Busted – um – Warranted (Updated)

Speigel-Online (International version) is reporting that German prosecutors have issued warrants for 13 people in connection with the “rendition” of Khaled el-Masri at the end of 2003.

German prosecutors have issued 13 arrest warrants in connection with the alleged CIA abduction of German citizen Khaled el-Masri, Munich-based Bavarian senior state public prosecutor Christian Schmidt-Sommerfeld said in a statement Wednesday.

Schmidt-Sommerfeld said the warrants had been issued in the last few days. He refused to give more details, saying a statement would be made later Wednesday.

Munich prosecutors investigating the case have said in the past that they received the names of several United States intelligence agents believed to be involved in the abduction from Spanish investigators. However it is not clear whether they are the people named in the arrest warrants.

The LA Times is also running the story. Here the information get’s a little weirder. According to the Times the agents involved in the operation were under major pressure to get a break in a terrorism case…

Legal documents, credit card receipts and hotel records show that those allegedly involved in the Masri abduction stayed at a luxury resort on the Spanish island of Majorca before flying to Skopje, Macedonia, on Jan. 23, 2004. When checking into the hotel, some of the operatives gave aliases, such as Kirk James Bird and James Fairing. The covert team’s charges in Majorca included a food bill of $1,625 and an $81 charge for a massage.

Well, they were getting a break of some kind at least.

For those who haven’t been following the el-Masri case, I would recommend the recommend the online film “Outlawed” and the press release on Breakthrough.tv.

I’ve also written about this case a couple of times. Once commenting on the video and once talking about the most important factor of all – that CIA agents are finding mal – um – rendition insurance a little difficult to get. Almost like getting flood insurance in New Orleans.

In other rendition news, Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, the coolest Supreme Court watcher ever, has two stories in one. One is about the case of Maher Arar the other about Wesam al-Delaema.

Arar is a household name around the world. The Canadian software engineer was grabbed during a stopover at JFK Airport in 2002 and subjected to 10 months of “extraordinary rendition” in the care of our good friends in Syria. He was tortured until he falsely confessed, then sent home without explanation. A two-year inquiry by a prestigious Canadian commission determined that it had all been an awful mistake. The Bush administration refused to cooperate with that commission and still refuses to remove Arar from the American security watch list, claiming to have secret information that he’s still dangerous although the Canadian authorities dispute that.

Last Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered Arar a public apology and $8.9 million in compensation while the Bush administration has blocked his lawsuit, citing the executive branch’s “state secrets privilege.” The conclusions of the Canadians, admitting his arrest was a mistake, are disregarded. No concessions, no apology, no transparency, and no regard for our Canadian allies. Arar wins a permanent entry under A in the world’s Dictionary of Reasons To Hate Us.

But the case of Wesam al-Delaema is different. This is a bad guy. This is the kind of terrorist watchlists and prosecutors dream about. The only problem? You never hear about them. In it’s rush to never ever say anything substantial about the GWOT, the administration also manages to keep quiet when they actually do hit the jackpot. Lithwick’s article is well worth the read.

But, since el-Masri’s civil case was thrown out of US courts due to national security problems “state secrets privilege,” I find this step by the German prosecutors at least warranted.

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