On the evening of January 23, he was handcuffed, blindfolded, put in a car and told he was going to Germany. He was driven to a place where he heard the sound of a plane, then heard the voice of one of the Macedonians saying he would have a medical examination.
"I heard the door being closed," says el-Masri. "And then they beat me from all sides, from everywhere, with hands and feet. With knives or scissors they took away my clothes. In silence. The beating, I think, was just to humiliate me, to hurt me, to make me afraid, to make me silent. They stripped me naked. I was terrified. They tried to take off my pants. I tried to stop them so they beat me again. And when I was naked I heard a camera." El-Masri breaks down as he recalls the moment when the men carried out an intrusive anal search.
He was dressed in a nappy, a short-sleeved, short-legged suit and a belt. His feet were shackled and his hands were chained to the belt. His ears were plugged and ear defenders placed over them and a clip put on his nose. A hood was put over his blindfold. With his arms raised painfully high behind his back, he was driven to an aircraft where he was thrown down on to a bare metal floor, chained and bound, and given an injection. He was dimly aware of a landing and takeoff and a second injection before the plane landed again and he was put into the boot of a car.
El-Masri arrived in what he later found to be his cell by being pushed violently against the wall, thrown to the floor, having feet placed on his head and his back and having his chains removed. The cell was to be his home for the next four months. From the graffiti on the wall - in Arabic script, but not Arabic - and the Afghan dress of the guards, he deduced that he was in Afghanistan. There was nothing in the cell except a blanket, a filthy plastic mat and a bottle of tainted water so vile that the memory of it makes him literally gag.
El-Masri soon discovered that the prison, though technically Afghan, was run from behind the scenes by the US. His first encounter with an American was with a masked individual who spoke English with what el-Masri believes was an American accent. He had a Palestinian translator. The American took a blood sample and photographed el-Masri naked again.
The Bush administration: making us all proud to be Americans.
Or was these just the rogue actions of a few more bad apples?
Mister Bush himself, talking before the Council of Foreign Relations today, starting off with 9/11-Pearl Harbor analogies. Wow. How did his speech writers ever come up with that one? "Freedom's cause." "Courage and determination." "Firm resolve."
"Like the generation before us, we're taking the fight to those who attacked us?"
Good Gosh, he's still trying to convince people Hussein was involved with 9/11.
More "fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here" talk. Our goal is victory.
"We're working with the Iraqis." Like the policemen who let themselves get blown up in their own station the other day?
Somebody tell me this man isn't really the president of the United States.
Blather, rinse, repeat. Same talking points, same audience.
Holy cow, Mister Bush himself just quoted Joe Lieberman, who is rapidly becoming the administration's leading echo chamberlains.
"Cut and run." "Complete our mission." "Strong ally."
"Free societies are peaceful societies." I reckon that's why free societies don't invade other countries on false premises.
Forty or so minutes of glittering generalities, bandwagoning, attacking straw men, scapegoating, appeals to emotion, labeling, and just about every other propaganda trick in the book.
Not a single tangible leg of strategy on how we'll achieve this "complete victory," or what complete victory consists of.
Chris Matthews and Dick Gregory on MSNBC, analyzing the speech. Brother. Those two couldn’t name all the colors in a box of crayons.
Joe Lieberman. There's a guy you want to listen to on matters of national security. He's been in politics since he got out of Yale Law school. His big claim to fame on his web site bio is that he:
…was the Senate's leading champion of legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security to better protect the nation from terrorist attacks.
Now there's something to be proud of.
You can't help but wonder how much of Lieberman's pro-Bush talk lately is payback for the BRAC commission letting him keep his submarine base in Connecticut.
And now for something slightly different…
MSNBC's big survey question today: should the White House season's greeting cards read "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays?"
No doubt they'll have Chris Matthews and Dave Gregory back on later in the day to analyze those poll results.