The CIA's secret prisons are being shuttered. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being a wind-swept naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.
But even while dismantling these discredited programs, President Barack Obama left an equally controversial counterterrorism tool intact.
Under executive orders issued by Obama last week, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the U.S.
Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said the rendition program is poised to play an expanded role because it is the main remaining mechanism—aside from Predator missile strikes—for taking suspected terrorists off the street.
As President Obama's motorcade rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day, federal authorities deployed a closely held law enforcement tool: equipment that can jam cellphones and other wireless devices to foil remote-controlled bombs, sources said.I think the hopenchange speaks for itself.
It is an increasingly common technology, with federal agencies expanding its use as state and local agencies are pushing for permission to do the same.
Update: It seems that some on the left are going Scanners over rendition.
Update #2, 2/2/09: Sure enough, now Human Rights Watch is flip-flopping on renditions. At least the Democrat who wrote that post is consistent enough to call them out on their change of heart, which no doubt comes only because President Obama and not President Bush is authorizing the renditions.
Update #3, 2/6/09: The words of the Instapundit:
HOPE AND CHANGE! Panetta: Rendition Will Continue, Would Ask Obama to Authorize Harsher Interrogation Methods “If Necessary.” You know, much more of this and I’ll start to think that all the concern over rendition and waterboarding was just insincere electoral hooey.
Update #4, 2/9/09: The Obama Administration is using the exact same argument--state secrets--the Bush Administration used, and they're using it in an anti-torture lawsuit. That sound you hear is that of blood vessels bursting in the heads of lefties.
I don't fault Obama for using it, of course. I fault him for disparaging President Bush's use of it.