For those of you who think I am being hysterical about the post below regarding the tracking of children, think about your position on ‘extraordinary rendition’ for a moment. Perhaps, after reading this excellent piece by Sebastian Holsclaw (see also these worthy comments here by Matt Yglesias), you, like Mark Kleiman, are wondering about the roots of ‘extraordinary rendition.’
He may be right that it was under Clinton that we started outsourcing torture, but “extraordinary rendition” has a second, older meaning as well. It refers to the kidnapping of suspects from other countries for trial in the U.S.: typically, of drug suspects from Latin American countries with which we lack extradition treaties or in which the judiciary or executive branch is so intimidated or so corrupt that we have no hope of being able to process a legal extradition. The subject is therefore “rendered” by “extraordiary” (i.e., extra-legal) means.
This is by no means a recent innovation: it was being used, and not being treated as a novelty, when I worked for the Justice Department late in the Carter Administration and early in the Reagan Administration. U.S. courts had ruled — puzzlingly, at least to me — that they would not inquire into the circumstances under which the accused had been brought within the jurisdiction of the United States, so DEA felt free to snatch bad guys, put them on a plane, fly them in, and “arrest” them on landing. This was almost always done, I was told, with the connivance of some law enforcement officials from the host country, and frequently, though not always, with the tacit acquiescence of its government.
At the time, I found the doctrine troubling, but never formed a clear opinion about whether it might be justified. The practice is surely troubling on symmetry grounds: We’d all be outraged if, e.g., Mexico decided to kidnap U.S. citizens accused of Mexican crimes rather than going through the extradition process. The Ninth Circuit has now ruled that the victim of an extraordinary rendition has standing to sue the United States. (Naturally, the Federalist Society is outraged.)
I don’t know when the term “extraordinary rendition” came to be applied to the reverse processs by which someone lawfully in U.S. hands is transferred out for purposes of torture. But it seems to me that the two practices, though linked by their evasion of judicial review, don’t have the same standing morally and shouldn’t be discussed in the same breath.
The answer to the question is easy- the roots to ‘extraordinary rendition’ are easily tracked back to the first Clinton administration. More specifically, to Presidential Decision Directives #39 and #62, which can be found here in partial form (many sections are classified and hence, blacked out).
If you are wondering what led to the current expanded practice of extraordinary rendition, the answer is simple. PDD #39 was signed on 21 June 1995, in the aftermath of the 19 April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. It was part of a legislative flurry that was a clear power grab for the intelligence agencies, and it was met with stiff resistance from civil libertarians across both parties, chief of whom was Bob Barr. Here is Louis Freeh testifying before Congress, explaining how these new ‘tools’ would be used against not only foreign terrorists, but suspected domestic terrorists:
I would like to highlight two aspects of this response, renditions and fund raising, that demonstrate the commitment of the United States Government to combating terrorism.
During the past decade, the United States has successfully obtained custody of 13 suspected international terrorists from foreign countries to stand trial in the United States for acts or planned acts of terrorism against our citizens. Based on its policy of treating terrorists as criminals and applying the rule of law against them, the United States is one of the most visible and effective forces in identifying, locating, and apprehending terrorists on American soil and overseas. The majority of terrorist renditions have been accomplished with the cooperation of the foreign government in which the terrorist suspect was located.
Pretty clearly, this policy of rendition as we know it is not a Bush creation, nor is it the soul possession of the Republican party. This is part of why I mocked the Poorman in the post below, and why I find it amusing when Democrats fool themselves into thinking all Republicans wash their hands of civil liberties and are objectively pro-torture. The Editors and others seem to forget the demagoguery by Clinton in signing legislation and passing these directives:
As he signed it into law, Clinton attacked critics of the bill as “unpatriotic”: “There is nothing patriotic about pretending that you can love your country but despise your government.”
At any rate, to get to the point, there is nothing so malignant as a reportedly benign government intrusion/disruption of our liberties, and that is how I view this school system tagging and tracking children like endangered species.
*** Update ***
As usual, a few people read this and the only thing they get out of the entire damned post is an assumption that all I am saying is “Clinton did it first.” I suppose I shouldn’t get frustrated by this- it is more indicative of their way of thinking than mine, but it still is pretty frustrating to write several hundred words and then have someone ignore it all and instead turn it down to a one sentence partisan attack on Republicans. At any rate, it is my fault- I know some people can’t juggle two thoughts at once and I went ahead and wrote this anyway, so I deserve the e-mail from half-wits.
At any rate, the roots of rendition are in the two PDD’s I listed (not sure how you guys missed that), and I do not know when extraordinary rendition shifted its meaning, but I would suggest it is somewhere in between 1995 and 1999 when the Freeh testimony occurred. That is what Kleiman asked, that is what I answered. You would probably have to ask members of the Clinton Justice Department or do a document search of the National Archives to get any closer.
