Torture & Extraordinary Rendition Flights Are a State Secret
"Al-Masri’s private interests must give way to the national interest in preserving state secrets," U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis
In May, a German’s civil lawsuit against the CIA, former CIA director George Tenet and several private firms was thrown out by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the grounds that it could expose state secrets.
Khaled al-Masri charges that he was illegally abducted in Macedonia on New Year’s Eve 2003 and flown by the CIA to a detention center in Afghanistan. He was questioned and abused for five months in a facility dubbed "The Salt Pit" before he was dumped on a roadside in Albania. His captors discovered that he was not suspected al-Qaeda operative Khalid al-Masri, never mind the fact that they do not share the same spelling of their first names.
What makes this case troubling is that U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III tossed out al-Masri’s lawsuit after the U. S. Government intervened in the case and filed a secret brief which said the lawsuit could expose state secrets. Although Ellis made no finding on al-Masri’s claims, he ruled that the lawsuit could not move forward.
In addition, German authorities have been stonewalled by the United States in their own investigation based on al-Masri’s civil lawsuit against the CIA. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and other officials have also declined to comment on the matter.
Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union representing al-Masri filed an appeal on Monday, and rightfully so. When did the use of extraordinary rendition flights and torture become a state secret? We’re not talking about Church’s Chicken stealing Colonel Sanders’ secret recipe of eleven herbs and spices for his fried chicken. We’re talking about a German citizen in good standing whose human rights we violated on the basis of mistaken identity.
That’s why we need to push for due process for all detainees in custody and put an end to rendition flights to secret prisons in countries that support the use of torture.