“Rendition” refers to the transfer of a detained person to another jurisdiction for trial. For most purposes it is the same thing as extradition.
“Extraordinary rendition,” however, leaves out the trial. It means the transfer of a prisoner elsewhere for purposes of interrogation and, too often, torture.
“Putting ‘extraordinary’ in front of rendition changes the meaning fundamentally,” wrote constitutional scholar Louis Fisher in a comprehensive new law review article on the subject (pdf).
“Rendition operates within the rule of law; extraordinary rendition falls outside. Rendition brings suspects to federal or state court; extraordinary rendition does not.”
See “Extraordinary Rendition: The Price of Secrecy” by Louis Fisher, American University Law Review, volume 57, number 5, June 2008.
There are intermediate cases. When Israeli agents kidnapped the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann from Argentina in 1960, it was an act of abduction rather rendition. Yet Eichmann was taken to trial with full legal process.
“Because there was no extradition treaty between Israel and Argentina, the U.N. Security Council asked Israel to pay reparations to Argentina, and Israel complied,” Fisher recalled.
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