Rendition: For the Worst of the Worst, or Bribery, or Whatever

A touching (and very long and detailed) tale of hope and change, Afghan war and rendition division, via the Huffington Post. Some brief excerpts with the jist:

Raymond Azar, a 45-year-old Lebanese construction manager with a grade school education, is employed by Sima International, a Lebanon-based contractor that does work for the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also has the unlikely distinction of being the first target of a rendition carried out on the Obama watch.

According to court papers, on April 7, 2009, Azar and a Lebanese-American colleague, Dinorah Cobos, were seized by "at least eight" heavily armed FBI agents in Kabul, Afghanistan, where they had traveled for a meeting to discuss the status of one of his company's U.S. government contracts. The trip ended with Azar alighting in manacles from a Gulfstream V executive jet in Manassas, Virginia, where he was formally arrested and charged in a federal antitrust probe....

According to papers filed by his lawyers, Azar was threatened, subjected to coercive interrogation techniques and induced to sign a confession. Azar claims he was hooded, stripped naked (while being photographed) and subjected to a "body cavity search."

On a ride to the infamous Bagram air base in Afghanistan...Azar contends that a federal agent pulled a photograph of Azar's wife and four children from his wallet. Confess that you were bribing the contract officer, the agent allegedly said, or you may "never see them again."...

Azar alleges that on arriving at Bagram he was shackled to a chair in an office for seven hours and not allowed to move. Then in the midst of a cold rainstorm he was taken to an unheated metal shipping container converted to use as a cell. The cell was brightly lit and although the outside temperature approached freezing, he was given only a thin blanket. He also claims that he was not permitted to sleep during his confinement at Bagram, which lasted over a day. Then he was told he was going to take a plane trip. His handlers would not tell him where he was going. He feared he was being dragged to Guantanamo, there to be "disappeared" and tortured. How else, he thought, could he explain the absence of Afghan authorities, the hooding and other techniques?

.....During the flight, according to papers filed by the Justice Department, Azar confessed to the charges against him--essentially that he was aware of corrupt payments made to a U.S. government contract agent to help Sima International secure or extend its contracts with U.S. government agents.

The decision to seize Azar in Afghanistan apparently was made in April 2009, six weeks into the Obama administration...."The United States views contract fraud as a very serious matter," Public Affairs Deputy Director Gina Talamona told me.

Guess so! Didn't Obama used to criticize Bush-era renditions?

Reeling from the adverse publicity associated with the Bush-era program, the Justice Department denies that the seizure in Kabul and forcible transportation of Azar and Cobos should be called a rendition. "This was a lawful law enforcement transfer consistent with international law," says Talamona. In papers filed in the court proceedings, the Justice Department prefers to call the process an "expulsion."

The Justice Department's papers insist that "defendants were expelled from Afghanistan, with the permission of the Government of Afghanistan, based upon outstanding arrest warrants issued by this Court."

In response to requests for clarification, Talamona states that the "consent of the Government of Afghanistan was secured through diplomatic channels, involving the State Department." Rob McInturff, a State Department public affairs officer, confirmed that U.S. diplomats were involved in the effort and claims that they secured the Afghan government's consent. But he refused to disclose who gave the consent, the specific parameters of the consent given, or even to identify the specific agency or ministry of the Afghan government from which the consent was given....

And even if you aren't troubled by the legalities of the seizure, was Azar's arrest really worth it, from a sheer fiscal discipline perspective?

The government's indictment claims that in response to a government sting operation, Cobos agreed to pay and then paid money to a person posing as a government contracts officer in order to retain or expand her company's business. It alleges that Azar knew of these actions and was Cobos's supervisor. But the case also raises strong questions simply about the allocation of resources. The sums of money involved in the government action as corrupt are relatively small, amounting to about $100,000. That's almost certainly a smaller sum than the Justice Department expended sending a Gulfstream V around the world and deploying a platoon of FBI agents to Afghanistan for the sting operation that apprehended the Lebanese business executives.

