From the Boston Globe:
LONDON — The international fallout from the apparent CIA abduction of an Islamic militant cleric off the streets of Milan highlights the potential for such tactics to heighten friction between the United States and its European allies. The issue is how to wage the fight against terrorism.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi summoned the US ambassador, Mel Sembler, on Friday. He demanded that the United States show ”full respect” for Italy’s sovereignty.
Berlusconi, a key ally of President Bush on the Iraq war despite its unpopularity in Italy and in much of Europe, called on the United States to explain the kidnapping of the Egyptian cleric in Milan, just one month before the United States launched its invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
European intelligence officials, Western diplomats, and specialists on terrorism say the brazen operation — whether it had approval from a level of Italian intelligence or not — has focused a harsh European spotlight on a dark corner of the US antiterrorism campaign.
The CIA’s increasing use of ”extraordinary renditions,” in which US authorities abduct terrorism suspects and transfer them to third countries that are known to use torture, has inflamed passions across Europe among human rights activists and the intelligence community.
It has raised concern that such tactics not only flout international law, but that they may also ultimately undercut much-needed cooperation between the United States and its European allies…
The Washington Post, citing unnamed CIA sources, reported that the agency had briefed and had sought approval from intelligence counterparts in Italy before the operation.
The Italian government has publicly insisted that such approval was neither sought nor granted. And an Italian magistrate has issued arrest warrants for the 13 alleged CIA agents who are reported to have carried out the ”snatch-and-grab” seizure of Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr, 42, who was then flown by the CIA agents to Egypt for interrogation…