Huffington Post, 13 December 2012
PARIS — A European court issued a landmark ruling Thursday that condemned the CIA's “extraordinary renditions” programs and bolstered those who say they were illegally kidnapped and tortured as part of an overzealous war on terrorism.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that a German car salesman was an innocent victim of torture and abuse, in a long-awaited victory for a man who had failed for years to get courts in the U.S. and Europe to acknowledge what happened to him.
Khaled El-Masri says he was kidnapped from Macedonia in 2003, mistaken for a terrorism suspect, then held for four months and brutally interrogated at an Afghan prison known as the “Salt Pit” run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. He says that once U.S. authorities realized he was not a threat, they illegally sent him to Albania and left him on a mountainside.
The European court, based in Strasbourg, France, ruled that El-Masri's account was “established beyond reasonable doubt” and that Macedonia “had been responsible for his torture and ill-treatment both in the country itself and after his transfer to the U.S. authorities in the context of an extra-judicial rendition.”
It said the government of Macedonia violated El-Masri's rights repeatedly and ordered it to pay (EURO)60,000 ($78,500) in damages. Macedonia's Justice Ministry said it would enforce the court ruling and pay El-Masri the damages.
U.S. officials closed internal investigations into the El-Masri case two years ago, and the administration of President Barack Obama has distanced itself from some counterterrorism activities conducted under former President George W. Bush.
But several other legal cases are pending from Britain to Hong Kong involving people who say they were illegally detained in the CIA program. Its critics hope that Thursday's ruling will lead to court victories for other rendition victims and prevent future abuses.
Phi Beta Iota: Mike Morrell is in over his head (nor are any on the short list capable either). None of them has any idea how to handle a clandestine service that is both out of control and so totally unprofessional as to warrant closing it down. Indeed, it would seem to any professional observer that CIA has so much baggage across the board that the time may have come to disestablish the CIA at the same time that the NRO is disestablished. This can be done humanely. The National Security Act of 1992 was flawed but well-intentioned. We are long overdue for a complete overhaul of how the USG “does” intelligence, but in the interim, CIA should be avoided like the plague, and life boats launched within the individual Cabinet departments and their components. Intelligence with integrity, anyone?