Marco Mancini would not choose Antigone, “morality has nothing to do with respecting the law”. The integrity of the state comes first. Even at the price, if necessary, of the truth. A few months after retirement, which ended a long career in intelligence early, first in Nicolo Pollari ‘s earthquake , then as a director of Dis, Mancini reappears behind a university chair.
In a classroom of the University of Pavia, invited by Alessandro Venturi, professor of public and administrative law at the Lombard university, the former 007 lectures on the “State Secret”. It is the first time he has spoken in public since he left his office in Piazza Dante. The first since the political controversy broke out over his meeting at Autogrill with former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi , in December 2020. An episode that reopened the debate on the opportunity for an agent on duty to meet politicians and on the need for a ‘official authorization from its managers (in this specific case, the general manager of Dis).
Mancini is a “veteran” of the Services. Protagonist of events that have marked the history of Italian intelligence. Among others, the rescue of the journalist Giuliana Sgrenain 2003, kidnapped in Iraq and freed in an operation in which SISMI agent Nicola Calipari lost his life . Even before his commitment as a brigadier of the Carabinieri in the team of General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa . A highly experienced secret agent, appreciated by some, criticized by others.
Today he breaks the silence in front of a hundred students, face to face and connected online, to talk about a topic that has closely touched his 37-year career in the Italian secret services. In fact, it can be said that Mancini, in his own way, made “jurisprudence” on the state secret. This is the case of the 2003 abduction of Abu Omar, the imam of the Milan Mosque accused of terrorism and taken by the CIA with the collaboration of Italian intelligence.
At that time it was precisely the Constitutional Court that annulled a nine-year appeal sentence for Mancini because “the criminal action could not be continued due to the existence of the state secret”. Pressed by a student, Mancini limits himself to saying that “all sentences must be respected”, but also explains: “If you do not know the content of the state secret, how can you know for sure what would have happened without that secret
After all, it’s a statutory prerogative, says Mancini. The institution of state secrecy is defined in detail by the largest Italian intelligence reform, law 124 of 2007, as well as by the jurisprudence of the Council. “The State is like a person who watches, observes, is silent and refuses to report certain news for its protection, in compliance with the rules that are given”.
Mancini’s lesson travels on the point of law, from one paragraph to another. Occasionally interspersed with a clarification, “I’m not talking about things that concern me personally”. Even if at times a thread of criticism re-emerges. “I am grateful to my country for the service, it was a wonderful adventure – she confesses to the students, and then throws a jab at those who do not skimp on criticism of her” period in business “- perhaps you should be silent when you do not know”.
“Keep quiet”, in fact. This is what the state asks with the secrecy required by law when the truth puts its security at risk. “Often the violation of the state secret is a more serious crime than the one confessed,” says Mancini. Also for this reason, he recalls, there is only one body that can break that wall of state secrecy: the Constitutional Court. Not even the President of the Republic has the right to reveal state secrets, explains the former agent, and the same goes for Parliament.
“The state secret can also be opposed to Copasir (the parliamentary control committee of the Services, ed)”, says Mancini, who from the bipartisan committee of Palazzo San Macuto, today chaired by the senator of Fdi Adolfo Urso, was audited a few months ago (choice disputed by the PD security manager and member of the Enrico Borghi committee ). However, this committee remains “an important parliamentary structure, a democratic guarantee, so important that the president is entrusted by law to the opposition”.
Of course, it is not easy to understand when the use of state secrets turns into a censorship or a limitation of democratic guarantees, two students at the former SISMI point out doubtfully. Kidnapping, for example, can really be covered up by that secret
He replies that the guarantees are there. “If you believe that constitutional rights have been compressed, you collect the signatures and go to the Constitutional Court.” “The Nar, the Red Brigades, terrorism were defeated with democracy, thanks to instruments of the political and judicial system”. Sometimes without telling the whole truth. “And this is also a force of the state – sighs Mancini – you must trust your officials, know that when necessary they will exercise silence”.

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