The CIA’s affront to Trump

CIA Bullies Trump Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

CIA Bullies Trump Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

The Washington Times, February 15, 2017:

The CIA has denied a security clearance to Trump National Security Council (NSC) official Robin Townley without any allegation, much less evidence of disloyalty to the United States. Quite simply, it is because the CIA disapproves of Mr. Townley’s attitude toward the agency, and this is unprecedented. President Trump appointed Mr. Townley to coordinate Africa policy at the NSC. The CIA did not want to deal with him. Hence, it used the power to grant security clearances to tell the president to choose someone acceptable to the agency, though not so much to him. This opens a larger issue: Since no one can take part in the formulation or execution of foreign or defense policy without a high-level security clearance, vetoing the president’s people by denying them clearances trumps the president.

Hence, if Mr. Trump does not fire forthwith the persons who thus took for themselves the prerogative that the American people had entrusted to him at the ballot box, chances are 100 percent that they will use that prerogative ever more frequently with regard to anyone else whom they regard as standing in the way of their preferred policies, as a threat to their reputation, or simply as partisan opponents. If Mr. Trump lets this happen, he will have undermined nothing less than the self-evident heart of the Constitution’s Article II: The president is the executive branch. All of its employees draw their powers from him and answer to him, not the other way around.

Using security clearances for parochial purposes — usually petty ones — while neglecting security, never mind counterintelligence, is an old story at the CIA which I got to know too well during eight years overseeing the agency as the designee of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s budget chairman. Because I did my quality control job vigorously, and because I placed on the budget cut list some of the many outside contracts that seemed corrupt, the agency made repeated attempts to withdraw my top-level, cross-cutting security clearances. After I left the Senate staff for Stanford, when the Naval Postgraduate School asked me to teach a highly classified course on signals intelligence, the school’s security office asked the CIA for my clearances. The bureaucrats there said they had never heard of me. I had to call Director of Central Intelligence Bill Casey, who ended up phoning them in personally to a startled Navy chief.

The CIA uses pretense about security to insulate itself from criticism, to protect its own, and to intrude into policymaking. Security against foreign intelligence ranks low in its priorities. For near a decade, its bureaucrats refused to look into obvious evidence that their own Aldrich Ames had sold out America’s entire agent network in the Soviet Union. Moreover, according to its inspector general, they continued to pass reports from that network to the president because they happened to agree with the direction in which these KGB-produced reports were pushing U.S. policy. The CIA also uses secrecy to avoid responsibility. It crafts the conclusions of its reports specifically to be leaked to The New York Times and The Washington Post, while making sure that the thin or nonexistent facts behind those conclusions never see the light of day.

The CIA’s denial of a clearance to a presidential appointee minus good cause, however, breaks new ground and shows truly revolutionary boldness. Traditionally, bureaucrats have used sticks and carrots to convince political appointees to play along lest they suffer unpleasantness. Thus, presidents have ended up having to choose between suffering appointees who have “gone native” or replacing them. Now, the CIA’s denial of Mr. Townley’s clearance removes all subtlety by demanding that Mr. Trump appoint only “natives.” If Mr. Trump indulges that demand for self-emasculation, the message will go out to all agencies: They need pay no attention to what political appointees tell them, and they need fear no retribution for this or for pressuring appointees in any way they want. The message to the people who Mr. Trump has appointed or who are considering working for Mr. Trump is just as clear: You have no choice but to make yourself acceptable to the bureaucrats because, if you don’t, they will hurt you and the president will not help you. This cannot help but skew the pool of potential members of the Trump administration.

We cannot know nor does it matter why Donald Trump seems to be deferring to bureaucrats who have gone out of their way to delegitimize him. But we can be certain about the kind of dynamic engendered by deference in the face of assaults.

Angelo M. Codevilla is professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University.

Flynn Resignation Raises Tough Questions for FBI, Intel Services

Michael Flynn

Breitbart, by Joel Pollak, February 14, 2017:

The resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Monday evening raises troubling questions about the role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the intelligence services.

Flynn ostensibly resigned because he provided Vice President Mike Pence with “incomplete information” about a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador, which turned out to include a discussion of recent sanctions, contrary to his earlier denials. Trust is crucial; the resignation was warranted.

That said, the sanctions were largely bogus, and were applied not just to punish Russia for spying on the U.S. (both countries clearly spy on each other), but to substantiate the Democratic Party’s sore-loser conspiracy theory that Russia was responsible for electing Donald Trump.

There is no concrete evidence to support that theory, and there is no evidence (yet) that Flynn did anything but discuss sanctions in the most general terms. He did not break the Logan Act, nor any other law, apparently.

Whether Flynn deliberately concealed the contents of his conversation from Vice President Pence, or merely forgot what had been said, he was “caught” because the Department of Justice had been eavesdropping on the conversation. And one of the officials responsible for ordering the eavesdropping was none other than Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who forced President Trump to fire her when she defied her duty to enforce his executive order on immigration, however, controversial.

Four possibilities emerge. One, which the media and the Democrats (largely one and the same) clearly believe, is that Flynn really was a potential Russian plant, perhaps indicating much deeper Russian penetration of the campaign and administration.

A second possibility is that things really are what they seem, on the surface, to be. Russia’s unusual response to the sanctions — declining to retaliate — was so bizarre that it warranted investigation, which then raised legitimate suspicions about Flynn.

The remaining possibilities are more worrying. The third explanation is that President Obama deliberately, and cleverly, used the bogus sanctions as a “blue dye” test to expose which strings Russia might try to pull to relieve them. Flynn, with a prior relationship with the Russian government, may have been a natural, innocuous point of contact — or perhaps something more.

The fourth and most worrying explanation is that the government was not merely monitoring the communications of Russian diplomats, but of the Trump transition team itself. The fact that the contents of Flynn’s phone conversation — highly sensitive intelligence — were leaked to the media suggests that someone with access to that information also has a political axe to grind.

Democrats are clamoring for a deeper investigation of Russian ties to Trump. But the more serious question is whether our nation’s intelligence services were involved in what amounts to political espionage against the newly-elected government.

We know that there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of federal bureaucrats already using shadow communications systems. How far does that “shadow government” go?

The FBI, CIA and other agencies ought to reassure Congress, or come clean.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Also see:

Trump Terrorism Platform May Contain Two Contentious Proposals

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Update: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says the CIA black site proposal was not a White House document and Fox News White House correspondent John Roberts reports that the document was just a draft produced by a transition team that will most likely never be adopted.

Daily Caller, by Saagar Enjetti, January 25, 2017:

President Donald Trump may pave the way for the return of the CIA black site program and explore designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, The New York Times reports.

Trump’s draft executive order reportedly includes revoking detainee’s access to the International Red Cross at Guantanamo Bay, and would lift former President Barack Obama’s executive order closuring all CIA prisons. The draft order does not explicitly reopen any of the CIA prisons, but instead would ask Trump’s national security advisors to offer him recommendations on how to proceed.

Trump’s order would similarly continue the Bush Administration’s policy of holding and prosecuting detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Obama tried desperately to close the prison throughout his presidency, and transferred hundreds of prisoners to other countries. Trump said during the Presidential transition that he was displeased with Obama’s transfer of detainee’s, indicating he will likely keep the prison open.

Another expected Trump executive order will direct Secretary of State designate Rex Tillerson to determine whether the U.S. should designate the Muslim Brother political machine a terrorist organization. The Muslim Brotherhood is a political party in several Arab countries whose ideology is linked to radical Islamic elements such as al-Qaida.

