Rendition has recently become a buzz-word, specially in relation to the US practice of transferring people it holds under its control around the world. The best-known example, and the reason why I did not used the word 'alleged' before the phrase 'US practice', is of course the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a location chosen specifically because it is not (the US government contends) subject to normal US judicial procedures.
We know that other instances of 'rendition' exist because both Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice have alluded to it in their public pronouncements.
However, I have not heard them, or other members of the US administration, quizzed as to precisely what is the purpose of the practice of 'rendering' someone to another geographic location carried out and to whose control, if not direct US control, they are 'rendered'.
So I have a few questions:
- Is it to save money? (The equivalent of taking a low-cost flight, rather than with a national carrier at higher cost?)
- Is it to avoid the scrutiny of the US judicial authorities by carrying on activities with those held under control which would be illegal under US law?
- Is it simply a euphemism for the 'disappearances' which occur(red) at various times in places such as Colombia, Argentina or Chile?
- Does the US pay for whatever goes on to those held under control when they have been 'rendered' to wherever they have been 'rendered'?
These and many other questions are swirling through my mind, and have been for the several years since the base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was first used for this purpose after the Taliban was removed from power in Afghanistan - I've written about it often enough in this blog?
So Mr Bush, Mr Cheney, Mr Rumsfeld and Miss Rice - what is the purpose of rendition? Pretty please, can't you let us know the answer, then we'd feel ever so reassured that all you fine people have our, or even the American people's, best interests at heart? (Of course, just to be clear, what I am really asking about is 'extraordinary rendition')
(You can listen to an audio version of this post, which will be online for the coming week, by clicking on the PODCAST link under the 'Blog Links' heading at the top of the right-hand column.)