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Rendition Investigations Looming in Congress

John Rosenthal writes the following introduction to The CIA Rendition Controversy: Is Khaled Al-Masri Lying?...

Rumor has it that Democrats are eager to use their newly acquired power in Congress to "investigate" a variety of "uninvestigated scandals" linked to the Bush Administration: among them, the use of "CIA secret prisons" in the war on Islamic terror organizations. If an inquiry is opened into this latter question, one can expect a Democrat-led congressional panel to follow the pattern of investigations that have already been undertaken by the Council of Europe and the EU Parliament. It is indeed the latter investigations that are largely responsible for having converted a practice of detaining enemy operatives that might otherwise seem banal in a time of war into the "scandal" that it has become -- for the European public, at any rate. As has occurred in European investigations, one can likewise expect the case of Khaled Al-Masri to take center stage.

As a result of broad -- though, as we shall see, remarkably superficial -- media coverage, the story of Khaled Al-Masri is well known. A German citizen of Lebanese origins, Masri claims to have been "kidnapped" by the CIA while on a trip to Macedonia and then "rendered" to Afghanistan. There he is supposed to have been subjected to five months of depravations and torture in a secret CIA prison. Whatever consequences a congressional investigation of the Masri case might eventually have for the pursuit of American counter-terrorism operations, Masri's saga is already undermining -- or, more exactly, being vigorously exploited to undermine -- America's claim to cooperation from its nominal allies.

What follows can be considered and in-depth investigative look at Khaled al-Masri and his actions in Europe before detention. One hopes that, as Rosenthal also asks in conclusion, if the United States Congressional leadership is going to delve into an investigation of "secret prisons" in Europe, perhaps they may spend equal energy in uncovering and understanding just what the inhabitants of those facilities were doing that landed them there.

Unfortunately, the surface appearance of present ambitions indicates that what will result is another excoriation of American global 'badness' for the underlying purpose of persecuting a sitting President in the opposition's party. For a fleeting moment late in 2001, al-Qaeda and like-minded terrorist Islamists were the opposition.