U.S. Policy in the Wake of 9/11: Extraordinary Rendition
Extraordinary rendition is the practice of capturing suspected terrorists and transporting them to undisclosed foreign locations where they are often interrogated and tortured without formal legal protection or proceedings.
Prior to September 11, 2001, rendition had been employed in 70 instances, most of them during the Clinton administration. Then as now, the stated aim was to disrupt terrorist plots abroad. It was during the Bush administration that the practice of extraordinary rendition became commonly used for interrogation. The three administrations have, however, consistently stated that it is the policy and practice of the United States neither to use torture nor to hand over detainees to countries that use torture.
Historically, presidents needed Congressional authority for these transfers, and the purpose of the resulting transfers was to bring detainees to trial, not simply to interrogate and torture them. Under both the Clinton and Bush administrations, many suspects were deemed illegal "enemy combatants" without any evidence of terrorist activity. In the landmark 2006 Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case, the Supreme Court ruled that all non-citizen prisoners are protected by the Geneva Conventions, thus essentially rendering extraordinary rendition illegal. While many expected President Barack Obama to institute changes to counterterrorism policy, the current administration has continued the C.I.A.'s program of prison transfers. On September 2, 2010, a federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a Boeing subsidiary accused of arranging flights for the C.I.A. to transfer prisoners to other countries for imprisonment and interrogation. According to The New York Times, "Judge Raymond C. Fisher described the case . . . as presenting ‘a painful conflict between human rights and national security.'"
» Benjamin, Daniel. "5 Myths About Rendition (and That New Movie)." The Washington Post, 20 October 2007.
» Mayer, Jane. "Outsourcing Torture." The New Yorker, 14 February 2005.
» Fisher, Louis. "Extraordinary Rendition: The Price of Secrecy." American University Law Review 57, No. 1405 (2008).
» Savage, Charlie. "Court Dismisses a Case Asserting Torture by C.I.A." The New York Times, 8 September 2010.
Credit: Sgt. Jim Greenhill / Department of Defense