Rebecca Cordell, Ph.D.

Arizona State University

Phone: (480) 727-0736

Address: School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University, 975 S Myrtle Ave

City: Tempe, Arizona - 85287

Country: United States

About Me:

I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University. I received my Ph.D in Political Science from the Department of Government, University of Essex in 2017. I am also a Research Fellow at the Michael Nicholson Centre for Conflict and Cooperation, University of Essex. My single-authored research has been published in International Interactions and International Area Studies Review.My research interests include international security cooperation, state repression, political violence and human rights. I work on the Sub-national Analysis of Repression Project (SNARP) with Thorin M. Wright, Reed M. Wood, Christopher J. Fariss and K. Chad Clay - funded by the National Science Foundation. I use statistical and computational methods with an expertise in machine learning, text analysis and spatial econometrics. I received the Steven C. Poe Best Graduate Student Paper Award in 2018 for my paper entitled 'Security-Civil Liberties Trade-offs: International Cooperation in Extraordinary Rendition'.I also work with Florian G. Kern and Kristian Skrede Gleditsch on the Traditional Actors and Federal State Authorities in Interaction: Explaining Patterns of Security and Conflict Across American Indian Reservations Project - funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation.

Research Interests

Political Violence

Human Rights

Conflict Processes & War


Journal Articles:

(2018) Measuring extraordinary rendition and international cooperation: A response to Blakeley and Raphael, International Area Studies Review

In my article, “Measuring extraordinary rendition and international cooperation” I present a model that can be used to measure extraordinary rendition and identify international cooperation in the Central Intelligence Agency’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program using public flight data and information on rendition flight characteristics. My analysis identifies 307 new likely rendition flights and 15 previously unidentified countries potentially involved. In response, Blakeley and Raphael argue that these results do not move beyond what they have already published, and also challenge the claim that these flights are “likely rendition flights” as they have not been triangulated by further evidence. However, it seems inconsistent to claim both that: (a) the findings are not new; and (b) the findings are wrong. I respond to their concerns by providing a detailed evaluation of my results in relation to their own findings. I demonstrate that there are important differences between the results in Blakeley and Raphael’s previous work and my own. I reinforce my earlier claim that triangulating these new results with reliable qualitative evidence is a crucial step.

(2018) Security-civil liberties trade-offs: International cooperation in extraordinary rendition, International Interactions

Following the launch of the WoT, the United States established a global rendition network that saw the transfer of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) 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 determined more than a quarter of the world’s countries to participate in RDI operations during the post-9/11 period? Given the sensitive nature of cooperation required, I argue that the United States screened countries according to their preferences on security-civil liberties trade-offs. Countries with similar preferences to the United States 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 UNGA voting data as a proxy for common interest and develop a spatial variable that models a country’s logistical utility during the transfer of a detainee based on its distance to a central rendition transit corridor between the United States and Afghanistan. The analysis provides robust empirical support for my theoretical argument.

(2017) Measuring extraordinary rendition and international cooperation, International Area Studies Review

Following the launch of the War on Terror, the United States of America established a global rendition network that saw the transfer of US Central Intelligence Agency terrorist suspects to secret detention sites across the world. There has been considerable debate over how many countries participated in rendition, secret detention and interrogation during the post-9/11 period, and conventional accounts of foreign complicity suggest that diverse countries were involved, including many established democracies. However, research on rendition has continually suffered from uncertainty, a lack of data, and systematic empirical evidence due to the secret nature of counterterrorism cooperation. In this article, I argue that it is possible to study the practice of rendition, unlike many other forms of clandestine security cooperation, as it is partially observable. Specifically, suspected extraordinary rendition flight paths can be tracked using publicly available flight data. This article uses the world’s largest set of public flight data relating to rendition to estimate cross-country collaboration in rendition, secret detention and interrogation. The result suggests 307 likely rendition flights and 15 new participating countries beyond the 54 known cases, with cross validation tests demonstrating high levels of model accuracy.