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[NYC-L] 60 Minutes Transcripts

Jeton Ademaj jeton at
Fri Jul 29 17:37:15 EDT 2005

hey all

i figured i may as well post these transcripts to NYC-L. Neither is too new, 
both provide additional details. First, I'm pasting the transcript of the 
7/17 segment interviewing Florin Krasniqi. Second, i'm including the 7/24 
segment transcript on CIA "renditions" of terror "suspects". The latter 
includes followup on Khaled Al Masri, an innocent who was kidnapped in Shkup 
at the CIA's direction, tortured and interrogated in Afghanistan, and then 
released on a roadside near Tropoje. As i posted here last year, the story 
clearly indicates that Albania has been coopted into the outrageously stupid 
and shortsighted "rendering" policy.


Buying Big Guns? No Big Deal
July 17, 2005

Fifteen years ago, Osama bin Laden sent one of his operatives to the United 
States to buy and bring back two-dozen .50-caliber rifles, a gun that can 
kill someone from over a mile away and even bring down an airplane.

In spite of all the recent efforts to curb terrorism, bin Laden could do the 
same thing today, because buying and shipping the world’s most powerful 
sniper rifle is not as difficult as you might think.

Last winter, Correspondent Ed Bradley reported on just how powerful the gun 
is. New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly had a sharpshooter fire the 
department’s own .30-caliber sniper rifle and the bullets bounced off a 
half-inch-thick plate of steel. Then, the marksman fired the .50-caliber 
sniper rifle, and the bullets blew right through the steel plate.

Now, you’ll hear from a gunrunner who, just a few years ago, was able to 
outfit a guerrilla army in Kosovo with those powerful weapons. He was 
willing to talk to 60 Minutes, because now he thinks what he did was much 
too easy.

The gunrunner's name is Florin Krasniqi, and he is seen providing a new 
shipment of weapons to Albanian rebels, who are about to smuggle them over 
the mountains into Kosovo. After a few days' journey on horseback, the guns 
will end up in the hands of a guerrilla force known as the Kosovo Liberation 
Army, which has been fighting for independence from Serbia for nearly a 

Krasniqi took these guns to his family's home in Kosovo. Most of them were 
easy to get in Albania, but not the .50-caliber rifles. "This is, we get 
from the home of the brave and the land of the free, as we would like to 
say," says Krasniqi, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Krasniqi came to America in 1989. He was smuggled across the Mexican border 
in the trunk of a car with just $50 in his pocket. Today, he’s an American 
citizen, and the owner of a highly successful roofing business.

"This is what I do for a living," says Krasniqi. "This is how we earn the 
money in New York. There’s a large Albanian-American community in the New 
York City area."

When the war broke out in Kosovo in 1998, many of the young men volunteered 
to fight. Krasniqi realized he’d be more valuable raising money for the 
guerrilla army. Then, he started buying standard equipment at a Brooklyn 
Army-Navy store.

"Anything you need to run a small guerrilla army, you can buy here in 
America," says Krasniqi. "You have all the guns you need here to fight a 
war. M-16s. That's what the U.S. soldiers carry in Iraq. All the rifles 
which U.S. soldiers use in every war, you can buy them in a gun store or a 
gun show."

What gun became the weapon of choice for Krasniqi? "By far, the weapon of 
choice was a .50-caliber rifle," says Krasniqi. "You could kill a man from 
over a mile away. You can dismantle a vehicle from a mile away."

He says it can also be "very easily" used against helicopters and planes.

If the power of the .50-caliber rifle amazed Krasniqi, what amazed him even 
more was how easy it was to buy. Krasniqi allowed a Dutch documentary film 
crew to accompany him to a gun store in Pennsylvania.

"You just have to have a credit card and clear record, and you can go buy as 
many as you want. No questions asked," says Krasniqi.

Was he surprised at how easy it was to get it? "Not just me. Most of 
non-Americans were surprised at how easy it is to get a gun in heartland 
America," says Krasniqi. "Most of the dealers in Montana and Wyoming don’t 
even ask you a question. It’s just like a grocery store."

