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Italian News Tour

by de Gondi Sun Oct 29th, 2006 at 04:57:18 AM EST

Most of the headlines Saturday go to yet another spy story. This time it's the Treasury police spying on opposition bigwigs under the Berlusconi regime. Prodi was the all-time favorite target along with just about everybody Silvio didn't like. Of course it's no small coincidence that Nicolò Pollari, zombie head of the Sismi, came from the Treasury police and ran shotgun over there these past years. His pet pick for head of the Guardia di Finanza (Treasury), General Roberto Speciale, will have plenty on his hands when investigators drop by.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

Now to honour truth the spy story has been bi-partisan. Even Silvio's kids have been monitored along with TV celebs and soccer players. But that all ends there: illegal curiosity. What counts is the coordinated in-depth intrusion into all aspects of Prodi's personal finances coupled with Berlusconi's press attacks. Three episodes have been detailed in the press, the last just two days before the April general elections. One's thoughts turn to Renato "Betulla" Farina who sunk his teeth into the story with a wealth of detail. Sure the story had to go through a small-town conservative paper that, to its honour, practiced the art of journalism by checking with Prodi on the facts before publishing. Now the editor wonders out loud why his rightwing national paper colleagues were so insistent in nagging him to publish days before.

For some reason the international press woke up on Friday and reported last July's news. Pio Pompa who is now back at work in Via Nazionale, 230, had slapped together dossiers against Berlusconi's enemies- and by symbiosis, the mafia's enemies. The exact words are: to take "traumatic actions against Berlusconi's enemies." Nice to see the Sismi's on the ball. Ok, there is something new: the Milan procura, investigating the case sent the documents to the utterly useless parliamentary "oversight" committee, the Copaco. Whatever, it's still July news.

Now Pollari should be sacked in a matter of days if not hours. I hope its not like Jerome's $100 barrel countdown but those late night government meetings point to that. There's a long weekend coming up with All Hallows which would be a good moment. The only thing that keeps Pollari in place is government haggling over who to designate as his successor (They say otherwise). But it's the sort of job that carries bad luck. More often than not Italian spy directors go down mired in scandals. Stop appointing masons might help.

La Stampa had an interesting scoop yesterday (the 27th) by Guido Ruotolo. Revelations by a deep throat in government over the Abu Omar case. As readers here know, Pollari invoked state secrecy as his defence in the case. Now we've been hearing for years that there was no state secrecy until the Prodi government did confirm that effectively Silvio had applied state secrecy, but not on the specific case. So it's been a game trying to understand exactly what kind of secret Pollari is using as his defence. Basically he's pushing for a preliminary ruling that would call him out on the case. If a judgement rules that he cannot defend himself without violating state secrecy, well, the case is closed for him.

O yes, the scoop. According to the anonymous source, it was our toothy, combed hero, Silvio, that agreed to let George go ahead with his kidnappings on Italian territory. He then turned it over to Pollari who wrote a letter of refusal as it violated Italian law (come to think of it, just about every nation's law.) Silvio applied secrecy saving both his and Nicolò's respective asses. The only question is what does all this have to do with the criteria to apply state secrecy? Where's the vital national interest to be safeguarded?

Il Corriere carries the news today (October 28th) that Abu Omar is once again in hard detention. Last news was an interview with his lawyer who forecast an imminent release and a suit against Berlusconi for having authorized the kidnapping. Now there's more details. It appears a Services' agent (Egyptian?) had an eye-to-eye chat with Abu Omar in mid-September, promising him two million dollars and freedom if he signed a statement that he had voluntarily consigned himself to Egyptian authorities. He refused and was sent back to Tora. His family and lawyer then decided to sue Berlusconi for ten times the sum: twenty million. So it's back to U.S. Congressional certified torture. The moral of the story is that prisoners should be made to disappear definitively. No messy trials nor lawsuits, no place for softies in Cheneyland.

One of Silvio's enemies was Pino Arlacchi who was interviewed in Unità Saturday. Frankly it's beyond Berlu's tresses, as the successful smear campaign against Arlacchi was engineered by a "European diplomat" and UN underlings, dixit Arlacchi (and he's willing to testify). Berlu's papers just peddled the smears. Arlacchi was head of the UN war on drugs until 2001 when he got forced out over his Afghan policies. The possibility that he might have gone on to head UN anti-terrorism was not well received abroad. And Afghan opium is now in the right hands.

With all those enemies Silvio perceives, he made sure he'd be protected once out of office. Silvio made some sort of last minute decree while packing luggage that gave him 31 state-paid bodyguards and 16 cars of which 13 are armoured. And this was the guy who took away the escorts from major mafia targets such as Judge Ilda Boccassini for a personal grudge. Or the "balls breaker" (As then Minister of the Interior, Claudio Scajola, called him)  professor Marco Biagi who was punctually murdered by the Red Brigades. They always come in handy when needed. Nothing like a little bit of "traumatic action" to build consensus.

Marco Mancini is back at work after "sick leave." One wonders what sort of job Pollari will assign him after Marco called him a coward that ought to be shot in the back by a firing squad.

L'Espresso reveals that the General Secretary of the UDC (Union of Democrat Christians, Berlu ally), Lorenzo Cesa, has allegedly put together a personal slush fund with a little bit of financial wizardry that entails relaundering mafia capital by ripping off the UN through some sort of European-program-of-territorial-partnership-for-Italian-emigrants-abroad. Cesa's indignation over the scoop seems misplaced. After all, he may not know that the mafia runs money through his slush fund. But a party who's principal representative in Sicily is President Kissy-kiss Cuffaro could not be expected to behave otherwise.

