November 7, 2009

Espionage and Esquires

Justin Katz

The whole Abu Omar affair stinks. By way of summary, Abu Omar, or Nassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, is a Muslim cleric suspected of close connections to terrorist organizations and the funding thereof, was abducted by the CIA in Milan and taken to Egypt, where he was imprisoned and, he claims, tortured. At one point, given reprieve by the Egyptian judiciary, Nasr phoned home and made the torture claim, which precipitated prosecution of American and Italian agents.

Earlier this year, the Italian judiciary threw out evidence, with the effect that Italian agents involved in the controversy were removed from the line of fire. Now, 23 Americans have been found guilty, in absentia, of kidnapping.

From the outside, it appears that the abduction should never have happened, not only because of the political cudgel that such practices have given to America's enemies (internal and external), but even for the practical advantage of spying on Nasr. Any subsequent torture is on the hands of the U.S. government. It is exceedingly suspicious that evidence implicating Italians should have been swept from the table. It sets dangerous precedent to have teams of lawyers spying on anti-terrorist spies. And now it appears that the political exit strategy may be to leave two dozen U.S. citizens effectively confined to their own nation (which I write with no insinuation of hardship).

As I said, the whole thing stinks from start to end... and hopefully this is the end of it.

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Jstin, I agree that it seems somewhat odious. However on the facts I can find I am unable to draw a conclusion.

As I frequently think, we have to decide if we are "at war" or merely interferring with a "criminal enterprize".

If we are at war, certain niceties are set aside for the duration. It would have been just as illegal to pick up a Nazi spy/operative in Portugal during WWII. Somehow, I don't think there would have been much American outcry against it.

Maybe we are just learning how the "clandestine services" operate. It seems to be understood that since the "no assassination" executive order we use the British for "wet work", but little is heard of it. I cannot prove that is true, but it seems reasonable.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at November 7, 2009 4:26 PM
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