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Okay, so what does this tell us?
I suppose the point you are trying to make is that Mr. El-Masri may not be as innocent as many media reports make him out to be - but you are forgetting the VASTLY more important point that becomes clear through this:
We, the public, do not know whether or not El-Maris is guilty - so it shouldn't ****ing matter what FOCUS prints or what other magazines print or what anybody thinks - the only thing that should matter in a democracy and a country that obeys the rule of law is what a court decides.
If there is a problem, the police and the courts of Germany must deal with it - the CIA abducting him was wrong no matter the circumstances.

And to those shortsighted warmongers who respond to that with "extreme circumstances require extreme measures" I can only say:
Look closely at the pictures of the fanatics on TV that commit atrocities in the name of religion - the people we all hate and despise. Look at them and consider this: there is always a "justification" for being cruel and inhuman.
We MUST NOT let our moral standards and the very basis of our free society become eroded through hubris, vengefulness and shortsightedness.

"the only thing that should matter in a democracy and a country that obeys the rule of law is what a court decides."

Really? Courts have upheld slavery in the past. That's hardly a convincing argument.

That said, I am not justifying unlawful abduction of innocent people and I certainly don't support allowing democratic values to slide or erode. The question here is whether El-Masri was really just the innocent victim of a random mixup or whether he had/has real connections to extreme Islam. This entire story seems much more complicated than most in the media initially expected or reported.

Point taken - the media coverage may be biased, but we seem to agree that unlawfully abducting someone can not to be condoned.

As far as the courts upholding slavery are concerned: come on, I agree that we must not forget that democracy also has it's pitfalls but hopefully you are aware that the standards for democracy have evolved over the last centuries.
Wouldn't you agree that when I talk about a democracy and the rule of law today most people will assume I am talking about today's standards of demcracy in the West which include the same rights for people of all races, gender, religion etc... and not a 18th century democracy in the US where blacks had no rights?

He might have been both innocent and a man with a past. That is, he was a leader in the 'early 80's' but may well have moved away from that and tried to live a normal life. We don't know. He may not even really know, because there may be things in his past which could jerk him back into abetting the terrorists.

What this information means if confirmed is that it was not unreasonable to hold el-Masri while he was being investigated. Let's not forget that they did not just kill him or leve him to rot once they concluded that he was not active. They released him. Surely this is a good thing, civil libertarians?

Once a guy moves up in a "private club"...(terrorist organizations are the same way)...he doesn't just walk out the front door and say adios...to live a normal life. You simply don't do that. This guy likely came to a point where the finance support of his "gang" dried up and he went out to do other things...which have meant a regular job. The amusing thing here...is that he left Lebanon and went to Ulm, Germany. Since he is 41 now...that means he was in his late 20's upon arrival in Germany. What did he do for the next 15 years? This would be a curious thing to know...and I would guess that he had various contacts in the middle east that he stayed close to. And this other funny thing...he gets stressed out? What? The kids, the wife, the job? When was the last time you found a Muslim male get stressed out? Everyone in a Muslim house lives by dad's rules...even the wife. So then, this guy decides to just take a "vacation" and go to Macedonia...vacation hotspot of lots of German Muslims? No, it isn't a normal spot for German Muslims to go. In fact...out of Frankfurt...you can be in Beirut in just 3 hours time...or you can hang out in Turkey for a really low price. No one goes to Macedonia on holiday. I'm guessing this is what got German intelligence to scratching their heads...and it still doesn't make any sense.

As for releasing the dude...maybe they got nothing out of the guy and just gave up. By raising this big stink...his connections are going to think that he is too high-profile and likely drop any future contacts. Only my honest guess.

First off, I would like to say bravo to RayD for his insightful comment:

Really? Courts have upheld slavery in the past. That's hardly a convincing argument.

I dont' think there is a better response for that than what Newsjunkie has already said, but its still funny that comments like that fly for actual arguments.

