Supreme Court

About That Whole "Mistakenly Torturing You" Stuff? Yeah. Tough Luck.

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Khalen Masri won't be getting his day in court.

The Supreme Court today refused to give a hearing to a German man who says he was wrongly abducted, imprisoned and tortured by the CIA in a case of mistaken identity.

Khaled Masri sued the CIA two years ago and sought damages for his five-month ordeal in a U.S.-run prison in Afghanistan.

But Bush administration prosecutors said his lawsuit should not be heard because it could expose "state secrets," and two lower courts ordered it dismissed.

He appealed to the Supreme Court and argued that the government was using the state secrets doctrine to cover up its wrongdoing.

Without explaining their reasons, the justices said today that they would not hear his appeal in Masri vs. United States.

[…]

Masri, a car salesman, was on vacation when he was taken off a bus that had crossed the border into Macedonia. His passport was confiscated, and he was questioned for more than three weeks.

In late January 2004, Masri said he was blindfolded, taken to the airport and turned over to U.S. authorities, who flew him to a prison in Afghanistan. He says he was beaten and tortured by men who wore masks and were dressed in black.

He also says U.S. authorities would not permit him to contact the German Consulate. After several months, the CIA apparently realized it had made a mistake, and Masri was returned to Europe. But rather than return him to his home in Germany, he was dropped off at night on a hillside in Albania.

This is really shameful.

And given the rather loose criteria by which the Bush administration determines what are and aren't "state secrets," the decision to let the lower rulings stand sets a rather chilling precedent.

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  1. Well, I feel safer!

  2. this is fucking infuriating – it’s exactly what all the apologists have said isn’t happening and will never happen.
    Maybe the state secret that would be revealed is that the state is a monster.

  3. Unbelievable. “The Censor should remove some justices while he’s purging Congress and the Administration,” Pro Libertate noted darkly.

  4. Dammit, this really, truly is an injustice. The lesson here, assuredly noticed by the Bush administration, is a “State Secrets” defense absolves them of all accountability. Dammit squared!

  5. If the SC allowed this to go through, it would allow everyone ‘wrongly’ tortured by the government to sue. Torturing is a necessary tool in the global war on Islamic Fundamentalism, and could also be a usefull tool in the war on drugs. It is unfortunate that some people tortured may not have deserved it, but we need to tortue suspects in order to find the Iraqi terrorists responsible for 911, so we don’t have another 911.

  6. When are we going to seriously consider Supreme Court term limits. Can’t we argue that we never considered the increasing life expectancy rates when we made them lifetime appointees?

    Also, off topic, (sort of) what is with the reverence for Stare Decisis – and how will this case impact future cases? Seems like it can’t be a good thing at all.

  7. Steven – Spoof, right?

    If not… holy crap.

  8. Steven, Your Troll Fu is weak.

  9. Masri, a car salesman,

    And you can still say with a straight face that this was unjustified?

  10. SCOTUS denied cert, they didn’t find for the government. stare decisis doesn’t come into play.

  11. Thanks Dr. K, wasn’t thinking.

  12. While the Bush administration is certainly evil for its secrecy and disdain for human rights, I somehow doubt that the next administration will do anything to repair these wrongs (despite their rhetoric). They’ll be too busy creating their own power-mongering bureacratic disasters.

  13. Dr. K

    That is not exactly true. The suepreme court has set a precident here. The CIA now know that the next 100 people they tourture because of a case of mistaken identity wont get their day in court either.

  14. These are the things that keep me calling for Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld to be tried for war crimes.

    That being said, I think this guy is the luckiest man on earth. After having already been disappeared, they eventually conceded they made a mistake and let him go. Admitting mistakes were made is rare as unicorns. Allowing a mistake to walk away still breathing, unheard of.

  15. Dont they actually vote on whether or not to hear a case? they need 4 to go right? Maybe i’m only thinking of death penalty reviews. But if there was a vote, I’d like to see how it broke down.

  16. Well, at least we can all sleep soundly, knowing that this sort of thing would NEVER happen to an American citizen.

  17. Amen to that Dave. We elect corrupt individuals and are surprised when they are only concerned about themselves and holding on to power by any means necessary.

  18. That being said, I think this guy is the luckiest man on earth. After having already been disappeared, they eventually conceded they made a mistake and let him go. Admitting mistakes were made is rare as unicorns. Allowing a mistake to walk away still breathing, unheard of.

    Perhaps there is more to this story than we have heard?

  19. Perhaps there is more to this story than we have heard?

    And without a public airing of facts there’s no way we’ll ever hear it.

  20. And without a public airing of facts there’s no way we’ll ever hear it.

    Well, his profession is almost enough for me. If i discovered that he was a humanities major the issue would be closed for me.

