NEW YORK, NY - October 9 – The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) today criticized the unanimous decision by the Supreme Court not to hear the case of Khaled El-Masri, the German citizen illegally picked up by the CIA as part of the government's program of "extraordinary rendition" and sent to be tortured in a case of mistaken identity. The government claimed that trying the case would endanger national security, and the ACLU sought to challenge their assertion of the so-called state secrets privilege.
CCR represents Canadian rendition victim Maher Arar in a case due to have oral arguments before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on November 9. The state secrets issue is not currently before the Second Circuit, and CCR attorneys believe today's decision by the Court will not affect Mr. Arar's case. Although the privilege may still be an obstacle if Mr. Arar's case proceeds, the state secrets assertion in his case seeks to protect the reasons U.S. officials sent him to Syria instead of Canada, not whether they were even involved in his rendition, as in Mr. El-Masri's case.
"More than any government in our history, this administration has hidden behind the state secrets privilege to avoid being held accountable for breaking the law," said CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren. "Khaled El-Masri, has been denied justice. Soon we will see if this truly is a country that sends innocent men to be tortured and then sweeps its mess under the carpet or whether we will at least grant Maher Arar some small measure of justice for what he endured."
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is a non-profit legal
and educational organization dedicated to protecting and advancing
the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil
rights demonstrators in the South, CCR is committed to the creative
use of law as a positive force for social change."