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The NYT’s Selective Spin on Extradition, Torture, and Murder

By Michael McGehee ·  NYTX · August 5, 2013

The way the New York Times presents Moscow’s rejection of Washington’s extradition request for Edward Snowden, the leaker of details on the massive NSA global spying program, one would think Russia is in the wrong.

According to last Friday’s front page article by Steven Lee Meyers and Andrew E. Kramer, “Defiant Russia Grants Snowden Year’s Asylum,” the words chosen reveal a lot about the paper’s tone.

Moscow was “defiant “ as they “infuriated” Washington by “brushing aside pleas.”

A look at the treatment of Bradley Manning to see how Washington might treat Snowden is apt, but this is not mentioned by Meyers and Kramer.

Nor do Meyers and Kramer mention Ilyas Akhmadov, a former Chechen separatist leader who is on Russia’s most-wanted list. Akhmadov lives in Washington.

Also missing from the coverage is how Moscow has had their requests for an extradition agreement ignored by Washington. As Newsweek reported last week: “The bottom line, Russian officials agreed, was that Snowden would be useful for Russia,” because “Moscow’s biggest complaint was that Washington ignored Russia’s idea to sign ‘an agreement for extradition,’ that would guarantee both sides a mutual exchange of bad boys.”

There is also a differential treatment provided to leakers and whistle-blowers, as opposed to those who commit serious crimes in service of the government.

While Bradley Manning faces more than 130 years in jail for leaking classified documents, consider the following:

Marine Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, a squad leader, participated in the brutal killings of 24 Iraqis in Haditha seven years ago. Many of the victims were women and children . A plea bargain on Wuterich’s case resulted in a drop in rank and conviction for dereliction of duty. No jail time.

As U.S. troops were leaving in December of 2011, Michael Schmidt, a New York Times reporter, stumbled upon hundreds of pages of U.S. military documents pertaining to the 2005 Haditha massacre. Schmidt reported on a testimony of a soldier who said the murders were not “remarkable” because, “It happened all the time, not necessarily in MNF-West all the time, but throughout the whole country.”

In 1995 three American soldiers kidnapped and raped a 12-year old Japanese girl. The three men got no more than seven years jail time.

Even Charles Graner and Lynndie England, who were found guilty of abuses in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal—where detainees were tortured, humiliated, beaten, raped, and killed—received no more than ten years in jail.

The writing on the wall is clear: sounding the alarm to the general public about widespread crime and corruption (some of which includes the kind of crimes I bring up above and below) can get you life in prison—but raping, torturing, and killing dozens of civilians will get you no more than a reduction in rank, or a fraction of the time in prison.

And it is more than the differential treatment. There is also the hypocritical attitude towards extradition. Mentioned above was the case of Akhmadov, but he is hardly an exception.

During the spring of 2000 Washington helped Tomas Ricardo Anderson Kohatsu, a Peruvian intelligence official accused of torture escape arrest, saying he was entitled to diplomactic immunity.

In October of 2001, as Washington was asking the Taliban to turnover bin Laden, Haiti was asking Washington to turnover Emmanuel Constant for his role in a 1994 massacre. Washington was “defiant” as they “infuriated” Haiti by “brushing aside” their request.

Then there is Venezuela’s request for Luis Posada Carriles over his role in the 1973 bombing of a jet airliner that killed 73 people off the coast of Cuba.

Nearly a year ago Washington defied and infuriated Bolivia when they brushed aside the latter’s extradition request for former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozado, who was wanted for charges of genocide.

Also, there is Armando Fernandez Larios, a Chilean soldier who was part of The Caravan of Death, a death squad group that went from prison to prison in Chile, following the 1973 military coup, and executed prisoners. But it wasn’t this crime that got him in trouble in the U.S. It was his role in the assassination of Americans on American soil. Though, as SF Weekly reports:

Fernandez Larios later fell out of favor with his military. He cut a deal with the U.S. Justice Department, much of which remains secret. In exchange for providing information on the assassin and Chilean intelligence operations, he’d go to a federal prison for seven years and would never be deported to Chile. Argentina wanted to extradite Fernandez Larios for his alleged involvement in another political hit, but the plea agreement protected him from that as well.

And finally there is the case of Robert Seldon Lady, the former CIA station chief in Milan, who is wanted in Italy, along with 22 of Lady’s accomplices in the agency, for his role in the 2003 abduction of Abu Omar, an Egyptian cleric. Omar was renditioned to Egypt, where he was repeatedly tortured.

A more exhaustive search of Washington’s foreign policy could reveal a book’s worth of examples where Washington comes to the aid of kidnappers, torturers, terrorists, executioners, and war criminals, either to avoid extradition or be granted a punishment considerably less than what a whistle-blower can expect. And it is this context which the New York Times has conveniently left out of their coverage of both Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-CIA Agent Accuses Top Bush Officials of Approving Kidnapping in Italy and then Abandoning those who Followed Orders

By Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman | AllGov | July 31, 2013

A former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer has gone public with claims that the George W. Bush administration agreed to an Italian trial of CIA officials for abducting an Islamic cleric in 2003, so that the president and other senior leaders would be protected from prosecution.

Sabrina De Sousa told McClatchy Newspapers that administration officials inflated the threat posed by Osama Mustapha Hassan Nasr, who was kidnapped by a CIA team in Milan and flown to Egypt, where he was held for almost four years without charges and allegedly tortured.

In November 2009, an Italian court tried 23 Americans, including De Sousa, in absentia for the kidnapping. All of the convicted received jail sentences of seven years, except for Robert Seldon Lady, the former Milan CIA station chief, who had his sentence increased to nine years after appealing.

