CIA Under Fire for Failure in Iraq

 

People inspect buildings damaged by an Iraqi government airstrike on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant controlled city of Mosul / AP

People inspect buildings damaged by an Iraqi government airstrike on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant controlled city of Mosul / AP

By Bill Gertz:

The CIA failed to provide adequate warning of the recent Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant military incursion into Iraq despite having a significant presence of agency officers in the country, according to U.S. officials and security analysts.

Critics of the agency said the intelligence failure was made worse by a failure of the Obama administration to recognize the threat posed to the country by the ISIL, which last week renamed itself simply the Islamic State (IS) and declared its captured territory in Syria and Iraq is now a “caliphate.”

The so-called caliphate region is under harsh Islamic law and led by IS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi as its “caliph” or Islamic leader.

“This is an absolute intelligence failure on the part of the CIA,” said Bill Cowan, a former Special Forces officer who worked until recently as a contractor in Iraq.

During U.S. military operations in Iraq, military intelligence agencies set up robust spying—both human and electronic—throughout Iraq that provided a clear picture of the insurgents, including the former Saddam Hussein military officials who currently are a major component of the IS operation.

However, with the Obama administration’s decision to pull out all troops, the military intelligence coverage was removed at the end of 2011.

“With all military intel out of the picture, the CIA takes primary responsibility for HUMINT activities in Iraq. Where were they? No interaction with tribal leaders who probably watched the build up? No interaction with the [northern Kurdish] Peshmerga? The agency isn’t on the radar screen, but they should be.”

A Kurdish security official with the regional government in northern Iraq said intelligence on key figures in the terrorist group, including the locations of IS training camps and the movement of vehicle convoys from Syria was provided to both Baghdad and western intelligence agencies.

“It all fell on deaf ears,” said Rooz Bahjay, the security official. “The west failed to act, and now it’s failing to react. The longer they wait, the more people are going to be killed.”

Cowan said the failure to provide warning and alert in advance of the incursion, which began in early June, made it impossible to take steps that could have blunted the advance, which currently controls major cities in central Iraq and at least one oil field, failure that will produce dire strategic consequences for the United States and states in region.

The CIA denied it is to blame for any intelligence failure on Iraq. “Anyone who has had access to and actually read the full extent of CIA intelligence products on ISIL and Iraq should not have been surprised by the current situation,” CIA spokesman Christopher White when asked about whether the agency was guilty of an intelligence failure.

A U.S. intelligence official did not directly state whether CIA or other spy agencies provided advance word of the IS invasion. However, the official said IS was tracked for years and “strategic warning” of its growing strength and increasing threat to Iraq were reported.

The official also said policymakers were warned about difficulties within the U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces. Several divisions of Iraqi troops fled during the IS incursion.

Read more at Free Beacon

Update IV of The Benghazi Brief – “Operation Zero Footprint” – What We Know About The Benghazi Mission, And Subsequent Attack…

benghazi4-e1351495805540By Sundance, June 25, 2014:

UPDATE IV -  In response to the Times of London report, and in a generally dismissed part of her congressional testimony,  Senator Rand Paul asked outgoing Secretary Hillary Clinton a very specific question – (See @2:20 of this video and pay attention to the “duping delight”):

 

Which would bring us to a series of now reconcilable questions surrounding the joint State Dept. and CIA Benghazi Mission.

The entire weapons operation was labeled “Operation Zero Footprint”.  The intent is outlined in the operational title – to leave no visible record of U.S. involvement in arming the Libyan “rebels”.   No visible footprint.

We know from congressional inquiry Ambassador Chris Stevens had asked for more security in the months prior to Sept. 11th 2012.   Requests sent to the State Dept that were denied.

We also know that NO MARINE DETACHMENT was ever put in place to defend the Benghazi Mission.

We also know the Benghazi Mission was initially, and mistakenly by media, called “a consulate”, or a “consulate outpost”.  But there was no State Dept record of any consulate office in Benghazi.

All of these seeming contradictions can be reconciled with the simple understanding that this “Mission” was unofficial.   Remember the goal – No visible footprint.

Why were security requests denied?   Remember the goal – No visible footprint.

We know from General Carter Ham (AFRICOM Commander now retired) the Department of Defense was not even aware the State Dept was operating a mission in Benghazi during 2012.   Remember the goal – No visible footprint.

How could Hillary Clinton, Charlene Lamb, or Patrick Kennedy approve or request a marine security detachment knowing the entire mission around Benghazi was covert?  Such a request would have travelled outside the small group of State/CIA insiders.  The request would have gone to DoD.  Short answer, they couldn’t.

Hence the disconnect between what seemed to be obvious and/or simple questions and the inability to accurately discuss in the public venues of congressional inquiry.

To the public Chris Stevens was a U.S. ambassador, a diplomat.  To the folks inside the State Dept and CIA, Chris Stevens was a U.S. Ambassador, AND a CIA operative coordinating covert arms sales.