Many, many more details of the legal technicalities with links to supporting documents in the full story.

Jacob Sullum looked askance at Obama's rendition and detention policies in February. At least Azar is getting a real, reasonably quick trial.

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  • Warty||

    Sing along!

    Obama is a fraud
    Obama is a fraud
    Let's all have a race war
    Obama is a fraud

  • ||

    Mr Azar is a racist for making Obama look bad like that.

  • ||

    I hate the FBI. The FBI and DOJ are monsters that run amuck in any administration. I would love to blame this on Obama, but the same thing goes on or worse in any administration.

  • ||

    "Rendition: For the Worst of the Worst, or Bribery, or Whatever"



    Perhaps his worse crime was not just bribery, but compounding it by being a government contractor participating in government outsourcing. Those are evil, don't you know.

  • ¢||

    Didn't Obama used to criticize Bush-era renditions?

    But those were "extraordinary."

    Obama's are clean and articulate.

  • ||

    A painter or Photoshopper should create an image dealing with rendition and entitle it, "Artist's Rendition."

  • </||

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,
    'cept he lies about the order across
    the desert and France.
    Won't you give him a chance?
    I Hope you have the exact Change,
    because back at home, home on the range,
    they'll send unioners and brownshirts
    to fill up the meetings,
    while me and Fred Mertz
    have to listing to cheatings;
    and we sit at the back, and yell "why so socialist?"
    and all we get back is "stop shouting, you wingnut."

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    And even if you aren't troubled by the legalities of the seizure, was Azar's arrest really worth it, from a sheer fiscal discipline perspective?

    Halfway through my reading, I started thinking the same thing. At some point, even if some DoJ bureaucrat/attorney is able to detach himself from the human elements of his job, wouldn't a person have to think, "Is this really worth it?"

    The answer is, of course, yes. Resumes need to be padded, even in government service.

  • ||

    Amazing under Bush it was rendition for people we thought were violent enemies, now it's rendition for people only accused of bribery for government construction contracts.

  • ||

    Please note that these are accusations from the guy's lawyer.

  • ||

    Didn't Obama used to criticize Bush-era renditions?

    But those were "extraordinary."

    Obama's are clean and articulate.



    Also, Bush's were directed at terrorists, Obama's at white-collar criminals.

  • Rich||

    A painter or Photoshopper should create an image dealing with rendition and entitle it, "Artist's Rendition."

    Any chance the Firas Alkhateeb episode could lead to another meaning? ;-)

  • ||

    Seeing as how it was Batman, not the Joker, who "renditioned" that guy from Hong Kong to face trial in Gotham, we're going to need a new poster.

    Now if Obama burns Azar alive atop a stack of hundred dollar bills, that will be different.

  • ||

    Please note that these are accusations from the guy's lawyer.

    Noted and taken with appropriate NaCl.

    Please note that any denials of mistreatment will be coming from the FBI/DOJ.

  • ||

    Also, Bush's were directed at guys some warlord told us were terrorists, Obama's at white-collar criminals.

    FTFY

    (this is not to be interpreted as minimizing this horrid action on the part of the Obamanites)

  • ||

    It is to be interpreted as minimizing my ability to close tags.

  • ||

    The government's indictment claims that in response to a government sting operation, Cobos agreed to pay and then paid money to a person posing as a government contracts officer in order to retain or expand her company's business.

    Really?? This warrants rendition?

    In Illinois this is the way our state contracts are handed out.

    I believe this how contracts in John Murtha's district are awarded as well.

    This is a pretty fucked up justification for a rendition.

    Also, wouldn't this be kind of entrapment-y if the sting operation were soliciting bribes? The wording isn't clear but it reads to me like this guy agreed to pay a bribe when the people pulling the sting demanded a bribe.

  • ||

    Really?? This warrants rendition?

