On This Day — The Cavalese Cable Car Disaster (February 3 1998) [2019]

“Many believe one of the reasons the Italian judges went after the CIA RDI [Rendition, Detention, Interrogation]  and [former CIA Officer] Sabrina De Sousa in the Abu Omar case was the USMC and USG accountability failures and arrogance.”

Mark Fallon — International Security Consultant & Author (February 4 2018)

“Get rid of the videotape. If it were mine, I would get rid of it.”

US Captain Chandler Seagraves — Electronic-warfare officers

The “Strage del Cermis” (Italian for “Massacre of Cermis”), named for the mountain ridge where the bodies were recovered, claimed the lives of eight Germans, five Belgians, three Italians, two Poles, one Dutch citizen, and one Austrian.

On February 3 1998, a U.S. Marine Corps jet on a low-level training flight sliced through steel wires supporting a cable car near the ski resort of Cavalese in the Italian Alps, sending a gondola plunging to the ground. All 20 people inside the gondola were killed. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today

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Italian prosecutors wanted the crew of the jet tried in Italy, but an Italian court ruled they should face court-martials in the U.S., in accordance with NATO treaties.

“The aircraft’s pilot and navigator were found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter, even though the military admitted the plane had been flying lower and faster than authorized.

The defense argued that the incident was a tragic accident caused partly by the fact that the plane’s altimeter was not working and the gondola cable that the plane hit was not on the map that he was given.

The disaster, and the subsequent acquittal of the pilots, strained relations between the United States and Italy.

Later, it emerged a video that captured the accident from inside the plane had been destroyed.” [CNN]

The reader interested to learn more about this tragedy will find many interesting details in this excellent piece: A Few Not So Good Men: Marine Pilots, a Massacre, Immunity.

Many experts believe that the acquittal of the US crew explains the reasons why Italy decided to indict two dozens of CIA officers on the Abu Omar case a few years later.

PS: Despite his role in the destruction of the videotape evidence, Seagraves was promoted to colonel in 2015.

About Mark Fallon

Mark Fallon is an author, international security consultant and career national security professional. He spent more than 30 years as a federal agent, counterintelligence officer and counterterrorism specialist.

Beginning his federal law enforcement career in 1979 as a Deputy U.S. Marshal, Mark became an NCIS Special Agent in 1981 and served around the world for 27 years, including assignments as Deputy Assistant Director, Special Agent in Charge, Chief of Counterintelligence Operations and Director of the NCIS Training Academy.

In 2008, he was appointed to the senior executive service within the Department of Homeland Security and went into the private sector in 2010 as the Senior Vice President of an international security-consulting firm. Mark was the program manager for global studies of violent extremism at the Qatar International Academy for Security Studies. In 2012 he founded ClubFed, LLC.

Mark Fallon has been involved in some of the most significant counterterrorism operations in U.S. history, including the investigation of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (“the Blind Sheik”), the terrorist attack on the USS Cole and after the attacks of 9/11, he was appointed as the Deputy Commander of a task force created specifically to investigate the al-Qaida terrorist network for trials before military commissions.

Mark Fallon is the Vice Chair of the International Association of Chiefs of Police IMPACT Section and member of the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group Research Committee. He is the author of Unjustifiable Means: The Inside Story of How the CIA, Pentagon and U.S. Government Conspired to Torture.

Seconds From Disaster — US Fighter Jet Cable Collision

REFERENCES

Italians ask: Can Americans get away with murder? — CNN

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On This Day — The Cavalese Cable Car Disaster (February 3 1998)

On This Day — The Cavalese Cable Car Disaster (February 3 1998) [2019]

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