Even after death the public face of Chris Stevens, the official role, was able to be discussed.   The covert, or unofficial role, was not.   Again, we see the disconnect between inquiry that could be answered, and inquiry that could not be answered.  Many irreconcilables surface because of this intelligence role – even through today.

The second role of Stevens, the covert and CIA aspect, still causes problems for people trying to understand the “why not” questions.   The broader public asking why have we not seen, or heard from the survivors of the attacks?

The short answer is, we have not – but the intelligence community has.

Twice some of the survivors have given testimony to congress.   The problem for the public is that those hearings are closed door, classified, intelligence hearings – led by Chairman Mike Rogers and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.   Again, go back to the beginning of Operation Zero Footprint and you see the congressional Intelligence Gang of Eight were fully aware of the intents.

Why was Speaker Boehner reluctant to establish a Select Committee on Benghazi ?

Simple, again he is one of the Gang of Eight – and he was briefed of the operation.   How is he going to call for a select committee when he knows the substance of the committee investigation is classified under national security.   Such a committee would not, because it could not, deliver what the public was requesting, sunlight.

The only reason Trey Gowdy was finally assigned the task of a Select Committee, was simply because the public lies of the White House and administration were contradicting themselves.

The White House “talking points”, which is a ridiculous squirrel hunt, were created to reconcile the problem faced when unable to discuss a covert operation.  It is far easier to look at the reality of the problem faced by the White House than any nefarious intention.

Unfortunately for the administration they are not that good.   Team Obama was so committed to keeping the covert operation “Zero Footprint” a secret (because of  the political embarrassment from factually arming al Qaeda) that the cover story they manufactured (on the fly) was fraught with contradictions.

How could President Obama dispatch help to the Benghazi team, when DoD was not even aware of it’s existence?   Sending help would have compromised OpSec, Operational Security.

The dispatch of F.A.S.T. would lead to increased knowledge of a covert operation.

Hopefully you are beginning to see the root of the contradictions.  Once you understand the truth of what was going on within the backstory – there’s almost nothing left which would dangle as an unanswered question.   It all reconciles.

Read more at The Conservative Tree House (scroll down for Update IV)

(Update Part III): “Operation Zero Footprint” – What We Know About The Benghazi Mission and Subsequent Attack…

benghazi4-e1351495805540By Sundance, June 22, 2014: (Hat tip Allen West)

We now have a pretty good understanding of who, what, where, and why surrounding the 9/11/12 attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi Libya. We are also better positioned to understand why, or perhaps more importantly why not, certain actions were taken before, during, and in the immediate aftermath of the attack itself.

We know from the Bret Baier interview with Hillary Clinton that she was physically located at her 7th floor office in Washington DC on the night of the attack. Unfortunately we also know during the November 2012 Thanksgiving holiday a mysterious fire took place in that building. Well, actually directly above her exact office - cause undetermined.

A “fire” which preceded an unfortunate slip and fall for the Secretary, resulting in a concussion, which led to the discovery of a blood clot, that ultimately delayed her congressional testimony before a Senate Hearing into the events of the night in question.

We know the Libyan uprising began on February 10th of 2011, and we also know that sometime around the end of February 2011 President Obama signed a presidential directive authorizing the State Dept and CIA to begin a covert operation to arm the Libyan “rebels”.

We know the “rebels” were positioned in two strategic places. Benghazi, and the port city of Darnah, both located in Eastern Libya.

We know this covert operation came to be known as “Operation Zero Footprint“, and fell under the military command authority of NATO not (important to repeat), NOT, the U.S. Military.

We know by the time operation “Zero Footprint” began, AFRICOM commander General Carter Ham was removed from OPSEC oversight in the Libyan campaign and NATO commander Admiral James G. Stavridis was in charge.

Stavridis was the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) at the time of the Libyan uprising. He retired as SACEUR in 2013

In 2011, 57-year-old Stavridis was the perfect pick for NATO Libyan intervention considering he is the son of Turkish immigrants. Turkey played a key role in what might be the most politically dangerous aspect of the events to the White House once the goals changed to redirection of the weapons from Operation Zero Footprint.

We know Operation Zero Footprint was the covert transfer of weapons from the U.S to the Libyan “rebels”. We also know the operation avoided the concerns with congressional funding, and potential for public scrutiny, through financing by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

We also know that officials within the government of Qatar served as the intermediaries for the actual transfer of the weapons, thereby removing the footprint of the U.S. intervention.

We know the entire operation was coordinated and controlled by the State Department and CIA. We also know (from the Senate Foreign Relations Benghazi hearings) that “Zero Footprint” was unknown to the 2011 Pentagon and/or DoD commanders who would have been tasked with any military response to the 9/11/12 attack – namely AFRICOM General Carter Ham.

