Tuesday, February 21, 2006

NYT: "Germans Looking Into Complicity in Seizure by U.S." (Don Van Natta Jr.)

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.
Mr. Masri's case has come to symbolize the C.I.A. practice known as extraordinary rendition, in which terror suspects are sent to be interrogated in other countries where torture is commonly used. In broadening its criminal inquiry into the abduction of Mr. Masri to the activities of its own government, German prosecutors are trying to determine whether the German government worked secretly with the United States in the practice.
"I feel deceived and betrayed by my own country," Mr. Masri, a 42-year-old unemployed car salesman from Neu-Ulm, said in an interview.

The above is from the New York Times and "by" who knows. The article is entitled "Germans Looking Into Complicity in Seizure by U.S." and apparently research was done by Don Van Natta Jr., Souad Mekhennnet and Nicholas Wood while Don Vann Natta was the one to write the article.

It's front page news to the paper. To those of us in the real world, the headlines blares nothing new. Though the Times hasn't wanted to talk about it, the "shock" of the European governments over Romania and Poland's alleged secret prison used to house kidnapped victims (of extraordinary rendention) wasn't thought to be that genuine. Media from outside the United States noted that, as did alternative media within this country.

So much never makes into the paper of record. Here's an interesting detail about the "release" of Khaled El-Masri from the December 7, 2005 Democracy Now! report (Stephen Grey writes for the Times of London and other publications -- he's co-written articles for the New York Times):

STEPHEN GREY: Finally they admitted their error, but they didn't send him back to Germany to sort of go back home. They dropped him in the mountains in Albania to make his own way back. That was all because of a mistaken identity. When he came again Saturday, it seems like the same mistake was made again to send him back. And now I see that The New York Times is saying that the German officials are saying that if he wants to come back again, he could come back. But I'm not sure he will want to try again.

We'll also note this from Democracy Now!, December 8, 2005:

STEPHEN GREY: Well, the phrase "gulag," I think, is relevant, not because of the numbers involved. I mean, clearly there were tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of prisoners in the Soviet gulag; but what's the interesting parallel is to look at how Solzhenitsyn described the Soviet gulag, which was a chain of islands of secret detention centers that existed hidden beneath normal society, so that, you know, behind a wall that appeared normal would be these prisons hidden behind.
And what you have here are these flights moving around from very normal airports, but inside are prisoners in the war on terror, and likewise, these jails are scattered around the world and no one sees them. They're connected by these flights. And the numbers are probably a few dozen in the C.I.A.'s own prisons, but thousands more in the jails of allied countries, such as Egypt and Morocco and Jordan. And that's where the gulag term, I think, is applicable, where America comes in and how it's -- is in coordinating that and then actually facilitating the transfer of prisoners between these different jails.

Finally, for those needing their memories jogged on El-Mari's case, we'll note Margaret Kimberley's "Condi, Torture and Christmas" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

He was flown to a CIA run prison in Afghanistan, where he was denied access to counsel or any contact with the German government. His imprisonment lasted for a total of four months. George Tenet kept him behind bars even after his identity and proof of his innocence in any wrong doing were confirmed.The ACLU is representing El-Masri in his lawsuit against Tenet. When El-Masri attempted to attend a press conference in Washington to announce his lawsuit, he was denied entry into the United States. Embarrassing the United States government and trying to attend a press conference all in the same week was just too much for the powers that be.Condi's latest European trip was rocky from the start. After meeting with Rice, new German chancellor Angela Merkel stated that Rice had admitted a mistake in the El-Masri case. It isn't clear if Merkel intentionally outed Rice or if she hadn't yet learned the diplomatic art of being a good liar.

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