Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 01, 2014, 03:13:05 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
82682 Posts in 2251 Topics by 1062 Members
Latest Member: seawolfpack5
* Home Help Search Login Register
+  Dog Brothers Public Forum
|-+  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities
| |-+  Politics & Religion
| | |-+  Intel Matters
« previous next »
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 8 Print
Author Topic: Intel Matters  (Read 64690 times)
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #50 on: February 06, 2008, 08:04:46 AM »

NY Times

WASHINGTON — Al Qaeda is gaining in strength from its refuge in Pakistan and is steadily improving its ability to recruit, train and position operatives capable of carrying out attacks inside the United States, the director of national intelligence told a Senate panel on Tuesday.

Al QaedaThe director, Mike McConnell, told lawmakers that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, remained in control of the terrorist group and had promoted a new generation of lieutenants. He said Al Qaeda was also improving what he called “the last key aspect of its ability to attack the U.S.” — producing militants, including new Western recruits, capable of blending into American society and attacking domestic targets.

A senior intelligence official said Tuesday evening that the testimony was based in part on new evidence that Qaeda operatives in Pakistan were training Westerners, most likely including American citizens, to carry out attacks. The official said there was no indication as yet that Al Qaeda had succeeded in getting operatives into the United States.

The testimony, in an annual assessment of the threats facing the United States, was the latest indication that Al Qaeda appears to have significantly rebuilt a network battered by the American invasion of Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks.

It follows a National Intelligence Estimate last summer that described a resurgent Al Qaeda, and could add fuel to criticisms from Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates that the White House focus on Iraq since 2002 has diverted attention and resources from the battle against the Qaeda organization’s core.

In recent weeks, fresh concerns about the threat posed by Al Qaeda have prompted senior Bush administration officials to travel to Pakistan to seek approval for more aggressive American military action against militants based in the tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan.

As part of his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, also offered the government’s most extensive public defense for the use of waterboarding, saying that the C.I.A. had used the harsh interrogation technique against three Qaeda operatives in 2002 and 2003 in a belief that another terrorist attack on the United States was imminent. He identified the three as Abu Zubaydah, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

General Hayden said the technique, which induces a feeling of drowning, had not been used since 2003. Mr. McConnell said that a future C.I.A. request to use waterboarding on a detainee would need to be approved both by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey and by President Bush.

The C.I.A. is the only agency permitted under law to use interrogation methods more aggressive than those used by the American military. Senate Democrats sought to use the hearing to exploit divisions about those techniques.

Both Robert S. Mueller III, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told lawmakers that their agencies had successfully obtained valuable intelligence from terrorism suspects without using what Mr. Mueller called the “coercive” methods of the C.I.A.

But General Hayden bristled when asked about Congressional attempts to mandate that C.I.A. interrogators be required to use the more limited set of interrogation methods contained in the Army Field Manual, which is used by military interrogators.

“It would make no more sense to apply the Army’s field manual to C.I.A.,” General Hayden said, “than it would to take the Army Field Manual on grooming and apply it to my agency, or the Army Field Manual on recruiting and apply it to my agency. Or, for that matter, the Army Field Manual on sexual orientation and apply it to my agency.”

During the testimony, Mr. McConnell tried to recalibrate somewhat the intelligence agencies’ view of Iran’s nuclear program, telling senators that the public portion of a National Intelligence Estimate released in December placed too much significance on the fact that Iran had halted secret work on nuclear weapons design in 2003.

Mr. McConnell said that weapons design was “probably the least significant part of the program” and that Iran’s refusal to halt uranium enrichment meant that it still posed a potential nuclear threat.

The fact that Iran was continuing its enrichment efforts was mentioned in that intelligence assessment, but Republican lawmakers and many conservative commentators have criticized the report as misleading.

Intelligence officials have defended the assessment on Iran as an example of the more rigorous analysis that American spy agencies have adopted in response to the prewar intelligence failures on Iraq. But while Mr. McConnell praised the assessment, he said his office had not been clear enough about its conclusions as it hurried to make it public.

“In retrospect, as I mentioned, I would do some things differently,” he said.

Among his litany of worldwide threats, Mr. McConnell also warned the Senate panel about the growing threat of “cyberattacks” by terror groups or homegrown militants. He said President Bush signed a classified directive in January outlining steps to protect American computer networks.

In his testimony on Al Qaeda, Mr. McConnell said Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri were precluded by “security concerns” from the day-to-day running of the organization. But he said both men “regularly pass inspirational messages and specific operational guidance to their followers through public statements.”

Mr. McConnell said the flow of foreign militants into Iraq slowed somewhat during the final months of 2007. At the same time, however, he warned that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the largely homegrown Sunni insurgent group in Iraq that American officials say is led by foreigners, could shift its focus to carrying out attacks outside Iraq.

Based on captured documents, Mr. McConnell said, fewer than 100 militants from Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia to date have left Iraq to establish cells in other countries.

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, blamed the Iraq war for undermining the campaign against Al Qaeda.

“The focus of America’s military forces and intelligence resources were mistakenly shifted,” he said, “from delivering a decisive blow against Al Qaeda, which is the enemy.”

Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #51 on: February 08, 2008, 11:06:55 AM »

 
 
     
  GET RSS FEEDS   DIGG THIS 
 

 
MSN Money Homepage
MSN Money Investing
advertisement
TODAY'S MOST POPULAR 
 
 
1. Can Mrs. Clinton Lose?
2. Romney's Screen Test Fell Flat
3. Congress Approves Stimulus Bill
4. Commentary: The Wages of HillaryCare
5. Commentary: Why Bill Gates Hates My Book

MORE
PEOPLE WHO READ THIS...
Also read these stories:

 
 Personalized Home Page Setup
 Put headlines on your homepage about the companies, industries and topics that interest you most. 
 
 
 
Iranian Nuclear Rewrite
February 8, 2008; Page A16
Give Admiral Michael McConnell credit for trying to walk back the cat. Questioned this week by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Director of National Intelligence defended the "integrity and the professionalism" of the process that produced last December's stunning National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran's nuclear program. Yet his testimony amounts to a reversal of the previous judgment.

The December NIE made headlines the world over for its "key judgment" that in 2003 "Tehran halted its nuclear weapons programs" -- programs that previously had been conducted in secret and in violation of Iran's Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligations.

 
This was a "high confidence" judgment, though the intelligence community had only "moderate confidence" that the program hasn't since been restarted. The NIE also waded into speculative political and policy judgments, such as that "Tehran's decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic, and military costs."

So it was little wonder that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad quickly called the NIE a "declaration of victory" for Iran's nuclear programs. Diplomatic efforts to pass a third round of U.N. economic sanctions ground to a crawl, though another weak draft resolution is currently making the rounds. Russia decided to ship nuclear fuel to the reactor it has built for Iran at Bushehr, a move it had previously postponed for months and which has worrisome proliferation risks.

Elsewhere, the NIE complicated U.S. efforts to deploy an antiballistic-missile shield in Central Europe. The Israelis worried that the report signaled the death of American seriousness on Iran, possibly requiring them to act alone. At home, Democrats used the NIE to accuse the Administration of hyping intelligence. "It's absolutely clear and eerily similar to what we saw with Iraq," said John Edwards.

Now Admiral McConnell is clearly trying to repair the damage, even if he can't say so directly. "I think I would change the way that we described [the] nuclear program," he admitted to Evan Bayh (D., Ind.) during the hearing, adding that weapon design and weaponization were "the least significant portion" of a nuclear weapons program.

He expressed some regret that the authors of the NIE had left it to a footnote to explain that the NIE's definition of "nuclear weapons program" meant only its design and weaponization and excluded its uranium enrichment. And he agreed with Mr. Bayh's statement that it would be "very difficult" for the U.S. to know if Iran had recommenced weaponization work, and that "given their industrial and technological capabilities, they are likely to be successful" in building a bomb.

The Admiral went even further in his written statement. Gone is the NIE's palaver about the cost-benefit approach or the sticks-and-carrots by which the mullahs may be induced to behave. Instead, the new assessment stresses that Iran continues to press ahead on enrichment, "the most difficult challenge in nuclear production." It notes that "Iran's efforts to perfect ballistic missiles that can reach North Africa and Europe also continue" -- a key component of a nuclear weapons capability.

Then there is the other side of WMD: "We assess that Tehran maintains dual-use facilities intended to produce CW [Chemical Warfare] agent in times of need and conducts research that may have offensive applications." Ditto for biological weapons, where "Iran has previously conducted offensive BW agent research and development," and "continues to seek dual-use technologies that could be used for biological warfare."

All this merely confirms what has long been obvious about Iran's intentions. No less importantly, his testimony underscores the extent to which the first NIE was at best a PR fiasco, at worst a revolt by intelligence analysts seeking to undermine current U.S. policy. As we reported at the time, the NIE was largely the work of State Department alumni with track records as "hyperpartisan anti-Bush officials," according to an intelligence source. They did their job too well. As Senator Bayh pointed out at the hearing, the NIE "had unintended consequences that, in my own view, are damaging to the national security interests of our country." Mr. Bayh is not a neocon.

Admiral McConnell's belated damage repair ought to refocus world attention on Iran's very real nuclear threat. Too bad his NIE rewrite won't get anywhere near the media attention that the first draft did.

WSJ
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #52 on: February 13, 2008, 02:56:53 PM »

Dongfan Chung, an engineer, was arrested in Los Angeles on Monday for economic espionage and serving as an unregistered foreign agent. According to the charges filed against him, Chung had been engaged in espionage since 1979, when he worked for Rockwell International, providing the Chinese with technical intelligence on the B-1 bomber. Rockwell later was taken over by Boeing, and Chung then began providing China with intelligence on the space shuttle, the C-17 transport aircraft and rocket engines. Chung, a naturalized American citizen, held security clearances and traveled to China several times between 1985 and 2003 to meet with his handlers and deliver information in person.

Although it is not clear when he joined the B-1 project, he is thought to have started providing the Chinese with intelligence in 1979. A heavy strategic bomber, the B-1 was optimized for low-altitude penetration and remains one of the most advanced designs in the world — short of the B-2 stealth in key technology, but still not trivial.

Clearly, the charges against Chung are only allegations at this point, but if we assume for now that the government’s evidence is rock solid, the case merits examination. We would be looking at Chung’s ability to infiltrate a highly classified program and provide information to his handlers — and then to shift to other classified programs. His ability to do this for 30 years without being detected, in spite of an apparent flow of information and several trips to China, seems even more interesting. Most important, it is not clear what he would have passed to the Chinese. It can’t be assumed that it was simply material to which he had access. A skilled agent would — over time — be able to access information throughout a facility or a program. Chung was an engineer operating near many classified projects; what else did he access?

The allegations raise an important question about Chung. Was he a trained Chinese intelligence officer assigned to penetrate the B-1 program, or was he simply recruited by Chinese intelligence after he went to work there? The difference is crucial. A trained intelligence officer dedicated enough to operate under deep cover for that long is going to be a tough nut to crack. Someone recruited for love or money is more likely to be prepared to talk in exchange for leniency.

Who Chung is matters. That he allegedly was able to operate in sensitive facilities for almost three decades matters just as much. It raises questions about exactly how the United States works to detect espionage. Obviously, background checks are done. But background checks are not particularly effective at screening out threats. The famous cases of Aldrich Ames and Robert Hannsen, both of whom were recruited by the Soviets from deep in the CIA and FBI, show the weakness not only of the background check but also of the polygraph, with which the intelligence community is so enamored.

Chung was born in China. But if the United States ruled out foreign-born engineers, it would not have enough engineers. And most foreign-born engineers have nothing to do with espionage. The issue is not what someone was — which is frequently unknowable — or what one’s blood flow is during a polygraph. Security is constant monitoring and testing of all personnel. That is costly, time consuming and difficult. It is easier to ask neighbors if he ever used drugs and do a polygraph.

Chinese intelligence did exactly what it was supposed to do — and did it well. If Chung was a Chinese intelligence officer, he served his country well. If he simply was bought, the agent who bought Chung did his job. One would hope that U.S. intelligence is returning the favor as we speak. But the Chung case raises two questions: First, how compromised was the B-1 project, and how do we know? Second, how many agents do the Chinese currently have deployed in sensitive positions, and how do we intend to find out?

Chung supposedly operated for almost 30 years. If true, either he was very good or U.S. counterintelligence was very bad — or both. In any case, this is a cautionary tale. How many out there are feeding information to China on projects so black that U.S. citizens may never hear of them?

stratfor
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 12055


« Reply #53 on: February 13, 2008, 03:41:57 PM »

**Another reason to buy an Izzy a beer!**

http://hotair.com/archives/2008/02/13/score-imad-mughniyeh-killed-by-car-bomb/
 grin  grin  grin  grin  grin



Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 12055


« Reply #54 on: February 16, 2008, 01:29:09 PM »

**When the next 9/11 comes, thank a democrat.**

February 15, 2008, 5:30 p.m.

When the Clock Strikes Midnight, We Will Be Significantly Less Safe
The Democrats’ FISA talking points are nonsense.

By Andrew C. McCarthy

According to top Democrats, the expiration of the Protect America Act (PAA) when the clock strikes midnight Sunday is no big deal. Our ability to monitor foreign threats to national security, they assure us, will be completely unaffected.

This is about as dumb a talking point as one can imagine. And it is just as demonstrably false.

Think for a moment about Tuesday’s crucial Senate bill overhauling our intelligence law that Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to allow the House to consider before recessing Friday — for a vacation. (Democrats evidently had no time for national security, having exhausted themselves on such cosmic matters as a baseball pitcher’s alleged steroid use and unenforceable, unconstitutional contempt citations in a stale investigation into something that wasn’t a crime and that no one but MoveOn.org cares about any longer).

In a Senate controlled by the Democrats, the bill passed by an overwhelming 2-to-1 margin. To attract such numbers, the Bush administration (as I detailed yesterday) gave ground on critically important issues of executive power and expansion of the FISA court’s role.

Democrats surely did not want to give President Bush this legislative victory, and President Bush certainly did not want to cave on these issues. But both sides compromised precisely because they understood that failing to do so, failing to preserve current surveillance authority, would endanger the United States.

Now, maybe they did it because they didn’t want to be blamed if something catastrophic happened; I prefer to think it was because they felt it their obligation to prevent something catastrophic from happening. But either way, the certainty that a failure to act would mean an exorbitant increase in the odds of catastrophe clearly weighed on both sides.

That is why so many Senate Democrats went along. That is why Democrats in both houses agreed to the PAA in the first place. That is why 34 House Democrats defied their leadership on Wednesday, voting against another temporary extension of the PAA in an effort to force a vote on the Senate bill — which, had Pelosi allowed it to come to the floor, would have become law by a healthy bipartisan margin.

If the expiration of the PAA made no difference, as top Democrats are speciously claiming now, there is not the remotest chance any of those things would have happened.

So how can they make such an argument? Here is the sleight of hand.

The PAA permitted, without court authorization for up to one year, surveillance of foreign targets outside the U.S. who were communicating with other foreigners outside the U.S. The PAA was passed in August 2007 with a six-month sunset provision (which expires at midnight). But the end of the PAA does not mean the immediate end of all surveillance authorized by the PAA.

Let’s say we started surveillance on Pakistani Suspected Terrorist A on December 1, 2007. The PAA provides that even if the PAA sunsets, any surveillance authorized under it may continue for the full year from the start date of the surveillance. Thus, to the extent Democrats are saying the PAA’s expiration would not affect the monitoring of Pakistani Suspected Terrorist A, they are correct — that surveillance may continue through November 30, 2008.

But here’s the problem: What if, tomorrow, for the first time, Pakistani Suspected Terrorist B comes on our radar screen — to say nothing Pakistani Suspected Terrorists C though ZZZ? Let’s say, as is entirely possible (if not likely), that B & Co. are not necessarily affiliated with al-Qaeda or any currently known terrorist group. Starting tomorrow, there will be no PAA authority to begin monitoring those suspected terrorists.

To that rather obvious point, leading Democrats counter, “Wait just a second — you can still go to the FISA court.”

Right.

Can you see what’s happening here? The whole reason Congress enacted the PAA in the first place is because FISA was never meant to apply to foreigners outside the U.S. communicating with other foreigners outside the U.S. We are not supposed to need court authorization for that. We are not supposed to have to write affidavits, approved by the attorney general and others, demonstrating probable cause that such people are agents of foreign powers — as well as demonstrating that other alternative investigative techniques would not yield the same intelligence.

Those are protections afforded by the FISA statute. Foreigners outside the U.S. are supposed to be outside the protection of the FISA statute, just as they are outside the protection of the Constitution. Saying the government can go to the FISA court is no answer: Government is not supposed to have to go to the FISA court. These people are not supposed to have FISA rights. They are not supposed to have Fourth Amendment rights.

We are talking about thousands upon thousands of communications, totally outside the U.S. (in the sense that no person inside our country is a participant) which the intelligence community used to be able to intercept and sift through without any burdensome judicial procedures whatsoever. That is how FISA was written, and that is how FISA was understood for almost 30 years. Then last year, a secret FISA-court ruling attempted to bring all those communications under FISA-court control — apparently on the theory that, because some digital bits of these conversations may zoom through U.S. hubs in global telecommunications networks, somehow a conversation between a guy in Pakistan and a guy in Afghanistan should now be considered a U.S. wire communication.

But FISA was not intended to protect Pakistanis and Afghans. It was intended to protect people inside the U.S. from being subjected to national-security surveillance absent probable cause that they were acting as foreign agents.

Requiring FISA compliance for foreign-to-foreign communications does not protect anyone inside the U.S. It protects non-Americans, some of whom will be terrorists and none of whom is entitled to any protection under American law. It makes it impossible for the intelligence community to monitor all the foreign-to-foreign communications that we used to monitor because we will never be able to show, for every target, probable cause that he is an agent of a foreign power — as FISA requires. The PAA did not call for that; it simply required a certification that we were monitoring people believed to be outside the United States.

The claim that the expiration of the PAA will not open a huge gap in surveillance coverage is laughable. Right now, we are permitted to collect foreign-to-foreign communications absent probable cause that the target is an agent of a foreign power. As of 12:00 A.M., we will no longer be permitted to do that. It is absurd to suggest that this huge drop-off in collection will have no impact on our security.

The July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate stated:
globalization trends and recent technological advances will continue to enable even small numbers of alienated people to find and connect with one another, justify and intensify their anger, and mobilize resources to attack — all without requiring a centralized terrorist organization, training camp, or leader.

Translation: There are ever larger numbers of potentially hostile operatives who are galvanized by jihadist ideology without necessarily being connected to a known terrorist organization. Casting a broad surveillance net to collect intelligence overseas is how we detect and thwart any threat they may pose. It’s how we protect Americans in the homeland and on the battlefield.

As of midnight, that net is gone.

— Andrew C. McCarthy, an NRO contributing editor, directs the Center for Law & Counterterrorism at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NWU3NmEwNzhmYjVkZDdlNzVmZDhhODVmMmViZTRlODM=
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #55 on: February 20, 2008, 11:03:57 AM »

Summary
In the wake of the Feb. 12 assassination of top Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah, the organization has instructed its operatives to exercise caution when using cell phones to avoid becoming targets of Israeli attacks. Due to advancements in electronic surveillance, however, Hezbollah will have to do a lot more to evade the deadly cell phone ping.

Analysis
Hezbollah has plenty of reasons to be paranoid in the wake of the Feb. 12 assassination of top commander Imad Mughniyah. Not only does Israel possibly have more targeted assassinations in store, but Hezbollah cannot be sure of the origin of the leak that sacrificed its most seasoned and innovative operative.

There are indications that Hezbollah suspects the leak came from Syrian intelligence. When Hezbollah officials like Mughniyah travel to Damascus, they inform the Syrian authorities just before they cross the border into Syria. Once they are inside the country, Syrian intelligence vehicles escort them to their destination. This is not to say that the Syrian regime necessarily was complicit in the attack –- Hezbollah remains a key asset for Damascus — but there is a possibility that a foreign intelligence agency such as the Israeli Mossad recruited an asset within the Syrian intelligence network. This could explain why Syria has maintained a highly defensive posture following the assassination, making almost daily announcements about the progress of the bombing investigation and indirectly blaming Israel and Western-backed Arab governments in the region.

Following the assassination, Hezbollah has severely tightened security in Lebanon and temporarily curtailed the travel of any key officials to Syria. Stratfor has learned that the Hezbollah leadership also has instructed its cadres to be extremely vigilant in their movements and use of mobile phones. Hezbollah operatives are under strict orders not to answer phone calls from unknown callers. Instead, the operatives must first change locations and then return the calls if necessary.

The reason for these instructions is the relative ease with which a hostile intelligence agency can triangulate a target’s location by exploiting the structure of GSM networks. Using either mobile identification or multilaterization, the location of the target phone can be determined within the network. Of these two methods, multilaterization (more commonly known as phone pinging) is more precise, yielding accuracies within five meters of the location of the phone. Hezbollah is operating on the logic that when a call is received, a hard connection is made with the tower and the target’s location immediately can be pinpointed. However, if the target first moves to a different location before returning the call (preferably in an area with fewer network contact points, towers and receivers to enlarge the target scope), the mobile user likely will be harder to locate and will be exposed to less risk.

Mobile phone networks are not particularly useful for tracking moving targets on the street, unless the phones being used have GPS modules. However, this tactic still can help pinpoint facilities or verify that a target is at a particular location (such as the building where Mughniyah allegedly held a meeting with Hamas and Syrian intelligence officials) prior to the launch of a planned attack.

This exploitation of phones also can be applied to those that rely on satellite networks. A case in point is the April 1996 assassination of Dzhokhar Musayevich Dudayev, the first president of Chechnya, in the heyday of the first Chechen war. Rumor has it that Dudayev was compromised by then-colleague Vladislav Surkov (who now is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s deputy chief of staff) before the latter switched sides and allied with the Kremlin. Through Surkov, the Russian security establishment obtained Dudayev’s personal phone numbers and triangulated his precise location while he was using his satellite phone in southern Chechnya; Russian forces later dropped a 500-pound bomb on the safe house where he was hiding.

Given that the instructions for cell phone use were given to Hezbollah operatives in the immediate aftermath of the Mughniyah assassination, there is a distinct possibility that a simple cell phone ping is what gave away Mughniyah’s location. That said, Mughniyah was obsessed with operational security and likely was well aware of the risks involved in using a cell phone. Nicknamed “the Fox,” Mughniyah probably was not one to fall for such a trap.

High-value targets like Mughniyah usually carry multiple cell phones and change the SIM cards frequently to avoid being traced. There is always the possibility that a compromised Syrian intelligence offer fitted Mughniyah’s phone with a SIM card for the attackers to trace, but it would have been far easier for the source simply to inform the perpetrators of the time and location of Mughniyah’s meeting. There is also the distinct possibility that software was installed on his cell phone to facilitate targeting his location. This could have been done by someone with access to his phone or, given the right resources, it could have been installed on the phone remotely from another phone or a computer without his knowledge. Once the software is installed, it can calculate the user’s location within the network and send this information to a preset place, either via e-mail or using SMS. However, this is dependent on the surveillant knowing the phone number for the SIM card, as well as the phone or SIM card having enough memory available to copy the program.

Moreover, seasoned operatives like Mughniyah often are familiar with the U.S. government’s cell phone tracking abilities, in addition to the practice of using multilaterization and network exploitation to pinpoint a target’s location. These methods utilize the signals used by networks and phones to communicate and exchange data when they are connected. Phones often receive redundant signals while connected, which ensures that continuous communication can occur even while the user is moving considerable distances. The strength of the signals varies with the distance between the device and the tower or communication point, allowing a phone to be located within a particular network. By calculating either the strength of the tower signals being received by the phone or the time it takes them to reach the device, the phone’s location can be triangulated. The owner of the phone does not even need to be using it for this to take place, but it must be connected to the network. The most effective way to beat this system, therefore, is to remove either the battery or the SIM card — or both — from the phone when it is not in use.

The FBI also has earned the U.S. government several lawsuits by turning criminals’ cell phones into microphones and transmitters for eavesdropping. This process, known as using a roving bug, can be carried out by getting the mobile provider to remotely install a piece of software on a handset without the owner’s knowledge that activates the microphone — even if the target is not on a call.

The instructions given to Hezbollah operatives on cell phone use thus reflect a high degree of naiveté on the part of Hezbollah’s leadership. Even the Hamas leaders, who also have gone underground for fear of Israeli reprisal attacks, have taken far more logical measures to avoid detection. According to a Feb. 12 Al Hayat report, high-value Hamas targets are prohibited from using cell phones. A center in Gaza has also been created to filter landline calls for these leaders, and callers must enter a pass code before their calls will go through.

