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Dramaturgy of suspicion and the emergence of a transnational guild of extraction of information by torture at a distance

Abstract : The practices of “torture at a distance” – that is, the combination of extraordinary renditions to other services abroad in order for them to extract information from the bodies of the suspects and the outsourcing of enhanced interrogation techniques to get results – have only been possible because of the obedience of a large number of secret services in Europe and beyond. These services have accepted either to torture suspects, instead of the US secret services doing this, or to “prepare” subjects by “softening” their resistance before the arrival of US or UK interrogators. Why did so many countries agree to take on this unpleasant task, or at least turn a blind eye when suspects conveyed on CIA planes would make stops for refueling or to pick up other detainees, especially when so many were not members of the so-called “coalition of the willing”? Could we explain this obedience as a result of a transnational solidarity for the goals of the coalition of the willing and a profound agreement with the necessity to do it? Could we consider that a cost-benefit analysis was calculated and that the CIA or the US government, aware that their own judges and public opinion may condemn them if they took part in torturing suspects in their own territory, proposed a large series of rewards for these countries to do so instead? Did they think it was easier for these unpleasant tasks to be carried out secretly if a delegation of the worst practices was set up abroad? Who decided the different moves in the trajectory leading to torture at a distance? Was it a secret policy coming from a political agreement that the services just applied, or was the process influenced to the point where services lied or silenced their operations in favour of the CIA regarding their own national politicians? How and why were the different actors engaged in such a secret programme unaware that because of the extended nature of the operation, it would be impossible to protect? If, thanks to a coalition of watchers, investigative journalists and some academics, we have a better understanding of the how – and therefore of the shared responsibilities in these events – we still have a series of questions regarding the why.
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Submitted on : Friday, October 22, 2021 - 4:15:00 AM
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Didier Bigo. Dramaturgy of suspicion and the emergence of a transnational guild of extraction of information by torture at a distance. Didier Bigo; Elspeth Guild; Didier Bigo; Mark Gibney. Extraordinary Rendition. Addressing the Challenges of Accountability, Routledge, pp.30 - 52, 2018, 9780815387800. ⟨hal-03393980⟩



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