Saturday, February 04, 2006

Extraordinary Rendition

This image was originally posted at prismenfernglas

Salman Rushdie's article, Ugly phrase conceals an uglier truth, explores the latest example of Orwellian double speak. He likens 'extraordinary rendition' to phrases like 'final solution' or 'ethnic cleansing'.
"Extraordinary" is an ordinary enough adjective, but its sense is being stretched here to include more sinister meanings that your dictionary will not provide: secret; ruthless; and extrajudicial.

As for "rendition", the English language permits four meanings: a performance; a translation; a surrender - this meaning is now considered archaic; or an "act of rendering"; which leads us to the verb "to render" among whose 17 possible meanings you will not find "to kidnap and covertly deliver an individual or individuals for interrogation to an undisclosed address in an unspecified country where torture is permitted".

Tom Engelhardt got into this a year ago in his article, Extraordinary rendition and other terms of our times, where he quotes Christopher Pyle's article, Torture by Proxy,
"Our intelligence agencies have a name for this torture-by-proxy. They call it 'extraordinary rendition.' As one intelligence official explained: 'We don't kick the s -- out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the s -- out of them.' This secret program for torturing suspects has been authorized, if that is the right word for it, by a secret presidential finding. Where the president gets the authority to have anyone tortured has never been explained."

A phrase they didn't mention that also falls into this category is 'collateral damage', the euphemism for civilian deaths. That's the one I really dislike.

This image was originally posted at American Newspeak

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