The CIA is engaging in an unlawful practice – “extraordinary rendition” – abducting foreign nationals for detention and interrogation in secret overseas prisons. The practice is a violation of both international law and domestic law. There is no excuse for lowering American standards to the same despicable level of the terrorists they are fighting against.
Behind the US Government’s corruption of language lies a far greater perversion.
Beyond any shadow of a doubt, the ugliest phrase to enter the English language last year was “extraordinary rendition”. To those of us who love words, this phrase’s brutalisation of meaning is an infallible signal of its intent to deceive.
“Extraordinary” is an ordinary enough adjective, but its sense is being stretched here to include more sinister meanings that your dictionary will not provide: secret; ruthless; and extrajudicial.
Watch the Evidence of Extraordinary Rendition Yourself
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Hot Type program interviewed the man who uncovered the secret CIA program of rendition and torture – British journalist Stephen Grey. Watch the program below:The renowned investigative journalists at PBS have also examined the extraordinary rendition process and are broadcasting their findings in early November. View the trailer below:
Amnesty International Condemns Extraordinary Rendition
This is what the respected non-government organisation Amnesty International recently had to say about extraordinary rendition:
Amnesty International is very concerned by the practice of “extraordinary renditions” in which the United States transfers individuals for detention and interrogation to countries with a record of using torture. U.S. laws and international treaties prohibit the transfer of suspects to countries where they are likely to face torture. The United States ratified the United Nation Convention Against Torture and adopted legislation to help implement the treaty obligations through the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 (“FARRA”). The Torture Convention prohibits nations from transferring persons to a country where there is substantial grounds to believe that torture will occur.
“The practice of extraordinary rendition is shrouded in secrecy and puts people at risk of torture and other human rights violations,” said Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA executive director. “The Bush administration justified some of these transfers by obtaining ‘diplomatic assurances’ from countries with dubious human rights records. That’s like the fox promising not to eat the hens before he goes into the coup.”
Amnesty International believes that these practices are illegal because they bypass any judicial or administrative process such as extradition. Under international law, it is illegal to transfer people from one country to another without any kind of judicial or administrative process.
Moreover, most victims of “rendition” were arrested and detained illegally in the first place: some were abducted; others were refused access to any legal process. Many victims of “rendition” have been or continue to be held in prolonged arbitrary detention and they have been or continue to be subjected to enforced disappearance. All of the victims of “rendition” Amnesty International has interviewed have also said they were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.
America is better than this. As a symbol of freedom and democracy throughout the world, the United States must hold itself to our own high standards. When we resort to the use of torture and abuse, we lower ourselves to the level of our enemies and defy the basic values that we hold dear.
Extraordinary rendition has become a state-sponsored form of kidnapping of those suspected of terrorism or involvement with terror groups. The countries to which most renditions have occurred — Egypt, Morocco, Syria and Jordan — have all been criticised for human rights violations and are known to torture suspects. For that reason, human rights groups consider rendition in violation of the UN Convention on Torture. Among those captives who claim to have been subjected to it are Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib, who was arrested on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in 2001, taken to Egypt, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay before being released without charge in January.
In the United States, the Bush Administration is again under fire for secretly authorising torture tactics during the interrogation of terrorism suspects.
Although the White House is insisting that the US does not injure prisoners, two separate, secret memos endorsing the harsh techniques have previously been exposed.
And there are also reports that secret CIA prisons holding terrorism suspects are still being run around the world.
Democrats are demanding that the Justice Department turn over the two secret memos, which explicitly authorise painful physical and psychological tactics – things like head-slapping, simulated drowning and freezing temperatures.