However, it would be implausible to think that then Defense Secretary Bob Gates or Joint Chiefs Chair Admiral McMullen were completely unaware of the operation, this aspect remains murky.

Both Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs Chair McMullen were in place when Operation Zero Footprint began but retired from their jobs in Sept of 2011, and were replaced by Bob Gates and Martin Dempsey respectively.

Leon Panetta was CIA Director at the beginning of Operation Zero Footprint (March 2011) and was replaced by CIA Director David Petraeus in the fall of 2011 as Panetta replaced Bob Gates and became Secretary of Defense.

However, Panetta (now as Def Sec) and JC Martin Dempsey were the two who initially briefed President Obama on the night of Sept 11th 2012. Leon Panetta definitely had knowledge of the intents of the joint State Dept/Cia mission in Benghazi, Dempsey may not have.

We know the White House appears to have followed “The Intelligence Oversight Act of 1980” in informing the congressional “Gang of Eight” of Zero Footprint.

The Gang of Eight in 2011 would have included: Speaker – John Boehner, Minority Leader – Nancy Pelosi; House Permanent Select Committee on Intel Chairman – Mike Rogers, and his Democrat counterpart Charles Ruppersberger; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; along with Senate Intel Chair Diane Feinstein and her Republican counterpart, Saxby Chambliss.

From Hillary interviews we also know the White House liaison for Secretary Clinton and CIA Director Leon Panetta during Operation Zero Footprint was National Security Advisor To the President, Tom Donilon.

With this information we can assemble a cast of people “IN THE KNOW” of Operation Zero Footprint on two specific date blocks. March 2011 through Pre 9/11/12 attack – and – Post 9/11/12 attack forward.

Read more at The Conservative Tree House

LATEST BENGHAZI FOIA LAWSUIT MAY REVEAL WHAT CONGRESS KNEW BEFORE ATTACK

imagescaoeryuz (1)by KERRY PICKET:

Judicial Watch, a Washington D.C based watchdog organization, announced last week, that it filed on May 15, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Departments of Defense and State to get records relating to briefings that any members of Congress’ “Super 8” may have received about “the activities of any agency or department of the U.S. government at the Special Mission Compound and/or classified annex in Benghazi, Libya.”

Breitbart News previously reported how the Benghazi issue is interwoven with U.S. law regarding White House briefings on covert CIA actions the executive branch wishes to authorize.

This general protocol to notify Congress of such covert actions has been the law since the passage of the 1947 National Security Act.  By 1980, legislation was passed and signed into law to give the president the authority to limit prior notification of extremely sensitive covert actions to eight members of Congress.

From their FOIA, Judicial Watch has requested:

a) Any and all records detailing the dates on which any official of the [Departments of Defense and State] briefed any of the following members of Congress on matters related to the activities of any agency or department of the U.S. government at the Special Mission Compound and/or classified annex in Benghazi, Libya.

    • Rep. John Boehner [Speaker of the House]
    • Rep. Mike Rogers [Chairman, House Select Permanent Committee on Intelligence]
    • Rep. Charles “Dutch” Ruppersberger [Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence]
    • Rep. Nancy Pelosi [Minority Leader of the House]
    • Sen. Dianne Feinstein [Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence]
    • Sen. Saxby Chambliss [Vice Chairman, Senate Select Committee in Intelligence]
    • Sen. Harry Reid [Senate Majority Leader]
    • Sen. Mitch McConnell [Senate Minority Leader]

b) Any and all records produced by any official of the[ Departments of Defense and State] in preparation for, use during, and/or pursuant to any of the aforementioned briefings (including, but is not limited to, any and all reports, analyses, presentation slides, and/or notes).

c) Any and all records of communication between any official of the [Departments of Defense and State] and any of the aforementioned members of Congress and/or any of their respective staff members regarding, concerning, or related to activities or operations of any agency of the U.S. government at the Special Mission Compound and/or the classified annex in Benghazi, Libya.

CNN and the UK Telegraph both reported in August of 2013 that a complex arms operation was happening in Benghazi prior to and during the attack and the White House and the State Department have never confirmed why the CIA annex was in Benghazi to begin with.

Since 2013, Breitbart News has spoken to different members of the Super 8 and each have denied knowing anything about an arms running operation in Libya, but while only one has confirmed that he was aware of the existence of the CIA annex in Benghazi, others were either unaware of the CIA facility or were not willing to say either way.

Some members may try to publicly deny the classified information they are briefed about. Pelosi, a Super 8 member, was snagged in 2009, when it came to light  she was briefed in 2003 by the Bush White House about the administration’s tactic to water-board terrorism suspects during interrogations. Pelosi previously denied she was aware of this fact and attacked the Bush administration for it.

Radio host Laura Ingraham asked Speaker John Boehner on January 24, 2013 about Senator Rand Paul’s gun running in Libya questioning to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Paul asked if the secretary was aware of U.S. involvement in the procuring of weapons that were transferred, bought or sold to Turkey out of Libya. Clinton, seemingly confused, told Paul “nobody [had] ever raised” the issue with her before.

