by Laurent GUERBY
Fri Jul 28th, 2006 at 04:10:39 PM EST
Espionage, secrecy, and corruption: Lessons for the Bush administration.
By Patrick Radden Keefe
Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006, at 11:38 AM ET
When Italian prosecutor Armando Spataro issued arrest warrants for 22 CIA officers last November, for the 2003 kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in Milan, it seemed like a hollow gesture. Spataro claimed that American operatives had snatched the imam, who is known as Abu Omar, and transported him to Egypt, where he was allegedly tortured. But there was no way the United States would extradite its spies, and it appeared that the Italian investigation of the murky practice of extraordinary rendition would go the way of similar cases in this country: nowhere.
But Spataro wasn't hampered by the sort of pervasive official secrecy that prevails in the United States, and his team turned up revealing details of the abduction. The more they dug, the more dirt they found. Before long, the investigation blossomed into a full-blown spy scandal, replete with domestic wiretapping and the mysterious death of one of the investigators. By early July, two of Italy's top spymasters were under arrest.
We haven't heard much about the story on this side of the Atlantic. (When asked whether he had discussed it at the G8 summit with President Bush, Italy's new Prime Minister Romano Prodi quipped that Bush probably doesn't even know "the initials" of Italy's spy agency, Sismi.) But this is Italy's Watergate. It has already revealed in unprecedented detail the anatomy of an extraordinary rendition. And it raises serious doubts about the Bush administration's "just trust us" insistence that behind the veil of secrecy, espionage is an honest, upstanding business.
Eh eh, copying de Gondi :).