The Policy and Politics of Extraordinary Rendition
REBECCA ROBERTS, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rebecca Roberts.
DANIEL SCHORR: Shocking. So shocking that it was a lead story on the front page of The New York Times.
ROBERTS: NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.
SCHORR: The headline, "German Court Challenges CIA Over Abduction." Say what? Well, it seems that a German citizen name Khaled al-Masri was kidnapped while visiting Macedonia and flown to Afghanistan for five months of abusive interrogation before being told it was all a mistake and dumped on a hilltop in Albania. Something similar happened in Italy, where a former intelligence chief is alleged to have been involved with the CIA in kidnapping an Egyptian cleric. This is the extraordinary rendition program at work, a CIA program that permits the CIA to seize people anywhere and fly them, say, to Afghanistan, to be grilled for months at a time about what they know, if anything, about terrorism.
But European governments don't take kindly to kidnapping. Warrants have been issued in Germany for 13 CIA agents, and five intelligence agents face indictment in Italy. There is a paradox in all of this. When the Bush administration complains to the German government, it is reminded by the minister of justice that the German courts are independent, that not even Chancellor Angela Merkel can suppress a legal proceeding.
Permit me a personal word. For six years after World War II, I worked in Germany. I was impressed by the way the Germans, with American help, tried to live down their Nazi past and learn the arts of democracy. I had ample occasion to witness German democracy at work. I witnessed German trials of German war criminals. I reported on the de-Nazification of the German system of justice. And so now August Stern, the prosecutor in Munich, says of the warrant that he's issued for 13 CIA agents that this is a very consequential step before filing criminal charges. The CIA agents will probably never face trial, but they would be well advised to stay out of Germany, where, as we taught them, no one's above the law.
This is Daniel Schorr.
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