Boehner replied to Ingraham, “I’m somewhat familiar with the chatter about this and the fact that these arms were moving towards Turkey, but most of what I know about this came from a classified source and I really can’t elaborate on it.”

Congressman Rogers (R-MI), though, told Breitbart News in June of 2013, “I get to see all of that stuff. I have seen nothing that would allow me to conclude that the U.S. government was in any way shape or form involved in gun running in Libya. I looked at it all.”

Senator Chambliss (R-GA), when asked in February of 2013 if he knew anything about the gun running issue Senator Rand Paul asked Clinton about a month earlier replied , “I’m not familiar with that.”

Senator Feinstein (D-CA) told Breitbart News in March of 2013 she “didn’t know what” Senator Paul was talking about in regards to his questioning of Clinton and the Secretary’s knowledge about the gunrunning issue in Benghazi.

Congressman Ruppersberger (D-MD) also did not appear to know anything about a gunrunning operation in Libya either, telling Breitbart News in May of 2013, “I don’t know anything about that. The only thing I know is that even before he was ambassador, he knew very much about Libya and he had a lot of good relationships and contacts, trying to resolve issues, but I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

The existence of the CIA annex in Benghazi prior the attack also seemed to not be on some of the Super 8’s radar. In fact, according to the Senate’s Intelligence Committee report (p.27-28) on Benghazi, General Carter Ham– the second Commander, U.S. Africa Command, was not aware of the annex either before the attack happened.

Read more at Breitbart

Also see:

How the Taliban got their hands on modern US missiles

Taliban militia stand in the back of a pickup truck with heat-seeking Stinger missiles. Photo: Getty Images

Taliban militia stand in the back of a pickup truck with heat-seeking Stinger missiles.
Photo: Getty Images

The Obama administration isn’t only giving the Taliban back its commanders — it’s giving them weapons.

Miliary records and sources reveal that on July 25, 2012, Taliban fighters in Kunar province successfully targeted a US Army CH-47 helicopter with a new generation Stinger missile.

They thought they had a surefire kill. But instead of bursting into flames, the Chinook just disappeared into the darkness as the American pilot recovered control of the aircraft and brought it to the ground in a hard landing.

The assault team jumped out the open doors and ran clear in case it exploded. Less than 30 seconds later, the Taliban gunner and his comrade erupted into flames as an American gunship overhead locked onto their position and opened fire.

The next day, an explosive ordnance disposal team arrived to pick through the wreckage and found unexploded pieces of a missile casing that could only belong to a Stinger missile.

Lodged in the right nacelle, they found one fragment that contained an entire serial number.

The investigation took time. Arms were twisted, noses put out of joint. But when the results came back, they were stunning: The Stinger tracked back to a lot that had been signed out by the CIA recently, not during the anti-Soviet ­jihad.

Reports of the Stinger reached the highest echelons of the US command in Afghanistan and became a source of intense speculation, but no action.

Everyone knew the war was winding down. Revealing that the Taliban had US-made Stingers risked demoralizing coalition troops. Because there were no coalition casualties, government officials made no public announcement of the attack.

My sources in the US Special Operations community believe the Stinger fired against the Chinook was part of the same lot the CIA turned over to the ­Qataris in early 2011, weapons Hillary Rodham Clinton’s State Department intended for anti-Khadafy forces in Libya.

They believe the Qataris delivered between 50 and 60 of those same Stingers to the Taliban in early 2012, and an additional 200 SA-24 Igla-S surface-to-air missiles.

Qatar now is expected to hold five Taliban commanders released from Guantanamo for a year before allowing them to go to Afghanistan.

But if we can’t trust the Qataris not to give our weapons to the Taliban, how can we trust them with this?

Also see:

 

Exposure of CIA Station Chief Spotlights Administration’s Immaturity

obama-hagel-apPJ Media; by Andrew C. McCarthy:

Anybody can make a mistake, and that certainly appears to be what led to the Obama White House’s exposure of the top CIA official in Afghanistan this weekend. Unfortunately, as Roger Kimball details, this is not an isolated incident. In year six of the Obama administration, it speaks volumes about not just incompetence but immaturity and the skewed priorities that come with it.

Exactly because anyone can make a mistake, large organizations — presidential administrations included — build layers of vetting into the disclosure of information to the public. In this instance, because the commander-in-chief made a surprise visit to Afghanistan over Memorial Day weekend, the White House put out a list of government officials the president met with. Somehow, that list included the intelligence official’s name with the designation “chief of station.”

This error is so basic that it grabbed the attention of Scott Wilson of the Washington Post, the “pool reporter” who received the list. Regrettably, he’d already sent out the pool report by the time he noticed the station chief designation and thought to ask whether the White House press office had really intended to put out that information.

