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Long Term View





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It is imperative that discussion of emotionally charged issues such as torture or illegal rendition focus on the governing legal standards. The dilemma that confronts the United States and its allies is al-Qa'eda--not a nation-state but a virtual state. Therefore, the rules for fighting the War on Terror face challenges not yet fully appreciated or anticipated by international law, let alone domestic law. The primary international instrument dealing with illegal rendition is the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Torture Convention).

It is necessary to first define the terms "torture" and "other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" to understand whether a State is engaged in illegal rendition. The Torture Convention does not exhibit the same precision in defining what it means by "other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” as it does with regard to torture. The purpose of detainee interrogation, whether performed domestically or via rendition, is to glean as much valuable intelligence as possible to blunt the murderous machinations of those associated with the al-Qa'eda terrorist network. At the end of the day, the actual rule of law regarding rendition as set out in the Torture Convention leaves much discretion to the Party State.

Recommended Citation

Jeffrey F. Addicott , The Practice of Rendition in the War on Terror, 6 Long Term View 77 (2006).

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