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Rendition refers to the transfer of a suspect of terrorism or criminal activities from one State to another state to answer charges against them. Prior to 9/11 the U.S had used renditions against suspected terrorists and the program was accelerated after 9/11. The program was widely criticized for violating the U.S constitution and International laws such as UNCAT (United Nations Convention Against Torture).
However with the passing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the program got a lifeline as the suspects of terror were denied some rights that are applicable to the general population and such as those proscribed by the U.S constitution and UNCAT as they were no longer to be treated as lawful war prisoners but unlawful enemy combatant. The introduction of the term "unlawful war criminal" gave the President of the United States powers to determine the best way to handle such a person and was seen as a way of insulating the executive from accusations of violating the U.S constitution's Bill of Rights and the provisions of Convention Against Torture (CAT) which the U.S ratified in 1994. By classifying suspected terrorists as 'unlawful enemy combatants', the Military Commission Act deprived them of rights enjoyed by war prisoners and in effect authorized renditions as a way of combating them.
On ethical issues, the U.S Constitution violates the use of torture to obtain a confession and CAT also criminalizes the same. However the Military Commission Act deprives suspects of rights granted under Geneva Conventions as quoted below
''(g) GENEVA CONVENTIONS NOT ESTABLISHING SOURCE OF RIGHTS.-No alien unlawful enemy combatant subject to trial by military commission under this chapter may invoke the Geneva Conventions as a source of rights."
This is interpreted as removing all ethical and legal considerations and protecting the authorities from any legal battle that may have arisen out of the Geneva Conventions. It is therefore left to the concerned to determine what is ethically acceptable when handling suspects. However the U.S government has clarified from time to time that it does not hand over suspects to States that they know will torture them and that they have in some instances obtained an assurance in advance that the suspect will not be tortured.
Presidential Findings and Ethical issues
Under the law, the President of the United States has authority to authorize the carrying out of a covert action if in his opinion such action will support identifiable foreign policy objectives and is necessary for the United State's national security. The president is required to communicate the same in writing. This is lawful in as far as it does not violate any other law.
The agencies authorized by the President to conduct such covert activities are required by law to report to the congressional intelligence committees putting into consideration protection of the information from leakage to other unintended hands.
The Presidents power and the congressional committees' oversight role conflict when the President does not report to the committees on a covert operation. He may find justification for his action under the law since the law allows him to take action and report later if in the opinion of the security experts that is necessary to protect the operation details from leakage and the operation is considered as very sensitive. However lack of time limit as to how long the President can stay without informing the congressional committees creates conflict between the Executive and the Legislature.
Carrying out of covert operations is intended to further the foreign policy of the United States. As far as what is being done promotes these interests, then it's lawful. However, this support should not be rendered to groups that may in future threaten the interests of the United States because that in itself will not be furthering the interest of the United States in the long run. For example supporting a terror group in Iran may serve to promote the foreign interest of the United States for now but in future that terror group may assume power and endanger the security of the United States and its allies. It is therefore illegal.
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In carrying out covert operations, the ethical consideration should be who the government is working with. It should not be seen to support groups that have extreme ideologies even if such groups are opposed to the regimes the United States government may want to remove from power.
Ethical Reasoning in Conflict With "Peacetime" Covert Intelligence Collection.
Covert intelligence collection during peacetime are seen as important to ensure preemptive measures are taken where necessary and to avoid war that will be more costly. They also serve to further the interest of the United States and its allies. Such policies are seen as having been very successful in the 1950s leading to the eventual overthrow of the governments of Guatemala and Iran. However critics argue that such operations are counterproductive and no longer serve the purpose. The targets are familiar with such activities in the past and therefore they do everything to insulate their positions.
Covert intelligence collection during peacetime is also seen as creating mistrusts between nations and as a threat to peace. It plants seeds of discord that aggravate a situation making it worse in future and posing a bigger threat to United States policymakers.
Such activities, if they are brought to the attention of the citizens of the country concerned, may ferment anti-American feelings among the people which may last for generations. The end effect therefore will be creating a pool of enemies all over.
Ethical Perspective in Provision of U.S Intelligence Information TO U.N
Guarantee of security of intelligence information handed to the United Nations is of necessity considering that the United Nations is a 'family of nations' in which both the United States allies and enemies are represented. It is therefore important to come up with ways and means of ensuring that information does not land on the enemies hand and that is what the National Security Act of 1947 does. The access to that information will be limited and assurance sought that the information will be secured and used to serve only the objectives for which it was sought for.
This also ensures that the primary sources of that intelligence are protected since some may be living in places they are vulnerable if it is established that the intelligence information in the hands of the United States originated from them. Protection of the methods of collection becomes important to keep the sources and the collection methods safe thereby ensuring continuous flow of the intelligence information.
The process is also important to ensure that the congressional committees exercise their oversight role in as far as what is being given to the United Nations and its agencies is concerned.
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