Despite the security risks associated with cell phone use, the devices have become as much of a necessity for militant organizations like Hezbollah as they have for businessmen. Counterterrorism operations can continue to benefit from this and further advances in electronic surveillance technology. Hezbollah operatives, meanwhile, will have to take more extraordinary measures to avoid having their phone conversations end with a boom.

stratfor

Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #56 on: June 21, 2008, 09:13:31 AM »

Canada: Hezbollah Activity in Context
Stratfor Today » June 20, 2008 | 1534 GMT

Photo by Donald Weber/Getty Images
A Jewish rally in TorontoSummary
Hezbollah operatives reportedly have been spotted surveilling Jewish targets in Canada. The reports come as Hezbollah finds itself at risk of losing its Syrian sponsor, making it all the more important for the militant group to prove its value to its Iranian sponsor. They also come amid continued tensions between an internally divided Iran and a United States facing a presidential election in November.

Analysis
Related Special Topic Page
Hezbollah
Reports from Canada say Hezbollah operatives have been detected conducting surveillance on Jewish targets in Toronto, including schools and synagogues. U.S. sources have confirmed increased Hezbollah activity as well. Intriguingly, the reports specifically said the men conducting the surveillance were Hezbollah members, not just men of Middle Eastern appearance. That either indicates a deep penetration of Hezbollah in Canada — the Canadians knew the political affiliation of the men — or psychological warfare against Hezbollah, an attempt to let the group know the Canadians are on to them. If this is a Hezbollah operation, the Canadians just told them they were busted.

There is a complex situation developing around Hezbollah, and Hezbollah is in deep trouble. Syria has shifted its position by entering into serious negotiations with Israel. Syria wants to come out of those negotiations with Lebanon in its sphere of influence. The Israeli price for that would be Syria curtailing Hezbollah activities. The Syrians, more interested in Lebanese wealth than in the interests of a Shiite religious movement — Syria is neither Shiite nor particularly religious — might well make the deal.

This puts Hezbollah in a very difficult position. They have operated in the past with the sponsorship of Iran and Syria. Syria is closer. If the Syrians were to shift their policy, Hezbollah would be isolated and in jeopardy. Indeed, there is a debate in Stratfor as to who actually killed Imad Mugniyah, the death of whom Hezbollah swore to avenge. Some take the conventional line that it was Israel. Others believe the killing was a Syrian down payment to Israel on the Israeli-Syrian negotiations and a signal to Hezbollah not to do anything to upset the negotiations unless and until the Syrians gave the word.

At this moment, Hezbollah’s only ally is Iran. It needs to make itself valuable to Iran. The United States and Israel are constantly signaling they might attack Iran in the next few months. The very fact that these signals come and are taken seriously reduces the likelihood of such an attack. If either country really wanted to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, they would want to take out all the facilities’ equipment and the personnel. Expertise is everything, and they would want to eliminate it. Signaling the possibility of an attack increases the likelihood that Iran would disperse all of the expertise and some of the equipment. That would decrease the effectiveness of the attacks dramatically. You do not signal an attack on facilities to give the other side a chance to shift things around and undermine your intelligence.

Thus, there is a great deal of psychological warfare involved in these threats. The United States and Israel want Iran to feel insecure. This has resulted in increased tensions within the Iranian government, namely, between factions around Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who believe the United States is bluffing and factions around Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and others who might also believe the United States is bluffing, but are using the bluff to undermine Ahmadinejad’s position by portraying him as reckless — and a poor custodian of the economy to boot.

It is in Ahmadinejad’s interest to attempt to counter American and Israeli pressure by demonstrating Iran’s strategic options. Tehran does not have many, but it does have one: Hezbollah. U.S. President George W. Bush’s nightmare is that his presidency will end as it began, with terrorist attacks. His one claim to success — and it is an important one — is that regardless of what might have happened in Iraq, the United States itself has not been attacked since 9/11, and that this was the result of his global actions. To the extent he will have a positive legacy, it will be built on that claim.

But if Hezbollah were to carry out strikes in the United States as Bush exits, his legacy would be further tarnished. The question of whether the Republican strategy is really effective against terrorism would be raised in the middle of a campaign for president, and the campaign would turn around this question. The Republicans will want to show that the Democrats do not take terrorism seriously enough and have no plan to deal with it. The Democrats would claim that it is the Republicans who seven years after 9/11 still do not have an effective counterstrategy.

Hezbollah needs to do a service for Iran. They need Iran. The Iranians need to signal Washington that their psywar — or even real plans to attack — would have a swift and devastating counter, a counter Bush really does not want to see. Therefore, it was in Iran’s interest to have Hezbollah surveillance noticed. It sends the message that Ahmadinejad wants to send to the United States and Israelis. It also increases the strategic value of Hezbollah to Iran, which in turn can pressure Syria on the future of Hezbollah.

Thus, there are two reasons why the Canadians could know what group these operatives were members of. One is that they and the Americans have penetrated Hezbollah and are letting them know that their cover is blown. The other is that Hezbollah wanted to telegraph its punch to signal the U.S. administration to move very carefully in pressuring Iran. This message would be that if you strike Iran, we will strike at you, and if you keep threatening us we will threaten you. Without doubt the Iranians are split politically. But they are signaling the United States that as much as Iran is split, they are not as politically split as the United States is at the moment.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #57 on: September 15, 2008, 02:41:36 PM »

Government Intelligence
Is Way Behind
September 15, 2008; Page A21
As we mark the anniversary of 9/11, it's worth reviewing how quickly the U.S. has closed intelligence gaps in the past and how far we have to go today. In a similar period after the Nazis started World War II, the U.S. broke the German communications code, invented radar, and developed and dropped the nuclear bomb. The war to gain the information upper hand over terrorists is taking longer -- perhaps too long.

Ironically, the government's last great innovation in information technology was the network that became the Internet. The Web has revolutionized civilian life, but not so for the intelligence agencies. Still plagued by old-fashioned giant IT projects, government intelligence agencies stockpile silos of unshared data in a large bureaucratic structure more suited to a predigital era.

National security should benefit more than it does from the country's technological genius, but Silicon Valley and Washington are opposite cultures. In one, the creative destruction of competition is the norm. In 2001, for example, digital leaders included Netscape, Excite and AltaVista where now Google and others dominate. In Washington, permanent bureaucracies are the rule, with new layers added in the name of reform. Venture capitalists back innovations through small technology teams. Washington has built a massive, unwieldy intelligence structure.

This is dangerous because successful intelligence requires great craft in gathering accurate information, then smartly connecting the dots. Recall that law-enforcement authorities had information that would have stopped most of the 9/11 hijackers if only known information about them -- their flight schools, travel documents and dubious wire payments from the Mideast -- had been shared and analyzed. Imagination needed to be applied to these facts, including that civilian airplanes could be turned into weapons.

We do know that many plots have been uncovered and stopped. What we don't know remains a huge risk. London and Madrid have had their versions of 9/11, and other plots have come close. Britain stopped a plot to blow up passenger airplanes flying to the U.S.; the FBI arrested al Qaeda supporters planning to attack soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J.; and German authorities arrested suspected Islamic Jihad Union members planning to attack U.S. military facilities in Germany.

The New York City Police Department alone cites a dozen serious plots against the city since 9/11. Publicized ones include a planned cyanide attack on the subway by al Qaeda operatives; a separate al Qaeda plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge; a plan to blow up the midtown subway station at Herald Square; and a plot to bomb underwater train tunnels to flood lower Manhattan.

The good news is that dots are being identified better than before 9/11. Attorney General Michael Mukasey plans to issue new guidelines next month so FBI agents can use the same investigative tools to stop terror plots that they use for criminal probes. A $90 million project is under way for massive surveillance of New York City's financial district, with closed-circuit cameras throughout the area and license-plate monitors to tag suspicious vehicles.

How well these dots are being connected is less clear. Post-9/11 legal reforms now permit FBI agents to search Google and other commercial sites. Yet less than one-third of the FBI's national security branch agents and analysts have Internet access at their desks. A $500 million technology project to update the software to access the terrorist watch list of some one million names doesn't reliably track Arabic names when translated into English. It also doesn't allow basic search terms such as "and" and "or."

Government intelligence has been reorganized into the massive bureaucracy at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In contrast, countries such as Britain and Israel have structures that encourage information sharing while also ensuring competitive analysis of what the gathered intelligence really means.

Given how commercial innovation is outpacing government, it's likelier that you'll see a targeted, online advertisement for a flight to Orlando just when you're ready to go, long before smart algorithms mining classified data will alert intelligence authorities to connections among suspicious characters. The intelligence community should be challenged at least to become a fast follower of innovation.

Remembering 9/11 means remembering the losses of that day, but it also means remembering what went wrong to allow it to happen. No intelligence system can work all the time, but the government still has a lot to learn from Silicon Valley about how information flows best and how technology can help turn facts into knowledge. A war based on information should be a war fought on our terms, if we can become more intelligent about intelligence.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #58 on: October 31, 2008, 12:37:06 PM »

Counterintelligence Implications of Foreign Service National Employees
October 29, 2008 | 1836 GMT


Graphic for Terrorism Intelligence Report

By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart
Related Special Topic Page

    * Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels

Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said Oct. 27 that five officials from the anti-organized crime unit (SIEDO) of the Office of the Mexican Attorney General (PGR) have been arrested for allegedly providing intelligence to the Beltrán Leyva drug trafficking organization for money. Two of the recently arrested officials were senior SIEDO officers. One of those was Fernando Rivera Hernández, SIEDO’s director of intelligence; the other was Miguel Colorado González, SIEDO’s technical coordinator.

This episode follows earlier announcements of the arrests in August of SIEDO officials on corruption charges. Medina Mora said that since July, more than 35 PGR agents have been arrested for accepting bribes from cartel members — bribes that, according to Medina Mora, can range from $150,000 to $450,000 a month depending on the quality of information provided.

Mexican newspapers including La Jornada are reporting that information has been uncovered in the current investigation indicating the Beltrán Leyva organization had developed paid sources inside Interpol and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, and that the source in the embassy has provided intelligence on Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations. The source at the U.S. Embassy was reportedly a foreign service national investigator, or FSNI. The newspaper El Universal has reported that the U.S. Marshals Service employed the FSNI in question.

This situation provides us with a good opportunity to examine the role of foreign service national employees at U.S. missions abroad and why they are important to embassy functions, and to discuss the counterintelligence liability they present.
Foreign Service Nationals

U.S. embassies and consulates can be large and complicated entities. They can house dozens of U.S. government agencies and employ hundreds, or even thousands, of employees. Americans like their creature comforts, and keeping a large number of employees comfortable (and productive) requires a lot of administrative and logistical support, everything from motor pool vehicles to commissaries. Creature comforts aside, merely keeping all of the security equipment functioning in a big mission — things like gates, vehicle barriers, video cameras, metal detectors, magnetic locks and residential alarms — can be a daunting task.

In most places, the cost of bringing Americans to the host country to do all of the little jobs required to run an embassy or consulate is prohibitive. Because of this, the U.S. government often hires a large group of local people (called foreign service nationals, or FSNs) to perform non-sensitive administrative functions. FSN jobs can range from low-level menial positions, such as driving the embassy shuttle bus, answering the switchboard or cooking in the embassy cafeteria, to more important jobs such as helping the embassy contract with local companies for goods and services, helping to screen potential visa applicants or translating diplomatic notes into the local language. Most U.S diplomatic posts employ dozens of FSNs, and large embassies can employ hundreds of them.

The embassy will also hire FSNIs to assist various sections of the embassy such as the DEA Attaché, the regional security office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the anti-fraud unit of the consular section. FSNIs are the embassy’s subject-matter experts on crime in the host country and are responsible for maintaining liaison between the embassy and the host country’s security and law enforcement organizations. In a system where most diplomats and attachés are assigned to a post only for two or three years, the FSNs become the institutional memory of the embassy. They are the long-term keepers of the contacts with the host country government and will always be expected to introduce their new American bosses to the people they need to know in the government to get their jobs done.

Because FSNIs are expected to have good contacts and to be able to reach their contacts at any time of the day or night in case of emergency, the people hired for these FSNI positions are normally former senior law enforcement officers from the host country. The senior police officials are often close friends and former classmates of the current host country officials. This means that they can call the chief of police of the capital city at home on a Saturday or the assistant minister of government at 3 a.m. if the need arises.

To help make sure this assistance flows, the FSNI will do little things like deliver bottles of Johnny Walker Black during the Christmas holidays or bigger things like help the chief of police obtain visas so his family can vacation at Disney World. Visas, in fact, are a very good tool for fostering liaison. Not only can they allow the vice minister to do his holiday shopping in Houston, they can also be used to do things like bring vehicles or consumer goods from the United States back to the host country for sale at a profit.

As FSNs tend to work for embassies for long periods of time, while the Americans rotate through, there is a tendency for FSNs to learn the system and to find ways to profit from it. It is not uncommon for FSNs to be fired or even prosecuted in local court systems for theft and embezzlement. FSNs have done things like take kick-backs on embassy contracts for arranging to direct the contract to a specific vendor; pay inflated prices for goods bought with petty cash and then split the difference with the vendor who provided the false receipt; and steal gasoline, furniture items, computers and nearly anything else that can be found in an embassy.

While this kind of fraud is more commonplace in third-world nations where corruption is endemic, it is certainly not confined there; it can even occur in European capitals. Again, visas are a critical piece of the puzzle. Genuine U.S. visas are worth a great deal of money, and it is not uncommon to find FSNs involved in various visa fraud schemes. FSN employees have gone as far as accepting money to provide visas to members of terrorist groups like Hezbollah. In countries involved in human trafficking, visas have been traded for sexual favors in addition to money. In fairness, the amount that can be made from visa fraud means it is not surprising to find U.S. foreign service officers participating in visa fraud as well.
Liabilities

While it saves money, employing FSNs does present a very real counterintelligence risk. In essence, it is an invitation to a local intelligence service to send people inside U.S. buildings to collect information. In most countries, the U.S. Embassy cannot do a complete background investigation on an FSN candidate without the assistance of the host country government. This means the chances of catching a plant are slim unless the Americans have their own source in the local intelligence service that will out the operation.

In many countries, foreigners cannot apply for a job with the U.S. Embassy without their government’s permission. Obviously, this means local governments can approve only those applicants who agree to provide the government with information. In other countries, embassy employment is not that obviously controlled, but there still is a strong possibility of the host country sending agents to apply for jobs along with the other applicants.

It may be just coincidence, but in many countries the percentage of very attractive young women filling clerical roles at the U.S. Embassy appears many times higher than the number of attractive young women in the general population. This raises the specter of “honey traps,” or sexual entrapment schemes aimed at U.S. employees. Such schemes have involved female FSNs in the past. In one well known example, the KGB employed attractive female operatives against the Marine Security Guards in Moscow, an operation that led to an extremely grave compromise of the U.S. Embassy there.

Because of these risk factors, FSNs are not allowed access to classified information and are kept out of sections of the embassy where classified information is discussed and stored. It is assumed that any classified information FSNs can access will be compromised.

Of course, not all FSNs report to host country intelligence services, and many of them are loyal employees of the U.S. government. In many countries, however, the extensive power host country intelligence services can wield over the lives of its citizens means that even otherwise loyal FSNs can be compelled to report to the host country service against their wills. Whereas an American diplomat will go home after two or three years, FSNs must spend their lives in the host country and are not protected by diplomatic status or international conventions. This makes them very vulnerable to pressure. Additionally, the aforementioned criminal activity by FSNs is not just significant from a fiscal standpoint; Such activity also leaves those participating in it open to blackmail by the host government if the activity is discovered.

When one considers the long history of official corruption in Mexico and the enormous amounts of cash available to the Mexican drug cartels, it is no surprise that members of the SIEDO, much less an FNSI at the U.S. Embassy, should be implicated in such a case. The allegedly corrupt FNSI most likely was recruited into the scheme by a close friend or former associate who may have been working for the government and who was helping the Beltrán Leyva organization develop its intelligence network.
Limits

It appears that the FSNI working for the Beltrán Leyva organization at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City worked for the U.S. Marshals Service, not the DEA. This means that he would not have had access to much DEA operational information. An FSNI working for the U.S. Marshals Service would be working on fugitive cases and would be tasked with liaison with various Mexican law enforcement jurisdictions. Information regarding fugitive operations would be somewhat useful to the cartels, since many cartel members have been indicted in U.S. courts and the U.S. government would like to extradite them.

Even if the FSNI involved had been working for the DEA, however, there are limits to how much information he would have been able to provide. First of all, DEA special agents are well aware of the degree of corruption in Mexico, and they are therefore concerned that information passed on to the Mexican government can be passed to the cartels. The special agents also would assume that their FSN employees may be reporting to the Mexican government, and would therefore take care to not tell the FSN anything they wouldn’t want the Mexican government — or the cartels — to know.

The type of FSNI employee in question would be tasked with conducting administrative duties such as helping the DEA attaché with liaison and passing name checks and other queries to various jurisdictions in Mexico. The FSN would not be privy to classified DEA cable traffic, and would not sit in on sensitive operational meetings.

In the intelligence world, however, there are unclassified things that can be valuable intelligence. These include the names and home addresses of all the DEA employees in the country, for example, or the types of cars the special agents drive and the confidential license plates they have for them.

Other examples could be the FSNI being sent to the airport to pick up a group of TDY DEA agents and bringing them to the embassy. Were the agents out-of-shape headquarters-types wearing suits and doing an inspection, or fit field agents from a special operations group coming to town to help take down a high-value target? Even knowing that the DEA attaché has suddenly changed his schedule and is now working more overtime can indicate that something is up. Information that the attaché has asked the FSNI about the police chief in a specific jurisdiction, for example, could also be valuable to a drug trafficking organization expecting a shipment to arrive at that jurisdiction.

In the end, it is unlikely that this current case resulted in grave damage to DEA operations in Mexico. Indeed, the FSNI probably did far less damage to counternarcotics operations than the 35 PGR employees who have been arrested since July. But the vulnerabilities of FSN employees are great, and there are likely other FSNs on the payroll of the various Mexican cartels.

As long as the U.S. government employs FSNs it will face the security liability that comes with them. In general, however, this liability is offset by the utility they provide and the systems put in place to limit the counterintelligence damage they can cause.

Tell Stratfor What You Think
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


WSJ
« Reply #59 on: November 06, 2008, 05:12:48 AM »

WASHINGTON -- Overhauling the extraordinary legal framework established under President George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks may prove among the most difficult -- and urgent -- tasks on President-elect Barack Obama's agenda.

While the nation's economic crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be higher priorities for most Americans, Mr. Obama will have to decide quickly whether to permit the military-commission trials under way at Guantanamo Bay to proceed. He also must weigh the fates of hundreds of detainees held there in legal limbo.

View Full Image

Associated Press
President-elect Barack Obama will need to decide quickly whether to allow military-commission trials under way in Guantanamo Bay to proceed.
As a senator and candidate, Mr. Obama voted and campaigned against some of the Bush administration's most aggressive surveillance, detention and interrogation policies, including the secret prison network run by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Obama administration will "take an immediate interest in what's actually going on there," said Prof. Laurence Tribe, who once taught Mr. Obama at Harvard Law School and now is among his legal advisers. "I'm certain that a rather bright light would be turned to Guantanamo right away."

Still, closing the offshore prison -- as Mr. Obama pledged to do -- will require a series of decisions on vexing issues such as the prisoners who have been approved for release, but whom no other country is willing to accept.

More than a dozen Uighurs, Chinese Muslims captured near the Afghan border, have been cleared of terrorism charges but remain locked up at Guantanamo because they face persecution in China and no country will accept them. A federal judge's order to free them in the U.S. is on hold while the Bush administration appeals.

Even Democrats critical of the Bush policy see no easy resolution. "Can you imagine the political fallout if one of the first things Obama does is bring the Uighurs to the U.S.?" says a Democratic congressional aide familiar with detainee affairs.

Polls, Maps, Graphics
Electoral Calculator & MapComplete Coverage: Campaign 2008Washington Wire
Wash Wire: Reports on the election winners and losersSo-called high-value detainees, such as accused Sept. 11, 2001, attack organizer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, present another set of problems. Mr. Mohammed and other such prisoners were subjected to waterboarding, which simulates drowning, and they were secretly held under grueling conditions. Statements taken through coercion are difficult if not impossible to introduce in court. Already, several terrorism prosecutions have been scuttled because of abusive treatment by interrogators.

"There are people there like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who can't be let out, no matter how badly the previous administration [bungled] the process," the Democratic aide says. "You have to get those folks tried."

The Bush administration has begun military-commission proceedings against Mr. Mohammed and four co-defendants. Prosecutors have said higher-ups pushed to get the long-delayed trials under way before Mr. Bush leaves office, hoping to lock the Obama administration into seeing them through.

Mr. Obama has also supported increased oversight of the secret CIA detention program and efforts to restrict the CIA to interrogation techniques used by the military, which would prohibit waterboarding.

When it comes to domestic security, Mr. Obama has said he would end the Bush administration's preference for conducting surveillance outside of court oversight. He said he would ask his attorney general to conduct a comprehensive review of domestic surveillance and would appoint a senior adviser for domestic intelligence.

The national-security transition team, which is still taking shape, will learn gradually about the full extent of the Bush administration's surveillance apparatus. Mr. Obama's team will receive more detailed intelligence briefings in the coming weeks, according to people familiar with the transition.

"There will be a review of the state of the intelligence community, so that they are comfortable when they assume power that these are things that they feel are appropriate to continue and that will be able to address what our pressing national security issues will be," said John Brennan, a former chief of the National Counterterrorism Center and adviser to the Obama campaign on intelligence issues, in an interview shortly before Election Day.

The transition team will evaluate intelligence activities based on whether there are adequate protections for civil liberties, as well as adherence to laws and executive orders, Mr. Brennan said.

Aides are likely to draw up a list of some actions the new president can take quickly after he assumes office, but full solutions to many of the large legal issues will take much longer. Human-rights advocates and civil-liberties groups -- which, after being shut out of Bush administration policy debates, won major victories on detainee issues in the courts -- expect Mr. Obama to take their views seriously.

The American Civil Liberties Union has already assembled a proposal urging Mr. Obama to issue three executive orders on his first day on the job. The orders would close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, "cease and prohibit the use of torture and abuse" in CIA interrogations, and end the practice of sending detainees to countries that conduct harsher interrogations than are allowable under U.S. law.
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 12055


« Reply #60 on: November 06, 2008, 08:49:05 AM »

This is the bright spot in this whole mess. Let's just see what Barry-O does as commander in chief now that the weight of protecting this country is on his shoulders. Barry can release every detainee and shut down every federal agency from using the PATRIOT act. I know he voted to reauthorize it. So, where are all the leftist screamers now?
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #61 on: January 28, 2009, 02:16:46 PM »

Exclusive: CIA Station Chief in Algeria Accused of Rapes

"Ugly American"? Spy Boss Allegedly Drugged Muslim Women, Made Secret Sex Videos

By BRIAN ROSS, KATE McCARTHY, and ANGELA M. HILL
January 28, 2009—


The CIA's station chief at its sensitive post in Algeria is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly raping at least two Muslim women who claim he laced their drinks with a knock-out drug, U.S. law enforcement sources tell ABC News.

Officials say the 41-year old CIA officer, a convert to Islam, was ordered home by the U.S. Ambassador, David Pearce, in October after the women came forward with their rape allegations in September.



The discovery of more than a dozen videotapes showing the CIA officer engaged in sex acts with other women has led the Justice Department to broaden its investigation to include at least one other Arab country, Egypt, where the CIA officer had been posted earlier in his career, according to law enforcement officials.

The U.S. State Department referred questions to the Department of Justice, which declined to comment.

"It has the potential to be quite explosive if it's not handled well by the United States government," said Isobel Coleman, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who specializes in women's issues in the Middle East.

"This isn't the type of thing that's going to be easily pushed under the carpet," she said.

The CIA refused to acknowledge the investigation or provide the name of the Algiers station chief, but the CIA Director of Public Affairs, Mark Mansfield, said, "I can assure you that the Agency would take seriously, and follow up on, any allegations of impropriety."

It can be a crime for government officials to reveal the identity of a current covert intelligence officer, and CIA officials would not comment the status of the person under investigation.

One of the alleged victims reportedly said she met the CIA officer at a bar in the U.S. embassy and then was taken to his official station chief residence where she said the sexual assault took place.

The second alleged victim reportedly told U.S. prosecutors that, in a separate incident, she also was drugged at the American's official residence before being sexually assaulted.

Both women have reportedly given sworn statements to federal prosecutors sent from Washington to prepare a possible criminal case against the CIA officer.

Following the initial complaints, U.S. officials say they obtained a warrant from a federal judge in Washington, D.C. in October to search the station chief's CIA-provided residence in Algiers and turned up the videos that appear to have been secretly recorded and show, they say, the CIA officer engaged in sexual acts.

