Thursday, November 05, 2009

Italy Convicts CIA Agents of Kidnapping and Rendition

Well, at least there's justice for 'extraordinary rendition' victims in one jurisdiction in this world.

In the case of Abu Omar who was snatched from the streets of Milan in 2003 and rendered to Egypt to be tortured (known as the 'Imam rapito affair' in Italy), Human Rights Watch weighs in:

(Milan) - An Italian court's conviction of 23 agents of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for kidnapping is an historic repudiation of the CIA's crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. The Milan court also found that two Italian officials illegally collaborated in CIA abuses.

The judge said he could not pronounce any verdict against five of the seven Italians on trial for the 2003 abduction of an Egyptian imam because they were protected by the state secrecy doctrine. Of the 26 Americans who were on trial, all of them in absentia, the court found that three were protected by diplomatic immunity guarantees.

Robert Seldon Lady, alleged to be the CIA station chief in Milan at the time of the kidnapping, received an eight-year sentence, the most serious penalty that the court handed down in the case. [See his 'I was only following orders' defense here. -catnip]

"The Milan court sent a powerful message: the CIA can't just abduct people off the streets. It's illegal, unacceptable, and unjustified," said Joanne Mariner, terrorism and counterterrorism program director at Human Rights Watch. "Both the Italian and US governments should now be on notice that justice authorities will not ignore crimes committed under the guise of fighting terrorism."


The verdicts today also stand in stark contrast to a disappointing decision issued on November 2 by a US federal appellate court in New York, which dismissed the suit brought by Canadian rendition victim Maher Arar. Arar was detained while in transit at John F. Kennedy airport in September 2002, then rendered by the CIA to Jordan and Syria, where he was brutally tortured for nearly a year.
Arar won't find justice in the United States - not when Obama has decided to continue the rendition program while providing legal cover for CIA agents who flagrantly break the law. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss... His administration may have walked away from the 'Global War on Terror" moniker of Bushco but it's obviously still very much in play.

And, if you followed the Niger/yellowcake forgery story closely, you'll remember this name:

The Italian defendants included Gen. Nicolò Pollari, the former head of SISMI, Italy's military intelligence service, who was forced to resign over Abu Omar's abduction and rendition, and Pollari's former deputy, Marco Mancini.
in 2005, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported, as translated by The American Prospect, that in the 2002 run up to the Iraq war, Pollari had a suspicious meeting with then deputy National Security adviser Stephen Hadley.

The paper goes on to note the significance of that date, highlighting the appearance of a little-noticed story in Panorama a weekly magazine owned by Italian Prime Minister and Bush ally Silvio Berlusconi, that was published three days after Pollari's meeting with Hadley. The magazine's September 12, 2002, issue claimed that Iraq's intelligence agency, the Mukhabarat, had acquired 500 tons of uranium from Nigeria through a Jordanian intermediary. (While this September 2002 Panorama report mentioned Nigeria, the forgeries another Panorama reporter would be proferred less than a month later purportedly concerned Niger.)

The Sismi chief's previously undisclosed meeting with Hadley, who was promoted earlier this year to national security adviser, occurred one month before a murky series of events culminated in the U.S. government obtaining copies of the Niger forgeries.
Thick as thieves (and forgers and kidnappers and torturers and murderers) - the lot of them.

Crocodile tears from one of those found guilty:

EXCLUSIVE: Convicted CIA Spy Says "We Broke the Law"

One of the 23 Americans convicted today by an Italian court says the United States "broke the law" in the CIA kidnapping of a Muslim cleric Abu Omar in Milan in 2003.

"And we are paying for the mistakes right now, whoever authorized and approved this," said former CIA officer Sabrina deSousa in an interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC's World News with Charles Gibson.

DeSousa says the U.S. "abandoned and betrayed" her and the others who were put on trial for the kidnapping. She was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison.

Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), a member of the House Intelligence Committee told ABC News that the trial was a disaster for CIA officers like DeSousa on the frontline.

"I think these people have been put out there. They've been hung out to dry. They're taking the fall potentially for a decision that was made by their superiors in our agencies. It's the wrong place to go."
Just which part of kidnapping is illegal and is punishable under the law didn't DeSousa understand? The Nuremberg defense rears its ugly head once again. And exactly how is she "paying" for anything? She's free, obviously. No one rendered her to Italy to actually stand trial.

And having Hoekstra as your number one defender? What a joke. The minute he calls for prosecutions of Bush administration officials - those "superiors", let me know.


Scott Horton: Judgment in Milan

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