Tag Archives: Central Intelligence Agency

Hostage locations difficult to track – and may be getting harder

 American hostage Warren Weinstein is shown in this image captured from an undated video courtesy of SITE Intelligence Group.


American hostage Warren Weinstein is shown in this image captured from an undated video courtesy of SITE Intelligence Group.

The U.S. drone strike that accidentally killed two hostages in Pakistan exposes intelligence shortfalls that former and current U.S. officials say appear to be growing more frequent as militants expand their safe havens and as Washington gathers less on-the-ground human intelligence.

Obtaining timely intelligence on hostages has always been difficult, especially in volatile regions where the United States has limited access and where militants have well-established operations.

But as unrest spreads, militants are acquiring more safe havens, from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq, complicating and often hampering U.S. intelligence-gathering. This is especially so in the wake of the Arab Spring as militants exploit the vacuum left by shattered institutions.

That has forced American intelligence operatives to become more dependent on electronic eavesdropping and spy satellites rather than using informants and on-the-ground human intelligence, say the former and current U.S. officials.

The inadvertent killing of American doctor Warren Weinstein and Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto in a January U.S. drone strike, acknowledged by U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday, follows two failed U.S. attempts in the past nine months to rescue Western hostages. Those efforts apparently relied on dated or incomplete information.

Last July, U.S. Delta Force commandos swooped into eastern Syria to try to rescue U.S. journalist James Foley and other hostages, only to find they had been moved. Foley was later executed by his Islamic State captors.

A December attempt to free American photojournalist Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie in Yemen failed when their al Qaeda captors were alerted to U.S. commandos’ approach and executed them.

Of all those regions, few have remained off limits for as long as Pakistan’s rugged northwest North Waziristan, where Weinstein and Lo Porto were held and where a generation of Taliban and al Qaeda militants have built a stronghold for launching attacks on U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.

Some former U.S. officials say the problem is too few U.S. informants on the ground in danger zones such as Pakistan or Yemen. “You can’t do intelligence operations without HUMINT,” said one former senior U.S. intelligence official, using the acronym for “human intelligence.”

Rescue missions in enemy territory are inherently risky and, officials say, based on imperfect information.

“The rule is, you almost never know where these guys are,” said a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“NO ONE SILVER BULLET”

The latest killings re-ignited criticism from hostages’ family members about White House efforts to protect their loved ones, and stoked controversy over the lethal drone program.

In the drone strike that killed Weinstein and Lo Porto, sources said the Central Intelligence Agency had no idea the two were being held there despite hundreds of hours of surveillance of the al Qaeda compound.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that before the strike, U.S. government assessments had arrived at “near certainty” that civilians would not be harmed. An internal review of the operation is underway to see if reforms are needed to prevent similar incidents, Earnest said.

Whether mistakes were made or not, it is very difficult for U.S. spy agencies to acquire timely information about where and how hostages are being held, the officials said.

“It’s a very complex proposition,” requiring the stitching together of multiple streams of intelligence from various data collection methods, said Dane Egli, a former senior White House advisor for hostage policy under President George W. Bush. “There’s no one silver bullet.”

To militant groups, hostages are an extremely valuable commodity and kidnappers make their captives’ security a top priority, the officials said.

Egli said that opportunities to learn information from local inhabitants or interrogating detainees have been reduced as the United States has withdrawn troops and intelligence assets from Iraq and Afghanistan. Another obstacle is the expansion of safe havens and ungoverned spaces, from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to Yemen.

“Any time they have secured real estate … it’s harder for us to penetrate the (U.S. military) Special Forces for us to do a surprise mission” and attempt rescue, Egli said.

Sometimes there is virtually no information at all. American journalist Austin Tice disappeared in Damascus in August 2012, and has not been heard from other than a brief video that surfaced five weeks later.

U.S. officials have given Tice’s family no indication they know where he is, a person familiar with the situation said on Thursday.

 

CIA joins social media, is immediately trolled

Though the US Central Intelligence Agency may use Facebook, Twitter, and the like to keep tabs on targets of interest, the spy agency has only now officially joined social media–a move hastened by an imposter who was using the agency’s name online.