And, he says there are a variety of choices for ammunition, which is easy to 
get as well. "Armor-piercing bullets, tracing bullets," says Krasniqi. 
"[Ammunition] is easier than the rifles themselves. For the ammunition, you 
don't have to show a driver’s license or anything."

"You can just go into a gun show or a gun store in this country and buy a 
shell that will pierce armor? A civilian," asks Bradley.

"You never did that? You’re an American. You can go to the shows and see for 
yourself," says Krasniqi. "Ask the experts. They’ll be happy to help you." 
60 Minutes asked expert Joe Vince, a former top official at the Bureau of 
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, if anyone, even a terrorist, could easily buy 
50-caliber rifles.

"We are the candy store for guns in the world. And it's easy for people to 
acquire them here," says Vince, who adds that America is "absolutely" the 
best place for a terrorist to equip himself with guns.

"There’s a lot of concern about terrorists bringing weapons of mass 
destruction into the United States," says Bradley. "Why should we care about 
small arms, guns like the .50-caliber, leaving the United States?"

"Small arms are the No. 1 weapon for terrorists," says Vince. "On the 
newsreels about Iraq and Afghanistan, you always see the insurgents standing 
there with their shoulder-held rocket launchers. But in fact, that is one 
round, where an assault weapon can be repeatedly fired – as many rounds as 
you have. It’s a much better tactical weapon."

Are these small-caliber weapons used more often to kill people than large 
weapons? "Absolutely," says Vince.

60 Minutes asked Krasniqi how he shipped .50-caliber rifles out of the 
United States.

"You just put in the airplane, declare them and go anywhere you want," says 
Krasniqi. "It's completely legal. It's a hunting rifle."

Krasniqi says he shipped the rifles to Albania, and then the soldiers 
carried them onto the battlefields. He wouldn’t say how many .50-caliber 
rifles he sent to Kosovo, so 60 Minutes asked Stacy Sullivan, a former 
Newsweek correspondent, who wrote a book about Krasniqi called, “Be Not 
Afraid, For You Have Sons in America.”

How many guns did Krasniqi ship over there? "Probably a couple of hundred," 
says Sullivan. "It's easy. You're allowed to take two or three at a time. He 
had a group of guys that were dispersed in the U.S., some in Alaska, some in 
Nevada, some in California, some in Michigan, some in Illinois. And they 
would each buy a few at a time, and they would take them over in twos and 
threes on commercial airlines."

Krasniqi’s team of gunrunners never had a problem getting the guns out of 
the United States. But they often had to switch flights in Switzerland, and 
authorities there wanted to know what they were doing with such powerful 

"We told them ‘We’re going to hunt elephants.’ And they said, ‘There’s no 
elephants in Albania,’" says Krasniqi. "And we told them we were going to 
Tanzania, so we had set up a hunting club here and a hunting club in 

"You had to set up a phony hunting club in Albania, tell the Swiss 
authorities that men from this hunting club were going to go to Tanzania to 
shoot elephants," asks Bradley.

"Yes," says Krasniqi. "I never saw an elephant in my life, never mind shot 

Even so, Krasniqi’s team needed evidence to support the African hunting 
story, so he says, "We had bought an elephant in Tanzania and set up the 
whole documentation, so it proved to them we are just elephant hunters."

He says he paid approximately $10,000 for the elephant. But he never got the 
elephant. "We were not interested in elephants," says Krasniqi. "We were 
interested to fight a desperate war."

Krasniqi’s shipments of .50-caliber rifles gave the guerrillas a confidence 
and firepower they’d never had before. But they weren’t getting enough of 
them. So Krasniqi broke the law by shipping the rifles out in larger 
quantities than customs allowed.

What was Krasniqi's largest shipment of .50-caliber rifles to Kosovo? "One 
was on an airplane that he filled up with weapons," says Sullivan. "And I 
think there were about a hundred guns in there,… 100 .50-caliber rifles."

According to Sullivan, the gunrunners transported the guns on a truck to New 
York’s Kennedy airport and hid them inside shipments of food and clothing 
destined for refugees.

"They put the palettes into a plane. Nothing gets X-rayed," says Sullivan. 
"It's wrapped up as humanitarian aid."

