Thursday, July 06, 2006

SISMI officials arrested

* scotsman:
"TWO Italian spy chiefs were arrested yesterday and a judge issued arrest warrants for four Americans over the alleged CIA kidnapping of a terrorism suspect in Milan in 2003, officials said.

A statement from the Milan prosecutor's office said police arrested Marco Mancini, the No2 at Italy's Sismi military intelligence agency, and were holding him in jail for his alleged role in the kidnap. Another Sismi official was placed under house arrest."
holy shit.

* stratfor:
"Because of Italy's good relations and strong cooperative arrangements with the United States, it is extremely unlikely that the CIA or any other U.S. intelligence organization would have carried out rendition operations without the knowledge of at least SISMI's top official. Because of the politically sensitive nature of such operations and the potential for damage if they are made public, however, official knowledge is rarely recorded. If responsibility for the rendition can be assigned to the counterterrorism department, then SISMI's top official since 2001, Gen. Nicolo Pollari, might be able to deny knowledge of it, thereby minimizing damage to his position."
imagine if the new italian government got really serious. niger-gate? marineone-gate? much fun - and it'd end up at the white-house. yay.


Kathleen said...

Order that pizza, it's gonna get yummier. Now that Berlusconi is gone, I don't eeeeven know where to begin.

I'm 100% Sicilian ancestry, and I can tell you when the US shot Italy's top Intel Agent, that was it. The US broke a cardinal rule there, let me tell you. It's dues time.

One way to get to the Hague is through the EU. Sovreignty breaches are a really big thing.

Don said...

US reps of both parties should be watching the fun & games in Italy closely, and for the same reason: to see what happens when a left party grows a pair, fights for contested elections and then starts digging hard into the ex-ruling right's corrupt activity. The Dems should be taking notes, the repubs shold be sweating buckets.

Kathleen: I'm 100% Sicilian ancestry...

Note to self: don't piss this woman off... ;)

Can't wait for details on the FinMecc issues to come out. It's got me real curious

lukery said...

mmmmm. pizza.

don - hows your masterpiece going?

btw - i dont really believe that finmecc got the marineone gig b/c of the niger thing. at least, not directly. a $6bn payoff for that seems too absurd, even for these crooks.

Don said...

The "masterpiece" (*snort*) has been on hold for a few of weeks while I wrap up my course and gear up for certifications. I dug up a scattering of information from a number of sources (online & print) but there're still pieces missing to start pulling it together. OTOH, every week seems to bring some new revelation to the mess.

From everything I've read here and elsewhere, politics and graft seem to be the dominant factors in the US101 selection. As for it being solely payoff for spreading the forgeries, keep in mind that a lot of that while Finmecc in Italy (and their PA offices in Weldon's district) will make money from it, most of the contract would be spent in the US, specifically:

- Airframes: Bell Helicopters in Fort Worth TX, specifically TX-24, home of long-time Bush sycophant Kenny "I'll draw my own damn district!" Marchant(R)

- Systems integration: Lockheed-Martin, of which Lynne Cheney used to be board member.

So while there's a payback to Finmecc (and Berlusconi), there's probably defence lobbying, stock growth, kickbacks and just good ole GOP greed in there, too.

Curious side note: Lockheed opened a new facility in Owego, NY for this program. Owego is in NY-22, a solid Dem district that isn't up for grabs this year. Go figure.

Snarky side note: If there's one solid argument against gerrymandering, it's the district maps. Ever look at those things? They look like they were drawn with an etch-a-sketch by an epileptic on acid.

Don said...

Additional LockMart info from the Center for Corporate Policy:

When it comes to defense policy, Lockheed's network of influence is virtually unmatched. E.C. Aldridge Jr., the former undersecretary of defense for acquisitions and procurement, gave final approval to begin building the F-35 in 2001, a decision potentially worth $200 billion to the company. Although he soon left the Pentagon to join Lockheed's board, Aldridge continues to straddle the public-private divide: Rumsfeld appointed him to a blue-ribbon panel to study advanced weapons systems.

Former Lockheed lobbyists and employees include the current secretary of the Navy, Gordon England, [former] secretary of transportation Norm Mineta (a former Lockheed vice president) and Stephen J. Hadley, Bush's proposed successor to Condoleeza Rice as his next national security advisor.

