Translation of Michael Scheuer interview in Die Zeit (part IV)
Part 4 of Die Zeit's interview with Michael Scheuer.
Completed: 00:30 CST. Updated: 00:49 CST.
ZEIT: Why was the cooperation so changeable, apart from the question of capital punishment?
Scheuer: Churchill said in the late 1930's: the Europeans always hope that the aligator eats them last. As long as the target of the terrorists was the United States, many in Europe were asking themselves why they should endanger themselves together with America.
ZEIT: How do that work when you wanted information in one of your cases? Let's say, from your German colleagues?
Scheuer: Sometimes there was just no answer. Sometimes some of the questions were answered. Sometimes the response was: we don't have much. Here is the little bit that we do have. There was just a lot of hemming and hawing.
ZEIT: Has that changed since the attack of 2001?
Scheuer: Yes, completely. But even after the attacks in New York, Madrid, and London, there is still this belief in Europe that they shouldn't get too involved. This idea that you only endanger yourself if you support the Americans.
ZEIT: The invasion of Iraq gave many adherents to that point of view.
Scheuer: The Iraq invasion without a doubt broke the back of our whole anti-terrorism operation. And in the long term, the war will certainly have the effect that a second generation of well-trained fighters, European Muslims and European converts, will return to Europe. The first generation came in the 1990's from the Balkans and Chechnya.
ZEIT: There's the case of the German-Syrian Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who had connections to the so-called Hamburg Cell, that prepared the attack on the World Trade Center. The German justice system could bring no proof of a crime. The CIA seized the man in Morocco and took him to Syria. How am I supposed to imagine cooperation with the Germans in such a case?
Scheuer: It would surprise me if there wasn't someone in the German intelligence service who was informed, though perhaps after the fact. In Washington there is a lot of fear of the Europeans' criticism. That may sound odd in light of this president, but it's still true.
ZEIT: Could it perhaps be the other way around? That German intelligence informed you where the man went when he left Germany?
Scheuer: Nothing is impossible, but I have no reason to suppose that.
ZEIT: The new Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble let it be known that the interrogation of Zammar in Syria had yielded useful results. Is that correct?
Scheuer: That is the case for the entire "extraordinary renditions program". It strikes me as dishonest of the Europeans to critizes this operation so strongly. Because all the information from the interrogations, everything that that had to do with Spain, with Italy, with Germany, with France, with England, was passed on. And if you were to ask the intelligence agencies of those countries, they would say: the information that we received from the "extraordinary renditions program" of the CIA helped us.
ZEIT: So the Germans were the beneficiaries of your methods?
Scheuer: Of course.
ZEIT: The German Interior Minister has spoken in Parliament of three cases, in which German officials abroad were in the prisons with the German citizens. Would it be an exaggeration to say that the CIA is doing the dirty work for us Germans?
Scheuer: As I said: some criticism strikes me as hypocritical.
ZEIT: Would you rule out the possibility that mistakes were made and the wrong people were seized?
Scheuer: I am certain that there were mistakes. Clausewitz talked about the fog of war. Right now we are in the middle of it. If mistakes were made, reparations should be paid.
ZEIT: One of these cases appears to concern a German citizen, Khaled El-Masri, who was apprehended in the Balkans, brought to Afghanistan, and months later was released in the Balkans.
Scheuer: There you have a symbol for the confusion in a war. He would certainly not have been apprehended if there had been no dubious information.
ZEIT: The case seems more to be a symbol that it is better to entrust such questions to the police, prosecutors, and courts and not to the CIA.
Scheuer: If you want to consider Al-Qaida as a matter of criminal prosecution and then wait until we've lost, then you are correct. However, we are in a war. And the sooner we remove such matters from the realm of criminal prosecution and get them under the rules of the Geneva Convention, the better it will be for America, for Europe, and also for the Germans. If these people are prisoners of war, there is no legal process.