“A bill for the relief of Khaled al-Masri”

If the courts won’t do justice, Congress can. And should.

The Supreme Court decision in the case of Khaled al-Masri, kidnapped and tortured by the CIA as the result of a mistake, could hardly be more disgusting. But it needn’t be the end of the matter.

If the courts won’t do justice, Congress has its own capacity, in the form of a private relief bill. Hearings on that bill &#8212 behind closed doors, if truly necessary for security reasons &#8212 could determine the truth. (I look forward to Mr. Tenet’s sworn testimony as to why he decided to call the victim of his agency’s blundering cruelty a liar.) The final act for relief could be made veto-proof by riding it on, let’s say, the wiretapping-authority bill the Administration so badly wants.

I wonder how many of the libertarians outraged by the Kelo decision about eminent domain &#8212 where at least the property-owners were entitled to compensation &#8212 will speak out against the government’s authority to torture whomever it pleases without making any reparation. Not many, I’d warrant.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com