Tuesday, November 21, 2017
News Roundup

U.S. allowed Italian kidnap prosecution to shield higher-ups, ex-CIA officer says

RECOMMENDED READING


WASHINGTON — A former CIA officer has broken the U.S. silence around the 2003 abduction of a radical Islamist cleric in Italy, charging that the agency inflated the threat the preacher posed and that the United States then allowed Italy to prosecute her and other Americans to shield President George W. Bush and other U.S. officials from responsibility for approving the operation.

Confirming for the first time that she worked undercover for the CIA in Milan when the operation took place, Sabrina De Sousa provided new details about the "extraordinary rendition" that led to the only criminal prosecution stemming from the secret Bush administration rendition and detention program launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The cleric, Osama Mustapha Hassan Nasr, was snatched from a Milan street by a team of CIA operatives and flown to Egypt, where he was held for the better part of four years without charges and allegedly tortured. An Egyptian court in 2007 ruled that his imprisonment was "unfounded" and ordered him released.

Among the allegations made by De Sousa in a series of interviews with McClatchy:

• The former CIA station chief in Rome, Jeffrey Castelli, whom she called the mastermind of the operation, exaggerated Nasr's terrorist threat to win approval for the rendition and misled his superiors that Italian military intelligence had agreed to the operation.

• Senior CIA officials, including then-CIA director George Tenet, approved the operation even though there were doubts about Castelli's case — Nasr wasn't wanted in Egypt and wasn't on the U.S. list of top al-Qaida terrorists.

• Condoleezza Rice, then the White House national security adviser, also had concerns about the case, especially what Italy would do if the CIA were caught, but she agreed to it and recommended that Bush approve the abduction.

De Sousa said her assertions are based on classified CIA cables that she read before resigning from the agency in February 2009, as well as on Italian legal documents and Italian news reports. She denies that she was involved in the operation, though she acknowledges that she served as the interpreter for a CIA "snatch" team that visited Milan in 2002 to plan the abduction.

"I was being held accountable for decisions that someone else took and I wanted to see on what basis the decisions were made," she said, explaining why she had delved into the CIA archives.

De Sousa is one of only a handful of former CIA officers who've spoken openly about the secret renditions in which suspected terrorists overseas were abducted without legal proceedings and then interrogated by other nations' security services.

More than 130 people were "rendered" in this way, according to a February study by the Open Society Justice Initiative, a U.S.-based group that promotes the rule of law. Many were tortured and abused, and many, including Nasr, were freed for lack of proof that they were hatching plots, said Amrit Singh, the study's author.

The CIA declined to comment on De Sousa's claims.

De Sousa, 57, a naturalized U.S. citizen from India, was one of 23 Americans convicted in absentia in 2009 by a Milan court for Nasr's abduction.

Comments
Attorneys invoke Shakespeare, Christ in seeking mercy for killer Adam Matos

Attorneys invoke Shakespeare, Christ in seeking mercy for killer Adam Matos

NEW PORT RICHEY — It took less than three house for a jury to unanimously convict Adam Matos of four counts of first degree murder last week.Now, the jury must decide whether Matos should be put to death for his crimes — murdering the mother of his s...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Column: Charlie Rose does not get a pass here

Column: Charlie Rose does not get a pass here

e_SSLqWhat do you say when someone that you deeply care about has done something that is so horrible?" Gayle King asked that question on CBS This Morning on Tuesday.She and Norah O’Donnell could teach a master class about how to respond when someone ...
Updated: 12 minutes ago

28-year-old man shot dead in Spring Hill home, deputies say

SPRING HILL — A 28-year-old man was shot and killed inside a Spring Hill home Monday night, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies responded to at least two separate 911 calls about 8:15 p.m., in which callers reported shots being...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Baron Cohen to pay fine for Czechs sporting Borat mankinis

Baron Cohen to pay fine for Czechs sporting Borat mankinis

PRAGUE — Comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen has offered to pay the fines for six Czech tourists who were reportedly detained by authorities in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana for dressing up as his character Borat. Sporting lime green "mankinis" and black wig...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Irma did not stop tourists from setting record visits to Florida so far in 2017

Irma did not stop tourists from setting record visits to Florida so far in 2017

Despite Hurricane Irma, Florida hit another record high number in tourists visiting the state in the first nine months of this year, according to figures released this week.Visit Florida, the state’s tourism bureau, said 88.2 million visitors came to...
Updated: 1 hour ago
FCC chairman unveils proposal to repeal net neutrality

FCC chairman unveils proposal to repeal net neutrality

WASHINGTON — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday followed through on his pledge to repeal 2015 regulations designed to ensure that internet service providers treat all online content and apps equally, setting up a showdown ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Cannon Fodder podcast: Setting up Bucs vs. Atlanta

Cannon Fodder podcast: Setting up Bucs vs. Atlanta

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman says it’s another week without Jameis Winston as the Bucs prepare to go to Atlanta, and there’s more on the Bucs’ run-game issues and how the defense has struggled on third and long, a situation most defenses love to be i...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jones: Maybe the Florida job isn’t as good as we thought

Jones: Maybe the Florida job isn’t as good as we thought

These are strange, unsettling times for the University of Florida.The Gators need themselves a football coach.They offer a terrific job. Maybe one of the best jobs in the country.Right?Uh, right? (nervous laugh)Well, we’ll soon find out. Maybe this i...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Michael W. Smith talks about Texas shooting, Christmas music and Bono

Michael W. Smith talks about Texas shooting, Christmas music and Bono

On the morning after the mass shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Michael W. Smith had pain in his voice. "It’s awful, it’s just awful," said the Grammy-winning Christian music superstar. "Everybody’s going t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Top 5 at Noon: Matos death penalty sentencing; Manhattan Casino deal approved; Where to see Christmas lights this week

Top 5 at Noon: Matos death penalty sentencing; Manhattan Casino deal approved; Where to see Christmas lights this week

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:JURY DECIDING IF MATOS DESERVES DEATH FOR HUDSON MURDERSIt took less than three hours for a jury to unanimously convict Adam Matos of four counts of first degree murder last week for killing ...
Updated: 2 hours ago