Next, I would just like to say that for those of you who say the world is being to critical of Rumsfeld, and that liberals are beginning to sound like conspiracy theorists, I say how do you like them apples. I have taken the liberty of forwarding this link to all major German and American publications and broadcast stations I could. Trusting America simply doesn't seem to be an option while these clowns are in power.

Thins like this, of coure, have nothing to do with why the public image of America is so tainted. That Spiegel again, putting words into Rumsfelds' mouth

@ Jessup

I don't really think it's news to anyone that Rumsfeld strongly suspected Saddam along with OBL and wanted to push hard to see whether he was somehow linked to 9/11. Few people knew for certain (other than the planners) who was responsible immediately after the fact. Of course hindsight is always 20/20.

@Newsjunkie and Jessup

…the only thing that should matter in a democracy and a country that obeys the rule of law is what a court decides.

No, no, no...Ray's example may not be the youngest, but the point is still valid. Even today, our courts make questionable decisions. Furthermore, courts in America all too often bypass Congress and the will of the people, and legislate from the bench—this is not very democratic.

Once a guy moves up in a "private club"...(terrorist organizations are the same way)...he doesn't just walk out the front door and say adios...to live a normal life. You simply don't do that.

People do it all the time especially when they are relatively low level in the organization. People drop out of the Crips or other gangs. A classic way to do so is to move a long way away. This guy moved to Germany.

He may have had ties to the old life, friends who knew where he was. Perhaps the old organization used him for things from time to time.

I'd say the facts argue against complete innocence but may well show a man who had grown up and tried to change his life and move to a place and life which was better for his kids.

This is OT but congratulations to the Germans for presenting an outstanding selection of athletes to the 2006 winter Olympics.

Nobody is entirely innocent.

Courts. Hmmm. the only thing that should matter in a democracy and a country that obeys the rule of law is what a court decides.

That is so true, the courts are perfect, just ask Suzette Kelo, a person who loves the courts. Why should the court condemn thieves when they can engage in theft themselves? Sorry about going OT but that bit about the sanctity of the courts pissed me off.

The German government has a terrible record on keeping terrorists in custody. It misues its own justice system.

I would suggest that they are held long enough to be a bargaining chip then used in a trade.

The killings of the terrorists after Munich can be directly attributed to the German governments complete lack of upholding its own laws by trading the the terrorists. Do not talk about a nations laws when the laws are used when and if the government wants to use them.

@Jessup Actually, I sort of prefer government officials who have a short list of the main suspects when there's an attack. Would Luxembourg have been a better guess?

"So is Mr. El-Masri an "an entirely innocent victim of rendition" as the ACLU claims or did the CIA have real reason to suspect him as someone with connections to Al-Qaeda? This recent "Focus" report is certain to provoke new questions and a fresh look at the case"

Actually this is irrelevant for the question whether his treatment has been legal or not.
Even he the "CIA had real reason to suspect him as someone with connections to Al Qaeda" this wouldnt be sufficient to simply kidnap him.

In dubio pro reo Ray.

Apart of that i dont see any sense simply setting al Qaeda and Al Tauhid in Lebanon here equal.

El Masri was the leader of an armed radical Islamic group. Furthermore, I don’t see anybody here trying to equate Al Tawhid with Al Qaeda.

The point remains: So is Mr. El-Masri an "an entirely innocent victim of rendition" as the ACLU claims or did the CIA have real reason to suspect him as someone with connections to Al-Qaeda?

Poor Mr. El Masri, the one time leader of an Islamic terrorist gang, decides to go to an obscure place full of other Islamic terrorists and well, he gets abused. For months, no walks in the park, piano lessons, nights by the fire reading U.S. Grant’s Memoirs. After a while he is released. All very sad. Not.

Like, I care. Karma. What goes around comes around. Things come back to haunt people. If he didn’t want to live his life without suspicions, well, he shouldn’t have been in the shoot the Jew in the neck business. People remember, lists last, Google searches.
Tough all around for ol’ Khaled.

