Sunday, December 20, 2009

CIA Specialty Menu: Palestinians torturing Palestinians

One sees that the only remarkable feature of the otherwise ho-hum tale of CIA proxy torture is that the CIA has managed to jump behind Palestinians torturing fellow Palestinians. One further imagines the CIA labeling this a "win."
US agency co-operating with Palestinian counterparts who allegedly torture Hamas supporters in West Bank

Palestinian security agents who have been detaining and allegedly torturing supporters of the Islamist organisation Hamas in the West Bank have been working closely with the CIA, the Guardian has learned.

Less than a year after Barack Obama signed an executive order that prohibited torture and provided for the lawful interrogation of detainees in US custody, evidence is emerging the CIA is co-operating with security agents whose continuing use of torture has been widely documented by human rights groups.

The relationship between the CIA and the two Palestinian agencies involved – Preventive Security Organisation (PSO) and General Intelligence Service (GI) – is said by some western diplomats and other officials in the region to be so close that the American agency appears to be supervising the Palestinians' work.

One senior western official said: "The [Central Intelligence] Agency consider them as their property, those two Palestinian services." A diplomatic source added that US influence over the agencies was so great they could be considered "an advanced arm of the war on terror".

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Top 10 Weirdest CIA Programs"

Question Everything drops off a top ten list dear to the heart. The "weird" stuff; from the Acoustic Kitty to the Bay of Pigs. (C'mon! no Lithuanian horse stable torture chamber?) Weird, apparently, does not exclude illegal, dangerous, sociopathic, pointlessly short-sighted, or murderously stupid.

It begins.
Over the years, the American Central Intelligence Agency has gained a reputation for being the most far-reaching, sophisticated, and effective government intelligence agency on the planet. At the same time, the CIA has also become known for its incredible paranoia and propensity to undertake costly, sometimes illegal, and often downright absurd projects in the name of gaining an edge on the competition. From spy cats to psychic hippies, the following are ten of the weirdest spy programs the government has proposed and funded over the years.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Brotherly Love on the Down-low: Blackwater and the CIA

Made to sound like a management seminar:
“Contractors give you flexibility in shaping and managing your talent mix."
Which naturally led a public-private partner-in-crime-ship to become “a very brotherly relationship.” What's not to like?
Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret Raids by the C.I.A.

Private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide participated in some of the C.I.A.’s most sensitive activities — clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees, according to former company employees and intelligence officials.

The raids against suspects occurred on an almost nightly basis during the height of the Iraqi insurgency from 2004 to 2006, with Blackwater personnel playing central roles in what company insiders called “snatch and grab” operations, the former employees and current and former intelligence officers said.

Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred. Instead of simply providing security for C.I.A. officers, they say, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield.

Separately, former Blackwater employees said they helped provide security on some C.I.A. flights transporting detainees in the years after the 2001 terror attacks in the United States.

The secret missions illuminate a far deeper relationship between the spy agency and the private security company than government officials had acknowledged. Blackwater’s partnership with the C.I.A. has been enormously profitable for the North Carolina-based company, and became even closer after several top agency officials joined Blackwater.

Friday, December 4, 2009

CIA AfPak Drone War Gets Authorized Expansion

The White House has authorized an expansion of the C.I.A.’s drone program in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, officials said this week, to parallel the president’s decision, announced Tuesday, to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. American officials are talking with Pakistan about the possibility of striking in Baluchistan for the first time — a controversial move since it is outside the tribal areas — because that is where Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to hide.

By increasing covert pressure on Al Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan, while ground forces push back the Taliban’s advances in Afghanistan, American officials hope to eliminate any haven for militants in the region.

One of Washington’s worst-kept secrets, the drone program is quietly hailed by counterterrorism officials as a resounding success, eliminating key terrorists and throwing their operations into disarray. But despite close cooperation from Pakistani intelligence, the program has generated public anger in Pakistan, and some counterinsurgency experts wonder whether it does more harm than good.
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CIA Jetsam Drone War IO

Caught deep in the bowels of the AfPak drone war tale, we learn, rather surprisingly, that the CIA
"doesn’t have much experience with killing."

The toss-off statement came from John Radsan, a former CIA lawyer. Radsan has since pressed the civilian front and is now a professor at William Mitchell College of Law. Perhaps this small frame provides a peak through a glass, darkly, and one can glean how history and law is laid waste by mala fide abuses of academic authority: hey, kids, you too can learn the history of the world from the CIA! CIA-blessed and Establishment backed, get your diploma today!

The curiously jarring statement follows a similar pattern seen earlier regarding CIA torture regimes, when the shiny screwdrivers in the liberal media toolbox were driving the head of an IO screw that insisted the CIA had little or no experience torturing people, and more so that the CIA were "largely in the dark on interrogation tactics."

Lining up the all the claims describing all the things the CIA doesn't seem to know how to do, the conclusion is obvious: the CIA do nothing and know nothing.

And you can sleep safely at night.

Friday, November 20, 2009

CIA Pitchin' Soft to Arab-Americans

They're thinking of this now.
CIA in recruitment pitch to Arab-American

A new television advertisement to be broadcast nationwide in the United States shows an Arab-American family preparing for dinner in a sleek apartment. Middle Eastern tapestries decorate the walls, platters of food are spread out across a large table – it has all the trappings of a modern-day iftar.

It is not until the end of the 30-second spot that you know what is being sold: “Your nation, your world. They are worth protecting,” says a narrator, speaking English with a Middle Eastern accent. “Careers at the Central Intelligence Agency.”

