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

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hot Shots: Follow the Dots Edition


FBI Wants More, More, More: The FBI, joining the CIA, is on a controversial “crusade for more surveillance authority,” Ryan Gallagher notes at Slate.  In a speech last week to the American Bar Association, according to Gallagher, FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissman expressed the need for increased surveillance of Gmail, Google Voice, Drop Box, Skype and live games (“the chat feature in Scrabble”).

“Those communications are being used for criminal conversations,” he quoted Weissman as saying. 

“It’s no secret that under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the feds can easily obtain archive copies of emails,” Gallagher wrote. “When it comes to spying on emails or Gchat in real time, however, it’s a different story.”

Poland in the Middle on Torture: While the Warsaw government has been praised by human rights advocates for investigating the alleged CIA ‘black site’ in Poland, it’s also been knocked for stalling the process as well.  Now, lawyers for Abu Zubaydah, accused of running an al-Qaeda training camp for the 9/11 hijackers, have applied for a hearing in the European Court of Human Rights, according to Reuters.  The lawyers expressed concern  “there was no hope of him receiving fair treatment inside Poland.”

Abu Zubaydah was allegedly one of the suspected al-Qaeda terrorists who “were flown in secret to a remote Polish airfield between 2002 and 2005 and then transported to an intelligence academy near a village called Stare Kiejkuty,” Reuters said, citing rights groups and the Council of Europe.  “Here, on the edge of a lake and surrounded by forest, rights campaigners say, the detainees were subjected to interrogation techniques which amounted to torture.”

The Polish government has denied the existence of the black site and has claimed to have launched a “full and fair investigation, free of any political pressure,” according to Reuters. However, Zubaydah’s lawyers have complained about not being able to access the evidence against their client or take notes on the evidence they are allowed to see.

CIA's Madame X Waits in the Wings

“She knew her CTC work would come back to bite her, and said as much back when we were both on the 7th floor,” a former colleague says of Madame X, the undercover woman CIA Director John Brennan is considering to run the National Clandestine Service, the belfry where the spooks hang out.

“She was quite nervous when Justice was considering whether to prosecute folks involved in the interrogation program,” the colleague added.  It “will be interesting to see how this plays out.”

“She’s just an excellent officer,” the colleague said. “Very savvy and extremely competent - and would be a great choice.”

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, January 3, 2013

On the CIA's Evolving Thoughts About ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Moviegoers would be well advised to remember what one of the CIA’s most ardent defenders of torture, former clandestine services head José Rodriquez, admitted last April: That agency interrogators couldn’t get Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to give up Osama Bin Laden’s courier despite days of water-boarding and sleep deprivation.

The current CIA boss, acting director Michael Morell, has been talking out of both sides of his mouth on torture’s role in finding Bin Laden, denouncing Zero Dark Thirty’s strong implication that "enhanced interrogation techniques"led directly to Bin Laden's courier and thus to the al-Qaeda chief, but also saying that "whether enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from those detainees, as the film suggests, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitively resolved."

Three members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, including chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and John McCain, a former Navy pilot who was tortured by the North Vietnamese, are not amused. They’re now wondering exactly what Morell and other CIA officials really told filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, and are demanding an explanation.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Kiriakou Plea Provokes Bitter Name-Calling Among Lawyers

Is John Kiriakou a leaker or a patriotic whistleblower?  Some rare, public name-calling among lawyers close to the case has broken out over the question.

Some of the ex-CIA man’s most fervent supporters claim the government is persecuting a patriot who helped expose CIA water boarding and the other “enhanced interrogation techniques” many people equate with torture.

The Justice Department begs to differ, of course. It argues the case is simple: Kiriakou “repeatedly” disclosed classified information and the names of covert CIA employees to journalists.

So far, it has been winning. Kiriakou’s lawyers last week lost a key pre-trial ruling when the judge in the case said the feds would not have to prove that Kiriakou meant harm to the United States by exposing the interrogation program to public scrutiny.  

That set-back, apparently, led his lawyers to seek a plea deal with the feds, which one source said might amount to two-and-a-half years in prison. A hearing is scheduled for 11 tomorrow morning in federal court in Alexandria, Va.

[Update: Kiriakou and the Justice Department finalized the deal in court on Tuesday, the former CIA man pleading guilty to one count of illegally disclosing the identity of a covert agent. He's expected to spend 30 months in prison.] 

Even as a plea deal was only rumored, Kiriakou’s most staunch defenders were denouncing his lawyers, which include famed Washington defense attorney Plato Cacheris, for taking it.

Monday, April 30, 2012

José Rodriguez's Defense of CIA Torture Sounds Better in the Original German

With apologies to the late, great Molly Ivins, Jose´ Rodriguez’s defense of torture on on “60 Minutes” Sunday night sounds better in the original German.

