Jeralyn Merritt: The Unfriendly Skies of Ghost Air

By Jeralyn Merritt,

"All Aboard," says the CIA.

Welcome to the unfriendly skies of Ghost Air. No need for you to drive to the airport. The CIA will happily pluck you off the street — or like Maher Arar, nab you as returning from a family vacation and changing planes at JFK — or like Khalid al-Masri, pull you off a bus while on your holiday trip.

Torture and America

The CIA will put you on a specially equipped Gulfstream V or Boeing 737, where you will be blindfolded, shackled and flown to a foreign country. Your final destination? A secret prison where you will be interrogated, abused and tortured.

Your family won't know you have been abducted. The Red Cross won't know you are at this secret prison, so you won't be visited. In short, you have entered the Twilight Zone.

If you are lucky, like Khalid a-Masri, a German salesman and victim of misidentification, when they finally realize they made a mistake and decide to release you, you may be dumped on a deserted road and left to your own devices to find your way back home.

If you are unlucky, like Manadel al-Jamadi, you will be dead. Or, you will just disappear. In 2004, Human Rights Watch issued this revealing report on the ghost detainees and another on secret overseas prisons.

The horrifying accounts of the prisoners who are released, like those of men who were held in jails in Jordan and that of Benyan Mohammed, should be read by all.

Beginning as a 'ghost detainee' picked up in Pakistan, Mohammed spent two and one half years in prisons in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco and Guantanamo Bay. The Pentagon declassified his lawyer's 28 page diary of notes taken in interviews with Mohammed describing the torture inflicted on him, in which he describes being beaten and having his genitals sliced with scalpels.

In its 2006 report, Human Rights Watch found:

New evidence demonstrated in 2005 that torture and mistreatment have been a deliberate part of the Bush administration's counterterrorism strategy, undermining the global defense of human rights.

The evidence showed that abusive interrogation cannot be reduced to the misdeeds of a few low-ranking soldiers, but was a conscious policy choice by senior U.S. government officials. The policy has hampered Washington's ability to cajole or pressure other states into respecting international law.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to the ACLU which has been at the forefront of the battle against secret renditions, filing lawsuits, obtaining documents and raising public awareness.

President Bush says the United States does not torture. But through the practice of "secret rendition" the C.I.A. sends people to countries like Syria, Jordan and Egypt where they are detained in secret prisons and interrogated by those who do torture. In other words, we outsource torture.

Whether our CIA agents participate directly in the abuse or not, they are complicit. They are facilitators of and co-conspirators to torture. They, and we as a nation, are just as responsible for the torture as those who inflict it.

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Not related to the article I am commenting under but...

What is the ACLU's stance on what's happening at that polygamist ranch in Texas? I mean, something illegal was most definately going on there, but it seems to me that the government acted very excessively. I was stunned that an entire town can be arrested and all children taken like that, because of the illegal acts of individuals. Imagine something like that happening in your town. I was more stunned to find that I seemed to be the only person that I know, or in the media that believed the same... at least until the Appeals Court just determined the same thing: that the Texas government did act inappropiately. I mean, should the government sweep through a bad neighborhood in New York City simply because there is illegal drug dealing going on and what not? Absolutely not. Damn, there's some bad majority Muslim neighborhoods here in Philly, and I would be pissed if the government tried something like that simliarly, as I'm sure most people would. So where's the outrage on at the polygamist ranch?

Where does the ACLU stand on this? I couldn't find anything on this website referencing this. I haven't seen any mention of your group helping out in this highly publicized event in the news. Do you have a stance?

In the case, that your group is staying out of this one, here is my harsh criticism and forgive me if I am completely wrong and you guys are stepping up: Sometimes I think you guys are right, other times I think your wrong, but no matter what I appreciate that there is a group like the ACLU out there willing to protect the people from the government. But where are you guys on this? Where's the whole, "John Adams-willing-to-even-defend-the-British-soldiers" thing here? This is exactly why many say you are bias liberals, and it's cases like this, that make me believe they are correct. I guess the protection from persecution of people from THAT religion is okay to ignore since it doesn't fit into your agenda.


The two events or situations are completely different. Did any of the people arrested or taken in from the polygamist ranch get tortured or rendered out of the country to jails where the authorities do torture? I'm sure not.

I don't know where the ACLU stands on this. I've been a supporter in the past. But the two events/situations are vastly different. This is not to condone what happened at the polygamist ranch. The authorities may have an issue in terms of child/young people abuse, however.


If the families request help from the
ACLU, I am sure they would investigate and then decide if their help is required.


Here is a link to an article about the ACLU's response.


It's nice to see Ms. Merritt appear in a forum where comments aren't immediately deleted and the commentators if they ask "inconvenient" questions. At her blog, ironically called both "talk" and "left" if you dare, even politely, to ask for her comments about why she's held in such high esteem and linked to by such right wing, anti-progressive sites as Instapundit.come, count on being permanently banned.

What's also apparent at her blog is the double standard. The writers can respond scornfully but if a commenter responds in kind, it's "no soup for you" and no more words.

Not exactly the kind of behavior the ACLU champions, is it?

Doc Hackhowser

I would like the ACLU address the greater form of torture practiced for the last to decades inside the US:
“If you do not like the current government like under Joseph McCarthy you should leave the US”.

ACLU members, let’s pack up and move to Granada. Start a revolution, burn the rich dumb kids university down and declare us ACLU Republic. Worry free watching McChainy’s world moving on.

The Martian’s, Russian’s were the scare of the past, now it's the Koreans, Iranies........and the ACLU!

Does the American public need instant scare?
Yes, so we can not protest against high food and fuel prices!
Yes, we can not fight lousy healthcare!
Yes, we are immediately Public Enemies every time we ask for social responsibility!
Yes, so I can own more firearms!
Yes, so the next world war # 4 can come, so no politician is accountable.
Yes, so the banks can rape more people with high interest rates and rule changes.

The Republican Party made the mess! Why should they not show responsibility and clean it up?

The ACLU will show one day in the future that the Patriot Act was a copy of the 1964 German State of Emergency act, what was a copy of the GESTAPO NAZI law of 1937.
Are we not all proud of each other how fear is so much better! Why would we want happiness?

The ACLU has received the “left wing label” from the Christian right. Those have no problem to turn the world into chaos. “I told you so, ACLU = HELL= Highly Evil Lousy Lefties. So I go to heaven anyway. Bye”

P.S. Exposing the sheltered inbreeds to the Texas foster system and its germs equals a death sentence

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