Obama era justice

A Syrian man's efforts to be compensated for the horrible War on Terror abuse he suffered will undoubtedly fail

Published October 7, 2010 11:08AM (EDT)

(updated below)

From The Washington Post today:

A Syrian man released from the prison at Guantanamo Bay last year sued the U.S. military Wednesday, saying that he was the victim of a "Kafkaesque nightmare" in which he was tortured by al-Qaeda after being accused of being U.S. spy, liberated, then tortured by the Americans, who held him for seven more years by mistake.

Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al-Janko, 32, who has been resettled outside the United States, filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, the court that ordered his release in June 2009. At the time, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon concluded that the U.S. government's case for holding Janko "defies common sense."

Janko was tortured by al-Qaeda and imprisoned by the Taliban for 18 months on suspicion of being a spy for the United States or Israel. Leon found no evidence that the Syrian was loyal to either group.

Janko "is the victim of a decade-long Kafkaesque nightmare from which he is just awakening," the suit says.

Janko says that he was urinated on by his American captors, slapped, threatened with loss of fingernails, and exposed to sleep deprivation, extreme cold and stress positions. . . .

Spokesmen for the Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment late Wednesday on the case, which had not been entered into the court's electronic database.

Fortunately, the Obama DOJ -- which fought unsuccessfully to keep Janko imprisoned at Guantanamo -- has been so consistent in its standards that one need not wait to hear from them to know how they will respond.  It's the same way they've responded in similar cases:  whatever was done to this person is a State Secret that no court can review; those who are responsible for the abuse do and should enjoy full legal immunity; and, besides, we should all be Looking Forward, Not Backward at "unnecessary battles" like this one.  I don't know why Janko can't just accept that what was done to him is a big secret that cannot possibly be compensated without jeopardizing American National Security and, more important, realize that he should just get on with his life and the Glorious Future and stop asking us all to Look Backward to what was done to him (all the way back to the ancient past of 2004 and 2007 and 2009).  That's the only just thing to do. 

Note this similarity as well:  Janko was, as the Court found, first "not only imprisoned, but tortured by Al Qaeda into making a false 'confession'" that he was an American spy, and then, lawlessly imprisoned for 18 months by the Taliban as a spy, only thereafter to be abducted and lawlessly detained by the U.S. for seven years, where he was also tortured.  All that, despite no evidence whatsoever that he was loyal to Al Qaeda and plenty of evidence that he was not (namely, the fact that they detained and tortured him as an American spy).  Cases such as this one really underscore how wise it is to vest the President with the power to decide -- on his own, with no review or oversight -- who is and is not a Terrorist worthy of death.


UPDATE:  The always-thorough Andy Worthington last June wrote an excellent narrative on the heinous plight of Janko, which is well worth reading (h/t harpie).  That the Obama DOJ's tactics virtually ensure he will receive no accountability or justice is horrifying, though par for the course by now.

By Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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