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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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CIA Illegality in Italy


While U.S. officials celebrate the 20th anniversary of the demise of the Soviet Union, they simultaneously celebrate their post-9/11 power to arrest people anywhere in the world without a warrant, kidnap them, transport them to overseas prisons for indefinite incarceration, deny them due process of law, torture them, and execute them, perhaps after a kangaroo show trial.

How’s that for irony?

Unfortunately for the U.S. government, however, not all foreign regimes are countenancing this Soviet-like conduct.

Recently an Italian judge tried and convicted 23 CIA agents who entered the country, arrested without a warrant and kidnapped an Egyptian cleric, who they then whisked away to Egypt for torture. While the CIA agents were following orders as part of the U.S. government’s omnipotent power to wage its war on terrorism all over the world, at the same time they were committing criminal offenses under Italian law.

Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, the CIA agents refused to return to Italy for trial. Thus they were tried and convicted in absentia.

Will the Obama administration extradite these convicted criminals to Italy to serve their sentence? Nope. After all, this is the CIA we’re talking about. The chances of the president or the Congress jacking with the CIA are virtually nil.

Indeed, have you seen any congressional inquiries into the CIA’s kidnapping, rendition, and torture in Italy? Have you seen any CIA officials subpoenaed to testify as to why these people chose to break Italian law? Have you seen any congressmen even inquiring why those 23 CIA agents had to stay in expensive, luxury hotels in Italy during their illegal operation, given the government’s budgetary problems?

Nope. Again, this is the CIA. Neither the president nor the Congress is going to jack with the CIA.

Robert Seldon Lady, the CIA’s station chief in Milan, received a 12-year jail sentence. He is alleged to have stated in a press interview, “Of course it was an illegal operation. But that’s our job. I am not guilty. I am only responsible for following an order I received from my superiors.”

Pardon me, but wasn’t that what the Nazi defendants claimed when they were put on trial for their crimes?

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.