Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Extraordinary Rendition: The Outsourcing of Torture

"Extraordinary rendition" -- what exactly does the term mean? I just came across the term in reference to Maher Arar, a Canadian of Syrian descent, who had the horrible luck to be greeted with the practice when he landed on US soil, coming back from a family vacation in Tunisia. He was accused by American officials of being a terrorist with affiliation to al-Qaeda. He was interrogated, then shackled and flown to Syria, where he spent 3-years being tortured in prison. The crime? "Extraordinary rendition" -- a practice that is illegal, and it nothing more than state sponsored torture and murder. Yet it is a practice that continues, and is legally accepted in the United States.

Must we become evil to fight evil?

From Wikipedia:
Extraordinary rendition refers to an American extra-judicial procedure, widely believed to be illegal, of sending criminal suspects, generally suspected terrorists or supporters of terrorist organisations, to countries other than the United States for imprisonment and interrogation. Critics have accused the CIA of rendering suspects to other countries in order to avoid US laws prescribing due process and prohibiting torture and have called this "torture by proxy" or "torture flights".

Media reports describe suspects being arrested, blindfolded, shackled, and sedated, and transported by private jet or other means to the destination country. The reports also say that the rendering countries have provided interrogators with lists of questions. Although Egypt has been the most common destination, suspected terrorists have been rendered to other countries, such as Jordan, Syria, Morocco, and Uzbekistan. According to former CIA agent Bob Baer, "If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear - never to see them again - you send them to Egypt."

In a number of cases, suspects to whom the procedure is believed to have been applied later appeared to be innocent.

Rendition is an extension of a long-standing policy of confining political prisoners to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where they are beyond the jurisdiction of American courts.

The procedure allows American government agencies to interrogate and torture suspects without intervention by civil authorities, or protection of the law. The methods employed are illegal in both America and the host country. Therein lies the risks inherent with the procedure. The evidence obtained would be inadmissible in a court of law, and the procedures used to obtain it harms America's international reputation. There also exists the significant risk that the agencies and officials involved could be prosecuted for their criminal activities.


  1. I find your view interesting. I thought that you would for sure be supportive of extraordinary rendition.

  2. Not sure why you'd think that ...

    (If you're wondering, I don't consider myself left or right -- extremes are the cause of most of our problems -- I happen to be very impatient however, which may have me sound extreme at times.)



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