Thursday, December 29, 2005

CIA lived like kings during kidnapping spree through Italy

MILAN, Italy -- When the CIA decides to "render" a terrorism suspect living abroad for interrogation in Egypt or another friendly Middle East nation, it spares no expense.

Italian prosecutors wrote in court papers that the CIA spent "enormous amounts of money" during the six weeks it took the agency to figure out how to grab a 39-year-old Muslim preacher called Abu Omar off the streets of Milan, throw him into a van and drive him to the airport.

First to arrive in Milan was the surveillance team, and the hotels they chose were among the best Europe has to offer. Especially popular was the gilt-and-crystal Principe di Savoia, with acres of burnished wood paneling and plush carpets, where a single room costs $588 a night, a club sandwich goes for $28.75 and a Diet Coke adds another $9.35.

According to hotel records obtained by the Milan police investigating Abu Omar's disappearance, two CIA operatives managed to ring up more than $9,000 in room charges alone. The CIA's bill at the Principe for seven operatives came to $39,995, not counting meals, parking and other hotel services.

Another group of seven operatives spent $40,098 on room charges at the Westin Palace, a five-star hotel across the Piazza della Repubblica from the Principe, where a club sandwich is only $20.

A former CIA officer who has worked undercover abroad said those prices were "way over" the CIA's allowed rates for foreign travel. "But you can get away with it if you claim you needed the hotel `to maintain your cover,'" he said. "They would have had to pose as highflying businessmen."

Judging from the photographs on the passports they displayed when checking into their hotels and the international driver's licenses they used to rent cars, not many of the Milan operatives could have passed as "highflying businessmen."

In all, records show, the CIA paid 10 Milan hotels at least $158,000 in room charges.

Although the Milan police obtained the hotel bills of 22 alleged CIA operatives, they say at least 59 cell phones were used in the weeks leading up to the abduction. Even allowing for the possibility that some operatives used more than one phone, prosecutors believe that a significant number of operatives remain unidentified.

A senior U.S. official said the agency's deployment in Milan was "about usual for that kind of operation." But in December 2001, when the CIA arrived in Stockholm to transport two suspected Islamic militants to Cairo, it sent eight rendition experts to do the job, according to a Swedish TV documentary.

When a rendition team showed up in Macedonia in January 2004 to collect a Kuwait-born German citizen, Khalid el-Masri, and fly him to Afghanistan, there were only 11 operatives on the plane, according to a Spanish police report.

At the beginning of February 2003, with the abduction still three weeks away, 10 of the operatives, who presumably had been spending their days charting Abu Omar's movements in Milan, left the city to spend the weekend in a hotel overlooking the harbor at La Spezia, on Italy's Mediterranean coast.

Some male and female operatives shared the same hotel rooms, records show. Before heading back to Milan, five members of the group detoured to Florence, where they checked into the renowned Grand Hotel Baglioni.

Once Abu Omar was safely behind bars in Cairo, some of the operatives who had helped put him there split up into twos and threes and headed for luxury resort hotels in the Italian Alps, Tuscany and Venice.

Asked if there had been some operational or other official reason for the ultra-expensive hotels and side trips, the senior U.S. official shrugged. "They work hard," he said.

One expense the CIA did spare the U.S. taxpayers was the dozen traffic tickets generated when the agency's rented cars were photographed by police cameras driving illegally in the city's bus and taxi lanes. Because the cars had been rented using false names and addresses, the $500 in fines was paid by the car rental agencies.

Source : Here


Blogger _H_ said...

as they say just 'follow the money'

Number of CIA operatives tracked: 20

Length of stay: From 5 to 42 days

Total room charges: $158,096.56


From Jan. 8-Feb. 19, 2003; amount spent at each for room charges*

Westin Palace $40,098.81 Principe di Savoia $39,995.36 Milan Hilton $21,266.67 Milan Marriott $17,089.29 Star Hotel Rosa $15,280.95 Excelsior Hotel Gallia $5,595.24 ATA Hotel Executive $4,951.19 Four Points Sheraton $4,928.57 Others $8,890.48
* Not including food and other services

Source: Hotel records obtained by Milan police; ESRI; TeleAtlas

December 29, 2005 9:38 pm  
Blogger dick clinch said...

Kidnapping and torturing people is, to paraphrase what our President said about running our government, hard work.

After a day of terrrorizing and torturing, a fellow needs a nice meal, a drink and a place to relax, even if these things are a little pricy.