The advertisement is part of an unprecedented push by the CIA to recruit Arab-Americans to its ranks. It was unveiled this week – along with another spot targeting Farsi-speaking Iranian-Americans – at a screening in Dearborn, Michigan, a community outside Detroit with the highest concentration of Arabs in the United States.

A CIA spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said the advertisements were designed to fill “a need” at the agency.

Although the CIA does not release statistics of the ethnicity of its agents, it has said that only about a third of analysts and 40 per cent of overseas operatives are proficient in a foreign language.
Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

CIA Black Site "Discovered" at Lithuanian Riding Academy

The CIA promised everyone a pony:
The CIA built one of its secret European prisons inside an exclusive riding academy outside Vilnius, Lithuania, a current Lithuanian government official and a former U.S. intelligence official told ABC News this week.

Where affluent Lithuanians once rode show horses and sipped coffee at a café, the CIA installed a concrete structure where it could use harsh tactics to interrogate up to eight suspected al-Qaeda terrorists at a time. A full report on the can be seen on ABC's World News with Charles Gibson tonight.

"The activities in that prison were illegal," said human rights researcher John Sifton. "They included various forms of torture, including sleep deprivation, forced standing, painful stress positions."

Lithuanian officials provided ABC News with the documents of what they called a CIA front company, Elite, LLC, which purchased the property and built the "black site" in 2004.

Lithuania agreed to allow the CIA prison after President George W. Bush visited the country in 2002 and pledged support for Lithuania's efforts to join NATO.

"The new members of NATO were so grateful for the U.S. role in getting them into that organization that they would do anything the U.S. asked for during that period," said former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, now an ABC News consultant. "They were eager to please and eager to be cooperative on security and on intelligence matters."

More ...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

CIA "gets its money's worth" from ISI

Well, thank goodness for that! After learning how much the Pentagon pays the Taliban to not shoot at US supply lines, this is positively great news! After all, when the CIA says it's getting its money's worth from Pakistan's ISI, you just know they had to have gotten some serious bang for those dwindling US taxpayer bucks.
The CIA has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan's intelligence service since the Sept. 11 attacks, accounting for as much as one-third of the foreign spy agency's annual budget, current and former U.S. officials say.

The Inter-Services Intelligence agency also has collected tens of millions of dollars through a classified CIA program that pays for the capture or killing of wanted militants, a clandestine counterpart to the rewards publicly offered by the State Department, officials said.

The payments have triggered intense debate within the U.S. government, officials said, because of long-standing suspicions that the ISI continues to help Taliban extremists who undermine U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and provide sanctuary to Al Qaeda members in Pakistan.

But U.S. officials have continued the funding because the ISI's assistance is considered crucial: Almost every major terrorist plot this decade has originated in Pakistan's tribal belt, where ISI informant networks are a primary source of intelligence.

The White House National Security Council has "this debate every year," said a former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official involved in the discussions. Like others, the official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. Despite deep misgivings about the ISI, the official said, "there was no other game in town."

The payments to Pakistan are authorized under a covert program initially approved by then-President Bush and continued under President Obama. The CIA declined to comment on the agency's financial ties to the ISI.

U.S. officials often tout U.S.-Pakistani intelligence cooperation. But the extent of the financial underpinnings of that relationship have never been publicly disclosed. The CIA payments are a hidden stream in a much broader financial flow; the U.S. has given Pakistan more than $15 billion over the last eight years in military and civilian aid.
More ...

Remember, this is the same outfit that still thinks the ol' ISI-mujahideen op worked out just fine. Maybe from their point of view, it still is.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Gettin' Uzbek Medieval: CIA sent people to be ‘raped with broken bottles’

Former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, has once again publicly denounced the torture, and the complicity therein, that Uzbekistan carried out at the behest of the CIA. This on top of the torture Karimov was carrying out at the behest of himself.

Murray spills quite a bundle of nasty, bits and pieces of which we've heard here and there.
The CIA relied on intelligence based on torture in prisons in Uzbekistan, a place where widespread torture practices include raping suspects with broken bottles and boiling them alive, says a former British ambassador to the central Asian country.

Craig Murray, the rector of the University of Dundee in Scotland and until 2004 the UK's ambassador to Uzbekistan, said the CIA not only relied on confessions gleaned through extreme torture, it sent terror war suspects to Uzbekistan as part of its extraordinary rendition program.

"I'm talking of people being raped with broken bottles," he said at a lecture late last month that was re-broadcast by the Real News Network. "I'm talking of people having their children tortured in front of them until they sign a confession. I'm talking of people being boiled alive. And the intelligence from these torture sessions was being received by the CIA, and was being passed on."

That ol' chestnut, the TAPI pipeline, is now insistently "on the table," as when Uzbekistan recently hosted the adoring Hillary Clinton, on a whirlwind tour of a fully targeted Central Asia, the oil and especially gas deposits in all of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan of clear import in the grand TAPI pipe dream, something on the Afghan table now for quite some time.

All of which means, of course, that military presence in a decidedly hostile land must needs justification beyond its commercial purview.

Suspects in Uzbekistan's gulags "were being told to confess to membership in Al Qaeda. They were told to confess they'd been in training camps in Afghanistan. They were told to confess they had met Osama bin Laden in person. And the CIA intelligence constantly echoed these themes."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Italy Convicts 23 Americans for CIA Renditions

What with Indonesia holding War Crimes hearings vis-a-vis CIA Guantanamo torture, now Italy has carried through on a long standing threat and has convicted 23 US agents for their part in CIA "extraordinary renditions," on Italian soil. The justice had the legalistic audacity to call such practice "abduction," thereby stifling trivializing terminology.
In a landmark ruling on Wednesday, an Italian judge convicted a C.I.A. station chief and 22 other Americans accused of being C.I.A. agents of kidnapping in the 2003 abduction of a Muslim cleric from the streets of Milan.

