23 CIA Agents Convicted in Rendition Case

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In 2003, CIA agents snatched an Egyptian cleric in Milan, Italy, and flew him to Cairo, where he was, predictably, interrogated and tortured by Egyptian security forces. The case of Abu Omar would have been like many of the extrajudicial “extraordinary renditions” secretly carried out by the Bush administration except that an Italian prosecutor stepped in and indicted 26 Americans involved in the daylight abduction. Today, an Italian judge ruled against 23 of the defendants, sentencing them to as much as eight years in prison. None will serve any prison time since they were tried in absentia, but the ruling is a rebuke to the US government—and the nearly 15-year-old rendition policy, which remains in place.

The policy of transferring suspected terrorists to third countries, implemented during the Clinton administration, has led to at least 67 people being detained by American agents and then taken to one or more countries where they were tortured, imprisoned without trial, and/or killed. In his investigation into the Italian case in Mother Jones’ special package on torture, Peter Bergen described how the Bush administration’s insistence that it was not handing over suspectes to be abused was demonstrably—and knowingly—false. The Obama administration has made similar assurances. It has not ruled out the use of rendition (AKA “transfers”) but has said that it will ensure that “any affected individuals are subjected to proper treatment.” And presumably, if the CIA still is playing body snatcher, it’s no longer doing it on Italian soil. 

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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