"Our greatest tool in advancing democracy is our own example."
— Barack Obama (3/2/2008)
Under the Bush administration, the practice of "extraordinary rendition" was used to apprehend and detain foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism. The suspect would be arrested and secretly transferred to prisons run by foreign intelligence agencies in countries know to torture, or to CIA-run "black sites." Once detained, these men experienced unspeakable horrors — often kept in squalid conditions, many of them faced interrogation under torture, including waterboarding, electrocutions, beatings, extreme isolation, and psychological torture.
Within days of being sworn in, President Obama issued executive orders and directives repudiating the most egregious of the Bush administration's violations of U.S. and international law — including ordering the closure of the CIA's network of secret "black site" prisons and banning the use of torture, and cruel and inhumane interrogation techniques.
However, to date, no victim of the extraordinary rendition program has been granted their day in court, let alone been afforded any kind of redress for their injuries. Some are still detained. The government has regularly misused the "states secrets" privilege in an attempt to avoid any kind of judicial oversight of the extraordinary rendition program, claiming that hearing the case in court would pose a threat to national security. Victims of torture — and the American public — deserve to know why prisoners were tortured in America’s name.