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WE "OUT" AN EX-CIA AGENT -- Bush Admin's Renditioner in Italy Scandal

Clayton Hallmark | 17.08.2005 05:39 | Anti-militarism | Repression

WANTED IN EUROPE: US CIA Agent Robert Seldon Lady: A CIA agent, under arrest warrant in Europe, is on the lam. We reveal where he probably is for the first time, plus many other new details. Call this story the "Theory of Everything" about the the War on Terror and the Iran-Contra affair if you like, but it is basically a crime story. When arrested, Robert Seldon Lady could lay bare the Niger-nukes forgery thousands of American troops have died over. He is wanted with 18 others in the CIA kidnapping-for-torture of a Muslim cleric in Italy.

Likeness of Robert S. Lady
Likeness of Robert S. Lady

Billy Lady
Billy Lady

Most Iraqi war fatalities are children. Almost all orphans are.
Most Iraqi war fatalities are children. Almost all orphans are.

When arrests are made, we will have an international incident pitting Italy against the US, also a new scandal -- Imam Rapito-gate -- to go along with Nigergate, Plamegate, Rovegate, and Franklin-Israeli spying. It might be that the jig is up.

The kidnapping row endangers international cooperation on terror and could blow Nigergate, etc., wide open. As the CIA ringleader, Robert Seldon Lady, hides out in Honduras and the US (we think we know where), Italy *might* fight to extradite him. Finally angry Iraq-war mom Cindy Sheehan, camped out at Bush's ranch, might get an answer on her question to President Bush: "Why did you kill my son?" Tens of thousands of Iraqi parents also ask, "Why did you kill my little child?" (SEE PHOTO.) He did it over forgeries obtained by his associates, possibly with the involvement of Robert Lady.


The story is a bit complicated, but it can be simplified by treating it for what it is at base, a crime story. Also, that is how it will be resolved -- by the criminal justice systems in Italy and the US.


Robert S. Lady retired from the CIA about September 2004 and left Italy in January 2005 after being tipped off that the Italians wanted to collar him. The mainstream media say that his whereabouts is unknown (though they say the Italian police intercepted two phone calls he made on the lam in Honduras). If I have learned where he is spending most of his time in Honduras, near the capital city of Tegucigalpa, then I assume that the Italians have precisely located him. One problem is getting the proper authorities in Italy to begin extradition proceedings. If this happens, the problem will be to get Honduras or the US to arrest him and turn him over. Then there will be big problems for Italian-American relations -- and for the Bush administration and Sen. Pat Roberts as they cover up the detritus of how we came to waste American lives in Iraq, detritus that includes Plamegate, Nigergate, Rovegate, and Larry Franklin-Israeli spying.

Bob Lady is not only wanted for kidnapping and other crimes in Italy, he has connections to the Niger uranium con, made in Italy for war against Irag, and the old (1980s) Iran-Contra-Nicaragua affair. Lady's link to both the Niger-Italy con and Iran-Contra are through the same person: the Iranian spy who really works for Israel, Manuchar Ghorbanifar.


Gettng Honduras to extradite Lady might not be easy. He and his father have a long history in Honduras and Central America as explained later.

The US wants the matter dropped for many reasons. For one, the US has used Honduras, its closest Central American ally, as a base for puppet-nation-building in Latin America for over 25 years and doesn't want its Central American machinations exposed. (The Reagan administration aided Contras, or "Againsts," in Nicaraqua and "Fors" in states with repressive right-wing regimes like Guatemala and El Salvador.) Also, if pressured, Lady might squeal what he knows about Nigergate, the use of forged documents, obtained through Italy and France, to drive the US to war. For foreign governments to meddle in US foreign policy is considered "a horse of a different color."


In Honduras, beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, Lady's father, and American from Florida, became a well known mining engineer and gold miner, an environmentalist, a farmer, a self-taught arborist, a sailor, and an expert ham radio operator. Bill Lady was a brilliant multitalented man. By all accounts and appearances, he was kind, generous, and gentlemanly. His son Robert is reported to have inherited his amiable disposition if not his good works. Mr. Lady apparently raised three sons and a daughter in Honduras and also maintained a home in Florida. Robert is the second oldest of his children.


