Lawsuit Over Extraordinary Rendition

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Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen, has filed a lawsuit against former CIA Director, George Tenet, over his “extraordinary rendition” between December 31, 2003 and May 28, 2004. El-Masrim alleges that he was kidnapped in Macedonia and brought to Afghanistan, where for five months he was held incommunicado without being formally charged in an American detention facility, where officials beat, drugged, and sexually abused him.

He writes, in his statement to the American Civil Liberties Union, that after a hunger strike of 27 days:

I pleaded with them to either release me or bring me to court, but the American prison director replied that he could not release me without permission from Washington, but said that I should not be detained in the prison.

The lawsuit charges that the CIA had realized it had abducted the wrong man under extreme conditions of illegal “extraordinary rendition” practices and that Tenet was informed of the mistake, but despite this the CIA continued holding El-Masrim for two more months.

Though he was released without charges—as he describes, dropped off on a Macedonian hillside with a warning to keep the involvement of his American captors a secret—he was still unable to enter the US this week. Visiting for the public announcement of his lawsuit, he arrived at the Atlanta airport last Saturday only to be refused admittance and sent back to Germany.

The Department of Justice is reviewing the allegations, filed as El-Masri v. Tenet.

While the Justice Department is at it, it might as well review the autopsies of 44 detainees who died in US custody, compiled by the ACLU—comprising a gruesome list of physical evidence of abuse, and suggest consistent tactics at various detention facilities, including in Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and Baghdad. Although, in its infamous August 2002 memo, the Justice Department indicated that it would not consider as torture interrogation methods just short of “organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death,” the marks from the autopsies indicate the government has crossed even that “loose” definition of torture.


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