For additional information, check these New Yorker pieces here and here. From the second New Yorker piece:
President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales all made similar statements last month, asserting that not only does the United States condemn torture, it also does not send U.S.-held suspects to other countries for torture. In reality, the record appears to be quite different. Beginning around 1995, the Central Intelligence Agency inaugurated a form of extradition sometimes referred to as “extraordinary rendition,” in which captured foreign terrorism suspects have been transported by the U.S. to third countries for interrogation and prosecution. The former C.I.A. director George Tenet estimated that between the time the program started and 2001 there were some seventy renditions. Most experts suggest that since the Bush Administration launched the global war on terrorism after the attacks of September 11, 2001, that number has grown dramatically.
Since reading comprehension is at an all time low on this website, I have BOLDED the relevant parts. At any rate, this narrows the timeline down considerably, and I would suggest that the first use of rendition was shortly after PDD 39- lawyers like to use their new toys, too. Back to the larger point of this post, which was to provide some reasoning for the rejection of the use of tracking devices on children in schools- once a policy is in place, once we open certain doors, we can not always be sure what will happen in the future or how it will be used or expanded.
Clinton and company (including the GOP-led congress) clearly over-reached post-Oklahoma City. It is pretty clear that the flashpoint for the extreme abuse of rendition in this administration was 9/11. What will be the flashpoint for widespread abuses of the tracking devices, something I already find an abuse of technology? Others may think this is just fine- but can they be so sure how it will be used in the future?
Please allow me to post from another link re: extraordinary rendition… a blight that has been around for a while.
John, please check your link to the Sebastian Holtzclaw article. It goes to the Yglesias article instead.
With the caveat that there may be something incriminating against Clinton (and God knows I wouldn’t put it past Clinton) in the Holtzclaw piece, I could not find anything that amounted to the “new” meaning of extraordinary rendition that puzzles Kleiman in either of the directives you link. The old meaning, of kidnapping foreign nationals without due process of extradition is an offense in its own right, but hardly the moral equivalent of what was done, for instance, to Maher Arar. So, unless there is evidence that this new kind of rendition dates to the Clinton era, then you really have no grounds for your “they did it first” argument.
And really, you are just being silly pretending that your Party can make the least claim to a conscience on the issue of torture when you and they universally look the other way and not make a peep while not just rendition, but prisoner abuse, indefinite detention of suspects, and routine violations of US and international human rights laws are the order of the day, and the legal architect for the scheme is being promoted by a Republican President with a Republican senate voting to confirm.
The Republican party has the voice to say “aye”, and it lacks one to say “nay” to torture. And the only reason that bothers you is that you think it might turn away a few vital swing votes in some election down the line.
smijer- My update was not targeted at you, but at the idiots who emailed me calling me a Buah lackey for exucsing terrorism.
Sometimes owning a blog is just damn frustrating.
Hell, just as long as I can read a right wing blog that doesn’t try to justify this practice, I’m happy. It’s wrong now and it was wrong before.
Part of me is in agreement with Bob Smith and anyone else that finds “extraordinary rendition” offensive and immoral.
Another part of me looks at the tactics of those with whom we’re dealing: the extremist terrorists that have no qualms about slaughtering their own, or taking innocents prisoner and in too many case sawing their heads off; on video for Christ’s sake!
The moral and just argue that we shouldn’t lower ourselves to the level of our current opponents, or come close in an effort to obtain intelligence, even to the point of “jobbing” it out. But what’s the alternative in the long run?
This is one nasty-ass world we’re finding ourselves in and maybe being Mr. Nice Guy is not the answer. I wouldn’t want to be in charge of making the decisions today.
Okay Bob, so you tell us what to do with people we know damn well are looking to commit mass murder, but whom we have no way of holding. I presume you are against the atrocity that is Gitmo, as well as the atrocity of political sham trials like Lynne Stewarts and Moussaoui’s? I am not comfortable with the process of handing over a known bad guy to the nation from which he came, but unless you can suggest something better, I believe it is a process we are stuck with.
As for the irregulars caught on the battlefield – illegal combatants in technical terms – I favor the treatment that is usual and customary under international law, which is a summary court martial, followed by execution if found guilty. We should not play patty-cake with the people who literally gnawed out Mike Spann’s throat. They do not abide by any law, nor do they answer to any nation. It is beyond me why they should enjoy the full legal protections that western society has to offer, when their stated goal is the destruction of those very protections…
I agree with Al. The alternative to Gitmo for illegal combatants is summary execution. Frankly I think it’s a lot cleaner solution too.
I don’t have a lot of respect for bloggers who abuse their readers. I happen to have gotten a perfect score on my Verbal PSATs, Verbal SATs, the Reading Comprehension portion of my ACTs, and received a 176 (out of 180) on my LSATs, which places me firmly in the top 1/10th of a percent in reading comprehension among Americans with a high school education or better, and having read your post here in its entirety, I can’t say I see that you took any kind of a position, save that extraordinary rendition is a Clinton-era development which has grown in scope since to something on the order of a epidemic. This required substantial re-reading, as your post quoted another person’s post on a similar subject in something close to entirety. In short, your post was nearly impossible to read and comprehend due to the structure and lack of clear position therein, and insulting your readers serves only to alienate them, as it has me. But I suppose I’m not the kind of reader you’re interested in, since I don’t smile and nod and pat you on the head when you write long, obtuse passages without unifying theme. I hope you find more accommodating readers in the future.
