Roger L. Simon

The New Word for Today is "Rendition"

It’s nowhere near as evocative as last week’s “gormless,” but this “rendition” (not a Cole Porter one!) is government-speak, so we wouldn’t expect it to be. Anyway, the usage was new to me and is apparently a euphemism for sending terrorists to a ‘friendly’ country for interrogation (often for coercive treatment beyond norms). Brother Michael defines it in an article this morning, which contains some interesting information from Michael Scheuer, the retired CIA officer who recently wrote a bestseller under the nom de plume “Anonymous.” Scheuer says the controversial “rendition” technique began not with the Bush Administration, but with Clinton.

Of course, don’t expect this distinction to be heavily under discussion in the Alberto Gonzalez confirmation hearing, which seems destined to throw more heat than light on the torture issue (inept pun not intended). I couldn’t agree more with Glenn Reynolds in his assertion a couple of days ago that a confirmation hearing is the wrong place for any kind of serious discussion of this matter. These hearings have become in recent years–perhaps they always were–mostly showcases for partisan blowhards of all stripes. The media, of course, make it even worse in a situation like this, fanning the flames in a circus of hypocrisy. The limits of interrogation need to be clearly defined and respected, but don’t expect that to happen here. What is really on trial is the war, not its methods.