Burn After Reading: Classified Security Cooperation and Human Rights Preferences
Following the launch of the War on Terror, the United States of America established a global rendition network that saw the transfer of Central Intelligence Agency terrorist suspects to secret detention sites across the world. Conventional accounts of foreign complicity show that 54 diverse countries were involved, including many established democracies. What influenced more than a quarter of the world’s countries to participate in rendition, secret detention and interrogation operations during the post-9/11 period? Given the sensitive nature of cooperation required, I argue that the U.S. screened countries according to their preferences on human rights-security tradeoffs. Countries with similar preferences to the U.S. on human rights were cheaper to buy off and would have required less persuasion to cooperate. This theory is consistent with the existing claim that cooperation is more likely between countries with similar preferences as both actors are better off when the partnership increases. I test this hypothesis on global data using United Nations General Assembly voting data as a measure of common interest, and the analysis provides robust empirical support for my theoretical argument.