Wednesday, January 31, 2007

German Court Issues Warrants for CIA Agents

Required for Con Law and Internship Students (Read WP Report)
The Washington Post reported that : "Prosecutors in the southern German city of Munich today obtained warrants for 13 CIA agents they say were involved in the kidnapping of a German citizen, Khaled el Masri." The article explained that:
The 13 C.I.A. agents have been charged with kidnapping and inflicting bodily harm on Mr. el Masri, who was abducted in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia in December 2003. He has charged that he was drugged, beaten and then flown by the C.I.A. to a detention center in Afghanistan. Mr. Masri says he was held there for five months before the American government flew him to Albania and left him there.
El Masri is also suing the United States and the private companies assisting the CIA with transportation in its extraordinary rendition program in U.S. Federal Court. See the latest decision in the case here. More from the BBC.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

hmm I have a feeling that Dr. Davis probably doesn't like the court's decision in this case. But I agree with the court's decsion, and also the fact that you can never be too safe when it comes to the safty of our country.

I like this new blogging tool btw.

Anonymous said...

dr. davis, where can we find the class/lecture outlines that you mentioned?

Professor Davis said...

Actually, I agree with the German court's action here - but I'm glad to keep you guessing!

Professor Davis said...

I'll post lecture outlines on my webpage after we finish a section - e.g. the Judicial Review section. The links will appear on the main page of my website in the center frame where I list case assignments.

Propagandhi said...

I am willing to accept that the Juidicial branch is not the correct place to offer remedy to the alleged victim but I do think that if his claims are true he deserves it.

I also support Germany obtaining warrants for the arrest of U.S. citizens. I do not hesistate to think for even a moment that if Canada, Spain or any other country were to arrest one of our citizens and treat him in this manner that we would not follow the same action.

We cant' continue to act under the umbrella of American exceptionalism.

Today it is a German citizen, the other day it was a Candian citizen, tomorrow it is you or me.

I want to protect our nation but I want to protect a nation I can be proud of.

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Benjamin Franklin.

Shane Spencer said...

To the first anonymous post, why is torture justifiable - does it really increase the safety of our country?

Discarding the issue of whether torture is morally acceptable, we come to one question: does it work? Perhaps if torture works and makes us safer, we should condone it in our legal system. But I've yet to see any evidence or any study that counterbalances tens of studies and accounts that suggest that torture does not work. In fact, we may be decreasing the safety of our country when we make innocent victims of other countries' citizens by detaining them and torturing them without charge or trial - we give people an excuse to suggest that we don't follow international law, so why should they?

I'm not a judge or a lawyer so I can accept that by following existing U.S. law the U.S. Court was right in its decision to throw out the case, but that doesn't mean I don't question the laws that they base their ruling on. We seem to have double standards for what is acceptable for Americans and American law enforcement to do and what is acceptable for other countries and their agents and citizens to do.

Eytan said...

Torturing works. That's the truth. People can only take so much until they begin to talk, and if they know something about something that is harmful to this country, they'll reveal it and someone's life somewhere is saved, maybe. I'm sure a lot is discovered in these interrogations that we don't know about. Now I have sympathy for the man who was grabbed and tortured, but have no doubt the general process is necessary. And these studies you refer to that "suggest that torture does not work", where are these studies? And what exactly do you mean?

I have a question for Professor Davis as well. If you agree with the German Courts decision, does that mean that you disagree with the US court's decision to discard the case, and if so, why do you think the US court made such a ruling?

Propagandhi said...

Eytan, you ask where are the reports that say torture doesn't work and in your very first sentence you state that is does unequivicably works. Where is your proof?

That being said there is a strong debate on both sides as to the pragmatic efficacy of torture.

The general argument for those in favor of torture is that the "ticking timebomb" theory that the information could save the day. The argument goes that if we lose one person and we get the information and it saves Washington, D.C., or it saves New York City or Chicago, it's well worth it.

But the likelihood of that happening seems so slim I think it's almost impossible.

On the otherside of the debate you get people that claim that a tortured man will tell you anything to make you stop regardless of its truthfulness which would mean that it doesn't work.

