BY JEAN-GUY ALLARD — Special for Granma International —
“MISTER Bob” Seldon Lady is a former chief of the CIA station in Milan, where he was in charge of the 26 agents who were tried in Italy for kidnapping, torturing and then disappearing Muslim cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, in that city in 2003.
To get a better idea of him, we should recall that Seldon Lady was in Central America in the 1980s: he was a key element in the same network, along with John Negroponte, Félix Rodríguez, Colonel James Steele and Luis Posada Carriles, that sowed death and terror among the Sandinistas.
This 52-year-old American, who was born in Honduras and participated along with his own father in CIA operations in the dirty war organized by the CIA in Central America during the Republican administration of Ronald Reagan, became part of a Middle East version of Operation Condor after 2001.
Characterized by kidnappings, secret prisons, torture and disappearances, the operation has now culminated in the appointment of John Negroponte, former ambassador in Baghdad and former U.S. intelligence czar, as deputy secretary of state overseeing the Iraq dossier.
The 26 CIA agents who will go on trial June 8 in Italy also include the former CIA chief in Rome, Jeff Castelli, and Betnie Medero, a woman currently supposed to be based in Mexico, who led the commando; as well as a mysterious official with the U.S. State Department, Monica Courtney Adler.
This trial is the first criminal case in the world regarding the “extraordinary deliveries” authorized by George W. Bush after September 11.
Abu Omar was kidnapped from a Milan street in February 2003, taken to the Guerzoni military base, and after being placed into a windowless vehicle, was then transferred to the U.S. air base in Aviano, from where he was taken to Ramstein, Germany, with the collaboration of that country, and from there to Cairo, where he was tortured in the presence of Robert “Mister Bob” Seldon Lady himself.
Among the commando members that carried out the kidnapping is the particularly interesting case of Betnie Medero.
That 33-year-old woman was the second secretary of the U.S. embassy in Rome.
She arrived in Italy in August 2001 with diplomatic credentials, and according to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, directed the kidnapping on the ground and ensured the victim’s transportation to the U.S. base in Aviano, northern Italy. It is now believed that she was transferred to Mexico, where she is associated with the U.S. embassy, according to the same newspaper.
Monica Courtney Adler, another defendant in the case, was the State Department official who years before, under the Clinton administration, attended to banker Jorge Castro Barredo, a Cuban-born Venezuelan who contributed financially to Democratic Party election campaign funds and was involved in cases of fraud and money-laundering.
Seldon Lady, the ringleader of a group created in Tegucigalpa, is an illustration of the dirty operations of the U.S. spy agency.
The son of William “Bill” Lady, a former CIA agent based in Honduras, managed together with Manuchar Ghorbanifar, an Iranian businessman, the secret sale of weapons to Iraq, which along with drug-trafficking operations directed from within El Salvador by Félix Rodríguez Mendigutía and Luis Posada Carriles, turned into the biggest scandal to rock the Reagan administration.
Seldon Lady carried out his dirty work under the orders of U.S. Marine Colonel Oliver North, who also directed the operations at the Ilopango military base for illegally providing weapons to the Nicaraguan Contra forces.
His activity in Honduras coincided with the presence in that country of John Negroponte, notorious for his support as ambassador to the bloody operations carried out by Battalion 316, which tortured, massacred and disappeared hundreds of Hondurans.
“Mister Bob” Seldon Lady was still active in Central America in 1994 when spy Aldrich Ames uncovered him by revealing his name to Soviet intelligence forces, according to U.S. media reports.
His name was associated with the “Nigergate” scandal, the disinformation operation for justifying the occupation of Iraq under the pretext – completely false – that Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy uranium from Niger. For that maneuver, his old buddy Manuchar Ghorbanifar came to his aid, along with Larry Franklin, an American sentenced last year for spying for Israel.
Seldon Lady fled suddenly from Italy in June 2005 when he discovered that he was wanted in that country for the kidnapping of Abu Omar. Warned, his wife erased all of his computer files, but police experts were able to recuperate most of the material.
The reconstructed documents included several photographs of the victim, taken in the street 33 days before the crime, and Internet searches for the shortest route between the kidnapping scene and Aviano Airport.
Different sources affirm that Seldon Lady is currently on his way back to Central America, where he can take care of CIA work related to Cuba, Venezuela and other progressive governments in the region.
Argentine writer Stella Calloni recently compared the illegal CIA operations in Iraq with a “larger, more sophisticated Operation Condor.”
This was illustrated by the case of James Steele, who created the death squads patronized by John Negroponte, who participated in the supply operations for the Nicaraguan counterrevolutionary forces from the Ilopango air base in El Salvador, directed by Félix Rodríguez y Posada Carriles.
The unexpected exposure of the actions carried out by Seldon Lady and his troop in Italy, with complete disdain for that European nation’s sovereignty, shows once again how — according to imperialist intelligence — the dirty war has no borders.
It is the same CIA gang that has carried out dirty work in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas — who knows how widespread. That gang features John Negroponte, the recently-appointed No. 2 man to Condoleezza Rice in the State Department. What can be expected of him?