Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rendition by cowboys

Today's Washington Post has a story about Osama Mustafa Hassan (AKA Abu Omar), an Egyptian refugee who was snatched off the street in Milan by the CIA in 2003, flown to Egypt, and tortured. The case has already ballooned into an international incident, with Italian prosecutors filing charges against the CIA snatch squad and attempting to extradite them on kidnapping charges. And they have reason to be angry: Hassan's abduction ruined a major anti-terrorism investigation:

"The kidnapping of Abu Omar was not only a serious crime against Italian sovereignty and human rights, but it also seriously damaged counterterrorism efforts in Italy and Europe," said Armando Spataro, the lead prosecutor in Milan. "In fact, if Abu Omar had not been kidnapped, he would now be in prison, subject to a regular trial, and we would have probably identified his other accomplices."

(Emphasis added).

Instead, they got away, thanks in no small part to the CIA, who actively spread disinformation to cover their tracks. And as a result, the Italians lost the chance to roll up the entire network.

So, who made this decision? According to the Washington Post,

the kidnapping was the inspiration of the CIA station chief in Rome, who wanted to play a more active role in taking suspected terrorists off the street. CIA officials in Italy came up with a list of three people "they wanted to look at to grab," said one agency official.

A bored manager in a safe posting who wanted to play cowboy, in other words. And we wonder why they end up abducting the innocent...