terrorist suspects around the globe, hustle them into a waiting unmarked jet, and wing them off to the gentle care of police interrogators in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or even Syria. The practice began under the Clinton administration, when Richard Clarke was anti-terrorism czar, but has increased vastly since 9/11, under the auspices of "War on Terror" aided by the creative jurisprudence of the Bush's Justice Department.

On a day when the author of much of that jurisprudence is being confirmed as the US Attorney General, there's occasion to celebrate another milestone in American moral values, and another great examplar of the American democratic process in action.

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