Crime and Punishment

Outsourcing Torture

February 20, 2013

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General Nicolò Pollari

But why stop there? Why not prosecute the last three Italian prime ministers as well, plus the last two American presidents? I mean, why stop with the men manning the gas ovens? Why let Hitler off the hook?

“€œExtraordinary rendition“€ is something that not even the poster boy of the international left, Barack Obama, seems to have entirely abolished. Although his official stance is against torture, some say that at the very least, he’s practicing “€œExtraordinary Rendition-Lite.”€ Just as Obama doesn”€™t mind killing people from the air with drones, he doesn”€™t seem to mind outsourcing their torture to countries that do not see torture as an issue.

One of the Milan prosecuting judges said of the Supreme Court ruling: “€œIt confirms that what happened was incompatible with democracy.”€ Oh, no it doesn”€™t! It confirms that Italian judges see their role as that of interpreting Italians”€™ democratic will so long as it tallies with their view, and that their power is greater than that of Italy’s democratically elected governments. Italy is governed not by elected politicians, but by unelected judges.

Things are not looking good at all for the condemned Italian Secret Service chiefs and agents. They had even denied helping the CIA in any way to kidnap Abu Omar but were unable to defend themselves in court because of Italy’s official secrets laws. As for the judges in the case (in Italy, judges investigate and prosecute crimes as well as sit in judgment at trials, often without a jury), they had no proof one way or the other and therefore prosecuted and convicted on the basis of that time-honored Italian judicial standard of proof: Come off it, they must have done it! That the Italian government had (or had not) told the accused to do it, or that Abu Omar was (or was not) an Islamic terrorist was deemed by the judges to be irrelevant.

For as Oscar Magi, one of the Milan judges responsible for the original guilty verdict in the case of the CIA agents put it in his written judgment: That the CIA was able to kidnap a suspected Muslim terrorist in Italy “€œleads to the presumption that such activity was carried out at least with the knowledge (or maybe the complicity)”€ of the Italian Secret Service. But it was “€œnot possible,”€ he admitted, to prove those ties.

The seven condemned Italians now face years in jail. The 26 condemned Americans left Italy years ago. As fugitives from Italian justice, they are the subject of EU arrest warrants and if caught must be handed over to the Italians.

Probably they are back in America and so their only risk of going to jail is if the Italian government requests their extradition and it is granted by the American government. Neither is remotely possible.

The Milan judges complain that they have asked five successive Italian justice ministers to request their extradition without joy. This is hardly surprising given that the Italian government approved of what both the CIA agents did and its own secret agents did (or did not do) that day in February 2003 on that Milan street in broad daylight only a stone’s throw down from the mosque.

 

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