In the game of cat and mouse, it's best not to leave footprints. But that's just what the CIA did in 2003 when it's effort to carry out an "extraordinary rendition" failed due to a cellular transmissions trail left by the officers, reports Wired News.
Twenty-five CIA agents are facing trial in absentia in Milan, Italy. Exhibit No. 1? Cell phone data that exposed their operation to carry out the illegal abduction of an Egyptian cleric suspected of terrorist involvement in Milan.
Anyone who watched a few seasons of the popular HBO hit, "The Wire," knows that cell data and tower location is on the cellphone bill. But the agents must not be HBO subscribers because they left a trail of cellular footprints at the crime scene.
The agents used unsecured mobile handsets to communicate during the kidnapping.
Then an agent participating in the abduction called Robert Lady, the CIA station chief in Milan. This provided Italian investigators with the first undeniable link to CIA involvement. For the getaway, a commanding officer at the base in Aviano was also called.
Italian authorities believe the cleric was held at Aviano before being flown to Egypt, where he claims to have been tortured. It didn't take long for an Italian prosecutor to pull the phone records and reveal the plot. He was able to identify the agents (by alias), where they had stayed, and even calls they made to CIA headquarters northern Virginia and the US consulate in Milan.