Thursday, June 30, 2005

Italy's Most Wanted

Italy's Most Wanted: CIA Case Grows

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Relations between allies Italy and the United States began to sour shortly before George Bush’s ascension. Anti-war sentiment was strident in Italy during Clinton’s Yugoslavia campaign, but Iraq seems the last straw.

Italy's Most Wanted
C. L. Cook
June 30, 2005

Millions demonstrated against Italy’s participation and millions more resented NATO’s use of Italian air bases to launch bombing raids against a defenceless Belgrade. But, if relations had strained under NATO, once the unilateralist war-monger, as he’s widely perceived in Europe old and new, George Bush took the helm, America’s erratic muscular foreign policy became a barrier between U.S. policy and the Italian street so high, even staunch Bush supporter, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has joined calls for an investigation into the burgeoning scandal of an alleged CIA abduction of a Muslim cleric from the streets of Milan two years ago.

Like Yugoslavia, Iraq was unpopular in Italy from the start. Again, millions took to the streets in some of the largest of Europe’s many anti-war demos. Berlusconi, the nation’s biggest media mogul, has been unable to salvage his political hide in the wake of the tragic fiasco in Iraq. Two month ago, he saw an overwhelming rejection of his party in mid-term elections. Those elections came shortly after the Sgrena shooting incident in Iraq, where U.S. military fired on the car carrying journalist Giuliana Sgrena to safety following weeks in the hands of kidnappers. Nicola Calipari, who negotiated the release and one of Italy’s top intelligence agents, was killed in the attack, sparking outraged calls for an investigation and for Italy to remove its soldiers currently in Iraq.

From initial reports on the case coming out of Italy, the kidnapping team left a detailed paper trail and Italian police say they are convinced of CIA complicity. This week, they issued arrest warrents for 13 Americans, 10 believed government agents. Under intense pressure, the Italian government has officially summoned the U.S. ambassador to discuss the situation. It's a step one short of a formal request for extradition.

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