13.12.06

Pinochet is Gone, but His Methods Are Still with Us

Pinochet is Gone, but His Methods Are Still with Us:

Torture, secret prisons and disappearances: all feature prominently in the legacy of Augusto Pinochet. It is a matter of great regret that the former Chilean dictator - brought to power in a CIA-backed coup on September 11 1973 - avoided trial for gross abuses of human rights in his ravenous pursuit of power. But it is a matter of even greater regret that the same tools and the same sponsors are back in action today, with the same impunity, as part of the 'war on terror' launched after September 11 2001.

When the Bush administration brought 14 of its most highly valued terrorism suspects to Guantanamo Bay from secret prisons in various countries in September, the US president himself acknowledged for the first time the existence of a network of CIA prisons. This was intended to close a chapter that had become embarrassing to Washington. The US practice of illegal kidnapping known as 'extraordinary rendition', and the secret detention and torture that was part of it, had - after more than four years - finally become a scandal condemned by many European politicians, UN officials and international lawyers, as well as US-based human-rights groups.

But, as a new report from the British monitoring group Cageprisoners reveals, the men held in Guantanamo Bay are only the tip of the iceberg: thousands more are hidden elsewhere, outside the law. The 'war on terror' is taking a terrible toll on Muslim families and societies through a vast programme of secret detention and torture.

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