Category Archives: CIA

The Kremlin’s Candidate

The U.S. Senate has been told that the Kremlin hacked the DNC and worked with WikiLeaks for the express purpose of helping Donald Trump win the election:

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

While this is the current headline, let me be blunt: this is not news. I wrote about this over the summer, here. I’m just a dumb housewife in Tennessee but even I can read a damn newspaper. When you read that the Russians hacked everyone, but only the DNC’s emails got sent to WikiLeaks, it’s pretty obvious that they were trying to help one team, and it sure wasn’t Hillary’s. As I wrote then:

[…] it’s far more worrisome that Putin is trying to help get Donald Trump elected than that Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to help elect Hillary Clinton.

But did we have that conversation? Noooo. We had to get all emo over Debbie Wasserman Schultz. That was super-fun. Once again I have to give my thanks to the BernieBrats who allowed themselves to be the useful tools of Putin’s takeover of American democracy. Thanks, heaps! You guys took all the oxygen out of the room with your endless haranguing over shit that didn’t matter. Please eat a bag of dicks while you enjoy Goldman Sachs veteran Gary Cohn running the National Economic Council. {Speeches, arrgle barrgle, Wall Street puppets, arrgle barrgle …. }

Yeah, I’m still bitter and angry and I will be for the rest of my life. C’est la vie. What IS news in this latest development is that the Republican leadership knew about this well before the election and decided to not do anything because they wanted “their guy” to win:

By mid-September, White House officials had decided it was time to take that step, but they worried that doing so unilaterally and without bipartisan congressional backing just weeks before the election would make Obama vulnerable to charges that he was using intelligence for political purposes.

Instead, officials devised a plan to seek bipartisan support from top lawmakers and set up a secret meeting with the Gang of 12 — a group that includes House and Senate leaders, as well as the chairmen and ranking members of both chambers’ committees on intelligence and homeland security.

Obama dispatched Monaco, FBI Director James B. Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to make the pitch for a “show of solidarity and bipartisan unity” against Russian interference in the election, according to a senior administration official.

Specifically, the White House wanted congressional leaders to sign off on a bipartisan statement urging state and local officials to take federal help in protecting their voting-registration and balloting machines from Russian cyber-intrusions.

James Comey, well now, that’s a familiar name. He knew all of this and released his anti-Clinton letter one week before the election anyway? That’s downright treasonous. But I digress:

According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.

Some of the Republicans in the briefing also seemed opposed to the idea of going public with such explosive allegations in the final stages of an election, a move that they argued would only rattle public confidence and play into Moscow’s hands.

McConnell’s office did not respond to a request for comment. After the election, Trump chose McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, as his nominee for transportation secretary.

Someone remind me, which party’s candidate was characterized as untrustworthy and corrupt? Yet the Senate Majority Leader getting an obvious payback for turning a blind eye to foreign interference in our election doesn’t stink to high heaven? Even a little bit?

You kids today won’t believe this but those of us of a certain age remember a time when the Russians were considered our enemy. Before 9/11 this was a message we heard constantly from Republicans, including (especially) the sainted Ronald Reagan. It was the justification for our nuclear arsenal and the ill-fated “Star Wars” missile defense program. Us Cold War babies remember how the villains in every James Bond film weren’t Muslim terrorists, they were Soviet KGB agents. This was the world I grew up in.

Back in those days, of course, the Russians were Commie pinko Reds. Today’s Russia doesn’t have party bosses and the like; it has an authoritarian oligarch named Vladimir Putin, who has passed laws criminalizing LGBT people and has murdered his political opponents.

So the idea that Sen. Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan would be OK with the Kremlin picking our next president because it would mean “their team” would win (and McConnell’s wife would get a cabinet post) is somewhat shocking. My, how times have changed.

This is Republican patriotism?

Also, as always, let’s ask what would have happened if “Kenyan, Muslim” Obama had done anything close to this. Impeachment, of course.

