“You are in a country with no laws,” rendition victim Khaled El-Masri was told by his U.S. captors in the Kabul prison known as the Salt Pit. He was kidnapped and abused by the CIA, and held in inhuman conditions for some five months. He was never allowed to contact his family, a lawyer, or representatives of his country of citizenship (Germany). He was never charged with a crime or brought before a judge. When the CIA finally recognized it had an innocent man, he was dumped on a roadside in rural Albania, without explanation or apology. The U.S. has yet to acknowledge its role in his ordeal.
Such treatment should shock the conscience of any nation governed by the rule of law. But U.S. courts, all the way to the Supreme Court, have refused to give Khaled El-Masri a chance to tell his story and receive justice. His case was thrown out under the “state secrets” doctrine—essentially telling El-Masri and other rendition victims that whatever U.S. government agents do in the name of the “war on terror” may be entirely outside the reach of the law. Even if that means handing someone over to foreign torturers for proxy interrogation, which was the fate of Binyam Mohamed, the other rendition victim featured in this video. (Mohamed was recently released from the Guantanamo prison, also without redress or apology.)
By taking Khaled El-Masri’s case to the European Court of Human Rights, the Open Society Justice Initiative is seeking to ensure that his rights, and his humanity, are finally vindicated. It is time that the Obama Administration act to remedy the terrible injustice done to him. It should start by owning up to the truth.