Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Supreme Court, Torture, and Secrets

If you were not scared of what the government could do to you and get away with it, there's a new dodge in town - it's called states secrets privilege. Exactly right, the government, according to the Supreme Court can kidnap someone and have them detained and tortured and there's no civil remedy if the Administration asserts that it is a state's secret involved. Apparently kidnapping and torture aren't bad enough, they also managed to get the wrong guy.

Kahled al-Masra, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, was kidnapped in Macedonia and taken to Afghanistan by the US were he was tortured. He was held for five months and then released in Albania after apparently having been mistaken for someone with a similar name. He sued the government and lost today in the Supreme Court on the basis of the state's secrets doctrine established in 1953 to keep lawyers for survivors of three civilians killed in a secret plane test from getting the official accident report which contained design elements. What the specific design elements of an airplane not being handed out has to do with kidnapping and torturing a guy seems to miss a whole bunch of legal observers. Me too.

What this really seems to say is that the government can do just exactly as it wishes to you and walk away scott free as long as it says the magic words - secret secret secret. Makes you wonder about a few things, like pursuing redress of grievances. You see my real problem with this kind of crap is that by making the government legally unaccountable you encourage an account taking of another sort. There are people who if treated in this fashion wouldn't take "tough" for an answer, they might decide they wanted just a bit more. I can assure you that in my case ever letting me go would not be particularly smart. Very much not smart. You make your own call.

5 comments:

Fred said...

I believe the Supremes didn't actually rule against the fellow, they just wouldn't give him a hearing. I suppose some would say it's the same thing and perhaps they're right. Still, amazing the Supremes wouldn't take a look at such an important issue.

The Crater Lake Hermit said...

Ah! This is the best of times for the hopes of American Fascists as I point out in my post at http://knotmyline.wordpress.com/2007/10/11/it-looks-like-history-is-repeating-itself.

KISS said...

"What this really seems to say is that the government can do just exactly as it wishes to you and walk away scott free as long as it says the magic words - secret secret secret"

Hell to awake to the facts of life.

Chuck Butcher said...

No, the fact of life are that the reaction to such behavior is that since it is only based on force it can only be met with force. That is the road to chaos. You replace rule of law with rule of bullets, not a good trade.

Zak J. said...

We're not looking real good around the world right now, except of course for winning the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday. Amazing the extremes we can produce in this country.