The agency’s first tweet, which earned the CIA nearly 200,000 Twitter followers in just a few hours, was the appropriately sarcastic, “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.” There were already 40,000 followers after just a single hour online, with the agency’s debut on Facebook sparking a similar conversation on that platform.

“By expanding to these platforms, CIA will be able to more directly engage with the public and provide information on the CIA’s mission, history, and other developments,” CIA Director John Brennan said in a press release Friday. “We have important insights to share, and we want to make sure that unclassified information about the agency is more accessible to the American public that we serve, consistent with our national security mission.”

The CIA admitted as far back as 2011 that its agents and employees regularly scan social media to spy on intelligence targets. It already had multiple accounts on Flickr and YouTube, but only debuted on Twitter Friday because it had spent months lobbying Twitter to stop someone else who was already using the @CIA handle.

“There was someone out there impersonating CIA via Twitter,” spokesperson K. Jordan Caldwell told NBC. “Earlier this year, CIA filed an impersonation complaint with Twitter and they secured the @CIA account for us, which is routine for government agencies. This has been a lengthy process. It’s been in the works for a long time.”

The poser wasn’t a member of the Syrian Electronic Army, or even a veteran of the agency’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques, but the Cleveland Institute of Art, which was cursed with the same abbreviation as one of the most powerful cloak and dagger agencies in the world.

“We just deleted that one because it was kind of confusing,” Jessica Moore, the institute’s web manager, told the Wall Street Journal. “Some people would mention us in their tweets and they were clearly thinking they were talking with the ‘real CIA,’ the Central Intelligence Agency.”

If the CIA is used to infiltrating foreign governments and aiding assassinations, though, it was still unprepared for Twitter trolling. Tweets immediately began pouring into the agency’s timeline from all over the world. Whether it be journalists, comedians, companies, or conspiracy theorists, seemingly all of Twitter felt compelled to make a joke that had been made dozens of times before.

Certainly the most effective trolling so far has come from the New York Review of Books, which launched an assault on the CIA’s Twitter feed complete with the torture methods used by the CIA and the date each incident occurred.

Each of the flurry of tweets included a link to the 2009 NY Review of Boks article titled “US Torture. Voices from the Black Sites,” which “reveals for the first time the contents of a confidential Red Cross report about the CIA’s secret offshore prisons.” The link was unavailable for much of the afternoon Friday, most likely because the site in question was overwhelmed with the sudden amount of traffic that came from the hundreds of retweets and favorites.

Along with compelling the Cleveland Institute of Art to give up its Twitter moniker, the CIA’s debut on Twitter is also timely because it comes as a number of US government agencies have increasingly relied on social media to communicate with the public. The trend began a year ago after the Edward Snowden leak, when the National Security Agency sought to shift the conversation with its own Twitter account.

“Other US government departments have attempted to use social media not only to get out their message, but at times to actively combat America’s enemies in sometimes bizarre online spats,” explained Lee Ferran of ABC News. “The State Department‘s Think Again Turn Away Twitter account, for instance, directly engages in arguments with pro-jihadi computer users. Terrorist groups, like the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda-allied group Al-Shabab in Somalia, already have a robust social media presence, which they use to spread their own propaganda.”

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Benghazi attack resulted from US ‘allowing arms deliveries’ to militants

A vehicle (R) and the surrounding buildings burn after they were set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012.

The deadly attack on US diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, could have been prevented if Washington had not allowed arms shipment to reach al-Qaeda-linked militants, said a group launched to unearth truth behind the 2012 ordeal.

“The White House and senior Congressional members deliberately and knowingly pursued a policy that provided material support to terrorist organizations in order to topple a ruler [Muammar Gaddafi] who had been working closely with the West actively to suppress al-Qaeda,” the Citizens Commission on Benghazi (CCB) said in an interim report released Tuesday.

As a result of such policy, there has been “utter chaos” in Libya, across North Africa and beyond, “the spread of dangerous weapons (including surface-to-air missiles), and the empowerment of jihadist organizations like al-Qa’eda and the Muslim Brotherhood,” the group said in the document, entitled “How America Switched Sides in the War on Terror.”

The commission, set up last year by US center-right press watchdog Accuracy in Media (AIM), is comprised of retired senior military officers and CIA insiders and experts. Its goal is to answer the remaining questions about the September 11, 2012 attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Following a seven-month review of the bloody incident, the Commission blamed the Obama administration for failing to prevent a multi-million dollar United Arab Emirates weapons shipment from getting into hands of al-Qaeda-linked militants.

