Friday, November 6, 2009

Spies in Italy

Every now and then the public get a glimpse at the real life spy novels that are played out in modern international relations.

On Wednesday a judge in Italy convicted a base chief for the Central Intelligence Agency and 22 other Americans, almost all C.I.A. operatives, of kidnapping an imam, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, from the streets of Milan in 2003.

The Muslim cleric claimed that he was abducted and tortured during the year that he was missing.

And where where was he taken?

Although it is unclear, the New York Times reported that Omar was taken from Italy to Germany and then Egypt.

Nothing is specified about what occurred during the kidnapping and few of the parties involved in the capture have been identified, with a number of notable former CIA agents claiming diplomatic immunity.

While the ruling will most likely be appealed and many of the people involved will walk away free from the crimes they committed, what needs to be addressed in response to this court case is the US practice of extraordinary rendition!

Omar was abducted under a US sanctioned practice where terrorism suspects are captured in one nation and taken for questioning in another, often a country more open to "coercive interrogation techniques."

Extraordinary rendition became a favorite tool for dealing with suspected terrorists during Bush's years in office and now Obama must take a stand to end this criminal practice.

I was proud to see Amnesty quickly respond to the news on Wednesday. Counter Terror with Justice policy director, Tom Parker aptly explained AI's stance on rendition in the press release sent out on the fourth.

"The United States shouldn’t need a foreign court to distinguish right from wrong. The Obama administration must repudiate the unlawful practice of extraordinary rendition – and hold accountable those responsible for having put this system in place -- or his administration will end up as tarnished as his predecessor’s," said Parker.

Rendition is a truly outrageous policy practiced by the US abroad, it is everything that contradicts the American sense of freedom and respected for the justice system. It's terrorists who take hostages in the light of day to inspire fear and gain information and it's authoritarian regimes who hold outspoken religious leaders without due process. It should not be America.

read the before and after articles -

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