Guilty of Torture: Stephen Kappes
"The most serious charge against Kappes, as best I can tell, comes from his role in the abduction and rendition of Abu Omar, the Egyptian cleric taken by the CIA off the streets of Milan and tortured in Egypt. A 2007 article from The Chicago Tribune about the rendition reports briefly that Kappes was "one of those who signed off on the Abu Omar abduction." (h/t TalkLeft.) No doubt that's troubling. Extraordinary rendition is legally and morally problematic. Italy is prosecuting in absentia the CIA agents involved in the Abu Omar rendition."
Bob Lady - a case officer - is currently on trial in absentia for the rendition of Abu Omar. You can check out the warrant for his arrest here [warning PDF]. If Kappes signed off on the rendition of Abu Omar, he too is party to the crime. He should be on trial as well.
Of course the White House is desperate to keep its hands clean, dirty as they may be. They are not required to sign off on the rendition. Kappes did. Bob Lady was involved too.
Ackerman's piece attempts to establish breathing room for those unnamed individuals who may've resisted the Bush torture regime in some significant way. But I wonder why he poses the question regarding Kappes, and not Bob Lady. Regardless, and despite the fact that he opposed the rendition, Bob Lady still helped to coordinate it. That's why he's on trial. If he had reservations, he managed them. As did Kappes when signing the authorization. Actually, Kappes must've done better than manage his reservations - as part of the CIA elite, his opposition might actually have carried some weight. Too bad I guess. He did not lend it. It's difficult to imagine which signatures could be more important than his, the no.2 in Operations. And it's difficult to deny that the rendition turned into an absolute sh*tshow.
Ambinder lists as one of the 6 challenges facing Panetta "Upcoming legal battles over retroactive immunity for CIA officers involved in the Bush Administration's Bad Stuff. Will Panetta fight on their behalf? The CIA will argue, quite strenuously, that prosection of case officers would be disastrous for morale and would convince managers to err on the side of extreme caution, always."
Setting this up as "Obama might go after case officers! Oh noes!" is a misstatement. As Bob Lady's case makes clear, those case officers weren't protected during the Bush Administration. What do they have to fear from Obama? Frank Naif has discussed how officers take out professional liability service now, because their superiors don't have their backs.
Bob Lady is on trial in Italy for kidnapping. A particular kidnapping that took the victim to Egypt to be tortured. Yes, that makes Bob Lady a torturer. And unless the Chicago Tribune is somehow inaccurate, it makes Stephen Kappes a torturer as well. He can certainly make the case that he is not - in Italy, or in the United States, in the same setting as Bob Lady. As the Deputy Director of Operations (no.2) he has a lot of explaining to do. To the American people, to the people who suffered torture by our hands, to the people of Italy.
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