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U.S. allowed Italian kidnap prosecution to shield higher-ups, ex-CIA officer says

CIA whistleblower

"It's time to talk about this," says former CIA operative Sabrina De Sousa, who has been convicted in absentia in Italy of the kidnapping of Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, in Milan in 2003. | Barbara L. Salisbury/MCT

 

A former CIA officer has broken the U.S. silence around the 2003 abduction of a radical Islamist cleric in Italy, charging that the agency inflated the threat the preacher posed and that the United States then allowed Italy to prosecute her and other Americans to shield President George W. Bush and other U.S. officials from responsibility for approving the operation.

Confirming for the first time that she worked undercover for the CIA in Milan when the operation took place, Sabrina De Sousa provided new details about the “extraordinary rendition” that led to the only criminal prosecution stemming from the secret Bush administration rendition and detention program launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The cleric, Osama Mustapha Hassan Nasr, was snatched from a Milan street by a team of CIA operatives and flown to Egypt, where he was held for the better part of four years without charges and allegedly tortured. An Egyptian court in 2007 ruled that his imprisonment was “unfounded” and ordered him released.

Among the allegations made by De Sousa in a series of interviews with McClatchy:

– The former CIA station chief in Rome, Jeffrey Castelli, whom she called the mastermind of the operation, exaggerated Nasr’s terrorist threat to win approval for the rendition and misled his superiors that Italian military intelligence had agreed to the operation.

– Senior CIA officials, including then-CIA Director George Tenet, approved the operation even though there were doubts about Castelli’s case – Nasr wasn’t wanted in Egypt and wasn’t on the U.S. list of top al Qaida terrorists.

– Condoleezza Rice, then the White House national security adviser, also had concerns about the case, especially what Italy would do if the CIA were caught, but she eventually agreed to it and recommended that Bush approve the abduction.

De Sousa said her assertions are based on classified CIA cables that she read before resigning from the agency in February 2009, as well as on Italian legal documents and Italian news reports. She denies that she was involved in the operation, though she acknowledges that she served as the interpreter for a CIA “snatch” team that visited Milan in 2002 to plan the abduction.

“I was being held accountable for decisions that someone else took and I wanted to see on what basis the decisions were made,” she said, explaining why she had delved into the CIA archives. “And especially because I was willing to talk to the Hill (Congress) about this because I knew that the CIA would not be upfront with them.”

“I don’t have any of the cables with me. Please put that down,” De Sousa added with a nervous laugh, her unease reflecting the Obama administration’s unprecedented crackdown on leaks of classified information to journalists.

De Sousa is one of only a handful of former CIA officers who’ve spoken openly about the secret renditions in which suspected terrorists overseas were abducted without legal proceedings and then interrogated by other nations’ security services.

More than 130 people were “rendered” in this way, according to a February 2013 study by the Open Society Justice Initiative, a U.S.-based group that promotes the rule of law. Many were tortured and abused, and many, including Nasr, were freed for lack of proof that they were hatching terrorist plots, said Amrit Singh, the study’s author.

Human rights groups and many legal experts denounce rendition as violating not only U.S. and international law, but also the laws of the nations where abductions occurred and of the countries to which suspected terrorists were sent. In December 2005, Rice defended renditions as legal, however, calling them a “vital tool” that predated the 9/11 attacks. She denied that the United State “transported anyone . . . to a country where we believe he or she will be tortured.”

The Bush and Obama administrations have never acknowledged U.S. involvement in the Nasr rendition, which makes De Sousa’s decision to speak publicly about it significant, Singh said.

“Any public account of what happened and who was ultimately responsible is of considerable interest,” she said. “Despite the scale of the human rights violations associated with the rendition program, the United States hasn’t held a single individual accountable.”

The CIA declined to comment, but a former senior U.S. intelligence official called De Sousa’s narrative “fairly consistent” with the recollections of other former CIA officials with knowledge of the operation. He asked not to be further identified because the matter remains classified.

“There was concern on the seventh floor about this operation,” he said, referring to the executive offices at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Va. “But they were reassured” by the Rome station and the agency’s European directorate that “everything was OK and everyone was on board in the country in question.”

De Sousa accused Italian leaders of colluding with the United States to shield Bush, Rice, Tenet and senior CIA aides by declining to prosecute them or even demanding that Washington publicly admit to staging the abduction.

Calling the operation unjustified and illegal, De Sousa said Italy and the United States cooperated in “scape-goating a bunch of people . . . while the ones who approved this stupid rendition are all free.”

The Senate and House intelligence committees enabled the coverup, De Sousa added, by failing to treat her as a whistleblower after she told them of the lack of prosecutable evidence against Nasr and what she called her own mistreatment by the CIA that compelled her to resign in 2009.

“Despite that, no one’s been held accountable,” she said.

