A US court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a German citizen who says he was kidnapped and beaten by the CIA. Khaled el-Masri aimed to sue former CIA chief George Tenet and other officials for their alleged role in the “extraordinary rendition” programme. Mr el-Masri says he was picked up in Macedonia in 2003 and flown to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he alleges torture. The judge did not rule on the truth of the allegations, but said letting the case proceed might endanger security.
Hmmm. What’s the script for that?
“Hi. I’m a German citizen. I was kidnaped by American citizens and tortured by them at a secret CIA prison.”
“Torture is illegal under your laws. I am bringing suit in your courts.”
“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
“You might have a case, but we’re not letting you bring it.”
“National Security. You know how it is.”
“Uh, fourth amendment, dude.”
“Unreasonable search and seizure? Well, it’s wartime, you know. In such a time as this it is not meet that every nice offense should bear his comment.”
Shakespeare wrote this:
Cas. That you have wrong’d me doth appear in this:
You have condemn’d and noted Lucius Pella
For taking bribes here of the Sardians;
Wherein my letters, praying on his side,
Because I knew the man, were slighted off.
Bru. You wronged yourself to write in such a case.
Cas. In such a time as this it is not meet That every nice offence should bear his comment.
Cassius’ argument is that such things as bribery and compulsion of the citizenry to give up their rights in difficult times is normal and acceptable. But this is the man who plotted the murder of Julius Caesar, pushed for the murder of Mark Antony, and believed that the commons — the people, US — were easily duped.
Bru. Did not great Julius bleed for justice’ sake?
But Brutus, accounted even by his political enemies as the noblest Roman of them all, points out quite another tack. Have a couple of thousand American troops died in Afghanistan and Iraq for the sake of allowing the CIA to run secret prisons? Have we spent our international goodwill and currencies diplomatic, financial and economic, so that American judges can shrug off difficult cases with accusations that touch on the heart of American principles?