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View Diary: Italian Prosecutor Seeks Rendition Indictments of 25 CIA and 5 SISMI Spooks (23 comments)

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  •  The lesson learned should be (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lysias, dwcal

    that playing dirty, at least in our allies back yards, doesn't pay.

    European countries like Germany and Italy have far larger ex-patriot communities from the Middle East than the U.S. does.

    If you want to fight Islamic terrorism, and there are certainly many dangerous Islamic terrorist groups out there, even if they aren't the only kind of terrorist groups, cooperation with the countries is vital.  They have far more people who can speak Middle Eastern languages and have far more people in a position to be aware of happenings in the countries that they or their parents emigrated from that would be off the radar of American foreign policy, military and intelligence officials.

    There are also Islamic terrorist groups in Europe --U.K., Germany, Italy and Spain among them.  The Madrid train bombing and the British public transportation bombings are two recent examples of that fact.

    If you don't win the whole hearted cooperation of these countries, you can't get cooperation and can't find and stop terrorists who also threaten the U.S.

    Yet, now Italy wants 25 CIA agents, and Germany wants to try Donald Rumsfield for war crimes.  The short term gains we may have gotten from playing dirty (and those are dubious at best) are far outweighed by the costs we have suffered by losing our ability to be a team player.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

    by ohwilleke on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 10:30:47 AM PST

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    •  not disagreeing with either you (0+ / 0-)

      I don't think playing dirty is a good tactic, whether looked at in either the short term or long term.

      I don't like seeing the guys in the field throwing people under the bus for following orders. IF those orders were illegitimate or criminal, then Congress should impeach and a special prosecutor should indict those officials who gave the orders.  If the special prosecutor wants to indict the operatives as well, that's his (or her) call.  The CIA officers should face justice-- in an American courtroom.

      But extraditing CIA agents to face justice overseas?  Its never going to happen. One, its a tremendous act of bad faith for Bush or any other president to do that, here we'll give you a small fish so the big fish can go free.

      Two, The CIA guys know too many embarrassing things about other secret US covert ops.  If the government sells them out by extraditing, why not spill the beans on everything?

      So, although they no doubt broke the law, the CIA officers won't  be indicted, nor should they be.  Neither will Rumsfeld, even be a Democratic president (who won't want his cabinet secretaries fearing extradition by a future GOP president).

      We're Americans, if we can't solve our own problems with our own legal system, we should just surrender to the Chinese now.

      •  oops, poor editing :O) (0+ / 0-)

        Meant to say in the 2nd paragraph

        I don't like to see guys in teh field thrown under the bus for following orders.  And kidnapping overseas suspects, while odious, is a long way from Nuremberg.

        •  I'm not convinced that it is so far (0+ / 0-)

          from Nuremberg.  

          It isn't simply that these guys were kidnapped, it is that these guys were kidnapped and then tortured with the full expectation that this is what would happen (regardless of who ultimately did the torturing).

          The relevant inquiry, I think, is whether the people following orders knew that the orders were illegal.  Some did or should have, and others did not.  Those who didn't know they were following illegal orders and had no strong reason to know that the orders were illegal aren't culpable.  Those who did know and did it anyone (or formulated the illlegal orders) are culpable, but have been effectively pardoned by Congress under the MCA.

          The President won't prosecute or extradict them.  He probably shouldn't extradict them because of the principal that one ought to discpline one's own.  Covert ops always carries the risk of being caught abroad and punished and disavowed by your own government, but that is quite different from being extradicted by your own government once you've made it safely home.  Probably the best the CIA can do now is to fire these people, but I'm not sure that this would be prudent if you could do it.  Do we want loose canons out there unsupervised?

          "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

          by ohwilleke on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 12:05:07 PM PST

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          •  are they loose cannons? (0+ / 0-)

            Renditions have been going on since at least the Clinton Administration, so I think the CIA officers were just following SOP.  Does rendition violate a treatu that the US is signatory to?  From what I've read it does, but we should be prosecuting the policymakers not the grunts. However, no doubt John Ashcroft (or maybe Janet Reno) wrote a figleaf legal opinion saying these actions are legal.  The fiction is  we just don't know what Egypt is going to do to a detainee, when everyone knows exactly what they'll do.

            As for "breaking the law", for intelligence officers, if they can get out of the target country safely, the only one that counts is US law.  We wouldn't extradite a CIA officer to China or Russia to face espionage charges.  If the CIA guys are doing their job, then they didn't break the law (in so far as the were following orders).

            The big question is, why the heck are we running covert ops in an allied nation?  Italy lets us base troops there and has supported us in Iraq, why antagonize them by breaking their laws like they're a potential adversary?

            I think there's more the story, I'm pretty sure the Italian govenrment DID approve the snatch but wanted plausible deniability for ITS policymakers.  Of course that leaves their intelligence officers facing trial out in the cold.  Wouldn't be surprised if they suddenly turned up, green cards in hand, with new homes in Northern Virginia.

            •  Prior to W's administration (0+ / 0-)

              rendition was an extremely rare practice.  Now, it has become a common way of operating.  This wasn't SOP until W, Cheney and Rumsfield put their stamps of approval on it.

              Figleaf legal opinions and insincere claims of not knowing aren't enough to make violating an illegal order legal, although it does make the proof of the matter harder.  In any case, they have all been granted amnesty by Congress in the MCA.

              It looks to me like what happened is that the Italian government approved one plan, and the CIA overstepped the boundaries of the deal and broke its agreement with the Italians because a fairly low level CIA manager decided that it was worth it to do so.

              I think that they are loose cannons, albeit ones we've set loose.  We have low level CIA managers making Ambassador/Undersecetary of State/Undersecretary of Defense level decisions on international alliances, without a lot of careful consideration of what those decisions mean for the larger foreign policy and military policy picture.  They don't have enough of a sense of the big picture of what is acceptable and not in allied territory to keep out of trouble.

              Moreover, these are the kind of people who, if fired, would likely go rogue and try to run their own operations without any official sanction from the U.S. government who are behaving legally.  This is a real worrry.

              "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

              by ohwilleke on Tue Dec 05, 2006 at 02:41:29 PM PST

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