Tillerson indicated in his confirmation hearing that he considered the Muslim brotherhood a threat to the U.S. saying, “The demise of ISIS would also allow us to increase our attention on other agents of radical Islam like al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and certain elements within Iran.”

U.S. allies Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, and have pushed the White House to follow suit for years. Critics of the designation say the Muslim Brotherhood are simply an Islamist political party, that does not share in extremist ideology.

Dishonest CIA Director Rips Trump; Trump Should Rip him Back [Updated]

fox-news-sunday-john-brennanPowerline Blog, by John Hinderaker, January  15, 2017:

John Brennan’s career in the Obama administration, first as counterterrorism adviser, then as Director of the CIA, has been a disaster. We have written about him many times; just search “John Brennan” on this site. Along with being an inept CIA Director, Brennan is a political hack. Today he went on Fox News Sunday and attacked Donald Trump. But the real news was Brennan’s inability to respond to questions about his agency’s use of the fake “Russian dossier” to smear Trump. That was the topic that Chris Wallace began with:

WALLACE: President-elect Trump has made it clear, as we just discussed, that he believes the intelligence community released, put out information about this unverified dossier in order to undercut him. Here’s what he said at his press conference.

TRUMP VIDEO: I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful, that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out be so false and fake out. I think it’s a disgrace, and I say that and I say that, and that something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do.

WALLACE: Mr. Brennan, your response.

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I think as the Director of National Intelligence said in his statement, this information has been out there circulating for many months. So, it’s not a question of the intelligence community leaking or releasing this information, it was already out there.

WALLACE: But it hadn’t been reported, though. And one of the reasons it hadn’t is because it hadn’t been verified. And when you briefed the president on it, you collectively briefed the president on it, the president-elect, that made it news.

That is exactly correct. Not a single news organization had reported on the fake “Russian dossier” because it was obviously bogus. The CIA, or someone in the intelligence community, deliberately turned fake news into a “legitimate” news story by purporting to brief Donald Trump on the smears against him, and then leaking the fact that they had done so. Brennan’s defense is pathetic.

BRENNAN: Well, nothing has been verified. It is unsubstantiated reporting that is out there, that has been circulating in the private sector and with the media as well by a firm that pulled this information together.

But what I do find outrageous is equating the intelligence community with Nazi Germany. I do take great umbrage at that, and there is no basis for Mr. Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community for leaking information that was already available publicly.

WALLACE: But it wasn’t available publicly. Various news organizations, if I may, various news organization had it, but they weren’t reporting it because it hadn’t been verified. And this brings me to the real question, Director Brennan, why on earth [would our] nation’s intelligence spy chiefs brief President-elect Trump, in your first meeting collectively with him, on this unverified information? First of all, it wasn’t intelligence, it was rumors. And secondly, by briefing him on it, you made it a news event and, therefore, gave news organizations an excuse to report it.

That is indeed the question, and Brennan has no answer.

Read more

Also see:

Mike Pompeo: Attempts to Invalidate Trump’s Presidency Plays into Putin’s Hands

Getty / Joe Raedle

Getty / Joe Raedle

Breitbart, by Warner Todd Huston, January 12, 2016:

During his confirmation hearing, Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) said he would observe the proper laws forbidding enhanced interrogation of terror suspects and affirmed that he believes Russia is a threat to the United States. He also noted, however, that attempts to undermine President-elect Donald Trump plays right into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate held its first hearing for the confirmation of Rep. Pompeo, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to become CIA chief. While the hearing kicked off with a temporary power outage in the room, the congressman fielded a range of questions from metadata, to CIA-sponsored torture, to privacy concerns. One senator, California’s Kamala Harris, even went off on a tangent asking Pompeo about NASA global warming data and Pompeo’s views on gay marriage.

When it came time to talk about Russia, though, Pompeo had a dual warning.

The Kansan said that Russia is not an ally of the United States, but also insisted that attempts to invalidate Donald Trump’s presidency is serving the anti-American policies of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Agreeing with the U.S. intelligence community’s latest assessment of Russia, Pompeo also said it is “pretty clear” that the Russians tried to influence the U.S. elections.

“It’s pretty clear about what took place here, about Russian involvement in efforts to hack information and to have impact on American democracy,” Pompeo said during the Senate Intelligence Committee meeting. “I’m very clear-eyed about what that intelligence report says. This was an aggressive action taken by the senior leadership inside of Russia.”

Pompeo also said he would support an extensive investigation into just what forms that “aggressive action” took during the 2016 campaign saying, “I will continue to pursue foreign intelligence with vigor no matter where the facts lead.”

“The internet,” Pompeo said, “is a borderless, global environment, easily and frequently exploited by sophisticated adversaries like China and Russia, as well as by less sophisticated adversaries like Iran and North Korea, non-state actors, terrorist groups, criminal organizations, and hackers.”

He also warned though that constant speculation that the election was hacked plays into Putin’s hands. During his response on the matter he said he has “no doubt that the discourse that’s been taking place is something Putin would look at and say, ‘That was among the objectives that I have.’”

As for another topic, many liberals have worried about Pompeo’s thoughts on the CIA using enhanced interrogation. The question seemed fairly answered when Senators Feinstein and Heinrich both quizzed him on the topic. Pompeo told Feinstein he would not re-start the enhanced interrogation policy if he were to become head of the CIA and assured Senator Heinrich that he would stick to the Army field manual for interrogation that currently forbids such techniques.

As to Iran, Pompeo said that despite his personal opinions and his past claims that he would work to repeal Obama’s “disastrous deal” with Iran, he would abide by whatever his President told him to do on the issue.

The congressman also fielded questions about his past comments on gathering metadata. While noting that intelligence is the “lifeblood” of national security, he added that such intel “is more in demand than ever.”

The Supreme Court has ruled that metadata is not private personal information, but nonetheless Pompeo said he would certainly toe the line of the law — whatever that may be — on the collection of data.

He was also asked for his thoughts on demanding that tech companies give the U.S. government keys to their encryption of data. Pompeo replied that personal privacy would be an important concern for him and added, “I think we need to acknowledge that encryption is out there, and not all encryption takes place in the United States,” Pompeo replied.

But even as Pompeo said he’d toe the law on these matters, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn asked Pompeo if he will “play to the edge” of the law as CIA director so as not to play too cautious with national security. The Congressman said he would be sure to be mindful of the needs of his operatives and added, “It’s my role to make sure those lines are clear and bright.”

Pompeo also faced questioning from California Democrat Kamala Harris who seemed to feel his stance against gay marriage would hamper his work to secure the nation. She also quizzed him on global warming, asking if he would accept climate change claims made by NASA.

Seemingly bemused by the quixotic line of questioning, Pompeo assured Harris that as a small businessman he’s never let anyone’s sexuality interfere in what he expected of them as an employee and that, as an engineer by training, facts and data drive his life – so if he found believable data on climate change it would certainly be an important consideration in his thought process.

The hearing was not without humor, either, as Arizona Republican John McCain, a graduate of the Naval Academy, joked that Pompeo’s education was “very poor” because he was a graduate of West Point.

CIA and the Wizard of Oz

Brennan: Wizard of the CIA Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Brennan: Wizard of the CIA Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Washington Times, by , December 20, 2016:

An anonymous CIA official tells The Washington Post and The New York Times that Russia hacked to elect Donald Trump. Gives zero details. The CIA refuses to meet with the congressional intelligence committees. After a week of media echoes that the voters were victims of “fake news” conspiracies including from the Russians, The Hill reports: “Poll: More than half of Americans bothered by Russian interference in election.” Hence John Podesta, Hillary’s campaign manager, formerly President Obama’s senior counselor, was on firm public relations grounds when he contended that the 2016 elections were not “free and fair.” Presto: America’s electoral repudiation of the ruling class is on the skids toward delegitimization.

