UK government "dries out" its "water damaged" CIA torture files


The Foreign Office said it couldn't provide its files on secret CIA rendition of terrorism suspects for torture, because those files (and only those files) were "water-damaged."

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North Carolina town still protesting CIA rendition program, ten years later

Moms, priests, and peace-minded activists in a small North Carolina town haven't forgotten that a local aviation contractor was a key player in the CIA's “torture taxi” business. “I don’t want to live in a country that acts this way,” said Julia Elsee, 87, protesting at the Johnston County Airport.

CIA torture victim more than just a leaked cable

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When Wikileaks released thousands of classified US diplomatic cables this week, a familiar criticism was repeated by the project's foes: these leaks could harm innocent people. There's no evidence of that yet, but within the documents there is evidence the American government has harmed innocent people.

One of them is Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, and a victim of so-called "extraordinary rendition." He was a car salesman in Germany, a father of six. The CIA kidnapped him by mistake (his name sounds and looks identical to that of an actual terror suspect), and sent off to receive months of torture in Afghanistan.

When the CIA realized he was innocent, he was flown to Albania and dumped on a back road without so much as an apology.

El-Masri's futile efforts at receiving justice in the U.S. are well-known, but the cables published this week by Wikileaks include revelations the U.S. also warned German authorities not to allow a local investigation into his kidnapping and abuse.

The nearest he's gotten to justice is an arrest warrant for 13 CIA agents issued by prosecutors in Spain, which they entered on forged passports.

In this video, originally part of the Witness.org documentary OUTLAWED, El-Masri relates his experiences. Boing Boing presented a portion of this documentary on our video channel back in 2008; the documents brought to light by Wikileaks provide an opportunity to revisit the story with new context.

[Video Link; Photo: (Photo: Khaled el-Masri with his family in Germany, 2005. Dieter Mayr for The New York Times)]