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***Pollari's Defence in the Abu Omar kidnapping case

by de Gondi Thu Jul 20th, 2006 at 08:04:46 AM EST

According to reports in the Repubblica and il Corriere, Pollari had refused to reply to many of the magistrates' questions on the grounds of state secrecy. He produced a letter in his defence that apparently implicates Gianni Letta, previous plenipotentiary delegate for the Services under the Berlusconi government. The letter would contain his dissent against the operation and his menace to resign his demission if  Sismi cooperation were to continue or go through on the projected kidnapping.

The Italian Services are obliged by law to inform the judiciary branch of a crime in act or consumed unless the Council President wavers that obligation for a limited period of time.

Pollari's defensive argument is very subtle. He acknowledges that he was aware of plans to kidnap several radical Islamists suspected of terrorism, reportedly eleven in all. He declared before the European Parliamentary Commission several months ago that the American Services offered him a barter of Italian and Yugoslav terrorists for Sismi support in "extraordinary renditions" which he refused.

From the front page - whataboutbob

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***Pollari on the Grill

by de Gondi Tue Jul 18th, 2006 at 08:14:45 AM EST

General Nicolò Pollari, head of the Italian Military Secret Services, the SISMi, was interrogated for three hours yesterday by the Milan Procura. According to indiscretions, Pollari may have invoked the State Secrecy clause. By law only the head of the Services has that power other than political authorities. This would force the hand of the Council President Romano Prodi who would have 60 days to confirm Pollari's initiative once the magistracy formally communicates it to the government.

The contested facts occurred in 2003 under the Berlusconi government.

Immediately after Pollari's interrogation, the judge of the preliminary investigation issued a priority ordinance that revoked house arrests for both Marco Mancini and Gustavo Pignero.

A clause of the ordinance is of particular importance: "As a result of the declarations of Gustavo Pignero and Marco Mancino, the original probative construction has in a certain sense been reinforced with reference to its initial positions. On  the other hand, it has been credibly enriched in reference to the role of third party subjects in the affair."

***From the front page ~ whataboutbob

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Pollari under Investigation for the Abu Omar Case

by de Gondi Sat Jul 15th, 2006 at 03:17:46 AM EST

Nicolò Pollari, head of the Italian Military Secret Services, the SISMi, is officially under investigation for his possible role in the Abu Omar kidnapping. He has been invited to testify before investigative magistrates assisted by his lawyers today, Saturday.

Pollari's possible role in the case had been alluded to in the ordinance mandating arrest for Marco Mancini and Gustavo Pignero last week. "Mancini and Pignero could have kept the Director in the dark concerning what they had plotted, organized and then carried out together with trusted individuals currently unidentified. Otherwise it is only possible to formulate the hypothesis of the complicity of the Director of the Services, General Pollari, in the crimes attributed to Mancini and Pignero, of having concealed information from the judiciary police and judiciary authorities concerning the project and the sequester of Abu Omar."

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The Italian Uranium Forgeries- Adventures in Manipulation***

by de Gondi Thu Jul 13th, 2006 at 08:44:27 AM EST

"It's known that news doesn't exist at a certain level. Instead, news leaks exist. That is, whispered ones, indiscretions with which each power center in this pluralist Republic tries to condition, warn or menace other power centers. In this sense, to talk about "spy reporters" is to talk about fresh water. A reporter is both a spy and its contrary. A spy in that in order to get access to certain information he must establish contacts with certain groups of power, perhaps plugging his nose, but without virginal fears about the candour of his hands. An anti-spy because he immediately offers to his public whatever indiscretions he's gotten hold of. In the final analysis, the reporter risks becoming the tool of someone else, and he may not immediately understand where certain initiatives taken behind his back may lead, but certainly never will a person with the vice of the plume loan himself to the clandestine omertà of spydom."
                                        -December 12, 1976.  Mino Pecorelli, reporter, assassinated on March 20th 1979, in the center of Rome

What emerges from the police operation in Via Nazionale 230 is the extent to which the Italian Military Secret Services, the Sismi, was obsessed with magistrates, reporters and businessmen whom they perceived as a menace. Not terrorists and criminals that could pose a danger, threat or aggression to the independence and integrity of the state but ordinary citizens who did not subscribe to their private brand of reality, a reality at times curiously convergent with the previous government's interests.

