The Grand Failure of Democrats in 2004

October 9, 2007 at 3:52 pm | Posted in American politics, Democrats, secret combinations, Supreme Court, Torture | 4 Comments

Here we start getting to the reasons why Democrats not winning the White House in 2004 will hurt us as Americans for a good long while to come, and why hardcore conservatives weep with joy. Because decisions like these from the Supreme Court today.

A German citizen who said he was kidnapped by the Central Intelligence Agency and tortured in a prison in Afghanistan lost his last chance to seek redress in court today when the Supreme Court declined to consider his case.

The justices’ refusal to take the case of Khaled el-Masri let stand a March 2 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va. That court upheld a 2006 decision by a federal district judge, who dismissed Mr. Masri’s lawsuit on the grounds that trying the case could expose state secrets.

The Supreme Court’s refusal, without comment, to take the case was not surprising, given that a three-judge panel for the Fourth Circuit was unanimous. Nevertheless, today’s announcement prompted immediate expressions of dismay, and it could exacerbate tensions between the United States and Germany.

The Fourth Circuit acknowledged the seriousness of the issues when it dismissed Mr. Masri’s suit. “We recognize the gravity of our conclusions that el-Masri must be denied a judicial forum for his complaint,” Judge Robert B. King wrote in March. “The inquiry is a difficult one, for it pits the judiciary’s search for truth against the executive’s duty to maintain the nation’s security.”

The ordeal of Mr. Masri, who is of Lebanese descent and was apparently the victim of mistaken identity, was the most extensively documented case of the C.I.A.’s controversial practice of “extraordinary rendition,” in which terrorism suspects are abducted and sent for interrogation to other countries, including some in which torture is practiced.

The episode has already caused hard feelings between the United States and Germany, whose diplomatic ties were already frayed because of differences over the war in Iraq. Mr. Masri’s lawyer in Germany, Manfred Gnjidic, said the high court’s refusal to consider the case sends a message that the United States expects other nations to act responsibly but refuses to take responsibility for its own actions.

“We are very disappointed,” Mr. Gnjidic said in an interview today with The Associated Press. “It will shatter all trust in the American justice system.”

Indeed it will. So sad.

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