Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Story of Khaled el-Masri

On December 31, 2003, a German national with Lebanese lineage by the name of Khaled el-Masri was allegedly kidnapped by CIA agents and shipped off to a prison in Afghanistan where he has was held for five months, tortured, then released without charges being brought against him.

If his story sounds familiar, it's because this tactic has been used repeatedly in George Bush's Global War on TerrorTM. Known commonly as extraordinary rendition, this practice is a blatant violation of international law and spits in the face of morality. Earlier this week, catnip posted two different entries highlighting the expansive reach of this scandalous activity. The first involved the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian national who endured a similar fate to el-Masri but with a Syrian twist, and the second was regarding confirmation by the UK media that Great Britain has cooperated with U.S. officials to use their airports as staging grounds for the flights that carry the rendered detainees.

Now, thanks to a surprisingly thorough job of reporting by the NY Times, Germany can be added to the list of cooperative countries in this tangled web of torture and secrecy.
For more than a year, the German government has criticized the United States for its role in the abduction of a German man who was taken to an American prison in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he said he was held and tortured for five months after being mistaken for a terrorism suspect.

German officials said they knew nothing about the man's abduction and have repeatedly pressed Washington for information about the case, which has set off outrage here. At a meeting in Berlin last December, Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded an explanation from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over the incident.

But on Monday in Neu-Ulm near Munich, the police and prosecutors opened an investigation into whether Germany served as a silent partner of the United States in the abduction of the man, Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen of Arab descent who was arrested Dec. 31, 2003, in Macedonia before being flown to the Kabul prison.

The action came after a two-and-a-half-hour meeting at police headquarters in which Mr. Masri told the police that he was "90 percent" certain that a senior German police official was the interrogator who had visited him three times inside the prison in Kabul but had identified himself only as "Sam." The German prosecutors said Monday that they were also investigating whether the German Embassy in Skopje, Macedonia, had been notified about Mr. Masri's kidnapping within days of his capture there, but then had done nothing to try to help him.

The German government is denying, of course, that they were a "silent cooperator" in this outrageous practice. They are following the Bush War Council's lead by questioning the integrity of the victim rather than holding someone accountable for torture and other violations of international law. The problem with their smoke and mirrors is this:
  • Khaled el-Masri is not the only person to have been rendered since George's war was unleashed
  • He is an innocent man, no charges were brought against him during his detention, and
  • other governments have been proven to be "silent partners"
I remain hopeful that someday history will vindicate people like Maher Arer and Khaled el-Masri, but it is clear that the web of deception runs deep through the halls of power across the world.

I will probably get a few site hits from the intelligence community for posting this entry, but I don't care. These stories must be told by someone, and these immoral practices exposed case-by-case. It is the only way we will be able to restore our collective dignity.

For further reading on el-Masri check out the Reuters article, and Gandhi over at Bush Out who was covering this case back in May of 2005.

Crossposted (and now frontpaged) at Political Cortex and Booman Tribune

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