Friday, November 06, 2009

We broke the law, admits CIA agent convicted of rendition.

One of the CIA operatives, found guilty in absentia by an Italian court for the abduction in 2003 of a Muslim cleric, has admitted that she "broke the law".

Sabrina deSousa, employed in the US consulate offices in Milan at the time of the abduction, made clear in an interview with ABC News that she was disgruntled that she and the other 22 Americans who were convicted by a Milan court on Wednesday had been left to fend for themselves by their country.

Ms deSousa, who has not explicitly said she was working for the CIA, was sentenced to five years by the judge in the case. Indeed on the day that the cleric, known as Abu Omar, was taken from the street and whisked first to Germany and thereafter to Egypt, she was out of the city on a skiing break.

The longest sentence, of eight years, was given to the former Milan CIA station chief, Robert Seldon Lady. There seems little likelihood that the convicted Americans will serve their terms, not least because Italy has declined to seek their extradition from the US, partly in the interest of US-Italian relations. It is probably true, however, that the 22 will always run the risk of arrest if they leave the US territory.

Saying she felt "abandoned and betrayed" as the trial unfolded over three years, Ms deSousa said "everything I did was approved by Washington... and we are paying for the mistakes right now, whoever authorised this."

I happen to agree with her. She was told that what she was doing was approved at the very highest levels of her government, so she would have acted believing that what she was doing was legal.

It is ludicrous that people like her should be facing prosecution, whilst the people much further up the food chain, the ones who ordered rendition and torture, should be facing no charges of any kind. Even Republicans are admitting that this is ludicrous:

"I think these people have been hung out to dry," complained Republican congressman Pete Hoekstra of the House Intelligence Committee. "They're taking the fall for a decision that was made by their superiors."
It makes a mockery of justice that the people following the orders should be prosecuted whilst the people who gave the orders are not.

But, as appears so often to be true, we appear to have a political class who are above the law.

Grunts on the ground are fair game for prosecution, but to prosecute the people who gave the orders is somehow "playing politics" or prosecuting "policy differences".

And we have only arrived at this clearly immoral place because the Bush regime engaged in such rampant illegality and there appears to be no-one in the United States with the balls to hold them accountable.


Andy Worthington on just what this verdict says about the Bush regime's tactics in the war on terror.

The sentences for the Americans were delivered in absentia, as the US refused to extradite any of the men and women involved, but, as the first legal ruling anywhere in the world on the program of “extraordinary rendition” at the heart of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror,” the verdict is enormously significant. In the words of Armando Spataro, the Italian prosecutor who led the five-year investigation that culminated in the trial and the ruling, “It’s clear that the kidnapping of Abu Omar was a great mistake. It did serious damage in fighting terrorists because we don’t need torture, we don’t need renditions, we don’t need secret prisons.”

In a revealing interview after the ruling was delivered, former CIA officer Sabrina deSousa, one of those convicted, told ABC News that the United States “broke the law” in kidnapping Abu Omar and that “we are paying for the mistakes right now, whoever authorized and approved this.” She said the US “abandoned and betrayed” her and her colleagues, and pointed out that those who should have been held to account were the senior Bush administration officials who approved the program in the first place. As she explained, “Everything I did was approved back in Washington.”

Will the Obama administration ever get around to doing this? We were originally told that, if he went ahead with prosecutions, the Republicans would go bananas and bipartisan politics would come to an end.

Am I living in some parallel universe where the Republicans have never done anything else but play partisan politics? When I look at their behaviour over the health care bill I really wonder what it is that Obama and the Democrats fear that they will do. They simply couldn't be more obstructionist if they tried.

Click here for full article.

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