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Open Society Institute: Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition

Author: Amrit Singh
February 5, 2013

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Globalizing Torture is the most comprehensive account yet assembled of the human rights abuses associated with CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) commenced a secret detention program under which suspected terrorists were held in CIA prisons, also known as "black sites," outside the United States, where they were subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques" that involved torture and other abuse. At about the same time, the CIA gained expansive authority to engage in "extraordinary rendition," defined here as the transfer—without legal process—of a detainee to the custody of a foreign government for purposes of detention and interrogation. Both the secret detention program and the extraordinary rendition program were highly classified, conducted outside the United States, and designed to place detainee interrogations beyond the reach of the law. Torture was a hallmark of both. The two programs entailed the abduction and disappearance of detainees and their extra-legal transfer on secret flights to undisclosed locations around the world, followed by their incommunicado detention, interrogation, torture, and abuse. The administration of President George W. Bush embraced the "dark side," a new paradigm for countering terrorism with little regard for the constraints of domestic and international law.

Today, more than a decade after September 11, there is no doubt that highranking Bush administration officials bear responsibility for authorizing human rights violations associated with secret detention and extraordinary rendition, and the impunity that they have enjoyed to date remains a matter of significant concern. But responsibility for these violations does not end with the United States. Secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations, designed to be conducted outside the United States under cover of secrecy, could not have been implemented without the active participation of foreign governments. These governments too must be held accountable.

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