Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Forgotten Man

We’ve all heard the story of Khaled El Masri. The Lebanese born German citizen was effectively kidnapped by the CIA whilst vacationing in Macedonia. He was flown to Afghanistan where he was beaten, mistreated and by all accounts abused and tortured. The CIA released him after several months with not so much as an apology. The official stance is “It was a case of mistaken identity.”

Masri has tried hard to get some sort of compensation, some sort of apology for his treatment but to no avail. First, the Germans gave up trying to extradite the 11 CIA agents who captured Masri who is married and has children, then, when his case was taken up by the ACLU, their lawyers were rebuffed and told that trying the case would expose state secrets.

We readily accept that any form of retribution against a fascist or militaristic government in such a case would be a lost cause, but one would have hoped that in a country that professes to be an icon of freedom, cases such as this would warrant people being up in arms about what had happened. One would imagine that Justice would come down hard on the side of the plaintiff. In a country where you can be awarded eight million dollars in compensation for burning yourself with coffee from McDonalds, one would imagine that there would be some sort of ‘making good’ for the giant ‘oops’ perpetrated by representatives of that country’s Secret Services. But that is not the case as David Stout of the Washington Post reports. Masri’s case was denied by the Supreme Court:

The justices’ refusal to take the case of Khaled el-Masri let stand a March 2 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va. That court upheld a 2006 decision by a federal district judge, who dismissed Mr. Masri’s lawsuit on grounds that trying the case could expose state secrets.

There is now nothing this country cannot do to you, which you would be entitled to protest against. In this era of Angst and bedwetting conservatives, this permanent state of fear experienced by the most bigoted amongst us, a man may lose everything including his dignity and he cannot demand that the perpetrators be punished; because now, in today’s Neoconservative America, state secrets are more important than freedom.

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