For a presidential administration overwhelmed by humiliating mistakes, the Khaled el-Masri debacle is one of the most mortifying. Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, was taken into custody in 2003 in a case of mistaken identity — he just happens to have a name similar to a terrorist sought by American officials.
Actually, “taken into custody” is the wrong phrase. He was abducted in Macedonia, drugged, beaten, and then flown to Afghanistan, where he faced more abuse. Five months of detention and torture later, the CIA, realizing they took the wrong man, dumped him in Albania. During those five months, Masri’s wife had no idea what had happened to him.
With help from the ACLU, Masri filed a lawsuit against the Bush administration, and the complaint described his treatment as “constituting prolonged arbitrary detention, torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.”
The Bush administration insisted that the federal courts dismiss the case, not because of the merits, but because, administration lawyers argued, to even respond to the lawsuit would require divulging state secrets. Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided not to hear Masri’s case.
Kevin has more.