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With Robert Seldon Lady, America 'Humiliates' Italy (La Repubblica, Italy)

 

"For American diplomacy and for the White House, the case is closed. Closed, with a smack in the face to Italy. Happily undisturbed and returning home undeterred by Italy's demand for his extradition is Robert Seldon Lady, the former CIA station chief in Milan, condemned to nine years in prison for the 'extraordinary rendition' of Abu Omar. ... Stopped in Panama and detained based on an international arrest warrant issued by Italy, Lady got away. ... The humiliations the U.S. inflicts on allies are not uncommon. Italy is used to it."

 

 

Translated by Kate Townsend

 

July 25, 2013

 

Italy - La Repubblica - Original Article (Italian)

A rare photo of Robert Seldon Lady, former CIA bureau chief in Milan, Italy, who came within a hair's breath of being the first U.S. official to face charges in connection with 'extraordinary rendition' last week, when he was detained in Panama on an Italian arrest warrant. Panamanian officials quickly released him without explanation.

 

BBC NEWS VIDEO: CIA operatives and officials found guilty in Italy for 'extraordinary rendition' of Italian citizen, Sept. 11, 2011, 00:02:39RealVideo

“He’s on his way back to the United States” was all U.S. State Department Deputy spokesperson Marie Harf had to say [watch video]. For American diplomacy and for the White House, the case is closed. Closed, with a smack in the face to Italy. Happily undisturbed and returning home undeterred by Italy's demand for his extradition is Robert Seldon Lady, the former CIA station chief in Milan, condemned to nine years in prison for the “extraordinary rendition” of Abu Omar. Stopped in Panama and detained based on an international arrest warrant issued by Italy, Lady got away. The decision by Panamanian officials to release Lady was made precisely “to avoid the possibility of his being extradited to Italy.” So claimed The Washington Post, the first newspaper to have provided the news. 

 

It was legitimate sleight of hand: the United States interposed to prevent the CIA agent from being handed over (even all these years later) to the justice system of an allied country and NATO member, Italy. The Washington Post, with great understatement, observed that the means used by the U.S. to obtain the release and return of Lady remain unknown. But recent reports concerning Datagate and the Snowden affair have amply demonstrated the type of pressure Washington is ready to use, and how effective it is, even when the recipients happen to be anti-American governments. For the U.S. State Department, after a concise statement from John Kerry's spokeswoman, the “Lady case” doesn’t even exist. It is business as usual. National interest, which exists in every country, is so much stronger when it is superimposed on an imperial mentality. Whoever the U.S. president may be at the time, conservative or liberal, he would be judged as a weakling and traitor to the national interest if he were to send “one of his own” - in particular a soldier or intelligence operative - before a foreign court, or to a foreign prison.

 

Guardian Unlimited, U.K.

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The humiliations the U.S. inflicts on allies are not uncommon. Italy is used to it. Among previous episodes, perhaps the most tragic was the Cavalese cable car disaster of 1998. Twenty killed, due to the reckless antics of a would-be Top Gun or aerial Rambo. American pilot Richard Ashby had taken off from the Aviano Air Base, and while performing some insane acrobatics, sliced a cable supporting an aerial tramway gondola. Unyielding, Democratic President Bill Clinton didn't hesitate to apply the international convention on the status of NATO forces - which guarantees that U.S. servicemen are tried only by “their own” - against a friendly government (then under Romano Prodi).  

 

Another serious case was that of Nicola Calipari, an Italian intelligence agent killed by U.S. soldiers in the aftermath of the liberation of journalist Giuliana Sgrena in Iraq in 2005.

 

An episode of a different kind, one of the rare cases in which Italy held its own against the American superpower, took place at the Sigonella Air Base in 1985. At the time, Bettino Craxi was in Palazzo Chigi, and Ronald Reagan was in the White House. An Egyptian aircraft with Palestinian terrorist Abu Abbas aboard, was intercepted by U.S. Naval aircraft and directed to land at Sigonella, in Sicily. Craxi ordered Italian airmen, with reinforcements from the Carabinieri, to resist American Delta Force command trying to kidnap Abu Abbas [in connection with the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro]. What followed was a long crisis in relations between Washington and Rome. It was, however, an exception.

Posted By Worldmeets.US

 

Not always and not toward all, does America behave with equal insolence. Even if the national interest and the supreme law that imposes protection for its own military and secret agents prevails - a president and his secretary of state have a measure of flexibility in dealing with other governments. In this department, Italy does not enjoy the most elevated credibility. Incidents as diverse as the “Kazakh affair” [see below] to the Costa Concordia disaster trial, contribute to sowing in minds of the public and American ruling class the image of a country with unreliable institutions. Seen through the eyes of Washington, a country where police take orders from the ambassador of Kazakhstan is in no way incapable of inspiring fear in the U.S. State Department.

 

[Editor's Note: The Kazakh affair refers to the recent deportation of the wife and child of Kazakh opposition politician and businessman Muktar Ablyazov, which has created a firestorm in Italy, particularly within the Interior Ministry, which claims to have known nothing about the amazingly quick deportation. Ablyazov has asserted - and with good reason - that the deportation endangers their lives].

 

These are things that spokeswoman Marie Harf and Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes would never say. These comprise the "background" considerations when evaluating the costs and benefits, advantages and risks, of issuing a slap to an ally. The handling of the Costa Concordia disaster also matters more than one might imagine, due to the widespread U.S. media coverage of the trial and the reputation of the Italian justice system for being slow and unreliable, which was reinforced by the coverage.  

 

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SEE ALSO ON THIS:
Gazzetta del Sud, Italy: Former CIA Station Chief Held in Panama Over Italy 'Rendition'
La Stampa, Italy: Now, Italy Must Gird for the Repercussions Over CIA Convictions
Corriere Della Serra, Italy: CIA Agents Convicted of Kidnapping; Italian Officials Walk Free
Corriere Della Serra, Italy: Ex-Intelligence Chief, CIA Agents Indicted for Kidnapping
Le Monde Diplomatique, France: The Law Will Catch Up With CIA's European 'Accomplices'
Izvestia, Russia: 'Servile Europeans' Inflict Huge Insult on Bolivians
Corriere Della Serra, Italy: U.S. Must Fess Up to CIA Kidnapping on Italian Soil
La Repubblica, Italy: Italy's Spymasters Arrested for Aiding CIA Kidnappings
Digital Journal, Canada: U.S. Double Standard - Snowden, Seldon Lady and Jose Carriles

 

Of course, we aren't the only ones to swallow humiliation. The president of Bolivia was diverted and nearly detained, just because Washington had a suspicion that he might have been transporting Edward Snowden on his aircraft.

 

When America flexes its muscles, even Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are moved to caution: the Chinese president pushed Snowden to leave Hong Kong; the Russian president has many reservations about granting him asylum. Even in a period of decline, this imperial logic continues to allow the United States to follow  “different rules” from every other state. That is, unless it is occasionally tempered by respect. As it happens, the only foreign leader to whom Obama addressed heartfelt apologies for Datagate, offering ample explanations and collaboration, was German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

 

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Posted By Worldmeets.US July 25, 2013, 12:49pm