That’s how the administration learned about what it had done — from a reporter. Think about that. In the composition and disclosure of this list, many people on both the military end and White House end have to have known that such information should never be circulated. That’s not only true as a matter of principle and common sense; it’s empirically true: Fox News reports that this administration has already had to remove a CIA station chief in Pakistan (in 2010) because of an exposure incident. It is astonishing that such an obvious error was not caught.

It is, moreover, tough to be sympathetic because Democrats never are when the shoe is on the other foot. When Valerie Plame was outed as a CIA operative — apparently inadvertently, by senior State Department official Richard Armitage — Democrats turned the error into a major controversy that damaged the Bush administration. Ms. Plame had a desk job at Langley and there are no indications that her exposure caused much harm. (There were reports at the time suggesting that she had been exposed long before through a bureaucratic screw-up.) By contrast, the official just exposed by the White House is the current top CIA official in a war zone that presents tremendous challenges to the United States, one where intelligence gathering is at a premium. The gravity of this error thus appears far more serious than the one over which Democrats spent years demanding a Bush administration scalp.

Finally, to take a longer view, consider (a) the way the Obama administration elevated politics over national security in leaking classified information after the bin Laden raid; (b) the administration’s failure to provide adequate security for American personnel in Benghazi, four of whom were eventually killed; and (c) the irresponsible rules of engagement imposed on our troops in Afghanistan — hampering their ability to conduct operations and defend themselves while under attack. A pattern emerges. This administration is cavalier when it comes to the security of people who put their lives on the line in order to serve our country. It is also cavalier when it comes to intelligence, which is exposed when politically expedient — whether to depict the president as a brilliant commander-in-chief, to satisfy the demands of Obama’s base, or to address other transient needs. Indeed, while I would not criticize a commander-in-chief for spending time with American troops overseas, it is impossible not to notice that this trip to Afghanistan was undertaken while the president is dogged by the VA scandal.

The administration did not mean to expose the CIA station chief in Afghanistan, potentially endangering the officer, his colleagues, and others who cooperated with them. But these errors happen for a reason. Some administrations make it a major priority to protect American personnel and intelligence assets. In this administration, these matters are less of a priority, and we cannot be surprised when errors caused by inattention to detail happen.

Also see:

Valerie Plame and Obama’s Double Standard on Outing CIA Personnel

s-jarrett-largeFront Page, by :

Hoping to distract Americans from his death panels for veterans, Obama made a Bush style visit to Afghanistan and managed to cause even more harm to national security by outing the CIA Station Chief there.

The Democrats did their best to turn Valerie Plame into a martyr even though the only danger that the leftist faced was fewer invitations to cocktail parties. That didn’t stop Hollywood liberals from churning out a movie about her complete with action scenes.

Will the same standard hold for whoever outdated the CIA Station Chief in Afghanistan? Unlikely. The official narrative is that it was an accident. But if you believe that it’s an accident, then you also have to believe in the complete and total incompetence of Obama Inc. when it comes to security issues.

There’s a case to be made for that, but considering the deep-seated resentment of the country in the upper echelons of this administration, it was more likely deliberate.

Unlike Valerie Plame making her cocktail party tour, the CIA Station Chief in Afghanistan is at actual risk.

The newspaper said the official, identified as “Chief of Station” in Kabul, was named as being among those at a briefing with Obama during the president’s trip to Bagram Air Base near the Afghan capital.

The list of names was sent by email to reporters traveling with Obama on his surprise Afghanistan visit and included in a “pool report” shared with correspondents and others not on the trip.

The Post said the White House issued a revised list deleting the CIA official’s name after it recognized the mistake.

The newspaper said its White House bureau chief, Scott Wilson, who was on the trip, copied the original list from the email provided by White House press officials and included it in a report sent to a distribution list with over 6,000 recipients.

Is anyone going to be fired for it? Forget about it. There’s no accountability built into the system. They’ll just blame the military and hand over a scapegoat if the heat gets too hot.

A year prior, Obama was also part of a call for congressional investigations into the Bush administration’s biggest leak — the revealing of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity.

Obama joined a 2005 letter with 24 Democrats led by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who had just been defeated in the 2004 presidential election, urging the Republican-led Congress to undertake its own investigation into the Plame scandal.

President Bush had appointed a special counsel in the Plame case in 2003, which ultimately resulted in the conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff Scooter Libby.

Obama obviously doesn’t do independent investigations. Too many of his people would end up in jail beginning with his own Atty General.

In the letter signed by Obama, it asked for, “The public revelation of Ms. Plame’s identity, whether it amounts to a crime or an irresponsible breach of security protocol that doesn’t meet the standard of criminal conduct, almost certainly compromised her intelligence networks and may have compromised the safety and welfare of anyone who had worked with her overseas.  As a group of respected former intelligence officials wrote in 2004: “Any breach of the code of confidentiality and cover weakens the overall fabric of intelligence, and, directly or indirectly, jeopardizes the work and safety of intelligence workers and their sources.”