The Trump team helps grease those skids. The normally sure-footed Kellyanne Conway said President-elect Trump “totally does” respect the intelligence community, while Mr. Trump’s Chief-of-Staff-to-be Reince Priebus answered “no” when asked whether he thought CIA Director John Brennan was “politically motivated.” Truthfully, The Wall Street Journal reported “Trump team tones down skepticism on Russia hacking.” Mr. Trump’s failure to question the legitimacy of what the CIA is doing to delegitimize him reprises George W. Bush’s acquiescence as CIA embroiled his presidency in fake scandals.

But questioning the CIA’s intellectual authority and politics is essential to keeping it honest, to fulfilling the president’s and Congress’ own responsibility, and to the public’s grip on reality.

What is the CIA is doing to Mr. Trump? What is the point of anonymous accusations that Mr. Trump’s refusal to listen to some CIA briefings shows his pride in ignorance? How does Mr. Trump plan to react when — not if — the CIA will publicize “top secret” conclusions contradicting President Trump’s policies or when it will claim he failed to heed secret warnings that may never have existed? The CIA has done such things routinely to Republican administrations.

In short, the CIA has always been part of the left wing of America’s ruling class. The “Russian hacking affair” is another instance of the perennial effort by which this class defends its claim to be the arbiter of truth and authority. Since the CIA has always possessed far fewer facts with far greater incertitude than the body politic imagines, it confuses its officials’ socio-political predilections with facts. Over more than a half-century, the CIA has purveyed them as facts because very few outsiders ever get behind its layered curtains of secrecy — which it flashes open for favorite journalists. Secrecy, which is essential to intelligence, presents a well-nigh irresistible temptation to cover insufficiency and self indulgence with the standard objection: “Our conclusions are based on facts of which you are not aware and that we cannot share with you.”

The CIA has not resisted this temptation because the media and the movies have bought into its myths of omniscience and derring-do; and because only very rarely have the presidents and members of Congress whose duty it is to make judgments about foreign affairs questioned what there is behind the CIA’s curtains. Seldom have they exercised their right to look behind them. Had they looked, they would have seen that, behind all those code word classifications — with the exception of military intelligence and a few very “black” programs — there is often very little there.

Also see:

John Brennan is completely unqualified to be Director of Central Intelligence

john_brennan

Jihad Watch, by Michael J. Del Rosso, October 26 2016:

Robert Spencer wrote this yesterday:

Is it widely known that there is a top intelligence official in the Obama Administration’s CIA who has converted to Islam? Yes. It was reported in none other than the Washington Post in 2012. Why couldn’t it be Brennan? The movie Zero Dark Thirtyabout the killing of Osama bin Laden, for which the moviemakers gained access to classified material (the Obama administration was criticized for making it available to them) featured a top counter-terror official who strongly resembled Brennan and was shown performing Muslim prayers. Were the filmmakers hinting at something they knew? Did La Miere speak to Brennan?

Allegations that Brennan is a convert to Islam are based upon firsthand reports of those who served with him in Saudi Arabia.

  1. Those allegations include that Brennan was the target of a Saudi intelligence influence operation, one outcome of which was Brennan’s conversion to Islam.
  2. At that time, Brennan was chief of station, a billet that is designed for an operationally trained officer with experience in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, which Brennan was not. Brennan’s background is that of an analyst, which may explain why he lacked the sophistication and experience to understand that he was being played by the Saudis in an influence operation.
  3. Anyone so inept as to be oblivious to basic hostile intelligence tactics such as this influence operation is unqualified to be DCI.
  4. Furthermore, Brennan’s definition of jihad, “meaning to purify oneself or one’s community,” is incorrect as a matter of fact, since all four schools of Sunni jurisprudence say that the primary and paramount definition of jihad is kinetic war against non-Muslims to forcibly establish submission to Islamic law globally.
  5. If Brennan truly believes his fictitious definition of jihad, he is unqualified to be DCI, since he obviously is unaware of or indifferent to the fact that he is directly contradicting all published Sunni jurisprudence. Al-Qaeda’s bin Laden, ISIS’s al-Baghdadi (who has a doctorate in Islamic law), Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and all the other numerous violent jihadi terrorist groups all say that they are at war with us because Islamic law makes such war — jihad — obligatory for all Muslims. They also point out that Islamic law makes the funding of jihad obligatory, as well as lying to further jihad. That 15 years after 9/11, Brennan has yet to drop $40 on Amazon.com to purchase a certified English translation of an authoritative textbook on Islamic law, such as Reliance of the Traveller, is professional malpractice of the highest order for someone who has held the senior counter-terrorism and intelligence positions he has.
  6. Furthermore, the fiction that Brennan is espousing is not just any fiction, it is a deliberate propaganda lie by America’s enemies in our 15+-year war. It is designed to disorient us from understanding our enemy’s Threat Doctrine. If he is truly unaware of this, he is a useful idiot in espousing enemy propaganda in time of war, and is unqualified to be DCI.
  7. If Brennan does know the factual Islamic legal definition of jihad, then he is deliberately espousing enemy propaganda in a time of war, in which case Brennan is a traitor — and unqualified to be DCI.

The high-ranking CIA official who converted to Islam, who was called “Roger” in a Washington Post report, was outed last year, confirming that he is not Brennan, but another official named Michael D’Andrea. As the Washington Post reported in 2012, D’Andrea “married a Muslim woman he met abroad, prompting his conversion to Islam.”

Brennan just happens to be another Muslim. Where Spencer wrote of Roger, “Why couldn’t it be Brennan?,” more accurately the question should have been, “Why couldn’t Brennan be a convert to Islam, too?” At the time of the Washington Post article, Brennan was White House Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, and was not in the CIA, while “Roger” was running CIA counter-terrorism operations.

As far as Brennan’s conversion to Islam is concerned, a U.S. asset assigned overseas with Brennan in Saudi Arabia when he was station chief confirmed years ago their firsthand account that Brennan was indeed the target of a Saudi intelligence influence operation that led to his conversion. Brennan has also stated publicly that he visited Mecca, which is impossible for a non-Muslim to do unless he is a special guest of the Saudi King.

When John Guandolo wrote an op-ed in February 2013 to try to rally Senators to oppose Brennan’s nomination to be DCI, I advised John that Brennan’s conversion was de facto irrelevant, given the fact that the Washington Post had recently reported that “Roger,” the CIA’s chief of counter-terror operations, was a Muslim, and that was a non-issue to everyone.

A more compelling disqualifier for Brennan is that he consistently says that “jihad” is a good thing. For example, in 2009, Brennan said: “Nor does President Obama see this challenge as a fight against ‘jihadists.’ Describing terrorists in this way—using a legitimate term, ‘jihad,’ meaning to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal—risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve.” And in 2010, he said: “Nor do we describe our enemy as ‘jihadists’ or ‘Islamists’ because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenant of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.”

None of what Brennan says is true regarding the legal definition of jihad in Islamic law. The opening sentence in the Reliance of the Traveller chapter on jihad is crystal clear: “o9.0 – Jihad. Jihad means to wage war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada, signifying warfare to establish the religion.” (Italic emphasis in original.)

Hence Brennan is either, as explained above, too stupid to live and shouldn’t be DCI, or lying about the true definition of jihad (which deception is also obligatory according to Shariah), in which case he is guilty of treason and again shouldn’t be DCI, but rather prosecuted.

