Examined and Interrogated


BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeiner has again denied any earlier knowledge of torture in the US "war on terror". During last Thursday's session of the Committee of Inquiry in the German Bundestag, Steinmeier declared that reports of mistreatment in US confinement of Abdel Halim Khafagy, a German residing in Munich, played "no role" in the security briefings when he was head of the Federal Chancellery. As far back as October 2001, two officials of the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) had written reports on the case and placed them at the disposal not only of the BKA but also of the Chancellery - obviously without effect. According to a BKA file memo, German authorities had previously already been involved in Khafagy's interrogation. While Germany continues to play naive, investigations show that the torture used in the "war on terror" by the BND's partner, CIA, has been in practice for decades - in Latin America and elsewhere. Subsequent to 9/11, these practices were extended and globalized through "rendition flights". In spite of the German government having appointed a special investigator, it is not known, to what extent these flights have passed through German airspace.

During his June 19 testimony before the Committee of Inquiry in the German Bundestag, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) once again reiterated his denial of having had earlier knowledge of torture and "rendition flights" in the US' "war on terror". He declared that it was through US press reports at the beginning of November 2005, that he first learned of the existence of secret prisons. At that time Steinmeier was the head of the Federal Chancellery and therefore supervisor of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND). He was also charged with coordinating the work of the German secret services. They are being accused of at least having indirectly profited from, if not even been involved in CIA-torture, as in the case of an Egyptian-born German, whose case was also on the agenda of the June 19 session.

To Break Resistance

Abdel Halim Khafagy, a Munich resident, at the time 69 years old, had been brutally arrested September 25, 2001 in Sarajevo. He was then brought to the "Eagle Base" US military installation near Tuzla. Already the following day, US agencies contacted their German counterparts, who dispatched two officials of the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) to Bosnia a day later. According to these officials, traces of blood covered "larger portions of single pages" that had been confiscated during Khafagy's arrest. This had already attracted attention at the time.[1] The BKA officials turned down a subsequent offer to interrogate Khafagy, because they realized he had been tortured. For example, the interrogation container had been insulated against all incoming daylight, to deprive the prisoner of a sense for space and time. This is a typical method explored by the CIA in the 1950s, aimed at systematically breaking a prisoner's resistance. This method falls into the category of psychological torture. The BKA employees, at the time, were discussing, whether the conditions at "Eagle Base" should be brought before a UN tribunal. In oral and written depositions they reported on the conditions at the US military base "that are inconsistent with German judicial norms" to the BKA, the German Interior Ministry, the German ambassador in Sarajevo - and to the German Chancellery.[2]

Through the Grapevine

There are highly contradictory statements as to what the Chancellery exactly knew of the BKA officials' reports. It is undisputed that the "Khafagy case" was handled in the top level security briefings in the presence of the head of the Federal Chancellery Steinmeier. He had been duly informed of the BKA officials' rejection of the interrogation offer, according to Konrad Wenckebach, deputy coordinator of the secret services. Wenckebach recently declared for the record that inside the Chancellery, one could hear through the grapevine that "torture was mentioned".[3] Written notes that had been made for BKA Vice President Bernhard Falk for the October 9, 2001 security briefing, mention indications of mistreatment. Falk maintains that exactly these notes, he had not received.[4] This is all the more embarrassing, because according to Steinmeier's notes, it was on that day that the head of the Chancellery, Steinmeier wanted to be brought up to date on the Khafagy case.[5] The contents of the security briefings are unknown, because the documents provided to the Committee of Inquiry do not include the October 9 protocol.[6]

By a German

This affair is diverting attention from a fact that is at least as important in scope, as a BND memo from December 2005 indicates. According to this memo, the Allied Military Intelligence Battalion (AMIB) was possibly involved in Khafagy's interrogation. The AMIB is an intelligence unit formed by several NATO states and including several officers of the German Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD). According to reports, an official of the BND was also participating in AMIB.[7] Khafagy in fact reported after his release that a German was among his interrogators at the US base. A BKA memo dated September 26, 2001, which has recently been divulged, confirms that the MAD and the BND were involved in Khafagy's "examination and interrogation" - already the day after his arrest.[8] Up to now, the German government has made no comment.

For Decades

While officials in Berlin are still claiming not to have read, found or be in a position to confirm certain written notes, protocols or memos, investigations show that the BND's partner, CIA, has for decades been practicing torture in the "war on terror". The Canadian writer Naomi Klein explains how in the 1980s CIA trained Latin American torture units have mistreated prisoners in Honduras and Guatemala - in the presence of US interrogation specialists, who had systematically prepared their questions.[9] This type of division of labor is also apparent in current reports. For example: In Beirut, BKA officials prepared the questions for Lebanese repression officers to use in their interrogation of a prisoner, who was probably tortured (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[10]) Techniques that Naomi Klein and the US historian Alfred McCoy described as being aimed at breaking a prisoner's resistance, were elaborated by the CIA since the 1950s and were published in manuals. Today, they can be read in newspapers. As the Munich resident Khafagy reported - among many others - he was confined not only insulated from daylight, he was also awakened each time as soon as he fell asleep. This method is recommended in a famous CIA interrogation manual from the 1980s.[11] The BKA officials, who were dispatched to Tuzla to participate in the interrogation, had interpreted correctly and appropriately refused to participate in the Khafagy case, as described above.


According to Naomi Klein, the well-proven CIA torture practices were continued and clearly extended after 9/11 and systematically globalized through rendition flights. It is still unknown to what extent German authorities have tolerated such flights through German airspace. Joachim Jacob, the German government's special investigator, could identify only two rendition flights, as he says only on the basis of "incomplete data".[12] Comparisons show that the number must have been much higher. In any case, German airports play an important role as stop-over for US military flights to the war zones in the Middle East.[13]

Please read also Where is Haydar Zammar?, In Accordance With the Law, The Torturers, And Still Waiting, Lapse into Barbarism, Steinmeier and His Accomplices and Sinking Into Barbarism (II).

[1], [2] Kanzleramt war über den Fall Khafagy informiert; hib 134/2008, 08.05.2008
[3] "Unfroh überrascht" über Misshandlung Khafagys; hib 155/2008, 30.05.2008
[4] BKA-Vize Falk von Untersuchungsausschuss vernommen; ddp 19.06.2008
[5] Neue Enthüllungen im Fall Khafagy; stern.de 17.06.2008
[6] Steinmeier wusste von Festnahme; stern.de 02.05.2008
[7] Neue Vorwürfe gegen Bundesnachrichtendienst und Bundeskriminalamt: Profitierten deutsche Beamte von Folterverhör?; KONTRASTE 23.11.2006
[8] Neue Enthüllungen im Fall Khafagy; stern.de 17.06.2008
[9] Naomi Klein: The Shock Doctrine. The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, London 2007
[10] see also Täuschen und lügen, The Torturers and And Still Waiting
[11] Alfred W. McCoy: A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror, London 2006
[12] Steinmeier weist Mitverantwortung für geheime CIA-Flüge zurück; hib 185/2008, 19.06.2008
[13] see also Dual Use