The notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq exposed the US military practice of torturing detainees. A top lawyer for the CIA has claimed that the practice of extraordinary rendition is legal, even in cases that lead to the torture of a suspect.
Daniel Pines, an assistant general counsel at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has claimed that the practice of abducting terror suspects overseas and sending them to a third country for interrogation is legal under US law.
Writing in the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Pines stated, “There are virtually no legal restrictions on these types of operations… Indeed, US law does not even preclude [the] rendering [of] individuals to a third country in instances where the third country may subject the rendered individual to torture.”
“The only restrictions that do exist under US law preclude US officials from themselves torturing or inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on individuals during rendition operations,” he added.
The American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU), however, says that Pines failed to disclose the most extreme cases of renditions that involved torture.
The ACLU also points out that Washington has carried out renditions in the past where Americans were the jailers and torturers.
“The article does not even address the most extreme form of rendition carried out under the Bush administration: renditions to US run ‘black-site’ prisons, where Americans, not foreign intelligence services, were the jailers and the torturers,” Ben Wizner, litigation director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, told SpyTalk.
Moreover, the issue’s legality has never been tried in US courts.
“Every case to date brought by a victim of the Bush administration’s rendition policies has been dismissed by US courts, but none of those courts addressed the legality of the challenged practices. Rather, the cases were dismissed on the basis of overbroad secrecy and immunity claims,” Wizner noted.