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.
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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.

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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"

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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.