My blogging partner erphschwester has already written a post about Steinmeier and the Kurnaz affair, but I have to respond to Otto Schily's latest efforts to protect him. Schily. along with Steinmeier, evidently refused an offer from the US to release Kurnaz back to Germany back in 2002. Now Schily is insinuating that Murat Kurnaz is some sort of terrorist sympathizer:
Germany's former Interior Minister Otto Schily, who was part of the top-level group that decided to forbid Kurnaz's return to Germany, said the man was considered a security risk.
"A man who shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, buys a camouflage suit, binoculars and laced boots, and leaves for Pakistan without saying goodbye to his family in Bremen -- I don't think such a man wants to look for Allah with his binoculars," Schily told the German weekly Die Zeit in an interview published Thursday. "I am sticking with it: Mr. Kurnaz's statements about the reason for his trip to Pakistan are not authentic."
So, because of Schily's suspicions Kurnaz had to remain in Guantanamo for another four years? I'd like to ask Herr Schily: what exactly was the release offer of the Americans? Who interrogated Kurnaz in Afghanistan and later in Guantanamo? What did Herr Schily do with information provided by former US ambassador Danial Coates that Khaled al-Masri was mistakenly abducted by the CIA? What role did Herr Schily and Herr Steinmeier play in the rendition of the German citizen Mohammed Haydar Zammar? What knowledge did thay have the CIA
torture rendition flights which used the US air base at Ramstein as a key hub in transporting kidnapped detainees?
What really bothers me as well is that Schily and others cast doubt on reports by Kurnaz and many other detainees about torture and abuse the hands of the Americans or its surrogates. Today, an American interrogator writes in the Washington Post about the abuse he and his American colleagues inflicted on detainees:
"I failed to protect a prisoner in my custody, and I failed to uphold the standards of human decency. Instead, I intimidated, degraded and humiliated a man who could not defend himself. I compromised my values. I will never forgive myself."
"While I was appalled by the conduct of my friends and colleagues, I lacked the courage to challenge the status quo. That was a failure of character and in many ways made me complicit in what went on. I'm ashamed of that failure, but as time passes, and as the memories of what I saw in Iraq continue to infect my every thought, I'm becoming more ashamed of my silence."
Any goverment official - from Steinmeier on down - who had knowledge of the mistreatment of detainees and did nothing to facilitate their release is unfit to serve and should resign.