An Italian judge has ordered the arrest of 13 officers and operatives of the Central Intelligence Agency on charges that they seized an Egyptian cleric on a Milan street two years ago and flew him to Egypt for questioning, Italian prosecutors and investigators said Friday.
The judge, Chiara Nobili of Milan, signed the arrest warrants on Wednesday for 13 C.I.A. operatives who are suspected of seizing an imam named Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, as he walked to his mosque here for noon prayers on Feb. 17, 2003.
It is unclear what prompted the issuance of the warrants, but Judge Guido Salvini said in May that it was "certain" that Mr. Nasr had been seized by "people belonging to foreign intelligence networks interested in interrogating him and neutralizing him, to then hand him over to Egyptian authorities."
Mr. Nasr, who was under investigation before his disappearance for possible links to Al Qaeda, is still missing, and his family and friends say he was tortured repeatedly by Egyptian jailers.
The detailed warrants remained sealed in a Milan courthouse on Friday. But copies obtained by The New York Times show that 13 American citizens, all identified in the documents as either C.I.A. employees or as having links to the agency, are wanted to stand trial on kidnapping charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 10 years and 8 months in prison. The Americans' whereabouts are unknown.
The above is from this morning's New York Times, Stephen Grey and Don Van Natta's "Thirteen With the C.I.A. Sought by Italy in a Kidnapping." The story's the main story in the Times this morning (it is front paged).
Kara e-mails to note Lizette Alvarez's "Anglicans Consider Divesting in Solidarity With Palestinians:"
The Anglican Church's international advisory body voted Friday to urge the church to consider withdrawing its investments in companies that support the occupation of Palestinian territories.
The move, presented as a message of solidarity with Palestinian Christians, immediately came under attack by Jewish groups, with some calling it ill timed and predicting a likely chill in Anglican-Jewish relations.
By voting to support the divestment measure, the Anglican Consultative Council, the church's most representative advisory group, recommended to its 38 provinces that they support a September 2004 report by the council's Peace and Justice Network.
Lynda e-mails that she's appalled by the news in Eduardo Porter's "Group of Democrats Back Pact on Central American Trade:"
In a paid advertisement scheduled to be published tomorrow in The Washington Post, three dozen Democrats, including prominent officials in the administrations of former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, said the agreement negotiated by the Bush administration "is good for the United States and Central America."
[. . .]
Yet with the administration pushing Cafta up on the legislative agenda and a Senate vote expected as early as next week, the signing Democrats - including former Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher; former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry; a former National Security adviser, Samuel R. Berger; and a former ambassador to the United Nations, Richard C. Holbrooke - are trying to provide Democrats with some cover to change their minds.
I'm appalled too. Appalledy that two months after pleading guilty to tampering with documents in the midst of the 9-11 Commission's investigation, Samuel ("Sandy") Berger thinks anyone in America needs to hear from him on what's good for the country. Having "drawn the veil" and still not publicly responded (outside of a courtroom where he pled guilty), Berger needs to realize that his opinions don't carry a great deal of weight. Warren M. Christopher needs to realize that after his part in botching the recount in Florida (2000), grassroots Democrats don't really give a damn what he says. Holbrooke's connection to the Kerry campaign raised more eyebrows than reassurances.
As for Clinton, after the destruction NAFTA's done, it's probably a good idea to spread trade destruction to another administration for historical reasons so that the texts can read, "Not only did Bill Clinton's trade policies lead to the destruction of the American manufacturing base, further damage was done by the Bully Boy's signing of CAFTA . . ." Spreading the historical blame around may be good for Bill, it's lousy for the country.
When it was announced that Berger would plead guilty, we noted here that if it were true, if he did plead guilty, there wouldn't be a great deal of sympathy for him. And that he'd need to explain his actions. This may play inside the beltway but off the D.C. party circuit, it doesn't.
He betrayed a public trust. How fitting that he would sign on to CAFTA.
Check David Sirota's blog (Sirotablog) this weekend because he'll probably have a post on this. (CAFTA as a big issue at his site as members who visit it know.)
And we'll note, in full (press release but also a government document -- i.e. we paid for it), this from the Department of Justice April 1, 2005 ("FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SAMUEL BERGER PLEADS GUILTY TO KNOWINGLY REMOVING CLASSIFIED INFORMATION FROM THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES"):
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray of the Criminal Division announced today that former National Security Advisor Samuel R. Berger has pleaded guilty to a charge of knowingly removing classified documents from the National Archives and Records Administration.
Berger entered a guilty plea this morning at federal court in Washington, D.C. to one count of violating 18 U.S.C. § 1924, a misdemeanor. As part of his plea agreement, Berger has agreed to cooperate with the government concerning his activities at the National Archives.
According to the facts admitted during his guilty plea, Berger was reviewing classified documents at the National Archives in July, September and October of 2003 in connection with requests for documents made by the National Commission Investigating Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9-11 Commission). On September 2, 2003, and again on October 2nd, Berger concealed and removed a total of five copies of classified documents from the Archives. The documents were different versions of a single document. Berger, who possessed a United States government security clearance and was aware of the laws and rules regarding classified documents, knew he was not authorized to remove the classified documents from the Archives.
Berger took the documents to his office in the District of Columbia, where he destroyed three of the copies. Soon after the October visit, the Archives discovered that documents were missing and, two days later, contacted Berger. Initially, Berger did not tell the Archives staff that he had taken the documents but later that night told Archives staff that he had “accidentally misfiled” two of them. The next day, he returned to Archives staff the two remaining copies of the five documents he had taken during the September and October visits. Each of the five copies of the document was produced to the 9-11 Commission in due course.
In his plea, Berger also admitted that he concealed and removed his handwritten notes from the Archives prior to a classification review, in violation of Archives rules and procedures. Those notes have been returned to the government.
Berger faces a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail, a $100,000 fine and a year of supervised release. According to the plea agreement, Berger has agreed to cooperate with the government and to surrender his security clearance.
The case was investigated by Special Agents of the Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Inspector General of the National Archives and Records Administration, and was prosecuted by Criminal Division Trial Attorneys Thomas Reilly of the
Counterespionage Section, which is headed by Section Chief John Dion, and Howard Sklamberg of the Public Integrity Section, which is headed by Section Chief Noel Hillman.
And we'll note Kara's comments (April 1st):
I don't care what his reasons were or what someone Clintonista rushes in to offer as defense. If he did it, if he removed material the 9-11 commission was intending to review, it doesn't matter to me if he returned it or if "ultimately" the commission "determined" they had all the material they needed.
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