Mass Defense of Courage: Bradley On Our Minds

by Debra Sweet           On Monday, July 8, Bradley Manning’s defense began with what was surely one of the most intense and unusual openings in U.S.

FBI Knew of Plot to Execute Occupy Activists but Did Nothing

By Dave Lindorff


Would you be shocked to learn that the FBI apparently knew that some organization, perhaps even a law enforcement agency or private security outfit, had contingency plans to assassinate peaceful protestors in a major American city — and did nothing to intervene?

U.S. 'backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria and blame it on Assad's regime'

  • Leaked emails from defense contractor refers to chemical weapons saying 'the idea is approved by Washington'
  • Obama issued warning to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad last month that use of chemical warfare was 'totally unacceptable'

By Louise Boyle

Daily Mail, January 29

Leaked emails have allegedly proved that the White House gave the green light to a chemical weapons attack in Syria that could be blamed on Assad's regime and in turn, spur international military action in the devastated country.

A report released on Monday contains an email exchange between two senior officials at British-based contractor Britam Defence where a scheme 'approved by Washington' is outlined explaining that Qatar would fund rebel forces in Syria to use chemical weapons.

Barack Obama made it clear to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad last month that the U.S. would not tolerate Syria using chemical weapons against its own people.

Scroll down for video

 
War games: An explosion in the Syrian city of Homs last month. It has been now been suggested that the U.S. backed the use of chemical weapons to spur international military intervention

War games: An explosion in the Syrian city of Homs last month. It has been now been suggested that the U.S. backed the use of chemical weapons to spur international military intervention

According to Infowars.com, the December 25 email was sent from Britam's Business Development Director David Goulding to company founder Philip Doughty.

It reads: 'Phil... We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington.

'We’ll have to deliver a CW to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have.

'They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.

'Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?

'Kind regards, David.'

Britam Defence had not yet returned a request for comment to MailOnline.

War and Rape go Hand in Hand

By John Grant


Watching the US Senate Armed Forces Committee wrestle with the issue of rape and sexual abuse in the military opens a whole range of related issues concerning sex and war that will likely not be addressed in the Senate.

FBI Twists History: 'Terror' War Gets Stupider as Shakur is Added to the List

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.


Federal authorities publicly plot encouraging bounty hunters to kidnap a fugitive black radical from a foreign country for return to prison in the U.S. to achieve long-delayed justice.

This sounds like the FBI action on May 2, 2013 in placing former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur on its “Most Wanted Terrorists” list – the first female to have that dubious distinction.

What We Know is Bad; What's Behind It is Worse! The AP Seizures and the Frightening Web They've Uncovered

 

By Alfredo Lopez


"Paranoia," said Woody Allen, "is knowing all the facts." By that measure, we're becoming more and more "paranoid" every day.

Two degrees of Separation: Tsarnaev Brothers had a CIA Connection

 

By Dave Lindorff


Let’s do a little exercise. Forget nationalities and identities for a moment.


Craft International Services hired guns at the Boston Marathon: Why Such Secrecy about Private Military Contractor’s Men Working

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

Speaking as an investigative reporter with almost 40 years’s experience, I can say that when government officials won’t talk, they’re generally hiding something embarrassing or worse.

Who Really Left the Knapsacks with those Bombs in Boston?


By Dave LIndorff

 

I have written a lengthy piece about all the bizarre aspects of the Tsarnaev brothers’ alleged bombing of the Boston Marathon, including questions about where the elder Tsarnaev brother, Tarmelan, who was delivering pizzas, and whose wife was slaving away at a low-paid home health aid job, got the money to buy his fancy clothes and Mercedes Benz, why the Marathon finish line area was crawling with black-jacketed mercenaries from the Craft International Security rent-a-soldier agency, and how the police and federal agencies and National Guard managed to lock down a city of a million in a few hours’ time without any advance planning. 

 

Something's Rotten in Boston: Who'se investigating the FBI investigators?

 

By Dave Lindorff


I’m not a conspiracy-minded person, but something definitely stinks about this whole Boston Marathon bombing story.


NO CUTS! NO TAX INCREASES ON ORDINARY PEOPLE! Chase Down Mega-Rich Tax Cheats and Recover the Offshore Trillion$

 

By Dave Lindorff


Hold everything!


I mean it. Stop talking about cutting school budgets, Social Security benefits, Medicare, Veteran’s pensions. Stop cutting subsidies to transit systems, to foreign aid. Stop cutting unemployment benefits. Stop it all.

Just a US Citizen, No Big Deal: Obama Doesn’t Demand Israeli Apology for Killing of an American Youth

 

By Dave Lindorff


The American media is full of praise for President Obama for “brokering” a detente between Israel and Turkey, two former allies who have been at loggerheads since May 31, 2010 when heavily armed Israeli Defense Force fighters boarded the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-flagged vessel seeking to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza with non-military supplies, and killed nine unarmed peace flotilla activists.