December 29, 2005 10:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ambrose Bierce said that war is the way Americans learn geography. Nowadays, blogs are the way the world learns geography.

December 29, 2005 10:36 pm  
Blogger raspberry sundae said...

have you read the mblog?

you might find some of the stuff he writes interesting.

December 29, 2005 10:49 pm  
Blogger 'Thought & Humor' said...

Seems you have a problem catching the bad guys...

December 30, 2005 2:07 am  
Blogger _H_ said...


I will check it out , thanks

Thought and humour

funny , you may have noticed I am ENGLISH , so i have had no problems what so ever trying to catch anyone . Maybe you should find the first Italian American you can and tell them ...

PS , dont laugh to early , Many a criminal has been captured years after the crime , just think of dear old Saddam

these are real charges and there will be real consequences to a lack of US assistance

December 30, 2005 3:00 am  
Anonymous by stander said...

I see it as a bargin. In other circumstances we might have used a cruise missle ($500,000) or a few hellfire missles ($60,000 each).

December 30, 2005 2:33 pm  
Blogger _H_ said...

that has to be a sense of humour , nobody would be that niave to Consequences .This is not Afghanistan or Iraq this is ITALY , part of the EUROPEAN UNION

Not even GWB would be so stupid as to comit an act of war against Europe , do you want to just keep going until the entire world is at war with you !

the correct way to go about this is to work WITH the italians , for its their country LOL some people think the whole world is some kind of legit battle ground

Hilter thought the same when he attacked poland i doubt he spotted the consequences or at the least he didnt care about them

attacking Europe would put you under threat of attack from china and russia and lets not forget the two nuclear powers france and the UK

hopefully you mean by "other circumstances" not italian soveriegn soil

you see it as a bargain , i see it as a serious crime that will not be going away

December 30, 2005 6:27 pm  
Anonymous cb said...

"...a weekend in a hotel overlooking the harbor at La Spezia..."

Cool! I was in La Spezia in 2003 also! Of course, I never got to be in a fancy hotel; more like a dingy hostel. Maybe I should get into the spy game. Sounds so glamorous... you get to be like James Bond. But instead of bagging gorgeous women, you get to bag foreign nationals. Awesome.

December 31, 2005 5:03 pm  
Blogger _H_ said...

LOL sounds like a great life doesnt it

though to be fair Mr Bond's women seem far more appealing than the foreign nationals ..

this is story thats going to grow and grow it seems

December 31, 2005 5:58 pm  
Blogger G_in_AL said...

I've told you before, something just sounds way to fishy about this... I mean, was this the Key-Stone Cops, or the CIA?

January 03, 2006 9:56 pm  
Blogger _H_ said...

G , you seem to have little regard for the italian Police and judges ,

do you think the nation of italy is making this all up ?

they even have the hotel bills , they have the names of the cia agents , they have evidence that the CIA kidnapped Abu Omar from Italy

and the CIA admit they have Abu Omar in a cell

what more do you need ?

if it was key-stone cops then that something the CIA should ask of themselves , but denying it was the CIA ? i think not

January 03, 2006 11:26 pm  
Blogger DJEB said...

It could be one of his "impressionistic theories."

January 04, 2006 9:51 am  
Blogger G_in_AL said...

I dont think the Italian cops did anything less than superb... I am talking about the supposed "covert agents" living up a lavish vacation on a "black op". Just doesnt add up. EIther they were the worst trained agents of all time.... or something's fishy.

Maybe a smoke-n-mirror for something else that was going on? "Here look at this hand waving around... never mind the one you CAN'T see.

Djeb... excellent debate, again, you amaze me. Whats next, you going to spell check me?

January 06, 2006 1:45 am  
Blogger _H_ said...

G: well its hard to imagine what could be worse then entering a european country and kidnapping people ...

any ideas what could be so big it would be worth getting in this kind of mess for ?

January 06, 2006 2:12 am  
Blogger DJEB said...

I gave you a one-liner to a one-liner. I would have thought that you would have recognised my pattern of giving an intelligent response to intelligent comments by now...

January 06, 2006 3:14 am  
Blogger G_in_AL said...

H, I'd look more to some other subversive stuff, maybe with actual Italian citizens or potential government officials and/or property. Making a circus out of abducting someone that Italians were already after just seems really amature.

DJEB, what's tomarows excuse?

January 06, 2006 6:26 pm  
Blogger DJEB said...

Hello? Did you give anything more than a one-liner here? No, you did not.

January 07, 2006 2:33 pm  

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