Officials say one of the alleged victims is seen on tape, in a "semi-conscious state."

The time-stamped date on other tapes led prosecutors to broaden the investigation to Egypt because the date matched a time when CIA officer was in Cairo, officials said.

Pills found in the CIA residence were sent to the FBI crime laboratory for testing, according to officials involved in the case.

"Drugs commonly referred to as date rape drugs are difficult to detect because the body rapidly metabolizes them," said former FBI agent Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant. "Many times women are not aware they were even assaulted until the next day," he said.

A third woman, a friend of one of the alleged victims, reportedly provided a cell phone video that showed her friend having a drink and dancing inside the CIA station chief's residence in Algiers, which officials told ABC News provided corroboration the CIA officer had indeed brought the woman to his residence.

The officer in charge of the CIA station in Algiers plays an important role in working with the Algerian intelligence services to combat an active al Qaeda wing responsible for a wave of bombings in Algeria.

In the most serious incident, 48 people were killed in a bombing in August, 2008 in Algiers, blamed on the al Qaeda group.

The Algerian ambassador to the United Nations, Mourad Benmehid, said his government had not been notified by the U.S. of the rape allegations or the criminal investigation.

Repeated messages left for the CIA officer with his parents and his sister were not returned.

No charges have been filed but officials said a grand jury was likely to consider an indictment on sexual assault charges as early as next month.

"This will be seen as the typical ugly American," said former CIA officer Bob Baer, reacting to the ABC News report. "My question is how the CIA would not have picked up on this in their own regular reviews of CIA officers overseas," Baer said.

"From a national security standpoint," said Baer, the alleged rapes would be "not only wrong but could open him up to potential blackmail and that's something the CIA should have picked up on," said Baer. "This is indicative of personnel problems of all sorts that run through the agency," he said.

"Rape is ugly in any context," said Coleman who praised the bravery of the alleged Algerian victims in going to authorities. "Rape is viewed as very shameful to women, and I think this is an opportunity for the US to show how seriously it takes the issue of rape," she said.

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Story?id=6750266&page=1
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 12055


« Reply #62 on: January 28, 2009, 02:34:00 PM »

Fraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! What a great day for the global jihad.  embarassed
Logged
Body-by-Guinness
Power User
***
Posts: 2789


« Reply #63 on: January 28, 2009, 02:52:09 PM »

Oh my gawd. This pinhead should be taken out back and shot.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #64 on: January 28, 2009, 03:13:16 PM »

In the meantime would it make sense to remind folks he was Muslim?

Anyway, not to push this discussion off the radar screen, but adding this just in from Stratfor:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: Desperation or New Life?
January 28, 2009




By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Related Links
The Devolution of Al Qaeda
The media wing of one of al Qaeda’s Yemeni franchises, al Qaeda in Yemen, released a statement on online jihadist forums Jan. 20 from the group’s leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi, announcing the formation of a single al Qaeda group for the Arabian Peninsula under his command. According to al-Wuhayshi, the new group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, would consist of his former group (al Qaeda in Yemen) as well as members of the now-defunct Saudi al Qaeda franchise.

The press release noted that the Saudi militants have pledged allegiance to al-Wuhayshi, an indication that the reorganization was not a merger of equals. This is understandable, given that the jihadists in Yemen have been active recently while their Saudi counterparts have not conducted a meaningful attack in years. The announcement also related that a Saudi national (and former Guantanamo detainee) identified as Abu-Sayyaf al-Shihri has been appointed as al-Wuhayshi’s deputy. In some ways, this is similar to the way Ayman al-Zawahiri and his faction of Egyptian Islamic Jihad swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden and were integrated in to al Qaeda prime.

While not specifically mentioned, the announcement of a single al Qaeda entity for the entire Arabian Peninsula and the unanimous support by jihadist militants on the Arabian Peninsula for al-Wuhayshi suggests the new organization will incorporate elements of the other al Qaeda franchise in Yemen, the Yemen Soldiers Brigade.

The announcement also provided links to downloadable versions of the latest issue of the group’s online magazine, Sada al-Malahim, (Arabic for “The Echo of Battle”). The Web page links provided to download the magazine also featured trailers advertising the pending release of a new video from the group, now referred to by its new name, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The translated name of this new organization sounds very similar to the old Saudi al Qaeda franchise, the al Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula (in Arabic, “Tandheem al Qaeda fi Jazeerat al-Arabiyah”). But the new group’s new Arabic name, Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Jazirat al-Arab, is slightly different. The addition of “al-Jihad” seems to have been influenced by the Iraqi al Qaeda franchise, Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn. The flag of the Islamic State of Iraq also appears in the Jan. 24 video, further illustrating the deep ties between the newly announced organization and al Qaeda in Iraq. Indeed, a number of Yemeni militants traveled to Iraq to fight, and these returning al Qaeda veterans have played a large part in the increased sophistication of militant attacks in Yemen over the past year.

Four days after the Jan. 20 announcement, links for a 19-minute video from the new group titled “We Start from Here and We Will Meet at al-Aqsa” began to appear in jihadist corners of cyberspace. Al-Aqsa refers to the al-Aqsa Mosque on what Jews know as Temple Mount and Muslims refer to as Al Haram Al Sharif. The video threatens Muslim leaders in the region (whom it refers to as criminal tyrants), including Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Saudi royal family, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. It also threatens so-called “crusader forces” supporting the regional Muslim leaders, and promises to carry the jihad from the Arabian Peninsula to Israel so as to liberate Muslim holy sites and brethren in Gaza.

An interview with al-Wuhayshi aired Jan. 27 on Al Jazeera echoed these sentiments. During the interview, al-Wuhayshi noted that the “crusades” against “Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia” have been launched from bases in the Arabian Peninsula, and that because of this, “all crusader interests” in the peninsula “should be struck.”

A Different Take on Events
Most of the analysis in Western media regarding the preceding developments has focused on how two former detainees at the U.S. facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, appear in the Jan. 24 video — one of whom was al-Shihri — and that both were graduates of Saudi Arabia’s ideological rehabilitation program, a government deprogramming course for jihadists. In addition to al-Shihri who, according to the video was Guantanamo detainee 372, the video also contains a statement from Abu-al-Harith Muhammad al-Awfi. Al-Awfi, who was identified as a field commander in the video, was allegedly former Guantanamo detainee 333. Prisoner lists from Guantanamo obtained by Stratfor appear to confirm that al-Shihri was in fact Guantanamo detainee No. 372. We did not find al-Awfi’s name on the list, however, another name appears as detainee No. 333. Given the proclivity of jihadists to use fraudulent identities, it is entirely possible that al-Awfi is an alias, or that he was held at Guantanamo under an assumed name. At any rate, we doubt al-Awfi would fabricate this claim and then broadcast it in such a public manner.

The media focus on the Guantanamo aspect is understandable in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Jan. 22 executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and all the complexities surrounding that decision. Clearly, some men released from Guantanamo, and even those graduated from the Saudi government’s rehabilitation program, can and have returned to the jihadist fold. Ideology is hard to extinguish, especially an ideology that teaches adherents that there is a war against Islam and that the “true believers” will be persecuted for their beliefs. Al Qaeda has even taken this one step further and has worked to prepare its members not only to face death, but also to endure imprisonment and harsh interrogation. A substantial number of al Qaeda cadres, such as al-Zawahiri and Abu Yahya al-Libi, have endured both, and have been instrumental in helping members withstand captivity and interrogation.

This physical and ideological preparation means that efforts to induce captured militants to abandon their ideology can wind up reinforcing that ideology when those efforts appear to prove important tenets of the ideology, such as that adherents will be persecuted and that the Muslim rulers are aligned with the West. It is also important to realize that radical Islamist extremists, ultraconservatives and traditionalists tend to have a far better grasp of Islamic religious texts than their moderate, liberal and modernist counterparts. Hence, they have an edge over them on the ideological battlefield. Those opposing radicals and extremists have a long way to go before they can produce a coherent legitimate, authoritative and authentic alternative Islamic discourse.

In any event, in practical terms there is no system of “re-education” that is 100 percent effective in eradicating an ideology in humans except execution. There will always be people who will figure out how to game the system and regurgitate whatever is necessary to placate their jailers so as to win release. Because of this, it is not surprising to see people like al-Shihri and al-Awfi released only to re-emerge in their former molds.

Another remarkable feature of the Jan. 27 video is that it showcased four different leaders of the regional group, something rarely seen. In addition to al-Wuhayshi, al-Shihri and al-Awfi, the video also included a statement from Qasim al-Rami, who is suspected of having been involved with the operational planning of the suicide attack on a group of Spanish tourists in Marib, Yemen, in July 2007.

In our estimation, however, perhaps the most remarkable feature about these recent statements from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is not the appearance of these two former Guantanamo detainees in the video, or the appearance of four distinct leaders of the group in a single video, but rather what the statements tell us about the state of the al Qaeda franchises in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Signposts
That the remnants of the Saudi al Qaeda franchise have been forced to flee their country and join up with the Yemeni group demonstrates that the Saudi government’s campaign to eradicate the jihadist organization has been very successful. The Saudi franchise was very active in 2003 and 2004, but has not attempted a significant attack since the February 2006 attack against the oil facility in Abqaiq. In spite of the large number of Saudi fighters who have traveled to militant training camps, and to fight in places such as Iraq, the Saudi franchise has had significant problems organizing operational cells inside the kingdom. Additionally, since the death of Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin, the Saudi franchise has struggled to find a charismatic and savvy leader. (The Saudis have killed several leaders who succeeded al-Muqrin.) In a militant organization conducting an insurgency or terrorist operations, leadership is critical not only to the operational success of the group but also to its ability to recruit new members, raise funding and acquire resources such as weapons.

Like the Saudi node, the fortunes of other al Qaeda regional franchises have risen or fallen based upon ability of the franchise’s leadership. For example, in August 2006 al Qaeda announced with great fanfare that the Egyptian militant group Gamaah al-Islamiyah (GAI) had joined forces with al Qaeda. Likewise, in November 2007 al Qaeda announced that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) had formally joined the al Qaeda network. But neither of these groups really ever got off the ground. While a large portion of the responsibility for the groups’ lack of success may be due to the oppressive natures of the Egyptian and Libyan governments and the aggressive efforts those governments undertook to control the new al Qaeda franchises, we believe the lack of success also stems from poor leadership. (There are certainly other significant factors contributing to the failure of al Qaeda nodes in various places, such as the alienation of the local population.)

Conversely, we believe that an important reason for the resurgence of the al Qaeda franchise in Yemen has been the leadership of al-Wuhayshi. As we have noted in the past, Yemen is a much easier environment for militants to operate in than either Egypt or Libya. There are many Salafists employed in the Yemeni security and intelligence apparatus who at the very least are sympathetic to the jihadist cause. These men are holdovers from the Yemeni civil war, when Saleh formed an alliance with Salafists and recruited jihadists to fight Marxist forces in South Yemen. This alliance continues today, with Saleh deriving significant political support from radical Islamists. Many of the state’s key institutions (including the military) employ Salafists, making any major crackdown on militant Islamists in the country politically difficult. This sentiment among the security forces also helps explain the many jihadists who have escaped from Yemeni prisons — such as al-Wuhayshi.

Yemen has also long been at the crossroads of a number of jihadist theaters, including Afghanistan/Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the Levant, Egypt and Somalia. Yemen also is a country with a thriving arms market, a desert warrior tradition and a tribal culture that often bridles against government authority and that makes it difficult for the government to assert control over large swaths of the country. Yemeni tribesmen also tend to be religiously conservative and susceptible to the influence of jihadist theology.

In spite of this favorable environment, the Yemeni al Qaeda franchise has largely floundered since 9/11. Much of this is due to U.S. and Yemeni efforts to decapitate the group, such as the strike by a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle on then-leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, Abu Ali al-Harithi, in late 2002 and the subsequent arrest of his replacement, Mohammed Hamdi al-Ahdal, in late 2003. The combination of these operations in such a short period helped cripple al Qaeda in Yemen’s operational capability.

As Stratfor noted in spring 2008, however, al Qaeda militants in Yemen have become more active and more effective under the leadership of al-Wuhayshi, an ethnic Yemeni who spent time in Afghanistan as a lieutenant under bin Laden. After his time with bin Laden, Iranian authorities arrested al-Wuhayshi, later returning him to Yemen in 2003 via an Iranian-Yemeni extradition deal. He subsequently escaped from a high-security prison outside the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, in February 2006 along with Jamal al-Badawi (the leader of the cell that carried out the suicide bombing of the USS Cole).

Al-Wuhayshi’s established ties with al Qaeda prime and bin Laden in particular not only provide him legitimacy in the eyes of other jihadists, in more practical terms, they may have provided him the opportunity to learn the tradecraft necessary to successfully lead a militant group and conduct operations. His close ties to influential veterans of al Qaeda in Yemen like al-Badawi also may have helped him infuse new energy into the struggle in Yemen in 2008.

While the group had been on a rising trajectory in 2008, things had been eerily quiet in Yemen since the Sept. 17, 2008, attack against the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa and the resulting campaign against the group. The recent flurry of statements has broken the quiet, followed by a Warden Message on Jan. 26 warning of a possible threat against the compound of the U.S. Embassy in Yemen and a firefight at a security checkpoint near the embassy hours later.

At this point, it appears the shooting incident may not be related to the threat warning and may instead have been the result of jumpy nerves. Reports suggest the police may have fired at a speeding car before the occupants, who were armed tribesmen, fired back. Although there have been efforts to crack down on the carrying of weapons in Sanaa, virtually every Yemeni male owns an AK-variant assault rifle of some sort; like the ceremonial jambiya dagger, such a rifle is considered a must-have accessory in most parts of the country. Not surprisingly, incidents involving gunfire are not uncommon in Yemen.

Either way, we will continue to keep a close eye on Yemen and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. As we have seen in the past, press statements are not necessarily indicative of future jihadist performance. It will be important to watch developments in Yemen for signs that will help determine whether this recent merger and announcement is a sign of desperation by a declining group, or whether the addition of fresh blood from Saudi Arabia will help breathe new life into al-Wuhayshi’s operations and provide his group the means to make good on its threats.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2009, 03:19:43 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #65 on: January 28, 2009, 06:22:56 PM »

More on the CIA rape charge:

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=6750266&page=1

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,484487,00.html

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/01/28/cia.rape.allegations/



Exclusive: CIA Station Chief in Algeria Accused of Rapes
"Ugly American"? Spy Boss Allegedly Drugged Muslim Women, Made Secret Sex Videos

By BRIAN ROSS, KATE McCARTHY, and ANGELA M. HILL
January 28, 2009—

The CIA's station chief at its sensitive post in Algeria is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly raping at least two Muslim women who claim he laced their drinks with a knock-out drug, U.S. law enforcement sources tell ABC News.

The suspect in the case is identified as Andrew Warren in an affidavit for a search warrant filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. by an investigator for the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service.

Click here to read the affidavit.

Watch "World News with Charles Gibson" TONIGHT at 6:30 p.m. ET for the full report.

Officials say the 41-year old Warren, a convert to Islam, was ordered home by the U.S. Ambassador, David Pearce, in October after the women came forward with their rape allegations in September.

According to the affidavit, the two women "reported the allegations in this affidavit independently of each other."

The affidavit says the first victim says she was raped by Warren in Sept. 2007 after being invited to a party at Warren's residence by U.S. embassy employees.

She told a State Department investigator that after Warren prepared a mixed drink of cola and whiskey, she felt a "violent onset of nausea" and Warren said she should spend the night at his home.

When she woke up the next morning, according to the affidavit, "she was lying on a bed, completely nude, with no memory of how she had been undressed." She said she realized "she recently had engaged in sexual intercourse, though she had no memory of having intercourse."

According to the affidavit, a second alleged victim told a similar story, saying Warren met her at the U.S. embassy and invited her for a "tour of his home" where she said he prepared an apple martini for her "out of her sight."

The second victim said she suddenly felt faint and went to the bathroom where "V2 [victim 2] could see and hear, but she could not move," the affidavit says.

She told investigators Warren "was attempting to remove V2's her pants." The affidavit states, "Warren continued to undress V2, and told her she would feel better after a bath."

Alleged Rape Victims Tell Their Stories to Investigators

The alleged victim said she remembers being in Warren's bed and asking him to stop, but that "Warren made a statement to the effect of 'nobody stays in my expensive sheets with clothes on.'" She told investigators "as she slipped in and out of consciousness she had conscious images of Warren penetrating her vagina repeatedly with his penis."

The second victim told investigators she sent Warren a text message accusing him of abusing her and he replied, "I am sorry," the affidavit says.

According to the affidavit, when Warren was interviewed by Diplomatic Security investigators, he claimed he had "engaged in consensual sexual intercourse" and admitted there were photographs of the two women on his personal laptop. He would not consent to a search or seizure of the computer, leading investigators to seek the warrant.

According to the affidavit, a search of Warren's residence in Algiers turned up Valium and Xanax and a handbook on the investigation of sexual assaults.

The affidavit says toxicologists at the FBI laboratory say Xanax and Valium are among the drugs "commonly used to facilitate sexual assault."

"Drugs commonly referred to as date rape drugs are difficult to detect because the body rapidly metabolizes them," said former FBI agent Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant. "Many times women are not aware they were even assaulted until the next day," he said.

The CIA refused to acknowledge the investigation or provide the name of the Algiers station chief, but the CIA Director of Public Affairs, Mark Mansfield, said, "I can assure you that the Agency would take seriously, and follow up on, any allegations of impropriety."

State Departmentt Acting Spokesman Robert Wood issued a statement saying, "The U.S. takes very seriously any accusations of misconduct involving any U.S. personnel abroad. The individual is question has returned to Washington and the U.S. Government is looking into the matter."

U.S. officials were bracing for public reaction in the Muslim world, following the report of the allegation.

"It has the potential to be quite explosive if it's not handled well by the United States government," said Isobel Coleman, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who specializes in women's issues in the Middle East.

"This isn't the type of thing that's going to be easily pushed under the carpet," she said.

U.S. Officials Say They Found Video Tapes

Both women have reportedly since given sworn statements to federal prosecutors sent from Washington to prepare a possible criminal case against the CIA officer.

Following the initial complaints, U.S. officials say they did obtain a warrant from a federal judge in Washington, D.C. in October to search the station chief's CIA-provided residence in Algiers and turned up the videos that appear to have been secretly recorded and show, they say, Warren engaged in sexual acts.

Officials say one of the alleged victims is seen on tape, in a "semi-conscious state."

The time-stamped date on other tapes led prosecutors to broaden the investigation to Egypt because the date matched a time when Warren was in Cairo, officials said.

As the station chief in Algiers, Warren played an important role in working with the Algerian intelligence services to combat an active al Qaeda wing responsible for a wave of bombings in Algeria.

In the most serious incident, 48 people were killed in a bombing in Aug. 2008 in Algiers, blamed on the al Qaeda group.

The Algerian ambassador to the United Nations, Mourad Benmehid, said his government had not been notified by the U.S. of the rape allegations or the criminal investigation.

Repeated messages left for the Warren with his parents and his sister were not returned.

No charges have been filed, but officials said a grand jury was likely to consider an indictment on sexual assault charges as early as next month.

"This will be seen as the typical ugly American," said former CIA officer Bob Baer, reacting to the ABC News report. "My question is how the CIA would not have picked up on this in their own regular reviews of CIA officers overseas," Baer said.

"From a national security standpoint," said Baer, the alleged rapes would be "not only wrong but could open him up to potential blackmail and that's something the CIA should have picked up on," said Baer. "This is indicative of personnel problems of all sorts that run through the agency," he said.

"Rape is ugly in any context," said Coleman, who praised the bravery of the alleged Algerian victims in going to authorities. "Rape is viewed as very shameful to women, and I think this is an opportunity for the U.S. to show how seriously it takes the issue of rape," she said.

Click Here for the Investigative Homepage.

Copyright © 2009 ABC News Internet Ventures
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #66 on: January 30, 2009, 08:33:57 AM »

U.S. Says Ex-Agent Passed Secrets to Russia From Jail
By EVAN PEREZ

WASHINGTON -- A former Central Intelligence Agency official imprisoned for spying for Russia continued to pass information and collect money from his old handlers while behind bars, according to U.S. prosecutors.

Harold James Nicholson, 58 years old, used his 24-year-old son, Nathaniel, to restart contacts with Russian spies in Mexico, Peru and Cyprus, according to an indictment against father and son filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore. Both father and son were arraigned Thursday on charges of money laundering and acting as agents of a foreign government.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation agent's affidavit filed in court provides a spy-novel narrative from 2006 to 2008. U.S. officials claim Harold Nicholson tutored his son in spy tradecraft and Nathaniel Nicholson tried to hide his activities as he reached out to Russian contacts on trips abroad, buying his plane tickets with cash.

Prosecutors allege the elder Mr. Nicholson, who was serving a 23-year sentence, was seeking to recover money, and perhaps a "pension," that his Russian contacts owed him for past work, in order to help his financially struggling family. Even behind bars, Mr. Nicholson still held value to the Russians, who wanted to figure out how he was caught and how much U.S. investigators knew of Russian spying in the U.S., prosecutors say.

Harold Nicholson was a former CIA station chief in Malaysia and later worked as an instructor for trainees at the agency's Langley, Va., headquarters. He was convicted of espionage conspiracy under a plea agreement in 1997. Prosecutors say he gave Russian spies the identity of the CIA's Moscow station chief as well as information on new CIA trainees. Federal agents stopped him as he attempted to fly to Switzerland to hand over classified documents to agents for the SVR, the successor agency to the Soviet Union's KGB. He is the most senior CIA official ever convicted of spying for a foreign government.

Matthew G. Olsen, acting assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement that "these charges underscore the continuing threat posed by foreign intelligence services."

An attorney for the father and son couldn't be reached for a comment.

FBI agents monitored the father and son, using email and telephone wiretaps and tracking devices on the son's car to keep tabs on the 24-year-old's alleged spy activities, according to documents filed by prosecutors.

Along the way, the father offered proud words of encouragement to his son. A birthday card the father sent the son last year, according to prosecutors, read: "You have been brave enough to step into this new unseen world that is sometimes dangerous but always fascinating. God leads us on our greatest adventures. Keep looking through your new eyes. I understand you and me."

Federal agents stopped Nathaniel Nicholson as he returned from meeting contacts in Lima, Peru, in December 2007. Without telling him, the agents photocopied a notebook he carried that agents say contained coded notes about his alleged meetings with Russian spies. The notebook also contained instructions for a meeting he later had at a TGI Friday's restaurant in Nicosia, Cyprus, with a Russian contact, according to the FBI affidavit.

FBI agents monitoring an email account attributed to Nathaniel Nicholson said that in October 2008, he sent a coded email as instructed by his Russian contact, confirming an upcoming meeting in Cyprus.

The email, according to the FBI affidavit, read: "Hola Nancy! It is great to receive your message! I love you too. I hope to see you soon! The best regards from my brother Eugene! - Love Dick"

Prosecutors claim the son collected nearly $36,000 in trips overseas intended to help family members pay off debts. The father expressed hopes of relocating to Russia when he left prison, prosecutors say.

In one letter, the father sent physical data such as his height and weight to his son, and prosecutors think the information was to be used by the Russians to provide him travel documents upon his release.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123326691076330523.html
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #67 on: February 25, 2009, 02:45:54 PM »

It keeps getting worse and worse , , ,

GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
During the presidential campaign, a constant refrain of Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates was that the Bush administration had severely politicized intelligence, resulting in such disasters as the war in Iraq.

 
AP
Chinese President Hu Jintao, left, greets Chas Freeman Jr., right, at a reception prior to a dinner in his honor in Washington, April 2006.
The irony of course is that, if anything, President Bush badly failed at depoliticizing a CIA that was often hostile to his agenda. Witness the repeated leaks of classified information that undercut his policies. It now appears Mr. Obama has appointed a highly controversial figure to head the National Intelligence Council, which is responsible for producing National Intelligence Estimates. The news Web site Politico.com yesterday reported that it could confirm rumors that a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Charles "Chas" Freeman Jr., has been appointed chairman. (My calls to the White House and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence produced neither confirmation nor denial.)

Without question, Mr. Freeman has a distinguished résumé, having served in a long list of State and Defense Department slots. But also without question, he has distinctive political views and affiliations, some of which are more than eyebrow-raising.

In 1997, Mr. Freeman succeeded George McGovern to become the president of the Middle East Policy Council. The MEPC purports to be a nonpartisan, public-affairs group that "strives to ensure that a full range of U.S. interests and views are considered by policy makers" dealing with the Middle East. In fact, its original name until 1991 was the American-Arab Affairs Council, and it is an influential Washington mouthpiece for Saudi Arabia.