The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames.

The United States switched sides in the war on terror with what we did in Libya, knowingly facilitating the provision of weapons to known al-Qaeda militias and figures,” Clare Lopez, a member of the commission and a former CIA officer, told the MailOnline.

Lopez claimed that the weapons that came into the city of Benghazi “were permitted to enter” by American armed forces who were blockading the approaches from air and sea.

They were permitted to come in. … [They] knew these weapons were coming in, and that was allowed,” she said. “The intelligence community was part of that, the Department of State was part of that, and certainly that means that the top leadership of the United States, our national security leadership, and potentially Congress – if they were briefed on this – also knew about this.”

Now all those arms are in Syria, according to another commission member, Retired Rear Admiral Chuck Kubic.

Talking to journalists on Tuesday, he noted that Gaddafi, Libya’s overthrown and killed leader, “was not a good guy, but he was being marginalized.”

According to the commission findings, shortly after the beginning of the Libyan uprising in February 2011, Gaddafi “offered to abdicate.” However, Washington, “ignored his calls for a truce,” the group wrote, which led to extensive loss of life – including the four Americans – chaos, and detrimental outcomes for U.S. national security objectives across the region.

We had a leader who had won the Nobel Peace Prize,” Kubic said, “but who was unwilling to give peace a chance for 72 hours.”

On March 21, 2011, the US Army General Carter Ham, who was leading the American forces enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, said that attacking Gaddafi was not part of the mission.

That, Kubic noted, was a signal to the Libyan leader that there was a chance for a deal.

By 22 March 2011, Qaddafi verifiably had begun to pull his forces back from key rebel-held cities such as Benghazi and Misrata. Word was passed that he wanted a way out of the crisis and was willing to step down and permit a transition government to take power in his stead,” the report said.

In exchange for the stepping down, Gaddafi reportedly wanted permission to continue fighting al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – the north-African wing of the terrorist organization. The second condition was the lifting of the sanctions against Gaddafi himself, his family members and people loyal to him.

However, the CCB said, despite the willingness of both the US Army General and the Libyan leader to pursue the possibility of truce talks, “permission was not given to Gen. Ham from his chain of command in the Pentagon and the window of opportunity closed.”

The Obama Administration and the National Security Staff did not immediately respond to questions about the commission’s findings, the Daily Mail reported.

We don’t claim to have all the answers here,” Roger Aronoff, AIM’s editor told journalists. “We hope you will, please, pursue this. Check it out. Challenge us,” he added.

The Commission’s findings are based on information they got from interviews with “several knowledgeable sources,” they said. As part of the investigation, the CCB along with AIM have also filed 85 document requests under the Freedom of Information Act. The requests were addressed to the Department of State, Department of Defense, CIA and FBI.

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Stunner! Benghazi Was a Base for Illegal Arms Shipments to Syria

Republicans Unveil Legislation To Protect Soldiers And Seniors From Budget CutsApril 22, 2014 – By Sara Noble

Sen. Rand Paul, was he prescient?

Illegal arms were shipped to Syrian rebels from Libya and this could be the reason Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton lied and claimed the attack on the consulate was the result of a video.

Seymour Hirsch published an investigative report stating that there is an addendum to the Senate Intelligence Committee report which explains what the CIA was doing in Benghazi. Our government was shipping arms from Libya through Turkey to Syrian rebels before we realized they were al-Qaida.

The reason the government lied was probably to conceal an illegal operation to arm Syrian rebels. Ambassador Stevens was the coordinator.

It wasn’t authorized by Congress and it is a blatant violation of law. The CIA claims they were only liaison’s with MI-6 and they didn’t have to get permission from the Senate Intelligence Committee. That is ludicrous. The British had left Benghazi by the time of the attack.

That needs investigating!

From the Hirsch article:

The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida. (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The idea that the United States was providing weapons from Libya to anyone is false.’)

Contemporary Ceramics Centre

In January, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the assault by a local militia in September 2012 on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others. The report’s criticism of the State Department for not providing adequate security at the consulate, and of the intelligence community for not alerting the US military to the presence of a CIA outpost in the area, received front-page coverage and revived animosities in Washington, with Republicans accusing Obama and Hillary Clinton of a cover-up. A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer. (A spokesperson for Petraeus denied the operation ever took place.)

