Posted by: sean | December 4, 2005

Just like the Arab countries

In today’s Washington Post, the story of Khaled Masri’s wrongful imprisonment, is told. He was apparently on his way to Macedonia after a spat with his wife in Germany, (he is a German citizen of Egyptian origin), when he was abducted at the Macedonian border by the police because he name was similar to an associate of one of the 9/11 hijackers. He was then handed over to the CIA in Skjope.

The local deputy CIA chief (the station chief was on vacation) dealt directly with the Counterterrorism Center (CTC), since the European divison division chief was also on vacation. The Post offers us a little background on CTC, including how they operate:

After the September 2001 attacks, pressure to locate and nab potential terrorists, even in the most obscure parts of the world, bore down hard on one CIA office in particular, the Counterterrorist Center, or CTC, located until recently in the basement of one of the older buildings on the agency’s sprawling headquarters compound. With operations officers and analysts sitting side by side, the idea was to act on tips and leads with dramatic speed.

The possibility of missing another attack loomed large. “Their logic was: If one of them gets loose and someone dies, we’ll be held responsible,” said one CIA officer, who, like others interviewed for this article, would speak only anonymously because of the secretive nature of the subject.

To carry out its mission, the CTC relies on its Rendition Group, made up of case officers, paramilitaries, analysts and psychologists. Their job is to figure out how to snatch someone off a city street, or a remote hillside, or a secluded corner of an airport where local authorities wait.

Members of the Rendition Group follow a simple but standard procedure: Dressed head to toe in black, including masks, they blindfold and cut the clothes off their new captives, then administer an enema and sleeping drugs. They outfit detainees in a diaper and jumpsuit for what can be a day-long trip. Their destinations: either a detention facility operated by cooperative countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, or one of the CIA’s own covert prisons — referred to in classified documents as “black sites,” which at various times have been operated in eight countries, including several in Eastern Europe.

The decision was taken to send Masri to prison in Afghanistan, where he says he was interrogated and beaten and warned, “You are here in a country where no one knows about you, in a country where there is no law. If you die, we will bury you, and no one will know.” Then his passport was analyzed and found to be genuine, at which point the CIA toyed with the idea of just sending him back to Macedonia as if nothing had happened without telling the German authorities. Finally, since Macedonia had refused to accept him, he was sent to Albania and then later flown back to Germany.

In the end, Masri says he was told by his detainer, he had been kidnapped, drugged, beaten and detained because he “had a suspicious name.” The lesson he has learned from this horrible ordeal is that the US is “just like in the Arab countries: arresting people, treating them inhumanly and less than that, and with no rights and no laws.”


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