The Opinion Journal Widget
Download Opinion Journal's widget and link to the most important editorials and op-eds of the day from your blog or Web page.
As Mr. Freeman acknowledged in a 2006 interview with an outfit called the Saudi-US Relations Information Service, MEPC owes its endowment to the "generosity" of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. Asked in the same interview about his organization's current mission, Mr. Freeman responded, in a revealing non sequitur, that he was "delighted that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has, after a long delay, begun to make serious public relations efforts."

Among MEPC's recent activities in the public relations realm, it has published what it calls an "unabridged" version of "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt. This controversial 2006 essay argued that American Jews have a "stranglehold" on the U.S. Congress, which they employ to tilt the U.S. toward Israel at the expense of broader American interests. Mr. Freeman has both endorsed the paper's thesis and boasted of MEPC's intrepid stance: "No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article, given the political penalties that the Lobby imposes on those who criticize it."

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Freeman has views about Middle East policy that differ rather sharply from those held by supporters of the state of Israel. More surprisingly, they also differ rather sharply from the views -- or at least the views stated during the campaign -- of the president who has invited him to serve.

While President Obama speaks of helping the people of Israel "search for credible partners with whom they can make peace," Mr. Freeman believes, as he said in a 2007 address to the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, that "Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians; it strives instead to pacify them." The primary reason America confronts a terrorism problem today, he continued, is "the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that is about to mark its fortieth anniversary and shows no sign of ending."

Although initial reaction to Mr. Freeman's selection has focused on his views of the Middle East, that region is by no means Mr. Freeman's only area of interest. He has pronounced on a wide variety of other subjects, including China, where he has attempted to explain away the scale and scope of the starkly intensive buildup of the People's Liberation Army. The specter of a Chinese threat, he remarked during a China forum at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in October 2006, is nothing more than "a great fund-raiser for the hyper-expensive advanced weaponry our military-industrial complex prefers to make and our armed forces love to employ."

On the massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989, Mr. Freeman unabashedly sides with the Chinese government, a remarkable position for an appointee of an administration that has pledged to advance the cause of human rights. Mr. Freeman has been a participant in ChinaSec, a confidential Internet discussion group of China specialists. A copy of one of his postings was provided to me by a former member. "The truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities," he wrote there in 2006, "was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud." Moreover, "the Politburo's response to the mob scene at 'Tiananmen' stands as a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership, not as an example of rash action." Indeed, continued Mr. Freeman, "I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be."

We have already seen a string of poorly vetted appointments from the Obama White House, like those of Tom Daschle and Bill Richardson, that after public scrutiny were tossed under the bus. The chairmanship of the National Intelligence Council differs from those cases, for it does not require Senate confirmation. If someone with such extreme views has been appointed to such a sensitive position, is this a reflection of Mr. Obama's true predilections, or is it proof positive that the Obama White House has never gotten around to vetting its own vetters?

Either way, if those complaining loudest about politicized intelligence have indeed placed a China-coddling Israel basher in charge of drafting the most important analyses prepared by the U.S. government, it is quite a spectacle. The problem is not that Mr. Freeman will shade National Intelligence Estimates to suit the administration's political views. The far more serious danger is that he will steer them to reflect his own outlandish perspectives and prejudices.

Mr. Schoenfeld, a resident scholar at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J., is writing a book about secrecy and national security.
Logged
ccp
Power User
***
Posts: 4094


« Reply #68 on: February 26, 2009, 03:50:01 PM »

****More surprisingly, they also differ rather sharply from the views -- or at least the views stated during the campaign -- of the president who has invited him to serve.****

More evidence of the real intent and devious nature of BO.
Remember Alinsky - pretend you are one of them and then you can change them - or in this case screw them.
This is BO's true intent.

This is in perfect sync with the 900 million BO is giving to Hamas/Gaza for humanitarian aid.

I don't believe this will end well.

When I meant that republicans need to alter their thinking I menat to do more to reach out to Blakcs and Latinos who are becoming an increasing proportion of the population.

I didn't mean we should roll over and become liberals and fools.  Or that Rep should simply agree with the Dems. 
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 12055


« Reply #69 on: February 26, 2009, 07:43:36 PM »

Two nations that may not survive Barry-O's presidency:

1. Israel

2. Taiwan
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


IBD
« Reply #70 on: March 03, 2009, 11:40:05 AM »

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN on Sunday that Iran has enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.

"We think they do, quite frankly," Mullen said.

Tehran retorted that the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency monitors Iran's nuclear facility at Natanz. But the IAEA was shocked last month to find 209 kilograms more low-enriched uranium at Natanz than expected, enough for up to 25 kilograms of highly-enriched uranium — or one Hiroshima-sized device.

Speaking of incompetence, the U.S. intelligence community in October 2007 asserted "with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program."

That National Intelligence Estimate said: "Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005."

That hasn't seemed to have quelled Admiral Mullen's worries.

Consider, after all, the long list of examples proving the cloudiness of our spy agencies' crystal ball. Two days before Saddam Hussein's march into Kuwait in 1990, for instance, the CIA was telling President George H.W. Bush that an invasion was unlikely.

Less than a week before Moscow's Christmas 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, the agency's top Soviet analysts claimed, "The pace of Soviet deployments does not suggest . . . urgent contingency."

And back in 1950, two days before 300,000 Red Chinese troops assaulted American forces in Korea, the CIA repeated to President Eisenhower that the Chinese would not invade.

How many times must Inspector Clouseau bumble before we stop taking him seriously?

Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman's new history of nuclear proliferation, "The Nuclear Express," recounts Israel's successful — and fairly speedy — quest for the bomb. By the spring of 1963, President John F. Kennedy knew Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was lying about Israel's Dimona "civilian" reactor.

JFK "sent harsh messages to Ben-Gurion, but to no avail; delay and obfuscation were Ben-Gurion's stock and trade."

By the end of 1963 the Dimona plant was producing plutonium. By 1966, Israel apparently conducted "a hydronuclear or near-zero yield test" of a prototype bomb beneath the Negev desert.

Four decades later, delay and obfuscation are now Tehran's stock and trade. But unlike Tel Aviv, their nuclear intentions are not defensive but jihadist. And they are a clear and present danger to us.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #71 on: March 09, 2009, 12:04:26 AM »

There was good news for the First Amendment late last month, when a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that two former lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee can use evidence from classified documents in their defense at trial on espionage charges. The ruling provides a golden opportunity for President Obama's Justice Department to drop this misbegotten case.

The prosecution should never have been brought in the first place, for reasons of law and damage to free speech. In 2005, American Israel Public Affairs Committee staffers Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman were accused of divulging information they learned from Administration officials to journalists as well as officials in the Israeli government.

The Espionage Act of 1917 was intended to apply to government leakers, but in this case Justice (and original Bush-era prosecutor Paul McNulty) has been attempting to apply it to two men who merely heard such information and passed it on. This is of course precisely what journalists often do, albeit to larger audiences than Messrs. Rosen and Weissman reached. A success in this case would make any journalist who reports classified information, no matter how benign, a potential target of government prosecution.

The U.S. doesn't have a United Kingdom-style Official Secrets Act, and Justice shouldn't be allowed to impose one via the backdoor by reinterpreting an old and rarely invoked statute. The good news is that the ruling will make it difficult to marshal enough evidence to convict Messrs. Rosen and Weissman. The case is one of the Bush Justice Department's misfires, and Attorney General Eric Holder can do the country a favor by dropping it.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #72 on: March 10, 2009, 01:30:50 AM »

WSJ

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal published a letter from 17 U.S. ambassadors defending the appointment of Charles Freeman to chair the National Intelligence Council. The same day, the leaders of the 1989 protests that led to the massacre at Beijing's Tiananmen Square wrote Barack Obama "to convey our intense dismay at your selection" of Mr. Freeman.

If moral weight could be measured on a zero to 100 scale, the signatories of the latter letter, some of whom spent years in Chinese jails, would probably find themselves in the upper 90s. Where Mr. Freeman and his defenders stand on this scale is something readers can decide for themselves.

So what do Chinese democracy activists have against Mr. Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia? As it turns out, they are all, apparently, part-and-parcel of the Israel Lobby.

In a recent article about Mr. Freeman's nomination in the Huffington Post, M.J. Rosenberg of the left-wing Israel Policy Forum writes that "Everyone involved in the anti-Freeman effort are staunch allies of the lobby." Of course: Only the most fervid Likudnik mandarins could object to Mr. Freeman's 2006 characterization of Mao Zedong as a man who, for all his flaws, had a "brilliance of . . . personality [that] illuminated the farthest corners of his country and inspired many would-be revolutionaries and romantics beyond it." It also takes a Shanghai Zionist to demur from Mr. Freeman's characterization of the Chinese leadership's response to the "mob scene" at Tiananmen as "a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership."

Mr. Freeman knows China well: He served as a translator during Richard Nixon's historic 1972 visit to Beijing. More recently, Mr. Freeman served on the advisory board of CNOOC, the Chinese state-owned oil giant. Is this also a qualification to lead the NIC?

But the Far East is by no means Mr. Freeman's only area of expertise. For many years he has led the Middle East Policy Council, generously funded by Saudi money. It's a generosity Mr. Freeman has amply repaid.

Thus, recalling Mr. Freeman's special pleading on behalf of Riyadh during his stint as ambassador in the early '90s, former Secretary of State James Baker called it "a classic case of clientitis from one of our best diplomats." Mr. Freeman has also been quoted as saying "It is widely charged in the United States that Saudi Arabian education teaches hateful and evil things. I do not think this is the case." Yet according to a 2006 report in the Washington Post, an eighth grade Saudi textbook contains the line, "They are the Jews, whom God has cursed and with whom He is so angry that He will never again be satisfied." Maybe Mr. Freeman was unaware of this. Or maybe he doesn't consider it particularly evil and hateful.

Whatever the case, Mr. Freeman has been among the Kingdom's most devoted fans, going so far as to suggest that King Abdullah "is very rapidly becoming Abdullah the Great." No sycophancy there.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Freeman was a ferocious critic of the war on terror. Not surprising, either, was his opinion about what started it: "We have paid heavily and often in treasure in the past for our unflinching support and unstinting subsidies of Israel's approach to managing its relations with the Arabs," he said in 2006. "Five years ago we began to pay with the blood of our citizens here at home."

This is not a particularly original argument, although in Mr. Freeman's case it becomes a kind of monomania, in which Israel is always the warmonger, always slapping away Arab hands extended in peace. Say what you will about this depiction of reality, there's also a peculiar psychology at work.

Then again, as Middle East scholar Martin Kramer points out, Mr. Freeman's recent views on the causes of 9/11 contradict his view from 1998, when he insisted that al Qaeda's "campaign of violence against the United States has nothing to do with Israel." What changed? Mr. Kramer thinks Mr. Freeman was merely following the lead of his benefactor, Citibank shareholder Prince Al-Waleed, who opined that 9/11 was all about U.S. support for Israel, not what the Kingdom teaches about the infidels.

Is Mr. Freeman merely a shill? That seems unfair, even if it's hard to square his remorseless "realism" in matters Chinese with the touching solicitude he feels for Israel's victims (who, by his count, must be numbered in the tens of millions). James Fallows of the Atlantic has argued that Mr. Freeman's "contrarian inclination" would serve him well in the NIC post. But the line between contrarian and crackpot is a thin one, and knowing the difference between the two is a main task of intelligence.

Adm. Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence who asked Mr. Freeman to serve, is testifying today in Congress. Somebody should ask him if any of Mr. Freeman's views quoted above meet the definition of "crackpot," and, if not, why?
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #73 on: March 11, 2009, 10:04:29 AM »

He has withdrawn his nomination;

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...RFXf8&refer=us
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 12055


« Reply #74 on: March 14, 2009, 10:13:36 PM »

Probably to be replaced by someone just as bad, but less visible....   rolleyes
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #75 on: March 28, 2009, 11:18:39 AM »

I haven't given this site a careful look yet, so caveat lector:

http://www.declassifiedsecrets.blogspot.com/
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #76 on: March 29, 2009, 07:33:14 AM »

TORONTO — A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.


In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.

The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software, or malware.

Their sleuthing opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than two years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York.

The researchers, who have a record of detecting computer espionage, said they believed that in addition to the spying on the Dalai Lama, the system, which they called GhostNet, was focused on the governments of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.

Intelligence analysts say many governments, including those of China, Russia and the United States, and other parties use sophisticated computer programs to covertly gather information.

The newly reported spying operation is by far the largest to come to light in terms of countries affected.

This is also believed to be the first time researchers have been able to expose the workings of a computer system used in an intrusion of this magnitude.

Still going strong, the operation continues to invade and monitor more than a dozen new computers a week, the researchers said in their report, “Tracking ‘GhostNet’: Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network.” They said they had found no evidence that United States government offices had been infiltrated, although a NATO computer was monitored by the spies for half a day and computers of the Indian Embassy in Washington were infiltrated.

The malware is remarkable both for its sweep — in computer jargon, it has not been merely “phishing” for random consumers’ information, but “whaling” for particular important targets — and for its Big Brother-style capacities. It can, for example, turn on the camera and audio-recording functions of an infected computer, enabling monitors to see and hear what goes on in a room. The investigators say they do not know if this facet has been employed.

The researchers were able to monitor the commands given to infected computers and to see the names of documents retrieved by the spies, but in most cases the contents of the stolen files have not been determined. Working with the Tibetans, however, the researchers found that specific correspondence had been stolen and that the intruders had gained control of the electronic mail server computers of the Dalai Lama’s organization.

The electronic spy game has had at least some real-world impact, they said. For example, they said, after an e-mail invitation was sent by the Dalai Lama’s office to a foreign diplomat, the Chinese government made a call to the diplomat discouraging a visit. And a woman working for a group making Internet contacts between Tibetan exiles and Chinese citizens was stopped by Chinese intelligence officers on her way back to Tibet, shown transcripts of her online conversations and warned to stop her political activities.

The Toronto researchers said they had notified international law enforcement agencies of the spying operation, which in their view exposed basic shortcomings in the legal structure of cyberspace. The F.B.I. declined to comment on the operation.

Although the Canadian researchers said that most of the computers behind the spying were in China, they cautioned against concluding that China’s government was involved. The spying could be a nonstate, for-profit operation, for example, or one run by private citizens in China known as “patriotic hackers.”

“We’re a bit more careful about it, knowing the nuance of what happens in the subterranean realms,” said Ronald J. Deibert, a member of the research group and an associate professor of political science at Munk. “This could well be the C.I.A. or the Russians. It’s a murky realm that we’re lifting the lid on.”

A spokesman for the Chinese Consulate in New York dismissed the idea that China was involved. “These are old stories and they are nonsense,” the spokesman, Wenqi Gao, said. “The Chinese government is opposed to and strictly forbids any cybercrime.”

The Toronto researchers, who allowed a reporter for The New York Times to review the spies’ digital tracks, are publishing their findings in Information Warfare Monitor, an online publication associated with the Munk Center.

At the same time, two computer researchers at Cambridge University in Britain who worked on the part of the investigation related to the Tibetans, are releasing an independent report. They do fault China, and they warned that other hackers could adopt the tactics used in the malware operation.

============

Page 2 of 2)



“What Chinese spooks did in 2008, Russian crooks will do in 2010 and even low-budget criminals from less developed countries will follow in due course,” the Cambridge researchers, Shishir Nagaraja and Ross Anderson, wrote in their report, “The Snooping Dragon: Social Malware Surveillance of the Tibetan Movement.”


In any case, it was suspicions of Chinese interference that led to the discovery of the spy operation. Last summer, the office of the Dalai Lama invited two specialists to India to audit computers used by the Dalai Lama’s organization. The specialists, Greg Walton, the editor of Information Warfare Monitor, and Mr. Nagaraja, a network security expert, found that the computers had indeed been infected and that intruders had stolen files from personal computers serving several Tibetan exile groups.

Back in Toronto, Mr. Walton shared data with colleagues at the Munk Center’s computer lab.

One of them was Nart Villeneuve, 34, a graduate student and self-taught “white hat” hacker with dazzling technical skills. Last year, Mr. Villeneuve linked the Chinese version of the Skype communications service to a Chinese government operation that was systematically eavesdropping on users’ instant-messaging sessions.

Early this month, Mr. Villeneuve noticed an odd string of 22 characters embedded in files created by the malicious software and searched for it with Google. It led him to a group of computers on Hainan Island, off China, and to a Web site that would prove to be critically important.

In a puzzling security lapse, the Web page that Mr. Villeneuve found was not protected by a password, while much of the rest of the system uses encryption.

Mr. Villeneuve and his colleagues figured out how the operation worked by commanding it to infect a system in their computer lab in Toronto. On March 12, the spies took their own bait. Mr. Villeneuve watched a brief series of commands flicker on his computer screen as someone — presumably in China — rummaged through the files. Finding nothing of interest, the intruder soon disappeared.

Through trial and error, the researchers learned to use the system’s Chinese-language “dashboard” — a control panel reachable with a standard Web browser — by which one could manipulate the more than 1,200 computers worldwide that had by then been infected.

Infection happens two ways. In one method, a user’s clicking on a document attached to an e-mail message lets the system covertly install software deep in the target operating system. Alternatively, a user clicks on a Web link in an e-mail message and is taken directly to a “poisoned” Web site.

The researchers said they avoided breaking any laws during three weeks of monitoring and extensively experimenting with the system’s unprotected software control panel. They provided, among other information, a log of compromised computers dating to May 22, 2007.

They found that three of the four control servers were in different provinces in China — Hainan, Guangdong and Sichuan — while the fourth was discovered to be at a Web-hosting company based in Southern California.

Beyond that, said Rafal A. Rohozinski, one of the investigators, “attribution is difficult because there is no agreed upon international legal framework for being able to pursue investigations down to their logical conclusion, which is highly local.”
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #77 on: April 30, 2009, 11:33:09 AM »

A Chilling Effect on U.S. Counterterrorism
April 29, 2009
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been carefully watching the fallout from the Obama administration’s decision to release four classified memos from former President George W. Bush’s administration that authorized “enhanced interrogation techniques.” In a visit to CIA headquarters last week, President Barack Obama promised not to prosecute agency personnel who carried out such interrogations, since they were following lawful orders. Critics of the techniques, such as Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., have called for the formation of a “truth commission” to investigate the matter, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to launch a criminal inquiry into the matter.

Realistically, those most likely to face investigation and prosecution are those who wrote the memos, rather than the low-level field personnel who acted in good faith based upon the guidance the memos provided. Despite this fact and Obama’s reassurances, our contacts in the intelligence community report that the release of the memos has had a discernible “chilling effect” on those in the clandestine service who work on counterterrorism issues.

In some ways, the debate over the morality of such interrogation techniques — something we do not take a position on and will not be discussing here — has distracted many observers from examining the impact that the release of these memos is having on the ability of the U.S. government to fulfill its counterterrorism mission. And this impact has little to do with the ability to use torture to interrogate terrorist suspects.

Politics and moral arguments aside, the end effect of the memos’ release is that people who have put their lives on the line in U.S. counterterrorism efforts are now uncertain of whether they should be making that sacrifice. Many of these people are now questioning whether the administration that happens to be in power at any given time will recognize the fact that they were carrying out lawful orders under a previous administration. It is hard to retain officers and attract quality recruits in this kind of environment. It has become safer to work in programs other than counterterrorism.

The memos’ release will not have a catastrophic effect on U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Indeed, most of the information in the memos was leaked to the press years ago and has long been public knowledge. However, when the release of the memos is examined in a wider context, and combined with a few other dynamics, it appears that the U.S. counterterrorism community is quietly slipping back into an atmosphere of risk-aversion and malaise — an atmosphere not dissimilar to that described by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9/11 Commission) as a contributing factor to the intelligence failures that led to the 9/11 attacks.

Cycles Within Cycles
In March we wrote about the cycle of counterterrorism funding and discussed indications that the United States is entering a period of reduced counterterrorism funding. This decrease in funding not only will affect defensive counterterrorism initiatives like embassy security and countersurveillance programs, but also will impact offensive programs such as the number of CIA personnel dedicated to the counterterrorism role.

Beyond funding, however, there is another historical cycle of booms and busts that can be seen in the conduct of American clandestine intelligence activities. There are clearly discernible periods when clandestine activities are deemed very important and are widely employed. These periods are inevitably followed by a time of investigations, reductions in clandestine activities and a tightening of control and oversight over such activities.

After the widespread employment of clandestine activities in the Vietnam War era, the Church Committee was convened in 1975 to review (and ultimately restrict) such operations. Former President Ronald Reagan’s appointment of Bill Casey as director of the CIA ushered in a new era of growth as the United States became heavily engaged in clandestine activities in Afghanistan and Central America. Then, the revelation of the Iran-Contra affair in 1986 led to a period of hearings and controls.

There was a slight uptick in clandestine activities under the presidency of George H.W. Bush, but the fall of the Soviet Union led to another bust cycle for the intelligence community. By the mid-1990s, the number of CIA stations and bases was dramatically reduced (and virtually eliminated in much of Africa) for budgetary considerations. Then there was the case of Jennifer Harbury, a Harvard-educated lawyer who used little-known provisions in Texas common law to marry a dead Guatemalan guerrilla commander and gain legal standing as his widow. After it was uncovered that a CIA source was involved in the guerrilla commander’s execution, CIA stations in Latin America were gutted for political reasons. The Harbury case also led to the Torricelli Amendment, a law that made recruiting unsavory people, such as those with ties to death squads and terrorist groups, illegal without special approval. This bust cycle was well documented by both the Crowe Commission, which investigated the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings, and the 9/11 Commission.

After the 9/11 attacks, the pendulum swung radically to the permissive side and clandestine activity was rapidly and dramatically increased as the U.S. sought to close the intelligence gap and quickly develop intelligence on al Qaeda’s capability and plans. Developments over the past two years clearly indicate that the United States is once again entering an intelligence bust cycle, a period that will be marked by hearings, increased controls and a general decrease in clandestine activity.

Institutional Culture

It is also very important to realize that the counterterrorism community is just one small part of the larger intelligence community that is affected by this ebb and flow of covert activity. In fact, as noted above, the counterterrorism component of intelligence efforts has its own boom-and-bust cycle that is based on major attacks. Soon after a major attack, interest in counterterrorism spikes dramatically, but as time passes without a major attack, interest lags. Other than during the peak times of this cycle, counterterrorism is considered an ancillary program that is sometimes seen as an interesting side tour of duty, but more widely seen as being outside the mainstream career path — risky and not particularly career-enhancing. This assessment is reinforced by such events as the recent release of the memos.

At the CIA, being a counterterrorism specialist in the clandestine service means that you will most likely spend much of your life in places line Sanaa, Islamabad and Kabul instead of Vienna, Paris or London. This means that, in addition to hurting your chances for career advancement, your job also is quite dangerous, provides relatively poor living conditions for your family and offers the possibility of contracting serious diseases.

While being declared persona non grata and getting kicked out of a country as part of an intelligence spat is considered almost a badge of honor at the CIA, the threat of being arrested and indicted for participating in the rendition of a terrorist suspect from an allied country like Italy is not. Equally unappealing is being sued in civil court by a terrorist suspect or facing the possibility of prosecution after a change of government in the United States. Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of CIA case officers who are choosing to carry personal liability insurance because they do not trust the agency and the U.S. government to look out for their best interests.

Now, there are officers who are willing to endure hardship and who do not really care much about career advancement, but for those officers there is another hazard — frustration. Aggressive officers dedicated to the counterterrorism mission quickly learn that many of the people in the food chain above them are concerned about their careers, and these superiors often take measures to rein in their less-mainstream subordinates. Additionally, due to the restrictions brought about by laws and regulations like the Torricelli Amendment, case officers working counterterrorism are often tightly bound by myriad legal restrictions.

Unlike in television shows like “24,” it is not uncommon in the real world for a meeting called to plan a counterterrorism operation to feature more CIA lawyers than case officers or analysts. These staff lawyers are intricately involved in the operational decisions made at headquarters, and legal issues often trump operational considerations. The need to obtain legal approval often delays decisions long enough for a critical window of operational opportunity to be slammed shut. This restrictive legal environment goes back many years in the CIA and is not a new fixture brought in by the Obama administration. There was a sense of urgency that served to trump the lawyers to some extent after 9/11, but the lawyers never went away and have reasserted themselves firmly over the past several years.

Of course, the CIA is not the only agency with a culture that is less than supportive of the counterterrorism mission. Although the prevention of terrorist attacks in the United States is currently the FBI’s No. 1 priority on paper, the counterterrorism mission remains the bureau�s redheaded stepchild. The FBI is struggling to find agents willing to serve in the counterterrorism sections of field offices, resident agencies (smaller offices that report to a field office) and joint terrorism task forces.

