Twenty-six CIA agents are scheduled to go on trial today for kidnapping. Unfortunately, all of them will be tried in absentia because the Bush administration, which has long claimed to be against torture, refuses to send the accused kidnappers to Italy, where the prosecution is taking place.
The Italian indictment alleges that in June 2005 the CIA officials kidnapped Hassan Osama Nasr, who is known as Abu Omar, in Italy and then forcibly carried him against his will to Egypt for torture. Nasr claims that Egyptian torturers then tortured him brutally.
The Italian torture trial also involves nine Italian defendants who allegedly conspired with the CIA agents to kidnap Omar and rendition him to Egypt. They include Gen. Nicolo Pollari, the former head of SISMI, Italy’s military intelligence service, who was forced to resign over the Omar kidnapping, as well as his former deputy, Marco Mancini.
Hopefully, the trial will shed more light on the CIA’s kidnapping, rendition, and torture scheme.
According to a Reuters news dispatch, successive Italian governments have “so far refused to seek the extradition of the 26 Americans who have been charged in the case” apparently because they view the prosecution “as a hindrance to Italian-US relations.” Not that this would matter since the Bush administration has said that it would not honor an extradition request anyway.
Joanne Mariner, terrorism and counterterrorism director at Human Rights Watch (who will be speaking at The Future of Freedom Foundation’s upcoming June 6-8 conference “Restoring The Republic 2008: Foreign Policy and Civil Liberties”), stated in a Reuters news dispatch: “The new Italian government should reconsider past refusals to request the extradition of the 26 Americans. It should show the world that Italy does not give get-out-of-jail-free cards to kidnappers. The CIA’s rendition program should be on trial in the United States. But since the US Department of Justice has utterly failed in its responsibility to investigate and prosecute these serious crimes, it is up to Italy to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
To date, neither Congress nor the Justice Department has shown any interest in conducting a serious investigation into any criminal wrongdoing by the CIA, including its kidnapping, secret prisons, rendition, and torture schemes. That’s because in the minds of U.S. officials nothing that the CIA does can ever be considered criminal, especially since here in the United States the CIA is not just above the law, it is the law. Fortunately, Italian prosecutors feel differently.