An enormous symbolic victory for Italian prosecutors, the case was the first ever to contest the United States practice of rendition, in which terrorism suspects are captured in one country and taken for questioning in another, presumably one more open to coercive interrogation techniques. The case was widely seen as an implicit indictment of the measures the Bush administration relied on to fight terrorism.

Judge Oscar Magi handed an eight-year sentence to Robert Seldon Lady, a former C.I.A. station chief in Milan, and five-year sentences to 22 other Americans. Three of the other high-ranking Americans were given diplomatic immunity, including Jeffrey Castelli, a former C.I.A. station chief in Rome.

No more trips to Rome!
All the Americans were tried in absentia and are considered fugitives.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Afghan Thugs and CIA Harmony

An IO lashing Ahmed Karzai and, by extension, brother Hamid.
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House.

The ties to Mr. Karzai have created deep divisions within the Obama administration. The critics say the ties complicate America’s increasingly tense relationship with President Hamid Karzai, who has struggled to build sustained popularity among Afghans and has long been portrayed by the Taliban as an American puppet. The C.I.A.’s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban.

More broadly, some American officials argue that the reliance on Ahmed Wali Karzai, the most powerful figure in a large area of southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, undermines the American push to develop an effective central government that can maintain law and order and eventually allow the United States to withdraw.
As though "backing thugs" was some sort of new and unexplored avenue for conducting CIA business, senior American military intelligence official, Major General Michael Flynn, complains,
“If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves.”
Never stopped them before.

Naturally, Ahmed claims all this unpleasant talk implicating his actions as "illegal" is terribly mean. Rest assured, he is completely unfamiliar with what these Americans call "opium," never heard of this C I A.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CIA Drone Program: Escalating Instability

The US has been warned that its use of drones to target suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan may violate international law.
Human rights investigator Phil Alston has finally come forth and stated the obvious: CIA drone strikes violate international law.
"My concern is that these drones, these Predators, are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

"The onus is really on the government of the United States to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary executions, extrajudicial executions, are not in fact being carried out through the use of these weapons."
Admittedly difficult given that that is exactly what the CIA drone strikes are designed to do.

This news came on the heels of another report demonstrating that CIA drone strikes have increased "dramatically" during the Obama administration.
Since taking office, President Obama has sanctioned at least 41 Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes in Pakistan that have killed between 326 and 538 people, many of them, critics say, “innocent bystanders, including children,” according to a published report.
Based on a study just completed by the non-profit, New America Foundation of Washington, D.C., “the number of drone strikes has risen dramatically since Obama became President,” Mayer reports.

In fact, the first two strikes took place on Jan. 23, the President’s third day in office and the second of these hit the wrong house, that of a pro-government tribal leader that killed his entire family, including three children, one just five years of age.

At any time, the C.I.A. apparently has “multiple drones flying over Pakistan, scouting for targets,” the magazine reports. So many Predators and its more heavily armed companion, the Reaper, are being purchased that defense manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, of Poway, Calif., can hardly make them fast enough. The Air Force is said to possess 200.

Mayer writes, “the embrace of the Predator program has occurred with remarkably little public discussion, given that it represents a radically new and geographically unbounded use of state-sanctioned lethal force.” Today, Mayer writes, “there is no longer any doubt that targeted killing has become official U.S. policy.” And according to Gary Solis, who teaches at Georgetown University’s Law Center, nobody in the government calls it assassination. “Not only would we have expressed abhorrence of such a policy a few years ago; we did,” Solis is quoted as saying.
And the arc of instability widens its swath.
David Kilcullen, a counter-insurgency warfare authority who co-authored a study for the Center for New American Security, of Washington, D.C., has suggested the drone attacks have backfired. As he told The New Yorker, “Every one of these dead non-combatants represents an alienated family, a new revenge feud, and more recruits for a militant movement that has grown exponentially even as drone strikes have increased.”
The CIA have a target list -- "367 names and included some 50 Afghan drug lords" -- but should demonstrate that the CIA assassination drone program "makes sure that arbitrary executions, extrajudicial executions, are not in fact being carried out." Who can the CIA torture to get a false confession for that?

Codename "Donna": A CIA Asset in Cuba

Castro's sister 'spied for CIA'

A sister of Cuba's former long-time leader, Fidel Castro, has admitted spying for the CIA in the 1960s.

Juanita Castro, who now lives in Miami, said she had gathered sensitive information for the US for three years.

In her memoirs, she said she had fallen out with Fidel and her other brother Raul - Cuba's current president - over the killing of their opponents.

Ms Castro, 76, said she had helped to warn and hide Cuban dissidents before finally fleeing the island in 1964.
In her memoirs - Fidel and Raul, My Brothers, the Secret History - Ms Castro says she was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency in Havana two years after the 1959 revolution brought Fidel Castro to power.

She agreed to help because she had become disenchanted when Fidel abandoned the nationalist democratic revolution he promised and instead imposed a one-party Marxist state "simply out of the need to hold power", she said.

"Did I feel remorse about betraying Fidel by agreeing to meet with his enemies? No, for one simple reason: I didn't betray him. He betrayed me," she wrote.

"He betrayed the thousands of us who suffered and fought for the revolution that he had offered, one that was generous and just and would bring peace and democracy to Cuba, and which, as he himself had promised, would be as 'Cuban as palm trees'," she wrote.

