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Another Rendition Victim Speaks Out

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March 31, 2008

Last night, 60 Minutes profiled Murat Kurnaz, who recently published the book Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo. In it, he retells the story of being arrested by a Pakistani police officer on his way home to Germany in 2001. U.S. intelligence paid $3,000 for him, then rendered him to Afghanistan, then Guantanamo; he was repeatedly tortured and interrogated in both locations. All the while, U.S. and German intelligence was trying to build a case against him as being a member of al-Qaeda, to no avail. So U.S. intelligence made stuff up:

[Kurnaz’s lawyer] dug into the case and found that the military seemed to have invented some of the charges. Military prosecutors said one of Kurnaz’s friends was a suicide bomber, but the friend turned up alive and well in Germany.

The profile also reveals that six months after arriving at Guantanamo, U.S. military intelligence authored a memo that found no link between Kurnaz and al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organization. But did they release Kurnaz immediately?

Of course not. They held onto him for 3 ½ more years:

They kept him, Kurnaz says, by inventing new charges. In a makeshift courthouse, Kurnaz claims that a military judge charged that Kurnaz had been picked up near Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Afghanistan while fighting for the Taliban. Ironic, since it was the U.S. that flew him to Afghanistan to begin with.

Apparently the U.S. military has no qualms over throwing crap against a wall and seeing what will stick. Kurnaz’s story, like that of fellow German citizen and victim of extraordinary rendition Khaled el-Masri, is a shameful indictment of the inhumane practices and policies of the Bush administration’s so-called war on terror.