TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

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TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

When properly approved and executed, rendition is legal. In order to rendera suspected terrorist to a country other than the US, however, domestic lawdictates that officials must prove that it is more likely than not that the renderedindividual will not be tortured by the recipient country. To satisfy this standard,US officials often seek explicit assurances from the recipient country thatthe rendered individual will not be tortured.These assurances may be formal (for example, in the form of an official Memorandumof Understanding, or MOU) 96 or informal (such as in the form of anoral promise between officials from each nation). 97 The US will often attemptto perform due diligence on such assurances through diplomatic and intelligencechannels. 98Once rendered individuals leave US custody, however, the ability of the US tocontrol and monitor their treatment is greatly reduced. “We have a responsibilityof trying to ensure that [detainees] are properly treated,” former CIA DirectorPorter Goss told the Senate in 2005. “And we try and do the best we can to guaranteethat. But, of course, once they’re out of their control, there’s only so muchwe can do. But we do have an accountability program for those situations.” 99From a policy perspective, some former CIA officers argue against renditionnot because of legal concerns but because of practical concerns, claiming thatintelligence gathered from suspects rendered to third-party countries is of relativelylittle use, and the CIA usually retains custody of the most valuable detainees.100 “The reason we did interrogations [ourselves] is because renditionsfor the most part weren’t very productive,” said a former senior CIA official. 101The Case for RenditionRendition has several advantages over formal extradition:Terror suspects are removed from the streets. Rather than remaining on thestreets while lengthy extradition procedures are carried out, captured and renderedterror suspects are prevented from harming US citizens and interests.The act of rendition may also disrupt terrorist plots in their planning phases,as individuals critical to the successful planning of a terrorist operation are58 Trials by Fire: Counterterrorism and the Law

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