Monday, May 22, 2006

An Extraordinary Rendition

Extraordinary rendition as a term actually sounds fairly quaint. However, you will see that the government's policy of rendition is in a class all by itself and can hardly be considered benign. Have you ever heard of a man named Khaled El-Masri? If your answer is no, you can be sure that there is a very good reason. Mr. El-Masri is a Kuwaiti born, German citizen. Born in 1963 to Lebanese parents, Mr. El-Masri is a loving husband and father of five. In Germany Mr. El-Masri is a carpenter by trade, but had been working as a car salesman near Neu Ulm. For those who don't know, here's the abbreviated scoop on Mr. El-Masri:

On December 31, 2003, Khaled El-Masri was traveling to Skopje, Macedonia for a holiday. Upon entering Macedonia, El-Masri was detained at the behest of the U.S. government by Macedonian officials, his passport confiscated and he was forcibly taken to a nearby hotel. He remained in that hotel for 23 days. During that time he was never permitted to leave the room as he was continually interrogated about his associates, his mosque, his activities and about meetings that never took place. On the 23rd day, a group of Macedonian men entered the room and forced him to make a video. He was instructed to state that had been treated well and would be flying back to Germany soon. He was then handcuffed, blindfolded and placed into a car. He was taken to a place near the local airport, brutally beaten, stripped of his clothes and forcibly sodomized with a foreign object. The men placed a diaper on El-Masri and clothed him in a jumpsuit, before drugging him and flying him to Afghanistan. There he was held in a notoriously brutal CIA run prison known as the "Salt Pit" where he suffered continual beatings to the head, the soles of his feet and the small of his back. He was held in a small, dank cell without a bed and only a small bottle of putrid water to sustain him. He remained in solitary confinement for 4 months! During this time he was photographed and fingerprinted. Blood and urine samples were forcibly drawn while his requests to meet with German Government officials ignored. El-Masri engaged in a hunger strike for 37 days until a tube was forced down his throat and he was force-fed. He was finally able to meet with two of his American captors, one identified as the prison director, while the other held a higher rank. He was warned that as a condition of his release, he was never to speak of what happened to him. On May 28, 2004, El-Masri was pulled from his cell, blindfolded, handcuffed and placed into a waiting car. He was flown to Albania, where his possessions were returned and he was released.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia recently denied El-Masri access to legal justice, because according to the court, the simple fact of holding the proceedings would jeopardize state secrets. What! In his opinion, Judge T.S. Ellis III held that the CIA properly invoked the state secrets defense to dismiss El-Masri's lawsuit. The court acknowledged that, "if El-Masri's allegations are true or essentially true, then all fair minded people, including those who believe that state secrets must be protected and that this lawsuit cannot proceed, and that renditions are a necessary step to take in this war, must also agree that El-Masri has suffered injuries as a result of our country's mistake and deserves a remedy." Unbelievable! The CIA actions violated U.S. Federal law, International law, and universal human rights when they abducted El-Masri, beat him, humiliated him, sodomized him with a foreign object, drugged him and transported him to a secret prison in Afghanistan. Five months later, he was transported to Albania and deposited on a remote hilltop without explanation or charges ever being filed. This court essentially gave the government a green light to continue their horrific and illegal practices without fear of reprisal. The courts decision essentially shields the CIA and other government officials from scrutiny or accountability. The man was kidnapped and held against his will, sodomized and tortured for 5 months, and the government denies El-Masri his day in court on the grounds that the administration can't disclose facts of a case that the rest of the world already knows. Ask yourself why you haven't heard about this? Ask yourself why you don't know about Mr. El-Masri? I wonder incredulously how our government can criticize other nations such as China, North Korea, Iraq or Iran, when it grossly violates human rights in this illegal and heinous manner. Our government is allowing these abuses to take place in the name of freedom and liberty...are you kidding me? These acts of barbarism are unconscionable and this administration must be held accountable. As you ponder this, I have a question for you. Do you feel that the odds are greater that you will be effected by an act of terrorisim on American soil, or that your civil rights will be violated in some way by your own government? I know my answer, what's yours?
Think about it....We really need to think about it.

1 comment:

elendil said...

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and a few other NGOs, have designated June Torture Awareness Month. I've created a blogroll you can join if you're interested. You can find it here. The idea is that everyone is linked to from the blogroll, and in exchange, you discuss torture (as you already do), and link to the Torture Awareness site to help support the NGOs.

There's a lot of bloggers concerned about human rights abuse in the War on Terror. If we coordinate, we can show our support and help Amnesty and HRW make Torture Awareness Month a success!