Last week the Supreme Court of the United States of America refused
to hear my case. This eliminates any remaining hope for me of obtaining
justice through the U.S. judicial system against US officials who sent
me to Syria to be tortured.
Let me emphasize the fact that my case is not an isolated one. My
case is unique in the sense that I was the only person who was rendered
from US soil. But hundreds of other human beings have been rendered by
the CIA and handed over to brutal regimes. No one knows how many of
these people have died under torture or completely disappeared. Those of
us who were lucky "survived" and were released, but now live with
psychological and physical scars.
In times of turmoil and crisis, such as the ones we have been living
since 9/11, the judicial system is supposed to do exactly the opposite
of what it has done: it is supposed to stand up to the executive branch
and make sure the constitution is respected. Unfortunately, the
judicial system has abandoned its sacred role of ensuring that no one is
above the law. In doing so it has given the executive branch the green
light to continue abusing people's basic human rights. As a result of
this willful blindness, it has put the world's peace and order in
A lot of people had high hopes when Obama took his oath to uphold the
Constitution. It later became clear that his administration was no
better than that of his predecessor. Here we are, 18 months after he
took office, and Guantanamo is still open, renditions are still being
carried out and illegal assassinations by drone planes have increased
tenfold. This latter tactic has claimed the lives of hundreds of
innocent civilians so far. One can only wonder what is next in the
so-called "war on terror."
What is the solution to this state of lawlessness that the world is
experiencing today? In my opinion, the judicial system can, and should,
exercise its full powers. American Judges should learn lessons from
their Italian counterparts, who did not listen to their political
masters when it came to laying charges against the CIA officers who
illegally kidnapped an Egyptian cleric on Italian soil and rendered him
to torture in Egypt.
The RCMP, the Canadian federal police force, has launched a criminal
investigation into my case. They have been collecting evidence with the
view to charge those Syrian and American officials who were responsible
for my torture. Whether charges will be brought against these officials
will be something I and other human rights advocates will be watching
History has taught us that civilizations prosper when they make sure
that justice prevails. Those civilizations that forgot this important
lesson saw their might vanish in the eyes of people. I have no choice
but to agree with Benjamin Franklin, who once wrote, "Those who would
give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve
neither Liberty nor Safety."
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