Lockheed is not only represented on various Pentagon advisory boards, but is also tied to various influential think tanks. For example, Lockheed VP Bruce Jackson (who helped draft the Republican foreign policy platform in 2000) is a key player at the neo-conservative planning bastion known as the Project for a New American Century.

Not too hard to guess how LockMart might be getting all the business they are. They're listed among CCP's Ten Worst War Profiteers of 2004 with Halliburton, Bechtel, and Custer Battles. It's a 'qualitative' list, with 'winners' chosen not by money made, but based on greed, ethical issues or just all-around public toxicity. Lovely people, all of 'em...

Kathleen said...


When you're done, I'm gonna bring it to Rob Simmons. He at least opposed the Finnemecc thing.

Do you mean Oswego, NY?

The Italian people were NEVER in favor of going to Iraq. And eeeeven if Prodi gets cautious, the people will not let him back off.

Next year, on the anniversary of the shooting of Calipari, there is a huge demonstration planned that Wayne Madsen says is good reason for Americans to stay out of Italy on that day.

What does that sound like to you?

Musolini was ousted very early in the game, by Italian partisans, but the Nazis came and re-installed him, so they had to do it twice, and they did. They hung him upside down to signify that he had been overturned.

The Italians had a national service for their war dead. We sneak our coffins in under cover of night.

Don: Since you mentioned "growing a pair", I'll tell you a very, very, VERY old Sicilian saying for when that last straw goes on.

Nowadays people just say it to mean, don't EEEven bring that up again, but back in the days of yesteryear, one said "Croce e noce" while making a cross with your right hand across your left palm. It means, "cross and nuts", which means "cross that line and it's off with your nuts."

Anyone ever see a great movie with James Mason and Franko Nero called "With a Flower In His Mouth"? Very compelling and captures the Sicilian spirit really well.

Sometime if anyone is interested I can tell you the story of what the word "Mafia" means and how it evolved. It's nothing like the Elliot Ness Americanized gangsta bullshit p.r. trip the US did to smear Italian immigrants who were also anarchists, like Saccho and Vanzetti. Which is not to say there were no criminals, but Al Capone and Joseph Kennedy had a lot in common.

But, I digress, sorry.

Don said...

When you're done, I'm gonna bring it to Rob Simmons. He at least opposed the Finnemecc thing.

It might be a while. Some days I'm not even sure what it is I'm putting together. This whole neocon mess is so interconnected, and as a whole, it's a huge web. Maintaining your focus while digging can be difficult as the focus itself shifts as certain pieces fall into place.

For the record, based on reports and articles I've read on the two helicopters in question (S-92 and EH101), in my admittedly amateur opinion, in terms of systems, range, safety and accomodation, I still believe the better chopper was selected for the presidential role. Now, that opinion is based on the original baseline machines' specs. When a nation adopts a foreign design and nationalizes it, something usually gets screwed up in the process.

Regardless, the more I read, the more obvious it becomes that this deal was as shifty as they come. It would not surprise me if the purported $2 billion in R&D savings (and more) get eaten up, either above board (costs of integrating US electronics and/or engines) or under the table (kickbacks, grease, contract padding, etc).

On a side note, the Canadian Forces will be operating both types from 2008 onwards. It's been a really twisted route to that situation, but that's another story.

Do you mean Oswego, NY?

I had to double-check that myself, but it's Owego, a small town about 10 miles north of the NY/PA border. Both are in Dem districts, although NY-27 only went blue in the last election by a majority lead of less than 1% of the vote (vs. Hinchey's having NY-22 by 64% or better in the last 2 runs).

What does that sound like to you?

I think I read something about a poll recently... ;)

It means, "cross and nuts", which means "cross that line and it's off with your nuts."

LMAO. I love it! How do you pronounce that ("Croce e noce")?

Sometime if anyone is interested I can tell you the story of what the word "Mafia" means and how it evolved.

I used to read old Mack Bolan novels from Pendleton's original 'War against the Mafia' run (not the mindless faux patriotic crap they've run for the last 20 years). One thing I loved about them was how he'd work bits and pieces of the culture into the stories, mostly stuff he'd picked up from Sicilians he knew in the Army. I'd certainly be interested to get a 'first hand' Sicilian's perspective.


lukery said...

don - thnx for the update.

"Maintaining your focus while digging can be difficult as the focus itself shifts as certain pieces fall into place."
sheesh! don't i know it!

interesting snippet (i was reminded of the other day by jarecki): the defense contractors are spread into every state so that they can (effectively) bribe each congresscritter.

kathleen - havent seen that movie.

