03 February, 2009

Renditions and "extraordinary renditions"

Supporters of Obama are coming to his defense on the issue of renditions. Scott Horton at Harper's points out that media reports fail to distinguish between renditions and "extraordinary renditions" which was introduced by George W Bush:

"A central feature of this program was rendition to torture, namely that the prisoner was turned over to cooperating foreign governments with the full understanding that those governments would apply techniques that even the Bush Administration considers to be torture. /---/ The earlier renditions program regularly involved snatching and removing targets for purposes of bringing them to justice by delivering them to a criminal justice system. It did not involve the operation of long-term detention facilities and it did not involve torture."

However, as pointed out by Arabist, in the case of renditions to Egypt, even the earlier program did lead to trial in exceptional courts and torture.

Update: Sarah Carr sent me a link to an interesting post by Allan Nairn on this subject. An excerpt:

"If you're lying on the slab still breathing, with your torturer hanging over you, you don't much care if he is an American or a mere United States - sponsored trainee. /---/ The catch lies in the fact that since Vietnam, when US forces often tortured directly, the US has mainly seen its torture done for it by proxy -- paying, arming, training and guiding foreigners doing it, but usually being careful to keep Americans at least one discreet step removed. That is, the US tended to do it that way until Bush and Cheney changed protocol, and had many Americans laying on hands, and sometimes taking digital photos. The result was a public relations fiasco that enraged the US establishment since by exposing US techniques to the world it diminished US power. But despite the outrage, the fact of the matter was that the Bush/Cheney tortures being done by Americans were a negligible percentage of all of the tortures being done by US clients.For every torment inflicted directly by Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and the secret prisons, there were many times more being meted out by US-sponsored foreign forces."

Read the rest.

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