While the CIA was very much built on the legacy of Wild Bill Donovan’s Office of Strategic Services, the FBI was founded by J. Edgar Hoover, a conservative and risk-averse administrator who served as FBI director from 1935-1972. Even today, Hoover’s influence is clearly evident in the FBI’s bureaucratic nature. FBI special agents are unable to do much at all, such as open an investigation, without a supervisor’s approval, and supervisors are reluctant to approve anything too adventurous because of the impact it might have on their chance for promotion. Unlike many other law enforcement agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI rarely uses its own special agents in an undercover capacity to penetrate criminal organizations. That practice is seen as being too risky; they prefer to use confidential informants rather than undercover operatives.

The FBI is also strongly tied to its roots in law enforcement and criminal investigation, and special agents who work major theft, public corruption or white-collar crime cases tend to receive more recognition — and advance more quickly — than their counterterrorism counterparts.

FBI special agents also see a considerable downside to working counterterrorism cases because of the potential for such cases to blow up in their faces if they make a mistake — such as in the New York field office’s highly publicized mishandling of the informant whom they had inserted into the group that later conducted the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. It is much safer, and far more rewarding from a career perspective, to work bank robberies or serve in the FBI’s Inspection Division.

After the 9/11 attacks — and the corresponding spike in the importance of counterterrorism operations — many of the resources of the CIA and FBI were focused on al Qaeda and terrorism, to the detriment of programs such as foreign counterintelligence. However, the more time that has passed since 9/11 without another major attack, the more the organizational culture of the U.S government has returned to normal. Once again, counterterrorism efforts are seen as being ancillary duties rather than the organizations’ driving mission. (The clash between organizational culture and the counterterrorism mission is by no means confined to the CIA and FBI. Fred’s book “Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent” provides a detailed examination of some of the bureaucratic and cultural challenges we faced while serving in the Counterterrorism Investigations Division of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.)

Liaison Services

One of the least well known, and perhaps most important, sources of intelligence in the counterterrorism field is the information that is obtained as a result of close relationships with allied intelligence agencies — often referred to as information obtained through “liaison channels.”

Like FBI agents, most CIA officers are well-educated, middle-aged white guys. This means they are better suited to use the cover of an American businessmen or diplomat than to pretend to be a young Muslim trying to join al Qaeda or Hezbollah. Like their counterparts in the FBI, CIA officers have far more success using informants than they do working undercover inside terrorist groups.

Services like the Jordanian General Intelligence Department, the Saudi Mabahith or the Yemeni National Security Agency not only can recruit sources, but also are far more successful in using young Muslim officers to penetrate terrorist groups. In addition to their source networks and penetration operations, many of these liaison services are not at all squeamish about using extremely enhanced interrogation techniques — this is the reason many of the terrorism suspects who were the subject of rendition operations ended up in such locations. Obviously, whenever the CIA is dealing with a liaison service, the political interests and objectives of the service must be considered — as should the possibility that the liaison service is fabricating the intelligence in question for whatever reason. Still, in the end, the CIA historically has received a significant amount of important intelligence (perhaps even most of its intelligence) via liaison channels.

Another concern that arises from the call for a truth commission is the impact a commission investigation could have on the liaison services that have helped the United States in its counterterrorism efforts since 9/11. Countries that hosted CIA detention facilities or were involved in the rendition or interrogation of terrorist suspects may find themselves exposed publicly or even held up for some sort of sanction by the U.S. Congress. Such activities could have a real impact on the amount of cooperation and information the CIA receives from these intelligence services.

Conclusion

As we’ve previously noted, it was a lack of intelligence that helped fuel the fear that led the Bush administration to authorize enhanced interrogation techniques. Ironically, the current investigation into those techniques and other practices (such as renditions) may very well lead to significant gaps in terrorism-related intelligence from both internal and liaison sources — again, not primarily because of the prohibition of torture, but because of larger implications.

When these implications are combined with the long-standing institutional aversion of U.S. government agencies toward counterterrorism, and with the difficulty of finding and retaining good people willing to serve in counterterrorism roles, the U.S. counterterrorism community may soon be facing challenges even more daunting than those posed by its already difficult mission.
Logged
Body-by-Guinness
Power User
***
Posts: 2789


« Reply #78 on: May 20, 2009, 09:49:29 AM »

Ah whups, found this category. Not sure this fits here, but it's the closest match:

Sensitive data missing from National Archives
Breach included personal data of Clinton-era White House staff and visitors

By Larry Margasak

updated 46 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - The National Archives lost a computer hard drive containing massive amounts of sensitive data from the Clinton administration, including Social Security numbers, addresses, and Secret Service and White House operating procedures, congressional officials said Tuesday.

One of former Vice President Al Gore's three daughters is among those whose Social Security numbers were on the drive, but it was not clear which one. Other information includes logs of events, social gatherings and political records.

Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper said in a written statement that the agency was preparing to notify affected individuals of the breach. The representative of former President Bill Clinton has been notified, but Cooper gave no indication whether the former president's personal information was on the hard drive.

"The drive contains an as yet unknown amount of personally identifiable information of White House staff and visitors," the statement added.

The FBI is conducting a criminal investigation of the matter, according to Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Towns and the committee's senior Republican, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, said they would continue to seek more information.

The lawmakers said they learned of the loss from committee aides after the staff was briefed by the inspector general of the National Archives and Records Administration. There was no indication that anyone has been victimized, aides said.

The drive is missing from the Archives facility in College Park, Md., a Washington suburb. The drive was lost between October 2008 and March 2009 and contained 1 terabyte of data — enough material to fill millions of books.

A Republican committee aide who was at the inspector general's briefing said the Archives had been converting the Clinton administration information to a digital records system when the hard drive went missing.

The aide, who was not authorized to be quoted by name, said the hard drive was left on a shelf and unused for an uncertain period of time. When the employee tried to resume work, the hard drive was missing.

Committee staff members were told there is a copy of the massive amount of information, but Archives officials have only just begun to learn what was on the drive.

Towns said he would have the FBI and inspector general brief committee members so they can "begin to understand the magnitude of the security breach and all of the steps being taken to recover the lost information.

"The committee will do everything possible to prevent compromising the integrity of the FBI's criminal investigation while we fulfill our constitutional duty to investigate the compromised security protocols," he said.

Issa called for the Archives acting director, Adrienne Thomas, to appear before a committee panel Thursday to "explain how such an outrageous breach of security happened."

"This egregious breach raises significant questions regarding the effectiveness of the security protocols that are in place at the National Archives and Records Administration," he said.

Issa said the hard drive was moved from a "secure" storage area to a workspace while it was in use. The inspector general explained that at least 100 badge-holders had access to the area where the hard drive was left unsecured.

"The IG is investigating the situation as a crime with the assistance of the Department of Justice and the Secret Service but they have not yet determined if the loss was the result of theft or accidental loss," Issa said.
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 12055


« Reply #79 on: June 02, 2009, 03:17:15 AM »

http://formerspook.blogspot.com/2009/05/five-guys-three-letter-agency.html

SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2009

Five Guys, Three-Letter Agency
It probably won't make the President's "public" calendar, but Navy Vice Admiral Robert Murrett will soon pay a visit to the White House.

Murrett's job? Get Barack Obama up-to-speed on the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), the organization Murrett has led since 2006. As you probably know, the agency came up in conversation as Mr. Obama stood in line at a D.C. hamburger stand on Friday. Engaging a fellow patron named Walter in casual conversation, the President appeared clueless when the man identified himself as an NGA employee.

A transcript of their chat, courtesy of C-SPAN and Ben Smith at the Politico:

Obama: What do you do Walter?

Walter: I work at, uh, NGA, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Obama: Outstanding, how long you been doing that?

Walter: About six years

Obama: Yea?

Walter: Yes.

Obama: You like it?

Walter: I do, keeps me...

Obama: So explain to me exactly what this National Geospatial...uh...

Walter: Uh, we work with, uh, satellite imagery..

Obama: Right

Walter: [unintelligible] ...support systems, so...

Obama: Sounds like good work.

Walter: Enjoy the weekend.

Obama: Appreciate it.


Mr. Smith speculates that NGA "isn't getting much time in the President's daily brief," which (supposedly) explains why Obama hasn't heard of the agency. Never mind that NGA has over 9,000 employees around the world, making it fourth-largest among the three-letter spy agencies. Or that NGA, as its name implies, provides most of the nation's satellite imagery and other forms of geo-spatial intelligence.

It's not a matter of face time. Traditionally, the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) has included a healthy dose of satellite imagery, which accompanies the various articles found in the update. Images provided by NGA are emblazoned with that organization's logo, but (apparently) it didn't make much of an impression on the intel consumer-in-chief.

And, Mr. Obama's introduction to NGA and its capabilities came long before he entered the Oval Office. As a Senator, one of Obama's "signature" legislative accomplishments was passage of a bill (co-sponsored by Indiana Republican Richard Lugar) which provides funding for the destruction of conventional weapons stockpiles, and the intercept of WMD materials. As you might expect, NGA plays a key role in supporting that effort, furnishing imagery and other products that track conventional weaponry and WMD sites.

NGA analysts routinely provide briefings for members of Congress and their staffers. Given his "interest" in the non-proliferation issue, there's a good bet that Senator Obama sat through a presentation from NGA, or a joint intelligence team that included experts from the agency. But again, the organization's unique capabilities and products failed to register on Mr. Obama, resulting in that stilted exchange with Walter, waiting for a burger at Five Guys.

As Commander-in-Chief, there is no requirement for Mr. Obama to know the intricate details of how the government's 16 intelligence agencies operate. But as the ultimate customer for intelligence, you'd think he'd have a little more interest in an organization that employs thousands of Americans, spends billions of dollars every year, and provides critical intel that helps him formulate policy decisions.

That's why Admiral Murrett will soon come calling at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Mr. Obama is not a student of the U.S. intelligence community, but he is a master of the art of politics. Friday's exchange at the burger joint was clearly a major gaffe, although it's received little attention outside of the Politico or conservative blogs.

If we've learned anything about President Obama during his time in office, it's this: he appears to have a thin skin, and doesn't take kindly to personal embarrassments. So, it's time for a little sit-down with Admiral Murrett on the finer points of NGA, just in case the president finds himself in another line, and wondering aloud about this "National Geospatial" organization that supports him on a daily basis.

NGA doesn't need more face time, Mr. Smith. What they need is a commander-in-chief who's a bit more engaged on the intelligence system, its agencies and their capabilities.

***

ADDENDUM: Can you imagine how the press would have reacted if George W. Bush had uttered similar comments about one of "his" intelligence organizations?
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 12055


« Reply #80 on: June 03, 2009, 09:49:23 PM »

http://formerspook.blogspot.com/2009/06/no-accident.html

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 03, 2009

No Accident

If you believe the so-called "experts," the recent, on-line publication of a detailed report on U.S. nuclear facilities was nothing more than an "accident."

The 266-page summary, which provided detailed information on civilian nuclear sites and programs, was posted at a Government Printing Office website until Tuesday night, when it was suddenly removed. That action followed disclosure of the document's existence--and its accessibility--at a web site devoted to government secrecy.

According to The New York Times, the report was marked "Highly Confidential" and listed hundreds of civilian reactors and research facilities linked to government nuclear programs. In some cases, the document provided maps that showed the precise location of fuel stockpiles used for nuclear weapons.

While analysts debate the damage caused by the disclosure, the Times managed to find an expert who dismissed the report's publication as little more than a clerical error:

“These screw-ups happen,” said John M. Deutch, a former director of central intelligence and deputy secretary of defense who is now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s going further than I would have gone but doesn’t look like a serious breach.”

Of course, there is no small irony in Mr. Deutch's comments. As you'll recall, he was dismissed as CIA Director during the Clinton Administration for a colossal security blunder. Investigators discovered the Mr. Deutch not only took home highly classified intelligence files, he uploaded them on a personal computer that was linked to the internet. The CIA has never disclosed if foreign intelligence agencies were able to access Mr. Deutch's computer, and download secret files stored on his personal computers--machines that were never cleared for classified use.

Apologist for Mr. Deutch tried to depict him as a computer neophyte--a latecomer to the world of laptops--but that defense only goes so far. A CIA investigation into Deutch's computer files revealed that the CIA Director first tried to retain his machines, which had been purchased by the agency. When that request was rejected, Mr. Deutch apparently tried to reformat his computer, in an attempt to erase the classified files. He even sought help from technical experts at CIA HQ in an effort to reformat computer memory cards, a request that first raised questions about the director and his security habits.

In other words, Mr. Deutch willfully broke the rules, although he was never prosecuted and received a pardon from President Clinton. The "willful intent," so apparent in the Deutch case, is also evident in the "accidental" publication of that nuclear report. In other words, someone made a conscious decision to put the document on that unclassified government web site.

How can we be so sure? Government policy mandates the creation, editing and publication of classified reports on systems cleared for that type of information. Typically, a "confidential" report would be produced on a SECRET-level system, and published on an intranet cleared for that level of data. In the Department of Defense, the intranet for SECRET information is called SIPRNET. Other government agencies also have access to SIPRNET, or utilize their own SECRET-level intranets.

Getting that report on that unclassified web site, took several deliberate steps (or mistakes, depending on your perspective). First, the document had to be downloaded from a classified system and then copied or uploaded onto the unclassified site. Quite a series of missteps, wouldn't you say?

However, tracking down the guilty party should be relatively easy--assuming that the Obama Administration is interested in sealing the security breach. Government computer systems (at all levels) are extensively monitored, and employees must log on/log off using a personalized access card. Consequently, it shouldn't be too hard to find out who download the report, then uploaded it on the unclassified system.

One final note: many of the government's classified systems won't accept "outside" media, meaning you can't stick an unclassified flash card, floppy disk, CD-ROM or DVD into the appropriate drive and download information. Obviously, the feds haven't released details on the system(s) involved in this compromise, so we can't be completely sure how the information was transferred.

But one thing is clear: given the steps required, the posting of that report on an unclassified government web site was anything but an accident or a simple "screw-up."
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #81 on: July 15, 2009, 02:42:38 PM »

U.S.: Reaction to the CIA Assassination Program
July 15, 2009




By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton

On June 23, 2009, Director of Central Intelligence Leon Panetta learned of a highly compartmentalized program to assassinate al Qaeda operatives that was launched by the CIA in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. When Panetta found out that the covert program had not been disclosed to Congress, he canceled it and then called an emergency meeting June 24 to brief congressional oversight committees on the program. Over the past week, many details of the program have been leaked to the press and the issue has received extensive media coverage.

That a program existed to assassinate al Qaeda leaders should certainly come as no surprise to anyone. It has been well-publicized that the Clinton administration had launched military operations and attempted to use covert programs to strike the al Qaeda leadership in the wake of the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings. In fact, the Clinton administration has come under strong criticism for not doing more to decapitate al Qaeda prior to 2001. Furthermore, since 2002, the CIA has conducted scores of strikes against al Qaeda targets in Pakistan using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) like the MQ-1 Predator and the larger MQ-9 Reaper.

These strikes have dramatically increased over the past two years and the pace did not slacken when the Obama administration came to power in January. So far in 2009 there have been more than two dozen UAV strikes in Pakistan alone. In November 2002, the CIA also employed a UAV to kill Abu Ali al-Harithi, a senior al Qaeda leader suspected of planning the October 2000 attack against the USS Cole. The U.S. government has also attacked al Qaeda leaders at other times and in other places, such as the May 1, 2008, attack against al Qaeda-linked figures in Somalia using an AC-130 gunship.

As early as Oct. 28, 2001, The Washington Post ran a story discussing the Clinton-era presidential finding authorizing operations to capture or kill al Qaeda targets. The Oct. 28 Washington Post story also provided details of a finding signed by President George W. Bush following the 9/11 attacks that reportedly provided authorization to strike a larger cross section of al Qaeda targets, including those who are not in the Afghan theater of operations. Such presidential findings are used to authorize covert actions, but in this case the finding would also provide permission to contravene Executive Order 12333, which prohibits assassinations.

In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Bush and the members of his administration were very clear that they sought to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and the members of the al Qaeda organization. During the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections in the United States, every major candidate, including Barack Obama, stated that they would seek to kill bin Laden and destroy al Qaeda. Indeed, on the campaign trail, Obama was quite vocal in his criticism of the Bush administration for not doing more to go after al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan. This means that, regardless of who is in the White House, it is U.S. policy to go after individual al Qaeda members as well as the al Qaeda organization.

In light of these facts, it would appear that there was nothing particularly controversial about the covert assassination program itself, and the controversy that has arisen over it has more to do with the failure to report covert activities to Congress. The political uproar and the manner in which the program was canceled, however, will likely have a negative impact on CIA morale and U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

Program Details
As noted above, that the U.S. government has attempted to locate and kill al Qaeda members is not shocking. Bush’s signing of a classified finding authorizing the assassination of al Qaeda members has been a poorly kept secret for many years now, and the U.S. government has succeeded in killing al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

While Hellfire missiles are quite effective at hitting trucks in Yemen and AC-130 gunships are great for striking walled compounds in the Somali badlands, there are many places in the world where it is simply not possible to use such tools against militants. One cannot launch a hellfire from a UAV at a target in Milan or use an AC-130 to attack a target in Doha. Furthermore, there are certain parts of the world — including some countries considered to be U.S. allies — where it is very difficult for the United States to conduct counterterrorism operations at all. These difficulties have been seen in past cases where the governments have refused U.S. requests to detain terrorist suspects or have alerted the suspects to the U.S. interest in them, compromising U.S. intelligence efforts and allowing the suspects to flee.

A prime example of this occurred in 1996, when the United States asked the government of Qatar for assistance in capturing al Qaeda operational mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was living openly in Qatar and even working for the Qatari government as a project engineer. Mohammed was tipped off to American intentions by the Qatari authorities and fled to Pakistan. According to the 9/11 commission report, Mohammed was closely associated with Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, who was then the Qatari minister of religious affairs. After fleeing Doha, Mohammed went on to plan several al Qaeda attacks against the United States, including the 9/11 operation.

Given these realities, it appears that the recently disclosed assassination program was intended to provide the United States with a far more subtle and surgical tool to use in attacks against al Qaeda leaders in locations where Hellfire missiles are not appropriate and where host government assistance is unlikely to be provided. Some media reports indicate that the program was never fully developed and deployed; others indicate that it may have conducted a limited number of operations.

Unlike UAV strikes, where pilots fly the vehicles by satellite link and can actually be located a half a world away, or the very tough and resilient airframe of an AC-130, which can fly thousands of feet above a target, a surgical assassination capability means that the CIA would have to put boots on the ground in hostile territory where operatives, by their very presence, would be violating the laws of the sovereign country in which they were operating. Such operatives, under nonofficial cover by necessity, would be at risk of arrest if they were detected.

Also, because of the nature of such a program, a higher level of operational security is required than in the program to strike al Qaeda targets using UAVs. It is far more complex to move officers and weapons into hostile territory in a stealthy manner to strike a target without warning and with plausible deniability. Once a target is struck with a barrage of Hellfire missiles, it is fairly hard to deny what happened. There is ample physical evidence tying the attack to American UAVs. When a person is struck by a sniper’s bullet or a small IED, the perpetrator and sponsor have far more deniability. By its very nature, and by operational necessity, such a program must be extremely covert.

Even with the cooperation of the host government, conducting an extraordinary rendition in a friendly country like Italy has proved to be politically controversial and personally risky for CIA officers, who can be threatened with arrest and trial. Conducting assassination operations in a country that is not so friendly is a far riskier undertaking. As seen by the Russian officers arrested in Doha after the February 2004 assassination of former Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, such operations can generate blowback. The Russian officers responsible for the Yandarbiyev hit were arrested, tortured, tried and sentenced to life in prison (though after several months they were released into Russian custody to serve the remainder of their sentences).

Because of the physical risk to the officers involved in such operations, and the political blowback such operations can cause, it is not surprising that the details of such a program would be strictly compartmentalized inside the CIA and not widely disseminated beyond the gates of Langley. In fact, it is highly doubtful that the details of such a program were even widely known inside the CIA’s counterterrorism center (CTC) — though almost certainly some of the CTC staff suspected that such a covert program existed somewhere. The details regarding such a program were undoubtedly guarded carefully within the clandestine service, with the officer in charge most likely reporting directly to the deputy director of operations, who reports personally to the director of the CIA.

Loose Lips Sink Ships
As trite as this old saying may sound, it is painfully true. In the counterterrorism realm, leaks destroy counterterrorism cases and often allow terrorist suspects to escape and kill again. There have been several leaks of “sources and methods” by congressional sources over the past decade that have disclosed details of sensitive U.S. government programs designed to do things such as intercept al Qaeda satellite phone signals and track al Qaeda financing. A classified appendix to the report of the 2005 Robb-Silberman Commission on Intelligence Capabilities (which incidentally was leaked to the press) discussed several such leaks, noted the costs they impose on the American taxpayers and highlighted the damage they do to intelligence programs.

The fear that details of a sensitive program designed to assassinate al Qaeda operatives in foreign countries could be leaked was probably the reason for the Bush administration’s decision to withhold knowledge of the program from the U.S. Congress, even though amendments to the National Security Act of 1947 mandate the reporting of most covert intelligence programs to Congress. Given the imaginative legal guidance provided by Bush administration lawyers regarding subjects such as enhanced interrogation, it would not be surprising to find that White House lawyers focused on loopholes in the National Security Act reporting requirements.

The validity of such legal opinions may soon be tested. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, recently said he was considering an investigation into the failure to report the program to Congress, and House Democrats have announced that they want to change the reporting requirements to make them even more inclusive.

Under the current version of the National Security Act, with very few exceptions, the administration is required to report the most sensitive covert activities to, at the very least, the so-called “gang of eight” that includes the chairmen and ranking minority members of the congressional intelligence committees, the speaker and minority leader of the House of Representatives and the majority and minority leaders of the Senate. In the wake of the program’s disclosure, some Democrats would like to expand this minimum reporting requirement to include the entire membership of the congressional intelligence committees, which would increase the absolute minimum number of people to be briefed from eight to 40. Some congressmen argue that presidents, prompted by the CIA, are too loose in their invocation of the “extraordinary circumstances” that allow them to report only to the gang of eight and not the full committees. Yet ironically, the existence of the covert CIA program stayed secret for over seven and a half years, and yet here we are writing about it less than a month after the congressional committees were briefed.

The addition of that many additional lips to briefings pertaining to covert actions is not the only thing that will cause great consternation at the CIA. While legally mandated, disclosing covert programs to Congress has been very problematic. The angst felt at Langley over potential increases in the number of people to be briefed will be compounded by the recent reports that Attorney General Eric Holder may appoint a special prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogations and ethics reporting.

In April we discussed how some of the early actions of the Obama administration were having a chilling effect on U.S. counterterrorism programs and personnel. Expanding the minimum reporting requirements under the National Security Act will serve to turn the thermostat down several additional notches, as did Panetta’s overt killing of the covert program. It is one thing to quietly kill a controversial program; it is quite another to repudiate the CIA in public. In addition to damaging the already low morale at the agency, Panetta has announced in a very public manner that the United States has taken one important tool entirely out of the counterterrorism toolbox: Al Qaeda no longer has to fear the possibility of clandestine American assassination teams.
Logged
Body-by-Guinness
Power User
***
Posts: 2789


« Reply #82 on: August 21, 2009, 06:00:17 PM »

Spy Agency Fiasco

Ethel C. Fenig

OK, granted that President Barack  Obama's (D) choice of former California representative Leon Panetta (D) to head the CIA was unusual because, unlike many other Obama appointees, he wasn't a tax scofflaw. However Panetta, inexperienced about the realities of spying, speaking before a closed door briefing to Congress, charged the agency he now headed formerly ran a secret--and illegal--assassination program after September 11. Panetta provided juicy, substantial meat to the starving Democratic dogs eager to rip apart President George W. Bush (R) and the CIA. Except, except...the charges weren't true.


Joseph Finder of the Daily Beast has the exclusive details.

• The secret assassination ‘program' wasn't much more than a PowerPoint presentation, a task force and a collection of schemes-it never got off the ground

• Panetta's three immediate predecessors-George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden-have spoken to him, and that he now sees that no laws were broken.

• Panetta has frantically tried to rectify his gaffe, but now faces increased Congressional oversight.

Oh well. Not quite.

But according to a half-dozen sources, including several very senior, recently retired CIA officials, clandestine-service officers, and Cabinet-level officials from the Bush administration, the real story is at once more innocent-Panetta was mistaken; no law was broken-and far more troubling: an inexperienced CIA director, unfamiliar with how his vast, complicated agency works, unable to trust senior officials within his own agency, and desperate to keep his hands clean, screwed up. (snip)

An innocent mistake, but the consequences of his gaffe, which he's unable to admit without damaging his own reputation further, will likely subject U.S. intelligence capabilities to unnecessary and intrusive oversight for years to come.