  21. That being said, I think this guy is the luckiest man on earth. After having already been disappeared, they eventually conceded they made a mistake and let him go. Admitting mistakes were made is rare as unicorns. Allowing a mistake to walk away still breathing, unheard of.

    Perhaps there is more to this story than we have heard?

    Yeah, really. Why wouldn’t the CIA just kill him once they realized he wasn’t the guy they were after?

    And it is entirely possible that the lawsuit was dismissed by three courts because it lacked merit.

  22. If the Bush administration isn’t going to claim state secrets, I think that’s fair. But then I also think it fair that this guy should also be granted a default judgement.

  23. And it is entirely possible that the lawsuit was dismissed by three courts because it lacked merit.

    That is not possible. The court was never presented with a merit defense only the “state secrets” duck blind.

  24. Well, his profession is almost enough for me. If i discovered that he was a humanities major the issue would be closed for me.

    Don’t many humanities majors end up as used car salesmen? Or burger flippers?

  25. So it is just “really shameful”,

    That is it?

  26. That is not possible. The court was never presented with a merit defense only the “state secrets” duck blind.

    At least in the linked article no reason is given by any of the courts for the mutliple dimissals.

  27. J sub D,

    Don’t many humanities majors end up as used car salesmen? Or burger flippers?

    Close enough, case closed! If only he had become a bartender, like 99% of all History Majors . . .

    Warren,

    That is not possible. The court was never presented with a merit defense only the “state secrets” duck blind.

    Um, every judge in this case only heard the prosecution and the defense was not allowed to present anything at all? If true this sounds odd.

  28. I mean, it sounds odd since the defense should have been the one bringing the initial case and making the appeals.

    How did the prosecution pull that one off and why did they waste the time in bringing a case they wanted dismissed?

  29. “But Bush administration prosecutors said his lawsuit should not be heard because it could expose ‘state secrets,’ and two lower courts ordered it dismissed.”

    There’s the Soviet joke about the guy who ran through the streets shouting, “Brezhnev is an idiot!” and he was arrested for revealing state secrets.

  30. I think it really depends on what kinds of cars he was selling. Just because he’s German doesn’t mean he was selling Mercedes. What if he was selling Jettas? Black ones that cut you off in traffic, driven by guys with too much mousse? Then perhaps torture was justified.

  31. How did the prosecution pull that one off and why did they waste the time in bringing a case they wanted dismissed?

    This was a civil suit. Khaled Masri was the plaintiff. That would make the CIA the defense.

    There is no “prosecution” in a civil suit.

    Khaled Masri sued the CIA two years ago and sought damages for his five-month ordeal in a U.S.-run prison in Afghanistan.

  32. So if they tortured false information out of him, would they claim that his providing false information was “providing aid to terrorists”? After all, they wasted all that time trying to follow up on leads that didn’t go anywhere.

  33. IB,

    Thank you for the correction.

    Now I ask the corrected, correct question.

    How did the respondant bring a case they wanted dismissed and how was it that only the respondant’s claims were heard and none of the plaintiff’s at any point in this process?

  34. Plus, he got a free vacation to the Albanian countryside. That ought to count for something.

  35. Then perhaps torture was justified.

    Perhaps? I believe in that case that slam dunk applies in full!

  36. Guy Montag

    That is not possible. The court was never presented with a merit defense only the “state secrets” duck blind.

    Um, every judge in this case only heard the prosecution and the defense was not allowed to present anything at all? If true this sounds odd.

    In the preliminary hearings, you present the argument that the case deserves hearing. You don’t get to present your evidence until the court agrees to hear the case. That is, no one was able to present evidence because the court refused to hear it.

    Hope that clear things up.

  37. I think what swayed the judges was when the CIA counsel said, “Well, CIA agents could testify in this case, but then we’d have to kill everyone in the courtroom.”

  38. Don’t worry, Christopher Dodd is on the case!

    Yup, we’re screwed.

  39. Just remember, we would have been worse!

  40. Khaled Masri sued the CIA two years ago and sought damages for his five-month ordeal in a U.S.-run prison in Afghanistan.

    Well, just be glad he wasn’t in a British torture camp, or they would have charged him for five months’ room and board…

  41. Torturing is a necessary tool in the global war on Islamic Fundamentalism, and could also be a usefull tool in the war on drugs.

    I agrees. Basically no one could be wrongly tortured, everyone always gets what they deserve.

  42. they would have charged him for five months’ room and board…

    That sounds like a good idea, if someone is wrongly tortured, why should the taxpayers be responsible for paying for it.

  43. Guy, so when is the Triple Canopy stuff coming out?

  44. can’t make an ommlette without breaking some legs.

  45. I’ve seen a few ads lately for a new movie where a guy is grabbed at an airport (or something) and is taken away to be tortured, while his wife tries to figure out what happened to him and nobody will tell her.

    Same case?

