Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Der Spiegel interviews CIA's former Europe Director

In the light of the recent German arrest warrants for 13 CIA agents who took part in the kidnapping of a German-Lebanese citizen, this interview with Tyler Drumheller is pretty interesting:

SPIEGEL: One of the cases is the now famous kidnapping of Khalid el-Masri,
a German-Lebanese who was taken into custody at the end of 2003 in Macedonia and
later flown to Afghanistan. How could the CIA allow an innocent person to be

Drumheller: I'm not allowed by the agency to comment on any of
those cases or the so-called "secret prisons." I would love to, but I can't. We
have a life-long secrecy agreement and they are very, very strict about what you
can say.

SPIEGEL: The renditions program saw the kidnapping of suspected Islamist
extremists to third countries. Were you involved in the program?

Drumheller: I would be lying if I said no. I have very complicated feelings
about the whole issue. I do see the purpose of renditions, if they are carried
out properly. Guys sitting around talking about carrying out attacks as they
smoke their pipes in the comfort of a European capital tend to get put off the
idea if they learn that a like-minded individual has been plucked out of safety
and sent elsewhere to pay for his crimes.

SPIEGEL: We disagree. At the very least, you need to be certain that the
targets of those renditions aren't innocent people.
Drumheller: It was Vice
President Dick Cheney who talked about the "dark side" we have to turn on. When
he spoke those words, he was articulating a policy that amounted to "go out and
get them." His remarks were evidence of the underlying approach of the
administration, which was basically to turn the military and the agency loose
and let them pay for the consequences of any unfortunate -- or illegal --

Which takes us to those arrest warrants:

The German television station NDR released a list of the names of the supects
which it claimed its reporters had obtained. The names, which were of 11 men and
two women, included the suspected pseudonyms Kirk James Bird and Hector Lorenzo.
The station claimed it had contacted three of the suspects but they had refused
to comment. They managed to trace one of the men, who has the pseudonym Eric
Fain, because he had made a phone call home from Mallorca.

Lebanese-born German citizen Khaled al-Masri claims he was abducted in
Macedonia at the end of 2003. After being handed over to the CIA and flown to
Afghanistan, he claims to have been tortured and accused of collusion with the
Sept. 11 hijackers. He says he was held for four months before being released
without any charges on a roadside in Albania.
The case has strained
US-German relations. However it is believed to be unlikely that the US would
hand over suspects to be tried in Germany, as German arrest warrants are not
valid in the US. Without the real names of the suspects, the warrants are in any
case largely symbolic, commentators pointed out.

Since the German government cooperated with the American government, this could be considered a way to take distance from this whole Iraq and rendition mess on the part of the German government. In Italy, a similar arrest warrant has been issued:

Milan prosecutor is making the CIA nervous. Despite the opposition of his own
government he wants to indict 26 US agents and five Italian secret agents for
the kidnapping of a terror suspect. Rome and Washington would prefer that the
embarrassing trial would just go away.

Good. The tide is turning and hopefully this will continue enough to prevent another Republican government continuance, post-Bush. No matter if he (let's face it, it'll never be a 'she') is decidedly different than Bush, we need a new direction all together. Whether I'm pro-Hillary or Obama, it's too early for me to decide. What am I saying? As if it matters since I won't be able to vote anyway. But I tell you this much; I will be less reluctant to go for my American citizenship if we do get a better captain at the helm of this ship.

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