Lady was raised like an American in Central America, although his mother Maria apparently was Hispanic. He looks somewhat Hispanic. (SEE LADY'S PHOTO.)

Robert Seldon Lady was born in 1954 in Honduras' capital city, Tegucigalpa (he is 51). Photos of him show his Hispanic ancestry. He apparently lived in Honduras until the 1970s, when he joined the NYPD and engaged in entrapment of "leftist" groups for them. He became a CIA agent in the 1980s. In the period 1981 to 1985 the US ramped up military and intelligence activities in Honduras, when Lady would have been in his late twenties.

Beginning in 1980, Iran-Contra (see any history book) was a scandal in which Republican Party operatives used the CIA to secretly sell missiles, etc., to Iran in exchange for a "timed release" of US hostages, timed to show up then-President Carter. Proceeds from the arms sales went to the rebels, or Contras, in Nicaragua. This trade supposedly ended in 1986 when a Lebanese magazine -- not the mainstream media -- exposed it. According to some reports (also outside the mainstream), the CIA also imported cocaine to North America, through Central America, and used the cash to buy arms for Iran and the Contras. US clandestine operations -- designed to evade express orders from the people's representatives, the Congress -- have continued to link Central America and the Middle East through the agency of the CIA, foreign spies like Ghorbanifar, and Bob Lady.

Regarding Honduras, around 1990 both the US Army and Nicaraguan Contras worked out of the same base at Ojo de Agua, about 33 miles north-northwest of Tegus, the capital. Robert Lady's father said he owned a farm 60 miles east of Tegucigalpa, which would have located it very near the border of Nicaragua with its Contras. He also owned a house about 15 miles east of Tegucigalpa.

Robert Lady's father -- with his wide contacts in Honduras, farm land on which "you could grow anything," knowledge of the Honduras terrain, unusual familiarity with the Tegucigalpa airport hangars, and globe-spanning shortwave radios -- would have made the ideal CIA operative. He could have been the Mr. Big of Central America. There is no evidence that he was, and when he died in 2004, he apparently was not rich. (SEE PHOTO OF LADY'S FATHER.)


His son, Robert Seldon Lady, is another matter and may well have taken advantage of his father's Honduran assets and aptitudes to conduct CIA capers. Bob Lady conducted operations in Central America, off and on, during and after Iran-Contra, until he was tranfered to Milan, Italy, about the start of 2001. Some claim that CIA snitch Aldrich Ames -- arrested for spying for Russia -- "burned" (outed and ruined) agents in Latin America. However, Robert Lady was attached to the US embassy in Panama until the CIA transferred him to Milan around the beginning of 2001. His son graduated from high school in Panama in 2000. For a few years up to his departure for Milan, Robert Lady apparently had dual residencies, as he also owned a house in Abita Springs, LA (near New Orleans).


So, a couple of years before the now infamous grab of the Egyptian cleric Abu Omar (Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr) in Milan, the CIA transferred Lady to Milan as Chief of Station and got him a second job, a cover job in the State Department consulate: Political/Military Officer. Lady was the only one to hold this job title in the entire worldwide foreign service. He started near the beginning of 2001.


BTK: Bind, Torture, and Kill (a la Dennis Rader)

The Italian press calls the Lady matter "Imam Rapito," for "kidnapped cleric." I call it the BTK Grab, after the Kansas serial killer Dennis Rader, who bound, tortured, and killed his victims and dubbed himself BTK. Abu Omar was a Muslim cleric in Milan, Italy. His age has been reported as 42 at the time of the kidnapping. He had fled his native Egypt in the 1980s after a 1-year imprisonment for membership in the antigovenment organization Jamaat. He has two wives and two young children by his first wife. He was separated from his first wife and his children, who are in Albania, by political matters. At the time of the CIA snatch, he was the deputy imam at the Milan's Islamic center, reputedly the most militant Muslim outpost in Italy.