Meanwhile the real enemies of the U.S. rejoice while plotting more horror; the ability of spy agencies to discover them is further restricted. But maybe Hollywood can make a movie out of it. And Panetta paid his taxes.

hat tip: Lucianne.com

 



Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/08/spy_agency_fiasco.html at August 21, 2009 - 06:57:59 PM EDT
Logged
Body-by-Guinness
Power User
***
Posts: 2789


« Reply #83 on: August 25, 2009, 12:06:39 PM »



Leon Panetta’s Agony
In the antwar Left's blinkered hindsight, the CIA director has become a shill for torturers.

By Rich Lowry


Pity Leon Panetta. The CIA director counseled the Obama administration against releasing classified interrogation memos from the Bush years. And got ignored. Then, Nancy Pelosi said his agency lied to her about post-9/11 interrogations, and Democrats rushed to try to back her up. Now, Attorney General Eric Holder has tasked a prosecutor with looking into reopening criminal cases against CIA employees and contractors.

Such is life at Langley under an administration exhibiting liberalism’s typical contempt for covert action and its inevitable moral complications. No wonder ABC News is reporting that Panetta recently uncorked a profanity-laced tirade about the Justice Department at the White House and is contemplating quitting (the CIA denies it). If Panetta were shrewd, he’d make a play for a position that would command more respect — say, assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Panetta has had to write another letter to CIA employees meant to keep their morale up. For those keeping count, it’s his sixth. No matter how many missives he writes earnestly committing himself and his agency to looking ahead, the rest of his administration and party drags him back into the past. As far as they are concerned, he’s merely a frontman for Bush-era criminality.

In response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, a judge ordered the administration to release a 2004 CIA inspector general report about interrogation practices. Although often uncomfortable reading (one incident involved a power drill), the report also outlines the CIA’s nearly obsessive quest for legal guidance and its intolerance for unauthorized methods as piddling as blowing cigar smoke at detainees.

Consider the fate of the CIA officer who used a gun to frighten Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the USS Cole bombing. He did it in 2002. The agency immediately called him back to headquarters. He faced an internal accountability board, suffered a reprimand, and eventually resigned. The Justice Department looked into the case because threatening a detainee with “imminent death” is torture, but declined to prosecute. Proving torture in a court of law, where seemingly mincing legal distinctions matter, is much harder than braying about it on op-ed pages.

The CIA certainly didn’t act like an agency with a guilty conscience. It didn’t try to cover up any abuses, but undertook the inspector general investigation and forwarded the report on to Congress and the Justice Department. In one case, Justice got a conviction against a contractor who — in an obvious crime — beat a detainee to death. But what possible public interest can be served in reopening murkier cases years after the fact, when the CIA already took internal action and career prosecutors already examined them?

The next time CIA officers are told that they have to be more aggressive in protecting their country, they could be forgiven for saying, “No thanks.” One prescient officer quoted in the report said he knew interrogators would be hounded for their work, but unfortunately, it had to be done. Indeed, human-rights activists have tracked down and taken secret photographs of interrogators, some of which the lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainees may have shown to their clients in violation of the law.

Of course, no one wants to hear the words “power drill” and “interrogation” in the same sentence, except perhaps in a review of a Quentin Tarantino movie. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we struggled to get the balance right between our safety and our values as an open, liberal society. It’d be nice to pretend otherwise, but there is indeed such a balance. As the IG report makes clear, the interrogations rendered important intelligence about other terrorists and other plots. “Whether this was the only way to obtain that information will remain a legitimate area of dispute,” Panetta writes in his latest letter.

That dispute rightly belongs in the political arena, not the courts. But who wants to listen to the CIA director, a shill for torturers almost by definition?

— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review.

National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MDQ4ZTM5M2Y5MDk4YmVkZmNmNTU1ZDcyYjAxZDY3Zjk=
Logged
DougMacG
Power User
***
Posts: 5970


« Reply #84 on: August 27, 2009, 10:19:43 AM »

The Inspector General forgot to mention the lives that were saved, that the operatives that were captured from the intel were already in the US studying landmark targets, and that the info was not forthcoming until after the enhanced techniques.

I look forward to some liberal explaining to me 'what it is says about me' and my moral defect that I would favor water tricks before execution on the person who planned the bombing of the USS Cole and the planner of the 9/11/01 attacks that killed more Americans than Pearl Harbor.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2009/08/what_made_ksm_talk.asp#more

What Made KSM Talk?

Newsweek’s Mark Hosenball says the Inspector General’s report and other recently-released documents pertaining to Bush-era interrogations of top al Qaeda operatives do not show that waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) “actually worked.” Hosenball concedes that the detainees gave up a treasure trove of valuable intelligence, but the documents do not “convincingly demonstrate” that the EITs “produced this useful information.”

This is likely to be the new conventional wisdom on the documents. It’s wrong, so let’s take it apart.

First, here are the four key paragraphs from the Inspector General’s Report that deal specifically with waterboarding – the harshest of the enhanced interrogation techniques – and its effect on intelligence production. They are reproduced below, with redactions noted, because you have to read them together to understand as much of the story as possible. The paragraphs can all be found on pages 90 and 91 of the Inspector General’s Report.

    The waterboard has been used on three detainees: Abu Zubaydah, Al-Nashiri, and Khalid Shaykh Muhammad. [REDACTED]…with the belief that each of the three detainees possessed perishable information about imminent threats against the United States.

    Prior to the use of EITs, Abu Zubaydah provided information for [REDACTED] intelligence reports. Interrogators applied the waterboard to Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times during August 2002. During the period between the end of the use of the waterboard and 30 April 2003, he provided information for approximately [REDACTED] additional reports. It is not possible to say definitively that the waterboard is the reason for Abu Zubaydah’s increased production, or if another factor, such as the length of detention, was the catalyst. Since the use of the waterboard, however, Abu Zubaydah has appeared to be cooperative, [REDACTED]

    With respect to Al-Nashiri, [REDACTED] reported two waterboard sessions in November 2002, after which the psychologist/interrogators determined that Al-Nashiri was compliant. However, after being moved [REDACTED] Al-Nashiri was thought to be withholding information. Al-Nashiri subsequently received additional EITs, [REDACTED] but not the waterboard. The Agency then determined Al-Nashiri to be “compliant.” Because of the litany of techniques used by different interrogators over a relatively short period of time, it is difficult to identify exactly why Al-Nashiri became more willing to provide information. However, following the use of EITs, he provided information about his most current operational planning and [REDACTED] as opposed to the historical information he provided before the use of EITs.

    On the other hand, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, an accomplished resistor, provided only a few intelligence reports prior to the use of the waterboard, and analysis of that information revealed that much of it was outdated, inaccurate, or incomplete. As a means of less active resistance, at the beginning of their interrogation, detainees routinely provide information that they know is already known. Khalid Shakyh Muhammad received 183 applications of the waterboard in March 2003 [REDACTED]

Admittedly, the redactions make it difficult to get the whole story. But here is what we can tell.

The IG says he couldn’t tell whether it was the waterboard or some other factor that led to the increase in intelligence production coming out of Abu Zubaydah’s interrogations. It seems highly unlikely on its face that Zubaydah’s time in custody alone (the only other possible explanation specifically offered by the IG) could have led to this increase in output. The waterboarding began in August 2002, and the increase in Zubaydah’s intelligence reporting that is cited ended in April of 2003. That’s a period of just nine months, which is hardly a prolonged period of time for a master terrorist such as a Zubaydah.

Moreover, even the IG concedes that since Zubaydah was waterboarded he “has appeared to be cooperative.”

Next came Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing. Nashiri was waterboarded twice before the Agency determined he had become compliant. Nashiri was then apparently moved and stopped giving up intelligence, so the Agency employed a variety of EITs, but not the waterboard, in a short period of time. After the EITs were employed, Nashiri became compliant once again. Nashiri now “provided information about his most current operational planning…as opposed to the historical information he provided before the use of EITs.”

So, the use of EITs on Nashiri led him to give up actionable intelligence on his operations. Previously, he was giving up “historical information,” which had presumably significantly less value.

Finally, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the principal planner of the September 11 attacks, was taken into custody and interrogated. Note that the final paragraph of the block quote reproduced above begins with “On the other hand…” The author appears to be drawing a comparison to the previous paragraph, which dealt with Nashiri’s interrogations. One possible reading is that while EITs other than waterboarding worked on Nashiri, they didn’t work on KSM, who was an “accomplished resistor.”

The IG found that before KSM was waterboarded he gave up only a few intelligence reports and “much” of that scant intelligence was bogus. However, we know from other declassified reports released on Monday that KSM became a font of intelligence on al Qaeda, giving up his fellow terrorists and specific plots. That’s why the CIA’s June 3, 2005, report calls KSM the Agency’s “preeminent source” on al Qaeda in the title.

What made KSM talk? Taken at face value, the IG’s report suggests that it was the waterboard, and the waterboard alone, that led to this gusher of intelligence. The un-redacted portions of the IG’s report do not mention any other possible reason for KSM’s change of heart when it came to dealing with his debriefers. And he wasn’t in custody very long before KSM started naming names – some of the terrorists he gave up were captured within a matter of weeks.

So, there you have it. Zubaydah gave up more intelligence after being waterboarded. The waterboard made Nashiri compliant. When Nashiri stopped cooperating, other EITs were used to make him talk. And talk he did, giving up the “operational” details of his plotting. And, finally, KSM gave up little of value prior to being waterboarded. Afterwards, he became the CIA’s most important source on al Qaeda.

Despite all of this, Hosenball concludes that the IG’s report does not “convincingly demonstrate” that the implementation of the EITs produced “useful information.” This is nonsense. How could Nashiri’s information about “current operational planning,” which he only gave up after the EITs were employed, not be useful? Nashiri was plotting multiple attacks prior to his capture.

And Hosenball pretends that KSM may have given up a significant amount of intelligence prior to waterboarding. The IG’s report plainly contradicts this assessment, saying that KSM gave up little prior to being waterboarded. Some of the pre-waterboarding intelligence may very well have been valuable, but much of it, according to the IG’s own report, was bunk. KSM would go on to become the CIA’s “pre-eminent source” on al Qaeda.

When Hosenball isn’t mischaracterizing the report, he is selectively citing it. The IG report notes that the detainees gave up vital information about al Qaeda’s plotting. But Hosenball selectively quotes the inspector general as saying that his investigation failed to "uncover any evidence that these plots were imminent."

Here is the full quote from the IG’s report:

    This Review did not uncover any evidence that these plots were imminent. Agency senior managers believe that lives have been saved as a result of the capture and interrogation of terrorists who were planning attacks, in particular Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, Abu Zubaydah, Hambali, and Al-Nashiri.

Hosenball simply left out the part about saving lives.

It should be noted, too, that some of the intelligence given up by the detainees related to al Qaeda operatives who were already on American soil and plotting attacks. KSM, for example, gave up intelligence on Uzair Paracha and Iyman Faris, both of whom were plotting attacks on New York City. Faris had already cased the Brooklyn Bridge, and was exploring ways to attack landmarks in and around New York City. Uzair Paracha worked in an office in the Garment District of Manhattan. From that office, Uzair plotted attacks with his father, Saifullah. Among other nefarious plotting, the Parachas intended to help al Qaeda smuggle explosives into New York using their export/import company as a cover.

Both Uzair Paracha and Iyman Faris were arrested in March 2003, just weeks after KSM was detained. Both of them have subsequently been convicted and sentenced to prison. Saifullah Paracha is currently detained at Gitmo.

The IG may believe that their plotting did not pose an “imminent” threat, but there are plenty of good reasons to disagree with that assessment. There are other examples of what can be reasonably called “imminent” plots that were stopped as well.

Some, like Hosenball, may want to pretend that the implementation of controversial techniques did not lead to valuable intelligence and save American lives. A careful reading of the IG’s report and other documents says otherwise.
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 12055


« Reply #85 on: August 27, 2009, 04:41:27 PM »

- Pajamas Media - http://pajamasmedia.com -

Morale at CIA Plummets as Panetta Makes a Bad Situation Worse

Posted By Nate Hale On August 25, 2009 @ 10:28 am In . Column1 07, Crime, History, Homeland Security, Media, Politics, US News | 113 Comments

When Leon Panetta took over the CIA earlier this year, he was described (in some circles) as the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time.

Seven months later, that assessment is proving eerily prescient. As the agency prepares for a politically-charged investigation of its interrogation practices, Mr. Panetta’s leadership is noticeably lacking. Indeed, there is growing evidence that the director’s recent actions have made a bad situation worse.

We refer to the manufactured “scandal” surrounding the agency’s plans to enlist contractors in the hunt for high-value terror targets. That proposal — which involved the controversial security firm Blackwater — was discussed on several occasions, but never reached the operational stage. Three previous CIA directors declined to brief the proposal to Congress, largely because there was nothing to it.

But that didn’t stop Mr. Panetta from rushing to Capitol Hill when he learned of the project, offering an emergency briefing to members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Congressional Democrats immediately pounced on Panetta’s admission, saying it supported claims (by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) that the spy agency had repeatedly lied to lawmakers.

Sources now suggest that Mr. Panetta regrets his actions.  Columnist Joseph Finder, who writes for the Daily Beast [1], reported last week that the CIA director spoke with his predecessors after he reported the program’s existence to members of Congress.  George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden were all aware of the program, but they elected not to inform Congress because it never evolved past the “PowerPoint” stage.

My own contacts within the intelligence community paint a similar picture. There were a few meetings (along with that slide presentation), but the CIA made no effort to make the program operational. Indeed, the planned involvement of contractor personnel made agency personnel nervous, one reason the project never moved past the discussion stage.

In other words, Leon Panetta created an unnecessary scandal at the very moment his agency is facing increased scrutiny.  According to the Washington Post [2], Attorney General Eric Holder will appoint a special prosecutor to examine allegations that CIA officers and contractors violated anti-torture laws during interrogations of terror suspects.

Mr. Holder’s reported decision is anything but a surprise. Literally from the day they took office, members of the Obama administration have been weighing a probe into CIA practices under President George W. Bush. The recent leaks about the agency’s potential partnership with Blackwater — and claims of interrogation abuse — were little more than groundwork for Eric Holder’s pending announcement.

To counter the gathering tempest, the CIA needs its own advocate, someone who can factually counter allegations of widespread misconduct. The fact is, Mr. Holder’s special counsel will investigate only a dozen cases of reported abuse out of literally thousands of interrogations conducted by CIA specialists and contract personnel. Has anyone at Langley asked if such an inquiry represents a legitimate use of government resources? Or is it simply a taxpayer-funded witch hunt, aimed at placating the ultra-liberal wing of President Obama’s party?

True, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency can’t exactly say that sort of thing in public, but you’d think that Mr. Panetta — the ultimate Washington insider — knows how the game is played. Leaks can be countered with more leaks, providing the agency’s own version of events. Better yet, the DCI could call the bluff of his opponents at the ACLU and the White House by demanding the release of documents which affirm the effectiveness of CIA interrogations — and the limited use of so-called “torture techniques.” (Note: the CIA Inspector General’s report was released after this was written and can be found here [3].)

Instead, Leon Panetta became obsessed with a non-scandal, losing valuable opportunities to defend his agency and its personnel. One retired CIA official I spoke with referred to him as “another Colby,” — a reference to William Colby, the DCI who cooperated with the Church and Pike Committees that probed agency abuses in the 1970s. To this day, many CIA employees feel that Colby went too far in his cooperation, opening the door for increased congressional oversight that gutted the agency’s covert operations directorate.

The bitter “Colby” reference is a sure sign that morale at Langley is plummeting. And with good reason. The looming special counsel inquiry will make a skittish organization even more risk averse. Talented personnel will continue to leave the agency, believing (correctly) that the CIA will leave them twisting in the wind when the going gets tough.

It’s a trend that is sadly familiar. Following previous scandals in the 70s and 80s, thousands of skilled analysts and operations specialists left Langley for greener pastures, leaving behind the hacks and politicians who presided over such intelligence debacles as 9-11.

Strong leadership could go a long way in taking on the agency’s critics and preventing another mass exodus from the agency.  But sadly, Mr. Panetta is not that type of leader. Without any meaningful intelligence experience (except as a consumer) the former Democratic congressman and White House chief of staff was asked to lead the CIA during a time of difficult transition under the new director of national intelligence construct.

To his credit, Panetta has fought some battles for his agency. ABC News [4] reports the DCI erupted into a tirade during a White House meeting that apparently laid out plans for Holder’s investigation. Sources tell ABC that Panetta also threatened to resign, although a CIA spokesman denies those claims.

Meanwhile, the White House is said to be screening possible replacements, suggesting that Panetta’s departure is all but inevitable. Under normal circumstances, the removal of an ineffectual CIA director would be welcome news. But these are extraordinary times; American troops are fighting two wars and the threat from global terrorists remains critical. At a time when the agency needs an exceptional hand on the tiller, Mr. Panetta has only one thing going for him: his potential replacement are likely to be even worse, setting the stage for more bloodletting — and diminished capabilities — at Langley.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Article printed from Pajamas Media: http://pajamasmedia.com

URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/morale-at-cia-plummets-as-panetta-makes-a-bad-situation-worse/

URLs in this post:

[1] the Daily Beast: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-08-18/spy-agency-fiasco/

[2] Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/24/AR2009082401743.html

[3] here: http://washingtonindependent.com/56175/the-2004-cia-inspector-generals-report-on-torture

[4] ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=8398902
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 12055


« Reply #86 on: August 28, 2009, 10:33:20 PM »


 
August 28, 2009, 4:00 a.m.

Eric Holder’s Hidden Agenda
The investigation isn’t about torture, but about transnationalism.

By Andrew C. McCarthy


‘This is an administration that is determined to conduct itself by the rule of law. And to the extent that we receive lawful requests from an appropriately created court, we would obviously respond to it.”

It was springtime in Berlin and Eric Holder, a well-known “rule of law” devotee, was speaking to the German press. He’d been asked if his Justice Department would cooperate with efforts by foreign or international tribunals to prosecute U.S. government officials who carried out the Bush administration’s post-9/11 counterterrorism policies. The attorney general assured listeners that he was certainly open to being helpful. “Obviously,” he said, “we would look at any request that would come from a court in any country and see how and whether we should comply with it.”

As the Associated Press reported at the time, Holder was “pressed on whether that meant the United States would cooperate with a foreign court prosecuting Bush administration officials.” He skirted the question in a way Americans ought to find alarming. The attorney general indicated that he was speaking only about “evidentiary requests.” Translation: The Obama administration will not make arrests and hand current or former American government officials over for foreign trials, but if the Europeans or U.N. functionaries (at the nudging of, say, the Organization of the Islamic Conference) want Justice’s help gathering evidence in order to build triable cases — count us in.

Hue and cry followed Holder’s decision this week to have a prosecutor investigate CIA interrogators and contractors. The probe is a nakedly political, banana republic-style criminalizing of policy differences and political rivalry. The abuse allegations said to have stunned the attorney general into acting are outlined in a stale CIA inspector general’s report. Though only released this week — a disclosure timed to divert attention from reports that showed the CIA’s efforts yielded life-saving intelligence — the IG report is actually five years old. Its allegations not only have been long known to the leaders of both parties in Congress, they were thoroughly investigated by professional prosecutors — not political appointees. Those prosecutors decided not to file charges, except in one case that ended in an acquittal. As I outline here, the abuse in question falls woefully short of torture crimes under federal law.

Americans are scratching their heads: Why would Holder retrace this well-worn ground when intimidating our intelligence-gatherers so obviously damages national security? The political fallout, too, is palpable. Leon Panetta, the outraged CIA director, is reportedly pondering resignation. President Obama, laying low in the tall grass on his Martha’s Vineyard vacation, is having staffers try to put distance between himself and his attorney general. It is unlikely that many will be fooled: Both Obama and Holder promised their antiwar base just this sort of “reckoning” during the 2008 campaign. But the question remains, Why is Holder (or, rather, why are Holder and the White House) instigating this controversy?

I believe the explanation lies in the Obama administration’s fondness for transnationalism, a doctrine of post-sovereign globalism in which America is seen as owing its principal allegiance to the international legal order rather than to our own Constitution and national interests.

Recall that the president chose to install former Yale Law School dean Harold Koh as his State Department’s legal adviser. Koh is the country’s leading proponent of transnationalism. He is now a major player in the administration’s deliberations over international law and cooperation. Naturally, membership in the International Criminal Court, which the United States has resisted joining, is high on Koh’s agenda. The ICC claims worldwide jurisdiction, even over nations that do not ratify its enabling treaty, notwithstanding that sovereign consent to jurisdiction is a bedrock principle of international law.

As a result, there have always been serious concerns that the ICC could investigate and try to indict American political, military, and intelligence officials for actions taken in defense of our country. Here it’s crucial to bear in mind that the United States (or at least the pre-Obama United States) has not seen eye-to-eye with Europe on significant national-security matters. European nations, for example, have accepted the 1977 Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, while the United States has rejected it. Protocol I extends protections to terrorists and imposes an exacting legal regime on combat operations, relying on such concepts as “proportional” use of force and rigorous distinction between military and civilian targets. That is, Protocol I potentially converts traditional combat operations into war crimes. Similarly, though the U.S. accepted the torture provisions of the U.N. Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), our nation rejected the UNCAT’s placing of “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment” on a par with torture. By contrast, Europe generally accepts the UNCAT in toto.

#pageAs long as we haven’t ratified a couple of bad human-rights treaties, why should we care that Europe considers them binding? Because of the monstrosity known as “customary international law,” of which Koh is a major proponent. This theory holds that once new legal principles gain broad acceptance among nations and international organizations, they somehow transmogrify into binding law, even for nations that haven’t agreed to them. That is, the judgment of the “international community” (meaning, the judgment of left-wing academics and human-rights activists who hold sway at the U.N. and the European Union) supersedes the standards our citizens have adopted democratically. It is standard fare among transnational progressives to claim that Protocol I is now binding on the United States and that what they define as cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment is “tantamount to torture.”

And the transnational Left has still another treat in store: its notion of “universal jurisdiction.” This theory holds that individual nations have the power to prosecute actions that occur in other countries, even when they have no impact on the prosecuting nation. The idea is that some offenses — such as torture and war crimes — so offend the purported consensus of humanity (i.e., so offend left-wing sensibilities) that they may be prosecuted by any country that cares to take the initiative. In fact, many countries (the United States included) open their justice systems to civil suits against government officials — again, even if the country where the suit is filed has nothing to do with the alleged offenses.

So we come back to Holder in Berlin. Two months before the attorney general’s visit, the U.N.’s “special rapporteur on torture” told German television that the Obama administration had “a clear obligation” under the UNCAT to file torture charges against former president George W. Bush and former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The rapporteur was relying on documents produced because of American investigations — including a nakedly partisan report by the Democrat-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee.

Meanwhile, as I detailed here in March, Spain’s universal-justice crusader Baltasar Garzón is pursuing his own torture case against Bush administration lawyers who weighed in on interrogation policy. Garzón is the Spanish investigating magistrate who, with the help of a terrorist turned human-rights lawyer, had Chilean strongman Augusto Pinochet arrested in England for crimes against humanity. The same terrorist-lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, is helping Garzón on the Bush case. The Brits, by the way, eventually decided not to send Pinochet to Spain, but not before the law lords ruled that they could, a decision enthusiastically hailed at the time by U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland. That would be the same Mary Robinson of Durban infamy — the one President Obama just honored with the Medal of Freedom.

And then there is the Center for Constitutional Rights, a Marxist organization that for years has coordinated legal representation for terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay. The CCR has been attempting to convince Germany, France, Spain, and other countries to file war-crime indictments against former Bush administration officials, including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary Rumsfeld. In representing America’s enemies, CCR has collaborated with many private lawyers, who also volunteered their services — several of whom are now working in the Obama Justice Department. Indeed, Holder’s former firm boasts that it still represents 16 Gitmo detainees (the number was previously higher). And, for help shaping detainee policy, Holder recently hired Jennifer Daskal for DOJ’s National Security Division — a lawyer from Human Rights Watch with no prior prosecutorial experience, whose main qualification seems to be the startling advocacy she has done for enemy combatants.

Put it all together and it’s really not that hard to figure out what is going on here.

Transnationalists from outside and, now, inside our government have been ardent supporters of prosecutions against American officials who designed and carried out the Bush counterterrorism policies that kept this country safe after 9/11. The U.N.’s top torture monitor is demanding legal action, almost certainly as a prelude to calling for action by an international tribunal — such as the ICC — if the Justice Department fails to indict. Meantime, law-enforcement authorities in Spain and elsewhere are weighing charges against the same U.S. officials, spurred on by the CCR and human-rights groups that now have friends in high American places. In foreign and international courts, the terrorist-friendly legal standards preferred by Europe and the U.N. would make convictions easier to obtain and civil suits easier to win.