Ms Castro said that at a meeting with a CIA officer called "Enrique" at a hotel in Mexico City in 1961, she was given the codename "Donna" and codebooks so she could receive instructions.

She agreed on the condition that she received no money and was not asked to participate in any violent acts against the Cuban government.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Somalia Executes Two Suspected CIA Spies

Media Line avers:
Islamists in Somalia executed two people suspected of spying for the CIA.

Islamists in southern Somalia executed two people by firing squad on Monday, on suspicion of spying for the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Al-Shabab judges in the capital Mogadishu sentenced the two men to death, while a third man was sentenced to lashes for minting counterfeit money, the Somali Garowe Online reported.

The United States accuses Al-Shabab of being affiliated with Al-Qa’ida and is concerned that Somalia is turning into a safe haven for terrorists. Analysts say the conflict there could turn into a proxy war and spill over into the rest of the Horn of Africa, pulling in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Hassan Abdullahi Jareer and Mohammed Ali Salad were found guilty of spying for the CIA, the Somali government and the African Union peacekeeping force (AMISOM), an Al-Shabab judge ruled.

The ruling also claimed the defendants admitted to assisting the Americans in assassinating an Al-Qa’ida suspect on September 14 and also in assassinating an Al-Shabab leader in an airstrike on May 2008.

The two men were executed on Monday by a 10-man firing squad in front of a crowd of dozens of civilians, including children.

This is the first case of public execution of people accused of spying, by Al-Shabab.

Earlier this year Al-Shabab severed the limbs of people accused of stealing. Some of the amputations were carried out in the capital Mogadishu, where the government still has some control, making the act even more audacious.

Somalia's weak Western-backed interim government and AMISOM are located in scattered pockets in the capital, while Al-Shabab controls a large proportion of Mogadishu and most regions in southern Somalia.
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The Somali government is claiming the men were innocent, that there was no evidence of wrongdoing.
Somali government spokesman Farhan Asanyo says the two Somali men executed by a firing squad in the capital Mogadishu had no ties to the government or to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, as al-Shabab alleged.

Asanyo says the men were innocent Somalis falsely accused and murdered by al-Shabab militants. The spokesman charged that al-Shabab often targets people without evidence of any wrongdoing.
No evidence! The savages.

CIA Analysts Repudiate Whiny CIA Chiefs on Torture Investigation

From Consortiium News.

Intelligence Vets Back Torture Probe


FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Accountability for Torture

We write you, Mr. President, as former intelligence professionals to voice strong support for Attorney General Eric Holder’s authorization of a wider investigation into CIA interrogation. We respectfully disagree with the direct appeal to you by seven former CIA directors to quash that wider investigation.

The signatories of this Memorandum are former intelligence officers and analysts who have worked with CIA directors going back as far as Allen Dulles. Our cumulative experience totals more than 200 years.

We are encouraged by your own support for Attorney General Holder’s decision to have federal prosecutor John Durham investigate possible criminal activity by individuals engaging in torture and other violations of international agreements on the treatment of detainees.

From our own experience in intelligence, both as field operators and as senior analysts, we know that personal accountability is vital to maintaining an effective intelligence service that reflects our best traditions and the rule of law.

Among the former CIA directors who, by letter of September 18, asked you to “reverse” the attorney general’s decision are some who were cognizant of and involved in decisions that led to the abuses in question. We find that troubling.
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

"CIA expanding presence in Afghanistan"

Ha! I always love being told by the mainstream press about CIA operations. Fostering good will in the War on Terror, no doubt.

Reporting* from the horse's as... er, Washington:
- The CIA is deploying teams of spies, analysts and paramilitary operatives to Afghanistan, part of a broad intelligence "surge" that will make its station there among the largest in the agency's history, U.S. officials say.

When complete, the CIA's presence in the country is expected to rival the size of its massive stations in Iraq and Vietnam at the height of those wars. Precise numbers are classified, but one U.S. official said the agency already has nearly 700 employees in Afghanistan.

The influx parallels the U.S. military expansion and comes as the nation's spy services are under pressure from Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal to improve intelligence on the Taliban and find ways to reverse a series of unsettling trends.

Among them are a twofold increase in the number of roadside bombs, a growing sophistication in the kinds of assaults aimed at coalition troops and evidence that a Taliban group has developed an assembly-line approach to grooming suicide bombers and supplying them to other insurgent organizations.

U.S. officials have also been alarmed by a more sophisticated suicide attack: sending multiple fighters armed with guns to carry out coordinated assaults before detonating their bombs.

The spies are being used in various assignments -- teaming up with special forces units pursuing high-value targets, tracking public sentiment in provinces that have been shifting toward the Taliban and collecting intelligence on corruption in the Afghan government.

The intelligence expansion goes beyond the CIA to involve every major spy service, officials said, including the National Security Agency, which intercepts calls and e-mails, as well as the Defense Intelligence Agency, which tracks military threats.

The Obama administration is under pressure to show progress in Afghanistan, calculating that it has only until next summer before public support for the war effort collapses.

The deployments coincide with new warnings from U.S. spy services that the insurgency in Afghanistan has continued to gain territory and strength.

"The Taliban is at its most capable level since 2001, when it was ejected from the country," said a Defense Department official who has access to classified intelligence estimates. The official, and others, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The official said the Taliban's geographic gains have slowed only because it has already pushed into almost every area with a significant Pashtun population, the tribal networks that make up the Taliban's home turf.

"They seem never to have a shortage of manpower," the official said. "And there doesn't appear to be any shortage of funding."