This is not a religious issue. Americans believe in freedom of religion for religions that believe in freedom. Rather, it is a national security issue. It is a statement of fact that pious, observant Muslims are required to adhere to Islamic law, which is not scripture, but legal texts written by men. A cursory examination of Reliance of the Traveller will show that it uses the word “obligatory” hundreds of times, and enumerates mandatory acts for all Muslims which are felony violations of the U.S. Code, including terrorism, material support of terrorism, perjury, espionage, treason, making war against the United States, sedition, and misprision of treason. Please let that sink in.

Every American should have a problem with this.

And why don’t we? Because blame isn’t limited to John Brennan. America’s political and national security elites, and especially our mainstream journalists, are guilty of professional malpractice, dereliction of duty, and worse, for being willfully ignorant of these easily verifiable facts.

The net result is that America has not only lost this war, but we changed sides and are aiding our enemy. We need look no further than what Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration did to Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Syria, and tried to do to Egypt, for evidence of that.

Michael J. Del Rosso is a Senior Fellow for Homeland and National Security for the Center for Security Policy.

***

Trump Will Face a Huge Challenge with U.S. Intelligence If He Wins

2074162454Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, Aug. 18, 2016:

Before his classified national-security briefing yesterday, Donald Trump said he didn’t trust U.S. intelligence. His comments attracted the expected condemnations and ridicule from the media pundits and foreign-policy experts. However, based on my 25 years working in U.S. intelligence, I believe Trump’s concerns are well-founded.

On Wednesday, Trump received the intelligence briefing traditionally provided by the U.S. Intelligence Community to newly nominated presidential candidates. This briefing was preceded by calls from the Clinton campaign, other Democrats, and, privately, by some intelligence officials that Trump be denied these briefings because, they claim, he can’t be trusted to protect classified information.

Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate, actually asked intelligence analysts to give Trump fake briefings.

The Washington Post’s intelligence reporter Greg Miller reported on July 28 that a senior intelligence official told Miller privately that he would refuse to brief Trump because of concerns about Trump’s alleged admiration of Russian president Putin and because “he’s been so uninterested in the truth and so reckless with it when he sees it.” Reuters ran a similar story on June 2, reporting that eight senior security officials said they had concerns about briefing Trump; Reuters did not indicate how many of the officials cited were intelligence officials or Obama appointees.

These calls to deny intelligence briefings to a presidential candidate are unprecedented, but they also reflect a serious problem within the U.S. intelligence community that awaits a possible Trump administration: the politicization of American intelligence by the Left.

I saw this constantly during my 19 years as a CIA analyst. CIA officers frequently tried to undermine CIA directors Casey and Gates because they disagreed with President Reagan’s policy goal of defeating the Soviet Union. Several testified against Gates’s nomination to be CIA director in 1991 by lodging false claims that he and Casey had politicized intelligence. Former senator Warren Rudman, a moderate Republican who headed President Clinton’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, described these attacks by CIA analysts as “an attempted assassination, an assassination of [Gates’s] character . . . McCarthyism, pure and simple.”

The liberal tilt within the CIA, especially in the Directorate of Intelligence (the analysis office), grew worse during the Clinton years as personnel were hired and promoted to support Clinton-Gore policy objectives. These included wasteful initiatives such as the DCI Environmental Center, launched at the same time the CIA was dangerously downplaying counterterrorism analysis.

Unfortunately, the intensified liberal tilt at the CIA during the Clinton years was not reversed by the George W. Bush administration. Bush kept on Clinton’s CIA director, George Tenet, who had no interest in cleaning house or taking steps to ensure that CIA analysis would be balanced and not politicized. When his successor, Porter Goss, tried to clean up the agency, CIA careerists fought back aggressively by leaking to Congress and the media, eventually forcing Goss out.

As a result, intelligence careerists often paid no price for engaging in blatantly political activities to undermine the Bush administration. One officer in the CIA inspector general’s office was fired after she admitted she’d leaked classified information on Bush counterterrorism programs to aWashington Post reporter. In 2005, several intelligence officers attempted to sabotage John Bolton’s nomination to be U.N. ambassador — an act of political skullduggery for which they were never punished.

The most notorious example of partisan political activity by U.S. intelligence officers occurred just before the 2004 presidential election when Paul Pillar, the CIA’s national intelligence officer for Near East and South Asia, while giving a speech at a dinner on September 21, criticized President Bush and CIA director Tenet for ignoring critical intelligence that he claimed might have prevented the Iraq War. Incredibly, CIA management had cleared Pillar’s comments, saying that the substance of his remarks, but not the speaker or the audience, could be disclosed. The late columnist Robert Novak, who attended the dinner, sparked an uproar when he reported Pillar’s identity and the dinner anyway. Clearly, Pillar’s presentation was intended to affect the outcome of the 2004 presidential election.

The Wall Street Journal condemned such political activities by CIA officers in a scathing September 29, 2004, editorial titled “The CIA’s Insurgency”:

It’s become obvious over the past couple of years that large swaths of the CIA oppose U.S. anti-terror policy, especially toward Iraq. But rather than keep this dispute in-house, the dissenters have taken their objections to the public, albeit usually through calculated leaks that are always spun to make the agency look good and the Bush administration look bad. . . . Yet what the CIA insurgents are essentially doing here, with their leaks and insubordination, is engaging in a policy debate. Given the timing of the latest leaks so close to an election, they are now clearly trying to defeat President Bush and elect John Kerry.

Politicization of America’s intelligence agencies by the Left has grown worse during the Obama years. Recall that the CIA drafted the politicized (and later discredited) 2012 talking points on the Benghazi terrorist attacks. Additionally, the agency now uses racial, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, socioeconomic status, and other quotas for CIA hiring and promotions.

Significant examples of politicization in other intelligence agencies since 2009 include the congressional testimony of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. During a briefing to the House Intelligence Committee in February 201, Clapper tried to downplay the Muslim Brotherhood as a radical Islamist group, saying: “The term Muslim Brotherhood is an umbrella term for a variety of movements. In the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.”

And in 2015, as widely reported, more than 50 U.S. Central Command intelligence analysts lodged a formal complaint with the Pentagon’s inspector general. In the complaint, they alleged that their intelligence assessments were being intentionally manipulated by senior officials to downplay the threat from ISIS and the al-Nusra Front (the al-Qaeda branch in Syria) in order to support the Obama administration’s claim that the U.S. was making progress in defeating these Islamist terrorist groups. A recent congressional task force concluded this month that these complaints were valid and expressed alarm that nothing has been done to improve CENTCOM intelligence analysis in response to them.

In light of this history, it is no surprise that Democrats, intelligence officers, and the liberal media urged that Trump be denied an intelligence briefing as the GOP presidential candidate. Naturally, they did not raise similar concerns about briefing Hillary Clinton, although the FBI director determined she was “extremely careless” in handling classified information as secretary of state, even sharing classified intelligence with people who had no security clearance. Comey also stated that due to this carelessness, it’s possible hostile actors have gained access to the highly classified information that traveled through the multiple private servers Clinton used.

It’s true that intelligence briefings to presidential candidates are offered at the discretion of a sitting president. But calls to deny these briefings to Trump or to give him fake briefings are an affront to the American tradition of peaceful transfer of power and could undermine his presidential transition if he wins the election.

It is not up to Senator Reid or U.S. intelligence officers to prevent a duly elected major-party presidential candidate from receiving intelligence briefings because they don’t like him or because he is from the wrong political party. Of more concern is whether some intelligence personnel, out of political bias, would refuse to provide a President Trump with the intelligence support he would need to protect American national security.

