Sunday, June 26, 2005


Gold Plating Isn't Just for Weapons Systems

I guess the moral of this story is that Al Qaeda terrorists should avoid hiding near 5-star resorts:
Italians Detail Lavish CIA Operation
13 Charged in '03 Abduction Allegedly Stayed in Finest Hotels

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, June 26, 2005; Page A18

MILAN, June 25 -- For 19 American intelligence operatives assigned to apprehend a radical Islamic preacher in Milan two years ago, the mission was equal parts James Bond and taxpayer-financed Italian holiday, according to an Italian investigation of the man's disappearance.

The Americans stayed at some of the finest hotels in Milan, sometimes for as long as six weeks, ringing up tabs of as much as $500 a day on Diners Club accounts created to match their recently forged identities, according to Italian court documents and other records. Then, after abducting their target and flying him to Cairo under the noses of Italian police, some of them rounded out their European trip with long weekends in Venice and Florence before leaving the country, the records show.
While most of the operatives apparently used false identities, they left a long trail of paper and electronic records that enabled Italian investigators to retrace their movements in detail. Posing as tourists and business travelers, the Americans often stayed in the same five-star hotels, rarely paid in cash, gave their frequent traveler account numbers to desk clerks and made dozens of calls from unsecure phones in their rooms.

During January 2003, they were regular patrons at the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan, which bills itself as "one of the world's most luxuriously appointed hotels" and features a marble-lined spa and minibar Cokes that cost about $10. Seven of the Americans stayed at the 80-year-old hotel for periods ranging from three days to three weeks at nightly rates of about $450, racking up total expenses of more than $42,000 there.
(Source: Washington Post)
This one operation probably cost enough to up-armor a whole bunch of Hum-Vees. Would they have gone to this much trouble laying a fake (and easily traceable) trail if they'd been staying at the italian equivalent of Motel-6?


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