Friday, February 16, 2007

26 Americans Charged in Italian Rendition Case

An Italian judge has ordered 26 US citizens - most of them CIA agents - to stand trial over the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in Milan in 2003. Osama Mustafa Hassan was allegedly seized there by the CIA and flown to Egypt, where he says he was tortured.

Five Italians were also indicted by the judge, including Italy's ex-military intelligence chief, Nicolo Pollari.

Those indicted include the former station chief of CIA operations in Milan, Robert Seldon Lady, who says his opposition to the proposal to kidnap the Imam was over-ruled. He is reported to have returned to the US, leaving behind a villa in Italy which he bought with his life savings.

The AP has a story as well with more details. The former head of Italian intelligence was indicted as well and said he couldn't defend himself because of classified documents not being given to him.

It is still in doubt if the US will hand over a single person over to the Italian authorities. Apparently, the defendents will be tried in absentia.

(Osama Moustafa Hassan) Nasr was allegedly transferred by vehicle to the Aviano Air Force base near Venice and then by air to the Ramstein Air Base in Germany and on to Egypt, where critics say he was tortured.

All but one of the American suspects have been identified as CIA agents, including the former station chiefs in Rome and Milan. The other is a U.S. Air Force officer stationed at the time at Aviano.

I never seriously believed that the US would hand over the people who committed this crime. Yes, even though they were following orders, the orders to kidnap a man in a foreign country to be turned over to torturers is criminal. However, the fact that there will be a trial, and there will be evidence and testimony about the practices that our government has employed will be a breath of fresh air.

Our media may even cover this with actual reports of what our government has done in our name, giving people pause to reflect on our loss of liberties and values that we allegedly hold dear.

Europe is starting to fight back. Prosecutors in Switzerland are examining charge because this crime included a flight over their air space.

And a Munich prosecutor recently issued arrest warrants for 13 people in connection with another alleged CIA-orchestrated kidnapping, this one of a German citizen who says he was abducted in December 2003 at the Serbian-Macedonia border and flown to Afghanistan.

The truth is getting out. The rest of the world is no longered cowered. Ironically, Bush's overreach has not intimidated the rest of the world. The disaster in Iraq has exposed him as a paper tiger to those he tried to intimidate, and now they are starting to show their own fangs.