Officials said the insurgency is believed to have 15,000 to 20,000 fighters. The estimates are broad, officials said, because there are loose affiliations among the groups, each of which has fighters with varying commitments to the cause.

"You're not talking about fixed formations that rely solely on full-time combatants," a U.S. counter-terrorism official said. "Numbers ebb and flow; bands of fighters appear and vanish."

CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano declined to comment on the scope of the agency's presence in Afghanistan. But a U.S. intelligence official said that spy agencies "anticipated the surge in demand for intelligence." The official said the intelligence community "has, for some time now, been deploying more officers to Afghanistan."

The CIA's buildup is the latest in a series of escalations there. After having only a few operatives there after the Sept. 11 attacks, the agency's presence climbed to about 150 by the end of 2001, and 300 at the close of 2005.

A recent Senate report criticized the CIA's role in Afghanistan over the last eight years, saying the agency provided large amounts of money and support to warlords, some of whom had ties to the drug trade and parlayed their U.S. backing into high-level positions in the government.

The agency's station is based at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the Afghan capital. It is led by a veteran with an extensive background in paramilitary operations, officials said. But the bulk of the CIA's workforce is scattered among secret bases and military outposts that dot the country.

Most recently, the CIA has been preparing to deploy Crisis Operations Liaison Teams, small units that are attached to regional military commands, giving officers access to information gathered by the CIA as well as satellites and other sources.

One of the largest concentrations of CIA personnel is at Bagram air base north of Kabul, the headquarters for U.S. military special operations forces and for years the site of a secret agency prison.

McChrystal is expected to expand the use of teams that combine CIA operatives with special operations soldiers. In Iraq, where he oversaw the special operations forces from 2003 to 2008, McChrystal used such teams to speed up the cycle of gathering intelligence and carrying out raids aimed at killing or capturing insurgents.

"He was able to plan during the day and do raids at night, sometimes multiple raids if he could move the information quickly enough," said a former senior U.S. military intelligence official who worked closely with McChrystal in Iraq. "What he's trying to do is get his decision cycle quicker than the bad guys."

Afghanistan presents intelligence officials with steep challenges. Current and former CIA officials said that operatives and analysts account for only about one-third of the agency's footprint in Afghanistan. The others are involved in support functions -- such as providing security and managing computer systems -- that are particularly daunting in Afghanistan because of the country's size and the woeful state of its infrastructure.

The CIA is also carrying out an escalating campaign of unmanned Predator missile strikes on Al Qaeda and insurgent strongholds in Pakistan. The number of strikes so far this year, 37, already exceeds the 2008 total, according to data compiled by the Long War Journal website, which tracks Predator strikes in Pakistan.

The agency recently submitted a request for additional Predators from the Air Force, which manages the U.S. drone fleet, one official said. For years, the CIA drones were operated from inside Pakistan, but some are also flown from an air base across the Afghan border near Jalalabad.

A drone strike last month killed Pakistan Taliban chief Baitullah Mahsud. U.S. officials said they are watching closely to see whether his death leads to even a temporary drop in the number of suicide bombings.
You know the whole thing is a load of bunk when you hit this McChrystal clear note:
McChrystal is expected to expand the use of teams that combine CIA operatives with special operations soldiers. In Iraq, where he oversaw the special operations forces from 2003 to 2008, McChrystal used such teams to speed up the cycle of gathering intelligence and carrying out raids aimed at killing or capturing insurgents.

"He was able to plan during the day and do raids at night, sometimes multiple raids if he could move the information quickly enough," said a former senior U.S. military intelligence official who worked closely with McChrystal in Iraq. "What he's trying to do is get his decision cycle quicker than the bad guys."
Good grief. Could one possibly tone down war crimes more than this?

* Outlet is one Tribune factotum warehouse that houses the likes of Jonah Goldberg.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

DoJ Psyop Inquiry of CIA Narrows as promised

Holder's grunt hunt looks now to be picking off only the lowest of low hanging fruit.
Inquiry Into CIA Practices Narrows

The Justice Department's review of detainee abuse by the CIA will focus on a very small number of cases, including at least one in which an Afghan prisoner died at a secret facility, according to two sources briefed on the matter.

On Friday, seven former CIA directors urged President Obama to end the inquiry, arguing that it would inhibit intelligence operations in the future and demoralize agency employees who believed they had been cleared by previous investigators.

"Attorney General [Eric] Holder's decision to re-open the criminal investigation creates an atmosphere of continuous jeopardy for those whose cases the Department of Justice had previously declined to prosecute," the directors, who served under Republican and Democratic presidents over the past 35 years, wrote in a letter.

Opposition to the probe has grown in the weeks since Holder ordered it, even as the outlines of the inquiry become more clear. Among the cases under review will be the death seven years ago of a young Afghan man, who was beaten and chained to a concrete floor without blankets, according to the sources. The man died in the cold night at a secret CIA facility north of Kabul, known as the Salt Pit.

The November 2002 episode at the Salt Pit, and the significant details about the case that remain murky, highlight the challenges facing prosecutor John H. Durham. Holder named him to consider whether to launch a full-scale criminal investigation into agency interrogators who may have broken the law during the Bush administration.

Holder made his decision in part because of unspecified elements that came to light since the cases were investigated years ago, according to one source. The attorney general has played down expectations for the inquiry; he issued a statement last month that "neither the opening of a preliminary review nor, if evidence warrants it, the commencement of a full investigation, means that charges will necessarily follow."

