Washington’s Al Qaeda Ally Now Leading ISIS in Libya

Global Research, March 10, 2015, By Eric Draitser: (h/t @ClareMLopez)

The revelations that US ally Abdelhakim Belhadj is now leading ISIS in Libya should come as no surprise to those who have followed US policy in that country, and throughout the region. It illustrates for the umpteenth time that Washington has provided aid and comfort to precisely those forces it claims to be fighting around the world.

According to recent reports, Abdelhakim Belhadj has now firmly ensconced himself as the organizational commander of the ISIS presence inside Libya. The information comes from an unnamed US intelligence official who has confirmed that Belhadj is supporting and coordinating the efforts of the ISIS training centers in eastern Libya around the city of Derna, an area long known as a hotbed of jihadi militancy.
While it may not seem to be a major story – Al Qaeda terrorist turns ISIS commander – the reality is that since 2011 the US and its NATO allies have held up Belhadj as a “freedom fighter.” They portrayed him as a man who courageously led his fellow freedom-lovers against the “tyrannical despot” Gaddafi whose security forces at one time captured and imprisoned many members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), including Belhadj.

Belhadj served the US cause in Libya so well that he can be seen receiving accolades from Sen. John McCain who referred to Belhadj and his followers as heroes. He was initially rewarded after the fall of Gaddafi with the post of military commander of Tripoli, though he was forced to give way to a more politically palatable “transitional government” which has since evaporated in that chaotic, war-ravaged country.

Belhadj’s history of terrorist activity includes such “achievements” as collaboration with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq, and of course his convenient servitude to the US-NATO sponsored rampage across Libya that, among other things, caused mass killings of black Libyans and anyone suspected of being part of the Green Resistance (those loyal to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya led by Gaddafi). Although the corporate media tried to make a martyr of Belhadj for his alleged torture via the CIA rendition program, the inescapable fact is that wherever he goes he leaves a violent and bloody wake.

While much of this information is known, what is of paramount importance is placing this news in a proper political context, one that illustrates clearly the fact that the US has been, and continues to be, the major patron of extremist militants from Libya to Syria and beyond, and that all talk of “moderate rebels” is merely rhetoric designed to fool an unthinking public.

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend…Until He Isn’t

There is ample documented evidence of Belhadj’s association with Al Qaeda and his terrorist exploits the world over. Various reports have highlighted his experiences fighting in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and he himself has boasted of killing US troops in Iraq. However, it was in Libya in 2011 where Belhadj became the face of the “rebels” seeking to topple Gaddafi and the legal government of Libya.

As the New York Times reported:

The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group was formed in 1995 with the goal of ousting Colonel Qaddafi. Driven into the mountains or exile by Libyan security forces, the group’s members were among the first to join the fight against Qaddafi security forces… Officially the fighting group does not exist any longer, but the former members are fighting largely under the leadership of Abu Abdullah Sadik [aka Abdelhakim Belhadj].

So, not only was Belhadj a participant in the US-NATO war on Libya, he was one of its most powerful leaders, heading a battle-hardened jihadist faction that constituted the leading edge of the war against Gaddafi. Nowhere was this more clearly demonstrated than when the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) took the lead in the attack on Gaddafi’s compound at Bab al-Aziziya. In this regard, LIFG was provided intelligence, and likely also tactical support, from US intelligence and the US military.

This new information about Belhadj’s association with the suddenly globally relevant ISIS certainly bolsters the argument that this writer, among many others, has made since 2011 – that the US-NATO war on Libya was waged by terrorist groups overtly and tacitly supported by US intelligence and the US military. Moreover, it dovetails with other information that has surfaced in recent years, information that shines a light on how the US exploited for its own geopolitical purposes one of the most active terrorist hotbeds anywhere in the world.

According to the recent reports, Belhadj is directly involved with supporting the ISIS training centers in Derna. Of course Derna should be well known to anyone who has followed Libya since 2011, because that city, along with Tobruk and Benghazi, were the centers of anti-Gaddafi terrorist recruitment in the early days of the “uprising” all through the fateful year of 2011. But Derna was known long before that as a locus of militant extremism.

In a major 2007 study entitled “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq: A First Look at the Sinjar Records” conducted by the Combating Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy at West Point, the authors noted that:

Almost 19 percent of the fighters in the Sinjar Records came from Libya alone. Furthermore, Libya contributed far more fighters per capita than any other nationality in the Sinjar Records, including Saudi Arabia… The apparent surge in Libyan recruits traveling to Iraq may be linked the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’s (LIFG) increasingly cooperative relationship with al-Qa’ida which culminated in the LIFG officially joining al-Qa’ida on November 3, 2007…The most common cities that the fighters called home were Darnah [Derna], Libya and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with 52 and 51 fighters respectively. Darnah [Derna] with a population just over 80,000 compared to Riyadh’s 4.3 million, has far and away the largest per capita number of fighters in the Sinjar records.

And so, the US military and intelligence community has known for nearly a decade (perhaps longer) that Derna has long been directly or indirectly controlled by jihadis of the LIFG variety, and that that city had acted as a primary recruiting ground for terrorism throughout the region. Naturally, such information is vital if we are to understand the geopolitical and strategic significance of the notion of ISIS training camps associated with the infamous Belhadj on the ground in Derna.

This leads us to three interrelated, and equally important, conclusions. First, Derna is once again going to provide foot soldiers for a terror war to be waged both in Libya, and in the region more broadly, with the obvious target being Syria. Second is the fact that the training sites at Derna will be supported and coordinated by a known US asset. And third, that the US policy of supporting “moderate rebels” is merely a public relations campaign designed to convince average Americans (and those in the West generally) that it is not supporting terrorism, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

The Myth of ‘Moderate Rebels’

The news about Belhadj and ISIS must not be seen in a vacuum. Rather, it should be still further proof that the notion of “moderates” being supported by the US is an insult to the intelligence of political observers and the public at large.

For more than three years now, Washington has trumpeted its stated policy of support to so-called moderate rebels in Syria – a policy which has at various times folded such diverse terror groups as the Al Farooq Brigades (of cannibalism fame) and Hazm (“Determination”) into one large “moderate” tent. Unfortunately for US propagandists and assorted warmongers however, these groups along with many others have since voluntarily or forcibly been incorporated into Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS/ISIL.

Recently, there have been many reports of mass defections of formerly Free Syrian Army factions to ISIS, bringing along with them their advanced US-supplied weaponry. Couple that with the “poster boys” for Washington policy, the aforementioned Hazm group, now having become part of Jabhat al Nusra, the Al Qaeda linked group in Syria. Of course these are only a few of the many examples of groups that have become affiliated with either the ISIS or Al Qaeda brand in Syria, including Liwaa Al-Farouq, Liwaa Al-Qusayr, and Liwaa Al-Turkomen to name just a few.

What has become clear is that the US and its allies, in their unending quest for regime change in Syria, have been overtly supporting extremist elements that have now coalesced to form a global terror threat in ISIS, Nusra, and Al Qaeda.

