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Obama's Stance On Rendition Different For Lawsuits

Publication Date: 
February 19, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle
Bob Egelko

Lecturer Joe W. "Chip" Pitts III and Professor Allen Weiner were both quoted in the following article by Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle on President Obama's opinion of the Syrian President Bashar Assad.

President Obama has been calling since last summer for the departure of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose forces have massacred thousands of opponents. In his State of the Union speech Jan. 24, Obama said Assad's regime "will soon discover that ... human dignity can't be denied.


But it's been a different story in court, where the Obama administration has fended off suits by foreigners who were seized by U.S. agents and sent abroad for brutal interrogation - in one case, to Assad's Syria.


Rendition is "one of the areas where Obama had made the clearest progress (in reforming the program), but there's been no action on accountability," said Joe "Chip" Pitts, a Stanford law school lecturer and former chairman of Amnesty International USA.


But Allen Weiner, a former State Department lawyer who directs Stanford's International and Comparative Law program, said the brutality of some rendition cases should not prevent the United States from condemning abuses elsewhere.

"I'm not an apologist for what happened to Arar," Weiner said. "But it does not follow that if the U.S. record on human-rights issues is imperfect, that we are muzzled and lose the ability to criticize other countries for (abuses on) an entirely different scale."