The operation had not been disclosed at the time it was set up to the congressional intelligence committees and the congressional leadership, as required by law since the 1970s. The involvement of MI6 enabled the CIA to evade the law by classifying the mission as a liaison operation. The former intelligence official explained that for years there has been a recognised exception in the law that permits the CIA not to report liaison activity to Congress, which would otherwise be owed a finding. (All proposed CIA covert operations must be described in a written document, known as a ‘finding’, submitted to the senior leadership of Congress for approval.) Distribution of the annex was limited to the staff aides who wrote the report and to the eight ranking members of Congress – the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and the Democratic and Republicans leaders on the House and Senate intelligence committees. This hardly constituted a genuine attempt at oversight: the eight leaders are not known to gather together to raise questions or discuss the secret information they receive.

The annex didn’t tell the whole story of what happened in Benghazi before the attack, nor did it explain why the American consulate was attacked. ‘The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’

Listen to Morris explain:

Remember when they ridiculed Rand Paul for simply asking the question?

Hillary responded, appearing dumbfounded, “Turkey?” She told him to redirect the question to the agency that ran the annex.

Last year, Paul’s question was ridiculed by the left as if it were the craziest thing they ever heard. Who should be ridiculed now?

via – independentsentinel

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White House confirms CIA director visited Ukraine over weekend

On Monday afternoon White House spokesman Jay Carney confirmed that CIA Director John Brennan visited Ukrainian capital Kiev over the weekend and met with high-ranked Ukrainian officials.

Previously, deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich accused Brennan of ordering a crackdown on pro-Russian activists in the east of the country.

In an interview aired on Russian state television on Sunday, Yanukovich, who has been in Russia since fleeing Ukraine in February, said that Brennan had “sanctioned the use of weapons and provoked bloodshed.”

“The US bears its share of responsibility for starting a civil war in Ukraine, not only through diplomatic influence, but its security forces, which do not only meddle, but issue orders,” said the Ukrainian politician.

The CIA did not explicitly deny its chief’s visit, but said that “the claim that director Brennan encouraged Ukrainian authorities to conduct tactical operations inside Ukraine is completely false.”

DETAILS TO COME

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​CIA deceived government on torture program according to Senate report

A classified US Senate probe into the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program found that the agency purposely deceived the US Justice Department to attain legal justification for use of torture techniques, according to a new report.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation program – active from September 11, 2001 to 2006 – found that the CIA used interrogation methods not approved by the US Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. Ultimately, the Committee found that the “Justice Department’s legal analyses were based on flawed information provided by the CIA,” McClatchy news service reported Friday.

“The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” the report found, according to McClatchy.

The Senate’s probe, which yielded a yet-unreleased 6,300-page report, also found that the CIA distorted how many detainees it held in “black site” prisons throughout the world and how many were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” many amount to torture. The CIA has claimed only about 30 detainees fell under the mercy of such methods.

“[The CIA is] trying to minimize the damage. They are trying to say it was a very targeted program, but that’s not the case,” said a former US official familiar with the Senate Committee’s four-year, US$40 million investigation.

McClatchy’s anonymous sources say the Senate report outlines 20 main conclusions about the post-9/11 torture program that – the investigation found – intentionally evaded White House, congressional, and intra-agency oversight.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chairwoman, quickly condemned McClatchy’s report on the classified conclusions of her committee’s investigation.

“If someone distributed any part of this classified report, they broke the law and should be prosecuted,” Feinstein said in a prepared statement. “The committee is investigating this unauthorized disclosure and I intend to refer the matter to the Department of Justice.”

McClatchy responded to Feinstein’s threat, asserting journalistic privilege and the public’s right to know in the face of persistent government secrecy and conceit.

“We are disappointed that Sen. Feinstein plans to seek a Justice Department investigation of our journalism,” said James Asher, McClatchy’s Washington bureau chief. “We believe that Americans need to know what the CIA might have done to detainees and who is responsible for any questionable practices, which is why we have vigorously covered this story.”