But of course, this is nothing new, as the Belhadj episode in Libya demonstrates unequivocally. The man who was once Al Qaeda, then became a “moderate” and “our man in Tripoli,” has now become the leader of the ISIS threat in Libya. So too have “our friends” become our enemies in Syria. None of this should surprise anyone.

But perhaps John McCain would like to answer some questions about his long-standing connections with Belhadj and the “moderates” in Syria. Would Obama like to explain why his “humanitarian intervention” in Libya has become a humanitarian nightmare for that country, and indeed the whole region? Would the CIA, which has been extensively involved in all of these operations, like to come clean about just who they’ve been supporting and what role they’ve played in fomenting this chaos?

I doubt any such questions will ever be asked by anyone in the corporate media. Just as I doubt any answers will ever be furnished by those in Washington whose decisions have created this catastrophe. So, it is for us outside the corporate propaganda matrix to demand answers, and to never let the establishment suppress our voices…or the truth.

Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder of StopImperialism.org and OP-ed columnist for RT, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Also see:

Cables Show CIA Tried to Connect with Hamas Despite U.S. Ban

The US president, Barack Obama, threatened the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, according to the spy cables. Photograph: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

The US president, Barack Obama, threatened the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, according to the spy cables. Photograph: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

by IPT News  •  Feb 23, 2015:

Spy cables reveal that the CIA attempted to interact with Hamas, despite U.S. government prohibitions on contact with the designated Palestinian terrorist organization, the Guardian reports.

The cables, obtained by the Al Jazeerah network, indicate that American intelligence was eager to establish connections with Hamas and recruit agents within the Gaza Strip. According to the leaked documents, a CIA officer and South African intelligence agent met in East Jerusalem during fighting between Hamas and Israel. A cable sent to Pretoria on June 29, 2012 revealed that the CIA agent “seems to be desperate to make inroads into Hamas in Gaza and possibly would like SSA [the South African State Security Agency] to assist them in gaining access.”

In return, the South African agency suggested that the SSA would be able to access American intelligence priorities and understand CIA collection methods throughout the proposed interaction between the CIA and Hamas.

The CIA is prohibited from providing material assistance to a terrorist organization; however, attempting to recruit a spy from within a terrorist organization would be within the intelligence agency’s mandate.

“[The] CIA supports the overall US government effort to combat international terrorism by collecting, analyzing and disseminating intelligence on foreign terrorist groups and individuals. [The] CIA conducts those intelligence activities in compliance with the United States constitution, federal statutes and presidential directives,” a CIA spokesperson said.

Why the CIA Killed Imad Mughniyeh

It was paying back a generation-old blood debt.

The CIA doesn’t assassinate often anymore, so when it does the agency picks its targets carefully. The story uncovered last weekend by the Washington Post and Newsweek the CIA’s reported role in the February 2008 assassination of Hezbollah master terrorist Imad Mughniyeh is the stuff of a Hollywood spy thriller. A team of CIA spotters in Damascus tracking a Hezbollah terrorist wanted for decades; a custom-made explosive shaped to kill only the target and placed in the spare tire of an SUV parked along the target’s route home; intelligence gathered by Israelis, paired with a bomb built and tested in North Carolina, taking out a man responsible for the deaths of more Americans than anyone else until 9/11.

And yet, while the ‘what,’ ‘where,’ ‘when’ and ‘how’ of the story shock and amaze, the ‘who’ should not. Most people—including Hezbollah—assumed it was the Israelis, acting alone, who killed Mughniyeh. The Israelis certainly had the motive, given Mughniyeh’s role in acts of terrorist targeting Israelis and Jews around the world, from infiltrating operatives into Israel and shooting rockets into Northern Israel, to terror attacks targeting Israeli diplomats and local Jewish communities in places like Buenos Aires. Speaking by video teleconference at Mughniyeh’s funeral in 2008, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah quickly threatened Israel with “open war” for the killing of Hajj Radwan (aka Mughniyeh).

But the CIA had motive too, and for the many within the agency—indeed, as a matter of institutional memory—the hunt for Imad Mughniyeh was personal. Mughniyeh was behind the 1983 bombing of the US embassy in Beirut, which took out the entire CIA station there as well as the visiting head of the agency’s Middle East analysis branch. (In fact, word of the CIA’s role in Mugniyeh’s killing first leaked in a biography of that officer, Robert Ames, by Kai Bird, published last year.) Mughniyeh reportedly planned the 1984 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks and watched the attack unfold through binoculars from the top of a nearby building. His hand touched Hezbollah plots from Germany to Kuwait and from Argentina to Thailand.

This bloody history alone would have placed Mughniyeh in a league of his own, but there was something else that made the hunt for Mughniyeh a deeply personal vendetta. There was a reason more than one CIA operative reportedly refused reassignments and passed up on promotions to remain on the Hezbollah account. His name was Bill Buckley.

Long before ISIL’s current kidnapping and hostage spree has swept up a media frenzy, Hezbollah originated the high-profile Middle East hostage crisis. Hezbollah’s kidnapping spree in Lebanon lasted almost a decade, and it was not always a straightforward business. Some kidnappings were carried out by Hezbollah factions or clans—each with its own alias—in an opportunistic fashion to secure, for example, the release of a jailed relative. Others involved poorly trained muscle to grab people off the streets; several people were kidnapped because they were mistaken for American or French citizens. Captors assigned to guard the Western prisoners were often “unsophisticated but fanatic Muslims,” as one captive put it. In contrast, the March 1984 abduction of CIA station chief William Buckley indicated careful target selection and operational surveillance, likely supported by Iranian intelligence. According to one account, some of the intelligence Hezbollah used to identify Buckley as the local CIA chief was provided by Iran based on materials seized during the US embassy takeover in Iran in 1979.

As for Buckley, he was sent to Beirut in 1983 to set up a new CIA station after the previous one had been decimated in the April US embassy bombing. His kidnapping was a devastating blow to the CIA. “Bill Buckley being taken basically closed down CIA intelligence activities in the country,” commented one senior CIA official. But the CIA had adequate sources to determine within six months that Hezbollah was holding Buckley. For CIA director William Casey, finding Buckley was an absolute priority, the CIA official added. “It drove him almost to the ends of the earth to find ways of getting Buckley back, to deal with anyone in any form, in any shape, in any way, to get Buckley back. He failed at that, but it was a driving motivation in Iran-Contra,” the official said. “We even dealt with the devil . . . the Iranians, who sponsored Hezbollah, who sponsored the kidnapping and eventual murder of Bill Buckley.”

Frustrated with its inability to achieve its goals through hijackings and kidnappings, Hezbollah sent pictures of six hostages to several Beirut newspapers in May 1985. “All of the hostages in the photographs looked fairly healthy,” the CIA noted, “except U.S. embassy political officer Buckley who has been held longer than any of the others.”

Read more

CIA and Mossad killed senior Hezbollah figure in car bombing

MughniyahWashington Post,  January 30, 2015:

On Feb. 12, 2008, Imad Mughniyah, Hezbollah’s international operations chief, walked on a quiet nighttime street in Damascus after dinner at a nearby restaurant. Not far away, a team of CIA spotters in the Syrian capital was tracking his movements.

