Secrecy defense prevails in torture case

Click here: latimes.com – Secrecy defense prevails in torture case

In a victory for the Bush administration and its use of the “state secrets” defense, the Supreme Court refused Tuesday to hear a lawsuit from a German car salesman who said he was wrongly abducted, imprisoned and tortured by the CIA in a case of mistaken identity…Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the so-called state secrecy privilege has been invoked regularly to bar judges or juries from hearing claims of those who say they were beaten, abused or spied upon by the government during its war on terrorism. Administration lawyers have argued successfully that hearing such claims in open court would reveal national security secrets.

…El-Masri was on vacation in the Balkans in 2003 when he was stopped at a border crossing in Macedonia and his passport was taken. He said he was questioned intensely and accused of associating with Islamic radicals.According to his complaint, he was then blindfolded, taken to an airport and stripped of his clothes by a team of masked men. He said they drugged him and chained him inside an airplane, and he was flown to Afghanistan, where he was held in a CIA-run prison for five months.Only then did intelligence agents conclude they had the wrong man. He was not Khalid al-Masri, a wanted terrorist and a member of Al Qaeda’s Hamburg cell that organized the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.American officials did not apologize to El-Masri for the mistake or return him to his home. Instead, he was dropped from a truck on a hillside in Albania. From there, he returned to Germany and contacted a lawyer.

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