And not a peep in the mainstream media, with the exception of this story at CQ Politics. It’s not easy for me to generate a lot of sympathy for a
April 22, 2008

And not a peep in the mainstream media, with the exception of this story at CQ Politics.

It’s not easy for me to generate a lot of sympathy for a CIA man involved in a kidnapping, but I feel sorry for Bob Lady.

Lady, many readers will remember, was the CIA’s base chief in Milan, Italy, and nominally in charge of a February 2003 agency operation to snatch an al Qaeda suspect off the city’s streets.

Sounded like a pretty good idea at the time. It was only a few months after we’d been smacked, big time, by al Qaeda killers here.

But the snatch turned into a public relations nightmare two years later when Italian authorities announced they had eyewitnesses and indisputable evidence tying the CIA to the crime.

So last week 26 Americans, most of them CIA employees, went on trial in Milan for kidnapping, albeit in absentia and to little notice here. They are fugitives from justice, with international warrants issued for their arrests.

The central figure in the case has always been “Mr. Bob,” Robert Seldon Lady, a bear-like man with a pasha’s grin who spent a lifetime in the CIA.

He and his wife loved Italy so much they bought a house in the foothills of the Alps and retired there in 2004.

Months later an urgent call came, warning Lady to get out of Dodge — don’t even pack.

The cops were on their way.

Tipped off, the Ladys successfully fled the country. But they left behind a bonanza of evidence in their dream home, not the least of which was a CIA surveillance photo of the kidnap victim, Osama Mustafa Hasan Nasr, known as Abu Omar.

How dumb can you get? Sometimes it seems the CIA’s ineptitude knows no bounds. Read on...

You can't write stuff like this. The little guy stuck carrying out the operation (that he objected to) had to flee his home to avoid imprisonment, not to mention lost his wife, and all their property in Italy may go to Omar as restitution for his rendition. Don't get me wrong, he did the rendition, but the station chief who conceived of the plan got a minor "rap on the knuckles" and is now being groomed to take over the New York City office. And the CIA abandoned Lady, disowning him as an employee and refusing to assist him in any way.

So, as with Abu Ghraib, the accountability begins and ends with the least powerful and never makes it up to the top decision makers.

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