Journalistic Malpractice at the Post and the Times Rejecting the Offer of Evidence of US War Crimes

 

 By Dave Lindorff


Thanks to the courageous action of Private Bradley Manning, the young soldier who has been held for over two years by the US military on trumped-up charges including espionage and aiding the enemy, we now have solid evidence that the country’s two leading news organizations, the Washington Post and the New York Times, are not interesting in serious reporting critical of the government.

Pulling up the Ladder at Yahoo: Marissa Mayer's Faustian Bargain

 

By Alfredo Lopez


The recent order by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, forbidding Yahoo employees from doing their Yahoo work at home, might seem justified. After all, companies tell their employees what to do and Mayer might have good reasons for this edict. But the memo and its fallout raise serious and significant questions about technology, culture and women's role in both.


Did Judicial 'Pillow Talk' Decide this Case: Philadelphia Judge Covered Up a Bedroom Connection

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.


The controversial acquittal of a Philadelphia policeman caught on video violently punching a woman at a Puerto Rican Day parade last fall quickly produced a second stink bomb.

The Philadelphia judge who freed fired Lt. Jonathan Josey during a non-jury trial where that jurist brushed aside compelling evidence recorded on that video is married to a Philadelphia policeman.

Throwing Light on the Dark Side of Dorner's Rampage

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.


On September 10, 2012 the Los Angeles Times published an article with the headline: “LAPD to hold meetings on use of force policies.”

Top Los Angeles police officials announced those community meetings to counter growing criticism about videoed brutality incidents involving LA police officers in the preceding months, that article noted.

Wanted: Dead, Not Alive: The LAPD is Afraid of What Renegade Cop Chris Dorner has to Say

 

By Dave Lindorff


Let’s not be too quick to dismiss the “ranting” of renegade LAPD officer Chris Dorner.


Dorner, a three-year police veteran and former Lieutenant in the US Navy who went rogue after being fired by the LAPD, has accused Los Angeles Police of systematically using excessive force, of corruption, of being racist, and of  firing him for raising those issues through official channels.

Keeping Americans Safe: Freedom of Information Takes Another Hit in the United States

 

By Dave Lindorff


The US government doesn't like Iran. I get that. It claims, on pretty dubious grounds, that Iran might be planning, at some point down the road, to take some of the uranium it is processing into nuclear fuel to a higher level of purity and make it into an atomic bomb.

Justice Department Leaks Memo "Legalizing" Murdering Americans (But Not Some Americans Already Murdered)

Here is the memo.  With a few tweaks and a more creative title -- like "Murder With Your Hands Clean" -- this memo could sell a lot of copies.

And why not?  Either there's a whistleblower in the Department of So-Called Justice about to be charged with espionage, and NBC is about to face the same persecution as WikiLeaks, or this is one of those "good" leaks that the White House wanted made public in an underhanded manner -- perhaps as an imagined boost to morality-challenged CIA director nominee John Brennan who faces his Senate Rejection Hearing on Thursday.

The memo, which is thought to be a summary of a longer one, says the United States can murder a U.S. citizen abroad (abroad but somehow "outside the area of active hostilities" even though killing him or her seems rather active and hostile) if three conditions are met:

"1. an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States;"

The memo goes on to base its claims on the supposed powers of the President, not of some random official.  Who is such an official?  Who decides whether he or she is informed?  What if two of them disagree?  What if he or she disagrees with the President? or the Congress? or the Supreme Court? or the U.S. public? or the United Nations? or the International Criminal Court? What then?  One solution is to redefine the terms so that everyone has to agree.   "Imminent" is defined in this memo to mean nothing at all.  "The United States" clearly means anywhere U.S. troops may be. 

"2. capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible;"

And if a high-level official claims it's infeasible, who can challenge that?

"3. the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles."

When a U.S. drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, no one had shown either of them to meet the above qualifications.

When a U.S. drone strike targeted and killed 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, no one had shown him to meet the above qualifications; I don't think anyone has made such a claim to this day.  And what about his cousin who died for the crime of being with him at the wrong time? 

The sociopaths who wrote this memo have "legalized" the drone-killing of Americans with the exception of all the Americans known thus far to have been murdered by our government with the use of drones.

New Film Offers Rare Glimpse of the Real Mumia Abu-Jamal

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.


Many millions around the world are convinced they know imprisoned journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal from closely examining the ‘whodunit’ contentions surrounding his contentious conviction for the December 9, 1981 slaying of a Philadelphia policeman.

Hey, Hey, Barack! What Do You Say? How Many Kids Have You Killed Today?