    Also (if he is to be believed), torture? For fucking penny-ante bribery? I mean--again, if it is true--what kind of fucked up animal would you have to be to torture someone suspected of fucking bribery? Can't we somehow turn these animals loose on our own politicians, who are surely guilty of massive bribery/being bribed?

  • ||

    Also, wouldn't this be kind of entrapment-y if the sting operation were soliciting bribes?

    It might be "entrapmenty", but it's not entrapment. Merely suggesting that someone commit a crime does not constitute entrapment. That's how it works in drug buys and prostitution stings, at least.

  • ||

    I have to, as a rabid Fellatiobamaton, suggest that the problem lies with Bush Administration holdover and current PuppetMaster, D of D Secretary Gates.

    You're welcome John.

  • ||

    Tulpa:

    If you want to be technical, you should also say that Obama's renditions are directed at those who are *accused* of white-collar crimes.

    In both cases, the government's justification is that it was going after perps. In both cases, it's up to the courts to determine whether the government was correct in its opinion that they were perps.

  • hmm||

    civilian = bribery

    government = aid or stimulus

  • Suki||

    "According to papers filed by his lawyers, Azar was threatened, subjected to coercive interrogation techniques and induced to sign a confession. Azar claims he was hooded, stripped naked (while being photographed) and subjected to a "body cavity search."

    Sounds like beloved boyfriend's ex-wife's divorce lawyer. I am not yet convinced.

  • Suki||

    Oh, the source is the Huffington Post! Okay, I believe every word now.

  • B||

    I am sure every asshole at the pathetic echochamber that is the Obama Shrine, I mean the Huffington Post will come up with some excuse as to why this is not nearly as bad as it was under the last administration. Maybe they can get that crack journalist Steven Weber on the case.

  • hmm||

    HuffPo likes when evil bribing capitalists are tortured.

  • ||

    I wonder if a warrant was issued before he was seized. If you are wanted in the US, we can send people to pick you up for trial in the US. Aside from the behavior of the agents, how different is this from an extradition? The initial arresting agency perhaps?

    The agent's behavior, if true, is pretty ugly, to say the least.

    """Sounds like beloved boyfriend's ex-wife's divorce lawyer. I am not yet convinced."""

    That, or standard operating procedure for being taken from a combat zone into US custody.

  • ||

    Just exactly how are them Islams sposed to learn Democracy and Capitalism American style if'n we don't let'em practice?

  • ||

    And yes John, I really want to hear Obama address this apparent kidnapping and torture. I was under the impression that this bullshit would stop.

  • Suki||

    """Sounds like beloved boyfriend's ex-wife's divorce lawyer. I am not yet convinced."""

    That, or standard operating procedure for being taken from a combat zone into US custody.

    Those are different how?

  • Michael||

    This "Virginia"........is it a country or something? Perhaps one lacking strict laws prohibiting torture?

  • ||

    Azar's naked photos didn't come from his ex-wife?

  • Suki||

    Michael,

    Quit being such a girl on that "torture" thing when it comes to terrorists, or their lawyers fibbing about it.

  • wayne||

    Was this "rendition"? I thought rendition was the forcable taking of an individual to a third country where torture was used on the renditioned one.

    This guy was arrested in Afghanistan and taken to the US. I don't see any torture here; sorry.

    As to whether it was worth it. Probably not, IMO. They should have arrested the government contracting officer. Maybe they wanted Azar to make the case against the CO.

  • Warty||

    Epi, are you saying that someone should put jumper cables on John Murtha's wrinkly balls and then connect them to battery terminals? And then they should pull out his eyeballs and teeth? You sick fuck.

  • Anonymous||

    I was under the impression that this bullshit would stop.

    I don't see how stopping it would negotiate peace in Palestine drive a tank wet his cigar fellate Gaia coif his hair share the wealth.

