Saturday, March 03, 2007

"The strength and power of justice"


Khaled El-Masri, German citizen. Former prisoner of the U.S. "rendition" system.

This op-ed may have been massaged for Mr. El-Masri by someone in the ACLU press office, but nonetheless we need to read it. In my experience their media folks are very respectful of the views of their clients. Usually no one else has been.

ON NEW YEAR'S EVE in 2003, I was seized at the border of Serbia and Macedonia by Macedonian police who mistakenly believed that I was traveling on a false German passport. I was detained incommunicado for more than three weeks. Then I was handed over to the American Central Intelligence Agency and was stripped, severely beaten, shackled, dressed in a diaper, injected with drugs, chained to the floor of a plane and flown to Afghanistan, where I was imprisoned in a foul dungeon for more than four months.

Long after the American government realized that I was an entirely innocent man, I was blindfolded, put back on a plane, flown to Europe and left on a hilltop in Albania — without any explanation or apology for the nightmare that I had endured. ...

My story is well known. It has been described in literally hundreds of newspaper articles and television news programs — many of them relying on sources within the U.S. government. ...

Why, then, does the American government insist that my ordeal is a state secret? This is something beyond my comprehension. ... I brought the lawsuit because I want to know why America harmed me. I don't understand why the strongest nation on Earth believes that acknowledging a mistake will threaten its security. ...

During my visit in November, many Americans offered me their personal apologies for the brutality that had been perpetrated against me in their name. I saw in their faces the true America, an America that is not held captive by fear of unknown enemies and that understands the strength and power of justice.

Los Angeles Times, March 2, 2007

Sadly, he probably believes more in U.S. justice than most of here on the homefront do these days. People of goodwill run from one extrajudicial atrocity to the next, protesting, weakly, that this wasn't want we meant to be about. Our rulers stride blithely ahead, trampling law and justice.

El-Masri's lawsuit was just thrown out of a U.S. court. The judge bought the government's argument that to allow him his day in court would risk revealing "state secrets."

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