Although earlier reports indicated that Durham would look into 10 cases, a source said recently the number is much smaller. In all, 24 alleged abuse cases were earlier referred to federal prosecutors by the CIA inspector general, of which 22 were declined, according to a letter in February 2008 from a Justice Department legislative liaison.
More ...

Friday, September 18, 2009

CIA Push Back on DOJ Op

It's CYA time at the CIA.
Former CIA Directors Urge Torture Prosecution Reversal

The Justice Department investigation into CIA torture allegations may have already jeopardized American intelligence capabilities, seven former CIA directors told President Obama. In a letter, the spy chiefs urge him to reverse Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to re-review case files of a dozen interrogations for possible criminal prosecution.

"Not only will some members of the intelligence community be subjected to costly financial and other burdens from what amounts to endless criminal investigations, but this approach will seriously damage the willingness of many other intelligence officers to take risks to protect the country," the directors write. "In our judgment such risk-taking is vital to success in the long and difficult fight against the terrorists who continue to threaten us."

The letter also criticizes the disclosure of information about interrogation methodology. In what amounts to a lecture of sorts, the directors write that "[s]uccess in intelligence often depends on surprise and deception and on creating uncertainty in the mind of an enemy." The administration must be mindful, they write, that public disclosure about past intelligence operations "can only help Al Qaeda elude U.S. intelligence and plan future operations."

Finally, they warn that U.S. intelligence liaison relationships with other countries is in jeopardy because these countries worry that the U.S. can't keep secrets -- and secrecy is often a prerequisite for intelligence sharing.

"As a result of the zeal on the part of some to uncover every action taken in the post-9/11 period, many countries may decide that they can no longer safely share intelligence or cooperate with us on future counter-terrorist operations. They simply cannot rely on our promises of secrecy," the authors write.
Now, after that psyop dump, this is priceless:
The authors provided no specifics to back up their contentions.
See how easy it is to get glaring headlines.

More ...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

CIA Experiments on US Soldiers Linked to Torture Program

CIA conducts human experiments on US soldiers, again.
A number of new reports have, in recent weeks, highlighted evidence of illegal human experimentation on US-held "terrorism" prisoners undergoing torture. Those reports come on the heels of a "white paper" by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), "Aiding Torture: Health Professionals' Ethics and Human Rights Violations Demonstrated", in the May 2004 inspector general's report.

This article looks at those recent charges, and reveals that experiments by a CIA researcher on human subjects undergoing SERE training went unreported in the legal memos the Bush administration drafted to approve their torture program. It will also connect major military and intelligence figures to the SERE experiments and tie some of them to major science and "experimental" directorates at the CIA and Special Operations Command.

An article by veteran journalist William Fisher, looking at PHR's white paper, asks, "Did physicians and psychologists help the US Central Intelligence Agency develop a new research protocol to assess and refine the use of waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques?"

A column at Scientific American quotes PHR's medical adviser on the subject:

[PHR] also raises questions about the ethics of medical note-taking during some of the interrogations. "Medical doctors and psychologists colluded with the CIA to keep observational records about waterboarding, which approaches unethical and unlawful human experimentation," Scott Allen, lead study author and PHR medical advisor, said in a prepared statement.

Finally, a story in Wednesday's Guardian UK discussed the significance of the charges of unlawful human experimentation:

Human experimentation without consent has been prohibited in any setting since 1947, when the Nuremberg Code, which resulted from the prosecution of Nazi doctors, set down 10 sacrosanct principles. The code states that voluntary consent of subjects is essential and that all unnecessary physical and mental suffering should be avoided.

The Geneva conventions also ban medical experiments on prisoners and prisoners of war, which they describe as "grave breaches."

After describing how "[h]ealth professionals in the Office of Medical Services and psychologist contractors engaged in designing and monitoring" torture, as "selecting and then rationalizing" the use of various harmful interrogation techniques, the PHR report goes on to say:

By requirement, all interrogations were monitored in real-time by health professionals. Previous reports, including the ICRC report, document allegations that a medical device called a pulse oximeter (a device to measure oxygen saturation in a subject's blood) was placed on the finger of a detainee to monitor the effectiveness of his respiration during waterboarding. In this way, medical professionals were used to calibrate physical and mental pain and suffering....

The possibility that health professionals monitored techniques to assess and improve their effectiveness, constituting possible unethical human experimentation, urgently needs to be thoroughly investigated.

An Experimental "Battle Lab"

More ...

From CIA Experiments on US Soldiers Linked to Torture Program, Jeffrey Kane, 13.09.2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

CIA "Health Professionals" Torture Role Worse Than Previously Known

At the CIA, the Hippocratic oath takes a beating. Either that, or the text of the oath has been altered by the CIA to read: first, do some harm!
The extent to which American physicians and psychologists violated human rights and betrayed the ethical standards of their professions by designing, implementing, and legitimizing a worldwide torture program is greater than previously known, according to a report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).

A team of PHR doctors authored the new white paper, Aiding Torture: Health Professionals' Ethics and Human Rights Violations Demonstrated in the May 2004 Inspector General's Report. The report details how the CIA relied on medical expertise to rationalize and carry out abusive and unlawful interrogations. It also refers to aggregate collection of data on detainees' reaction to interrogation methods. PHR is concerned that this data collection and analysis may amount to human experimentation and calls for more investigation on this point. If confirmed, the development of a research protocol to assess and refine the use of the waterboard or other techniques would likely constitute a new, previously unknown category of ethical violations committed by CIA physicians and psychologists.

