Is the practice of extraordinary rendition a useful and necessary policy in the fight against terrorism?
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The U.S. Government uses “extraordinary rendition” as “torture by proxy”. They deliver suspects of ...
The U.S. Government uses “extraordinary rendition” as “torture by proxy”. They deliver suspects of terrorism to countries which are known to practice torture, and expect certain results from those countries, in the form of information extracted. They are thereby violating the UN Convention against Torture (CAT), which forbids countries to render persons to states which practice torture, and also U.S. domestic law, which also prohibits this.
The U.S. Government does not render persons to countries with the purpose of having them tortured, as reaffirmed by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2006. The U.S. Government may render suspects of terrorism for “harsh interrogation”, but harsh interrogation is legal both under CAT and domestic law, which determines torture as “inducing severe pain”. In any case, the main reasons for rendering a terrorist suspect to another country for questioning have more to do with that state’s role in the investigation than with particular interrogation techniques practiced there. The destination state may be better placed to interrogate the suspect in his own language, and may have detailed background information to inform the questioning process that the USA lacks. The suspect may also be accused of plotting atrocities in the state to which he has been rendered by the USA, so they have a legitimate interest in interrogating him first. \
Finally, when ratifying the Convention Against Torture in 1994, the U.S.A. made the reservation that it can render persons to countries when they believe that it is more likely then not that a person won’t be tortured – so, under the U.S. interpretation of CAT, the U.S.A. can render persons to countries that practice torture, as long as the U.S.A has reason to believe that it will not torture in this specific case.
How does the U.S. Government know the difference between “harsh interrogation” and “torture”, and o...
How does the U.S. Government know the difference between “harsh interrogation” and “torture”, and on what grounds does it base it’s belief that it is “more likely then not” that torture won’t take place? The work of the C.I.A., by its nature, is secretive. So, even if the C.I.A. does research and obtains agreements, the general public can never check whether these agreements hold any water. Since the C.I.A. is being held responsible to fight terrorism, they might even have an incentive to bend the rules a bit – as long as they can later show results to the public.
The C.I.A. has a policy in practice where it obtains “diplomatic assurance” that torture will not be used. Under customary international law, the U.S.A. is obliged to act “in good faith”. So, when America is gives diplomatic assurance by another government, it would be a diplomatic blunder not to trust that guarantee. Also, imagine the consequence if it were one day proved that the C.I.A. rendered a person, knowing they would be tortured: not only would the persons involved lose their jobs, but also the reputation of the C.I.A. would be severely damaged. That’s why the C.I.A. has an incentive to make sure that these assurances are believable.
What if the C.I.A. makes mistakes? Because the victims are held in detention without recourse to any...
What if the C.I.A. makes mistakes? Because the victims are held in detention without recourse to any kind of judge, they have no possible way of getting out. Even worse, when someone might be released out of this type of detention, the victim has no way of seeking redress since the operation was covert. An example of this is the case of Khalid El-Masri, a German of Lebanese descent, who suddenly disappeared in 2003. After he resurfaced in Albania in 2004, he claimed he was “kidnapped” by the C.I.A. and tortured under the policy of “extraordinary rendition”, until the C.I.A. realized their mistake and released him, without excuse, and without any compensation of any kind. Since there is no official record, his attempts to make a case against the C.I.A. has failed. Worse still, a U.S.-judge dismissed his case, under the argument that pursuing the case would be a severe threat to national security
To ensure that the C.I.A. does not make any mistakes, it has started researching so-called “erroneous renditions”. In the case of Khalid El-Masri, the C.I.A. has never admitted kidnapping him. The C.I.A. does suspect, and is trying to catch a German-based terrorist with the name Khalid Al-Masri, and it might be possible that this person is using the similarity in names to create a backlash against the C.I.A. Regardless of the merits of this particular case, it is clearly in the interests of America’s enemies to blacken its name and undermine its security forces through accusations of torture. So murky and unsubstantiated stories about rendition should not be believed uncritically.
For every example of an “effective” rendition, one has to ask: is it worth it? Because for every ter...
For every example of an “effective” rendition, one has to ask: is it worth it? Because for every terrorist successfully caught and convicted after rendition, there may be many more mistakes. For every Ramzi Youssefs, there might be dozens of Khalid El-Masris, Abu Omars, Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmads, Muhammad Bashmilas, and many more. On top of that: consider the loss of reputation that the practice of extraordinary rendition has caused the U.S.A. to suffer amongst it chief allies. In 2007 the E.U. adopted a report condemning this particular U.S. policy, and this was followed by a massive public outcry. Such American tactics simply play into the hands of terrorists who seek to stir hatred against America and divide it from its allies. And finally: does the pretext of a terrorist threat really justify taking away a person’s basic human right to due process? Especially as many experts believe that torture is an ineffective method of acquiring reliable intelligence in any case.
What people should not forget is that extraordinary renditions save lives. It is used to bring people who are known or believed to be terrorists, to justice. These suspects are often stateless or hide in places where ordinary processes of law do not work – extraordinary rendition is then the only possible way of tracking them down, getting the necessary information from them, and bringing them to justice. They carry information which could save thousands of lives – the U.S.A. would be foolish not to try and get that out of them. An example of this is Ramzi Youssef, who masterminded the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and plotted to blow up airlines over the Pacific Ocean. After a rendition to the U.S.A., he was convicted and now serves a life-sentence. Without rendition, who knows how many people he would have killed?
The people targeted by extraordinary rendition are citizens, not combatants, and more importantly, h...
The people targeted by extraordinary rendition are citizens, not combatants, and more importantly, human beings. If there is a reasonable suspicion of terrorism against these people, the U.S.A. should follow the normal route of asking the country where the suspect is living for to extradite him. The suspect can then be tried for a normal U.S. criminal court, where the public eye will ensure his or her right to due process. But more importantly, even if you view this person as a “combatant”, then still he or she has the fundamental human right to due process. The U.S. should not itself violate the fundamental democratic rights it proclaims to defend in this war against terror.
What people also should not forget, is that the people the U.S.A. targets for extraordinary renditions should be considered “unlawful combatants” in the war against terror. This term is important, because it identifies the U.S. Government as partaking in a war, and terrorists as combatants in that war. The people targeted for extraordinary rendition are “unlawful combatants” since their aim is to kill and terrorize U.S. civilians, not U.S. soldiers. Under international law, that is a very severe warcrime, requiring very severe measures on the side of the U.S.A. Moreover, since the U.S. is at war with terrorism, it has the obligation to protect its citizens first – and the obligation to dirty its hands in the process. Mistakes will be made, we can be sure of that. But in a time of war, the United States cannot afford to risk the lives of its own citizens.
What do you think?