Giuliano Tavaroli of Telecom fame continues to languish in prison, ironically victim of Berlu's acrimony for the judiciary. In order to review his appeal the appellate court in Rome needed copies of the several thousand dossiers in the hands of the Milan PM's. A van was needed to transport the lot. But because the Justice branch cannot afford gas due to the previous government's radical cutbacks, the van has remained dry in the court yard. The carabinieri eventually handled transportation. The debt of the Judiciary is calculated at over 250 million euro. It may be symptomatic but the Prodi government has yet to do something about the matter.

The questori of the House of Deputies have refused to do toilet duty. Elisabetta Gardini, spokeswoman for Divo Silvio's personal political entity, was scandalized to find the trans, Vladimir Luxuria, in the Ladies' room and has created an uproar. Where Ms. Luxuria should seek bodily relief has become a state affair rigorously divided along party lines. Some suggest an ad hoc solution, a third type of bathroom. As for Ms. Gardini, I suggest she join her party colleague,Senator Lucio Malan, who bodily relieved himself on the floor while holding the Senate hostage for eight hours last June. It would spell out rightwing attitudes towards state institutions.

But back to bodyguards, Beppe Alfano's daughter, Sonia, has seen hers taken away. It's a small comfort to see the 21 year jail sentence for the killer of her father finally confirmed. In the meantime an escort has been assigned to the Democrat Fascist MP (AN), Daniela Santanchè, after she tried to teach the Koran to an imam during prime-time. Seems the Koran doesn't prescribe the veil according to our jet set theologian. The discussion was lively but from that to a fundamentalist fatwa is stretching things. She could always hide out in one of Flavio Briatore's fiscal paradises and finger the fish.

Roberto Saviano, the reporter whose book Gomorra is a runaway best seller, is under police protection after numerous death threats from the Camorras. Crime wars in the Neapolitan area have caused far more victims than ETA and North Ireland combined. His reporting is a kick in the stomach.

The container rocked while the crane lifted it to the ship. As if it were floating in the air, the sprider ... was unable to control its movements. The badly locked doors suddenly opened and dozens of bodies began to rain down. They seemed to be mannequins. But when they hit ground the heads broke open like real skulls. They were skulls. Women and men fell out of the container. And some children. Dead. Frozen, all piled up, one on another in rows like sardines in a can. They were the Chinese that never die. Immortals who pass their documents from hand to hand. That's where they ended up...They fell by the dozens, each one with a name on a card tied around the neck. They had all put money aside to be buried in China... When the crane operator told me about it he covered his face with his hands and gazed at me through the space between his fingers as if a mask of hands could encourage him to talk. He had seen the bodies fall and he didn't even have to ring the alarm. As soon as the container touched ground dozens of people came out of nowhere, threw the bodies back in and hosed away what remained with a pump.

A magnificent post, De Gondi - clear, bitter, strong and precise as a well-aimed punch in the stomach.

I try to keep pace with the news here as best I can but it's like forcing myself to keep watch over an immense, overloaded sewer spewing out its contents into the road - the eyes get tired of watching so much foulness bobbing along, the nose rebels at the stench...  - so thanks for putting it all together, also for bringing these "minor points" to my flagging attention:

Pio Pompa who is now back at work in Via Nazionale, 230...

Marco Mancini is back at work after "sick leave"...

Note taken.  How naive of me to expect otherwise.

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Sat Oct 28th, 2006 at 09:22:19 PM EST
Il manifesto carried that scoop last month, punctually confirmed by Corriere della Sera. I'm writing from memory as I'm travelling. Manifesto interviewed Pompa's next door neighbor who stated that the office had been closed only in August and Pio was back to work. The person also declared that Pio was often accompanied by a gentleman with a strong "anglo-american" accent.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 03:25:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yup, what ecb said...

i always feel speechless at such good reporting!

any good news coming about energy awareness in italy, now we are the first eu country to have a green party environment minister?

(correct me if wrong)

please turn your hawkeye on italy's shameful recalcitrance in this field, de g.

tho' i know someone has to keep an eye on the spy-vs-spy games going on in italy's political gut, and the mafia/berlusconi/vatican loveknot can stand a lot more unravelling...

more, more!!!.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Oct 29th, 2006 at 04:00:12 AM EST
Yes, the Minister of the enviroment heads the Green party. I'll try to follow up on that on some point.

The "loveknot" is far too complicated to unravel with its necessaary distinctions. The Vatican is far more than just Berlusconi and the mafias.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 03:28:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
now we are the first eu country to have a green party environment minister?

No, there have been elsewhere, most notably in Germany.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 05:56:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hello de Gondi! Funny, I was just wondering what the latest news from taly was...so thanks! Excellent piece, as always...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sun Oct 29th, 2006 at 07:28:44 AM EST
breathtaking suspense to the last word.  Who needs novels?

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 02:09:01 PM EST
This state within the state is actually quite scary, I'd rather read it in a novel.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 03:17:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The British tax lawyer David Mills is to stand trial charged with corruption alongside ex-Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, a Milan judge has ruled.


Mr Mills and Mr Berlusconi were already facing trial next month on tax evasion and embezzlement charges in Italy.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 06:49:31 PM EST

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