ROME (AP) — Italy’s highest criminal court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of 23 Americans in the abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect from a Milan street as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, paving the way to possible extradition requests by Italian authorities.
The ruling by the Court of Cassation marks the final appeal in the first trial anywhere in the world involving the CIA’s practice of abducting terror suspects and transferring them to third countries where torture is permitted.
The Americans were convicted in absentia following a three-and-a-half-year trial, and have never been in Italian custody. They risk arrest if they travel to Europe and one of their court-appointed lawyers suggested that the final verdict would open the way for the Italian government to seek their extradition.
“It went badly. It went very badly,” lawyer Alessia Sorgato said after the court announced its decision after a day of deliberations. “Now they will ask for extradition.”victed in absentia following a three-and-a-half-year trial, and have never been in Italian custody. They risk arrest if they travel to Europe and one of their court-appointed lawyers suggested that the final verdict would open the way for the Italian government to seek their extradition.
Milan Prosecutor Armando Spataro, one of Italy’s top anti-terrorism magistrates who shaped the prosecution, hailed the top court’s decision, saying it was tantamount to a finding that extraordinary rendition “is incompatible with democracy.”
Phi Beta Iota: This is an important story at multiple levels. First, CIA pretensions to being “clandestine” are just that — they lie to Congress and refuse to admit that 80-90% of all CIA clandestine personnel — and their contractors — are blown within a week of arriving in country. Second, without calling into question the politics and policy of rendition and torture, it is clear that individuals carrying out such operations will be identified and brought to justice. Third — and this was discussed in front of the Moynihan Commission on Secrecy — it is high time to cease all use of diplomatic and official cover. It does not work, it creates lazy bureaucrats who consider themselves immune from local laws and mores. Fourth, has the time come for Presidential engagement in how the USA does intelligence and special operations? Might it be possible to achieve greater decision-support for Whole of Government with vastly less money for spies and secret technical collection that is not processed? Might it be possible for Special Operations to have 100 times to 1000 times more effect if White SOF came to the fore, centered on Civil Affairs with a dramatic commitment to M4IS2 as the basis for harmonizing socio-economic and ideo-cultural investments by all eight communities across all nations? These are good questions – they offer a path toward redemption.