In justifying its interrogation methods in order to win the Justice Department’s legal approval, the CIA told the Office of Legal Counsel that repeated use of torture like waterboarding “will not be substantial because the techniques generally lose their effectiveness after several repetitions.”

The CIA reportedly waterboarded detainees Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 83 and 183 times, respectively. They weren’t the only prisoners to be waterboarded or subjected to other harsh methods of interrogation, as has been reported for some time.

In its long-suppressed 2002 memo justifying these tactics, the Office of Legal Counsel said that it did not find “harsh interrogation techniques” to be illegal – pursuant to US and international law banning torture – based on information provided by the CIA. The Office of Legal Counsel added that “if these facts were to change, this advice would not necessarily apply.”

A 2004 report by the CIA’s inspector general found that the CIA had gone outside legal parameters in its interrogation activities. The internal watchdog said at the time that the “continued applicability of the DOJ opinion” was in question given the CIA had told the Justice Department that it would utilize waterboarding in the same manner the tactic was used in US military training for personnel in case of enemy capture. The inspector general report found that the CIA used waterboarding in a “manner different” than the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape training.

In addition, the CIA did not keep track of detainees captured under the program, the Senate report found, according to McClatchy.

“The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention,” the probe found. “The CIA’s claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced interrogation techniques were inaccurate.”

“The CIA’s records were hazy, inconsistent and at times inaccurate,” the former US official told McClatchy.

In a separate report published by Al Jazeera America on Thursday, US government sources claimed the Senate report also found that Britain had allowed the US to run a “black site” prison on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia in order to secretly hold suspects sans accountability.

The Diego Garcia prison held some “high-value” detainees and was operated under the “full cooperation” of the British government, Al Jazeera America reported citing US officials familiar with the Senate report.

Earlier this month, anonymous US officials with knowledge of the Senate investigation told the Washington Post that CIA officials lied to the government and public about the efficacy of their torture methods in accumulating reliable and valuable information from detainees.

Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to send their report’s 480-page executive summary, the findings, and conclusions to the White House for potential declassification ahead of public release.

The Committee and the CIA have in recent weeks gone back and forth with accusations of spying, meddling, and misrepresentation, highlighting an ongoing feud between the agency and the Committee since the Senate probe began in 2009.

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CIA watchdog reportedly asks DOJ to probe allegations of spying on Senate staffers

Feb. 7, 2013: CIA Director nominee John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.AP

Feb. 7, 2013: CIA Director nominee John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.AP

The CIA Inspector General’s Office reportedly has asked the Justice Department to review allegations that the spy agency monitored the computers of Senate staffers who were preparing a report on the detention and interrogation of terror suspects.

The New York Times and McClatchy reported on the details of the mysterious case. Lawmakers have until now said little on the record, other than a vague allegation from a senator that the CIA had taken “unprecedented action.”

But, in response to published reports, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said Wednesday that the alleged spying, if true, “would be an extremely serious matter” and could “violate federal law.”

CIA Director John Brennan on Wednesday said he was “deeply dismayed” that some Senate members made the allegations that “are wholly unsupported by the facts.”

“I am very confident that the appropriate authorities reviewing this matter will determine where wrongdoing, if any, occurred in either the executive branch or legislative branch,” Brennan said in a statement. “Until then, I would encourage others to refrain from outbursts that do a disservice to the important relationship that needs to be maintained between intelligence officials and Congressional overseers.”

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday also flagged the allegations as a potentially serious breach. “If it turns out that the CIA was spying on the Senate committee that oversees the agency, it would be an outrageous violation of separation of powers,” Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

The Times reported Wednesday that CIA officers gained access to the computer networks used by the Senate Intelligence Committee and that an initial investigation by the agency’s inspector general was begun in response to complaints by members of Congress that the staffers were being improperly monitored.

The Times also reported that CIA officials began the alleged monitoring after suspecting that the Senate staffers had unauthorized access to agency documents during the course of their investigation, which has been ongoing for four years and cost approximately $40 million.

McClatchy reported Wednesday that the yet-to-be-released Senate report is expected to harshly criticize the detention and interrogation program, with special attention on how the CIA reportedly misled the Bush White House and Congress about the specific interrogation tactics used. The report is also expected to conclude that the techniques did not provide intelligence that led to the Pakistan compound where Usama bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs in 2011.