Obama and Holder were principal advocates for a “reckoning” against Bush officials during the 2008 campaign. They realize, though, that their administration would be mortally wounded if Justice were actually to file formal charges — this week’s announcement of an investigation against the CIA provoked howls, but that’s nothing compared to the public reaction indictments would cause. Nevertheless, Obama and Holder are under intense pressure from the hard Left, to which they made reckless promises, and from the international community they embrace.

The way out of this dilemma is clear. Though it won’t file indictments against the CIA agents and Bush officials it is probing, the Justice Department will continue conducting investigations and releasing reports containing new disclosures of information. The churn of new disclosures will be used by lawyers for the detainees to continue pressing the U.N. and the Europeans to file charges. The European nations and/or international tribunals will make formal requests to the Obama administration to have the Justice Department assist them in securing evidence. Holder will piously announce that the “rule of law” requires him to cooperate with these “lawful requests” from “appropriately created courts.” Finally, the international and/or foreign courts will file criminal charges against American officials.

Foreign charges would result in the issuance of international arrest warrants. They won’t be executed in the United States — even this administration is probably not brazen enough to try that. But the warrants will go out to police agencies all over the world. If the indicted American officials want to travel outside the U.S., they will need to worry about the possibility of arrest, detention, and transfer to third countries for prosecution. Have a look at this 2007 interview of CCR president Michael Ratner. See how he brags that his European gambit is “making the world smaller” for Rumsfeld — creating a hostile legal climate in which a former U.S. defense secretary may have to avoid, for instance, attending conferences in NATO countries.

The Left will get its reckoning. Obama and Holder will be able to take credit with their supporters for making it happen. But because the administration’s allies in the antiwar bar and the international Left will do the dirty work of getting charges filed, the American media will help Obama avoid domestic political accountability. Meanwhile, Americans who sought to protect our nation from barbarians will be harassed and framed as war criminals. And protecting the United States will have become an actionable violation of international law.

I’m betting that’s the plan.

 


— National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad (Encounter Books, 2008).
 
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZGMyYTQ1ZTM5YTQ5NjJjNzJmNGUxZDIyOTFjYzIyM2Y=
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #87 on: August 29, 2009, 01:01:48 AM »

This matter of "subversion of sovereignty through internationalism" is one of the subtlest and most perverse of all the subversions of America by the O-droids.   

I'd like to suggest that future posts on this point appear in the American Creed threads.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #88 on: August 29, 2009, 08:46:58 AM »

Libya: A Hero's Welcome
August 26, 2009
By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton

On Aug. 24, Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill addressed a special session of the Scottish Parliament. The session was called so that MacAskill could explain why he had decided to release Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the former Libyan intelligence officer convicted of terrorism charges in connection with the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, and who had been expected to spend the rest of his life in prison. MacAskill said he granted al-Megrahi a compassionate release because al-Megrahi suffers from terminal prostate cancer and is expected to live only a few months.

The Aug. 20 release of al-Megrahi ignited a firestorm of outrage in both the United Kingdom and the United States. FBI Director Robert Mueller released to the press contents of an uncharacteristically blunt and critical letter he had written to MacAskill in which Mueller characterized al-Megrahi’s release as inexplicable and “detrimental to the cause of justice.” Mueller told MacAskill in the letter that the release “makes a mockery of the rule of law.”

The flames of outrage over the release of al-Megrahi were further fanned when al-Megrahi received a hero’s welcome upon his arrival in Tripoli — video of him being welcomed and embraced by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was broadcast all over the world.

For his part, Gadhafi has long lobbied for al-Megrahi’s release, even while taking steps to end Libya’s status as an international pariah. Gadhafi first renounced terrorism and his nuclear ambitions in 2003, shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In October 2008 he completed the compensation agreement with the families of the U.S. victims of the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 and of an April 1986 Libyan attack against the La Belle disco in Berlin.

Yet despite the conviction of al-Megrahi, the 2003 official admission of Libyan responsibility for the Pan Am bombing in a letter to the United Nations, and the agreement to pay compensation to the families of the Pan Am victims, Gadhafi has always maintained in public statements that al-Megrahi and Libya were not responsible for the bombing. The official admission of responsibility for the Pan Am bombing, coupled with the public denials, has resulted in a great deal of ambiguity and confusion over the authorship of the attack — which, in all likelihood, is precisely what the denials were intended to do.

The Pan Am 103 Investigation
At 7:03 p.m. on Dec. 21, 1988, an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in one of Pan Am Flight 103’s cargo containers, causing the plane to break apart and fall from the sky. The 259 passengers and crew members aboard the flight died, as did 11 residents of Lockerbie, Scotland, the town where the remnants of the jumbo jet fell.

Immediately following the bombing, there was suspicion that the Iranians or Syrians had commissioned the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC) to conduct the bombing. This belief was based on the fact that German authorities had taken down a large PFLP-GC cell in Frankfurt in October 1988 and that one member of the cell had in his possession an IED concealed inside a Toshiba radio. Frankfurt is the city where Pan Am 103 departed before stopping in London. Indeed, even today, there are still some people who believe that the PFLP-GC was commissioned by either the Iranian or the Syrian government to conduct the Pan Am bombing.

The PFLP-GC theory might eventually have become the officially accepted theory had the bomb on Pan Am 103 detonated (as planned) while the aircraft was over the North Atlantic Ocean. However, a delay in the plane’s departure from London resulted in the timed device detonating while the aircraft was still over land, and this allowed authorities to collect a great deal of evidence that had been scattered across a wide swath of the Scottish countryside. The search effort was one of the most complex crime-scene investigations ever conducted.

Through months of painstakingly detailed effort, investigators were able to determine that the aircraft was brought down by an IED containing a main charge of Semtex, that the IED had been placed inside a Toshiba radio cassette player (in a macabre coincidence, that particular model of Toshiba, the RT-SF 16, is called the “BomBeat radio cassette player”), and that the radio had been located inside a brown Samsonite hard-side suitcase located inside the cargo container.

Investigators were also able to trace the clothing inside the suitcase containing the IED to a specific shop, Mary’s House, in Sliema, Malta. While examining one of the pieces of Maltese clothing in May 1989, investigators found a fragment of a circuit board that did not match anything found in the Toshiba radio. It is important to remember that in a bombing, the pieces of the IED do not entirely disappear. They may be shattered and scattered, but they are not usually completely vaporized. Although some pieces may be damaged beyond recognition, others are not, and this often allows investigators to reconstruct the device

In mid-1990, after an exhaustive effort to identify the circuit-board fragment, the FBI laboratory in Washington was able to determine that the circuit board was very similar to one that came from a timer that a special agent with the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service had recovered from an arms cache while investigating a Libyan-sponsored coup attempt in Lome, Togo, in 1986. Further investigation determined that the company that produced the timers, the Swiss company MEBO, had sold as many as 20 of the devices to the Libyan government, and that the Libyan government was the company’s primary customer. Interestingly, in 1988, MEBO rented one of its offices in Zurich to a firm called ABH, which was run by two Libyan intelligence officers: Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Badri Hassan.

The MEBO timer, model MST-13, is very different from the ice-cube timer in the PFLP-GC device found in Frankfurt in October 1988. Additionally, the ice-cube timer in the PFLP-GC device was used in conjunction with a barometric pressure switch, and the IED used a different main charge, TNT, instead of the Semtex used in the Pan Am 103 device.

Perhaps the fact that does the most damage to the PFLP-GC conspiracy theory is that the principal bombmaker for the PFLP-GC Frankfurt cell (and the man who made the PFLP-GC Toshiba device), Marwan Khreesat, was actually an infiltrator sent into the organization by the Jordanian intelligence service. Kreesat not only assisted in providing the information that allowed the Germans to take down the cell, but he was under strict orders by his Jordanian handlers to ensure that every IED he constructed was not capable of detonating. Therefore, it is extremely unlikely that one of the IEDs he created was used to destroy Pan Am 103.

One of the Libyans connected to MEBO, al-Megrahi, is an interesting figure. Not only was he an officer with Libyan intelligence, the External Security Organization, or ESO, but he also served as the chief of security for Libyan Arab Airlines (LAA) and had visited Malta many times. The owner of the Mary’s House clothing shop in Sliema identified al-Megrahi as the man who purchased the clothing found in the suitcase, and Maltese immigration records indicated that al-Megrahi was in Malta on Dec. 7, 1988, the time that the clothing was purchased. Al-Megrahi left Malta on Dec. 9, 1988, but returned to the country using a false identity on Dec. 20, using a passport issued by the ESO in the name of Ahmed Khalifa Abdusamad. Al-Megrahi left Malta using the Abdusamad passport on Dec. 21, 1988, the day the suitcase was apparently sent from Malta aboard Air Malta Flight KM180 to Frankfurt and then transferred to Pan Am 103.

On Nov. 13, 1991, the British government charged al-Megrahi and Lamin Khalifah Fhimah, the LAA station manager at Luqa Airport in Malta, with the bombing. One day later, a federal grand jury in the United States returned an indictment against the same two men for the crime. In March 1995, the FBI added the two men to its most wanted list and the Diplomatic Security Service’s Rewards for Justice Program offered a $4 million reward for their capture. Al-Megrahi and Fhimah were placed under house arrest in Libya — a comfortable existence that, more than actually confining them, served to protect them from being kidnapped and spirited out of Libya to face trial.

After many years of boycotts, embargos, U.N. resolutions and diplomatic wrangling — including extensive efforts by South African President Nelson Mandela and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan — a compromise was reached and all parties agreed to a trial in a neutral country — the Netherlands — conducted under Scottish law. On April 5, 1999, al-Megrahi and Fhimah were transferred to Camp Zeist in the Netherlands to stand trial before a special panel of Scottish judges.

On Jan. 31, 2001, after a very long trial that involved an incredible amount of technical and detailed testimony, the judges reached their decision. The Scottish judges acquitted Fhimah, finding that there was not proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he was involved in the plot (the British government had charged that he had been the person who stole the luggage tags and placed the suitcase on the Air Malta flight), but they did find al-Megrahi guilty of 270 counts of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum sentence of 27 years.

Although the case against al-Megrahi was entirely circumstantial — there was no direct evidence he or Fhimah had placed the device aboard the aircraft — the Scottish judges wrote in their decision that they believed the preponderance of the evidence, including al-Megrahi’s knowledge of airline security measures and procedures, his connection to MEBO, his purchase of the clothing in the suitcase that had contained the IED and his clandestine travel to Malta on Dec. 20 to 21, 1988, convinced them beyond a reasonable doubt that al-Megrahi was guilty as charged.

In a December 2003 letter to the United Nations, Libya accepted responsibility for the Pan Am 103 bombing. (In the same letter, Libya also took responsibility for the September 1989 bombing of UTA Flight 772, a French airliner destroyed by an IED after leaving Brazzaville, Congo, and making a stop in N’Djamena, Chad. All 170 people aboard the aircraft died when it broke up over the Sahara in Niger.) Nevertheless, the Libyan government continued to maintain al-Megrahi’s innocence in the Pan Am bombing, just as al-Megrahi had done throughout the trial, insisting that he had not been involved in the bombing.

Al-Megrahi’s reluctance to admit responsibility for the bombing or to show any contrition for the attack is one of the factors singled out by those who opposed his release from prison. It is also one of the hallmarks of a professional intelligence officer. In many ways, al-Megrahi’s public stance regarding the bombing can be summed up by the unofficial motto of the CIA’s Office of Technical Services — “Admit nothing, deny everything, make counter-accusations.”

Shadows
In the shadow world of covert action it is not uncommon for the governments behind such actions to deny (or at least not claim) responsibility for them. These governments also often attempt to plan such attacks in a way that will lead to a certain level of ambiguity — and thereby provide plausible deniability. This was a characteristic seen in many Libyan attacks against U.S. interests, such as the 1986 La Belle Disco bombing in Berlin. It was only an intercept of Libyan communications that provided proof of Libyan responsibility for that attack.

Many attacks that the Libyans sponsored or subcontracted out, such as the string of attacks carried out against U.S. interests by members of the Japanese Red Army and claimed in the name of the Anti-Imperialist International Brigade, were likewise meant to provide Libya with plausible deniability. Gadhafi did not relish the possibility of another American airstrike on his home in Tripoli, like the one that occurred after the La Belle attack in April 1986. (A number of Libyan military targets also were hit in the broader U.S. military action, known as Operation El Dorado Canyon.) Pan Am 103 is considered by many to be Gadhafi’s retribution for those American airstrikes, one of which killed his adopted baby daughter. Gadhafi, who had reportedly been warned of the strike by the Italian government, was not injured in the attack.

During the 1980s, the Libyan government was locked in a heated tit-for-tat battle with the United States. One source of this friction were U.S. claims that the Libyan government supported terrorist groups such as the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO), which conducted several brutal, high-profile attacks in the 1980s, including the December 1985 Rome and Vienna airport assaults. There was also military tension between the two countries as Libya declared a “line of death” across the mouth of the Gulf of Sidra. The U.S. Navy shot down several Libyan fighter aircraft that had attempted to enforce the edict. But these two threads of tension were closely intertwined; the U.S. Navy purposefully challenged the line of death in the spring of 1986 in response to the Rome and Vienna attacks, and it is believed that the La Belle attack was retribution for the U.S. military action in the Gulf of Sidra. The Libyan ESO was also directly implicated in attacks against U.S. diplomats in Sanaa, Yemen, and Khartoum, Sudan, in 1986.

Because of the need for plausible deniability, covert operatives are instructed to stick to their cover story and maintain their innocence if they are caught. Al-Megrahi’s consistent denials and his many appeals, which often cite the PFLP-GC case in Frankfurt, have done a great deal to sow doubt and provide Libya with some deniability.

Like Osama bin Laden’s initial denial of responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, al-Megrahi’s claims of innocence have served as ready fuel for conspiracy theorists, who claim he was framed by the U.S. and British governments. However, any conspiracy to frame al-Megrahi and his Libyan masters would have to be very wide ranging and, by necessity, reach much further than just London and Washington. For example, anyone considering such a conspiracy must also account for the fact that in 1999 a French court convicted six Libyans in absentia for the 1989 bombing of UTA Flight 772. The six included Abdullah al-Sanussi, Gadhafi’s brother-in-law and head of the ESO.

Getting two or more governments to cooperate on some sort of grand conspiracy to frame the Libyans and exonerate the Iranians and Syrians is hard to fathom. Such cooperation would have to involve enough people that, sooner or later, someone would spill the beans — especially considering that the Pan Am 103 saga played out over multiple U.S. administrations. As seen by the current stir over CIA interrogation programs, administrations love to make political hay by revealing the cover-ups of previous administrations. Surely, if there had been a secret ploy by the Reagan or Bush administrations to frame the Libyans, the Clinton or Obama administration would have outed it. The same principle applies to the United Kingdom, where Margaret Thatcher’s government oversaw the beginning of the Pan Am 103 investigation and Labour governments after 1997 would have had the incentive to reveal information to the contrary.

While the U.S. and British governments work closely together on a number of intelligence projects, they are frequently at odds on counterterrorism policy and foreign relations. From our personal experience, we believe that it would be very difficult to get multiple U.S. and British administrations from different political parties to work in perfect harmony to further this sort of conspiracy. Due to the UTA investigation and trial, the conspiracy would have to somehow involve the French government. While the Americans working with the British is one thing, the very idea of the Americans, British and French working in perfect harmony on any sort of project — much less a grand secret conspiracy to frame the Libyans — is simply unimaginable. It is much easier to believe that the Libyans were guilty, especially in light of the litany of other terror attacks they committed or sponsored during that era.

Had the IED in the cargo hold of Pan Am 103 exploded over the open ocean, it is very unlikely that the clothing from Malta and the fragment of the MEBO timer would have ever been recovered — think of the difficulty the French have had in locating the black box from Air France 447 in June of this year. In such a scenario, the evidence linking al-Megrahi and the Libyan government to the Pan Am bombing might never have been discovered and plausible deniability could have been maintained indefinitely.

The evidence recovered in Scotland and al-Megrahi’s eventual conviction put a dent in that deniability, but the true authors of the attack — al-Megrahi’s superiors — were never formally charged. Without al-Megrahi’s cooperation, there was no evidence to prove who ordered him to undertake the attack, though it is logical to conclude that the ESO would never undertake such a significant attack without Gadhafi’s approval.

Now that al-Megrahi has returned to Libya and is in Libyan safekeeping, there is no chance that any death-bed confession he may give will ever make it to the West. His denials will be his final words and the ambiguity and doubt those denials cast will be his legacy. In the shadowy world of clandestine operations, this is the ideal behavior for someone caught committing an operational act. He has shielded his superiors and his government to the end. From the perspective of the ESO, and Moammar Gadhafi, al-Megrahi is indeed a hero.
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 12055


« Reply #89 on: September 29, 2009, 10:29:51 AM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/07/20/germans-of-course-iran-kept-working-on-nuclear-weapons/

Germans: Of course Iran kept working on nuclear weapons
posted at 1:36 pm on July 20, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When the American intelligence community reversed itself in 2007 and announced that Iran had quit working on nuclear weapons in 2003, jaws dropped around the world.  George Bush’s political opponents at home and enemies around the world used it to buffalo the administration into reducing its effort to corner Tehran, but European intelligence agencies did not fall for the political kneecapping performed on Bush.  At the time, British intel rejected that conclusion, and now the Wall Street Journal reports that the Germans have thoroughly debunked it:

The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, has amassed evidence of a sophisticated Iranian nuclear weapons program that continued beyond 2003. This usually classified information comes courtesy of Germany’s highest state-security court. In a 30-page legal opinion on March 26 and a May 27 press release in a case about possible illegal trading with Iran, a special national security panel of the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe cites from a May 2008 BND report, saying the agency “showed comprehensively” that “development work on nuclear weapons can be observed in Iran even after 2003.”
According to the judges, the BND supplemented its findings on August 28, 2008, showing “the development of a new missile launcher and the similarities between Iran’s acquisition efforts and those of countries with already known nuclear weapons programs, such as Pakistan and North Korea.”
It’s important to point out that this was no ordinary agency report, the kind that often consists just of open source material, hearsay and speculation. Rather, the BND submitted an “office testimony,” which consists of factual statements about the Iranian program that can be proved in a court of law. This is why, in their March 26 opinion, the judges wrote that “a preliminary assessment of the available evidence suggests that at the time of the crime [April to November 2007] nuclear weapons were being developed in Iran.” In their May press release, the judges come out even more clear, stating unequivocally that “Iran in 2007 worked on the development of nuclear weapons.”

This rises far above the level of evidence provided in the 2007 NIE.  The court had to determine whether evidence presented by the German government could convict a defendant in an espionage trial, and the case rested in large part on whether the Iranians had continued to develop nuclear weapons.  A lower-court ruling had tossed out the indictment, ruling that the US NIE showed that Iran had not done work on its nuclear-weapons programs during the time that the defendant had allegedly traded illegally and conducted espionage on behalf of their program.  In response, the BND showed the court their evidence of continued work on the weapons program — which the court ruled sufficient to use at trial.
As the authors note, this decision calls into question yet again how the US intelligence service could have concluded otherwise.  Did they not coordinate with the Germans, who have much better access to Iran than either the US or even the British?  The BND says they shared these findings with the Americans prior to the publication of the NIE, but that they were ignored.  Why?
It’s really not difficult to conclude that the higher echelons of American intelligence had gone to war with the Bush administration early in his presidency.  The 2007 NIE was their coup de grace, making Bush impotent and giving them control over American foreign policy.  It also let vital time slip past while Iran continued to develop nuclear weapons, although in the event, Europe simply rejected the NIE as faulty and proceeded along the same path that Bush had demanded.  The NIE gave Russia and China political cover to block the West’s attempts to rein in the Iranians, although that would have happened anyway with other rationalizations.
Democrats are demanding a reckoning with the CIA over a program that never proceeded past the spitball stage.  Republicans ought to demand a reckoning, too — over the NIE and the wool that got pulled over the eyes of Congress.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #90 on: October 02, 2009, 08:23:17 AM »

By MICHAEL B. MUKASEY
One would think that the arrests last week of Najibullah Zazi, charged with plotting to bomb New York City subways—and of two others charged with planning to blow up buildings in Dallas, Texas, and Springfield, Ill.—would generate support for the intelligence-gathering tools that protect this country from Muslim fanatics. In Mr. Zazi's case, the government has already confirmed the value of these tools: It has filed a notice of its intent to use information gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was specifically written to help combat terrorists and spies.

Nevertheless, there is a rear-guard action in Congress to make it more difficult to gather, use and protect intelligence—the only weapon that can prevent an attack rather than simply punish one after the fact. The USA Patriot Act, enacted in the aftermath of 9/11, is a case in point.

This law has a series of provisions that will expire unless Congress renews them. Up for renewal this year is a provision that permits investigators to maintain surveillance of sophisticated terrorists who change cell phones frequently to evade detection. This kind of surveillance is known as "roving wiretaps." Also up for renewal are authorizations to seek court orders to examine business records in national security investigations, and to conduct national security investigations even when investigators cannot prove a particular target is connected to a particular terrorist organization or foreign power—known as "lone wolf" authority.

View Full Image

AP Photo/New York City Police Department
 
Najibullah Zazi, center, faces charges in a plot to blow up commuter trains.
.Roving wiretaps have been used for decades by law enforcement in routine narcotics cases. They reportedly were used to help thwart a plot earlier this year to blow up synagogues in Riverdale, N.Y. Business records, including bank and telephone records, can provide important leads early in a national security investigation, and they have been used to obtain evidence in numerous cases.

The value of lone wolf authority is best demonstrated by its absence in the summer of 2001. That's when FBI agents might have obtained a warrant to search the computer of Zacharias Moussaoui, often referred to as the "20th hijacker," before the 9/11 attacks—although there was no proof at the time of his arrest on an immigration violation that he was acting for a terrorist organization. But a later search of his computer revealed just that.

Rather than simply renew these vital provisions, which expire at the end of this year, some congressional Democrats want to impose requirements that would diminish their effectiveness, or add burdens to existing authorizations that would retard rather than advance our ability to gather intelligence.

One bill would require the government to prove that the business records it seeks by court order pertain to an agent of a foreign power before investigators have seen those records. The current standard requires only that the records in question do not involve a person in the United States, or that they do relate to an investigation undertaken to protect the country against international terrorism or spying.

The section of the Patriot Act that confers the authority on investigators to seek these records was amended in 2006 to add civil liberties protections when sensitive personal information about a person in the U.S. is gathered. It passed the Senate overwhelmingly with support that included then-Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

The same proposed legislation would make it harder to obtain a real-time record of incoming and outgoing calls—known as a pen register—in national security cases. It does so by requiring that the government prove that the information sought in this record relates to a foreign power. Currently, the government can obtain a court order by certifying that the information sought either is foreign-intelligence information or relates to an investigation to protect against foreign terrorism or spying.

While the changes may sound benign, they turn the concept of an investigation on its head, requiring the government to submit proof at the outset of an investigation while facts are still being sought. In any event, a pen register shows only who called whom and nothing about the content of the call, and thus raises none of the privacy concerns that are at stake when a full-fledged wiretap is at issue. Moreover, the underlying information in a pen register is not private because telephone companies routinely have it.

Other proposals target national security letters, known as NSLs, which are administrative subpoenas like those issued routinely by the FBI and agencies as diverse as the Agriculture Department and the IRS to get information they need in order to enforce the statutes they administer. One Democratic bill would impose a four-year sunset on the FBI's authority to issue such letters where none exists now. Another, the "Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools In Counterterrorism Efforts Act of 2009," would bar their use entirely to get information about local or long-distance calls, financial transactions, or information from credit reports.

But this is precisely the kind of information that would be useful to an investigator trying to find out who a terrorist is calling or how much money he is receiving from overseas. The FBI already has the authority to obtain this kind of information in cases involving crimes against children. The Drug Enforcement Administration has it in drug cases. There is no sense in giving investigators in national security cases less authority than investigators in criminal cases, and in criticizing them for failing to connect the dots while denying them the authority to discover the dots.

Mr. Zazi's arrest is only the most recent case in which intelligence apparently has averted disaster. Cells have been broken up and individual defendants convicted in New York, Virginia, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Ohio.

But a disaster once averted is not permanently averted, as the writer Jonah Goldberg has noted. After the 1993 World Trade Center bombing killed six people and injured hundreds, Ramzi Youssef, the mastermind, was caught, convicted and put in the maximum security prison at Florence, Colo. Nonetheless, the World Trade Center towers are gone along with thousands of people.

Those who indulge paranoid fantasies of government investigators snooping on the books they take out of the library, and who would roll back current authorities in the name of protecting civil liberties, should consider what legislation will be proposed and passed if the next Najibullah Zazi is not detected.