In late 2002, Robert Seldon Lady's CIA gang used their credit cards and US government discounts to begin a long stay at luxury hotels in Milan. After about 3 months of planning the grab of Abu Omar to deliver him to his native Egypt for questioning, and with little effort to hide their identities, the gang of 19 swung into action. Six of the gang tailed the militant cleric for about a week. Then they pulled back and another band of 13 swung into action to make the grab. (Separate surveillance and contact crews are typical of investigations targeting persons.) The six scouts waited nearby as a backup.

On February 17, 2003, as Abu Omar was walking to his mosque, two bushwhackers posing as Italian police officers stopped him and pepper-sprayed him to disable him. They and others forced the 42-year-old cleric and father of two into a white van. Abu Omar has since been charged by the same prosecutors who charged the CIA agents, but he was not under any charges anywhere at the time of the grab. (Italy recently has charged him with terrorist activities, mainly to extradite him and hopefully save his life.) As Abu Omar called loudly for help, a woman passerby heard his cries. This was something the gang had not anticipated.

It should be noted that the CIA has no police powers in the United States, let alone Italy. This affair is an affront not only to Italian sovereignty but to US justice. There is no reason for the US to protect persons who would do such things, who, after all, are common criminals. Kidnapping and torture are of course illegal under US laws. Abu Omar was under no charges andywhere at the time, was not arrested by the Italian police, but was kidnapped by the CIA.

The eyewitness told relatives and friends of Abu Omar about the grab, and one of them called the police. The police began a missing-persons investigation, but it apparently stalled out with no further evidence. The police maintained a wiretap on the immam's residence.


The getaway van transported Abu Omar to a US Air Force base, Aviano, 125 miles east of Milan. Italian court documents show that a USAF security officer, Lt. Colonel Joseph L. Romano III, allegedly provided security clearance at the Aviano Air Base. He is presently under investigation for his possible role in the kidnapping. The Italian prosecutors -- led by Milan's main prosecutor, Armando Spataro, famed for prosecuting the Mafia -- say they want to question him and might consider seeking his arrest. Romano was in charge of security at the air base as commander of the 31st Security Police Squadron. Romano may have helped to get agents and Abu Omar off on his "rendition" (torture) trip. The kidnappers called Romano three times during the trip to Aviano, apparently to report their progress. Romano worked at the time under Brigadier General R. Michael Worden, the commander of the 31st Fighter Wing, who should have known about the rendition plans and who needs to be questioned.


From Aviano, a chartered Learjet took Abu Omar to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, also the destination of tens of thousands of US military casualties from Iraq. (The plane is owned by former catheter manufacturer and Boston Red Sox part-owner Phillip H. Morse of Jupiter, FL.) From there, a Gulfstream with the US FAA registration N85VM (now N227SV, for you plane spotters) then took Abu Omar to Egypt, where he hadn't been since the 1990s, for "intensive" interrogation. The use of torture is against the US Constitution, which all US officials are sworn to uphold. The US has condemned the torture of Egyptian dissidents by their government. Meanwhile, the CIA has made repeated use of Egypt as a place of interrogation for persons who have broken no laws in Egypt. Perhaps it's the cost of living there?

Kidnapper Lady apparently was Abu Omar's tour guide in Egypt, as he accompanied the immam there. Guido Olimpio of the paper Corriere della Sera has reported extensively on the Imam Rapito caper. He reported another Milan-based imam as telling Italian authorities that Omar had been tortured in Egypt after refusing to work in Italy as an informer. According to the testimony, Omar was hung upside down, kept naked, and subjected to freezing temperatures, electric shock, and loud noise that damaged his hearing. Italian officials, however, deny any foreknowledge or involvement in the whole caper.

Robert Lady reportedly stayed on in Egypt for 2 weeks, apparently watching as his Egyptian muscle hung, froze, zapped, and blasted Abu Omar. In his report, Judge Chiara Nobili says cell phone records show Lady was in Egypt from Feb. 22-March 15. The report says that those were likely the first days Nasr was being tortured during interrogations.


The kidnap victim was released from prison in Egypt on April 20, 2004. This is known from his telephone calls to his second wife, in Italy, and to other associates, including fellow imam Mohammed Reda. In these calls he gave some details of the snatch and torture.

