November 29, 2010
The brutal torturing of an innocent man
I am surprised that some are treating the latest WikiLeaks documents as containing mere gossip. It is always a mistake to listen to what the mainstream US media analysts say because they seek to minimize US culpability in order to preserve their access. It is far too early to say what all the documents reveal and it will have to await the slow examination by people who seek the truth and not to protect governments. As these independent analysts start to pore over them, new revelations will emerge.
Scott Horton discusses one such cable that reveals how the US government put pressure on Germany to help cover up the barbaric treatment meted out to Khaled El-Masri, a German grocer who, because of mistaken identity, was abducted and tortured by the CIA.
Over the Christmas-New Year's holiday in 2003, Khaled El-Masri traveled by bus to Skopje, Macedonia. There he was apprehended by border guards who noted the similarity of his name to that of Khalid al-Masri, an Al Qaeda agent linked to the Hamburg cell where the 9/11 attacks were plotted. Despite El-Masri's protests that he was not al-Masri, he was beaten, stripped naked, shot full of drugs, given an enema and a diaper, and flown first to Baghdad and then to the notorious "salt pit," the CIA's secret interrogation facility in Afghanistan. At the salt pit, he was repeatedly beaten, drugged, and subjected to a strange food regime that he supposed was part of an experiment that his captors were performing on him. Throughout this time, El-Masri insisted that he had been falsely imprisoned, and the CIA slowly established that he was who he claimed to be. Over many further weeks of bickering over what to do, a number of CIA figures apparently argued that, though innocent, the best course was to continue to hold him incommunicado because he "knew too much."
Thanks to Wikileaks, the names of the agents who tortured him are now known and they can face prosecution (not in the US of course, which excuses and protects its torturers) if they happen to go a country that has independent, human-rights respecting prosecutors, a species that seems to have gone extinct here.