As Mughniyah approached a parked SUV, a bomb planted in a spare tire on the back of the vehicle exploded, sending a burst of shrapnel across a tight radius. He was killed instantly.

The device was triggered remotely from Tel Aviv by agents with Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence service, who were in communication with the operatives on the ground in Damascus. “The way it was set up, the U.S. could object and call it off, but it could not execute,” said a former U.S. intelligence official.

The United States helped build the bomb, the former official said, and tested it repeatedly at a CIA facility in North Carolina to ensure the potential blast area was contained and would not result in collateral damage.

[Read: Who was Imad Mughniyah?]

“We probably blew up 25 bombs to make sure we got it right,” the former official said.

The extraordinarily close cooperation between the U.S. and Israeli intelligence services suggested the importance of the target — a man who over the years had been implicated in some of Hezbollah’s most spectacular terrorist attacks, including those against the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and the Israeli Embassy in Argentina.

The United States has never acknowledged participation in the killing of Mughniyah, which Hezbollah blamed on Israel. Until now, there has been little detail about the joint operation by the CIA and Mossad to kill him, how the car bombing was planned or the exact U.S. role. With the exception of the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, the mission marked one of the most high-risk covert actions by the United States in recent years.

U.S. involvement in the killing, which was confirmed by five former U.S. intelligence officials, also pushed American legal boundaries.

Mughniyah was targeted in a country where the United States was not at war. Moreover, he was killed in a car bombing, a technique that some legal scholars see as a violation of international laws that proscribe “killing by perfidy” — using treacherous means to kill or wound an enemy.

“It is a killing method used by terrorists and gangsters,” said Mary Ellen O’Connell, a professor of international law at the University of Notre Dame. “It violates one of the oldest battlefield rules.”

Former U.S. officials, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the operation, asserted that Mughniyah, although based in Syria, was directly connected to the arming and training of Shiite militias in Iraq that were targeting U.S. forces. There was little debate inside the Bush administration over the use of a car bomb instead of other means.

“Remember, they were carrying out suicide bombings and IED attacks,” said one official, referring to Hezbollah operations in Iraq.

The authority to kill Mughniyah required a presidential finding by President George W. Bush. The attorney general, the director of national intelligence, the national security adviser and the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department all signed off on the operation, one former intelligence official said.

The former official said getting the authority to kill Mughniyah was a “rigorous and tedious” process. “What we had to show was he was a continuing threat to Americans,” the official said, noting that Mughniyah had a long history of targeting Americans dating back to his role in planning the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

“The decision was we had to have absolute confirmation that it was self-defense,” the official said.

There has long been suspicion about U.S. involvement in the killing of Mughniyah. In “The Good Spy,” a book about longtime CIA officer Robert Ames, author Kai Bird cites one former intelligence official as saying the operation was “primarily controlled by Langley” and it was “a CIA ‘black-ops’ team that carried out the assassination.”

In a new book, “The Perfect Kill: 21 Laws for Assassins,” former CIA officer Robert B. Baer writes how he had considered assassinating Mughniyah but apparently never got the opportunity. He notes, however, that CIA “censors” — the agency’s Publications Review Board — screened his book and “I’ve unfortunately been unable to write about the true set-piece plot against” Mughniyah.

The CIA declined to comment.

“We have nothing to add at this time,” said Mark Regev, chief spokesman for the prime minister of Israel.

A theory of self-defense

The operation in Damascus highlighted a philosophical evolution within the American intelligence services that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Before then, the U.S. government often took a dim view of Israeli assassination operations, highlighted by the American condemnation of Israel’s botched attempt in 1997 to poison the leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, in Amman, Jordan. The episode ended with Mossad agents captured and the Clinton administration forcing Israel to provide the antidote that saved Meshal’s life.

The Mughniyah killing, carried out more than a decade later, suggested such American hesi­ta­tion had faded as the CIA stretched its lethal reach well beyond defined war zones and the ungoverned spaces of Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, where the agency or the military have deployed drones against al-Qaeda and its allies.

A former U.S. official said the Bush administration relied on a theory of national self-defense to kill Mughniyah, claiming he was a lawful target because he was actively plotting against the United States or its forces in Iraq, making him a continued and imminent threat who could not be captured. Such a legal rationale would have allowed the CIA to avoid violating the 1981 blanket ban on assassinations in Executive Order 12333. The order does not define assassination.

In sanctioning a 2011 operation to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen andan influential propaganda leader for al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, the Justice Department made a similar argument. Noting that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had targeted U.S. commercial aircraft and asserting that Awlaki had an operational role in the group, government lawyers said he was a continued and imminent threat and could not feasibly be captured.

“It’s fairly clear that the government has at least some authority to use lethal force in self-defense even outside the context of ongoing armed conflict,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor of law at American University’s Washington College of Law. “The million-dollar question is whether the facts actually support a determination that such force was necessary and appropriate in each case.”

The CIA and Mossad worked together to monitor Mughniyah in Damascus for months prior to the killing and to determine where the bomb should be planted, according to the former officials.

In the leadup to the operation, U.S. intelligence officials had assured lawmakers in a classified briefing that there would be no collateral damage, former officials said.

Mughniyah 2

 

Implicated in multiple cases

At the time of his death, Mughniyah had been implicated in the killing of hundreds of Americans, stretching back to the embassy bombing in Beirut that killed 63 people, including eight CIA officers. Hezbollah, supported by Iran, was involved in a long-running shadow war with Israel and its principal backer, the United States.

The embassy bombing placed Hezbollah squarely in the sights of the CIA, a focus that, in some respects, foreshadowed the targeting of Mughniyah. In his 1987 book “Veil,” Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward reported that CIA Director William Casey encouraged the Saudis to sponsor an attempt to kill a Hezbollah leader. The 1985 attempt on the life of Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah with a car bomb failed, but killed 80 people, and he fled to Iran. Mughniyah’s brother was among those killed.

Former agency officials said Mughniyah was involved in the 1984 kidnapping and torture of the CIA’s station chief in Lebanon, William F. Buckley. The officials said Mughniyah arranged for videotapes of the brutal interrogation sessions of Buckley to be sent to the agency. Buckley was later killed.

Mughniyah was indicted in U.S. federal court in the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 shortly after it took off from Athens and the slaying of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem, a passenger on the plane. Mughniyah was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list with a $5 million reward offered for information leading to his arrest and conviction.

He was also suspected of involvement by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials in the planning of the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. servicemen.

For the Israelis, among numerous attacks, he was involved in the 1992 suicide bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires that killed four Israeli civilians and 25 Argentinians, and the 1994 attack on a Jewish community center in the city that killed 85 people.

“Mughniyah and his group were responsible for the deaths of many Americans,” said James Bernazzani, who was chief of the FBI’s Hezbollah unit in the late 1990s and later the deputy director for law enforcement at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.

The Bush administration regarded Hezbollah — Mughniyah, in particular — as a threat to the United States. In 2008, several months after he was killed, Michael Chertoff, then secretary of homeland security, said Hezbollah was a threat to national security. “To be honest, they make al-Qaeda look like a minor league team,” he said.