***From the front page - whataboutbob

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Via Nazionale 230

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

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Regional and Administrative Election Results in Italy**

by de Gondi Thu Jun 1st, 2006 at 04:00:29 AM EST

Results of provincial and administrative votes held throughout Italy this weekend indicate a solid victory of the center-left coalition. Of the eight provinces up for elections the center-left widened their previous margins of victory in the four provinces they governed and won over Reggio Calabria by a 58,6% win. In the three provinces that remained in the hands of the right-wing the margins of victory were greatly reduced, just barely keeping Pavia with 50,3%. Imperia is the only province where the rightwing results remained unvaried.
In mayoral elections the center-left has won by substantial margins in all major cities except Milan where the ex-Minister of Education, Letizia Moratti, is wining by 52%.

**From the front page

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Sicilian Regional Elections- Can Rita Win?

by de Gondi Thu May 25th, 2006 at 09:15:00 AM EST

You don't let yourself be destroyed by pain...because what drives us, the many parents of victims of violence, ...is the will to see to it that what our loved ones were doing continues.

                                                                                   Rita Borsellino

It was a hot afternoon, July 2004. Rome was quiet. I was having lunch with Riccardo, a Sicilian journalist who had been a frontline witness and reporter to nearly four decades of Sicilian history. We were talking about the dozen reporters assassinated by the mafia, some of whom had been his friends. He paused when I brought up the murder of  the reporter, Mimo Pecorelli, as if it were out of place, and then spoke earnestly of what distinguished certain reporters: an ethical and civil passion that transcended plain chronicle. And to drive his point home he began to talk about the magistrate Paolo Borsellino:

From the front page - whataboutbob

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The Prodi government- some observations

by de Gondi Thu May 18th, 2006 at 01:58:59 AM EST

Romano Prodi was sworn in as Council President together with his ministers yesterday. The new government will present its program to the Senate today, Thursday, and receive a confidence vote on Friday. On Monday it will be the turn of the House of Deputies.

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An Interview with Former Iraqi Ambassador Wissam Al Zahawie

by de Gondi Sun May 7th, 2006 at 11:10:36 AM EST

The Italian daily la Repubblica has published an interview with Wissam Al Zahawie, the Iraqi ex-ambassador to the Holy See. The so-called Niger forgeries were constructed around a diplomatic trip made by Mr. Al Zahawie to Niger in February 1999. The forgeries alleged that he was a key figure in the procurement or attempted procurement of uranium for an improbable nuclear enrichment scheme by Saddam Hussein. According to several authorities, among which Hans Blix, the forgeries played a crucial role in marketing the Iraqi invasion to public opinion and international community.

Mr. Zahawie's testimony and collaboration with the IAEA was crucial in determining that at least one document dated July 6, 2000, of still unknown content, was not authentic. The origin and the contents of this particular document has remained a mystery. I have discussed this issue in a previous diary, Niger Uranium Forgeries- Documents, Part I.

From the front age ~ whataboutbob

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The Origins of Berlusconismo

by de Gondi Tue Apr 18th, 2006 at 11:33:57 AM EST

What distinguishes Italy and its Berlusconi dilemma from other advanced industrial democracies is not so much the legal problems of Berlusconi, however unprecedented in modern times. The real problem is that B has managed to embody a subversive and extremely reactionary vision of the state that consolidated itself here in the decades after the Second World War.