TDK- My position was to analogize the explosion and apparent misuse of extraordinary rendition to the use of tracking id’s of children. Additionally, I was pointing to th roots of rendition in a partial reponse to Mark Kleiman.
I am sorry it was difficult for you to understand, or if it was difficult to understand because it was poorly written, wherever the trouble may lie. Also, it is pretty clear that my update and exasperation was based on several really obnoxious emails. This passage should have made that evident:
“As usual, a few people read this and the only thing they get out of the entire damned post is an assumption that all I am saying is “Clinton did it first.” I suppose I shouldn’t get frustrated by this- it is more indicative of their way of thinking than mine, but it still is pretty frustrating to write several hundred words and then have someone ignore it all and instead turn it down to a one sentence partisan attack on Republicans. At any rate, it is my fault- I know some people can’t juggle two thoughts at once and I went ahead and wrote this anyway, so I deserve the e-mail from half-wits.”
As you have noted, this wasn;t a partisan defense, so those who did determine it was one baffled me.
I continue, however, to be unable to locate my calls for a pat on the head and a smaile from my readers.
John, I took the PSAT, the SAT, the ACT, the LSAT, a couple bar exams from a few different states, a sobriety test, and and blood pressure and HIV tests. I’d list all the scores here, but I don’t want to do so, because I wouldn’t want to down TDK for being dumber, less verbally and mathematically adept, less knowledgeable about high school general educational materials, critical and analytical reading skills, less knowledge of the law, less healthy in generally, or simply not endowed with my superb collection of single malts and red wines.
Besides, any adult who quotes you their test scores starting with their sophomore year of high school, is simply an asshole, and I certainly don’t want to be that. Oops, too late. But at least I did it without dropping my test scores.
I do not buy the prevailing rationale for prisoner abuse, which amounts to the assertion that the prisoners are all a lower form of life undeserving of the treatment that we would accord normal human beings, even Nazi war criminals.
First, how do we know this? It seems obvious to me that we are very likely to have “arrested” some people who didn’t deserve it. Expect more stories in the press on this.
Second, relegating other human beings to a class undeserving of the treatment accorded “normal” human beings is, well, a very dangerous practice used extensively by Stalin, colonial imperialists of various stripes, and, famously, the Nazis. Do we really want 21st century America in that list?
The point is not who began the practice, the point is that the practice should be universally condemned, in unambiguous language.
Actually, SLE, among the things that are most annoying in this debate is the gross ignorance of military history among those who condemn Bush administration actions. In fact, we are treating Guantanamo detainees quite a bit better than German spies, Nazi war criminals et al were treated.
Two different things are called “extraordinary rendition”: kidnapping suspects in foreign countries to bring them to trial here, and shipping suspects abroad to be tortured there.
The Freeh testimony seems to refer to meaning #1. That practice goes back at least to the Carter/Reagan era. Who decided to call the torture-outsourcing process “extraordinary rendition” I don’t know.
Mark- I read your post- I know there are two definitions, but according to the interview in the New Yorker, at some point post 1995 it changed, and it appears that Freeh’s wording 1999 intimates that it happened prior to then.
This, by no means implies that it was done with the frequency it is done now, but I think it was done in between 1995 and 199. IF I had to bet, I would bet it had something to do with the bombings in Kenya nd Tanzania, a time when Clinton got pretty ramped up about Al Qaeda.
On the other hand, it may very well have been triggered by the USS Cole, considering our relations with Yemen.
Mark–I was under the impression that the sort you’re talking about was called “rendition” or “rendition to justice”, and has been around for a while, while the second is called “extraordinary rendition”, started in 1995, kicked into higher gear in 1998, and kicked into even higher gear after September 11.
It wasn’t specifically the embassy bombings, because one of the earlier cases happened shortly before the bombings, and at the time they thought the bombings might be Islamic Jihad’s retaliation. But IIRC from “The Age of Sacred Tower”, there was another attack not long before the embassies that really started freaking them out about Al Qaeda, because while the casualties were very low the sophistication was very high. The Khobar Towers, maybe?
D’oh. “Age of Sacred Terror.”
Khobar was 96, I believe…
Dont worry SLE, at some point Robin Roberts will put down the WW2 books and actually read your post. In summary- if you have trials and determine someone is a spy, do what you will. Thats a lot different from locking up a innocent (without trial) goat herd in Gitmo for the rest of his life since you cannot bear the losss of face that would come from freeing him and then being sued in Court for kidnapping, assault, etc. Slippery slope to fascism….
Max, you continue to demonstrate my point quite well. Tens of thousands of people were “locked up” by the Allies during WW2 without trial.
You seem unable to comprehend that international law provides for the detention of combatants – separate from that of criminals.
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