Trump may have been too hard on U.S. intelligence agencies when he said that they got it wrong before the Iraq War; and perhaps he was unfair to lambaste Obama’s dismissal of ISIS as the “jayvee” team. Intelligence agencies must be held accountable for their work, but their analysis will never be 100 percent accurate. In addition, intelligence agencies only advise policymakers. They cannot force a president to use their analysis.

I was pleased to hear that Trump realizes he will have a lot of work ahead of him to fix the U.S. intelligence community if he becomes president. To get the objective, accurate, and hard-hitting intelligence support he will need if elected, Trump must name strong, decisive leaders — including good managers from the business community — to top intelligence posts. He must hire people who understand that America’s intelligence agencies do not work for themselves, for either party in Congress, or the foreign-policy establishment; they work for the president. Any U.S. intelligence officer who is not prepared to loyally provide whomever wins the presidency with his best efforts should find another job.

***

CIA, Terrorism, and the Emergent New Cold War: Considerations for the New Administration

ciaBy Brian Fairchild, July 20, 2016:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:  In addition to the threats posed by the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and the international jihad movement, the US is also challenged by an emergent new cold war which pits the US and NATO against Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and their client states.  If ever there was a need for relevant and timely strategic assessments that can be translated into policy options, the time is now.  For the past two decades, however, CIA’s ability to collect and analyze complex strategic intelligence on key actors has degraded to an alarming level.  CIA analysts no longer have the skills to conduct long-term strategic analyses – the very job for which the Agency was created.  Instead, CIA is primarily focused on tactical counter terrorism operations, which it does very well, but these very specific tactical skill sets are quite different than those required for traditional strategic espionage operations and analysis.  Unfortunately, at present, the CIA has a world-class counter terrorism capability, but can only provide policymakers with a superficial understanding of the world and its complex issues and actors.  It is likely that the new cold war, as well as the international jihad movement will last for, at least, another generation, and the new administration that takes power in January 2017 will have to decide what kind of intelligence capability it requires.  If the US is to resume its international leadership role, however, the choice cannot be between having a world-class counter terrorism capability and a world-class strategic espionage capability.  The new administration will need both.

The Loss of CIA’s Strategic Intelligence Collection and Analysis Capability:

The decline of the Agency’s strategic collection and analysis capability began with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. CIA was created to counter the strategic threat posed by the post-WWII rise of the Soviet Union, so, the demise of the Soviet Union removed the Agency’s raison d’etre, and it was forced to begin downsizing and reorienting personnel. The government, as well as politicians from both political parties were more than eager to spend the so-called “peace dividend”, the considerable amount of money that had funded CIA’s anti-Soviet Cold War operations, on their own pet projects. So, CIA stations closed all over the world, CIA’s most experienced case officers and analysts were offered “early out” bonuses in a massive downsizing, and fewer and fewer strategic analyses were written.

For a decade after the Soviet collapse, CIA drifted in search of a new mission, which it finally found after the 9/11 attacks – al Qaeda and counter terrorism. The Agency’s approach, however, wasn’t to add counter terrorism as one of its vital strategic missions, but to make counter terrorism its primary mission.  More importantly, it didn’t attempt to strategically understand its new enemy.  Rather, it chose a tactical approach adopting the military’s “find, fix, and finish” operational concept to kill or capture individual terrorists, but it never attempted to strategically understand the very engine that propelled al Qaeda and the international jihad movement – Salafi-jihadi ideology.

The Agency’s almost total focus on counter terrorism has had dire consequences for its charter as the nation’s premier civilian strategic intelligence agency according to former CIA director Michael Hayden, who expressed his concerns in a March 2016 interview with the Guardian:

  • “It started while I was still in office. I began to notice a problem that the more time goes by, the more our focus on the war on terror has created deficits in other places. Since I have left, the deficit has only grown…We have become extremely focused on current threats and in dealing with them…Much of what we call ‘intelligence analysis’ currently done in American intelligence is focused on specific targets: trying to make sure no one boards a plane with a bomb, for example. There is a natural tendency to focus on the urgent, the immediate, and I do think it comes at the expense of the more long-term, strategic elements.”

Hayden hit the nail on the head when he briefed incoming CIA director David Petraeus telling him:

  • ‘Dave, you realize the CIA’s never looked more like the OSS than it does right now? That’s good. It’s kept America safe. But, Dave, you’ve got to know we’re not the OSS. We’re the nation’s global espionage service and you need to remind yourself and the institution every day that it’s got this broader mission”

Hayden understands the absolute requirement to prevent another 9/11-type attack, but conceded that what concerns him most is what CIA is not doing – developing intelligence on the existential threats to the United States.  He described these existential threats as:

“…states that are ambitious, fragile and nuclear. I put Iran and North Korea and Pakistan and even the Russians in there. Now if that heads south, that’s much worse…Now if you run the timeline out to the 10-year point, it’s China. I’m not saying China’s an enemy of the United States of America. I’m just simply saying that if we do not handle the emergence of the People’s Republic well, it will be catastrophic for the world.”

Hayden is not alone in expressing concern about CIA’s departure from its traditional mission.  In March 2013, the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board issued a report that stated that the CIA and the Intelligence Community had neglected its coverage of vitally important strategic flashpoints such as the Middle East and China, opting to focus on “military support” operations instead.  Its co-chairman David L. Boren stated that “The intelligence community has become to some degree a military support operation”, adding that the deployment of Agency personnel and resources to only counterterrorism assignments “needs to be changed as dramatically as it was at the end of the Cold War.”  Worse, he described a generation of spies that no longer know how to do traditional spy work, stating “So far, nearly all of their experience has been in what I would call military support…Almost none of it has been in traditional intelligence-gathering and analysis.”

Senator Barbara Mikulski, a senior member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, pressed home the same points during her questioning of John Brennan at his Senate confirmation hearing as CIA director in 2013:

  • “I have been concerned for some time that there is a changing nature of the CIA, and that instead of it being America’s top human spy agency to make sure that we have no strategic surprises, that it has become more and more, executing paramilitary operations…I see this as mission creep. I see this as overriding the original mission of the CIA…and more a function of the Special Operations Command.”

CIA’s degraded strategic analysis capability is also well documented in Congressional post-9/11 investigations.  A now declassified Top Secret report issued in February 2002 by the House and Senate intelligence oversight committees’ Joint Inquiry (JI) found that:

  • “Prior to September 11, the Intelligence Community’s understanding of al-Qa’ida was hampered by insufficient analytic focus and quality, particularly in terms of strategic analysisThese analytic deficiencies seriously undercut the ability of U.S. policymakers to understand the full nature of the threat, and to make fully informed decisions.”

And a report by CIA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), published in 2007, found that the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center (CTC) was primarily tactical, stating:

  • “…Before 9/11…the Center’s focus was primarily operational and tactical. While focusing on operations is critically important and does not necessarily mean that other elements of mission will be ignored, the Team found that this nearly exclusive focus – which resulted in many operational successes – had a negative impact on CTC’s effectiveness as a coordinator of IC counterterrorism strategy”

Also in 2007, John G. Heidenrich, a highly experienced intelligence analyst, issued a critique that couldn’t be more relevant to this paper.  In The State of Strategic Intelligence: The Intelligence Community’s Neglect of Strategic Intelligence, published on CIA’s website, he announced that:

  • During the past decade and a half, since the Cold War, the production and use of strategic intelligence by the United States government has plunged to egregiously low levels. This decline is badly out of sync with the broader needs of the republic, fails to meet the nation’s foreign policy requirements, ill-serves the country’s many national security officials, and retards the developing prowess of its intelligence analysts.”

