Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Friday, November 11, 2005

Spying in the Digital Age

If you are ever recruited as a spook and you are going to put the results of your clandestine activities on your computer, a word of caution: learn about your file system.

Today's Repubblica reported that extradition requests, signed by Counterterrorism Investigating Magistrates Armando Spataro and Ferdinando Enrico Pomarici, have been issued for 22 US fugitives and referred to the Italian Justice Minister, Roberto Castelli.

The 22-person American renditions squad kidnapped former imam Abu Omar off the streets of Milan on February 17, 2003, without informing the Italian authorities. The Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA took part in the operation, from the women used as lookouts at the scene of the kidnapping and who drove the van into which Abu Omar was bundled to Aviano Air Force base, to the the “muscle” boys of the Special Removal Unit to the men responsible for reconnaissance and security.

The chief of the operation, the CIA Station Chief in Milan, who presumably received a 6-figure salary plus perks plus Federal benefits plus hardship allowance was not properly trained for his mission. How exactly are the people in Langley preparing their trainees, besides collecting pee-pee and poo-poo specimens and tutoring them in the fine art of electrode attachment to the human body?

It was Abu Omar himself who revealed to his family the identity of Robert Seldon Lady, the mission lead. His family, in turn, contacted Italian authorities. In a search of Lady's home, police forensic technicians of the Divisione Investigazione Generali e Operazioni Speciali (General Investigation and Special Operations) took out the hard drive of Lady's computer and recovered a "deleted" digital image of Abu Omar, solidifying the case against 22 US nationals for kidnapping.

Because Italian law grants the Justice Minister the power to reject or postpone extradition requests, it is likely that the requests will become a dead letter on the Minister's desk. Why? Because Roberto Castelli has just returned from a trip to Washington where he discussed certain "requests" and "extraditions" with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Should Castelli now refuse the requests (and you can bet he will), it will provoke yet another political crisis in Italy. We can trust that Washington is applying the utmost pressure on Berlusconi to ensure his Justice appointee does the "right" thing.


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