[DEBATE] : Fwd: US Justice
tintinyana at gmail.com
Wed Oct 10 11:06:18 BST 2007
> Supreme Court Refuses Torture Case
> Tuesday October 9, 2007 11:46 PM
> By MARK SHERMAN
> Associated Press Writer
> WASHINGTON (AP) - A German man who says he was abducted and tortured
> by the CIA as part of the anti-terrorism rendition program lost his
> final chance Tuesday to persuade U.S. courts to hear his claims.
> The Supreme Court rejected without comment an appeal from Khaled
> el-Masri, effectively endorsing Bush administration arguments that
> state secrets would be revealed if courts allowed the case to proceed.
> El-Masri, 44, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, says he was
> mistakenly identified as an associate of the Sept. 11 hijackers and
> was detained while attempting to enter Macedonia on New Year's Eve
> He claims that CIA agents stripped, beat, shackled, diapered, drugged
> and chained him to the floor of a plane for a flight to Afghanistan.
> He says he was held for four months in a CIA-run prison known as the
> ``salt pit'' in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
> After the CIA determined it had the wrong man, el-Masri says, he was
> dumped on a hilltop in Albania and told to walk down a path without
> looking back.
> The lawsuit against former CIA director George Tenet, unidentified CIA
> agents and others sought damages of at least $75,000.
> ``We are very disappointed,'' Manfred Gnijdic, el-Masri's attorney in
> Germany, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his
> office in Ulm.
> ``It will shatter all trust in the American justice system,'' Gnijdic
> said, charging that the United States expects every other nation to
> act responsibly, but refuses to take responsibility for its own
> ``That is a disaster,'' Gnijdic said.
> El-Masri's claims, which prompted strong international criticism of
> the rendition program, were backed by European investigations and U.S.
> news reports. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that U.S.
> officials acknowledged that el-Masri's detention was a mistake.
> The U.S. government has neither confirmed nor denied el-Masri's
> account and, in urging the court not to hear the case, said that the
> facts central to el-Masri's claims ``concern the highly classified
> methods and means of the program.''
> El-Masri's case centers on the CIA's ``extraordinary rendition''
> program, in which terrorism suspects are captured and taken to foreign
> countries for interrogation. Human rights activists have objected to
> the program.
> President Bush has repeatedly defended the policies in the war on
> terror, saying as recently as last week that the U.S. does not engage
> in torture.
> El-Masri's lawsuit had been seen as a test of the administration's
> legal strategy to invoke the doctrine of state secrets and stop
> national security suits before any evidence is presented in private to
> a judge. Another lawsuit over the administration's warrantless
> wiretapping program, also dismissed by a federal court on state
> secrets grounds, still is pending before the justices.
> Conservative legal scholar Douglas Kmiec said the Bush White House
> uses the doctrine too broadly. ``The notion that state secrets can't
> be preserved by a judge who has taken an oath to protect the
> Constitution, that a judge cannot examine the strength of the claim is
> too troubling to be accepted,'' said Kmiec, a law professor at
> Pepperdine University.
> The court has not examined the state secrets privilege in more than 50
> A coalition of groups favoring greater openness in government says the
> Bush administration has used the state secrets privilege much more
> often than its predecessors.
> At the height of Cold War tensions between the United States and the
> former Soviet Union, U.S. presidents used the state secrets privilege
> six times from 1953 to 1976, according to OpenTheGovernment.org. Since
> 2001, it has been used 39 times, enabling the government to
> unilaterally withhold documents from the court system, the group said.
> The state secrets privilege arose from a 1953 Supreme Court ruling
> that allowed the executive branch to keep secret, even from the court,
> details about a military plane's fatal crash.
> Three widows sued to get the accident report after their husbands died
> aboard a B-29 bomber, but the Air Force refused to release it claiming
> that the plane was on a secret mission to test new equipment. The high
> court accepted the argument, but when the report was released decades
> later there was nothing in it about a secret mission or equipment.
> The case is El-Masri v. U.S., 06-1613.
> Associated Press Writer Thomas Seythal in Frankfurt, Germany,
> contributed to this story.
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