 

By Dave Lindorff


I personally found the president’s inaugural speech not just insipid, but disgusting. It reached its gut-churning nadir near the end where he said:


FBI Ignored Deadly Threat to Occupiers: US Intelligence Machine Instead Plotted with Bankers to Attack Protest Movement

 

By Dave Lindorff


New documents obtained from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security by the Partnership for Civil Justice and released this past week show that the FBI and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies began a campaign of monitoring, spying and disrupting the Occupy Movement at least two months before the first occupation actions began in late September 2011.


Crime Watch: American Presidents and their Advisors are War Criminals

 

By Dave Lindorff


Most Americans, their minds focused at the moment on the tragic slaughter of 20 young children aged 5-10, along with five teachers and a school principal in Connecticut by a heavily-armed psychotic 21-year-old, are blissfully unaware that their last president, George W. Bush, along with five key members of his administration, were convicted in absentia of war crimes earlier this month at a tribunal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


Quantico psychiatrist: Bradley Manning's pretrial conditions worse than death row

http://bradleymanning.org

Ft. Meade, MD -November 29, 2012 - Yesterday at Bradley Manning's Article 13 hearing, professional military psychiatrist Captain Kevin Moore testified that Bradley Manning's pretrial confinement conditions at Quantico military brig were worse than that of any other long-term pretrial prisoner he'd observed.  He added that Bradley's restrictive conditions, including being held in a 6x8 foot cell, having access to only 20 minutes of sunshine and exercise per day, and being deprived of basic items such as clothing and toilet paper for periods of time, were most comparable to yet still more severe than conditions of prisoners he'd observed on death row.
 
Bradley Manning's case garnered considerable media buzz early in 2010 when it came to light that the UN and Amnesty International had initiated investigations into possibly illegal conditions of pretrial confinement at Quantico.  Wednesday in court, two high-ranking military psychiatrists, Captain William Hoctor and Captain Moore, testified that the extent to which their recommendations were ignored by the Quantico Marine staff was unlike anything they had experienced elsewhere over a combined 30+ years of experience at various bases.  Cpt. Hoctor went so far as to say that even at Guantanamo Bay his recommendations were implemented much faster than at Quantico.  At Quantico, it would often take up to two weeks for the staff to implement his recommendations to change a prisoner's status, in contrast with the few days it would take elsewhere.  In PFC Manning's case, the recommendations of both Cpt. Hoctor and Captain Moore to allow PFC Manning more exercise and downgrade him from Prevention-of-Injury (POI) status based on improved mental state was ignored over the course of many months.
 
Captain Hoctor said he became the angriest he'd been a long time when Quantico base commander Colonel Daniel Choike stated in a meeting that "Nothing's going to change. He won't be able to hurt himself. He's not going to be able to get away, and our way of ensuring this is that he will remain on this status indefinitely."  During testimony on Tuesday, Col. Choike confirmed his position during that exchange.  In reference to this statement, Bradley Manning Support Network Steering Committee member Jeff Paterson responded, "I think a reasonable person can see why PFC Manning was frustrated with these conditions.  No matter what he did or how exemplary his behavior, the Col. had no intention of respecting his overall well-being and legal rights as a pretrial prisoner."
 
While base commanders Col. Choike and Col. Robert Oltman testified that they believed brig staff acted in interest of PFC Manning's safety, they both stated that the longest they had seen any other prisoner held at Quantico was 2 months.  Additionally, they had both informed commanding officers that the Quantico brig was unsuitable for holding a prisoner longer than 90 days.
 
During his testimony, Psychiatrist Captain Moore indicated that he'd been trained in military interrogation, and that adverse mental side effects were to be expected in any prisoner held in such constrictive conditions for a long period of time.  POI, the psychiatrists clarified, was typically a short-term status.  In closing questions, defense attorney David Coombs asked Cpt. Hoctor how, in his professional psychiatric opinion, he would characterize an authority who chose to ignore or discount possible adverse effects when choosing a highly restrictive status such as POI for a long period of time.  After a thoughtful look, Cpt. Hoctor replied the word he would choose is "callous."

Where’s the News?: World Bank Warns Globe Could be Cooked by 2060

 

By Dave Lindorff


Run a google search of “World Bank” and “climate change” and you’ll discover that this month the World Bank released a major study predicting a global “cataclysm” if world-wide temperatures increase by a predicted four degrees celsius (that’s roughly 8 degrees fahrenheit).  

Late Senator Arlen Specter Spoke in Support of Mumia Abu-Jamal

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.


Much is rightly made of the ‘maverick’ character of former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Arlen Specter in obituaries and other media coverage since his recent death.

That maverick streak certainly animated Specter’s December 2010 Farewell Speech from the Senate where he criticized the lack of civility currently rampant in that body plus assailed both political parties for perpetuating legislative gridlock and abuses of Senate rules.

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

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