Of particular importance, however, is a report published in January 2010, by then Major General Michael T. Flynn, in his capacity as the intelligence czar for all intelligence in Afghanistan – the CJ-2 for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).  His highly critical assessment of the performance of CIA and the intelligence community in the active war zone was stunning.  In Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan, he opened by summarizing the assessment with this scathing proclamation:

  • “Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy. Having focused the overwhelming majority of its collec­tion efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, the vast intel­ligence apparatus is unable to answer fundamental questions about the envi­ronment in which U.S. and allied forces operate and the people they seek to persuade.  Ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced, incurious about the cor­relations between various development projects and the levels of coopera­tion among villagers, and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers – whether aid workers or Afghan soldiers – U.S. intelligence offi­cers and analysts can do little but shrug in response to high level decision-mak­ers seeking the knowledge, analysis, and information they need to wage a successful counterinsurgency.”

Perhaps most enlightening from the perspective of this paper, are the adjectives the General used to describe the American intelligence officers about whom he is writing:  “Ignorant”, “hazy”, “incurious”, and “disengaged” – these characteristics are the absolute antithesis of a professional intelligence officer and show how far US national strategic intelligence analysis capability has fallen.  There can be no more serious indictment of an American intelligence agency than its irrelevance in an active war zone in which American men and women are daily paying the ultimate price.

The Emergent New Cold War:

Unfortunately, Hayden’s “ambitious, fragile, and nuclear” states are already on the move, but his timeline for problems with China has moved-up considerably.  China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea and their client states now comprise a bloc pitted against the US and Europe in an emergent new cold war, which appears to be deepening on a weekly basis.

In January 2016, US European Command listed Russia as its number one security priority recommending a US military build-up in Europe, and approximately two weeks after that, Russian Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev told the audience of the Munich Security Conference that we have slid into a new period of cold war.  The Polish president agreed with him a few days later stating that Russia was fomenting the new cold war, and at roughly the same time, NATO Supreme Commander, American General Philip Breedlove announced that Russia poses a long-term threat to the US and its European allies.

In the past six months, reports of hostility, geopolitical competition, nuclear threats, and proxy warfare between the actors of the new cold war are overwhelming.  In a development not even seen during the Cold War, Russian intelligence operatives have launched a campaign of thuggery to aggressively and physically assault American diplomatic personnel in Russia and throughout Europe.  American military commanders have warned that Russian and Chinese nuclear submarines are challenging American power in the Atlantic and the Pacific, and the commander of Strategic Command warns that both China and Russia are developing advanced space weapons designed to be “disruptive and destructive counter-space capabilities” targeted at the US.  Moreover, on numerous occasions, Russia and China have intentionally and aggressively used their fighter jets in provocative close intercepts of American military aircraft and warships.  Russia, Iran, and Syria are jointly cooperating against US interests in the Middle East, which CIA director Brennan says is more unstable than at any time in the past 50 years, and the Iranian-backed radical Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr, has threatened to target US troops in Iraq.  In addition, China claims total sovereignty over the entire South China Sea and is creating man-made militarized islands throughout the area including installation of surface to air missiles in order to defend their claim, and it threatens military action against the US if it does so.  Meanwhile, North Korea, China’s client state, frequently conducts illegal nuclear and ballistic missile tests and threatens other provocative military actions.

State of Play – CIA’s Clandestine Service:

CIA’s charter demands that it aggressively collect and analyze intelligence against each and every one of these strategic challenges in order to provide the president and his senior policymakers with the best intelligence with which to plan US strategic responses.

Unfortunately, that would require the reallocation of the majority of CIA’s manpower, budget, and planning that are now dedicated to its primary mission – terrorism.  To make matters worse, CIA’s Clandestine Service is no longer a foreign service in the true sense of the term.  Rather, its counter terrorism officers, most of whom have military special operations backgrounds, live in the US and are temporarily assigned overseas for four to six month tours, or periodically “surge” to foreign locations for special assignments, after which they return home.  As one would expect, their expertise is on terrorist individuals and networks, weapons capabilities, how to integrate and work jointly with US and foreign military forces, and how to conduct clandestine military/paramilitary operations.

In 2005, new CIA director Porter Goss experienced this dilemma first hand.  In a speech he gave to CIA personnel, he admitted that CIA’s clandestine service was no longer a global service with deep experience overseas, but a US-located pool that would occasionally “surge” abroad on temporary assignments.  In the speech, he explained to his clandestine service officers why they needed to actually live and serve in foreign countries:

  • “I have talked much about Field forward. You cannot understand people overseas, much less influence them, from Langley. You cannot develop deep and trusting relationships with individuals and with governments overseas by flying in and flipping out a U.S. passport. We are working to change the ratio so that we have more of our case officers out in the field under new kinds of cover in places where they can do what they need to do for us…. “Surging” CIA officers instead of having an established presence, an expertise, and developed relationships at hand, is a poor formula, in my opinion. When I say we need to be global, this is an admission that we are not in all of the places we should be. We don’t have this luxury anymore.”

New Requirements:

The Agency has been able to sustain its counter terrorism orientation from 9/11 until now, but the targets listed above will require vastly different “old-school” skill sets and expertise.  In the espionage arena, case officers with language capability live and work abroad where they spot, assess, develop, recruit and clandestinely run long-term penetration assets of foreign governments in order to discover their strategic plans and intentions.  This approach requires an in-depth knowledge of the country’s customs and culture as well its geopolitical history, which normally comes from years of experience on the ground, experience that CIA’s counter terrorism operators don’t have.  Cold wars, by their very definition, lack open hostilities between the main actors, so military skill sets and weapons capabilities, except in very unique circumstances, are of little use.

The Future:

The current administration was not concerned with developing a world class espionage capability because it was dedicated to withdrawing from the world stage and concentrating on its domestic agenda.  However, given the fact that the last cold war lasted for 50 years, it is likely that the new cold war will last a long time, as will the international jihad movement, so the next administration will have to deal with these realities.  If it desires to resume America’s leadership role on the world stage it will require world-class capabilities in both espionage and counter terrorism.

The requirement for a world-class strategic espionage and analysis capability is absolutely clear – as the leader of the free world the new president must understand the world he leads in all of its complexity, but he must especially understand his strategic enemies who are attempting to defeat him.

In what organization this rejuvenated capability should reside, however, is not so clear.  As the experience of director Porter Goss reveals, CIA may not be the best location.

Brian Fairchild was a career officer in CIA’s Clandestine Service. He has served in Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, and Afghanistan. Mr. Fairchild writes periodic intelligence analyses on topics of strategic importance.

 

C.I.A. Arms for Syrian Rebels Supplied Black Market, Officials Say

The funeral in Rimoun, Jordan, for Anwar Abu Zaid, a police captain who was killed after he attacked a police training center in November. American and Jordanian officials said they believed that the weapons he used had been meant for a program to train Syrian rebels. CreditNasser Nasser/Associated Press

The funeral in Rimoun, Jordan, for Anwar Abu Zaid, a police captain who was killed after he attacked a police training center in November. American and Jordanian officials said they believed that the weapons he used had been meant for a program to train Syrian rebels. CreditNasser Nasser/Associated Press

 

NYT, by MARK MAZZETTI and ALI YOUNES, JUNE 26, 2016

AMMAN, Jordan — Weapons shipped into Jordan by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia intended for Syrian rebels have been systematically stolen by Jordanian intelligence operatives and sold to arms merchants on the black market, according to American and Jordanian officials.