  • ||

    Epi, are you saying that someone should put jumper cables on John Murtha's wrinkly balls and then connect them to battery terminals? And then they should pull out his eyeballs and teeth?

    He said torture, not "enhanced interrogation techniques".

  • Fluffy||

    Questions this article does not answer:

    1. Since Afghanistan is a sovereign nation, can we assume that we have an extradition treaty with Afghanistan?

    2. For Afghanistan to extradite this suspect, wouldn't he have to appear before an Afghani court and be given an opportunity to contest his extradition?

    3. If we decide that the treatment given to this suspect was reasonable, when can we expect identical treatment to be given to every last executive of every US contractor who can't satisfactorily account for every last fucking paper clip and box of post-it's they used in either Iraq or Afghanistan? They guys who shorted on the electrical work contracts that electrocuted those showering soldiers in Iraq, for example - when are they going to be hooded and transported, have their families threatened, and be stored in unheated shipping containers? Any time soon?

  • Fluffy||

    By the way, the reason I asked question #2 is because if he was not allowed access to an Afghani court, either Afghanistan is ignoring international treaties, or Afghanistan's supposed sovereignty is a sham, and their officials were never involved in this suspect's handling, except after it became a story and some US official shouted at them and said, "Hey, wog! Stamp this and tell everyone you said we could have this guy! And then lick my balls!"

  • B||

    "By the way, the reason I asked question #2 is because if he was not allowed access to an Afghani court, either Afghanistan is ignoring international treaties, or Afghanistan's supposed sovereignty is a sham.."

    Man, good thing you aren't jumping to any conclusions at all. All those quotes about warrants being prepared, the Afghanis being consulted with, laws being followed, and procedures being adhered to? Let's ignore all that and go straight to the part where a guy accused of multiple crimes claims he was roughed up. And hey, if there is any source that is absolutely unimpeachable, it is the Huffington Post, isn't it?

    Arresting a guy employed by the US government and bringing him to the United States is not rendition because he was put on a fucking plane.
    And the bit about him having a grade school education and being manacled is relevant how exactly?

    If flying an alleged criminal to the US for a trial in an American court is rendition then the definition of what exactly is rendition sure has fucking changed.

  • ||

    B,

    So if an American citizen is working as a janitor at the Saudi embassy in the US, and they think he's been pocketing ball point pens on the job, they can just fly him to Saudi for trial without going through the US extradition courts?

  • ||

    If flying an alleged criminal to the US for a trial in an American court is rendition then the definition of what exactly is rendition sure has fucking changed.



    Perhaps you should consider that you never knew what the definition was to begin with. Anytime you bypass the normal extradition procedures, it's rendition. Granted, some forms are clearly better than others (I'd rather have a civilian trial than be held in a military base), but kidnapping someone in a foreign country instead of following extradition laws is rendition.

  • ||

    Was this "rendition"? I thought rendition was the forcable taking of an individual to a third country where torture was used on the renditioned one.



    No, extraordinary rendition is the taking by force, not following normal extradition rules, of an individual from another country and taking him to another country, of which he is not a citizen, to be charged with a crime. "Extraordinary" is used because extradition itself can be viewed as a type of rendition, and thus as "ordinary" rendition.

    Rendering to third countries and/or torture may make it worse than giving the illegally kidnapped (according to international law) person a trial, but it is not necessary to make it extraordinary rendition.

  • hmm||

    He was an executive making too much. The pay czar probably signed the warrant.

  • Abdul||

    You know, at least when Bush did it, the excuse was that he was roughing up terrorists. This incident was all about contract rigging? That's like using thumbscrews on a shoplifter.

  • ||

    """Let's ignore all that and go straight to the part where a guy accused of multiple crimes claims he was roughed up. And hey, if there is any source that is absolutely unimpeachable, it is the Huffington Post, isn't it? """

    Are you trying to judge Azar's claim or the reporting of Azar's claim by the Huffington Post?

  • han||

    In examples that have just come to light,

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