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Don’t Call Kidnapping and Torture “Renditions.” And No, Clinton Did NOT Do It Too!

I know I’m jumping the gun here a bit since we are still a couple days ahead of the Book Salon for Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side, but the book contains a really important point that I think needs to be highlighted on its own. With regard to the Bush era so called “extraordinary renditions” the claim that “Clinton did it too” is just false. Let me explain:

Renditions are not illegal. In fact they are expressly provided for in Article 4, Section 2 of the US Constitution. The form of rendition that we are most familiar with is called extradition. The American Heritage dictionary defines rendition thusly:

1. The act of rendering.
2. An interpretation of a musical score or a dramatic piece.
3. A performance of a musical or dramatic work.
4. A translation, often interpretive.
5. A surrender.

[Obsolete French, from Old French rendre, to give back; see render.]

Basically, rendition is the method by which a fugitive is “given back” to the jurisdiction where that fugitive will receive due process. This can apply to someone who has been charged with a crime, or someone who has been tried and convicted in absentia.

Usually, extradition is a formal legal process with the state requesting the extradition petitioning the state where the fugitive is hiding to capture and return the fugitive to face the legal process in the requesting state. Extradition can happen internationally between countries that have reciprocal extradition treaties or because the country where the fugitive is found agrees to render up the fugitive to the requesting country even in the absence of a reciprocal obligation.

The Supreme Court in Mahon v. Justice 127 U.S. 700, held that the fact that a person may have been seized illegally or by extra legal means and taken to the state where he was to face legal process did not mean that the rendition could, would or should be undone. Though the language is a bit archaic, this quote from the syllabus of the case is pretty clear:

No mode is provided by the Constitution and laws of the United States by which a person, unlawfully abducted from one state to another and held in the latter state upon process of law for an offense against the state, can be restored to the state from which he was abducted.

There is no comity between the states by which a person held upon an indictment for a criminal offense in one state can be turned over to the authorities of another state, although abducted from the latter.

It is presumably upon this tradition that the pre-Bush era international renditions took place. Jane Mayer writes

The U.S. government had carried out renditions at least since the Reagan era.

What began as a program aimed at a discrete set of suspects—people against whom there were outstanding foreign arrest warrants—came to include the wide and ill-defined population that the [Bush] administration termed “illegal enemy combatants.

Before September 11, the program was aimed at rendering criminal suspects to justice, but afterward it was used to render suspects outside the reach of the law. Instead of holding suspects accountable for previously committed crimes, it was used to gather evidence of crimes not yet committed—for which there was not sufficient evidence to prove guilt under ordinary rule of law….-snip-

Rendition thus became an enforcement mechanism for the Bush Administration’s preemptive criminal model, disrupting and punishing suspects before they were provably guilty.

[emphasis added]

Think about that. Bushco may call it “rendition” or “extraordinary rendition” but in terms of legal basis, it bears almost no relationship to the renditions of prior administrations.

In fact, what Bushco is doing has other legal definitions: Kidnapping and Torture.

There was this mob guy called “Gaspipe” Casso. He had a peripheral role in a case I worked on. In his book Gangbusters, Ernest Volkman describes how Casso would kidnap people who got behind in their payments to his loan sharking operation and torture them with an acetyline torch. The significance of this was not just the effect it had on the particular victim, it was the terror that it spread to anyone else who might think of welching on a loan or otherwise crossing him. Why do I mention this?

Redition in the Reagan/GHW Bush/Clinton eras, more or less = Dog the Bounty Hunter

Extraordinay rendition in the CheneyBush Admin, more or less = Gaspipe Casso

Basically, its just plain mob violence. Thuggish criminal behavior. Sickening.

Something else, I want us ALL—and I mean every single person reading this—including you folks in the main stream media—to make a pledge RIGHT NOW to stop calling these events renditions or extraordinary rendition and call them what they are: KIDNAPPING AND TORTURE.

Let’s not adopt the Cheney Bush terminology of obstruction, obfuscation, and coverup.

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