Some of the stolen weapons were used in a shooting in November that killed two Americans and three others at a police training facility in Amman, F.B.I. officials believe after months of investigating the attack, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The existence of the weapons theft, which ended only months ago after complaints by the American and Saudi governments, is being reported for the first time after a joint investigation by The New York Times and Al Jazeera. The theft, involving millions of dollars of weapons, highlights the messy, unplanned consequences of programs to arm and train rebels — the kind of program the C.I.A. and Pentagon have conducted for decades — even after the Obama administration had hoped to keep the training program in Jordan under tight control.

The Jordanian officers who were part of the scheme reaped a windfall from the weapons sales, using the money to buy expensive SUVs, iPhones and other luxury items, Jordanian officials said.

The theft and resale of the arms — including Kalashnikov assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades — have led to a flood of new weapons available on the black arms market. Investigators do not know what became of most of them, but a disparate collection of groups, including criminal networks and rural Jordanian tribes, use the arms bazaars to build their arsenals. Weapons smugglers also buy weapons in the arms bazaars to ship outside the country.

The F.B.I. investigation into the Amman shooting, run by the bureau’s Washington field office, is continuing. But American and Jordanian officials said the investigators believed that the weapons a Jordanian police captain, Anwar Abu Zaid, used to gun down two American contractors, two Jordanians and one South African had originally arrived in Jordan intended for the Syrian rebel-training program.

The officials said this finding had come from tracing the serial numbers of the weapons.

Mohammad H. al-Momani, Jordan’s minister of state for media affairs, said allegations that Jordanian intelligence officers had been involved in any weapons thefts were “absolutely incorrect.”

“Weapons of our security institutions are concretely tracked, with the highest discipline,” he said. He called the powerful Jordanian intelligence service, known as the General Intelligence Directorate, or G.I.D., “a world-class, reputable institution known for its professional conduct and high degree of cooperation among security agencies.” In Jordan, the head of the G.I.D. is considered the second most important man after the king.

Representatives of the C.I.A. and F.B.I. declined to comment.

The State Department did not address the allegations directly, but a spokesman said America’s relationship with Jordan remained solid.

“The United States deeply values the long history of cooperation and friendship with Jordan,” said John Kirby, the spokesman. “We are committed to the security of Jordan and to partnering closely with Jordan to meet common security challenges.”

The training program, which in 2013 began directly arming the rebels under the code name Timber Sycamore, is run by the C.I.A. and several Arab intelligence services and aimed at building up forces opposing President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. The United States and Saudi Arabia are the biggest contributors, with the Saudis contributing both weapons and large sums of money, and with C.I.A. paramilitary operatives taking the lead in training the rebels to use Kalashnikovs, mortars, antitank guided missiles and other weapons.

The existence of the program is classified, as are all details about its budget. American officials say that the C.I.A. has trained thousands of rebels in the past three years, and that the fighters made substantial advances on the battlefield against Syrian government forces until Russian military forces — launched last year in support of Mr. Assad — compelled them to retreat.

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CIA Director: Our Efforts Have Not Reduced Islamic State’s ‘Terrorism Capability and Global Reach’

cia_director_islamic_state

Washington Free Beacon, by David Rutz, June 16, 2016:

CIA director John Brennan acknowledged Thursday that U.S.-led efforts against ISIS have not reduced its “terrorism capability and global reach,” saying it remained a “formidable adversary.”

“Unfortunately, despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach,” he said before the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The resources needed for terrorism are very modest, and the group would have to suffer even heavier losses on territory, manpower and money for its terrorism capacity to decline significantly.

“Moreover, the group’s foreign branches and global networks could help preserve its capacity for terrorism regardless of events in Iraq and Syria. As the pressure mounts on ISIL, we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global terrorism agenda.”

The CIA director’s statement comes on the heels of the worst terror attack since Sept. 11 on Sunday, when a Muslim man who pledged allegiance to ISIS killed 49 people at a gay Orlando night club.

Brennan said ISIS, or ISIL as Obama administration members refer to it, had lost territory in Iraq and Syria and was struggling to replenish fighters.

“ISIL, however, is a formidable, resilient and largely cohesive enemy, and we anticipate that the group will adjust its strategy and tactics in an effort to regain momentum,” he said.

He also said the anti-ISIS coalition’s efforts had reduced its ability to gain revenue, but ISIS still was managing to generate “tens of millions of dollars” per month thanks to taxation and oil sales.

Referencing the attacks in Orlando and San Bernardino, Brennan laid out the threat of ISIS attempting to inspire more attacks from people with no “direct link” to the group.

“In sum, ISIL remains a formidable adversary, but the United States and our global partners have succeeded in putting the group on the defensive, forcing it to devote more time and energy to try to hold territory and to protect its vital infrastructure inside of Syria and Iraq,” he said. “And though this will be a long and difficult fight, there is broad agreement in the international community on the seriousness of the threat and on the need to meet it collectively and decisively.”

Also see:

Secret Cables Link Pakistan Intel Org to Deadly Attack on CIA

Jennifer Ehle plays Jennifer Lynne Matthew in the film Zero Dark Thirty about the killing of Osama Bin Laden, head of Al Qaeda.Matthews, a mother of three was described as “one of the CIA’s top experts on al-Qaeda.” She was head of Camp Chapman and killed in the attack on the base.

Jennifer Ehle plays Jennifer Lynne Matthew in the film Zero Dark Thirty about the killing of Osama Bin Laden, head of Al Qaeda.Matthews, a mother of three was described as “one of the CIA’s top experts on al-Qaeda.” She was head of Camp Chapman and killed in the attack on the base.

Clarion Project, April 17, 2016:

Pakistan’s intelligence agency paid a Taliban-affiliated terror group in Afghanistan to perpetrate one of the deadliest attacks on the CIA in the agency’s history, according to inferences made in recently-declassified U.S. government cables and documents.

On December 30, 2009, a Jordanian suicide bomber blew himself up in Camp Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, located near the border with Pakistan, killing seven CIA employees. The bomber, a Jordanian doctor and double agent, tricked the Americans, telling them he would lead them to Ayman al-Zawahri, now head of al-Qaeda and, at the time, second in command.

A document dated January 11, 2010 , issued less than two weeks after the bombing, reports how the head of the Haqqani network, a Taliban-allied organization designed as terrorist by the U.S., met twice with senior officials of Pakistan’s intelligence agency (the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI) the month of the bombing.

During the first meeting, funding for “operations in Khowst [Khost] province” were discussed. “Funds were later provided to tribal elders in Khowst province for their support of the Haqqani network,” according to the cable.

At the second meeting, ISI officials gave “direction to the Haqqanis to expedite attack preparations and lethality in Afghanistan.”

Although heavily redacted, a cable issued the following month specified the head of the Haqqani network as well as another individual were given $200,000 “to enable the attack on Chapman.” The cable specifically mentions a number of individuals involved in the operation, including an Afghan border commander who was given money “to enable a suicide mission by an unnamed Jordanian national.”

The Jordanian mentioned is assumed to be the suicide bomber, Humam al-Balawi, whom the CIA had cultivated as an al-Qaeda informant. Codenamed “Wolf,” al-Balawi turned out to be a double agent, perpetrating the deadliest attack against the CIA in the 15-year history of the war in Afghanistan.

Although each document states, “This is an information report not finally evaluated intelligence,” Admiral  Mike Mullen (former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) terms the Haqqani network a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s intelligence agency. The U.S. has long-documented the connection between the ISI and the Haqqani terrorist organization.

