Monday, 6 March 2017

Paper chase

A well meaning but rather lightweight look at the CIA rendition program up to 2008. The book is made up of some brief essays about the program and lots of official document facsimiles from American and European sources confirming the flight plans of private jets hired by the Agency to transport prisoners to other countries to be tortured, other official documents (not in English) confirm the sites of some secret prisons. Interspersed throughout the book are several yellow pages that have thumbnails of all the documents and photos with long captions explaining their significance.

This seems an unusual book for Aperture to publish though it does have thirty-six photos (printed on better paper than the facsimile pages) by Edmund Clark taken at various sites mentioned in some of the documents: airports; prisons; government buildings; private houses. Some of these photos have a rather tenuous connection to the purpose of the book, one on page 193 shows the bedroom of the son of a former CIA prisoner, the room isn't mentioned in any documents. I found it odd that several prisoners are named in the documents but none have a photo in the book. There are 292 pages and because of the three different kinds of papers used it's spiral bound.

Whether this CIA program of illegal rendition and outsourcing torture had any success in saving lives is impossible to say (someone probably knows though) but if it did the number must be an incredibly small percentage of more than 400,000 Americans killed by gunfire between 9/11 and 2016 (reported in The Economist). Incidentally, Clifton Black, one of the authors, also contributed to the website The rendition project a very comprehensive analyses of the subject.

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