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Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, CIA, FBI

>Going Rogue Electric Boogaloo

>[UPDATE]:

More on this from Wired. And we wonder how the U.S. government gets faulty intelligence about things like Saddam Hussein having WMD?

—————————

Nobody could have anticipated this:

Former Spy With Agenda Operates a Private C.I.A.

WASHINGTON — Duane R. Clarridge parted company with the Central Intelligence Agency more than two decades ago, but from poolside at his home near San Diego, he still runs a network of spies.

Over the past two years, he has fielded operatives in the mountains of Pakistan and the desert badlands of Afghanistan. Since the United States military cut off his funding in May, he has relied on like-minded private donors to pay his agents to continue gathering information about militant fighters, Taliban leaders and the secrets of Kabul’s ruling class.

Well, that’s just peachy. Any rich asshole, or person with rich asshole friends, can field their own private CIA or NSA. Hell why not? Can’t imagine there being a problem with everyone fielding their own private spy operation, can you?

Oh, and this:

His dispatches — an amalgam of fact, rumor, analysis and uncorroborated reports — have been sent to military officials who, until last spring at least, found some credible enough to be used in planning strikes against militants in Afghanistan. They are also fed to conservative commentators, including Oliver L. North, a compatriot from the Iran-contra days and now a Fox News analyst, and Brad Thor, an author of military thrillers and a frequent guest of Glenn Beck.

For all of the can-you-top-this qualities to Mr. Clarridge’s operation, it is a startling demonstration of how private citizens can exploit the chaos of combat zones and rivalries inside the American government to carry out their own agenda.

Yeah this is so awesome. How great that a bunch of rich assholes can decide all on their own that they don’t like the policies of the duly elected President of the United States, and just go off to pursue their own foreign espionage campaigns. How awesome that they can feed certain salacious bits of information to their rich asshole-funded private propaganda machine, too.

First of all: how is this legal?

Second of all: how is this legal?

Third of all: Can you imagine what our allies are thinking when they read this? WTF? “We thought so-and-so represented the United States government!” “Oh, no! He’s just running his own rogue operation. Pay no attention!”

None of this would even be possible if we hadn’t decided a few years ago to “outsource” critical national security operations like intelligence gathering to “private contractors.” Who thought that was a good idea, anyone know? That is a colossally stupid idea.

Of course, this is the same U.S. government which decided it was a good idea to out a CIA agent just out of spite. So, I’m not surprised.

But back to my first question: How is this not illegal? It appears it is, but someone at the Pentagon decided to use some clever semantics to skirt the law:

Four months later, the security firm that Mr. Clarridge was affiliated with, the American International Security Corporation, won a Pentagon contract ultimately worth about $6 million. American officials said the contract was arranged by Michael D. Furlong, a senior Defense Department civilian with a military “information warfare” command in San Antonio.

To get around a Pentagon ban on hiring contractors as spies, the report said, Mr. Furlong’s team simply rebranded their activities as “atmospheric information” rather than “intelligence.”

Mr. Furlong, now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general, was accused in the internal Pentagon report of carrying out “unauthorized” intelligence gathering, and misleading senior military officers about it. He has said that he became a scapegoat for top commanders in Afghanistan who had blessed his activities.

This whole thing stinks to high heaven. Wonder if Darrell Issa will be investigating this? I’m guessing … no.

As they say … stay tuned.

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Filed under Afghanistan War, CIA, military contractors

>VietAfghaniNam

>If ever I had a WTF moment, this would be it:

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House.

WTF?

I’ve been mulling an Afghanistan post for a while now; I’ve held back simply because I don’t know that I possibly have to add to the conversation. But this news makes me think … WTF???!!!

I have no fucking clue what we are doing in Afghanistan. Controlling the poppy trade? I mean, other than what you can glean from looking at a map: Oh lookie, there’s Iraq on one side, Afghanistan on the other, and wooopsie isn’t that Iran caught in the middle? But other than that, what the hell are we doing in Afghanistan??!

