BY UNSEALING a federal indictment against Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the U.S.
government garnered headlines about an alleged terrorist plot, instead of
the unexplained imprisonment of an American citizen in Saudi Arabia. By
producing the 23-year-old Islamic student in a federal court in Virginia on
charges he conspired to kill the president, it portrayed Mr. Abu Ali has
someone other than a victim of torture. The government may think its secret
is safe. But it isn’t.

The detention of Mr. Abu Ali by the Saudis needs a full airing. A lawsuit
filed by Mr. Abu Ali’s parents to win his release charged that his
imprisonment was at the behest of the U.S. government. But more disturbing
is the allegation that the young man was tortured and the United States
government knew about it. That would suggest the Abu Ali case is a
variation on a U.S. policy known as “extraordinary rendition.” The policy
basically allows for the contracting out of interrogation of terror
suspects to allies whose methods would be illegal here. In other words,


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