The second concern usually points to concern of revenge or blowback. Fueling the fire of hatred. The fear is that when we adopt a theory of aggressive interrogation techniques, do we expect to be operating in a vacuum? There will be pushback, and we have to expect that. And that's another reason why we have to be wary of extradition and torture or "torture lite" - it's the revenge -- because when revenge gets taken, who's going to get hurt? You, me, the public and our military forces overseas.

We are ultimately fighting for the hearts and minds of millions of people who really don't understand who we are, but they look to us for an example. Is torture the example we want to give?

That being said, I would rather take the chance of being killed in an unknown terrorist attack then lose my honor and dignity as a human being by torturing someone else on the off chance that it might save my own life.

shane spencer said...

A concise discussion -
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A2302-2005Jan11.html

Also,--
Amnesty International (an admittedly biased source) quotes an outside source, a San Diego newspaper/university professor:
"[The ticking bomb scenario] falls apart upon careful scrutiny. It assumes that law enforcement has the right person in custody. That is, the suspect knows where the bomb is and when it is scheduled to detonate. What if there is only a 50 percent chance that the suspect knows the information? What if this number is only 10 percent? Second, it assumes that torture will be effective in gaining access to the critical information. In fact, however, torture is notoriously unreliable. What if there is only a 60 percent chance that the suspect will reveal accurate information? How about 20 percent? How low are we willing to go? How should we make the decision whether to torture? How many people must be endangered before the torture option can be considered?"

It doesn't help the pro-torture case that all this kind of behavior is illegal under international law.

Also, even FBI agents disagree with military torture tactics:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A14936-2004Dec20.html

It just seems to me that a top-down encouragement of anger and aggression has forced some of our military and other operatives into using techniques that by experience proved ineffective throughout the 20th century and even before that. The military and other agencies know what they are doing, and the administration should trust them to make good decisions instead of encouraging unproven methods.

And even if torture remains just that - unproven effective, rather than disproved effective - I agree with the poster above and would rather risk my life than play around with something so dangerous that so quickly puts our country on the moral low-ground with our enemies. My opinion is that I'm safer when we're not instigating conflict. I don't consider torture a defensive tactic. My guess is that it infuriates our enemies when we are hypocritical and practice torture even as we call our enemies cruel. I'd surely rather act without hypocrisy and take my chances.

shane spencer said...

I apologize, I don't use blogger and didn't realize my links wouldn't work. These should work if copy/pasted together.

1)http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/
A2302-2005Jan11.html

2)http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/
A14936-2004Dec20.html

Eytan said...

Propaghandi,
I’ll deal with your last point first. You say that…

“I would rather take the chance of being killed in an unknown terrorist attack then lose my honor and dignity as a human being by torturing someone else on the off chance that it might save my own life.”

That’s a fine position to take except for the fact that it is not just your own life that would hang in the balance. And a majority of Americans polled (I’ll try to dig up the poll later) have agreed that at least some torture is OK if it will save American lives.

“On the otherside of the debate you get people that claim that a tortured man will tell you anything to make you stop regardless of its truthfulness which would mean that it doesn't work.”

The real problem with this kind of debate is that confidential information prevents us from really knowing what result torture has on insurgents. Maybe a tortured insurgent revealed information that saved many lives, or not. We really don’t know. I am more inclined to believe that torture works, simply because I have yet to see a conclusive report that reveals otherwise. I also look at it this way. Let’s make things simple; if you don’t torture an insurgent, you get nothing. If you torture an insurgent, you get information that may or may not be true. You can investigate the questionable information and deal with it as you will. Therefore from a practical side, torture is better than non-torture.

I think your most valid point is this one…

“We are ultimately fighting for the hearts and minds of millions of people who really don't understand who we are, but they look to us for an example. Is torture the example we want to give?”

Probably not, but I’m not convinced we can win a war for there hearts and minds so maybe we should do what is necessary for our own security.

Eytan said...

Shane Spenser,

I'll use the same argument I used above. In a situation where no torture reveals nothing, and torture reveals information that may be true or false, the torture scenario is better because the information can be investigates and then appropriate action can be taken.

Now, obviously some forms of torture work and some don't. I agree with the FBI about the torture used at Guantanimo (and Abu Ghirab as well). That seems to resemble more of a power corrupting Zimbardo experiment, than an actually effective way of gleaning important Intel.