"Medical doctors and psychologists colluded with the CIA to keep observational records about waterboarding, which approaches unethical and unlawful human experimentation," says PHR Medical Advisor and lead report author Scott Allen, MD. For example, "Interrogators would place a cloth over a detainee's face to block breathing and induce feelings of fear, helplessness, and a loss of control. A doctor would stand by to monitor and calibrate this physically and psychologically harmful act, which amounts to torture. It is profoundly unsettling to learn of the central role of health professionals in laying a foundation for US government lawyers to rationalize the CIA's illegal torture program."
"The required presence of health professionals did not make interrogation methods safer, but sanitized their use, escalated abuse, and placed doctors and psychologists in the untenable position of calibrating harm rather than serving as protectors and healers. The fact that psychologists went beyond monitoring, and actually designed and implemented these abuses – while simultaneously serving as 'safety monitors' – reveals the ethical bankruptcy of the entire program," stated co-author Steven Reisner, PhD, PHR's Psychological Ethics Advisor.

"That health professionals who swear to oaths of healing so abused the sacred trust society places in us by instigating, legitimizing and participating in torture, is an abomination," states co-author Allen Keller, MD, Director of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture. "Health professionals who aided torture must be held accountable by professional associations, by state licensing boards, and by society. Accountability is essential to maintain trust in our professions and to end torture, which scars bodies and minds, leaving survivors to endure debilitating injuries, humiliating memories and haunting nightmares."

Report (pdf): Aiding Torture: Health Professionals’ Ethics and Human Rights Violations Demonstrated in the May 2004 CIA Inspector General’s Report.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Megrahi Exodus

A conspiracy machine:

The release of "convicted" Lockerbie bomber, and former Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset Akli al-Megrahi was presaged by an "annual gathering of influential people."

Britain's Lord Mandelson met Libyan president Colonel Muamar Gaddafi's grandson at the "Rothschild villa in Corfu" prior to the release from Scottish prison of Libyan intelligence officer and convicted criminal by a Dutch court under Scottish law in the 1988 Lockerbie Scotland case, the above-mentioned al-Megrahi.

Here's mine:

More UK-Libyan trade deals are to follow. The US, too, is in on the action, as is France, Canada, and Russia. Indeed, the UK was lagging badly and needed to catch up. OIl, oil infrastructure, commercial construction, military hardware (notably unlike China, which usually agrees to build roads, railways, schools and hospitals in the countries with which they make economic agreements) ... soon, the Libyans will be receiving advice that they must "invest" rather than leave languish all that precious money they have, doing nothing.

At the official level, US protestation and "outrage" at the release is a necessary psyop -- "justice must be served" -- while the players know the score; the release is perfectly fine. Official public fracture must needs exhibit; the US must look no less than enthusiastic in condemning the commutation of an insignificant and falsified conviction -- one the US insisted upon in the name of justice. Certainly, Gaddafi is laughing, watching Clinton denounce the release, knowing full well the lucrative business to follow.

Meanwhile, "influential people" have plans for Tripoli and beyond. Indeed, with this nascent western-Libyan alliance, the circle has been closed. Either US-backed allies, UNPK forces, or US forces themselves, are effectively in place in Ethiopia, Somalia, Egypt, Darfur, Chad, CAR, DRC, Uganda, Kenya, with Libya closing the circle. Khartoum is now effectively surrounded; their only real ally, China. Fortunately for China and Khartoum, Sudanese oil has direct access to the Red Sea. One wonders how long before Somali pirates start jacking Sudanese oil tankers bound for China (China has already deployed naval forces to the region), and hostilities ramp up in Darfur, the rebels newly energized for some mysterious, unknown reason. The heat, probably. Meanwhile, the Rothschilds soak it up from every conceivable angle.

And what has Colonel Gaddafi learned? Mutiny does not necessarily bring bounty.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The CIA IGR public release: A DoJ IO

IO, IO, it's off to work we go ...

Like many, I grabbed my own copy of the CIA IG report, started plowing around and through it. I took note of the contents and went directly to the section on "DETENTION AND INTERROGATION OPERATIONS AT ________," page 33. Let's check that out. ...

Sadly, though not too surprisingly, this is what greeted me:

Given the blanket redaction that "operational" aspects within the document have received, what becomes immediately clear from an inspection of the document released by Holder's DoJ -- actually, let's call it Obama's DoJ, just like we did with Bush -- is that it has been designed to bolster AG Holder's announcement that the DoJ would conduct investigations only of CIA operatives who exceeded the guidelines drawn by the Bush OLC torture memos.

We don't need to delve into why such grunt hunt is a terrible idea -- there are plenty of sources expressing that -- but, rather, this is brief (it need not be otherwise) exploration of the publicly released document demonstrates that it has been redacted in such a way so as bolster and compliment Holder's announcement.

Apart from this first glaring example of massive redaction, note the first instance where this information operation is apparent: page ii of the table of contents. Note that two sections labeled "Specific Unauthorized or Undocumented Techniques," are clearly presented with some gory and ignominious details, while everything else in the "contents" listed is blacked out. These sections serve up exactly and only what AG Holder has stated that his DoJ would investigate.

Page ii, CIA IG report:

Not unsurprisingly at this point, we find those relevant pages heavily unredacted. The contrast is especially noticeable at the transition from page 68 to page 69, the above cited section. Page 68 is completely blacked out. Page 69, and forward, offer up the grisly details of those specific techniques listed in the contents.

