I see a lot of posts on this forum from people who say that all terrorists should be tortured, or receive a "bullet in the gut" (that particular
poster said it should happen after
the presumed terrorist being flown home, which shows the level of logic brought to bear on the subject).
They're all guilty
and should therefore suffer, is the argument.
Well, of course, life is a little more complex than such people would have us believe, and we're finding out, in the teeth of some serious commitment
to secrecy on the part of the US government, what happens to innocent people caught up in the War on Terror. In
we see that
Khaled al-Masri was detained in a case of mistaken identity, shipped off to Afghanistan, tortured in a secret prison there, and held for an extra
after it was discovered he wasn't the man the US was looking for in the first place.
He said he was then flown to Afghanistan where he was "dragged off the plane and thrown into the trunk of a car" and beaten by his captors. He
was held at a CIA-run facility known as the "Salt Pit," an abandoned brick factory north of the Kabul business district used for detention of
high-level terror suspects, al-Masri says.
Al-Masri said that when he became ill, "they didn't pay any attention." He said he went on a hunger strike that ended after 37 days when his
captors force-fed him. He said he had lost more than 60 pounds.
Now al-Masri is trying to sue the CIA for what they did to him. Lawyers for the CIA are trying, obviously, to stop the case. Their reasons? Good
old national security
. What a wonderful catch-all that phrase is. Never needs qualifying. We can't tell you what
we can't tell you
we can't tell you what we can't tell you, for "reasons of national security".
U.S. Attorney R. Joseph Sher said government secrets could be exposed if Khaled al-Masri were allowed to proceed with his lawsuit.
"Disclosure of information in the case would jeopardize national security," Sher said during a hearing in which he asked the judge to dismiss the
Citing the harm he said public disclosure of any information regarding the case could do, Sher said, "We cannot and will not confirm or deny the
allegations or diplomatic contact with foreign governments."
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis said he will issue a ruling as soon as possible on whether the case will proceed.
But the details of the case have already been made public
, a point made by the ACLU.
I'd like to see how Judge Ellis negotiates this thorny problem. I suspect he'll have to ignore some very obvious and salient points rather
pointedly in order to produce a verdict suitable to the power structure.
Al-Masri is, of course, just one innocent among many illegally detained on the flimsiest of evidence and then tortured by the US. We have the fact
that 141 people were recently released from Guantanamo
, for a start, but the truth
is, we don't know how many people are "off the books". The internationa Red Cross has been
refused access to those held in secret detention centres
, no doubt for "reasons
of national security" (which obviously depends on the ability of the US to "disappear" people at will).
It seems that for every genuine "terrorist" detained and tortured by the US, several innocents are being given similarly inhumane treatment.
I wish someone would declare a War on Incompetence
No, wait! BAD IDEA. War on Drugs = "let's cut out the competition so we can deal drugs ourselves": War on Terror = "let's unleash state terror
around the world"; War on Incompetence... I'm sure you can fill in the blank yourselves.