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The Law:“Extraordinary Rendition” and Presidential Fiat


William G. Weaver is associate professor and director of academic programs in the Institute for Policy and Economic Development at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Robert M. Pallitto is assistant professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso.


The administration of George W. Bush engages in the use of “extraordinary rendition,” the kidnapping of foreign citizens and the delivery of those citizens to third-party jurisdictions. In at least one such rendition, a foreign national was kidnapped from U.S. soil and delivered to a foreign jurisdiction where he was tortured. These renditions are accomplished outside of treaties and courts and are solely the result of presidential fiat. The claims to executive power to undertake these actions are of recent origin, and the great balance of U.S. history and law weighs against these claims. The actions of the Bush administration have been aided by judicial deference, a deference that challenges historical assumptions and law concerning executive power.