Extraordinary Rendition FAQs

Document Date: October 17, 2007

What is “Extraordinary Rendition”?

Extraordinary rendition is the practice of kidnapping or capturing people and sending them to countries that use torture or abuse in interrogations. The federal government has shipped its kidnapped persons off to a “who’s who” of torture violators–including Syria, Uzbekistan, Egypt and Yemen.

Why would the government want to invoke such a policy?

Extraordinary rendition violates the Constitution and federal law. Its very purpose is to send people for interrogation to places where, in the United States’ view, the rule of law doesn’t apply. Suspects are detained and interrogated at U.S.-run secret detention facilities outside U.S. territory, or are handed over to foreign countries for interrogation. In both instances, interrogation methods are employed that violate federal and internationally recognized standards.

In what ways is rendition already illegal?

Congress has acted at least twice to prohibit the federal government from transferring people to foreign countries when there are substantial grounds to believe they will be tortured. The United Nations Convention Against Torture, which the United States Senate ratified at the urging of then-President Reagan, and a 1998 federal statute both explicitly prohibit extraordinary rendition. However, the State Department is playing word games and now claims that these laws do not apply when the federal government seizes people outside of the fifty states.

What is the ACLU doing about rendition?

The ACLU is working in the courts and with Congress to end extraordinary rendition and reestablish the American values of freedom and democracy.

  • The ACLU represents Khaled El-Masri, an innocent victim of the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program who was kidnapped, detained, and tortured in a secret overseas prison. On October 9, 2007, the Supreme Court denied his petition for the court to consider an appeal of an appellate court decision dismissing his claims on the basis of the government’s claim of a state secrets privilege.
  • The ACLU filed a lawsuit in May against Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing, on behalf of five victims of the rendition program. The ACLU charges that Jeppesen knowingly provided direct logistical support to CIA flights used in the rendition program.
  • The ACLU is working to convince Congress to end extraordinary rendition program. Current legislation includes a bill introduced by Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) to ban the practice of extraordinary rendition.