Author: Paul Batista
Publisher: Astor & Blue Editions, LLC
ISBN: 978-1-938231-26-1 (Paperback)
When Attorney Byron Carlos Johnson, the protagonist in Paul Batista's recent thriller Extraordinary Rendition agreed to defend an accused terrorist, Ali Hussein, he did not have the foggiest idea what would be its ramifications. He didn't realize he would be walking into dangerous and unfamiliar territory and moreover Johnson's white shoe law firm was not exactly enamored with the idea of one of their top lawyers representing someone suspected of being a terrorist.
It seems that five months after the US invasion of Iraq, Hussein traveled to Germany to do freelance accounting work for an American corporation and the gig was supposed to last ten days. While he was in Germany he was abducted by five men and eventually wound up in Guantanamo where he remained in limbo in solitary confinement for several years not knowing what were the charges against him and also experiencing alternating tortures of physical abuse. Subsequently, he was transferred to the USA to be charged by an American grand jury for allegedly being a banker for terrorists. It should be noted that the practice of apprehending someone and transferring them from one country to another, where torture during interrogation is permitted, is known as extraordinary rendition or irregular rendition. President Clinton, during the war on terror initiated this program and has been used ever since.
Johnson was contacted by a lawyer for a civil rights group after he had let people know that he would like to represent a person arrested for terrorism.
As the narrative unfolds, Johnson meets up with some very nasty characters that would like him to forget about attorney-client privilege, work with them and pass onto them the contents of his communications with Hussein. These individuals included the lead government lawyer, Hamerindapal Rana, a Sikh who informed Johnson that the government would indict Hussein at a time and in a place of their own choosing. It also included a rogue agent, Andrew Hurd, whom as we will discover is involved is some very foul interrogation practices.
Johnson discovers that these folks don't care about the law as they can hide under anti-terrorism legislation that gives them a broad leeway insofar as due process is concerned. This meant that lawyers representing the accused could not ask for a speedy trial and could not seek bail. In addition, judges were for the most part timid and unwilling to disturb what the Justice Department, the CIA, and Homeland Security decided to do. In other words, the cards are stacked against Hussein.
And that is just the beginning. Johnson, when attending his firm's annual party, meets a tall, slim, black-haired beautiful woman, Christina Rosario, who is a summer associate in his firm, who eventually will play an important role in his love life. However, Johnson knows little about this woman other than what she has told him. Nonetheless, he is smitten and throws all caution to the wind.
Eventually, in a moment of complete clarity and realizing that he has bit off more than he can chew, Johnson concludes that powerful forces are hunting him. How far will they go to get what they want and who will they kill or hurt along the way is the big question?
Batista has skillfully transformed the traditional legal thriller into a novel that addresses the broader issue concerning rendition as well as the questionable interrogation practices used by the US government concerning alleged terrorists. This is a book that not only you can't put down, but you don't dare put it down as it maintains its compelling urgency that keeps its readers intrigued until its poignant conclusion.
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