Thursday, March 12, 2009

Nobody Knows All the Torture We Haven't Seen

Italian prosecutors say the CIA abducted a radical Egyptian cleric, Abu Omar, from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003, in an "extraordinary rendition" operation. It may have been a falling out among thieves. Back in 2005, the Chicago Tribune revealed that Abu Omar was once the CIA's most productive source of information within the tightly knit group of Islamic fundamentalists living in exile in Albania. The CIA may have kidnapped him to get him to become an informer again.

The Italian government protested the abduction and mounted a trial of Americans allegedly involved in it. Today, however, the AP reports,

Prosecutors say Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was then transferred to US bases in Italy and Germany before being moved to Egypt, where he was imprisoned for four years. Nasr, who has been released, said he was tortured.
Did it happen that way? We might never know. Italy's Constitutional Court said some of the key evidence in the case was classified information. It could not be admitted in court. The case against 26 Americans may collapse because of that.

It is too much to expect that the Berlusconi government would declassify the information and let the trial proceed. But is it too much change to hope for that the Obama administration would conduct its own investigation into state-run kidnapping and torture, and bring the responsible parties to trial?

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