Lady’s Man: Italian Court Convicts Twenty-Three Americans in Kidnapping Case of Abu Omar

240px-Hassan_Mustafa_Osama_Nasr_CIATwenty-three suspects, including the former CIA station chief in Milan Robert Lady, were convicted of kidnapping by an Italian court for the CIA’s “extraordinary renditions.” It is the first such trial on the controversial practice.

Recently I discussed on Rachel Maddow (here) how the U.S. has ignored international law in the bombing of Pakistan sites and seems to argue that it is not unlawful because it is the United States who is carrying out the attacks. The same basic argument is being used on these extraordinary renditions where we engage in criminal acts in foreign countries and insist that, while we would prosecute other nations for such actions on our soil, we are in a materially different position. This court clearly disagrees.

Lady was given an eight-year jail sentence for his part in the seizure of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, who claimed that he was subsequently tortured in Egypt. Lady’s superior, Jeff Castelli, the then head of the CIA in Italy, and two other Americans were acquitted on the grounds that they enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

Another 21 alleged CIA operatives and a US air force officer were each sentenced to five years in jail. All were tried in absentia and are now to be treated as fugitives under Italian law. This will likely lead to a demand of extradition with the U.S. refusing to comply — a position that will undermine our own attempts to get extradition of others from foreign countries. We will continue our position — as on torture (here) — that we only apply international legal principles to others and not ourselves.

For the full story, click here.

13 thoughts on “Lady’s Man: Italian Court Convicts Twenty-Three Americans in Kidnapping Case of Abu Omar

  1. Hey man can you spare a dime? Am I my brothers keeper? I don’t understand why it should be any different.

  2. The shame is the real criminals: Bush/Cheney and their minions who asked for an approved this scheme are totally not effected. I think these men should lose their jobs and their pensions, with the proviso that they will be held blameless if they testify as to where they’re orders really came from.

  3. Mike S.,

    I don’t know how I feel about your proposal. I’ve thought about that type of deal for a while and I do think it applies to some people but not others. For example a great many of our service members engaged in torture in Iraq. I don’t hold them to the same standard as I do members of the CIA, because they couldn’t quit, but people from the CIA can. The level of brutality committed by CIA operatives is breathtaking in its depravity. I’m not certain they should walk away from jail time for these actions. I could see a reduced sentence for complete cooperation, but I don’t know about holding them completely blameless. Those are my thoughts. I certainly believe both the leaders in Italy who cooperated by skated on any punishment as well as our top architects of torture need to see a trial pronto. Had it not been for them, torture would not have become SOP for the US. So many have been harmed beyond measure as has the entire fabric of the US.

  4. Jill,
    The problem is that none of these people will get jail time. They were tried in absentia and I don’t believe the US will give them up. As long as they avoid Italy and perhaps Europe they will suffer no punishment and in the same time will collect pay, pensions and benefits. I want to cut them off from those rewards, or force them to give up people up the chain.

    I have never been a fan of the Nuremberg Trials even though the Shoah weighs heavily on me. Ordinary people do follow the most reprehensible orders and to me the people who gave the orders are the real guilty parties. We know this all came down from Bush/Cheney and the other NeoCon morons who believed this was good “realpolitik.” I go beyond it and believe that most of these leaders are at heart sadists who derived sexual pleasure from these torture excesses and from exploits like the Italian caper.

  5. Mike,

    They’ll have to avoid Europe all together would be my guess. The EU is very good at cooperating on extradition within the Union.

  6. Mike,

    Why do you believe the US will make them lose their jobs and pensions? Obama has already promised that won’t happen.

    I agree that people just follow orders but with degrees of enthusiasm. And some people refuse to follow orders even when it costs them everything. There were people, even at Abu Graib who wouldn’t do torture and tried to get the word out. These were grunts that were in the middle of a war zone, cut off from every support, who faced severe consequences for not going along, yet they did not, and they exposed it. CIA people get to quit. There’s that sweet red-haired woman, as yet unnamed, who flew down to Gitmo to watch detainees being tortured. She asked that they hold off until she got there. Is she really not culpable for her actions? Are the men and women who dragged people off the street, drugged them, gave them enemas, hooded them, hogged tied them, stripped them naked, beat them and threw them on a plane to be further tortured completely irresponsible for these actions? To me, they are responsible. At least, I’d like to hear about it in a court of law. If there were mitigating circumstances they should of course be heard out.

  7. Here’s some info on renditions:
    “Former UK ambassador: CIA sent people to be ‘raped with broken bottles’

    By Daniel Tencer
    Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 — 3:31 pm
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    craigmurray Former UK ambassador: CIA sent people to be raped with broken bottlesThe CIA relied on intelligence based on torture in prisons in Uzbekistan, a place where widespread torture practices include raping suspects with broken bottles and boiling them alive, says a former British ambassador to the central Asian country.

    Craig Murray, the rector of the University of Dundee in Scotland and until 2004 the UK’s ambassador to Uzbekistan, said the CIA not only relied on confessions gleaned through extreme torture, it sent terror war suspects to Uzbekistan as part of its extraordinary rendition program.

    “I’m talking of people being raped with broken bottles,” he said at a lecture late last month that was re-broadcast by the Real News Network. “I’m talking of people having their children tortured in front of them until they sign a confession. I’m talking of people being boiled alive. And the intelligence from these torture sessions was being received by the CIA, and was being passed on.” (from raw story, today’s edition)

  8. This story and the recent Sri Lankan torture investigation post exemplify the moral dilemma that this country has created for itself. If we are unwilling to enforce domestic and international laws prohibiting the conduct prosecuted by the Italian government, our demand that other nations do so will be met with the disdain that it richly deserves. Instead of criticizing Italy, we should have initiated the criminal investigation ourselves. And why in the world should the government of Sri Lanka even acknowledge our demands? How many synonyms can one find for “hypocrisy”?

  9. Buddalaughing is correct. Now that Italy has convictions, its warrants are honored by the EU in general. All convicted cannot go to Europe anymore or face arrest.

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