Mr. Mukasey was attorney general of the United States from 2007 to 2009.
Logged
DougMacG
Power User
***
Posts: 5970


« Reply #91 on: October 06, 2009, 10:42:39 AM »

While we are investigating the questioning methods of terrorists that saved thousands of innocent lives, why is there no push for a congressional investigation and prosecution of the lying, backstabbing, partisan traitors in the intelligence agencies that brought us the known-FALSE report in 2007 that Iran had ended its pursuit of nuclear weapons in 2003?  Just curious.

I would hope that these negligent contributors to future genocides would receive fair trials with plenty of lengthy and expensive appeals, and then be executed for treason.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #92 on: November 15, 2009, 08:02:25 PM »

The author of this piece was an attorney for Bush and is held many to have written some really shoddy briefs in favor of harsh interrogation.

That said, this piece seems to make a lot of sense to me.
=========================
By JOHN YOO
'This is a prosecutorial decision as well as a national security decision," President Barack Obama said last week about the attorney general's announcement that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other al Qaeda operatives will be put on trial in New York City federal court.

No, it is not. It is a presidential decision—one about the hard, ever-present trade-off between civil liberties and national security.

Trying KSM in civilian court will be an intelligence bonanza for al Qaeda and the hostile nations that will view the U.S. intelligence methods and sources that such a trial will reveal. The proceedings will tie up judges for years on issues best left to the president and Congress.

Whether a jury ultimately convicts KSM and his fellows, or sentences them to death, is beside the point. The treatment of the 9/11 attacks as a criminal matter rather than as an act of war will cripple American efforts to fight terrorism. It is in effect a declaration that this nation is no longer at war.

KSM is the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon—and a "terrorist entrepreneur," according to the 9/11 Commission report. He was the brains behind a succession of operations against the U.S., including the 1996 "Bojinka plot" to crash jetliners into American cities. Together with Osama bin Laden, he selected the 9/11 terrorists, arranged their financing and training, and ran the whole operation from abroad.

After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan KSM eventually became bin Laden's operations chief. American and Pakistani intelligence forces captured him on March 1, 2003, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Now, however, KSM and his co-defendants will enjoy the benefits and rights that the Constitution accords to citizens and resident aliens—including the right to demand that the government produce in open court all of the information that it has on them, and how it got it.

Prosecutors will be forced to reveal U.S. intelligence on KSM, the methods and sources for acquiring its information, and his relationships to fellow al Qaeda operatives. The information will enable al Qaeda to drop plans and personnel whose cover is blown. It will enable it to detect our means of intelligence-gathering, and to push forward into areas we know nothing about.

This is not hypothetical, as former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy has explained. During the 1993 World Trade Center bombing trial of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (aka the "blind Sheikh"), standard criminal trial rules required the government to turn over to the defendants a list of 200 possible co-conspirators.

In essence, this list was a sketch of American intelligence on al Qaeda. According to Mr. McCarthy, who tried the case, it was delivered to bin Laden in Sudan on a silver platter within days of its production as a court exhibit.

Bin Laden, who was on the list, could immediately see who was compromised. He also could start figuring out how American intelligence had learned its information and anticipate what our future moves were likely to be.

Even more harmful to our national security will be the effect a civilian trial of KSM will have on the future conduct of intelligence officers and military personnel. Will they have to read al Qaeda terrorists their Miranda rights? Will they have to secure the "crime scene" under battlefield conditions? Will they have to take statements from nearby "witnesses"? Will they have to gather evidence and secure its chain of custody for transport all the way back to New York? All of this while intelligence officers and soldiers operate in a war zone, trying to stay alive, and working to complete their mission and get out without casualties.

The Obama administration has rejected the tool designed to solve this tension between civilian trials and the demands of intelligence and military operations. In 2001, President George W. Bush established military commissions, which have a long history that includes World War II, the Civil War and the Revolutionary War. The lawyers in the Bush administration—I was one—understood that military commissions could guarantee a fair trial while protecting national security secrets from excessive exposure.

The Supreme Court has upheld the use of commissions for war crimes. The procedures for these commissions received the approval of Congress in 2006 and 2009.

Stranger yet, the Obama administration declared last week that it would use these military commissions to try five other al Qaeda operatives held at Guantanamo Bay, including Abu Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged planner of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. It should make no difference that this second group attacked a military target overseas. If anything, the deliberate attack on purely civilian targets in New York City represents the greater war crime.

For a preview of the KSM trial, look at what happened in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker who was arrested in the U.S. just before 9/11. His trial never made it to a jury. Moussaoui's lawyers tied the court up in knots.

All they had to do was demand that the government hand over all its intelligence on him. The case became a four-year circus, giving Moussaoui a platform to air his anti-American tirades. The only reason the trial ended was because, at the last minute, Moussaoui decided to plead guilty. That plea relieved the government of the choice between allowing a fishing expedition into its intelligence files or dismissing the charges.

KSM's lawyers will not save the government from itself. Instead they will press hard to reveal intelligence secrets in open court. Our intelligence agents and soldiers will be the ones to suffer.

Mr. Yoo is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He was an official in the Justice Department from 2001-03 and is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 12055


« Reply #93 on: November 16, 2009, 02:11:48 AM »

Crafty,

What do you think was shoddy about Yoo's briefs?
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #94 on: December 13, 2009, 05:23:28 PM »

Oil drilling equipment. From North Korea? Pull the other one, Sergei.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/14/world/asia/14thai.html?hp
December 14, 2009

Crew of Detained Plane Denies Knowledge of Arms

By THOMAS FULLER and NICE POJANAMESBAANSTIT

BANGKOK — In their first interview since being detained by Thai authorities, the crew of a cargo aircraft traveling from North Korea said Sunday that they did not know they had been transporting an arsenal of rockets, grenade launchers and other unidentified weapons weighing at least 30 tons.

“They said it was oil drilling equipment,” said Viktor Abdullayev, the plane’s co-pilot. “That’s what the manager told us,” he said referring to his employer, a civilian cargo company from the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

Officials in Thailand did little over the weekend to shed light on the perplexing seizure of the aircraft, offering only rudimentary details about the plane, its crew and its cargo.

The five-man crew is to be charged in court Monday with possession of weapons of war, in a case that may shed light on the shadowy business of global arms trafficking — and in North Korea’s role, in particular.

Thai authorities said the weapons were seized after a tip from American officials, and said the shipment appeared to violate a United Nations arms embargo but did not provide a detailed accounting of the armaments, which will undergo a more thorough inspection Tuesday.

Thailand was acting, it said, under United Nations Resolution 1874, which was passed in June in response to nuclear tests in North Korea. The resolution is effectively an arms embargo covering the transport of heavy weaponry to and from North Korea. Such weapons sales are one of the few ways the country has been able to earn foreign currency.

The resolution, which builds on a previous resolution from 2006, calls on countries to “inspect and destroy” certain categories of weapons bound to or from North Korea, including large-caliber artillery, missiles and missile spare parts.

No major seizures of weapons have been made public since the passage of the resolution. This summer, the United States Navy tracked a North Korean freighter suspected of carrying banned cargo for about three weeks, and the ship eventually turned back to its home port without incident.

Speaking in rudimentary English, Mr. Abdullayev and his colleagues said they started their current mission in Ukraine, picked up cargo in North Korea and were traveling back to Ukraine via Thailand, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates. They declined to say in which of those locations the cargo was meant to be delivered.

Mr. Abdullayev, who said he was from Kazakhstan, said it never occurred to him to inquire about the cargo. “I have no interest in what I carry,” he said. “Like a truck driver: just keep driving.”

Panitan Wattanayagorn, the Thai government spokesman, said in an interview that the aircraft, a Russian-made Ilyushin 76, which is registered in Georgia, had come through Bangkok twice — both on the way and during the return trip from North Korea. The aircraft was searched on the return journey after Thai authorities were tipped off by American officials that the aircraft might be carrying weapons. The crew was detained and the cargo confiscated but not immediately. The crew had enough time to buy six large bottles of beer at a duty-free shop, which were confiscated from them in the detention center where they are now being kept.

Mr. Panitan denied reports that the Friday stopover in Bangkok was an emergency landing.

“It was a scheduled landing to refuel the plane,” Mr. Panitan said.

Analysts have questioned why an aircraft carrying an illicit payload would land and refuel at an airfield in Bangkok — Don Muang airport — that is also used by the Thai military. The choice of Thailand as a refueling station is also peculiar considering the country’s close military ties with the United States.

“There’s much more to this story than what has been made public so far,” said Bertil Lintner, an author who has written extensively on North Korea. “Why would you refuel in Thailand?” If the aircraft had landed in neighboring Myanmar, which is ruled by generals friendly to the North Korean regime, “there would have been no problem,” Mr. Lintner said.

Among the many theories discussed on Thai Web sites and in the media here is that the Ilyushin was forced to land by the Thai air force as it crossed Thai airspace. In the interview the crew said they had landed in Bangkok to refuel.

Further details may emerge in the coming days as the cargo is examined and the crew members appear in court. The weapons have been transported to an air force base in central Thailand and will be more closely analyzed by experts on Tuesday, Mr. Panitan said.

Four of the crew members were from Kazakhstan, including the captain, Ilyas Issakov, Mr. Abdullayev, Alexandr Zrybney and Vtaliy Shurmnov, all co-pilots. Mikhail Prtkhou, a fourth co-pilot is from Belarus.

Mr. Issakov, the captain, said he had traveled to Thailand before for both business and pleasure.

All five men have been barred from making phone calls or reading newspapers. During the interview in a detention center late Sunday, Mr. Abdullayev requested help from a reporter to obtain a clothes iron because he said he wanted to appear presentable in court.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #95 on: December 24, 2009, 01:14:08 PM »

Osama bin Laden came within minutes of killing Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton came within minutes of being assassinated in the Philippines by terrorists controlled by Osama bin Laden, a new book has revealed.

By Tom Leonard in New York
Published: 7:00PM GMT 22 Dec 2009



The US leader was saved shortly before his car was due to drive over a bridge in Manila where a bomb had been planted.

The foiled attack came during Mr Clinton's visit to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in the city in 1996.

At one point during his stay, he was scheduled to visit a local politician, his route taking him across a bridge in central Manila.

But as the presidential motorcade was about to set off, secret service officers received a "crackly message in one earpiece" saying intelligence agents had picked up a message suggesting an attack was imminent.

The transmission used the words "bridge" and "wedding" – a terrorists code word for assassination.

The motorcade was quickly re-routed and American agents later discovered a bomb had been planted under the bridge.

The subsequent US investigation into the plot "revealed that it had been masterminded by a Saudi terrorist living in Afghanistan – a man named Osama bin Laden".

Although al Qaeda members have admitted targeting Mr Clinton in the 1990s, no evidence has previously emerged suggesting the group's leader was involved or that the terrorists came close to succeeding.

Ken Gormley, an American law professor, said he was told by Louis Merletti, the former director of the Secret Service, of the bomb plot.

In The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs Starr, Prof Gormley wrote: "The thwarted assassination attempt was never made public.

"It remained top secret except to select members of the US intelligence community."

At the time, there were media reports about the discovery of two bombs, one at Manila airport and another at the venue for the leaders' meeting.

However, they were linked to a communist insurgency in the Philippines rather than as an external attempt to kill the US president.

A spokesman for the Secret Service refused to comment on Prof Gorman's allegations.

Commentators in the US questioned why the Clinton administration would keep quiet about the assassination attempt when it later needed to justify missile attacks on al-Qaeda training bases.

It could also have ramifications for the widely-held assumption that the Bush regime could not have anticipated the September 11 terror attacks.

Ramzi Yousef, the al-Qaeda member who used a truck bomb to attack the World Trade Centre in 1993, has admitted he plotted to assassinate Mr Clinton after fleeing to Manila, but was dissuaded by his high level of security.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described 9/11 mastermind, also lived in the Philippines in the mid-1990s and has admitted he considered trying to kill Mr Clinton.

The president and his national security team have been accused of passing up several opportunities to capture bin Laden and his associates in the 1990s when they were living in Sudan.

Mr Clinton has rejected such claims, insisting he was "obsessed" with the al-Qaeda leader during his time in office.

In the years leading up to the September 11 attacks, al Qaeda was blamed for bombing two US embassies in Africa and attacked the destroyer, the USS Cole.

However, Marisa Porges, a former government counter-terrorism advisor and an expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, a US think tank, said the assassination plot, if true,would suggest al Qaeda was more developed than some thought it was prior to 9/11”.

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said earlier this month that it was important to capture bin Laden, a goal that some believe has slipped down America's list of priorities in the years since the September 11 attacks.

Prof Gormley’s book, for which he interviewed Mr Clinton three times, focuses mainly on the former president’s pursuit by Ken Starr, the independent counsel.

Mr Starr’s conclusion that Mr Clinton lied during a sworn deposition about his affair with Monica Lewinsky led to the president’s impeachment.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...l-Clinton.html
« Last Edit: December 24, 2009, 01:30:04 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 12055


« Reply #96 on: December 24, 2009, 06:08:27 PM »

Very interesting.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #97 on: December 25, 2009, 10:13:05 AM »

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/23/dennis-montgomery-cia-al-jazeera
The Nevada gambler, al-Qaida, the CIA and the mother of all cons
Chris McGreal in Washington guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 23 December 2009 21.47 GMT

The intelligence reports fitted the suspicions of the time: al-Qaida sleeper agents were scattered across the US awaiting orders that were broadcast in secret codes over the al-Jazeera television network.

Flights from Britain and France were cancelled. Officials warned of a looming "spectacular attack" to rival 9/11. In 2003 President Bush's homeland security tsar, Tom Ridge, spoke of a "credible source" whose information had US military bracing for a new terrorist onslaught.

Then suddenly no more was said.

Six years later, Playboy magazine has revealed that the CIA fell victim to an elaborate con by a compulsive gambler who claimed to have developed software that discovered al-Jazeera broadcasts were being used to transmit messages to terrorists buried deep in America.

Dennis Montgomery, 56, the co-owner of a software gaming company in Nevada, who has since been arrested for bouncing $1m worth of cheques, claims his program read messages hidden in barcodes listing international flights to the US, their positions and airports to be targeted.

The CIA took the information seriously, working with Montgomery at his offices and paying him an undisclosed amount of money. The "intelligence" Montgomery claimed to have found was passed on to the White House and homeland security where it kickstarted an alert that bordered on panic.

According to Playboy, Montgomery's claims caused the cancellation of British Airways and other flights supposedly mentioned in the codes.

Some officials were not at all surprised to hear the allegation that al-Jazeera was involved. The then defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, later vilified the station for "vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable" reporting of the US invasion of Iraq.

For months, the source of the information was kept under wraps within the CIA but once it became more widely known in the agency it immediately came under question. Playboy quotes one former counterterrorism official who attended a briefing on the source as being furious. He said: "I was saying: 'This is crazy. This is embarrassing.' They claimed they were breaking the code, getting latitude and longitude, and al-Qaida operatives were decoding it. They were coming up with airports and everything, and we were just saying: 'You know, this is horseshit!' "

Frances Townsend, a homeland security adviser to Bush, defended the decision to work with Montgomery. "It didn't seem beyond the realm of possibility. We were relying on technical people to tell us whether or not it was feasible. I don't regret having acted on it," she told Playboy.

But the doubts began to prevail as Montgomery refused to reveal how he was finding the barcodes, when no one else could, and he demanded $100m for the software. The CIA also began to wonder why al-Qaida didn't use emails and web pages to communicate with its agents.
Logged
Crafty_Dog
Administrator
Power User
*****
Posts: 31318


« Reply #98 on: December 31, 2009, 12:43:33 PM »

Deciphering Disinformation
AN INTER PRESS SERVICE (IPS) REPORT emerged Monday in which a former CIA official claims that a widely circulated document describing Iran’s nuclear weapons plans was fabricated. The document in question appeared in the Times of London on Dec. 14 and cited an “Asian intelligence source” who allegedly provided the newspaper with “confidential intelligence documents” on how Iran was preparing to run tests on a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion.

Former CIA counterterrorism official Philip Giraldi, however, claims in the IPS interview that the Rupert Murdoch publishing empire — which includes the Sunday Times, Fox News and the New York Post in addition to the Times of London — has been used frequently by the Israelis and occasionally by the British government to plant false stories to exaggerate the Iranian nuclear threat. Giraldi has been credited in the past with exposing disinformation campaigns by the previous U.S. administration that were designed to bolster claims that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was attempting to buy uranium from Niger.

Disinformation campaigns are common practice in the world of intelligence. Diplomatic negotiations, economic sanctions and military strikes are all tools of statecraft that require a considerable amount of political energy. In the grey areas of intelligence, however, policymakers have a relatively low-cost option of directly shaping the perceptions of their target audience through carefully calibrated disinformation campaigns. U.S. administrations, for example, often use The New York Times and The Washington Post for leaks while Israel tends to rely on British media outlets like the Times of London to plant stories that support their policy objectives.

“It takes a jolt like this to get Washington to go back to the drawing board and re-examine its assessments on Iran.”
We don’t know if the document on the neutron initiator was completely fabricated, but we do know that these leaks serve a very deliberate political purpose. Israel clearly has an interest in building up the Iranian nuclear threat. The United States has pledged to do its part to neutralize the Iranian nuclear program, and Israel has every incentive to drive the United States toward action. Although they share an interest in eliminating the Iranian nuclear program, each side has very different perceptions of the urgency of the threat and the timetable upon which it must be addressed.

Giraldi’s counter-leak, on the other hand, plays into the interests of the Obama administration. President Obama has no interest in getting pushed into a military conflict with Iran and wants to buy time to deal with the issue. By discrediting intelligence that has influenced the U.S. net assessment on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Giraldi could quite effectively send the U.S. intelligence community into a tailspin. Obama can then raise the issue of faulty intelligence to gain more time and room to maneuver with Israel. After all, Israel would have a much more difficult time making the case to Washington that Iran is approaching the point of no return in its nuclear weapons program if the United States can argue that the intelligence supporting that assumption is resting on fabricated evidence.

It takes a jolt like this to get various policymakers and intelligence officials in Washington to go back to the drawing board and re-examine their assessments on Iran. And Iran’s nuclear progress is not the only issue in question. Western media outlets and certain U.S. non-governmental institutions are spreading the perception that the opposition movement in Iran has gained considerable momentum and that the Iranian regime is on the ropes. Again, we have to take into account the use of disinformation campaigns. There are a lot of people around the world and in Washington that have an interest in painting the perception of an Iranian regime teetering on the edge of collapse. Twitter, YouTube and a handful of mostly U.S.- and Europe-based reformist Web sites, backed by upper-class Iranian expatriates no less, are a useful way to spread this perception.

But the facts on the ground appear to suggest otherwise. The Dec. 27 Ashura protests, described by many (including our own Iranian sources) as the big showdown between the regime and the opposition, were far more revealing of the marginalization of the opposition and the endurance of the Iranian regime than what many Western media outlets have led their viewers to believe. The protests have failed to break the regime’s tolerance level and have in fact empowered the regime, however fragmented, to crack down with greater force. This is broadly the view we have held since the June protests, but we, like many other intelligence organizations, are also in the process of reviewing our net assessment on Iran. The process is a painfully meticulous one, but one that requires great discipline and, of course, an ability to recognize multiple disinformation campaigns at work.
Logged
G M
Power User
***
Posts: 12055


« Reply #99 on: December 31, 2009, 01:05:17 PM »

http://formerspook.blogspot.com/2009/12/stating-and-fixing-obvious.html

Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Stating--and Fixing--the Obvious

We've been critical of President Obama on numerous occasions, but today, we'll give him credit for describing last week's breach of airline security as a "systemic failure."

While Mr. Obama's comment might be described as stating the obvious, it was refreshing (if overdue) for someone in the administration to admit that we came periously close to catastrophe in the skies over Michigan on Christmas Day. The President's remarks also made a mockery of earlier statements by other officials, particularly Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano, who initially claimed that the "system worked."

Of course, the President's admission creates a few problems for his national security team. Ms. Napolitano's original assertion was remarkably similar to that of White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, who also made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows. So, claims about the system "working" were clearly based on administration talking points. The White House apparently believed the public would accept that explanation until it became a national joke, forcing other officials--and finally, the President--to offer more realistic assessments. It would be an understatement to say Team Obama has suffered another serious blow to its credibility.

Then, there's the little matter of fixing that gaping security breach. The President, in best bureaucratic fashion, has ordered a "top-level review" of the intelligence failures that caused the near-disaster. A preliminary report is due on his desk on New Year's Eve; a more detailed assessment will follow in 2010. Mr. Obama is also promising accountability in the matter. Presumably, that means that someone will lose his (or her) job because of the screw-up, which nearly resulted in hundreds of fatalities.

Unfortunately, the government's track record in accountability is hardly promising. George Tenet, then-Director of Central Intelligence, kept his job after the debacles that led to 9-11. Ditto for other, senior intelligence officials. There's not much motive for senior bureaucrats to improve their job performance--or that of their subordinates--if everyone keeps their jobs, even after the most glaring intelligence failures.

The guarantee of lifetime employment is also a powerful disincentive to end the turf battles that still beset our intelligence community. Consider the "data trail" that preceded Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempt to bring down Flight 253. Abdulmutallab's father, a prominent Nigerian banker and former government economics minister, personally warned the U.S. Embassy in Lagos last month.

Given the elder Abdulmutallab's stature, it's clear he wasn't passed off to some minor consular official who passed the information along in a routine diplomatic cable. Reading between the lines of this AFP report, it seems clear that the CIA station in Lagos was notified immediately, and it's quite likely that agency personnel were involved in conversations with Abdulmutallab's father.

The CIA also insists that it passed the information to the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC), and ensured that Farouk Abdulmutallab's name was entered into a government database. What happened after that is a bit fuzzy; despite the initial report (and later information that highlighted Abdulmutallab's ties to terrorists in Yemen), the "underwear bomber" never made it onto a no-fly list. The failure was compounded by other red flags, also missed by security personnel. He had no checked luggage for his "trip" to Detroit; Adbulmutallab paid for his one-way ticket in cash and was allowed to board the Northwest flight without a passport.

We suspect that the intelligence problems resulted, in part, from differing security classifications for the various databases. The initial report from Abdulmutallab's father was likely classified at the "Secret" level and disseminated via SIPRNET, the government intranet cleared for material up to that level. Meanwhile, reporting that linked the Nigerian to radicals in Yemen might have been based on SIGINT reporting; information of that type is normally held at the "Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmentalized Information (TS/SCI), and disseminated via another network, known as JWICS.

Put another way, it's quite likely that those vital bits of intelligence data were never fused together. That would have given the feds ample reason to bar Abdulmutallab from the flight, although his actions in Amsterdam were more than sufficient for a secondary screening which might have revealed his hidden bomb.

Of course, the intelligence community has an organization that's supposed to "fuse" terrorist-related intel information--the NCTC. But the center is hardly immue from the long-running turf battles between the CIA and the FBI. The two agencies have sparred for years over the counter-terrorism mission and that war has only intensified since 9-11. With billions of budget dollars on the line (and dominance in the counter-terror mission at stake), it's little wonder that the NCTC has become yet another battleground for the FBI and CIA. True, the center actually falls under the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), but with the CIA and FBI providing most of the personnel, conflicts over intel sources, methods and information reliability are inevitable.

And the list of problems doesn't end there. Beyond database issues and turf wars, there's the "mindset" that dominates our battles against terrorists. With the arrival of the Obama Team, the U.S. government has returned to a "law enforcement" approach in dealing with terror groups. Closing Gitmo, shipping Khalid Sheik Mohammed to Manhattan for a civilian trial and even the handling of Farouk Abdulmutallab are evidence of a changing mindset, one that will make it more difficult to prosecute terrorists--and implement solutions to deter future attacks.

You see, there's already a successful system for dealing with the types of threats posed by radicals like Abdulmutallab and his handlers in Yemen. It's the Israeli model, based heavily on advanced passenger screening and profiling. Israel's state airline (El Al) and other carriers have used this approach for years, supplemented with additional layers of physical security at the airport and on individual aircraft. Additionally, Israel is the only nation to take the extra measure of installing missile defense systems on passenger jets, protecting them against yet another potential threat.

But enhanced screening and passenger profiling have become dirty words in the United States. Concerns about civil liberties (and the initial cost for such measures) have prevented profiling on U.S. carriers. And, sadly enough, neither the Bush or Obama Administrations have shown any leadership in these areas. Indeed, it will be an uphill battle to install advanced, "full-body" scanners in American airports.

It's easy enough to spot the holes in our existing security system. But mustering the political courage to implement the required fixes is another matter entirely. We're guessing that enhanced passenger screening and profiling measures won't be implemented until an Al Qaida bomber actually succeeds, and brings down a passenger jet, killing hundreds of innocent civilians.

Then--and only then--will our political leaders summon the courage to do the right thing.
Logged
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 8 Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!