During the trial, Lady told an Italian newspaper he was not guilty—but also indicated he may have been involved in the abduction. “I’m only responsible for carrying out orders that I received from my superiors,” he told Il Giornale.

The U.S. government refused to turn over any of those convicted. Lady was arrested in Panama on an INTERPOL warrant on July 18, 2013, but was returned to the United States the next day.

In her interview, De Sousa told McClatchy:

–Jeffrey Castelli, former CIA station chief in Rome, was the mastermind of the operation, and that he exaggerated Nasr’s terrorist threat to win approval for the kidnapping 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 Nasr wasn’t wanted in Egypt and wasn’t on the U.S. list of top al-Qaeda terrorists.

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

De Sousa said her claims 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 news reports.

She denied being involved in the kidnapping, although she acknowledged 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,” De Sousa told McClatchy, 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.”

She added that she did not possess any of the cables, seemingly in an attempt to avoid the CIA going after her for stolen classified materials.

De Sousa is one of only several former CIA officers who have spoken publicly about the Bush administration’s secret rendition operations. It has been reported that more than 130 people were kidnapped, many of whom were tortured at “black sites” in specially selected countries.

Neither the Bush nor the Obama administration has admitted to involvement in the Nasr operation.

De Sousa accused the U.S. and Italy of collaborating in “scapegoating a bunch of people …while the ones who approved this stupid rendition are all free.” She also named the U.S. House and Senate intelligence companies as enablers of the cover-up, given their inaction in response to the information she gave them about the case, and their refusal to treat her as a whistleblower.

“Despite the scale of the human rights violations associated with the rendition program, the United States hasn’t held a single individual accountable,” she told McClatchy. “It’s always the minions of the federal government who are thrown under the bus by officials who consistently violate international law and sometimes domestic law and who are all immune from prosecution. Their lives are fine. They’re making millions of dollars sitting on [corporate] boards.”

De Sousa said she could face prosecution for speaking out. “You’ve seen what’s happened lately to anyone who has tried to disclose anything,” she said. “You have no protection whatsoever. Zero.”

To Learn More:

U.S. Allowed Italian Kidnap Prosecution to Shield Higher-Ups, Ex-CIA Officer Says (by Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy)

Lessons from Edward Snowden and Robert Seldon Lady (by Tom Engelhardt, Mother Jones)

Italy Imprisons Military Intelligence Chief for Helping CIA Kidnap Egyptian Cleric (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Italy’s Highest Court Upholds CIA Kidnapping Convictions (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Judge Rejects Diplomatic Immunity for CIA Agent Accused in Italian Kidnapping Case (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

July 31, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Panama refuses to extradite CIA’s Lady to Italy

Press TV – July 20, 2013

Panama has refused to extradite the former CIA chief of Milan station to Italy where he has been sentenced to nine years in prison for the 2003 abduction of an Egyptian Muslim cleric on suspicion of terrorist activities.

Italian justice ministry’s press office on Thursday announced that Robert Seldon Lady, also known as “Mister Bob,” has been arrested in Panama. However, it is not clear when and where he has been arrested.

On Friday, the US State Department confirmed Lady was on his way back to the United States. Italy had asked Panama to hold Lady while an extradition request was being made.

Panama foreign ministry sources have said the documents submitted by Italy for the extradition were “insufficient,” according to Italian media.

Italy’s Justice Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri said Friday that she was “deeply disappointed” by Panama’s decision not to return Lady to Italy.

The former Milan CIA station chief was sentenced to nine years in jail for the abduction of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar. Twenty-two other Americans involved in the kidnapping were each sentenced to five years in prison.

The court ordered each of the 23 convicts, none of whom appeared for the trial, to pay one million euros (about $1.3 million) to Abu Omar, plus 500,000 euros to his wife.

The Muslim cleric was transferred to US military bases in Italy and later in Germany before being flown to Egypt. He was later set free in Egypt.

July 20, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-CIA station chief in Milan detained in Panama

RT | July 18, 2013

A former station chief with the CIA has been detained in Panama after being on the run from Italian police for more than a decade.

Robert Seldon Lady, 59, was reportedly brought into custody early Thursday after surfacing in the Central American country. An Italian court convicted him in 2009 in absentia of abducting an Egyptian terror suspect from the streets of Milan, and he was sentenced in early 2013 to nine years in prison. Only now, however, has he been caught, according to a statement made Thursday by the Italian justice ministry.

The case against Lady marked the first time ever that a CIA agent was accused of kidnapping and brought to trial. Twenty-two other Americans, mostly intelligence officers, were also convicted for their role in the “extraordinary rendition” of a Muslim cleric.

Lady was the station chief of the Central Intelligence Agency post in Milan during the time of the abduction. He is accused of abducting Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr and assisting in his years’ long detention which was reportedly accompanied with bouts of torture.

“I’m not guilty. I’m only responsible for carrying out orders that I received from my superiors,” Lady told Italy’s Il Giornale newspaper in 2009.

Previously, Lady told GQ magazine in a candid interview that, “When you work in intelligence, you do things in the country in which you work that are not legal.”

“It’s a life of illegality,” said Lady, “But state institutions in the whole world have professionals in my sector, and it’s up to us to do our duty.”

“I console myself by reminding myself that I was a soldier, that I was in a war against terrorism, that I couldn’t discuss orders given to me,” Lady said to Italian journalists.

Lady had served just shy of a quarter-century with the CIA at the time of the crime. He described his former employer to GQ years later as “the vanguard of democracy” and his role as “the greatest job I ever had.”

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment