Italy’s secret war

One wouldn’t think that anything could push the upcoming World Cup final out of the front pages of the newspapers, but it looks as if the not-so-secret American kidnapping program could be the next issue to blow up in the Bush administration’s face. La Repubblica reported today that Marco Mancini, the second highest-ranking official in Sismi, Italy’s military intelligence organization, was arrested yesterday for helping American agents kidnap an imam named Abu Omar in Milano in 2003.

I don’t know much more about it at the moment, but it’s a fairly big deal as it is claimed that Italian law was broken by the director of counterespionage and the head of Sismi’s northern operations in the “rendition” of Omar, presumably at American request. The Bush administration has been outspoken about its supposed right to break American laws outside the United States, but it’s not hard to understand why other governments might take a rather dim view of such cavalier lawlessness occurring on their own turf.

The Italian press is particularly interested in this because it appears that the two arrestees also ordered the wiretapping of two journalists at La Repubblica who were investigating them. Interestingly enough, Mancini has denied kidnapping anyone, but not the wiretapping. (At first I thought that he denied ever raping anyone, which seemed like a rather bizarre defense, until I remembered that “rapinare” is “to hijack” or “to rob”, not “to rape”.)

Perhaps the Italian intelligence agency should take a page from President Bush and announce that they’re only violating the nation’s freedoms in order to defend those freedoms from those who hate them. Seriously, if you’re still falling for that infantile crap, you should be embarrassed.