I just got off the phone with a prominent Arabic journalist producing a program on the politics and practice of rendition.
This journalist, Yosri Fouda, has interviewed at length Khaled El-Masri, the innocent victim of American kidnapping and rendition gone very wrong.
I have not read extensively about El-Masri’s case, so this may be public record, but what I did not know when I wrote last night’s post were the details of how he was “dumped” after American authorities learned he was innocent.
Get this now. El-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, was kidnapped while vacationing by American intelligence agents. He was transported and “questioned” — allegedly roughly — by American authorities in Afghanistan. Along the way, these investigators finally figured out he was innocent and reported back to CIA Director George Tenet. Tenet had him held ANYWAY for another two months.
And then. . .you might ask, could it get worse? Well, yes.
We dumped him blind-folded in the deep forest, mountainous triangle area between Albania, Serbia and Macedonia. He had to walk out with no money, no identification.
He got to a border guard station — and because of his inability to identify himself and because of how “outlandish” his story sounded to the border guards he met, he feared that the entire process would begin.
We dumped him blindfolded in a forest in one of the roughest regions nearby. Were U.S. authorities hoping he’d just be shot by someone else? What were they thinking?
Let’s make sure that one of the journalists TRAVELING with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice asks about this detail of the story that had escaped me and others before. What is this about DUMPING a known-innocent guy in the Serbia-Kosovo-Macedonia triangle?
— Steve Clemons
UPDATE: My friend, journalist Eli Lake, has suggested in the comments section that someone (including TWN) pose the question of how the El-Masri case occurred to the CIA, which handled this case. He has a good point, and we will follow up on it. But others in the press corps ought to also follow up with the CIA. SCC