While President Barack Obama reversed a number of the Bush Administration’s anti-terror excesses, the controversial tactic known as extraordinary rendition, the extralegal kidnapping and transportation of detainees, remains conspicuously legal. Only a cursory effort “to study and evaluate the practices of transferring individuals to other nations” with a task force was offered for what has internationally been among America’s most infamous policies. In the end though, the new president has kept the practice legal.
According to the Los Angeles Times, unnamed officials of the administration are defending the decision, with one quoted as saying that “if done within certain parameters, it is an acceptable practice.” With those other avenues of torture now closed to them, some have speculated that the Obama Administration may rely even more on rendition than the Bush Administration has.
The move has the potential to strain relations with the European Union. In early 2007 the European Parliament issued a report accusing several nations of turning a blind eye to CIA kidnappings and rendition flights. The CIA used European airspace for over 1,200 such flights, according to the report.
In one of the most infamous incidents, CIA agents kidnapped a Muslim imam off the streets of Milan, Italy in 2003. He was later shipped to Egypt where he was held for four years, tortured, and finally released when they ruled his detention was “unfounded.” The incident caused enormous controversy in Italy and led to the summoning of the US ambassador.