The fact that Krasniqi could smuggle a large shipment of guns out of Kennedy 
airport came as no surprise to the man who oversaw U.S. Customs at the time, 
now New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

"With the volume of shipments that leave our country and come in, I wouldn’t 
doubt that it’s possible to ship these guns overseas," says Kelly. "There 
are regulations that permit rifles to be shipped overseas. They limit the 
number, but there are probably ways of getting around the regulations."

"I would assume it’s safe to say we don’t have the number of customs agents 
who could check in that kind of detail every flight that leaves the 
country," says Bradley.

"No, that's true," says Kelly.

Tracking weapons as they leave the country is like finding a needle in a 
haystack, unless federal agents are already tracking the smugglers and their 
activities. Vince, a former ATF official, says Congress should pass a law 
that would enable law enforcement officials to maintain computerized records 
of gun sales, something the gun lobby strenuously opposes.

Right now, Vince says there isn't a central database for gun purchases. 
"There is no national registration whatsoever," says Vince. "If we had 
computerized all the sales of firearms, we could be looking at patterns of 

And Vince says this includes all those .50-calibers purchased by Krasniqi 
and his team of gunrunners: "People normally buy firearms for hunting, for 
sporting purposes and self-defense. But you don’t buy 50 of the same type of 
weapon – or more in this case. It would obviously, through any type of 
analysis, ring buzzers with customs or anybody else investigating this."

How would Krasniqi describe the gun laws in this country? "More liberal than 
the wildest European imagination," says Krasniqi. "You can imagine them 
being liberal, and they are more liberal than that."

"But you wouldn’t have been able to buy guns for the Kosovo Liberation Army 
if the gun laws in this country were stricter," says Bradley. "And I’m 
hearing you say you’re anti-gun. How can you be anti-gun when you’re buying 
guns to free your people?"

"I took advantage of a liberal law here in this country to help my old 
country," says Krasniqi. "And I believe in my heart I did it for the good. 
But some people can do it for the bad."

© MMV, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.


CIA Flying Suspects To Torture?
July 24, 2005

You may not have heard the term "rendition," at least not the way the 
Central Intelligence Agency uses it. But renditions have become one of the 
most important secret weapons in the war on terror.

In recent years, well over 100 people have disappeared or been "rendered" 
all around the world. Witnesses tell the same story: masked men in an 
unmarked jet seize their target, cut off his clothes, put him in a blindfold 
and jumpsuit, tranquilize him and fly him away.

They're describing U.S. agents collaring terrorism suspects. Some notorious 
terrorists such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the mastermind of 9/11, were 
rendered this way.

But as Correspondent Scott Pelley reported last March, it's happening to 
many others. Some are taken to prisons infamous for torture. And a few may 
have been rendered by mistake.

One of the covert missions happened in Stockholm, and the details have 
touched off a national scandal in Sweden.

Two Egyptians living in Sweden, Mohammad Al-Zery and Ahmed Agiza, were 
arrested by Swedish police and brought to an airport. An executive jet was 
waiting with a crew of mysterious masked men.

"America security agents just took over," says Tomas Hammarberg, a former 
Swedish diplomat who pressed for and got an investigation into how the 
Egyptians disappeared.

"We know that they were badly treated on the spot, that scissors and knives 
were used to take off their clothes. And they were shackled. And some 
tranquilizers were put in the back of them, obviously in order to make them 
dizzy and fall asleep."

An airport officer told 60 Minutes she saw the two men hustled to the plane. 
She didn't want to be identified, but she had no doubt about where the plane 
came from: "I know that the aircraft was American registration ... because 
the 'N' first, on the registration."

The so-called "N" number marks an American plane. Swedish records show a 
Gulfstream G5, N379P was there that night. Within hours, Al-Zery and Agiza, 
both of whom had been seeking asylum in Sweden, found themselves in an 
Egyptian prison. Hammarberg says Sweden sent a diplomat to see them weeks 

What did they tell the diplomat about how they were being treated?

"That they had been treated brutally in general, had been beaten up several 
times, that they had been threatened," says Hammarberg. "But probably the 
worst phase of torture came after that first visit by the ambassador. ... 
They were under electric torture."

