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CIA agent Sabrina DeSousa is facing a lengthy jail sentence in Italy. The Obama administration has simply abandoned her. She was carrying out her CIA orders at the relevant time but the Obama administration either doesn't appear to know how the game is played or refuses to lift a finger for a U.S. agent busted for doing the clandestine business of the United States. Ms. DeSousa was one of 26 CIA and other US officials convicted in absentia in Italy in 2009 for their roles in the "special rendition" of a radical Egyptian cleric wanted for support of terrorists. She originally received a seven year sentence, later reduced to four years. She of course did not turn herself in to Italian police authorities, but since the trial has retired from the CIA and was living in Portugal. She is a dual national and has both US and Portuguese citizenship, and has family living in Portugal. Last week Portugual's highest court ruled against her clearing the way for extradition to Italy to serve the sentence handed down in her absence.
Back in 2003 CIA agents working with their Italian counterparts captured Egyptian cleric Abu Omar, who was suspected of recruiting Islamists terrorist in Iraq, and other elements of terror campaign support. The CIA/Italian team transferred Omar from Milan to Egypt without observing all of the legal niceties that would have given him an opportunity to fight extradition. The Egyptian authorities eventually released Omar without charges, but later convicted him of terrorism in a trial in absentia. He apparently is still free and complaining that he was tortured while in Egyptian custody. Among the left in Europe and here in America Abu Omar has become the poster boy for ceasing all defenses against terror, most especially special rendition.
At all pertinent times in 2003 Ms De Sousa was acting in her official capacity and following U.S. Government policy in executing her duties. In 2004 before the present on rush of Islamic "migrants" began to overrun Italy, leftist in the Italian court system placed all iof the Americans involved on trial in absentia, since by then all of the Americans had left Italy. During the trials the U.S. government never asserted diplomatic immunity for any of the US officials except one, though most held diplomatic passports, and originally acted in concert with Italian authorities. When Ms DeSousa sued the CIA, the State Department, and the Department of Justice for failing to invoke diplomatic immunity on her behalf, the government simply turned on her. The Feds simply asserted that diplomatic immunity is for the benefit of the government, not the individual employee. The government's position is of course techno-legally correct, but exactly the reason why they should have asserted diplomatic immunity for all of the defendants in the case. How would you feel if you were a CIA agent operating under diplomatic cover right now? What does the decision to leave Ms De Sousa hanging out to dry do for CIA recruiting of field agents?
Italy has vacillated back and forth on its opinion of the events, at first being an official participant, then labeling the activity criminal, now with Islamic "migrants" with numerous terrorists embedded in their populations literally invading Italy, the non leftist elements in the Italian government are a bit embarrassed by the trials in absentia. Italy would be doing itself a favor by granting a pardon to Ms De Sousa. The next time they need CIA assistance if sentence is carried out the CIA will be hard pressed for agents willing to work in Italy or with Italian authorities for fear that they will be abandoned to the political whims of a divided Italian government. Workers in America's Intelligence Community know the risks of spy work, but those risks should not include abandonment to politicized retributive actions of erstwhile allies. Since Italy appears unlikely to act sensibly, the Obama administration should invoke diplomatic immunity. So far Obama sits on his hands. As the "War on Terror" enters a dangerous new phase, Obama sends a demoralizing message to America's front line clandestine warriors. The administrations inaction only makes sense once you realize, Obama and company are simply not on our side.