"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Night Network "News"

60 Minutes had an ex-Gitmo guy named Murat Kurnaz on tonight, charging all sorts of torture during his detainment.

Maybe too juicy a tidbit for 60 Minutes, but in an interview with Radio Bremen last year, Murat Kurnaz apparently alleged


Almost every time that someone had to go to the medical center and was away for a few days, he usually came back with a body part missing. I saw this with my own eyes: that one or another of my neighbors was taken to the medical center and then came back and something had been amputated. Even though he had not been sick and it wasn't necessary. For instance, fingers that were perfectly healthy.




Now, some people find this sort of thing easy to believe, I'm sure. Me, it makes me think Murat Kurnaz is not the type of fellow who always tells the truth.


And there was Lesley Stahl's nodding, fawning interview with Al Gore. Excellent. Then, flipping over to NBC, there was "journalist" Keith Olbermann fulminating over Bush with NBC "news analyst" Rachel Maddow of Air America. In prime time, on NBC, not MSNBC.

The mainstream media, fair and balanced, as always.

2 comments:

Michael Simpson said...

60 Minutes has an annoying tendency to descend into hackery when it gets its moral dudgeon too high. But it's worth noting that at least in this case, whether the gentleman was actually tortured or not, he was mistreated by the US government and it appears that we didn't really have a good reason to hold him. The problem really is that, more than 6 years past 9/11, we still haven't constructed a legal infrastructure capable of dealing with suspected terrorist nasties. And so we're caught in a legal no-man's land: we'd be fools to use our normal legal system to try many of these folks on terrorism charges, because the evidence is no doubt tied up in our intelligence methods and would be excluded in a normal court of law. But we hold them in ways that look for all intents and purposes like a prison with little sense of what we're going to do with them long term. We need something like a national security court that can adjudicate these kinds of claims, one that can handle intelligence-based evidence, that gives the accused some measure of due process, but that doesn't make us respondent to every whim of the Warren Court jurisprudence.

Tom Van Dyke said...

From what I gather, just 3 weeks after 9-11, Kurnaz, a German citizen with Turkish passport, went to Pakistan of all places to "study Islam."

Now that may be true, or he went there to hook up with jihad.

Regardless, his situation was unusual enough---even for Pakistan---for somebody to finger him as a terrorist suspect, and he got scooped up in the net.

It became clear after while that although he had Islamist sympathies, he probably wasn't a terrorist. But for their own reasons---likely their complicity in helping the Americans with the "net," the Germans didn't want him back. He'd be a headache in the anti-American German media. So they let the Americans keep him, and indeed hoped some evidence he actually was a terrorist would turn up.

But it didn't. Meanwhile, Kurnaz was a difficult prisoner, so he probably was not treated gently at Gitmo.

Come 2006, finding no definitive evidence, the Americans finally let him go. Kurnaz goes back to Germany, tells a lot of lies like the amputations bit, gets a book deal, and hits the media circuit, which eats it all up. 60 Minutes, with no juicy anti-administration stories in the works, fire up this one, which was "news" a year or two ago, although not now.

Now we can believe this guy with Islamist sympathies is mostly lying to make the US look bad, or we can believe that our country does amputations on helpless prisoners out of some general commitment to sadism.


Now, this is my source [although I used several left-wing ones trumpeting the German government's embarrassment over the whole affair]:

http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/blog/blog.aspx?id=869

which doesn't look definitive to me either, although the meat of it is a translation from a German parliament member's German-language website. [Why a minor German official? Because Kurnaz is radioactive to the German government. The less said the better.]

However, the key here is Kurnaz' Islamic sympathies. The Western media has been playing him as some hapless innocent randomly plucked off the streets and tortured just for the hell of it by the evil Bush-Cheney machine. [And in the German media, with the help of German government.]

I find this unlikely. What is more reasonable to me was he was a wannabe jihadist in the wrong place at a very bad time, mouthed off a lot to the Germans and the Americans, and was given harsh interrogation treatment because he seemed like a genuine jihadist at the time. According to the German parliament member, there was good reason to suspect he was, as he had palpable links to some bad guys.

Purportedly from Kurnaz' security file [ibid.]:

The classification of Murat Kurnaz as a security risk was based on the following findings, among others:

1. On October 3, 2001 - three weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks - Kurnaz set off to Pakistan with his friend Selcuk Bilgin, without saying goodbye to his family or informing his school. He broke off his course of studies in midstream. According to his mother, he purchased heavy boots and two pairs of binoculars immediately prior to his departure.
2. Kurnaz's and Bilgin's airplane tickets were paid for by Sofyen Ben Amor. In a telephone conversation with the Bremen-based preacher of hate Ali Miri that was wiretapped by the police, Ben Amor described himself as a "Taliban."
3. According to his mother, in the weeks prior to his departure, Kurnaz "was brainwashed" by Ali Miri at the Abu-Bakr Mosque in Bremen. The Bremen police continue to assume still today that Kurnaz was radicalized by Ali Miri. Also according to the assessment of both [the German foreign intelligence service] the BND and [the German domestic intelligence service] the BfV, Kurnaz's biography follows a typical path of radicalization and "awakening."
4. Independently of one another, two direct witnesses have declared to the Bremen police that Kurnaz approved of the September 11 terrorist attacks, describing them as "God's will."
5. On October 3, 2001, the brother of Selcuk Bilgin notified the Federal Police [which is responsible for border security in Germany] that Selcuk "is following a friend to Afghanistan, in order to fight." His later attempts to relativize this declaration have been dismissed as not credible by the police. The wife of Bilgin, moreover, has confirmed to Kurnaz's mother that Bilgin and Kurnaz wanted to go to Afghanistan.
6. Bilgin was arrested at the airport and thus prevented from embarking on his voyage with Kurnaz. Later, in 2003, the police determined that he was continuing to try to recruit young, inexperienced Muslims for Jihad at the Abu-Bakr Mosque. Thus Ali T., who on April 25, 2003 hijacked a bus in Bremen, stated to the police that Bilgin had awakened in him the desire to become a Mujahideen through conversations and prayers and by showing him propaganda videos. According to Ali T., Bilgin promised that he would have him trained as a fighter in Pakistan or Afghanistan, just as he had done in the past with Murat Kurnaz. The training, Bilgin is reported to have said, would be financed by Al Qaida. The Bremen police thus assumed that after his failed attempt to travel with Kurnaz, Bilgin had been promoted from a prospective fighter to a "Recruiter/Logistics Specialist."
7. According to police investigations, there are numerous links between the Taliban Sofyen Ben Amor, who purchased Kurnaz's plane tickets, and the "Hamburg Cell" [which planned the 9/11 attacks]. Thus, for example, Ben Amor's telephone number was found in an address book that was seized during a Hamburg raid carried out as part of the Federal District Attorney's investigation against, among others, Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh in connection with the attacks of September 11, 2001.


The police have determined, moreover, that up until September 11, 2001, Sofyen Ben Amor frequently withdrew money in the vicinity of the Al-Quds Mosque in Hamburg. It was at this mosque that the "Hamburg Cell" formed around Mohammad Atta.

Finally, there are also numerous pieces of evidence in the file that indicate that Ben Amor, Bilgin, and Kurnaz have links to Mohammad Haydar Zammar, one of the most important recruiters of the "Hamburg Cell."