Beginning in 2003, Hezbollah, with the assistance of Iran, began to train and arm Shiite militant groups in Iraq, which later began attacking coalition forces, according to Matthew Levitt, who recently wrote a book about Hezbollah and is director of the Washington Institute’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

The Hezbollah-trained militias proved to be a deadly enemy, wounding or killing hundreds of American troops. As the situation in Iraq deteriorated and coalition casualties spiked in 2006, the United States decided it had to stanch the losses.

The Bush administration issued orders to kill or capture Iranian operatives targeting American troops and attempting to destabilize Iraq. It also approved a list of operations directed at Hezbollah, officials said. The mandate applied directly to the group’s notorious international operations chief.

“There was an open license to find, fix and finish Mughniyah and anybody affiliated with him,” said a former U.S. official who served in Baghdad.

In January 2007, Bush, in an address to the nation, singled out Iran and Syria, two countries with the closest ties to Hezbollah.

“These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq,” Bush said. “Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”

Read more with details of the operation

Mughniyah's death

Adam Goldman reports on terrorism and national security for The Washington Post.

****

Hezbollah commanders killed in suspected Israeli airstrike 

Hezbollah announced the death of six of its commanders and fighters, including the son of its slain former military chief Imad Mughniyah, in what is believed to be an Israeli airstrike in southern Syria.

The Lebanon-based Iranian proxy claimed “the martyrdom of a number of Mujahideen by the Zionist bombing in Quneitra, Syria,” on Al Manar, the group’s official news outlet. The Hezbollah fighters “came under rocket fire from helicopters” of “the Israeli enemy,” the Hezbollah propaganda outlet noted.

B8sElQ9CEAARE38Among the six Hezbollah operatives killed in the airstrike was Jihad Imad Mughniyah, the son of Imad, who was one of the founders of Hezbollah who served as the group’s military and intelligence commander up until he was killed in a car bombing in Damascus in 2008. Imad, who masterminded some of the most deadly terror attacks against the US, Israel, France, Argentina and Iraq, is believed to have been assassinated by Israeli intelligence.

Jihad Mughniyah is said to have been leading a group of Hezbollah fighters in a reconnaissance operation in Quneitra. The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, the Islamic Front, and allied Free Syria Army units are currently operating in and around Quneitra. The jihadist groups have controlled the Quneitra border crossing.

Al Manar identified the other five Hezbollah commanders and operatives as Mohamed Ahmed Issa (he was identified as a “leader”), Abbas Ibrahim Hijazi, Muhammad Ali Hassan, Ghazi Ali Dhaoui, and Ali Hassan Ibrahim.

The Israeli government and military have not commented on the reported airstrike in southern Syria. But the Israeli Air Force has launched several airstrikes against the Syrian regime and Hezbollah’s network inside Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011. The Israelis have targeted weapons systems that were being transferred to Hezbollah as well as weapons facilities in Damascus, Latakia, and Jamraya [See LWJ report, US officials: Israel struck targets near Damascus and Latakia.]

Senior Iranian and Hezbollah commanders have been killed during the fighting in Syria. In February 2013, Hassan Shateri, a top commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps who is also said to have served on Hezbollah’s advisory council, was killed in an ambush while traveling from Damascus to Beirut. A senior Iranian official eulogized Shateri, who was listed by the US as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, as “no less than [Imad] Mughniyah.”

Senate ‘Torture’ Report Used Documents Covered by Attorney-Client Privilege

2961604612CSP, by Fred Fleitz, Jan. 5, 2015:

I wrote last week in a Breitbart.com article that the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA enhanced interrogation program – a program its critics claim amounted to torture – is a flop with the American people. Three major polls issued after the release last month of the report’s 499-page declassified summary indicate most Americans reject the report since they believe this program was effective in keeping our country safe from further terrorist attacks after 9/11.

A major point of contention over the report concerns the use in the investigation by the committee’s Democratic staff of restricted CIA documents they were not supposed to have and their removal from a CIA facility by the staff, a violation of an agreement between the committee and the Agency. The committee staffers brought the restricted documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s secure offices without telling CIA officials.

The documents are known as “the Panetta Review, a draft account of the enhanced interrogation program that reportedly differs from the Agency’s official account. It is unclear how the Democratic staff acquired these documents. After CIA officials realized the Democratic staff had them, it audited Agency computers in an Agency facility made available to the staff for the investigation and made a referral to the Justice Department. Feinstein and other members of Congress reacted angrily to the Agency’s actions and accused it of spying on Congress.

The Justice Department declined to act on resulting misconduct claims made by both sides. The New York Times reported on December 19 that a five-member CIA review panel headed by former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh reportedly will recommend against punishing any CIA personnel for wrongdoing, although it will criticize missteps by the Agency that contributed to the fight with Congress.

Further complicating this affair, we now know the restricted Agency documents are covered by attorney-client privilege.

In late December, CIA revealed in response to an FOIA request that each of the restricted documents are stamped “DELIBERATIVE PROCESS PRIVILEGED DOCUMENT” at the top and has this language on the first page:

“This classified document was prepared by the CIA Director’s Review Group for Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation (DRG-RDI) for DRG-RDI’s internal discussion purposes and should not be used for any other purpose, nor may it be distributed without express permission from DRG-RDI or CIA’s Office of General Counsel. This document contains [certain classified information]. This document also contains material protected by the attorney-client and attorney work-product privileges. Furthermore, this document constitutes deliberative work product, protected by the deliberative-process privilege, and is not a final, conclusive, complete, or comprehensive analysis of DRG-RDI or CIA. Rather, it was created to suit the needs of DRG-RDI, in support of informing senior Agency officials about broad policy issues. While every effort was made to ensure this document’s accuracy, it may contain inadvertent errors. For this reason, and because this document selectively summarizes, draws inferences from, or omits information from the sources it cites, it should not be relied upon by persons outside DRG-RDI.”

I spoke with an experienced Washington attorney about this. He told me that when a lawyer comes across a document during a lawsuit or investigation that belongs to the other side marked “deliberative process privileged document” or “protected by the attorney-client and attorney work-product privileges”, he or she cannot use the document and is ethically bound to immediately return it to the other side.

In this case, Daniel Jones and Alissa Starzak, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Democratic staff members who headed the enhanced interrogation program investigation – both of whom are attorneys – did not inform the CIA they had acquired these documents, retained them for several years (they acquired them in 2010), and used these documents as part of their investigation. The Democratic staff attorneys also did not share the restricted CIA documents with the committee’s Republican staff, a violation of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s rules.

Jake Gibson and James Rosen reported in a December 24, 2014 FoxNews.com article that controversy over the restricted CIA documents has endangered the nomination of Starzak to be the next U.S. Army general counsel. Rosen and Gibson reported that Senate Republicans claim Starzak was one of the Democratic staffers who “stole” these documents from the CIA.