Valerie Plame, more of a socialite than an agent, was never in danger, despite Obama’s posturing. But his visit, itself a pathetic attempt at distracting the country from his administration’s death panels for veterans, did out a major CIA figure who is in danger.

Is Obama going to accept an investigation? He never does.

Intel Brief: the Obama administration “switched sides” in War on Terror

3895003860Center for Security Policy Senior Fellows bring of wealth of skills and experience to Center programs and initiatives. Two of those, Fred Fleitz and Clare Lopez, have applied their expertise to a continuing video project. Fleitz served in U.S. national security positions for 25 years at the CIA, DIA, Department of State and the House Intelligence Committee staff, while Lopez is a former 20-year career operations officer with the CIA, and a professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies. Find their latest intelligence brief below:

Clare Lopez of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi: Obama Administration “Switched Sides” in Global War on Terror

See also Clare’s article at Accuracy in Media (AIM)Material Support to Terrorism: The Case of Libya 

U.S. May Have Missed Opportunity to Take Out Top Al Qaeda Leaders

Screen-Shot-2014-04-16-at-10.06.28-AMBY: Washington Free Beacon Staff:

April 16, 2014 10:14 am

Al Qaeda leaders were able to hold a large meeting somewhere in south Yemen despite U.S. drone warfare targeting that region, according to a video published on Hot Air.

The video comes from a CNN report:

A new video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years. And the CIA and the Pentagon either didn’t know about it or couldn’t get a drone there in time to strike.

U.S. officials won’t comment on that, but every frame of the video is now being analyzed by the United States.

In the middle of the clip, the man known as al Qaeda’s crown prince, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, appears brazenly out in the open, greeting followers in Yemen. Al-Wuhayshi, the No. 2 leader of al Qaeda globally and the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has said he wants to attack the United States. But in the video, he looks unconcerned that he could be hit by an American drone.

The video started appearing on jihadist websites recently, drawing the attention of U.S. officials and global terrorism experts. U.S. officials say they believe it’s authentic.

Hot Air writer Ed Morrisey wonders if the United States may have missed a “golden opportunity to take out a large number of al Qaeda leaders.”

Did the U.S. know about this [meeting] ahead of time? If they did, they must have either had difficulty arranging the logistics of an attack — or perhaps had other assets in place for other reasons. 

Morrisey speculates that the lost opportunity could have been caused by the effort to transfer the drone program from the CIA to the Defense Department.

Holder confirms Petraeus probe still open, amid questions over whether case used as leverage

petrausBy :

Two years after the FBI first began investigating former CIA director David Petraeus, Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed to lawmakers that the case remains open — amid allegations it is being used as leverage to keep the former general quiet.

“All I can say is that this is an ongoing investigation,” Holder testified Tuesday, in response to a series of questions from Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who wrote to the Justice Department last month about the matter. “I’m really not in a position to say much more about it than that.”

Fox News was told there may be friction between the FBI — whose investigators are on the Petraeus case — and the Justice Department over how to proceed, though Holder dismissed that claim.

“I’ve been briefed on this matter, and I did not detect any friction in what is an ongoing investigation,” he said.

In March, Chaffetz wrote to Holder, asking why the probe remained open 16 months after Petraeus resigned as CIA director following an affair with his biographer. At the time, Chaffetz suggested it was kept open to keep Petraeus quiet on controversies like the Benghazi terror attack, telling Fox News: “If there is something serious and sinister, then let Congress know. If not, give this man’s reputation back. But I worry that the White House is just holding this over his head to keep him quiet.”

In a series of questions before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Holder could not remember when he first learned about the FBI investigation or when the president was notified. He also could not recall when then-White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan (who is now the CIA director) learned, or when former CIA deputy director Mike Morell, who offered conflicting testimony on the question to the House Intelligence Committee last week, learned.

Read more at Fox News

More Obfuscation on Benghazi

Michael Morell, former acting director of the CIA, examines an enlargement of the Obama administration's Benghazi 'talking points' during congressional testimony, April 2. Associated Press

Michael Morell, former acting director of the CIA, examines an enlargement of the Obama administration’s Benghazi ‘talking points’ during congressional testimony, April 2. Associated Press

By MICHAEL B. MUKASEY:

Last week’s encounter between former acting CIA Director Michael Morell and the House Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence may have brought us a bit closer to the truth of how four Americans came to be killed at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, and how their countrymen came to be lied to about it. But the progress toward truth was probably not made in a way that Mr. Morell intended. The encounter on Capitol Hill also made clear that the forum that will take us all the way to the truth must be something other than a congressional hearing.