The report has not been declassified, but Brennan challenged several facts in the report as well as the intelligence value conclusion in a rebuttal published last June. This past December, Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said that the committee was aware of an internal CIA study that largely agreed with the report and contradicted Brennan’s rebuttal.

The Times reported that Udall’s statement set in motion the agency’s monitoring and prompted a letter from Udall to President Obama Tuesday.

“The CIA has recently taken unprecedented action against the committee in relation to the internal CIA review,” the letter reportedly said, “and I find these actions to be incredibly troubling for the committee’s oversight responsibilities and for our democracy.”

via CIA watchdog reportedly asks DOJ to probe allegations of spying on Senate staffers | Fox News.

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​CIA handling of torture report triggers feud with Congress, DoJ investigation

The US Justice Department is investigating the CIA over alleged malfeasance at the spy agency. The probe is linked to a bitter feud between the CIA and its congress watchdog stemming from a classified report on agency interrogation of terror suspects.

On Tuesday, the CIA Inspector General’s Office asked the Justice Department to conduct the probe. The allegations against the spy agency are connected to how it dealt with the Senate Intelligence Committee when that body was working on a voluminous report on methods used by the CIA after the 9/11 terrorist attack. Those included detention of terror suspects in secret prisons and torture interrogation techniques.

The 6,300-page report, which took some four years and $40 million to prepare, has remained classified for 15 months after completion as the CIA has to vet it before release to the public. But people familiar with the text said harshly criticized the program and accused the agency of misleading the Bush administration, US lawmakers and the public over its nature and results.

In December 2013, Senator Mark Udall, who leads calls on the swift publication of the report, revealed that the Intelligence Committee had become aware of an internal CIA report, which he said was “consistent with the Intelligence Committee’s report” and “conflicts with the official CIA response to the committee’s report.” The report was not shared with the Committee investigators.

The CIA downplayed the importance of the internal report, calling it a collection of summaries of classified documents rather than an analytical document. But apparently, the agency also conducted an investigation into how the existence of the internal review was revealed and eventually alleging, that the Committee gained unauthorized access to CIA databases.

U.S. Senator Mark Udall

It’s not clear how exactly the CIA conducted the investigation, but some lawmakers see it as an attack on their oversight powers.

“As you are aware, the CIA has recently taken unprecedented action against the committee in relation to the internal CIA review and I find these actions to be incredibly troubling for the committee’s oversight responsibilities and for our democracy,” Udall wrote Tuesday in a letter to President Obama. “It is essential that the committee be able to do its oversight work – consistent with our constitutional principle of the separation of powers – without the CIA posing impediments or obstacles as it is today.”

He added that “the declassification of the Committee Study is of paramount importance and that decisions about what should or should not be declassified regarding this issue should not be delegated to the CIA, but directly handled by the White House.”

According to McClatchy, the CIA monitored computers, which they insisted the committee investigators used to read classified documents at a secure room at CIA headquarters in Langley. This action possibly violated an agreement against doing so, the news service reported citing people with knowledge of the conflict.

Both the CIA and the Committee refrained from officially commenting on the Inspector General investigation.

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CIA’s multibillion dollar spy program ends up being ‘a colossal flop’

