The Los Angeles Times has amazing details of the ordeal suffered by the German man our government disappeared to the “salt pit” in Afghanistan, and who won’t get his day in U.S. court — thanks to the Supreme Courts’ shocking endorsement of the Bush administration’s “state secrets” doctrine:
El-Masri, a car salesman and a father of four, says his ordeal began on New Year’s Eve 2003 when he was pulled off a bus after it crossed the Serbian border into Macedonia. His passport was taken, and he was questioned for days by agents who said he was a terrorist. They refused his request to contact German authorities.
After 23 days, he was blindfolded, taken to the airport and turned over to U.S. authorities…. “I was led into a room. The door closed behind me and I was beaten from all sides for about one minute. They bent my arms to my back and cut off my clothes…. I saw seven to eight men all dressed in black and wearing masks…. They put me in diapers and a dark blue sweatsuit with the legs and sleeves cut out.”
His appeal to the court says he was then put in a plane, “chained spread-eagle to the floor,” injected with drugs and flown to Baghdad and then on to Kabul, Afghanistan. He spent the next four months in a CIA-run prison, the appeal says.
In late May 2004, U.S. officials had apparently concluded they had the wrong man. El-Masri was loaded onto a plane, blindfolded, put into the back of truck and dropped off on a hillside in what turned out to be Albania. From there, he made it back to Germany, where an investigation was launched.
When I was a kid, growing up in the waning days of the Cold War, we were Americans, the good guys, exactly because we’d never condone an act like this. Now our government is hiding behind the cover of “state secrets” to avoid making reparations to a man we put through five months of hell. Just another day in the Bush Era.