Abu Omar was soon re-arrested by Egyptian authorities, on May 9, 2004 -- possibly because his phone calls during his release started an investigation by the Italian police and the growing stink over the grab.

The last time he reportedly was heard from was in May 2005. His first wife, in Albania, received a letter from him (she has verified its authenticity) saying, "Now I live in Alexandria." It is hard to tell if he still is in Alexandria, in prison, or even dead -- completing the BTK pattern. He reportedly once was an intelligence source for the Italians. One of their beefs of Italian intelligence over the caper is that the Americans have not shared the intelligence obtained from Abu Omar's torture. The case is an embarassment for the Berlusconi administration, which faces reelection next year, and the Bush administration, which is imploding. This does not augur well for the imam's survival. However, the Italian prosecutor, Spatari, is attempting to extradite Abu Omar to Italy, which could save his life.


This story appeared on front pages and TV screens in a flash recently, on June 23, 2005, when the prosecutor in Milan, Armando Spatari, announced that a judge had issued arrest warrants for the 13 members of the actual snatch team. The judge temporarily denied warrants for the other 6 who had served as scouts and backups.


For some reason, the Italian authorities have released only names, some of which might be aliases, for the perps. They have not released photos, not to the media at least. One would think they would do so if they were sincere about wanting to arrest the fugitives, especially since releasing the cover names already has "burned" the agents.

The prosecutors have claimed that the abductors used passports and documents with their photos in checking into the luxury hotels to set up the caper. In something that belongs in the "Dumb Crooks" TV segment, the criminals also used US embassy cell phones without bothering to change the identifying chips. Later, an American in the embassy in Rome began using one of the phones again! Anyway, prosecutors obtained from the hotels photocopies of the crooks' photos that were dark and smudged. They claimed they were waiting for digtital graphics experts to enhance the photos before publishing them. We are still waiting.

Before going on to the leader of the Lady Gang, here are the other 12 listed in the first batch of warrants:

Some of these names are aliases. One person, possibly Harty or Harbaugh, reportedly is about 63 and is using his own name at the US embassy in Tanzania.

Monica (Courtney) Adler, 32 years old, born in Seattle, resident in Virginia. [Monica Courtney, according to Corriere, Guido Olimpio]

Gregory Asherleigh, 50 years old, born in Maryland, resident in Washington, DC.

Lorenzo Carrera, 34 years old, born in Texas,speaks fluent Italian and Spanish. [Carrera Gabriel Lorenzo, according to Corriere]

(Carlyle) Drew Channing, 40 years old, born in NY. [Chamming Drew Carlyle, according to Corriere]

John (Kevin) Duffin, 53 years old, born in Illinois, resident in Pennsylvania.

Raymond Harbaugh, 66 years old, born in Alaska, Virginia PO Box [Reston, VA, is CIA headquarters.]

Ben Amar Harty, 61 years old, Arab descent, speaks Arab, born in Iowa. [Harty Benamar, according to Corriere]

Cynthia (Dame) Logan, 45 years old, born in Maryland, address unknown.

George L. Purvis, 46 years old, born in China, resident in Virginia.

Pilar Rueda, 44 years old, born in California, address unknown.

Joseph Sofin, 52 years old, born in Moldavia, resident in Virginia.

Michalis Vasiliou, 43 years old, born in Greece, residence unknown.


Bob Lady retired with his wife Martha to the Piedmont wine country of northern Italy, near Asti, in September 2003. The Italian police began investigating the Abu Omar caper again in April 2004 when a wiretap on his home picked up Abu Omar's call to his wife. With the cops closing in about the first of 2005, Lady and the rest of the gang took it on lam, probably being relocated by the CIA.

The cops were bugging Lady's villa when, at the end of May 2005, he called Martha from Honduras. Soon afterward, neighbors say, Martha went on a lengthy trip to Honduras. ONE ONLY HOPES SHE DIDN'T TAKE THE HARD DRIVES WITH HER, as Robert Lady had done when his father died last year. Martha Lady returned home just in time to find her husband under an arrest warrant.

When the Italian police went to bust Lady at his home in Asti, on June 23, 2005, the day the first 13 arrest warrants were announced, he had flown the coop.