It must be emphasized that this "analysis" remains solely concerned with the purpose of the release of the CIA IG report, its temporal and political context. Whatever other illegal activities were uncovered by the IG report, whatever bungling may remain covered-up, no details outside the parameters AG Holder specified have been broadcast by the release. A cursory examination of the public document reveals that the exposed content and its timing have been planned to support the Department of Justice announcement of investigations of low level CIA operatives, and only those who employed "unauthorized or undocumented techniques" described by those glaringly wordy pages so generously and selectively left legible by the Department of Justice.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

DoJ IO: "CIA Conducted Mock Executions"

From the soon-to-be released CIA IG report:
A long-suppressed report by the Central Intelligence Agency's inspector general to be released next week reveals that CIA interrogators staged mock executions as part of the agency's post-9/11 program to detain and question terror suspects, NEWSWEEK has learned.

According to two sources—one who has read a draft of the paper and one who was briefed on it—the report describes how one detainee, suspected USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was threatened with a gun and a power drill during the course of CIA interrogation. According to the sources, who like others quoted in this article asked not to be named while discussing sensitive information, Nashiri's interrogators brandished the gun in an effort to convince him that he was going to be shot. Interrogators also turned on a power drill and held it near him. "The purpose was to scare him into giving [information] up," said one of the sources. A federal law banning the use of torture expressly forbids threatening a detainee with "imminent death."

The report also says, according to the sources, that a mock execution was staged in a room next to a detainee, during which a gunshot was fired in an effort to make the suspect believe that another prisoner had been killed. The inspector general's report alludes to more than one mock execution.

The report also says, according to the sources, that a mock execution was staged in a room next to a detainee, during which a gunshot was fired in an effort to make the suspect believe that another prisoner had been killed. The inspector general's report alludes to more than one mock execution.
This is potentially important for certain contractors and/or CIA officials, since, as we've learned recently, any Obama administration probe will focus only on those who exceeded the generous provisions for torture in the Yoo/Bybee OLC memos. And "mock executions" were not explicitly authorized by any OLC memo known to date.
Mock executions were not authorized in Justice Department memoranda that outlined the legal parameters that Bush administration lawyers believed should govern the use of "enhanced" interrogations. The Justice Department memoranda, once highly classified, were released earlier this year by the Obama administration in the face of strenuous objections from the CIA and former Bush White House officials.
These initial media strikes have two related purposes: trial-ballooning sentiment on "found objects" of CIA misconduct topic, and laying out a potential canvas upon which low-level, and only low-level, CIA agents will be prosecuted, as has been (sort of) indicated by Holder's DoJ. Howling from both political sides about this has ensued, of course, but that appears not to have deterred Holder to date. Indeed, the release of the 2004 CIA IG report seems designed primarily to place into the public realm, instances of CIA wrongdoing that the DoJ could pursue within the lowest ranks of the agency.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"A rare glimpse into the CIA's efforts in Afghanistan."

Thanks to M1.


On Dec. 4, 2001, five members of a Las Vegas-based charter crew were detained by Russian authorities after they landed without visas in Petropavlovsk. The remote Russian city, located on the Kamchatka peninsula and surrounded by active volcanoes, is nine time zones east of Moscow and cannot be reached by road.

Three days earlier, the privately owned Boeing 737 had left Biggs Army Airfield in Texas, carrying the crew and 16 Americans traveling on tourist visas. The plane, a luxury aircraft outfitted with wood paneling and a three-hole putting green, had been chartered by a small company from Enterprise, Alabama, called Maverick Aviation.

What the plane and its passengers were really doing in Russia in the middle of winter is only hinted at in an appeal filed by two federal prisoners this year. But interviews with those involved in the case reveal a secretive, and sometimes comical, mission to strike back at the Taliban after 9/11 -- a rare glimpse into the CIA's efforts in Afghanistan.

According to unclassified court documents, the group was traveling to a helicopter plant in Siberia, where Maverick Aviation, which was experienced in acquiring Russian aircraft for the US military, was planning to buy two helicopters for a "customer."

Not mentioned: That "customer" was the Central Intelligence Agency.

The CIA needed Russian helicopters because of its clandestine operations in Afghanistan. On Sept. 24, 2001, a Russian-made helicopter loaded with $10 million in cash carried a small CIA team into Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley. Code-named "Jawbreaker," the mission was to cement support among tribal leaders and pave the way for US military operations. It was the first entry of Americans into Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

The aging helicopter, an Mi-17, was the team's only way of getting in or out of the country. Though hardly state-of-the-art, the Russian helicopter had a distinct advantage for the CIA: it allowed the agency to operate relatively unnoticed in an area where Russian equipment left over from the Soviet occupation was commonplace.

There was only one problem: The CIA owned only one Russian helicopter. It needed more, but a clandestine American agency couldn't exactly pick up the phone and call a Russian factory. So it turned to Jeffrey Stayton, then the chief of the Aviation Division at the US Army Test and Evaluation Command and an expert in Russian copters.

Stayton's plan was to find a private American company to buy the helicopters, send a team of people over to pick them up from a plant in Siberia, modify them to CIA standards, and then get them to Uzbekistan, a staging ground for CIA operations into Afghanistan. And they would do it all within a matter of weeks.

Eventually, the team included William "Curt" Childree, whose company, Maverick Aviation, won the contract to buy the helicopters and organize logistics; Army personnel and contractors from El Paso with experience modifying Russian aircraft for use by the US military; and then "six guys from the customer's office," as Stayton put it (a CIA team that included special operations personnel).

That's when things started to get complicated.
Complicated, they say. With the CIA? Naw...

Read it all... Hilarious. Five CIA agents in Siberia in winter, buying Russian helicopters, and the master sergeant of the secret CIA mission complains,
"Our rooms were bugged . . . It was just unreal some of the things they were doing."
Bugged! Unreal! Oh, the things those people do.