So the CIA, oddly known to me now near thirty years ago as “Christians In Action”, screwed up. Or not. Let’s say German citizen number one El-Marsri was up to tricks. And he flipped. Came over. Saw the light. Didn’t want to end up sliding out the rear cargo ramp of a C-130 a mile up over the Mediterranean. He’d need a cover story. This one works fine.

But back to my notion. I don’t care. Honest. Well, actually I do. I wish that any of these Muslims, that ever acted so, would be tracked down. And shot. The leaders, the shooters, the Inmans, the PLO Christians, Bader Mienhoff gangs, Weather Underground, and on and on.
People want to play war, play war by unconventional means, then they should have it. No gloves, no rules.

I know this all sounds quite ugly to sensitive souls and feeds the shallow fever swamps of anti-American pamphleteers. But, that was the good parts. It gets worse.

For fifty years, at some, but not great expense, Americans have been paying the worlds butchers bill for Germans, and others. As good as European diplomats are, and as fine as weapons Europeans make, a free Europe exists not because of Kennedy, Nixon or Bush, but because generations of Americans have shivered wet and freezing in the back of a armored personal carrier at Fulda, ready and willing to kill and die. When Americans said they would back up their word with blood and treasure in Europe, the enemies of Europe need only look at Korea and Vietnam. I think it is safe to say that those who became America enemies knew we would kill when we said we would. Europe’s got a debt. Big time. It ought not to welsh. I don’t know what the future would be without a free Europe, but we have oceans, Christians to the north and south, and a Navy to get, keep and take what ever we want or need. You might want to point this out, that the US has an ‘out’ to your leftist friends. They’ve been chanting for the US to pull out of you name it for fifty years. All those Islamic countries are but a days sail across the Med. Yes a EU navy would work, sort of, but what of a unified Islamic state from Morocco to Iraq? Or not unified, at war with in itself. What would Europe do? Join in, stop the war, take sides? Ask the lefties that, although I suppose the denial is so strong that they would walk away.

This thing that is going on will, as stated by our idiot ChimphitlerhaliburtonBush said, go on for decades. I don’t think that Americans in general, nor this President, nor the ranks of soldiers, care one whit about leftist opinion nor those whose minds are so doltish as to believe them. This of course makes the left foot stomping mad. However there’s too much to do, world wide. Mistakes will happen. Khaled el-Nasri has a past, Americans have a past, Germans have a past. We are all sitting at the craps table of the future, rolling our dice, chance playing a large part in spite of our best efforts. Leftist idiot Europeans need to decide where they’re going to place their bets. Everyone is required to play, and pay. I hope it’s not too late for Europe, that it has the capital to out last its foreign and domestic enemies.

"The point remains: So is Mr. El-Masri an "an entirely innocent victim of rendition" as the ACLU claims or did the CIA have real reason to suspect him as someone with connections to Al-Qaeda?`"

Sorry but the simple truth is that there exists no point here !
Your basic assumption is that:
"EITHER he was ENTIRELY innocent OR there was reason to suspect him to have connections to al qaida."
I think its bad style to try to argue that the rendition was not so bad because masri might have had something which made him suspicious.

I suggest you should consider another simple assumption:
"He never had to be "entirely innocent" in order to not get rendered, nor does suspicion suffice in order to get rendered. "

What "ACLU" claims is their problem. Actually its unimportant whether he has been innocent or not for the question if the rendition practice is legal, correct, honorable or whateven one may want to call it.

The rendition was illegal one way or the other.
Even if you could somehow argue for an arrest because of the suspicion you would still end up with the problem that the practical implementation of this arrest (in the form of the rendition) spits on nearly every law and every value that the free world claims to have. Not because of an arrest itself but for other reasons like no contact to the family, no legal advisors, no judge to cross check the decision etc.

I think this discussion is about a base value system here. My view is that there is a base line of individual rights and that there is also a valid reason why these rights are there. And i do not see any advantage in giving up these rights and blindly trust (any) state organ to know what it does.

It obviously doesnt work well !

Just my 5 cents.

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