So our CIA has been paying the brother of the president of Afghanistan to do dirty deeds. And the president of Afghanistan is a man regarded as a U.S. puppet, whose re-election is questioned by the people because of widespread fraud. I’m so shocked.

No, I haven’t forgotten 9/11. Remind me, how many Afghanis were on those planes that crashed into the twin towers?

There’s a very nefarious trend among our punditry to confuse the Taliban with Al Qaeda, and while no one would pretend the Taliban is an example of democracy, there are plenty of oppressive regimes out there in the world which America has chosen to do business with. It was so cute how a few years ago it was politically correct to say Afghanistan was the “right” war, hell I even said it, but now I’m just wondering… WTF?

Yes, Afghanistan is a cesspool of human rights abuses. I’ve seen those pictures of women being executed for no reason other than wanting to get an education or defying their husbands.

But is a military occupation the answer? It seems to me if ever there was a place where exercises in nation-building–schools, infrastructure, development–would yield positive results for everyone, Afghanistan is it. This is a country that every superpower has tried to occupy in the past century. I think the Afghanis are a little tired of it. So now our presence in there is fueling an insurgency. Who is surprised? And just what, exactly, are we accomplishing?

How much money have we squandered over there? What has our CIA done, in the name of U.S. citizens, that we don’t know about?

I do not like it. No I do not.

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Filed under Afghanistan War, CIA

>IOKIYAR, CIA Lies Edition

>Michigan Republican Peter Hoekstra, in yesterday’s Washington Times:

In disparaging the CIA and accusing the agency of lying last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has become a “wrecking ball” to the morale of officers risking their lives in the field, the top Republican on the House intelligence committee said Tuesday.

[…]

“She has single-handedly become a wrecking ball, a wrecking crew through the morale of the intelligence community,” he said. “These are people that have been on the front lines. They have seen their friends die, and they have taken risks to keep America safe, and this speaker has now said you may be prosecuted.”

Oh, really? Here’s Michigan Republican Peter Hoekstra, in the Washington Post, November 2008:

An internal CIA probe has concluded that agency officials deliberately misled Congress, the White House and federal prosecutors about key details of the 2001 downing of an airplane carrying U.S. missionaries in Peru, according to a senior lawmaker who called yesterday for a new criminal inquiry into the case.

[…]

Unclassified excerpts from the report were released by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee, who blasted the agency for actions that he said were tantamount to obstruction of justice.

“These are the most serious and substantial allegations of wrongdoing I’ve seen in my time on the committee,” said Hoekstra, whose western Michigan district was home to the two Americans killed in the 2001 incident.

[…]

Hoekstra, citing the still-classified portions of the report, said the CIA’s program was “actually operating and being implemented outside the law.” The investigators found that CIA managers “knew of, and condoned” the violations and failed to properly oversee the program, he said.

[…]

Hoekstra said he did not know how widely the problems were known within the upper ranks of the CIA’s management. But he said he had personally presided over congressional hearings attended by CIA managers who knew the facts but did not speak up.

“CIA officials in front of my committee may have allowed incomplete or misleading statements to be made,” he said.

Let me guess: Rep. Hoekstra finished with his wrecking ball last November and handed it to Speaker Pelosi. Is that about right?

C’mon. I can’t imagine this ploy working. Who’s gonna feel sorry for the spooks in the CIA who, let’s face it, have been the villains in just about every Hollywood thriller movie of the past 20 years?

The only thing more amazing to me than this blatant political grandstanding is the fact that our media repeats these talking points to begin with. Kudos to the Detroit News for pointing out the hypocrisy but it was buried at the bottom of the story and I do think that bit of information provides some rather crucial context to Hoekstra’s remarks. For one thing, it shows he’s simply being partisan.

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Filed under CIA, Rep. Hoekstra, Speaker Pelosi

Bush Knew Saddam Lacked WMD Before Invading Iraq

Salon.com has quite a shocker today: according to this exclusive interview with two former CIA officers, President Bush knew Saddam had no WMD’s months before the invasion. Not only did he know, but he squelched the information, called the “Sabri intelligence,” dismissed it as irrelevant, and didn’t share it with Colin Powell, Congress, or even Britain’s MI6.

