An Innocent Family, and a Deal with Gaddafi


Here’s a powerful piece by a Libyan woman who has a very personal stake in the Congressional report on the CIA’s torture and rendition programs–evil programs which put my beloved country in the “state-sponsored torture” category. In 2004, when she was 12, Khadija al-Saadi and her three siblings and parents, who had previously escaped from Libya, were kidnapped and “rendered” to Libya.

It was apparently part of a political deal with Gaddafi, something he wanted in return for helping the US and Britain fight terrorism. To the government officials who struck the deal, Khadija’s family were merely expendable pawns, anonymous Arabs to be traded. But Khadija writes, “For my family, it was personal: it was about my father being handed over to a dictator he had dared to oppose, to be beaten and nearly killed.”

Large portions of the report are blacked out. Khadija wants to see the names, dates, places, everything–a full accounting. She writes, “I wonder who will decide whether my name gets a black line drawn through it, and whether he or she will stop to think what that means…I want to know which places were used for the rendition programme; I want to know how my family were kidnapped and moved around like cargo; I want to know who gave the orders at each level. If there are individuals who are uncomfortable about that, it is nothing compared to the feelings I experienced aged 12, speeding through Libya on the way to a secret prison.”

She’s got a compelling point. I’ve read many tales of rendition from the Bush years. All of them result in torture. That was the idea. A very sad chapter in our history.


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