Commentary: U.S. must take new course on renditions

This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, has persistently attempted to reverse "harmful, dangerous, un-American and illegal" practices of the last seven years.

She recently pressed CIA nominee Leon Panetta on secret CIA detention and torture, asking: "Will the CIA continue the practice of extraordinary rendition by which the government will transfer a detainee to either a foreign government or a black site for the purpose of long-term detention and interrogation, as opposed to for law enforcement purposes?"

Panetta responded, "No we will not, because under the executive order signed by the president, that kind of extraordinary rendition, where we send someone for the purposes of torture or for actions by another country that violate our human values – that has been forbidden by the executive order."

So far, so good. The United States, going forward, rejects Bush administration policies and will abide by its own laws and international treaties.

But undoing Bush administration actions seems to be another matter. In an actual case, the Obama Justice Department is hewing to a sweeping Bush position regarding "state secrets," arguing that courts should dismiss without hearing any evidence a challenge by individuals who allege they were abducted, sent abroad and tortured.

The case at hand involves a San Jose company. Five men claim that Jeppesen International Trip Planning (a subsidiary of Boeing) "knowingly provided" direct flight services to the CIA, whereby they were transported to secret overseas locations and "subjected to torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment."

To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.