Sabri was Saddam’s foreign minister, also working as a CIA informant:

Both the French intelligence service and the CIA paid Sabri hundreds of thousands of dollars (at least $200,000 in the case of the CIA) to give them documents on Saddam’s WMD programs. “The information detailed that Saddam may have wished to have a program, that his engineers had told him they could build a nuclear weapon within two years if they had fissible material, which they didn’t, and that they had no chemical or biological weapons,” one of the former CIA officers told me.

On the eve of Sabri’s appearance at the United Nations in September 2002 to present Saddam’s case, the officer in charge of this operation met in New York with a “cutout” who had debriefed Sabri for the CIA. Then the officer flew to Washington, where he met with CIA deputy director John McLaughlin, who was “excited” about the report. Nonetheless, McLaughlin expressed his reservations. He said that Sabri’s information was at odds with “our best source.” That source was code-named “Curveball,” later exposed as a fabricator, con man and former Iraqi taxi driver posing as a chemical engineer.

The next day, Sept. 18, Tenet briefed Bush on Sabri. “Tenet told me he briefed the president personally,” said one of the former CIA officers. According to Tenet, Bush’s response was to call the information “the same old thing.” Bush insisted it was simply what Saddam wanted him to think. “The president had no interest in the intelligence,” said the CIA officer. The other officer said, “Bush didn’t give a fuck about the intelligence. He had his mind made up.”

We’ve known for a long time that intelligence showing Saddam lacked WMD was shoved aside, ignored, and suppressed, while fake intel showing the opposite was “stovepiped” straight to the top. We know they were aware that the whole “yellow cake from Niger” story was a fairy tale. We’ve suspected that President Bush knew he was selling the country a bill of goods when he made his case for war, but now President Bush himself has been said to have personally ignored intelligence showing Iraq lacked WMDs. Not his aides, or the CIA, or someone who wrote a report, or an advisor, but the President himself.

Even worse, the intel was twisted and changed to make the case for war:

The CIA officers on the case awaited the report they had submitted on Sabri to be circulated back to them, but they never received it. They learned later that a new report had been written. “It was written by someone in the agency, but unclear who or where, it was so tightly controlled. They knew what would please the White House. They knew what the king wanted,” one of the officers told me.

That report contained a false preamble stating that Saddam was “aggressively and covertly developing” nuclear weapons and that he already possessed chemical and biological weapons. “Totally out of whack,” said one of the CIA officers. “The first [para]graph of an intelligence report is the most important and most read and colors the rest of the report.” He pointed out that the case officer who wrote the initial report had not written the preamble and the new memo. “That’s not what the original memo said.”

The report with the misleading introduction was given to Dearlove of MI6, who briefed the prime minister. “They were given a scaled-down version of the report,” said one of the CIA officers. “It was a summary given for liaison, with the sourcing taken out. They showed the British the statement Saddam was pursuing an aggressive program, and rewrote the report to attempt to support that statement. It was insidious. Blair bought it.” “Blair was duped,” said the other CIA officer. “He was shown the altered report.”

Of course, we all know what happened. Warnings from German authorities that “Curveball” was an unreliable source were ignored; French intelligence supporting the Sabri intel was suppressed and ignored. George Bush and Dick Cheney had their hearts set on war. Commander Guy wanted to be a “war president,” even if it meant the wrong war for the wrong reasons.

But the question remains: why hasn’t this come out before? Well, here’s one thought:

In 2005, the Silberman-Robb commission investigating intelligence in the Iraq war failed to interview the case officer directly involved with Sabri; instead its report blamed the entire WMD fiasco on “groupthink” at the CIA. “They didn’t want to trace this back to the White House,” said the officer.

The only question I have is, will this be enough to impeach the President? Or is impeachment just for blow jobs?

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Filed under CIA, Iraq War, President Bush, WMD