Rendition

May 31, 2007

The military have come up with some fascinating phrases in their time (I’m thinking ‘friendly fire’ here) to try and take the edge off the kind of thing you really can’t take the edge off.

But I find it particularly odd that the word ‘rendition‘ has been chosen to describe the practice of flying suspects to far-off places – ‘rendering’ them (unto Caesar?), I suppose – where they can be detained and tortured without anybody asking awkward questions.

Rendition – a word once more commonly associated with music. The phrase “What a lovely rendition” will never be the same again. Not that I ever said it, but I picture some fur-clad old lady at a private concert in the drawing-room of a stately home floundering around for a new word now that her favourite one has been appropriated.

On the BBC2 programme Mystery Flights, Tyler Drumheller, the former head of CIA covert operations in Europe, blamed the American administration for creating an atmosphere of “rage and vengeance”.

Now, there’s a man with a feel for words.

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