Ivins, a legendary Texas journalistic crusader, once said the same about long ago Republican candidate Pat Buchanan's defense of right-wing "culture wars" against liberals.

But back to Rodriguez: Imagine a blonde-haired blue-eyed Nazi German general explaining in an interview -- regretfully, of course -- they had to use “enhanced interrogation techniques” on the Polish resistance.

“Zeh ver tretening us, killing German soldiers. Vat ver vee to do?”

Of course, there’s no “moral equivalency” between Polish guerrillas and al Qaeda's religious thugs. But declining to torture among other things, is what makes us different from Nazis.

Watch “60 Minutes” yourself. Make up your own mind.

But also note that one thing that’s constant in police states is the mentality of the generals and colonels who make the torture system run.

Here’s a take on Rodriguez from someone who watched him close-up from inside the CIA. It’s not flattering.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Finally, a TV Spy Drama That Gets It Right on Torture

Homeland,” the buzz-generating serial thriller on Showtime, finally got something right the other night: How to interrogate a terrorist. 

Much about the show, starring Claire Danes as a manic-depressive CIA counterterrorism agent, is downright ridiculous, of course, starting with her obsession that she was somehow singularly responsible for failing to prevent the 9/11 attacks. 

In reality, not a single CIA official took blame for the manifold intelligence failures of 9/11, much less resigned over them.

Also in the show, Danes’s character Carrie Mathison gets green-lighted by her mentor to run an off-the-books, round-the-clock video surveillance of a U.S. Marine whom she suspects of having been “turned” by terrorists who held him in captivity for eight years. For days on end, she and a CIA techie watch his every move.

Now that’s funny.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ex-CIA Official Jose Rodriguez Inks Book Contract, Claims Torture Led to Bin Laden

José A. Rodriquez, the former CIA official who ordered the destruction of  “enhanced interrogation" videotapes and claimed Wednesday that waterboarding was directly responsible for the liquidation of Osama Bin Laden, today announced he has signed a book contract.

Rodriguez, former chief of the CIA counterterrorism center, will write a memoir, “Hard Measures,” that "details Rodriguez’s role in helping lead the fight against Al Qaeda," according to an announcement from his publisher, Threshold Editions, the conservative nonfiction imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Rodriguez will be aided in his endeavor by Bill Harlow, the agency’s chief spokesman under CIA Director George Tenet, according to a statement from Threshold’s executive vice president and publisher, Louise Burke.

“Rodriguez will, for the first time publicly, describe why he ordered the destruction of videotapes of Al Qaeda operatives undergoing interrogation and he will write about subsequently being subjected to a three year investigation by the Department of Justice," Burke said.

"The actions we took in the aftermath of 9/11 were harsh but necessary and effective,” Rodriguez said in the press release. 

“These steps were fully sanctioned and carefully followed.  The detention and interrogation of top terrorists like Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and Abu Faraj al-Libbi yielded breakthroughs which have kept this country safe," Rodriguez said. 

Despite Sunday’s successful liquidation of Bin Laden in Pakistan, Rodriguez also took a swipe at the Obama administration’s detention and interrogation policies, claiming that  the abandonment of  torture techniques was hurting the fight against terrorism.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Film Exposes the Seduction of Secrecy

“Secrecy is something like forbidden fruit,” former NSA official Mike Levin says in a startling new documentary, aptly named Secrecy. “You can’t have it. It’s classified. That makes you want it more.” But who should determine what a real secret is -- bureaucrats or the press?

CQ Politics (05/09/2008)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Evidence Grows of Drug Use on Detainees

There can be little doubt now that the government has used drugs designed to weaken the resistance of terrorist suspects to interrogation. Another window opened on the practice last week with the declassification of John Yoo’s 2003 memo approving harsh interrogation techniques. But hard evidence that U.S. interrogators are employing hallucinogens, like the LSD the CIA tested on unwitting subjects for at least 20 years beginning in the 1940s, has yet to surface.

CQ Politics (04/04/2008)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Mike McConnell’s Temporary Spokesman Has a Full-Time Job

Ross Feinstein ought to get a Purple Heart for all the hits he’s taken as press agent for Mike McConnell, the serial mis-stater who runs American intelligence. It’s all the more astounding that only a few years ago, the 25-year-old was vice president of the Union College student union.

CQ Homeland Security (02/29/2008)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Who Can You Believe in the Torture Wars?

Was it just a coincidence that CIA officer John Kiriakou popped up to soft-sell the efficiency of water-boarding just as news broke that the CIA had destroyed videotapes of Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation?
See story

CQ Homeland Security (12/14/2007)