German Chancellor Angela Merkel thought she had received an apology from Condi Rice for the US’s false imprisonment of a German citizen. But once Rice left Germany her spokesslug denied that Rice had admitted to a mistake.
[German Chancellor Angela] Merkel told a joint news conference with Rice in Berlin that the United States had acknowledged it made a mistake in the case of Khaled el-Masri, who says he was flown to Afghanistan by U.S. agents and jailed for five months last year before being freed.
“I’m pleased to say that we spoke about the individual case, which was accepted by the United States as a mistake…,” Merkel said in response to questions about the Masri case, which has caused a furor in Germany.
But senior U.S. officials, traveling to Romania with Rice on the next leg of her European tour, quibbled with Merkel’s interpretation.
They said they had huddled with Merkel’s aides after the news conference, seeking an explanation, because Rice had not admitted a U.S. mistake over Masri.
While the U.S. government had informed Germany about his detention and release, it did not say that was a mistake, one senior administration official told reporters.
“We are not quite sure what was in her head,” he said, referring to Merkel.
The U.S. official with Rice said Masri was released from prison in Afghanistan after the United States realized it “no longer had evidence or intelligence to justify his continued detention”.
Asked if the United States had ever had evidence to hold Masri, he declined to comment further.
He acknowledged Masri was originally detained because of a suspicion that he had a false passport and because he had the same name as a militant leader.
The passport turned out to be genuine, he said.
Let’s see, a fellow with the same name as someone you want to nab is captured, flown to Afghanistan and tortured until you discover he’s not your guy and his passport is genuine, but that’s not a mistake? What, pray tell, would qualify as a mistake, this?