The Egyptians say Agiza is an Islamic militant and they sentenced him to 25 
years. But Al-Zery wasn't charged. After two years in jail, he was sent to 
his village in Egypt. The authorities are not allowing interviews.

"The option of not doing something is extraordinarily dangerous to the 
American people," says Michael Scheuer, who until three months ago was a 
senior CIA official in the counterterrorist center. Scheuer created the 
CIA's Osama bin Laden unit and helped set up the rendition program during 
the Clinton administration.

"Basically, the National Security Council gave us the mission, take down 
these cells, dismantle them and take people off the streets so they can't 
kill Americans," says Scheuer. "They just didn't give us anywhere to take 
the people after we captured."

So the CIA started taking suspects to Egypt and Jordan. Scheuer says 
renditions were authorized by Clinton's National Security Council and 
officials in Congress - and all understood what it meant to send suspects to 
those countries.

"They don't have the same legal system we have. But we know that going into 
it," says Scheuer. "And so the idea that we're gonna suddenly throw our 
hands up like Claude Raines in 'Casablanca' and say, 'I'm shocked that 
justice in Egypt isn't like it is in Milwaukee,' there's a certain 
disingenuousness to that."

"And one of the things that you know about justice in Egypt is that people 
get tortured," says Pelley.

"Well, it can be rough. I have to assume that that's the case," says 

But doesn't that make the United States complicit in the torture?

"You'll have to ask the lawyers," says Scheuer.

Is it convenient?

"It's convenient in the sense that it allows American policy makers and 
American politicians to avoid making hard decisions," says Scheuer. "Yes. 
It's very convenient. It's finding someone else to do your dirty work."

The indispensable tool for that work is a small fleet of executive jets 
authorized to land at all U.S. military bases worldwide.

Scheuer wouldn't tell 60 Minutes about the planes that are used in these 
operations - that information is classified. The CIA declined to talk about 
it, but it turns out the CIA has left plenty of clues out in the open, in 
the public record.

The tail number of the Gulfstream was first reported by witnesses in 
Pakistan. In public records, the tail number came back to a company called 
Premiere Executive Transport Services, with headquarters listed in Dedham, 
Mass. But Dedham is a dead end. The address is a law office on the second 
floor of a bank. There's no airline there.

But there was one thing in the records that did lead somewhere - a second 
tail number. That number belonged to an unmarked 737. 60 Minutes found the 
jet in Scotland, apparently refueling. It's possible to track these plans by 
their flight plans. Often the information is on the Internet.

Using the Web and aviation sources, 60 Minutes was able to find 600 flights 
to 40 countries. It appears the number of flights increased greatly in the 
Bush administration after Sept. 11.

The planes are based in North Carolina. They usually fly to Dulles Airport 
outside Washington before heading overseas. Major destinations read like a 
roadmap to the war on terror - 30 trips to Jordan, 19 to Afghanistan, 17 to 
Morocco, 16 to Iraq. Other stops include Egypt, Libya, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The flight log shows one flight took the 737 to Skopje, Macedonia, to 
Baghdad and finally Kabul, Afghanistan. 60 Minutes found a man who says he 
was on that flight.

Khaled el-Masri was born in Kuwait, but he now lives in Germany with his 
wife and four children. He became a German citizen 10 years ago. He told 60 
Minutes he was on vacation in Macedonia last year when Macedonian police, 
apparently acting on a tip, took him off a bus, held him for three weeks, 
then took him to the Skopje airport where he believes he was abducted by the 

"They took me to this room, and they hit me all over and they slashed my 
clothes with sharp objects, maybe knives or scissors," says el-Masri.

"I also heard photos being taken while this was going on - and they took off 
the blindfold and I saw that there were a lot of men standing in the room. 
They were wearing black masks and black gloves." El-Masri says he was 
injected with drugs, and after his flight, he woke up in an American-run 
prison in Afghanistan. He showed 60 Minutes a prison floor plan he drew from 
memory. He says other prisoners were from Pakistan, Tanzania, Yemen and 
Saudi Arabia. El-Masri told 60 Minutes that he was held for five months and 
interrogated by Americans through an interpreter.