    If so, there will be a hot wind when the movie airs. I say “hot wind” because, let’s face it, a fire storm would take actual work and stuff…

  46. I want every goddamn hawk who said “It will never happen like that” to eat some big fucking humble pie right now.

    Eat that humble pie or we’ll keep pouring the water over your face.

  47. It’s obvious this is about as big a travesty of justice as the illegal and stupid invasion of Iraq. But just for the sake of argument, let me give the supremes and the government the benefit of the doubt. We can’t have a trial because it would reveal state secrets. OK, wouldn’t the fair outcome be that the courts treat this as a “nolo contendre” plea by the US, and give a default judgment in favor of Masri?

    I suppose that they know their decision is just too ridiculous to justify in any way, so they might as well just go whole hog and deny him anything.

  48. Apparently this Masri guy was arrested in Germany for setting fire to a market after having a dispute with the owner. Certainly no justification for abduction and torture, but it does suggest that the guy is a bit unstable.

  49. If there is evidence proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Khaled El Masri set fire to a market then let the law be applied to him.

    Certainly no justification for abduction and torture

    Exactly.

  50. Whe I first read of this, I shed a tear for Mr Masri. We should cry a river for what’s become of our government.

  51. If the founders of our republic knew about this outrage and had the power, after they quelled their revulsion, they’d have all those in the government who are responsible arrested and charged.

  52. Eat that humble pie or we’ll keep pouring the water over your face.

    thoreau, now is the time to break the cycle of violence. We don’t need more hate. We need more LOVE! Can you not love?!

  53. they’d have all those in the government who are responsible arrested and charged.

    Yep, Rick. This sort of thing actually makes me more sympathetic to law and order conservatives. I see only lawlessness here, and I want the law applied. That’s all. Let the law be applied. If the laws are just (and I think that much of what’s written on paper as law is still just) then the application of the law will be enough. I don’t want any laws broken. I don’t want revolution. I don’t want unrest. I just want the law applied. That will be enough.

  54. thoreau,

    I agree. And speaking of law, I understand that arrest warrants have been issued in Germany for the 13 CIA goons who committed this shameful outrage.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,463385,00.html

  55. Guy, so when is the Triple Canopy stuff coming out?

    You must be confusing me with the member of some conspiracy that I don’t know about.

  56. Guy, so when is the Triple Canopy stuff coming out?

    You must be confusing me with the member of some conspiracy that I don’t know about.

    5 months of torture should sort this out. Guy, if you find yourself on an Albanian hillside, you can consider that Dave’s apology.

  57. How about trying the case in front of the FISA court?

    No state secrets revealed there.

  58. Six and a half years of Bush, this is what I’m reduced to: asking if, when our government torturers get the wrong guy, pretty please can he bring a civil suit in a secret court known for being incredibly deferential to the state security system?

    9:22 and I need a drink already.

  59. “Its your police state, I’m just trying to survive in it.”?

  60. pistoffnick wrote:

    “Its your police state, I’m just trying to survive in it.”?

    You’re wrong.

    This is the liberal west

    This is the enlightened west

    You know the US government will keep kidnaping people, torturing them, ruin their lives and walk away from it…you know why? because its victims are Muslims.

    Just look the amount of protest or outrage this event generated in this very magazine that has contantly attempted to demonize Muslims and often spread falsehood and common stereotypes against Muslims (of course Muslims don’t write much for this Magazine but that’s OK).

    This magazine should really be called “Reason for the Fascist”.

    Reason and common sense have nothing to do anymore with the extremist and hostile views that are published by this magazine of hate.

    Before 9/11, I used to buy and read this magazine but after that, It just became too unconfortable for me to read. It was thier oportunity to show common sense and use reason but it became like a polished Ann Coulter with a good slogan.

  61. From the Washington Times article:

    “Since 2001, [the Bush Administration] has used the state-secrets privilege 39 times – compared with six by U.S. presidents between 1953 and 1976, at the height of the Cold War.”

  62. This magazine should really be called “Reason for the Fascist”.

    when did reason endorse this kind of “extraordinary rendition” bullshit?

  63. Guy, so when is the Triple Canopy stuff coming out?

    You must be confusing me with the member of some conspiracy that I don’t know about.

    Are there two Guy Montags here?

    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/122571.html#787732

  64. dhex,
    I think he is talking about the Michael Young articles claiming the war for freedom in Iraq was a good, noble idea and it is just a sad error in judgement on the behalf of the neo-con/Warocrats…however, “since we are there now” we might as well kill all the muslims.

  65. Dave Woycechowsky ,

    “Are there two Guy Montags here?”

    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/122571.html#787732

    Also, stay tuned for Triple Canopy to get into big trouble soon. I do not have any specific info on that looming, but they hire the same sort of trigger-happy cowboys that Blackwater hires.

    No, just the same one who did not have any details before and I still don’t.

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