INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS….When the CIA told Italian police that a terror suspect they were searching for had fled Italy for the Balkans, they were not quite telling the truth:

In fact, according to Italian court documents and interviews with investigators, the CIA’s tip was a deliberate lie, part of a ruse designed to stymie efforts by the Italian anti-terrorism police to track down the cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, an Egyptian refugee known as Abu Omar.

The strategy worked for more than a year until Italian investigators learned that Nasr had not gone to the Balkans after all. Instead, prosecutors here have charged, he was abducted off a street in Milan by a team of CIA operatives who took him to two U.S. military bases in succession and then flew him to Egypt, where he was interrogated and allegedly tortured by Egyptian security agents before being released to house arrest.

And remember, these are not cheese eating surrender monkeys. The Italians supported George Bush, supported the war in Iraq, and have been firm allies in the war on terror.

One might wonder: what’s the point of being a steadfast U.S. ally if this is how you get treated? I’ll bet the Italians aren’t the only ones wondering.