We already knew he was using “rendition-lite,” where instead of capturing detainees and then transferring them to foreign agents, U.S. intel would lead those agents to the suspect and let them make the bust themselves. Looks like we’re going to drop the “lite” now and go with the supersized version.

Rest assured, though, there won’t be any torturing done. Would shadowy foreign operatives lie?

The administration officials, who announced the changes on condition that they not be identified, said that unlike the Bush administration, they would give the State Department a larger role in assuring that transferred detainees would not be abused.

“The emphasis will be on insuring that individuals will not face torture if they are sent over overseas,” said one administration official, adding that no detainees will be sent to countries that are known to conduct abusive interrogations…

“It is extremely disappointing that the Obama administration is continuing the Bush administration practice of relying on diplomatic assurances, which have been proven completely ineffective in preventing torture,” said Amrit Singh of the American Civil Liberties Union, who tracked rendition cases under President George W. Bush.

She cited the case of Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian sent in 2002 by the United States to Syria, which offered assurances against torture but beat Mr. Arar with electrical cable anyway.

The Obama task force proposed improved monitoring of treatment of prisoners sent to other countries, but Ms. Singh said the usual method of such monitoring — visits from American or allied consular officials — had also been ineffective. A Canadian consular official visited Mr. Arar several times, but the prisoner was too frightened to tell him about the torture, according to a Canadian investigation of the case.

Stupid question: Isn’t the whole point of rendition to apply pressure to a detainee that couldn’t legally be applied in your own jurisdiction? If so, what’s to be gained by sending them to countries that don’t practice enhanced interrogation? Better to keep them here and let Obama’s new A-team sweet-talk them, no? Maybe The One wants rendered detainees to think they’re in for a rougher time from foreign agents, whose intimidating reputation might be enough to soften them up. But if that’s the case, how is rendition substantially different from, say, the CIA’s empty threat to harm Khaled Sheikh Mohammed’s kids? If fear is torture, isn’t the mere threat of harsh treatment implicit in rendition a form of torture too?

Meanwhile, in totally unrelated breaking news, Holder’s set to appoint a special prosecutor for CIA interrogators who threatened detainees. Exit question: Does that explain why they’re retaining rendition? After all the self-flagellation from the left about enhanced interrogation, now replete with the prospect of criminal charges against American intelligence, terrorists know perfectly well they have nothing to fear from being in U.S. custody. Jordanian custody, however…

Tags: Barack Obama