The tortuous logic of "extraordinary rendition"

Our Secretary of State admits the procedure of “rendition” exists, but denies that the purpose is torture:

Attempting to stem fierce European criticism of US treatment of suspected terrorists, the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, admitted that Washington had carried out "renditions" of suspects - but never in violation of other country's sovereignty, and never where it was believed that the individual might be tortured.

This raises several obvious questions about the practice – for example, if it’s not to facilitate torture, why do we bother? Do these other countries have some non-torture-based information extraction methods that we don’t? Couldn’t we just get that technology? In more encouraging, “hey they’re awake” news, the White House press corps put some of these questions to Scott McClellan:

Q What is the purpose of rendition, other than, if it is not, in fact, to subject detainees to a degree of interrogation somewhat more difficult than that which they would be subjected to in the United States? And that being the case, what definition of torture does the United States understand and accept?

MR. McCLELLAN: The ones that are defined in our law and our international treaty obligations. We have laws –

Q If that’s the case, then why bother to render anybody?

MR. McCLELLAN: We have laws that prohibit torture. We have treaty obligations that we adhere to. And the Convention Against Torture is a treaty obligation that we take seriously and we adhere to. And in that treaty, it – those treaties and laws, it defines torture. And –

Q Then what’s the purpose of rendition?

The harm being done by this sanctioned, wink-and-nod practice of torture will far outlive the current administration; it is our everlasting shame.

(Independent link via Snowdeal: Conflux.)