John King's statements on LA Times rendition story ignored key facts

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

On CNN's State of the Union, John King cited a Los Angeles Times article that, according to King, stated that President Obama "has signed executive orders to continue the controversial CIA practice of rendition -- essentially scooping up suspected terrorists around the world, sometimes taking them to secret prisons." But King left out key facts from the Times article, including that the "secret prisons" to which he referred could be used "only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis," and that in his executive order, Obama created a task force to ensure that renditions "do not result in the transfer of individuals to other nations to face torture."

On the February 1 edition of CNN's State of the Union, host John King cited a Los Angeles Times article published that day which, according to King, stated that President Obama "has signed executive orders to continue the controversial CIA practice of rendition -- essentially scooping up suspected terrorists around the world, sometimes taking them to secret prisons." King later stated that "the CIA, under an Obama administration, retain[s] the right for rendition, to scoop up suspected terrorists around the world." But in stating that Obama would "continue" and "retain" the programs of rendition and secret prisons used under former President Bush, King left out key facts pointed out by the Times article, including that the "secret prisons" to which he referred could be used "only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis." The Times also noted that in his executive order, Obama created a task force to ensure that renditions "do not result in the transfer of individuals to other nations to face torture."

The Times reported:

One provision in one of Obama's orders appears to preserve the CIA's ability to detain and interrogate terrorism suspects as long as they are not held long-term. The little-noticed provision states that the instructions to close the CIA's secret prison sites "do not refer to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis."

Indeed, Obama's January 22 executive order states, "The CIA shall close as expeditiously as possible any detention facilities that it currently operates and shall not operate any such detention facility in the future," but excludes from its definition of "detention facilities" and "detention facility" those "facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis":

Sec. 2. Definitions. As used in this order:

[...]

(g) The terms "detention facilities" and "detention facility" in section 4(a) of this order do not refer to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.

[...]

Sec. 4. Prohibition of Certain Detention Facilities, and Red Cross Access to Detained Individuals.

(a) CIA Detention. The CIA shall close as expeditiously as possible any detention facilities that it currently operates and shall not operate any such detention facility in the future.

Regarding torture, the Times reported:

The rendition program became a source of embarrassment for the CIA, and a target of international scorn, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures, mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries where they were tortured.

[...]

In his executive order on lawful interrogations, Obama created a task force to reexamine renditions to make sure that they "do not result in the transfer of individuals to other nations to face torture," or otherwise circumvent human rights laws and treaties.

Indeed, Obama's executive order establishes a "Special Task Force on Interrogation and Transfer Policies," chaired by the attorney general and including the director of National Intelligence, the secretaries of Defense, State, and Homeland Security, the director of the CIA, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Their mission includes:

(ii) to study and evaluate the practices of transferring individuals to other nations in order to ensure that such practices comply with the domestic laws, international obligations, and policies of the United States and do not result in the transfer of individuals to other nations to face torture or otherwise for the purpose, or with the effect, of undermining or circumventing the commitments or obligations of the United States to ensure the humane treatment of individuals in its custody or control.

King also did not note that the Times reported:

The decision to preserve the program did not draw major protests, even among human rights groups. Leaders of such organizations attribute that to a sense that nations need certain tools to combat terrorism.

"Under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place" for renditions, said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "What I heard loud and clear from the president's order was that they want to design a system that doesn't result in people being sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured -- but that designing that system is going to take some time."

From the February 1 edition of CNN's State of the Union with John King:

KING: I don't mean to be rude, but I want to get you before we run out of time. I want to get your thoughts on this front page LA Times story -- this is your committee, the Intelligence Committee -- "CIA retains power to abduct."

We know that Barack Obama has said no more torture, that he will close Guantánamo Bay prison detainee, but in this article, in the LA Times, says he has signed executive orders to continue the controversial CIA practice of rendition -- essentially scooping up suspected terrorists around the world, sometimes taking them to secret prisons. What can you tell us about this?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): I don't believe that's true. What he said is that there can be temporary housing. There has to be temporary housing. You pick somebody up, you have to know what they have done. You have to have some time to talk to them.

KING: The renditions, the renditions -- the CIA, under an Obama administration, retain the right for rendition, to scoop up suspected terrorists around the world.

FEINSTEIN: Not in that sense that you mean rendition, which is sending them also to another country or to a black site. What they're talking about is temporary holding. The fine points of it have to be fleshed out and will be fleshed out.

I've met with Greg Craig about the executive order on two occasions now. The Intelligence Committee will be providing oversight over it. And, as you know, I have a bill to close Guantánamo, to end contractors doing interrogations, to have one standard across -- which is the Army Field Manual -- the executive order coalesces with this bill. And we need time to really address the fine points of the executive order and see if it's sufficient or if we need to codify some of this.

KING: We'll keep our eye on it as that often-secretive process continues. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California thank you much.

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Detention, Interrogation, National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
John King
Show/Publication
State Of The Union
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