I should have known better. I trusted Tenet to put action behind his words. I assumed he was not erecting something we Italian speakers call the muro di gomma
, the wall of rubber, the rejection disguised so it won’t appear as a rejection. So often, when you approach powerful people with an unwelcome request or demand, your words bounce back. You seem to hear what you want to hear. You might even sense that your effort has yielded something of substance.
My career had begun with a long series of collisions with the muro di gomma
, sometimes followed by cruder forms of resistance as well as physical threats. I had encountered, and would encounter, the muro di gomma
during meetings with many powerful people, from mafia financiers to Swiss bankers and politicians, from heads of state such as George W. Bush and prime ministers like Silvio Berlusconi to bureaucrats in government offices and the various departments of the United Nations and, late in my tenure, European foreign ministers who seemed to be prepared to welcome Serbia into the European Union’s embrace even as Serbia’s political leaders, police, and army were harboring men responsible for killing thousands of prisoners in cold blood before the eyes of the world. The only way I know of breaching the muro di gomma
and serving the interests of justice is by asserting my will, consistently and persistently.
Excerpted from Madame Prosecutor by Carla Del Ponte. . Excerpted by permission of Other Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.