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“Extraordinary Renditions” on trial in Italy

Italy has begun a trial that includes 26 American defendants – all but one of whom are thought o be CIA agents. The charge? The illegal kidnapping, detention, and torture of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr. Nasr was never charged with a crime, but was a suspected of recruiting “radical Islamists”. He was taken to US bases in Italy and Germany, then transferred to Egypt where he was imprisoned for four years. OK, so this isn’t anything new. We all know that the US has been illegally kidnapping and torturing folks for at least 4 or 5 years. Of course, the Americans have all returned to eh US, and the current administration has indicated that they will ignore any findings of the Italian court, and will refuse to extradite the alleged criminals. So what is the news?

            Well, the news is that this trial has the potential to finally expose the details of the US’s illegal “extraordinary renditions” program. This would be a major embarrassment to both Bush and the US intelligence community. Of course, Human Rights groups, and critics of the illegal program are heralding this as a major breakthrough. They are hoping that when the details of the programs are made public, the US will finally be forced to stop their illegal kidnapping (or, more likely, find another way to carry them out). What could be truly interesting would be if the UN or World Court got involved. If that happens, the US may be facing a highly public, and extremely embarrassing airing of dirty laundry.

            Another interesting effect of this whole fiasco is that relations between the US and Italy are quickly deteriorating. For the past few decades, the US and Italy have had very good relations, and have cooperated on a number of issues. However, since the exposure of the US “rendition” program, Italy has said “enough”. Not only has Italy pulled I ts troops out of Iraq (against US wishes), but Italy has indicated that it will not be sending additional troops to Afghanistan to support the US effort there. Italy has also charged a U.S. soldier in the killing of an Italian intelligence officer in Baghdad in 2005 – one of the first cases of a U.S. soldier being held accountable for a civilian death caused by ignoring the rules for engagement. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and to watch how other countries react. As support for US colonialism and imperialism evaporates from the international scene, how many other countries will follow Italy’s example and start holding the US accountable for illegal actions?

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