Thursday, June 30, 2005

CIA Hires Austin Powers

From Reuters:

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - CIA agents charged with kidnapping a Muslim cleric in Milan appear to have bungled their way into an international incident by ignoring the most basic rules of the spy trade, experts say.

Far from the suave discretion of James Bond, experts say the operatives who snatched radical Muslim cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr on Feb. 17, 2003, sound more like the bumbling secret agent Austin Powers of movie fame.

"Instead of super-sleuths, they were like elephants stampeding through Milan. They left huge footprints," said former CIA clandestine officer Melissa Boyle Mahle.

Media reports say the agents placed phone calls to CIA headquarters on unsecured lines, ran up $145,000 in bills at luxury hotels and operated far enough in the open for Italian authorities to learn their operational identities.

'Everybody knows that telephones can be traced. It's not exactly an emerging technology,' said one former spy.

In fact, current and former intelligence officials, who had no actual knowledge of Nasr's abduction, said Italian accounts depict an amateur operation.

Several other intelligence sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the case involves a covert U.S. operation.

'The tradecraft was beyond appalling,' said an intelligence official with long experience in clandestine affairs. 'I'd have to wonder if these were CIA officers trained in the clandestine arts...'

...The abduction of Nasr, who court documents say was flown to Egypt and tortured there, threatens to rattle U.S.-Italian relations three months after U.S. troops shot dead an Italian intelligence agent in Iraq without facing disciplinary action.

Italian prosecutors are considering calling for the extradition of 13 people involved in the operation, while Italians are demanding to know if their own government was also involved."

Boy, this story makes me feel confident that the Bush administration can keep the country safe. Given the track record of the administration when dealing with officials who fuck things up, these 13 CIA agents who kidnapped Nasr and sent him to Egypt to be tortured should be getting promotions sometime soon.

Or Medals of Freedom, along with Paul Bremer, George Tenet, and General Tommy Franks. Cuz' the Iraq War has gone so well, you know?

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