United States government officials with intimate knowledge of a little-known Central Intelligence Agency spy program now say the CIA’s post-9/11 efforts to send undercover agents around the globe was “a colossal flop.”That’s according at least to one of the former senior CIA officials who spoke with Los Angeles Times journalist Ken Dilanian for an article published on Sunday about the agency’s “non-official cover,” or “NOC” roles. Those are instances in which CIA agents were sent abroad to pose as business executives in order to collect intelligence for their bosses back at headquarters near Washington, DC, such as the case of former spy Valerie Plame, whose first-hand account of her experience was turned into the best-selling book, then movie, Fair Game.Dilanian reported that the CIA spent at least $3 billion on the Global Deployment Initiative — which administered NOC roles — in the years after the September 11 terrorist attack, while the number of specially trained spies grew from the dozens into the hundreds. As they were routinely sent time and time again overseas to collect intelligence, however, their efforts rarely if at all proved to be productive, sources told the Times.According to this week’s report, language barriers and large liabilities kept many undercover agents from properly infiltrating target demographics, such as Al Qaeda and other extremist groups, and instead the CIA spent billions trying unsuccessfully to milk foreign targets for valuable information.“[T]oo few spoke Urdu, Pashto, Dari or other necessary languages, or could disappear in local cultures,” former CIA officers told the Times.Other times, sources said, undercover agents were easily identified. Although the operatives would often be sent overseas with fake identities and backstories, they were rarely able to rope in targets, who the CIA had hoped would be tricked into submitting secret information to the undercovers.Fake companies and operatives in Iran, for example, did little to fool those involved in the nation’s nuclear and missile procurement networks, Dilanian reported. Those spies were ultimately sent back to CIA headquarters following unsuccessful missions.Others, a former chief of the CIA’s Europe division said, weren’t even deployed to the right arena. Some, Joseph Wippl told the Times, were posted “a zillion miles from where their targets were located.”The Global Deployment Initiative’s billion-dollar budget is now being cut, the Times reports, but not after what Dilanian claims to be a failure in which “inexperience, bureaucratic hurdles, lack of language skills and other problems” plagued a program whose successes could be counted on one hand.The “colossal flop” sentiment supplied by one former official, Dilanian wrote, was echoed by around one dozens others who offered to provide the paper with details on the NOC roles, albeit anonymous.One former agent — who did provide the paper with permission to use his name — said that he was only aware of three successful NOCs during his 20-plus years within the CIA.\”They were absolute nightmares for the administrative bureaucracy of the agency,\” the CIA vet, John Maguire, told the Times.

via CIA’s multibillion dollar spy program ends up being ‘a colossal flop’ — RT USA.

Hero Bin Laden doctor decries treatment in letter smuggled out of Pakistani prison

The hero doctor jailed in Pakistan for helping the U.S. kill Usama bin Laden bared his frustration with the country’s tribal court system in a letter smuggled out by a supporter last week. “My legal right to consult with my lawyers is being denied,” wrote Dr. Shakil Afridi, who worked with the CIA on a vaccination ruse that helped confirm the Al Qaeda leader’s presence in an Abbottabad compound, paving the way for the May 2011 SEAL mission in which he was killed. The one-and-a half page letter, handwritten in Urdu and smuggled out of the Peshawar Central Jail, comes as Afridi awaits a Dec. 18 decision which could result in a new trial. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison for colluding with terrorists, although the conviction was widely seen as punishment for aiding the U.S. in an operation that proved embarrassing for Pakistan. Afridi’s cousin, Qamar Nadeem, verified the letter’s authenticity by matching it to letters Afridi previously wrote before prison authorities barred him from meeting with family and legal advisers in September 2012 after he gave an exclusive interview to Fox News speaking from his jail cell. In the letter, which was reviewed by FoxNews.com, Afridi wrote that he is being held in complete isolation. “What sort of court and justice is this?” wrote Afridi, decrying the inhumane treatment he’s been subjected to while kept in complete isolation. Qamar said Afridi’s words speak volumes of the suffering and mental torture he is coping with daily, but also show he isn’t ready to accept his fate without a fight. Afridi’s legal journey has been long and arduous. Regarded as a hero in the U.S., he is seen in many quarters of Pakistan as a traitor. A judge who overturned his sentence and ordered a retrial in August died in a gas explosion at his Islamabad apartment several weeks ago, raising suspicions he was killed. The trial court refused to grant the new trial and, as a final appeal of that decision nears, local authorities have drummed up a host of old charges against Afridi. His supporters believe the new charges, including one of murder for the death of a boy he treated for appendicitis in 2007, are meant to ensure that Afridi remains behind bars even if the collusion charges are thrown out. A three-member tribunal, which operates under the archaic tribal law system, heard arguments on the merits of a new trial at a court in Peshawar on Monday. The tribunal’s decision, which could force local authorities to launch a new trial, is expected on Dec. 18. “We are confident that Dr. Shakeel Afridi would be freed after a free and fair trial”, said Afridi’s lawyer, Samiullah Afridi. But others from the defense team feel the case has been crafted on political rather legal grounds and a favorable verdict is unlikely. One of Afridi’s lawyers fears the letter going public could hurt the doctor’s bid for freedom. Hero Bin Laden doctor decries treatment in letter smuggled out of Pakistani prison | Fox News.