For whatever crimes a Chirac may have committed it likely does not go beyond a network of corruption and political complicity. It does not appear to shake the foundations of the Fifth Republic. Chirac and most French politicians accept the Résistance and anti-fascism as the foundation of the Republic. France, like most of the Western European powers that rose in War's wake, claimed and demonstrated a strong national identity.

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Italian Election Day Open Thread

by de Gondi Mon Apr 10th, 2006 at 03:33:27 PM EST

promoted by DoDo

Voting booths close at 15:00 h for the Italian general elections. Voting has been orderly without any significant incidents yesterday and this morning. Nexus exit polls should go on line just after 15:00 h.

Voter participation on Sunday was surprisingly higher than expected. In comparison with the last general elections held on two days in 1994, turnout was 57,3% against yesterday's 66,5%. The final tally in 1994 was 86,1%.

As Ritter reported yesterday, there has been peak turnout in traditionally center-left strongholds with an all-time record in Rome of nearly 68%. Traditional conservative areas appear to follow the general downward trend of recent elections. This is an encouraging sign that the center-right message may not have galvanized their traditional constituency to vote. However, weather was very beautiful yesterday and may have pushed many voters to take the weekend off.

Official voting results will be put on line on the Minister of the Interior site.

Updates throughout the day and night.

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Scrapnotes on the Italian Campaign

by de Gondi Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 05:29:33 AM EST

So it's over. Officially. One of the ugliest general election campaigns since 1948. Actually there were two campaigns. One was conducted on television, another in the town squares of Italy.

The TV campaign was characterized by the bulimic invasion of the right wing's petty duce. To paraphrase Indro Montanelli, bereaved dean of conservative journalism, b***onism is like the stools that float back up from the sewer. No matter how often you flush or change channels, it's still there. A ruthless sissy, bent on pandering snake oil, ever ready to whine and screw you, chiagnere e fottere.

The strategy of the center left coalition recalled their original 1996 campaign.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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Marketing the Mobster

by de Gondi Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 08:01:37 AM EST

As of midnight March 23rd, it is forbidden by law to publish polls for the general elections in Italy. All sites with polls are inaccessible until voting booths close on April 10th.

In the past few days Berlusconi had repeatedly promised two polls that would show he would win the elections. One company, Euromedia Research run by Alessandra Ghisleri, is notoriously linked to Forza Italia. The other company is the American Penn, Schoen and Bertel Associates which is not so much a polling company as an election management firm. PSB is not a member of world organizations such as ESOMAR that set scientific and ethical standards for market research and opinion polling.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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by de Gondi Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 03:02:55 AM EST

Office of the Spokesman

This information is current as of today, Thu Mar 23 01:08:14 2006.

March 21, 2006

This Public Announcement is issued to alert Americans to ongoing security concerns in Italy, Bangladesh, Uganda, Venezuela and other third world hot spots.  Demonstrations are planned in various parts of Italy in anticipation of the upcoming Italian Parliamentary elections April 9 and 10, and municipal elections in May. This Public Announcement will expire when our boy is re-instated in power.

US exports fear to Italy - from the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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"Silvio Comes Roaring Back"

by de Gondi Mon Mar 20th, 2006 at 05:34:43 AM EST

In Berlusconilandia there's no such thing as unions or strikes. So when the press in the real world goes on strike for obvious reasons, the only papers available at the newsstands are imported from Berlusconi's paranoid world.

Last year Berlusconi took advantage of a national press strike to brutally attack on his front pages the Secretary of one of his coalition's minor parties, Marco Follini, for having expressed some teeny objections against the electoral law. Berlusconi said to his face that he would destroy him in the press. And he did. Follini resigned immediately. Berlusconi of course kept Follini's party, the UDC, notary clerks in Sicily for the Mafia's every whim.