Starzak was nominated for the Army post over the summer. Although the Senate Armed Services Committee approved her nomination on December 9 without a recorded vote, it expired at the end of the last Congress since the full Senate did not vote on the nomination. The Obama administration has not said whether Starzak will be renominated.

Some Congressional Republicans and conservative groups want to punish Starzak over the CIA restricted documents by denying her the Army general counsel post. In my view, this appears to be a serious ethical violation that should kill the Starzak nomination. However, I also believe this is a scandal that goes beyond Starzak since the Senate Intelligence Committee’s former Democratic majority are experienced legislators who obviously understand what “attorney-client privilege” and “deliberative work process” means. Moreover, three of these senators are attorneys, including Ron Wyden (D-OR), the committee member who was the most aggressive in pushing the enhanced interrogation investigation.

What did these Democratic senators know about CIA documents used in the enhanced interrogation investigation covered by attorney-client privilege and when did they know it? These are questions that other members of the Senate and the news media need to be asking.

Also see:

Five Reasons Why the Senate ‘Torture’ Report Became a Flop

914916800CSP, by Fred Fleitz, Dec. 29, 2014:

Congressional Democrats, leftwing groups, and the mainstream media were certain this month’s Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA enhanced interrogation program (which they call torture) would spark a groundswell of anger against Bush administration officials and the CIA that would change the subject from the president’s growing unpopularity and the Democratic Party’s poor showing in the mid-term elections.

The left had every reason to be hopeful about the so-called “torture” report.  It was written entirely by Senate Democratic staffers who cherry picked CIA documents and emails with the most salacious and gruesome accounts of the enhanced interrogation program.  No interviews were conducted to prevent CIA officers familiar with the program from introducing exculpatory information into the investigation.

To promote media interest in the report, classified details of the investigation’s findings were leaked to the press by Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee (and possibly Democratic Senate staff) over the last few months.  Embargoed copies of the 499-page declassified summary were provided to major news outlets in advance of its official release to ensure extensive press coverage.

Despite these efforts to foist the enhanced interrogation report on the American people, three polls indicate most Americans reject the report’s findings.  An ABC/Washington Post poll found 59% of Americans believe the enhanced interrogation program was justified while only 31% said it was unjustified.  A Pew Research poll had similar numbers: 51% justified, 29% not justified.  So did a CBS News poll by a margin of 49%-36%.

Why did the enhanced interrogation report turn out to be a flop?  I believe there are five reasons.

  1. The American people are not stupid. Most Americans realize the enhanced interrogation program was initiated in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was only used against terrorist suspects.  They believe this program was justified and have little sympathy for liberal partisans trying to score political points by claiming al Qaeda members with possible knowledge of imminent terrorist attacks may have been treated roughly.  Most Americans also know there is no comparison between the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA against terrorist suspects and actual torture.
  1. Americans believe the war on terror continues. With this year’s beheadings and other atrocities by the Islamic State and the recent execution of 122 Pakistani children by the Taliban, Americans do not want to deny the U.S. government counterterrorism tools that could stop future terrorist attacks and atrocities.  Many Americans also believe releasing the declassified summary of the report was a mistake since it may play into the hands of radical Islamists.
  1. Former CIA officers fought back hard against the Senate report. Former CIA Directors George Tenet, Porter Goss, Michael Hayden and other CIA officials conducted a media blitz defending the enhanced interrogation program and Agency personnel with lengthy op-eds in major newspapers and dozens of TV interviews.  Unnamed CIA officers who worked on the enhanced interrogation program created a well-designed website, ciasavedlives.com, which tells their side of the story and is a resource of information about the program’s actual record.  The former CIA officials were joined by several Bush administration officials in countering the Senate report, including Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Vice President Dick Cheney.  Even former President George W. Bush, who usually avoids commenting on political questions, spoke out in defense of the program and the CIA officers who ran it.
  1. The left overreached. Most Americans strongly reject claims made by the report’s supporters that the enhanced interrogation program hurt America’s moral standing in the world.  Americans have also been turned off by demands by some on the left that President Bush, Vice President Cheney, CIA officers and other officials be put on trial for war crimes over this program and regard those making such demands as moonbats.  Not surprisingly, the New York Times is leading the moonbat chorus on this issue and recently doubled down on its call for prosecutions of Bush officials and CIA officers in a December 21 editorial titled “Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses.”
  1. The Obama administration provided lukewarm support for the Senate report. Although President Obama endorsed the findings of the Senate report, he seemed to be going through the motions when he discussed its release and has shown little interest in doing anything about the program since 2009.  The president’s remarks also were undermined by the efforts his administration made to prevent the report from being issued because of concerns it would damage U.S. interests in the Middle East and threaten U.S. personnel and facilities abroad.

The bottom line: the Senate report on the CIA enhanced interrogation program flopped with the American people because they believe this program was a justifiable and effective effort to protect the United States against terrorist attacks in the aftermath of 9/11.  Americans also refused to go along with attempts by congressional Democrats, leftwing groups and the mainstream media to use this issue to score political points.

I believe the American people’s rejection of the Senate report means the debate over this issue is over.  But the effect of the report may linger due to the damage it did to congressional oversight of intelligence and with U.S. military and intelligence partners.  While I believe the Islamic State and other radical Islamist groups could use the report in the short term as an excuse to stage new terrorist attacks or atrocities, I am hopeful that any increased threat level will dissipate in 2015 as interest in the report fades and is eventually forgotten.

Man Who Interrogated Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Speaks Out

mitchellimg

Watch Megyn Kelly’s 12/15 interview James Mitchell. The interview will be continued on tonight’s Kelly File.

The CIA interrogation ‘architect’ reacts to interrogation report (part 1)

 

The CIA interrogation ‘architect’ reacts to interrogation report (part 2)

 

The CIA interrogation ‘architect’ reacts to interrogation report (part 3)

 

Day 2 Of Megyn Kelly Interviews James Mitchell Who Interrogated KSM

 

Also see:

No Tears For Terrorists

CIA (1)By Justin O. Smith:

The recently released Senate Intelligence report on the CIA detention and interrogation program, created after 9/11, is a poorly done partisan attack on the Agency, and it is marred by errors of fact and questionable motives, as Americans note that this story moved Dr. Gruber, ACA architect, and his “Americans are too stupid to understand Obamacare” remark from the front page of the New York Times to page twenty; however, since the Democrats have mischaracterized the effectiveness of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program and alleged that Islamic terrorists/ “enemy combatants” captured on foreign battlefields were “tortured” through waterboarding and Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT), let’s put this topic to rest, as we also note that waterboarding was prohibited seven years ago.

Many progressive Democrats have conflated the issue by stating that Japanese soldiers were hung in 1947 for “waterboarding” U.S. soldiers, when what they actually did is more accurately described as “water-torture”, forcing water into the stomachs of prisoners, our U.S. soldiers, until osmosis ruptured their blood-cells, ending in death. This is not in any manner similar to the minor dunkings that Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists received at the hands of CIA interrogators, which merely gave the subject the illusion of drowning.

