Rendition to Torture: A critical Legal history

Alan Clarke, associate professor of Integrated Studies at UVU spoke Sept. 23 for ethics week on rendition to torture.
Best known for his work opposing the death penalty, Clark is currently working on a book titled “THE STRANGE FRUIT OF AMERICAN JUSTICE: INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC RESISTANCE TO THE DEATH PENALTY,” which argues that executions in the U.S. have far-reaching effects on relationships between the U.S. and other countries worldwide.

Clarke began his lecture by explaining that the U.S. is the leader in abducting people around the world and sending them explicitly to be tortured for information. He asked listeners “Why is it so surprising?” when explaining methods of torture.
“We’re not talking about keeping people up or not feeding them their calories. We are talking about medieval torture. The kind of torture Egyptians and some of the Syrians are capable of,” said Clarke.

Clarke went on to go through some of the most famous renditions that led to where we are today. Starting with Adolf Eichmann in the 1960s, he demonstrated the original reasons behind rendition when dealing with prisoners of war. Moving on to Carlos the Jackal, one of the world’s most feared terrorists before Osama bin Laden, Clarke pointed out that regardless of how the Jackal was picked up, most everyone in the world was happy he was finally behind bars.

However, how did we get to where we are now? Clarke feels that after the presidency of George H. W. Bush, world rendition took a dark turn. Laws became sloppier as we invaded Panama simply to find Manuel Noriega. People were picked up who were later found innocent and many people who were picked up simply disappeared.

Ending with the most recent case of torture with Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi in the war on terror, Clarke said that he feels rendition has demoralized the CIA and put real friction between the U.S. and its closest allies.

“The Rendition program has completely failed in everything,” Clarke said. “The U.S. has showed itself to be seriously defecting in its moral compass.”

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