Sunday was another golden opportunity. The only papers on the stands trumpeted the exploits of Berlusconi the day before with banner headlines. "Silvio Comes Roaring Back" "Berlusconi Attacks the Occult Powers [sic!]" "And the People of Confindustria Dump Prodi". "Della Valle Drowned by Boos." "The Pride and Anger of Silvio." The so-called state television chipped in with another manipulated news clip. Major news programs (RAI 1, RAI 2 and Mediaset) deliberately altered the statements of Confindustria President, Luca di Montezemolo, and Vice-President Andrea Pininfarina.

From the diaries - whataboutbob

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Security in American Airports

by de Gondi Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 07:54:04 PM EST

On Thursday NBC ran a news service on security in American airports. The GAO tested 21 airports with homemade bombs that could have blown a good sized hole in any aircraft. The bombs went through security without a hitch. The GAO report is classified but TSA did comment on the progress they're making in training personnel. The Transportation Security Administration told NBC News, "detecting explosive materials and IEDs at the checkpoint is TSA's top priority."

NBC has not mentioned the explosives detection systems (EDS) approved by the TSA that should be operational in American and international airports. This article will.

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The Prodi- Berlusconi Debate- First Round

by de Gondi Wed Mar 15th, 2006 at 12:44:37 PM EST

Last night's debate was a novelty for Italy. Stringent rules were set to take into every feasible aspect of the program from camera positions to neutral backdrops to lighting. Each candidate had two and a half minutes to answer the journalist's question, plus an additional minute to make a rebuttal to the opponent. At the end of the debate one candidate had the possibility to make a two and a half minute appeal to voters.

The two opponents were visibly emotional at the start. Prodi is known to be ill-at-ease and clumsy in front of cameras, while Berlusconi's tension may be due to his losing position in the polls. A good showing in a debate could help his position. He has made it clear that he is forced by law to abide by what he considers impositions and restrictions.

Promoted by Colman

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Niger Uranium Forgeries- Documents Part II

by de Gondi Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 05:49:58 AM EST

II. The case of the Niger-China Uranium Transaction

The first time that China is mentioned in the Niger forgeries story is in the Panorama article by Elisabetta Burba. When she gets back from the Balkans and meets Mr. Patacca (Rocco Martino), he pulls out "17" pages of documents and explains that he had discovered them while investigating a sale of uranium to China.

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Niger Uranium Forgeries- Documents, Part I

by de Gondi Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 08:48:28 PM EST

Three pages of the forged Niger dossier published by Panorama in their July 31, 2003 issue have not been put on the web. Taking a glance at the meat-world edition of Panorama it seems apparent why no one bothered to re-elaborate them for the web. One of them is practically illegible and very small while the other two consist of number-coded texts. The three unpublished pages are however catalogued on the Cryptome site as well as The Left Coaster.

Further, it is worth noting that one of the pages published by Panorama has a "receipt" stamp that does not appear in the Repubblica set of eight pages sent to NBC. The Panorama variant has not been put on the web.

In this series I will post the three pages with descriptions and observations as well as the Panorama variant of the Repubblica document. Since eRiposte's system of cataloguing is the most recent and  comprehensive, I will use his numbering and comments. In order to avoid misunderstandings I have blocked out everything but the relevant page.

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First Anniversary of Nicola Calipari Assassination

by de Gondi Fri Mar 3rd, 2006 at 06:46:18 PM EST

Today, March 3rd, is the first anniversary of the murder of Nicola Calipari at a temporary blocking post set up near the Baghdad airport. Calipari and his team had just freed Giuliana Sgrena, the war correspondent in Iraq for the Italian daily, il Manifesto. Jerome was one of the first on the web to report the incident. The case has been covered extensively at Kos, Booman and Eurotrib.

A commemoration was held in Rome today. The president of the Republic, Azeglio Ciampi, sat next to Nicola's wife and children throughout the ceremony. Participation by the public was unprecedented. Nicola has become very much a popular hero in Italy.

Rosa Calipari, wife of Nicola, is a candidate in the upcoming elections for the center-left coalition.

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