March 28

Dec. 2005: “Wrongful Imprisonment: Anatomy of a CIA Mistake”

The Washington Post report, Wrongful Imprisonment: Anatomy of a CIA Mistake, details the case of Khaled Masri, a German citizen who had been wrongly imprisoned for five months by the CIA “largely because the head of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center’s Al Qaeda unit “believed he was someone else… She just had a hunch.”  Two months earlier, several U.S. soldiers reported new allegations of prisoner abuse to Human Rights Watch, a non-profit organization. The soldiers were in a combat unit fighting the Iraqi insurgency.

“It is impossible to know, however, how many mistakes the CIA and its foreign partners have made… Unlike the military prison at Guantanamo Bay… there is no tribunal or judge to check the evidence against those picked up by the CIA. The same bureaucracy that decides to capture and transfer a suspect for interrogation– a process called “rendition” – is also responsible for policing itself for errors.”

CIA officer said “They picked up the wrong people, who had no information. In many, many cases there was only some vague association” with terrorism. One official said about three dozen names fall in that category; others believe it is fewer. One turned out to be an innocent college professor who had given the al Qaeda member a bad grade…”

“Masri can find few words to explain his ordeal. “I have very bad feelings” about the United States, he said. “I think it’s just like in the Arab countries: arresting people, treating them inhumanly and less than that, and with no rights and no laws.” (Dana Priest. Wrongful Imprisonment: Anatomy of a CIA Mistake, The Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2005)

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