The Obama administration continues to embrace rendition—“the [controversial] practice of holding and interrogating terrorism suspects in other countries without due process”—as it remains at odds with Congress over how to apprehend and try such suspects overseas, The Washington Post reports.
The Guantanamo Bay military prison remains open and Congress has made it difficult to try al-Qaida suspects in civilian courts, while the White House has resisted legislators’ efforts to place suspects in military custody and try them before military officials, the paper says.
The impasse and lack of detention options, critics say, have led to a de facto policy under which the administration finds it easier to kill terrorism suspects, a key reason for the surge of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Renditions, though controversial and complex, represent one of the few alternatives.
“In a way, rendition has become even more important than before,” said Clara Gutteridge, director of the London-based Equal Justice Forum, a human rights group that investigates national security cases and that opposes the practice.
Because of the secrecy involved, it is not known how many renditions have taken place during Obama’s first term. But his administration has not disavowed the practice. In 2009, a White House task force on interrogation and detainee transfers recommended that the government be allowed to continue using renditions, but with greater oversight, so that suspects were not subject to harsh interrogation techniques, as some were during the George W. Bush administration.