At the cost of $40 million, the Senate intelligence report, a 524 page declassified executive summary of the 6300 page classified report, accuses the CIA of torture, however, the CIA repeatedly consulted the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel about methods it intended to use. Legal opinions __ later discredited and withdrawn due to political pressure from the Obama administration __ assured the Agency that ALL of its Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT) were lawful and did not constitute torture.

It is worth noting here that tens of thousands of U.S. Armed Forces members, Rangers, Special Forces, SEALs, Pathfinders and Recon have voluntarily subjected themselves to waterboarding in the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) classes. All intelligence and military personnel exposed to a high risk of capture take SERE training.

Now, the very same Democrats, who once fully supported the EIT program, clearly didn’t include any information that did not fit their predetermined conclusions, and these same Democrats charged the CIA with immoral ineffectiveness, after they cherry-picked their way through six million pages of documents in the program that they in fact enabled; in their questionable endeavor, they ignored credible evidence that information gathered in this program led to Osama bin Laden.

In a joint response, former CIA Directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden and former CIA Deputy Directors John McLaughlin, Albert Calland and Stephen Kappes rebut the Senate Intelligence report in a December 10th Wall Street Journal editorial that states: “The (EIT) program in its totality formed an essential part of the foundation from which the CIA and the U.S. military mounted the bin Laden operation. For instance, the CIA never would have focused on the individual who turned out to be bin Laden’s personal courier without the detention and interrogation program.”

Senator Saxby Chambliss, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, and five other Republicans wrote a 100 page dissent of the report, which was written solely by Democratic committee staff members. Chambliss, in a later statement, contradicted the principal findings of the Democrats, calling them “erroneous and inflammatory.”

Senator Chambliss also presented 766 known cases that represented “sole sourced” intelligence extracted through EIT, which gave advanced warning of terrorist attacks on Heathrow airport and London’s Canary Wharf. Chambliss stated, “There is no telling how many lives this program saved.”

Jose Rodriguez Jr., a former CIA official, rejects the Senate Intelligence report’s conclusions that EITs weren’t useful in saving American lives, and he stated: “… that the interrogation program brought no intelligence is an egregious falsehood; it’s a dishonest attempt to rewrite history … I’m bemused that the Senate could devote so many resources to studying the interrogation program and yet never once speak to any of the key people involved in it, including the guy who ran it, that would be me.”

One report from the twelve month period in 2004 showed a 92% success rate when EITs were used at GITMO, and even the Senate Intelligence report had to admit that some intelligence was gathered from 82% of detainees subjected to EITs, while in CIA custody. The effectiveness was shown to be only 57.5% with detainees when soft-sell techniques (polygraphs) were used.

Since the creation of the detention and interrogation program, the CIA has reported any allegation of abuse to the Justice Dept. Twenty cases have been forwarded to Justice in all these years, with only one meriting prosecution.

On December 11th, CIA Director John Brennan put this topic in its proper context as he stated: “The events of 9/11 will be forever seared into the memory of Americans … those 77 minutes in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Our Nation ached … It prayed. In Our pain, We pledged to come together … We vowed, NEVER AGAIN.”

Americans are now being forced by this report to reflect and ask themselves, “Was America wrong to use these Enhanced Interrogation Techniques?”

The Taliban, Al Qaeda and the Islamofascist groups that now comprise the Islamic State have routinely tortured, maimed and murdered their prisoners over the last several decades, just as America witnessed nineteen U.S. soldiers dismembered in Somalia and hung from utility poles in 1993 and, more recently, four young Christian children beheaded in Iraq for refusing to convert to Islam. And during this time, they have consistently and routinely worked towards successfully striking America in the most destructive and lethal fashion; the bomb plots, the biological and chemical attack plans and their search for nuclear weapons have all increased, and all of this was in the making long before the EIT program, as illustrated by the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Americans reflect on what has brought us to this discussion, and we remember ___ We remember Islamic terrorists followed the Koran’s mandate to murder non-believers, the infidels, in order to purify the world ___ taking the lives of 3000 innocent Americans. This is their life’s calling, and America reacted by making it our mission to capture or kill every Islamofascist meaning to bring Her harm, a mission we took seriously; if an Islamic terror suspect or known terrorist gets slapped a few times or has a little water poured over his face, I’ll not be shedding any tears.

CIA saved lives

 Click on the logo to get the facts

Former CIA Officer Gary Berntsen talks reactions to the Agency’s report

Published on Dec 11, 2014 by CCTV America

CCTV America interviewed Gary Berntsen for an inside perspective on the report. Berntsen is a former CIA Senior Operations Officer.

Also see:

Brennan Disappoints Again

2866529523CSP, by Fred Fleitz:

CIA Director John Brennan did some good in his unprecedented CIA press conference on the report released this week by Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the enhanced interrogation program. He defended the Agency and its employees from unfair attacks on its efforts to stop further terrorist attacks after 9/11. He disputed claims in the report that the CIA lied to Congress about the enhanced interrogation program. He noted that the Agency stayed in regular contact with Congress and the Justice Department about this program and self-reported when things went wrong. He stressed how unfair it was that the investigation failed to interview any CIA officials. Brennan also decried the investigation’s failure to consider that the enhanced interrogation program was initiated in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks when U.S. officials were fearful of further al-Qaeda terrorist attacks.

I was glad to hear Brennan say these things. However, he undermined his message by also straddling the fence on the value of the enhanced interrogation program in an attempt to win political support from congressional Democrats when he said that that although detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation produced “useful information,” he claimed the cause and effect relationship between the interrogations and obtaining useful information “is unknowable.” Senator Feinstein quickly praised these statements but added that she disagreed “that it is ‘unknowable’ whether information needed to stop terrorist attacks could be obtained from other sources.”

Last August I called for John Brennan to resign after he mishandled an incident when Democratic Senate staff improperly removed classified documents from a CIA facility during the enhanced interrogation investigation. Senator Feinstein misrepresented the CIA’s actions as spying on Congress. I suspect Brennan is trying to win back the support of Feinstein and other Senate Democrats after this incident by his comments that hedged on the value of the enhanced interrogation program.

Brennan could have served the interests of the CIA and U.S. national security better by firmly standing behind this program like former CIA Directors Goss, Tenet, and Hayden did and not engaging in a strange epistemological argument on what is “knowable.”   Goss, Tenet, and Hayden, who worked more closely on this program than Brennan, believe it is “knowable” that the enhanced interrogation program produced unique, time-sensitive intelligence on terrorism threats that could not have been obtained through other means.

This also used to be Brennan’s position. According to the Wall Street Journal, a March 2009 memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee signed by Brennan said: “CIA assesses that most, if not all, of the timely intelligence acquired from detainees in this program would not have been discovered or reported by any other means.” Brennan also didn’t make this “unknowable” argument when he presented the CIA’s rebuttal to the Senate report last year.

Brennan’s hedging on the enhanced interrogation program’s reflects an unfortunate trend toward watered-down analysis and risk aversion by CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies due to the firestorm of criticism it faced in the 2000s after intelligence failures related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Saddam Hussein’s WMD programs. To avoid being wrong or alienating anyone in Congress, intelligence analysis since the mid -2000s on controversial issues such as Iran’s nuclear program became increasingly bland and consensus-based.   Pressure has been put on intelligence analysts and agencies to support a consensus corporate line in their analysis to avoid being wrong and attracting congressional criticism.

