Saturday, January 14, 2006


Die Zeit, one of the very best news periodicals I know of, has blogs. One blog is "Beruf Terrorist [Profession Terrorist] The Enemy of all the World", by Jochen Bittner. I haven't followed his blog, but I decided to check it to see if he had anything to say about the BND scandal. I wasn't disappointed. Here it is in English:

What did Steinmeier know? (January 12, 2006)

The tip of the iceberg has in the meantime many names: Khalid el-Masri, Reda Seyam, or even"Curveball". It is slowly becoming clear what the extent of the German-American hanky-panky was and probably still is in the so-called War on Terror. Today the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the ARD [television] magazine "Panorama" are reporting that during the Iraq war agents of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) delivered target coordinates to American bombers.

In retrospect, the chasm between actual German foreign policy and high-flown red-green rhetoric about human rights is so wide that it makes the onlooker dizzy.

Yes, one is inclined exclaim in revisionist fashion, "Who has betrayed us...?"

But of all the questions that are asked in such cases, one poses itself with the very highest urgency. It is:

What did Steinmeier, Fischer, and Schröder know?

What did the former head of the Federal Chancellor's Office and the present foreign minister know, what did the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor know about that informant to the BND, whom the Americans called "Curveball"? Before the war, this Iraqi provided to German intelligence services the decisive reports about alleged mobile bio-weapon labs of Saddam's regime (die ZEIT reported on several occasions). He served as Colin Powell's start witness in the Security Council for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program. In the BND, in whom "Curveball" had confided, this man was considered a total crackpot. However, the "peacepower" [pun on "superpower"] Federal government apparently lacked the backbone to share this assessment with the world before the Iraq war.

What did these three know of the practice of CIA abductions? It must have been clear in the Federal Chancellor's office at the latest after the case of Reda Seyam (die ZEIT reported) that the Americans would not shy away from hauling off German citizens. Could the later abduction of el-Masri have been prevented by a corresponding diplomatic intervention?

What did the Federal Chancellor's office know about the visits of German intelligence officers in the Guantánamo internment camp? What did they know about the cooperation of the BND with the American military during the Iraq war?

Enough. Cheap references to "certain gray areas" that there are in the anti-terror battle will no longer do. Steinmeier, Fischer, Schröder, and also Ernst Uhrlau, until now the coordinator of intelligence services in the Chancellor's office, must explain themselves. Preferably before they are called in front of an investigative committee.

Here is Dr. Bittner's bio from his blog:

Dr. Jochen Bittner, born 1973, studied law and philosophy. He gained journalistic experience with the Kieler Nachrichten, the FAZ and Die Welt. During a stay in Belfast he authored the book Ein unperfekter Frieden - Die IRA auf dem Weg vom Mythos zur Mafia (An Imperfect Peace: The IRA on the Path from Myth to Mafia; with Christian Ludwig Knoll, R.G. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2nd ed. 2001). After that he worked as a research associate of the chair for constitutional law and jurisprudence of the University of Kiel, where he earned a doctorate on the topic of the concept of the legal system. Since 2001 Jochen Bittner has been the editor of the politics department of die ZEIT. He deals with the areas of terrorism and intelligence services, among others.