Kathleen said...

Croce e noce is pronounced like crooge eh nooge.

Rob Simmons said Finnemeccanica had the better specs but they are hnot keeping up with them or the timeline.

It's of interest because Sikorski is a CT company and apparently used to build the presidential helicopters. Simmons is running for re-election.

Sometime after the primary or election, we can story tell, but the Night of the Sicilian Vespers is the starting point.

lukery said...

lol - what is the Night of the Sicilian Vespers?

Don said...

From WikiPedia:

In the 20th Century, the name Sicilian Vespers would come to refer to the night of September 10, 1931, when gangster Lucky Luciano ordered the deaths of several Mafia soldiers loyal to crime boss Salvatore Maranzano and his rival, Joseph Masseria, ending the Castellammarese War in New York City.

Kathleen:Sometime after the primary or election, we can story tell...

Another reason to count down to November... ;)

Kathleen: Rob Simmons said Finnemeccanica had the better specs but they are not keeping up with them or the timeline.

Very politic of him.

Per a Bell press release:

More than 200 suppliers in 41 states support Team US101. Suppliers include some of America's leading aerospace companies, such as General Electric, ITT, Northrop Grumman, Kaman Aerospace and Palomar Products.

So there are a number of potential bottlenecks in the pipeline, not including final systems integration. Integration of the GE engines shouldn't be an issue as Italy's and Canada's EH101s already fly with a variant of the engine selected for the US101. Need to dig for more information on the others' exact participation, but I do know that AgustaWestland has a successful cooperative history with Bell of over 30 years.

However, one more sentence from the release should put it in perspective:

AgustaWestlandBell will act as a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin, which, as prime contractor and systems integrator, will have overall responsibility for the program and delivery of the US101 helicopter to the customer.

... but then, a politician on the HASC can't be knocking the biggest dealer of death and destruction in the USA in the middle of a campaign. Much easier to criticize the foreign company that, for all it's flaws, had the helicopter operating successfully in 3 nations for 6 years before LockMart entered the picture.

Don said...

Random factoid:

The engine selected for the US101, the GE CT7-8E turboshaft, from the same family of engine as the -8C selected for the H-92 Sikorsky proposed for Marine One, according to its GE page, "co-developed and co-produced by GE and Avio SpA of Italy.

According to WikiPedia, Avio S.p.A. is owned by Finmeccanica (30%) and The Carlyle Group (70%).

lukery said...

double thank you don.

i wish i had a seat on the HASC. my grandmother would bring a MUCH higher price

Don said...

i wish i had a seat on the HASC. my grandmother would bring a MUCH higher price

Especially if her cane was subcontracted to NZ, and her teeth to the Canada, and her rocker to the UK (with a sub-subcontract to Ireland)...

That Bell snippet above, like the Jarecki reference you noted earlier, illustrate some of the biggest problems with defence procurement's confluence with politics.

Welcome to the age of the Military Industrial Political complex: More bucks for your bang.

With the procurement process in the US as politicized as it's become, everybody wants a piece of the final project to earn brownie points with their voters. Thus you have 200 suppliers in 41 states, all with lobbyists to ring off the hook the phones of their congress/senate reps, not even considering the suppliers' suppliers. Those lobbyists have to get paid, which 'administrative costs' are of course passed on in the bids, from the subcontractors to the contractor to the Pentagon.

They bill the taxpayer, and because their LockMart F-22s are so expensive, start retiring other older systems that are functional, effective, and paid for, to buy more. (examples: the retirement of 38 of 94 B-52's will pay for 2 Raptors; the retirement of all 52 F-117s cover 2 more) But then, upgrades don't generate the defence industry revenue or PR that brand-new cutting edge tech does, regardless of lost capability, and the next product lines are in development, ready to be proposed.

Because like the PNAC told us, America's defences have to be rebuilt and modernized. And where are they all working, now?

lukery said...

we've seen this in the last coupla days re texas - where the state of texas has million dollar lobbyists in dc. and soon the lobbyists have lobbyists - and all of a sudden curt weldon's kids have contracts.

Kathleen said...

Nooo, the Night of the Sicilian Vespers in when the Sicilians rid their Island of their French occupiers, back in the Middle Ages. I think its March 13, 1283 or something aged. MAFIA means Morta Alla Francia, Italia Anella. Death to the French, Italy's desire. The Normans, who came after the Saracens, or some damn thing like that.