In the garage was what the prosecutor has called "a box used as a rubbish bin." In it was a list of Milan hotels the gang had used in planning the caper, "confirming the role of Lady Seldon [sic] as the organizer of the operation," the prosecutor said. The police removed documents and hard drives (less whatever Lady and his wife had spirited away).

Some time afterward, Lady called his wife from a Honduran cell phone, and she told him that she had been attempting to destroy the goods just as the cops arrived.


The Italian court of jurisdiction refused to issue warrants for the persons who had served as scouts or lookouts. Prosecutor Spataro insisted that there was "serious evidence of responsibility" for the six, and an appeals court agreed. On July 25, 2005, the appeals court ordered the arrest of the following (ages and addresses unknown):

Eliana Castaldo

Victor Castellano

John Thomas Gurley

Brenda Liliana Ibanez or Liliana Brenda Ibanez

Anne Lidia Jenkins


Col. Joseph L. Romano has since left Italy; but on June 25, 2005, prosecutors said they want to question him and are considering ordering his arrest as well. He is presently working in section 31P at the Pentagon.


Robert Lady apparently was involved in Nigergate -- procuring forged documents that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair used an a pretense for making war on Iraq. The forged letters and Telexes purported to arrange sales of uranium oxide (yellowcake) by Niger to Iraq. They were the basis of Bush's claim in his 2003 State of the Union speech, just before the Iraq war, that the British government had evidence "that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Bush backed down on this claim -- after he got his war.


Bush had secret war plans when he ran for president in 2000. All he needed was an excuse. Newsweek Magazine reported that, at the end of his first year in office, in December 2001, there was meeting in Rome arranged by Michael Ledeen, foreign policy advisor to Karl Rove and Bush. Also present were Nicolo Pollari, head of Italy's CIA; the Minister of Defense (Pollari's boss), Antonio Martino; Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin,now under indictment for spying for an Israeli group; Harold Rhode, from Dick Cheney's Office of Special Plans; and Manuchar Ghorbanifar, an Iranian by nationality but basically a free-agent intelligence operative.

The Americans were on a fishing expedition for war grounds.

Pollari, Italy's spy chief, very likely know Lady, the head US spy in Milan. There was close cooperation between Italian and US intelligence after 9/11.

Gharbanifar, the Iranian equal-opportunity spy, had been a go-between in the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s, arranging arms sales by Col. Oliver North in the Reagan White House to Iran. Lady, in the CIA, had been involved in Iran-Contra on the Contra end in Latin America. Cash derived from the arms sales to Iran that Ghorbanifar arranged was used to buy weapons that Lady helped deliver to the Nicaraguan Contras. Lady and Ghorbanifar, then, had already worked on a black operation years before the Iraq war.


Meanwhile, Rocco Martino (no apparent relation to Antonio), another soldier-of-fortune of the spy world, had been working for the French secret service (and who knows for whom else), by his account. He was providing them intelligence about Africa and the Middle East at the time. One of Pollari's spies (Italian CIA) told him a "lady" at the Niger embassy in Rome had some documents Martino should have.

In my opinion, the "lady" was no lady and no gentleman either, but Robert Seldon Lady. Lady had become very close to Italian intelligence since arriving in Italy about the time Bush was inaugurated, early in 2001. He had become even closer to his Italian colleagues after 9/11, just three months before the American fishing expedition and Martino's windfall. I think he took the late industrialist Henry J. Kaiser's watchword to heart: "Find a need, and fill it." The people at the meeting had a need of something to pin on Saddam Hussein, and Lady and his Italian and French cohorts filled it.

I think Lady accomplished this with the help of his fellow-laborer in Iran-Contra, Manuchar Ghorbanifar.

It appears that Italy, France, Iran, and possibly Israel (for whom Ghorbanifar sometimes worked) -- or at least persons who worked for these foreign governments -- influenced American policy to start a war. This is highly illegal and a violation of American sovereignty. Also highly illegal and a violation of *Italian* sovereignty is the abduction of Abu Omar.

Clayton Hallmark


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  1. who is "we"??? — magoo