The film Rendition dramatises the US President’s secret policy of kidnapping and torture
The film Rendition, which has opened at cinemas nationwide, is a thriller about an innocent Egyptian-American family who fall victim to the US government’s criminal policy of “extraordinary rendition” – the kidnapping of people suspected of terrorism, their detention without trial and their torture
in secret overseas prisons, so-called “black sites.” It is the story of a great democracy bought low by evil men.
Rendition is a fictional drama, not a documentary. But it reflects known facts about rendition – a policy, sanctioned by the US President, which involves the systematic, wilful violation of the US constitution and the Bill of Rights and the rule of law; as well as being illegal under the international laws against kidnapping and torture.
Watch this film. It brings home the lawlessness and inhumanity of the so-called ‘war on terror.’ It reveals why so much of the world hates the hypocrisy of US, which preaches liberty but often practices tyranny. It exposes the way the US government is trampling on human rights. It shows why President George W Bush should be put on trial at the International Criminal Court
on charges of kidnapping and torture.
As Commander-in-Chief, the President bears personal responsibility in law for what the US military and intelligence services are doing in his name. Under the UN Convention Against Torture and the Rome Treaty, which established the International Criminal Court, anyone or commits, authorises, solicits, aids and abets or colludes with acts of torture – or other inhuman, cruel or degrading mistreatments – is committing a crime. Heads of State are explicitly not exempt from prosecution, according to the provisions of the International Criminal Court.
Rendition may be a fictionalised cinematic account of US abuses, but it illuminates a fundamental truth: that the US government is involved in kidnapping and torture
Filmed in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Marrakech and Cape Town, the movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon, Alan Arkin, Peter Sarsgaard and Meryl Streep.
Spanning two continents, Rendition is the story of Anwar El-Ibrahimi (played by Omar Metwally), an Egyptian-American chemical engineer whose family emigrated to the US when he was a boy, and who is now suspected of involvement in a terrorist conspiracy.
Kidnapped by the US Central Intelligence Agency after stepping off a flight from Cape Town to Washington DC, he is flown to an unnamed North African country where he is subjected to brutal torture by the local secret police, in a bid to make him reveal the names of his co-conspirators.
The local secret police are acting at the behest of the CIA and the US government, so that Washington can maintain the fiction that it does not practice or condone the use of torture.
Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal), a CIA analyst based in the North African state, is assigned to supervise the interrogations. He eventually rebels against his superiors after witnessing first-hand the torture of Anwar El-Ibrahimi.
Meanwhile, Anwar’s pregnant wife Isabella El-Ibrahimi (Reese Witherspoon) does everything in her power to find her missing husband. She enlists the help of a politically-connected college friend, Alan Smith (Peter Sarsgaard), who is an aide to Senator Hawkins (Alan Arkin). Smith uncovers the truth: that Anwar has been secretly spirited away, on the orders of the CIA’s head of counter- terrorism, Corrinne Whitman (Meryl Streep), to a North African country for interrogation.
Interwoven with this story is a sub-plot involving Abasi Fawal (Igal Naor), the head of the secret prison where Anwar is being interrogated and tortured by local police on behalf of the CIA. Abasi has a rebellious daughter Fatima (Zineb Oukach), who’s boyfriend, Khalid (Moa Khouas), is, unbeknown to her, an Islamic fundamentalist involved in a terrorist bomb plot.
As a thriller, Rendition is good entertainment. But it is much more significant than a good night out at the cinema. It dramatises what has happened in real life to hundreds of families – many of them families of entirely innocent men who strayed into the wrong place at the wrong time, or who were victims of identification mix-ups.
See this film. I hope it will make you angry enough to protest to your MP, and to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, at the way the British government is complicit with the criminality of US rendition policy.
Our government – a Labour government, acting in our name – has allowed CIA rendition flights to refuel and over-fly the UK, including landing at RAF bases:
Official secrecy prevents us from knowing the full truth, but our ministers and intelligence chiefs appear to have allowed US military communication centres in the UK to be used to coordinate the transfer of kidnap victims to places of violent interrogation. Since 2004, there have been testimonies, including from a retired US general, that the CIA has established secret jails and interrogation centres on the British overseas territory of Diego Garcia:
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have allowed the US to do more or less what it wants on Diego Garcia. They have colluded with illegal rendition, detention without trial and the physical and mental abuse of prisoners on British sovereign territory. Labour’s decision to keep parliament and the public in the dark suggests that it has something to hide. This cover-up reinforces the suspicion that acts of supreme wickedness are taking place in these “black sites” on Diego Garcia and elsewhere.
Collusion with rendition is further evidence of Labour’s fawning subservience to one of the most reactionary US Presidents in modern history. It’s time Britain reclaimed its independence from Washington and pursued its own foreign policy, based on respect for human rights and the rule of law.