What is the legacy?


The use of extraordinary renditions by the United States from 2001 left behind a difficult, complex legacy. The new president, Barack Obama, had campaigned on a platform of change and new moral purpose, promising to end renditions and to close down Guantanamo Bay as soon as possible. This did not prove easy to do. Many suspects were released (and often paid compensation) but many more were considered too dangerous to be set free; and it was not easy to find other countries willing to take them. Guantanamo remained in operation. The legacy of renditions also damaged American standing in the world, by its own actions and by associating the United States with unpleasant security forces in authoritarian regimes such as Assad’s Syria and Mubarak’s Egypt, thus betraying the democratic ideals that supposedly underpinned civil liberties at home and US foreign policy. When democracy began to sweep North Africa in the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011, the US found it very difficult to respond.