From the excellent “Counterterrorism Blog“:
Today Italian newspapers announced that authorities in Milan have indicted 13 CIA operatives for the kidnapping of Abu Omar, a radical Egyptian cleric that “disappeared” from the streets of the northern Italian city in February of 2003. The step represents a major upset to the CIA’s “rendition” policy and could create a potential rift with one of its closest allies in the War on Terror.
I’ve argued in the past against the notion presented by some opponents of the war in Iraq that an – equally tough on terror – policy is to simply hunt down and kill or capture the terrorists wherever they happen to be.
This is a horrible policy for a large variety of reasons, one of which is that it simply doesn’t work well – the Clinton Administration actually did a pretty good job of identifying and prosecuting the perps in terror attacks, and Al Qaeda managed to flourish regardless. Another is – as noted above – that it violates the sovereignty of other countries (and is itself, I believe, an act of war in a certain sense).
Another issue, I strongly believe, is the culture created by emphasizing this kind of covert activity. I don’t think we need a lot of secret warriors, and I don’t think that such an army would be good for us in any way.
We need some – I have no illusions otherwise – but if they become the primary means or even a primary means of force projection, we’re in trouble. And I don’t just mean with Italian magistrates.