"He yelled at me and he said that, 'You're in a country without laws and no 
one knows where you are. Do you know what that means?' I said yes," says 
el-Masri. "It was very clear to me that he meant I could stay in my cell for 
20 years or be buried somewhere, and nobody knows what happened to you."

He says they were asking him "whether I had contacts with Islamic parties 
like al Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood or aid organizations, lots of 

He says he told the Americans he'd never been involved in militant Islam. 
El-Masri says he wasn't tortured, but he says he was beaten and kept in 
solitary confinement. Then, after his five months of questioning, he was 
simply released.

At that point, did anyone ever tell him that they'd made a mistake? "They 
told me that they had confused names and that they had cleared it up, but I 
can't imagine that," says el-Masri. "You can clear up switching names in a 
few minutes."

He says he was flown out of Afghanistan and dumped on a road in Albania. 
When he finally made his way back home to Germany, he found that his wife 
and kids had gone to her family in Lebanon. He called there to explain what 

El-Masri says that his wife believed him: "I never lied to her, and my 
appearance showed that I had been in prison."

How did he explain what happened to him to his son? "I explained to him what 
happened to me. And he understood," says el-Masri. "I said it was the 
Americans [who did this to me]."

"How do you know if you're picking up the right people," Pelley asked 

"You do the best you can. It's not a science," says Scheuer. "It's gathering 
as much information as you can, deciding on the quality of it and then 
determining the risks the person poses. If you make a mistake, you make a 

There's another destination that 60 Minutes noticed frequently in the 
plane's flight logs: Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, a predominately 
Muslim country, with a reputation for torture.

Craig Murray is the former British ambassador there. He told 60 Minutes that 
Uzbek citizens, captured in Afghanistan, were flown back to Taskent on the 
American plane.

"I know of two instances for certain of prisoners who were brought back in a 
small jet, and I believe it was happening on a reasonably regular basis," 
says Murray.

Murray says the jet was operated by Premiere Executive Airlines.
He says in Uzbekistan, many prisoners are subject to torture techniques 
straight out of the Middle Ages: "Techniques of drowning and suffocation, 
rape was used quite commonly, and also immersion of limbs in boiling 

Murray complained to his superiors that British intelligence was using 
information gleaned by torture. He was recalled by London four months ago 
and quit the foreign service.

Is there any reason to believe that the CIA knows that people are being 
tortured in these jails?

"The CIA definitely knows. I asked my deputy to go and speak to the CIA, and 
she came back and reported to me that she'd met with the CIA head of 
station, who told her that 'Yes, this material probably was obtained under 
torture, but the CIA didn't see that a problem.'"

The CIA disputes that. The agency told 60 Minutes that the meeting Murray 
described didn't happen. The CIA also says it does not knowingly receive 
intelligence obtained by torture.

President Bush, in a January interview with The New York Times, said: 
"Torture is never acceptable." He added, "nor do we hand over people to 
countries that do torture."

Scheuer says, in his experience, the United States asks receiving countries 
to promise that suspects will be treated according to the laws of that 
country. "I'm not completely confident that any of the information received 
was exacted by torture," says Scheuer.

In Egypt?

"In Egypt. Again, I think we have people in the Middle East in the various 
services we deal with who are extraordinarily experienced in debriefing 
people," says Scheuer.

"I personally think that any information gotten through extreme methods of 
torture would probably be pretty useless because it would be someone telling 
you what you wanted to hear. The information we have received as a result of 
these programs has been very useful to the United States."

"And if some of that useful information is gleaned by torture, that's OK," 
asks Pelley.

"It's OK with me," says Scheuer. "I'm responsible for protecting Americans."

Scheuer says in the Clinton and Bush administrations, and in Congress, 
details of rendition flights were known to top officials. Now that the 
missions are coming to light, Scheuer says there is worry in the CIA that 
field agents will take the fall if any of the missions are later deemed 

Are CIA people feeling vulnerable to that?

"I think from the first day we ever did it there was a certain macabre humor 
that said sooner or later this sword of Damocles is gonna fall because if 
something goes wrong, the policy maker and the politicians and the 
congressional committees aren't gonna belly up to the bar and say, 'We 
authorized this,'" says Scheuer.

© MMV, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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