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Friday, July 06, 2007

Yesterday's La Repubblica Reports on How It's hard to be paranoid in Italy.

The most authoritative body imaginable concludes that the tinfoil hat crowd was write and that the italian intellience agency SISMI was spying on judges and prosecutors hoping to gain information for the prime minister of the day and evergreen defendant Silvio Berlusconi.

Also absolutely wonderfully today's follow up story has a clickable link to the original report. Finally. At last. Why did I have to wait so long for this ?

Toghe spiate, Csm* contro il Sismi**
"Fu il servizio e non i settori deviati"

Il plenum del Consiglio superiore della magistratura interviene sull'attività di spionaggio sui giudici
"Il Sismi ha svolto un'attività estranea ai compiti dei servizi fatta per intimidire e far perdere credibilità"

Monitorati quasi tutti i giudici di Milano e anche qualche straniero
Pollari si difende: "Mai svolte attività non consentite"

Translation without silly journojargon my comments [in brackets]

"Spying on Judges and prosecutors
CSM against Sismi

The whole Consilio Superiore della Magistratura (CSM)*[high council administering prosecutors and judges ndrjw]*** discusses spying on judges "SISMI** acted outside of its proper role to intimidate and discredit"

Almost all judges and prosecutors in Milan were monitored and also some foreigners.

Pollari [head of SISMI at the time] defends himself "I never did anything which was not allowed".

E' stato il Sismi e non i "settori deviati" del servizio a svolgere l'attività di spionaggio nei confronti di magistrati che è venuta alla luce con la scoperta dell'archivio di via Nazionale a Roma. Ad affermarlo è una risoluzione approvata all'unanimità dal Plenum del Csm.

It was SISMI and not "a few bad apples" in the service who spied on judges and prosecutors which became known when the archive in via Nazionale in Rome was discovered. This is asserted in a resolution unanimously approved by the whole CSM*."

This is a long delayed very official denunciation of improper domestic intelligence activities discovered soon after the transition to the Prodi government when a pile of hastily hidden documents (and computer hard disks) was found. The unanimity is very striking, since some members of the CSM owe their positions to support from the past majority (now opposition). The current majority is inclined to be spineless, but they will have to do something now.

Among the monitored magistrates we find our old friend Armando Spataro who convinced a judge to issue arrest warrants for 13 CIA agents for as a result of an extraordinary rendition (that is kidnapping). Also monitored, of course, are the many magistrates who have spent about a decade trying to keep track of Silvio Berlusconi's many crimes and wasting time preparing cases against him which became moot when his majority changed the laws to make his crimes non crimes (I am not exaggerating). The SISMI files are explicit that prosecutors and judges are watched because they are suspected of sympathies for the then opposition (now majority). The resolution notes that the files make it absolutely clear that SISMI was being used for partisan purposes.

The implicated top intelligence officers (Pollari and right hand man Pio Pompa) claim that they only collected publicly available information on judges and prosecutors. This claim is obviously false

associazione europea di magistrati Medel

un monitoraggio capillare ... che avviene- sottolinea la risoluzione del Csm- "anche attraverso l'analisi dettagliata dei messaggi di posta elettronica diffusi nella lista (di carattere interno) dell'associazione".

MEDEL an association of European prosecutors and judges

"a detailed monitoring ... which was done - the CSM stresses - " also through detailed analysis of e-mails sent to the private mailing list of the association."

Pollari and Pompa appear to have been very suspicious about this organization

* What is the CSM ? First what is the "magistratura" which I translate as "judges and prosecutors". It is the judicial branch, but note prosecutors are part of it. In Italy prosecutors can't be fired by the executive. The way to become a magistrate is to get a degree in law then score well on an anonymously graded written exam on the law. Elected officials have no role in deciding who is a magistrate. The same person can go back and forth from being a prosecutor to being a judge (drives defense attorneys nuts). Promotions and transfers are decided by the CSM a majority of whose members are elected by the magistrates and a minority of whose members are selected by parliament. Thus the magistratura is almost completely isolated from well democracy. This is a key reason that it was possible for a corruption scandal to drive almost all top politicians from public life in the early 90s. In voting the CSM magistrates have organized "Corrente" which are roughly parties but definitely different from the ordinary parties. The left more corrente is called magistratura democratica.

** SISMI stands for Italian military intelligence service. In spite of the M it mainly collects intelligence on Italy. In the 70s Sismi agents committed incredible crimes as part of the effort to hurt the Italian communist party including planting bombs with fake communist propaganda to associate communism with terrorism (the red brigades came later and did a much more thorough job our of sincere insane idiocy).

SISMI is probably the source of the notorious forged Nigerien Dossier (they aren't all that competent). The then head of SISMI (Pollari) clearly knew about the extraordinary rendition of mullah Omar who was kidnapped in Milan and flown to Egypt. This rendition lead conservative prosecutor Armando Spataro to order the arrest of CIA agents who are now in the USA.

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