Mr. Morell announced at the start of the hearing that he was there to refute claims that he had “inappropriately altered CIA’s classified analysis and its unclassified talking points . . . for the political benefit of President Obama and then-Secretary of State Clinton.” Critics of the government’s performance on Benghazi have charged that Mr. Morell’s revisions principally although not exclusively involved changing the description of the violence and its perpetrators, and removing the suggestion that they might have had ties to a terrorist organization. These changes, it is argued, enabled Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the time, to promote the discredited and since abandoned narrative that the violence was a reaction to an anti-Muslim YouTube video produced by a probationer in Los Angeles.

The acting CIA director’s changes to the talking points did indeed enable the blame-it-on-the-video fiction, which served the interest of a president seeking re-election based in part on having put al Qaeda on the run, although in fairness it is not clear that was Mr. Morell’s motive. Thus he edited out a description of the warnings that the CIA had provided to the State Department of earlier terrorist attacks on the British embassy and on the Red Cross that caused them to withdraw their personnel, and a description of an attack that blew a hole in the U.S.’s own installation—events that might have suggested that Sept. 11, 2012, was not an isolated event.

Mr. Morell said he did the revising because it would have looked unseemly for the CIA to appear to be pounding its chest and blaming the State Department.

He substituted “demonstration” for “attack” despite the direct statement by the CIA’s Libya station chief in Tripoli that there was no demonstration; Mr. Morell changed “terrorist” to “extremist.” His explanation is that he relied on the CIA’s analysts, who he said had comprehensive information available to them, rather than on the CIA’s station chief, who relied on the testimony of eyewitnesses who arrived soon after the attack started. He used the term “extremist” because that’s what CIA analysts call terrorists.

Here it is actually possible that Mr. Morell fell victim to a bifurcated culture within the CIA. On one side is the directorate of operations, made up of those who do things, from gathering information to carrying out covert activities. On the other is a directorate of intelligence staffed by analysts who evaluate the information gathered by the directorate of operations and others. Mr. Morell spent his career in the directorate of intelligence. By his own account, when faced with a contradiction between what people on the ground were saying and what analysts were saying, his view was that unless the analysts—whom he called “my analysts”—changed their view, he would go with their version, even though they relied in large measure on local press reports.

The directorate of intelligence functions according to a protocol whose rigidity we more often associate with the military. So analysts whose deductions put them at odds with those on the scene wouldn’t have considered, and apparently didn’t consider, simply ringing up those on the scene and getting their input. To the contrary, analysts deal only with information that comes in the prescribed way. The CIA station chief’s communication to headquarters came in an email and did not get circulated within the intelligence community as it would have if it had been contained in a cable.

Read more at WSJ

Morell Hurt CIA’s Reputation in Benghazi Hearing

John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Kelly AyotteBy Fred Fleitz:

Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte put it best yesterday in a joint statement they issued in response to former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell’s testimony yesterday to the House Intelligence Committee:

“This looks an awful lot like misleading the Congress.”

It’s hard to come to any other conclusion after watching Morell squirm for three hours as he explained CIA’s drafting of talking points a week after the attacks on the U.S. consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi.  The final version of these talking points were used by Ambassador Susan Rice on September 16, 2012 to deny that the attacks were related to terrorism and to instead claim they were the result of a spontaneous demonstration in response to an anti-Muslim video.

This explanation was politically convenient six weeks ahead of the 2012 presidential election and helped President Obama defend his dubious campaign theme that because of his leadership, Osama bin Laden was dead and al Qaeda was on the run.

During the hearing, Morell denied altering the talking points for political reasons.  He said he sided with CIA analysts who believed the attacks were in response to a demonstration and the anti-Muslim video even though the CIA Libya station chief told him there was no demonstration and that he believed the attacks were an act of terrorism.

Morell tried to convey that relying on career CIA analysts – even though they were thousands of miles away from the Benghazi attack – was a responsible decision that had nothing to do with politics.

This is nonsense.  Having worked as a CIA analyst for 19 years, I can attest that the lower levels of the CIA analysis bureaucracy know exactly what their managers want.  They know the line they need to take to get promoted and to earn bonuses.  Moreover, the analysis side of the house is well known for its liberal political bias and for being gun-shy in drawing politically controversial conclusions since the 9/11 and Iraq WMD intelligence failures.

Maybe Morell didn’t alter the talking points for the White House because he didn’t have to – his analysts and managers knew what he and the White House expected.  Regardless of who was responsible for drafting and altering the talking points, we now know Morell approved them even though he knew the senior CIA officer in Libya had a very different view.  He also knew the memo he approved said exactly what the White House wanted to hear.

Morell made many other head-spinning statements, such as his claim that we can’t know the motivations of the attackers since we haven’t caught them yet.  He said the events on September 11, 2012 were both a terrorist attack and a protest.

Morell also said he took out the word “Islamic” in a sentence that described the attackers as “Islamic extremists” because he did not want to fuel anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world.  This was a policy call and was politically convenient for the White House which has been extremely reluctant to use the terms “Islamic” or Islamist” in describing terrorists or terrorist attacks.

