Extraordinary Rendition, Law and the Spatial Architecture of Rights

  • Bruce D’Arcus Miami University Department of Geography
Keywords: Bush Administration, extraordinary rendition, spatial tactic, interrogation, terrorists, rights, law, sovereignty, space, statecraft, political violence, legal-territorial logic, jurisdiction


This paper examines the Bush Administration's use of extraordinary rendition as a spatial tactic to secure largely extra-legal interrogation of terrorist suspects by moving them across various territorial jurisdictions. I present this argument in three major sections. I first present a conceptual discussion of the connections among legal rights, sovereignty, and space. I argue that liberal rights are in part defined through law, which can be conceived as a space and set of spatial practices structured along two axes. While traditional legal protections around privacy, in particular, define an uneven vertical terrain that protects individual rights through limiting where certain forms of statecraft may be applied within domestic space, distinctions of jurisdiction provide the horizontal limits to rights; simultaneously containing particular rights regimes, and excluding others. I then examine the development of extraordinary rendition in larger historical-geographical context, as a deeply spatial tactic of political violence. Finally, I examine how Bush Administration lawyers framed these developments using a very particular argument about legal-territorial logic. It is my argument that the Bush Administration used extraordinary rendition to achieve through extra-territorial means what they could not, or would not, attempt in domestic territory: the suspension of law for certain classes of people.
How to Cite
D’Arcus, B. (1). Extraordinary Rendition, Law and the Spatial Architecture of Rights. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 13(1), 79-99. Retrieved from https://acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/998