Intelligence officials have tried to discredit any agencies or analysts who break from the corporate line on analysis. This happened in April 2013 when Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) inadvertently revealed a classified finding from a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report that he said “assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles, however the reliability will be low.” Senior U.S. intelligence officials immediately dismissed the DIA report cited by Lamborn as an outlier as did the Obama administration. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper read a statement that said the DIA report “is not [his emphasis] an Intelligence Community assessment.”

U.S. intelligence analysis should be written the way Director William Casey insisted it be written: analysts must provide their best assessment and dare to be wrong. Intelligence analysts shouldn’t be pulling their punches because of how their work might be received by the White House or Congress. Brennan’s hedging on the value of the enhanced interrogation program is the latest indication that American intelligence analysis is being driven by political considerations and has a long way to go to return to the high standard demanded by Director Casey so it produces the incisive and bold assessments needed to protect our country in a dangerous world.

Brennan: Claim That Detainees Didn’t Provide Valuable Intel After EITs ‘Lacks Any Foundation at All’

 

PJ Media, By Bridget Johnson, December 11, 2014:

WASHINGTON — CIA Director John Brennan stepped to the podium at Langley today for a rare press conference to respond to a report accusing the agency of torture, launching into a passionate defense of the men and women who work there.

Brennan began by walking everyone back to the dark days of 9/11, and reminded all that the first combat death in Afghanistan — Johnny “Mike” Spann, killed on Nov. 25, 2001 — was CIA. Since then, he said, 20 more CIA officers “have lost their lives around the world at the hands of terrorists.”

But he also stressed that the Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats’ report, which said enhanced interrogation techniques were not effective in gleaning useful intelligence, ”lacks any foundation at all” in its conclusion.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Brennan said, “Our government and our citizens recognized the urgency of the task to find and stop al-Qaeda before it could shed the blood of more innocent men, women and children, be it in America or be it in any other corner of the world.”

The EIT program was “uncharted territory for the CIA and we were not prepared,” he added. “We had little experience housing detainees and precious few of our officers were trained interrogators… As concerns about Al Qaeda’s terrorist plans endured, a variety of these techniques were employed by CIA officers on several dozen detainees over the course of five years before they ended in December of 2007.”

“The previous administration faced agonizing choices about how to pursue al-Qaeda and prevent additional terrorist attacks against our country while facing fears of further attacks and carrying out the responsibility to prevent more catastrophic loss of life. There were no easy answers. And whatever your views are on EITs, our nation and, in particular this agency, did a lot of things right during this difficult time to keep this country strong and secure.”

Brennan said the CIA views Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) report as “flawed” in its execution, noting that CIA officers were not interviewed by committee investigators.

“In a limited number of cases, agency officers used interrogation techniques that had not been authorized, were abhorrent, and rightly should be repudiated by all. And we fell short when it came to holding some officers accountable for their mistakes,” he said. “It is vitally important to recognize, however, that the overwhelming majority of officers involved in the program at CIA carried out their responsibilities faithfully and in accordance with the legal and policy guidance they were provided. They did what they were asked to do in the service of our nation.”

Brennan stressed that detainees who were subjected to EITs did yield valuable intelligence, including in finding Osama bin Laden, but he cannot say whether it was the EITs that led the detainees to talk.

“The cause and effect relationship between the use of EITs and useful information subsequently provided by the detainee is, in my view, unknowable,” he said.

He added that the record “simply does not support the study’s inference that the agency repeatedly, systematically and intentionally misled others on the effectiveness of the program.”

“Primarily, however, the study’s contention that we repeatedly and intentionally misled the public and the rest of the U.S. government rests on the committee’s view that detainees subjected to EITs did not produce useful intelligence, a point on which we still fundamentally disagree.”

The longtime CIA veteran — who joined in 1980 and was deputy executive director when al-Qaeda struck the homeland on 9/11 – said one of the “most frustrating aspects” of the study is that it “conveys a broader view of the CIA and its officers as untrustworthy, that the institution and the workforce were willing to forego their integrity in order to preserve a program they were invested in and supposedly believed to be right.”

“This in no way comports with my experience in the CIA. While the agency has a traditional bias for action and a determined focus on achieving our mission, we take exceptional pride in providing truth to power, whether that power likes or agrees with what we believe and what we say or not and regardless of whether that power is affiliated with any particular political party.”

Feinstein was live-tweeting Brennan’s speech, responding to his statements with the hashtag #ReadTheReport.

The senator said in a statement after the speech that Brennan’s uncertainty of which techniques led to actionable intelligence substantiated her report’s claims. “This is a welcome change from the CIA’s position in the past that information was obtained as a direct result of EITs,” Feinstein said.

Yet Brennan also said: “But for someone to say that there was no intelligence of value of use that came from those detainees once they were subjected to EITs, I think that is — lacks any foundation at all.”

Feinstein disagreed that it’s “unknowable” whether the EITs led to the intelligence.

“The report shows that such information in fact was obtained through other means, both traditional CIA human intelligence and from other agencies,” she said. “…The president, Congress and other policymakers must get the facts and intelligence assessments without them being colored by policy views or an effort to hide embarrassing facts.”

“As one who received CIA briefings in 2006 and 2007 about the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, I know that the CIA did not ‘speak truth to power,’ and that the descriptions of interrogations that were finally provided to the committee did not accurately reflect reality.”

President Obama refused to talk about Brennan today when asked at an Export Council meeting.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that Obama still has confidence in his CIA director.

“The president is pleased to have — to count him as one of the people who has been a senior member of his national security team since the very beginning of his tenure in office, and the president continues to rely on his advice to this day,” he said.

Earnest said Brennan was at the White House this morning only to participate in the president’s daily briefing. “It’s not particularly unusual for him to do that,” he added.

When asked at the CIA press conference about whether reporters will be back in the same room in several years, faced with a similarly damning report about the Obama administration’s use of drones and civilian deaths, Brennan said he couldn’t talk about current operations.

“I will tell you, though, that during my tenure at the White House, as the president’s assistant for counterterrorism, that the use of these unmanned aerial vehicles that you refer to as drones in the counterterrorism effort has done tremendous work to keep this country safe,” he said. “The ability to use these platforms and advanced technologies, it has advanced the counterterrorism mission and the U.S. military has done some wonderful things with these platforms.”

“And in terms of precision of effort, accuracy and making sure that this country, this country’s military does everything possible to minimize to the great extent possible the loss of life of noncombatants, I think there’s a lot for this country and this White House and the military to be proud of.”

VICE News Exclusive: The Architect of the CIA’s Enhanced Interrogation Program

 

Published on Dec 10, 2014 by VICE News

The Senate Intelligence Committee has released a blistering, 500-page report on the CIA’s controversial detention and interrogation program, a document that committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said represents the most significant oversight effort in the history of the US Senate.

