4th Circuit Dismisses Suit By CIA Ghost Air Victim
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed the lawsuit by wrongly kidnapped and detained (and allegedly tortured) Khaled El-Masri. The opinion is here.
The ACLU may appeal to the Supreme Court. In a statement today, the ACLU says:
You can read much more about his case on their website here.
Although El-Masri’s case has been discussed and investigated throughout the world, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that it could not be either discussed or reviewed in an American court because of the government’s invocation of the “state secrets” privilege.
“Regrettably, today’s decision allows CIA officials to disregard the law with impunity by making it virtually impossible to challenge their actions in court,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “With today’s ruling, the state secrets doctrine has become a shield that covers even the most blatant abuses of power.”
The lawsuit charges that former CIA Director George Tenet violated U.S. and universal human rights laws when he authorized agents to abduct Mr. El-Masri, beat him, drug him, and transport him to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan. The corporations that owned and operated the airplanes used to transport Mr. El-Masri are also named in the case. The CIA continued to hold Mr. El-Masri incommunicado in the notorious "Salt Pit" prison in Afghanistan long after his innocence was known. Five months after his abduction, Mr. El-Masri was deposited at night, without explanation, on a hill in Albania.
A judge dismissed the case in May 2006 after the government intervened, arguing that allowing the case to proceed would jeopardize state secrets. The ACLU appealed the dismissal in November 2006. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has now ruled, upholding the earlier decision that denies El-Masri a hearing in the United States. The ACLU is considering bringing the case to the Supreme Court.
The United States government has yet to acknowledge its unlawful abduction and mistreatment of Mr. El-Masri. No U.S. official has been held accountable for violating Mr. El-Masri's well-established rights to due process and fair treatment and the Fourth Circuit decision makes it virtually impossible to challenge the government in court.
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