by de Gondi
Fri Jul 7th, 2006 at 03:19:28 AM EST
Yesterday's vast police operation at the behest of the Milan Procura is exposing a deviant parallel service bent on manufacturing false information and dossiers on "enemies." Until late last night the special investigative police, the Digos, continued their mandate to search and sequester material in Via Nazionale, 230, in Rome. On the sixth floor in an eleven room apartment, agents reportedly found an archive of thousands of dossiers on prominent public figures: journalists, politicians, magistrates, entrepreneurs, all considered "enemies" of the past government's "Italy." The operative base may also have a key role in the manufacturing and distribution of false dossiers and disinformation.
Promoted by Colman
The clandestine base was reportedly discovered, ironically, through wiretaps on a senior Sismi agent, General Gustavo Pignero, and the Chief of Sismi's First Division, Marco Mancino. Marco Mancino's name has turned up in the illegal wiretapping cases that dwarf NSA wiretapping by comparison. (The wiretapping controversy in Italy was misrepresented in an arguably spun article by Peter Kiefer in the NYT last June 25th.) According to reports, when the vice-director of the Berlusconi daily Libero, Renato Farina, asked for an interview with the Public Ministers, Armando Spataro and Ferdinando Pomarici, over the Abu Omar case, Spataro was warned by the Digos that Farina had been engaged to spy on him by Pio Pompa, Sismi agent in charge of press relations for Pollari. It is Pio Pompa who had rented out the flat in Via Nazionale. It did not take long for the Milan investigators to discover and understand the significance of the flat.
Marco Mancino's name first appeared in the press on May 11th in la Stampa in a follow-along press scoop to the revelations in l'Espresso and la Repubblica that debunked the Berlusconi government's assertion that Italy had nothing to do with the Abu Omar kidnapping. The scoops revealed that the Milan Procura had the confession of an Italian carabinieri, Luciano Pironi, friend of Bob Lady Sheldon, who had participated in the kidnapping operation. The care-taker Berlusconi government licensed a government communiqué falsely accusing la Repubblica of maliciously speculating on Nicola Calipari who had at one point in his Sismi career overseen intelligence operations in Northern Italy. La Repubblica replied in an unsigned editorial that it was Marco Mancino (as previously reported by la Stampa) the person in charge at the time of the kidnapping, not Calipari. La Repubblica returned the accusation and announced that although they have always refrained from naming agents and persons in general, they would now reconsider their policy. They then listed Marco Mancino's positions within the Sismi over the years.
Immediately after this exposé Pollari relieved Mancino of his position by offering him the directorate of an agency academy. Mancini refused and went on sick leave.
Following the confession of Luciano Pironi the Milan investigation uncovered the evidence leading to Marco Mancino's arrest yesterday through the further testimony of Colonel Stefano D'Ambrosio, Sismi head of Milan operations before Mancino. According to D'Ambrosio's testimony both Bob Lady Sheldon and himself were opposed to the illegal kidnapping of Abu Omar in the early stages. At Lady's behest, D'Ambrosio pleaded against the project to none other than Marco Mancini. D'Ambrosio wished to inform their superior at the time, Gustavo Pignero. Mancini said he would handle it. Ten days later D'Ambrosio was summoned to Rome by Pignero and removed from his office. Mancini was promoted to take his place. At the same time Jeff Castelli, allegedly together with the diplomat Sabrina De Sousa, reprimanded Lady and ordered him to cut off all relations with D'Ambrosio. Jeff Castelli was then CIA station chief in Rome. Arrest warrants have been issued for Jeff Castelli and Sabrina De Sousa, as well as the agent Ralph Henry Russomando, accused of creating a false dossier to mislead Italian investigators, and Colonel Joseph Romano, then head of the Aviano Air Force Base and now at the Pentagon.
Marco Mancini quickly rose through the ranks together with the veteran Gustavo Pignero, once under General Dalla Chiesa in the war against the Red Brigades. Pignero became head of the First Division which handles military security and counterespionage while Mancini commandeered North Italy. Thanks to his excellent relations with American services, Mancini eventually took Pignero's place, warmly recommended by George Tenet and Silvio Berlusconi. Mancini's best friend from the beginning of their respective careers is Giuliano Tavaroli, ex-chief of Telecom Security and presently implicated in the illegal wire-tapping scandal.
The Italian services have a long tradition of putting together illegal archives and false dossiers that dates back to Mussolini's feared secret services, about a dozen agencies in all. After the war the orphaned fascist spies found welcome haven in the fledging services directly run by the Americans well into the late Fifties. In 1955 Allen Dulles and Claire Booth Luce put General De Lorenzo as head of the Secret Services, then known as the Sifar. In 1966 it was discovered that the Sifar had put together at least 157,000 illicit dossiers on Italian citizens. But what was most regrettable about these dossiers was the order to destroy them rather than turn them over to be catalogued in the state archives. On August 9, 1974 a bonfire acted as scapegoat for an entire political generation. But conveniently left many key dossiers in others' hands.
Then there was the legendary Ufficio Affari Riservati run by Federico Umberto D'Amato, who reigned much like J. Edgar Hoover or James Jesus Angleton thanks to their collections of illicit dossiers.
We are looking forward to finding out what's in Marco Mancini's collection. Perhaps some of the questions that have dogged investigators and reporters these past few years may find some answers.