I’d Sing About Rocket Launchers But They Could Torture Me in Afghanistan If I Did

Question: How do you transform a robust democracy from being a beacon of human rights to just another — as Bruce Cockburn put it — “stinking torture state?” From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 — A German citizen who said he was kidnapped by the Central Intelligence Agency and tortured in a prison in Afghanistan lost his last chance to seek redress in court today when the Supreme Court declined to consider his case.

The justices’ refusal to take the case of Khaled el-Masri let stand a March 2 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va. That court upheld a 2006 decision by a federal district judge, who dismissed Mr. Masri’s lawsuit on grounds that trying the case could expose state secrets.

Answer: Tell ’em everything’s a seeeeecret. SShhhhhhhhhhh…

The Supreme Court’s refusal, without comment, to take the case was not surprising, given that a three-judge panel for the Fourth Circuit was unanimous. Nevertheless, today’s announcement prompted immediate expressions of dismay, and it could exacerbate tensions between the United States and Germany.

And the powers that be in the USA care about that because? Oh, never mind.

The Fourth Circuit acknowledged the seriousness of the issues when it dismissed Mr. Masri’s suit. “We recognize the gravity of our conclusions that el-Masri must be denied a judicial forum for his complaint,” Judge Robert B. King wrote in March. “The inquiry is a difficult one, for it pits the judiciary’s search for truth against the executive’s duty to maintain the nation’s security.”

National Security State — 1
Truth — 0

UPDATE– The NY Times has a good editorial on the general issue of torture today.

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