spies, national security, espionage, counterterrorism, u.s. foreign policy, intelligence operations, CIA, special forces, counterterrorism, terrorism
Showing posts with label counterinsurgency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label counterinsurgency. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Petraeus and His Police Advisors Tied to Iraq Death Squads, Torture

Former U.S. and Iraqi officials have implicated Gen. David Petraeus and his two top civilian police advisors in the operations of Shiite death squads and secret torture centers.

 “A 15-month investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic reveals how retired US colonel James Steele, a veteran of American proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, played a key role in training and overseeing US-funded special police commandos who ran a network of torture centers in Iraq,” the Guardian reported Wednesday in print and an hour-long video.

“Another special forces veteran, Colonel James Coffman, worked with Steele and reported directly to General David Petraeus, who had been sent into Iraq to organize the Iraqi security services,” the Guardian continued.

Jerry Burke, chief policy advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior in 2003 and 2004, says in an on-camera interview that Petraeus, who went on to become the top American commander in Afghanistan and then CIA director before resigning in a sex scandal, “had to have known” that organized Shiite militias dominated the Iraqi police commando service. 

“He had to have known,” Burke says. “These things were discussed openly, whether in staff meetings or before or after staff meetings or general conversation.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Broadwell's Petraeus Book Rushing to Paperback

Penquin Books is working overtime to rush out the paperback version of Paula Broadwell’s infamous biography, “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus,” according to an industry insider.

Hey, it’s a business.

Surely not far behind: A tell-all about her affair with the legendary ex-general. (“All Out”?)  After that, it's not hard to see a cable movie, even a talk show, advice column, beauty tips and TV commercials in her future.

What a great country.

And it would hardly be a surprise.

According to voluminous news reports, including today’s riveting Washington Post story on Broadwell’s dizzying accent through the capitol’s military and think-tank elites, the comely West Point grad and long distance jogger is quite the striver, shedding prevarications in her resume like so many candy wrappers.

Speaking of which, Penguin might consider editing her author’s bio on its web page.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Dad: William Colby

A son's search for the real man behind his father's mask is as old as Greece.
But in "The Man Nobody Knew," a much praised documentary about his father, William Colby's son Carl faced a extra challenge: piercing the shield of a lifetime spy.
The film opens Friday in Washington, DC. Read my take on it here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

CIA's Fatal Welcome Mat for Triple Agent Recounted

Perhaps the most riveting passage in the second installment of Joby Warrick’s new book on the tragic deaths of seven CIA personnel in Afghanistan 18 months ago is his description of the triple agent’s last 100 yards into the base at Khost.

The ease with which Humam al-Balawi persuaded the CIA to let him onto the base without being patted down has been much remarked upon -- and criticized -- by veteran operatives who blamed CIA management for letting someone with no field experience run the operation.

“Traditionally, the CIA's station chiefs, or top agency officer in a country, and its base chiefs, deployed in outlying offices, were veteran case officers, or seasoned spy handlers,” I wrote in my Washington Post column about four months after the fatalities. 

“But under a series of CIA directors starting in the mid-1990s, that began to change. Career intelligence analysts, like John O. Brennan, now President Obama's deputy national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism, who was station chief in Saudi Arabia from 1996 to 1999, were increasingly deployed to field positions.”

And so it was that CIA base chief Jessica Matthews, apparently discarding misgivings by more veteran operatives, planned to welcome Balawi with big smiles and a cake.  She assembled her team in the gravel yard in front their building as the car carrying the treacherous agent approached on Dec. 30, 2009.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

In Search of Counterterrorism Heroes

The Greek poets would not have approved of all the unseemly cheering over U.S. Navy SEALs slaying Osama Bin Laden. Indeed they would have devised a tragic end for officials who gloried in it.
For why it's so hard to find real heroes in the war on terror--and why officials make up stories to fill in the gaps--read my piece in the new issue of BookForum, here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Military Intelligence Lacks Skills for Counterinsurgency, DoD Study Says


Once again, the quality of war-zone military intelligence is taking a beating. And again, it's from the inside.

According to a recent new Defense Department study that surfaced today, military intelligence agencies are still poorly equipped to cope with their counterinsurgency mission nearly a decade after U.S. forces chased the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.

Among other problems, “the defense intelligence community does not have the foreign language and culture depth and breadth necessary to plan and support COIN operations," the February 2011 Defense Science Board study said.

Intelligence gathered by scientific and technical means--satellites, sensors and the like, where commanders get most of their information on the insurgents--cannot make up for deficiencies in human intelligence, the study suggested.