This was a bad day for the CIA since Morell’s testimony will further undermine the Agency’s reputation as a non-political and objective source of information on national security matters.  Morell was right when he said the CIA probably should not have been involved in drafting unclassified talking points.  If there was a compelling reason for the CIA to engage in such a task, CIA managers had a responsibility to be politically neutral and not ignore inconvenient facts like reports by the Libya Chief of Station.

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Here’s What Ex-CBS Reporter Sharyl Attkison Noticed During Wednesday’s Benghazi Hearing

Screen-Shot-2014-04-03-at-11.22.46-AM-300x151The Blaze, By :

Journalist Sharyl Attkisson, who recently resigned from CBS News, dissected former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell’s Wednesday testimony on the infamous Benghazi talking points. She not only outlined his claims in detail on Twitter, but she also produced a new article on her website,SharylAttkisson.com.

She noted that it’s still unclear “why federal officials seemed so confused and provided so much contradictory info about how the talking points evolved.”

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Ex-CIA leader Morell denies role in Benghazi ‘cover-up’ during heated Hill hearing

morell2By Guy Taylor:

A high-level former CIA leader flatly denied allegations on Wednesday that he had “inappropriately altered and influenced” the the now infamous Benghazi talking points to downplay the role of terrorism in the incident by inaccurately playing up the idea that the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks had been born out of a spontaneous protest — and then later “covered up” his actions.

“These allegations accuse me of taking these actions for the political benefit of President Obama and then [former] Secretary of State [Hillary RodhamClinton,” former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell told lawmakers on the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

“These allegations are false,” he said in prepared remarks given to committee members and the press as the highly-anticipated hearing on the Benghazi talking points got underway — disputes over which have long sat at the center of political fireworks hanging over an exhaustive series of congressional investigations into the attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans more than 18 months ago.

Mr. Morell moved quickly in his testimony to address the heart of the matter: Why did senior CIA and White House officials in Washington ignore pointed assertions by the CIA’s chief of station in Libya that there had been no protest prior to the attacks and why were those assertions not included in talking points that former U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice used on Sept. 16 when she appeared — five days after the attacks — on several news talks shows to claim that there had been a protest.

Mr. Morell said the CIA station chief’s assertions were not used in the talking points because they were outmatched by other streams of information being weighed at the same time by CIA analysts crafting the points.

Read more at Washington Times

 

 

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Report: US Knew About Tsarnaev Brothers Long Before Bombing

140324-boston-bombing-aftermath_9db7cf06bc8658793421e2cfb308ba49By Tova Dvorin:

US officials knew about the potential danger of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, according to a soon-to-be-released Congressional report – but a spelling error led them to miss his frequent flights out to Dagestan for terror training.

Russian officials warned the US that Tsarnaev was armed and dangerous as much as a year and a half before the April 2013 bombingNBC News reports Wednesday. But Tsarnaev’s name was misspelled in a security database, leading authorities to miss him completely.

In March 2011, Russian intelligence agency FSB notified the FBI with concerns about Tamerlan Tsarnaev and the Tsarnaev family, which had emigrated to Massachusetts nearly ten years earlier. In the letter, FSB included contact information, with addresses and phone numbers, for many of the members of the Tsarnaev family, including Tamerlan and his mother, and warned that Tamerlan was gaining a reputation for associating with violent Islamists.

That same month, the FBI recruited the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force, a multiagency anti-terrorism group, to open an investigation into Tamerlan Tsarnaev. An FBI member from the Force interviewed Tsarnaev, but no surveillance was conducted; another member then entered a memo about Tsarnaev into a Customs and Border Protection database called TECS, putting Tsarnaev on a “Hot List” every time he left or entered the US.

However, just four months later, the investigation was closed. According to the June 2011 report, “the assessment found no links to terrorism.”

US authorities missed the mark yet again in September 2011, after three Jewish men linked to Tsarnaev were found murdered in Waltham, Mass. Two years later, Tsarnaev’s associate, Ibragim Todashev told the FBI about the Waltham murders – but Tsarnaev himself was not questioned in the aftermath of the killings.

A US intelligence official confirmed to NBC News that the US missed yet another opportunity to catch Tsarnaev, however; this time, when the FSB contacted the CIA, shortly after the Waltham murders. The FBI allegedly did not reopen the case, despite the second warning.

On Oct. 19, 2011, the CIA shared information on Tsarnaev with the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), DHS, the State Department and the FBI. The information shared included two possible dates of birth, his name and a possible alternate spelling of his name. The CIA then nominated Tsarnaev for inclusion on the terrorism watch list – the massive Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) database – and it was. But there was one fatal error: the entry reads “Tsarnayev” instead of Tsarnaev.

Read more at Arutz Sheva