The $40 million, five-year study concluded that CIA officials exaggerated the value of the intelligence they gleaned from dozens of “high-value detainees” held at black site prisons, where they were subjected to so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as sleep deprivation and waterboarding.

The committee reviewed more than 6 million pages of top-secret CIA documents and found that the architect of the interrogation program was a retired Air Force psychologist named James Mitchell, an agency contractor who — according to news reports — personally waterboarded alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The Senate report does not identify Mitchell by name.

Mitchell has a signed a non-disclosure agreement with the CIA and was unable to discuss his alleged role in the agency’s enhanced interrogation program, but VICE News met up with him in suburban Florida to discuss the Senate’s report and one of the darkest chapters of the war on terror. This is the first time Mitchell has ever appeared on camera.

Also see:

A Professional Opinion on Torture: What the CIA Report Ignores About Interrogation

CIA (1)Breitbart, by DR. SEBASTIAN GORKA, Dec. 10, 2014:
Just a day after the Democrat-driven release of the report on the CIA’s “Enhanced Interrogations,” the news cycle is once again being driven by the issue of state-sanctioned torture, despite the program the report covers having ended many years ago. The story is clearly just as much a political one as national security one.

“Americans should be ashamed!” “The Democrats are endangering our servicemen and our allies!” Such is the extreme spread of opinion and reaction to the release yesterday of a 522-page report from the Democrat-led Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Standard narratives oscillate between condemning any use by America of tactics such as waterboarding, to those who see the release as a potential trigger for attacks against US interests around the world.

But what are the facts? In my career, I have trained US federal law enforcement agents in the principals of how to effectively interview Jihadist suspects. Before, that I was involved in the training of British special forces (SAS), in helping them resist interrogation by the enemy. Here is what I know:

  • Professionals do not use violence when interrogating “bad guys.” Even the most heinous terrorists. Why? Because most humans do not like pain and you never know if your prisoner actually has the information you need. As a result, when they “break,” you have no idea if they are inventing information just to make you stop hurting them. Subsequently, you may take that fabricated information and plan future operations around them, thus endangering the lives of your own people because the information was false.
  • Torturing people, or even “just” waterboarding them– a procedure which makes the subject feel as if they are drowning– may break a subject, but it will most often engender even greater hatred. That hatred cannot be controlled, especially if you are in an extra-judicial situation, or in a battlefield environment, which may lead at some point to the release of your prisoner. As a result, you may take a lowly foot-soldier who was just fighting you to feed his family and turn them into a person totally committed to the destruction of the United States. Remember the head of ISIS/The Islamic State, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, was once our prisoner.
  • The “ticking time-bomb” scenario is a powerful argument, but by its nature should not be used as a justification for standing policies.  The idea that the interrogator can “step over the line” when the threat is dire and imminent is sympathetic to many reasonable people. However, there is no way to codify dire and imminent in an operationally useful fashion. A nuclear bomb timed to explode in New York tomorrow? Sure. But what about a car bomb in a “major” US city by April? Can I torture then? (One approach has been suggested by a kidnap case in Europe in which the victim was expected to die imminently and the perpetrator was in custody. The officer in charge, using the ticking time bomb analogy, decided to use violence. But first he told all his colleagues to leave the room and formally accepted all the legal ramifications of hurting the prisoner. And he was in fact prosecuted for his actions although he made the suspect talk. Note: his  actions were never used as an argument for a permanent change in policy. The individual knew that what he was doing was wrong and he was prepared for the consequences).
  • The argument that we did “bad” things as a nation for the greater good in the past is not sound either. Yes, we interned Japanese Americans, and our allies, the British, tortured SS officers. So what? Do we really think that American citizens should have been treated differently because of their skin color or where they grandparents came from? And yes, the Nazis were incarnate evil, and the SS the worst of all, but does that really mean ALL options are open? Can I parade the prisoner’s children into the cell and proceed to threaten their lives, or physically hurt them to get him to talk? Surely, if the war against Global Jihadism has any meaning, it is because we posit ourselves as morally good and the enemy as evil. Does that distinction end when the door to the cell is slammed shut?
Torture is simply un-American and is also not good professional practice.
However, there are broader issues. This document is so voluminous that, despite redaction, several mainstream media news sources have already pieced together conclusions, as have the countries which assisted in the program. We can rest assured that ISIS, Al Qaeda, and even Tehran and Russia will be poring over the 500-plus pages too.
Secondly, the idea that one administration can provide the legal standing for the use of a technique – even if it is unwise, or wrong – and then the officials who followed those orders can be prosecuted years later because the administration has changed, will have an effect on our capacity as a nation to protect ourselves. Our people need to know the politicians won’t betray them.
Lastly, the whole unseemly sight of a Congressional body rushing to release such sensitive information simply because their leadership’s party lost the last election is not how we deal with matters of national security. Preventing another 9/11 is not a partisan issue.
Dr. Sebastian Gorka is the Major General Matthew C. Horner Distinguished Chair of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University, and the National Security and Foreign Affairs editor for Breitbart.com . You can follow him at @SebGorka.
Also see:

New U.S. embassy warnings posted after release of CIA interrogation report

A police officer patrols outside the U.S. embassy in London Dec. 9, 2014. The Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the CIA’s anti-terrorism tactics on Tuesday and U.S. officials moved to shore up security at American facilities around the world as a precaution. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

A police officer patrols outside the U.S. embassy in London Dec. 9, 2014. The Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the CIA’s anti-terrorism tactics on Tuesday and U.S. officials moved to shore up security at American facilities around the world as a precaution. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Washington Post, By Dan Lamothe, Dec. 9. 2014:

The State Department released new security warnings Tuesday following the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of a controversial report on CIA interrogation techniques, saying Americans should avoid crowds and watch out for unrest.

Emergency messages issued in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Thailand all cited the Senate report’s release as a cause for concern. State Department officials suggested monitoring developments through local media and U.S. embassy websites.

U.S. citizens “should be aware that the release of declassified versions of the executive summary, findings, and conclusions of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s study on the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program could prompt anti-U.S. protests and violence against U.S. interests, including private U.S. citizens,” the warnings said. “U.S. citizens should pay attention to their surroundings and take appropriate safety precautions, including avoiding demonstrations or confrontational situations.”

The new warnings come after defense officials confirmed Monday that had put a number of military units on a heightened state of alert in anticipation of unrest because of the report’s release. The units involved include a crisis-response unit that has Marines in Sigonella, Italy, and Morón, Spain, a second crisis-response unit with troops in Kuwait and Iraq, and 50-man teams of fleet anti-terrorism security team (FAST) Marines who are typically called upon to reinforce U.S. embassies.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have been sites of unrest perpetually since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on Washington and New York. Thailand was the home of a “black site” prison in which interrogations occurred, including some on Abu Zabaida, who is accused by the U.S. of being involved in al-Qaeda operations. He lost an eye at the site after undergoing interrogation that included waterboarding, according to the report.

The Senate report does not identify the location of the black sites, but includes a color-coded system that calls the one in Thailand “Detention Site Green.” The Washington Post determined which one was which using other details in the report.

Also see: