Author Biography

Mark J. Murray is an associate at a Fortune 500 management and technology consulting firm, where he supports senior Department of Defense (DoD) leaders in the countering weapons of mass destruction domain. He has experience in the development of defense strategy and policy analysis, and in the DoD's planning, programming, budgeting, and execution (PPBE) process. Mark was a Captain in the United States Army Infantry and served extensively in Iraq from 2004–2007. He holds numerous decorations, including the Bronze Star Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster) and the Army Commendation Medal with "V" device (with three Oak Leaf Clusters) and is a graduate of the Airborne and Ranger schools. Mark holds a B.A. in Political Science and Systems Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an M.A. in Security Policy Studies from the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. His research interests include defense strategy and policy, intrastate war theory, insurgency/counterinsurgency, responses to terrorism, and the use of applied quantitative methods in political analysis. The author may be reached for comment at: markjm@gwu.edu.



Subject Area Keywords

Al-Qaida, Counterterrorism, National security, Security policy, Terrorism / counterterrorism


This article examines the United States Government policy of extraordinary rendition as a response to terrorism. The paper provides a working definition of the term, outlines why it has become controversial, and uses case studies to examine success and failures of extraordinary rendition in practice. The paper concludes with lessons learned—more specifically, policy amendments—that are necessary to keep extraordinary rendition as a viable tool for the Obama Administration and mitigate political fallout against the United States from both its allies and enemies. This paper argues that extraordinary rendition provides flexibility to policymakers to detain terrorists in cases where an attack may be forthcoming and when other approved legal processes are slow to react. Therefore, instead of ending extraordinary renditions altogether, the United States should reevaluate how it implements the policy on a tactical, operational, and strategic level and amend it based on the recommendations put forward in this article.