The documents were the first public disclosure connecting the attack on Camp Chapman to the Pakistani ISI. They were released in connection with a Freedom of Information Act request. The U.S. had previously blamed al-Qaeda for the attack.

Intel Analysts: We Were Forced Out for Telling the Truth About Obama’s ISIS War

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Daily Beast, by Shane Harris and  Nancy A. Youssef, April 3, 2016:
The growing scandal over cooked ISIS intelligence just got much worse. Now, analysts are saying they’re being forced out for not toeing the Obama administration’s line on the war.

Two senior intelligence analysts at U.S. Central Command say the military has forced them out of their jobs because of their skeptical reporting on U.S.-backed rebel groups in Syria, three sources with knowledge of their claim told The Daily Beast. It’s the first known instance of possible reprisals against CENTCOM personnel after analysts accused their bosses of manipulating intelligence reports about the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS in order to paint a rosier picture of progress in the war.

One of the analysts alleging reprisals is the top analyst in charge of Syria issues at CENTCOM. He and a colleague doubted rebels’ capabilities and their commitment to U.S. objectives in the region. The analysts have been effectively sidelined from their positions and will no longer be working at CENTCOM, according to two individuals familiar with the dispute, and who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The analysts’ skeptical views put them at odds with military brass, who last year had predicted that a so-called moderate opposition would make up a 15,000-man ground force to take on ISIS in its self-declared caliphate. An initial $500 million program to train and arm those fighters failed spectacularly. And until the very end, Pentagon leaders claimed the operation was more or less on track. Lawmakers called the plan a “joke” when Gen. Lloyd Austin, the CENTCOM commander, finally testified last September that there were just “four or five” American-trained fighters in Syria.

Earlier allegations from CENTCOM, the military command responsible for overseeing the Middle East, had focused on leaders there fudging intelligence reports about U.S. efforts to attack ISIS and undermine its financing operations. That analysts are now raising red flags around reporting on Syrian rebel groups suggests that, at least from the analysts’ perspective, there is a broader systemic problem than was previously known.

The Pentagon inspector general and a congressional task force are investigating allegations of doctored intelligence reports about ISIS.

The working environment at CENTCOM has been described as “toxic” and “hostile.” As The Daily Beast previously reported, more than 50 CENTCOM analysts have said that senior officials gave more scrutiny and pushback on reports that suggested U.S. efforts to destroy ISIS weren’t progressing. Analysis that took a more optimistic view of the war effort got comparatively less attention from higher-ups.

In a separate development, the head of Iraq analysis at CENTCOM, Gregory Hooker, is being reassigned to a position in the United Kingdom, three sources knowledgeable of the transfer told The Daily Beast. Hooker was identified last year by The New York Times as leading the group of analysts that raised objections about the ISIS reports.

There was no evidence that Hooker’s reassignment was a retaliatory move by his superiors, rather some suggested he had requested the change.

But for the analysts who have accused their bosses of improper behavior, the climate has become anxious, particularly as now some fear for their jobs.

“[They] are scared all the time,” one official told The Daily Beast.

The Syria analysts spoke out after Austin directed his subordinates last year not to retaliate against anyone who voiced concerns about political influence or bias being brought to bear on intelligence analysis, said one individual knowledgeable of their complaints. More than 1,000 analysts work at CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida, and their reports are meant to help senior U.S. officials and policymakers understand the facts on the battlefield.

Investigators from the congressional task force have met with analysts at both CENTCOM headquarters and, last month, in Washington, half a dozen sources with knowledge of the meetings said.

Spokespersons for the task force declined to comment.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes previously told The Daily Beast that investigators were unable to obtain certain documents germane to the analysts’ allegations about altered ISIS reports, and that congressional staff had to interview the analysts in the presence of CENTCOM personnel, whom Nunes referred to as “minders.”

“They’re having a tough time talking to us,” Nunes said of the analysts whom congressional staff have interviewed in Tampa.

The Defense Department inspector general is also looking into the ISIS reports. The watchdog’s office has said the investigation, which is expected to be finished soon, “will address whether there was any falsification, distortion, delay, suppression, or improper modification of intelligence information,” as well as “personal accountability for any misconduct or failure to follow established processes.”

At CENTCOM’s intelligence unit, there’s growing anticipation for the results of the Defense Department inspector general’s investigation. Some have said they hope it will hold those they feel are responsible for altering reports, but there’s also concern that the findings will seek to downplay the severity of the problem and won’t lead to any significant changes.

At least one change is in the works. Last week, the Pentagon announced that Maj. Gen. Mark R. Quantock, currently the intelligence director of the U.S.-led military effort in Afghanistan, will take over as the head of intelligence at CENTCOM. Two officials described Quantock as a “straight shooter” who could help relieve tensions at the command headquarters.

Quantock, who is expected to arrive this summer, will replace Maj. Gen. Steven Grove, whom analysts have said is chiefly responsible for altering the ISIS reports. Grove and his civilian deputy, Gregory Ryckman, have also been accused of deleting emails and files from computer systems before the inspector general could examine them, three individuals familiar with the investigation told The Daily Beast.

Investigators from Capitol Hill and the Pentagon’s watchdog have pulled analysts away from work to ask them questions. Their colleagues try to glean insights about the course of the investigation by keeping note of who is being queried and for how long.

And in another sign of rising anxiety, some believe that that military leadership is trying to piece together which analysts have made allegations about Grove, and to whom, whether they be investigators or journalists.

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Obama’s CIA Boss Doesn’t Support “Government Spying”

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Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, March 15, 2016

Well he’s certainly in the wrong business.

CIA Director John Brennan expressed his personal view that the CIA should be not be viewed as a spy agency. In the 24 February interview he said, “I don’t support government spying…. We don’t steal secrets… We uncover, we discover, we reveal, we obtain, we elicit, we solicit. All of that.”

Brennan is also the genius responsible for ideas like these…

In a paper he published in July 2008, Brennan called on U.S. officials to “cease public Iran-bashing,” and advised the U.S. to “tolerate, and even … encourage, greater assimilation of Hezbollah into Lebanon’s political system, a process that is subject to Iranian influence.”

Nation reporter Robert Dreyfuss, meanwhile, revealed that Brennan had once told him that (as Dreyfuss paraphrased): “talking to Hamas and Hezbollah is the right thing to do.”

Brennan stated that the 20% recidivism rate of former Guantanamo detainees “isn’t that bad” when compared to criminal recidivism.

Speaking in June 2011 about how the Obama administration would deal with terrorism following the recent death of Osama bin Laden, Brennan dismissed any notion that Islamic terrorists might attempt to build a caliphate in the Middle East.

You can really trust John with the nation’s security.

CIA Director John Brennan addressed the hack of his personal email account for the first time on Tuesday, calling it an “outrage” that shows the challenges that face the intelligence and national security communities in the modern age.

A self-proclaimed high school student said he hacked Brennan’s email last week

But Brennan said the fact that his email was hacked is not a sign that he somehow neglected his job or is unfit.

Should we really be calling this an intelligence agency?

The Obama CIA Is Putting Diversity above National Security

(David Burnett/Newsmakers/Getty)

(David Burnett/Newsmakers/Getty)


National Review, by Fred Fleitz, Feb. 23, 2016:

America’s intelligence agencies have a serious and difficult mission: protecting our national security from a world of diverse and changing threats. These include nuclear, military, terrorist, and economic threats from nation-states and non-state actors. China is a rapidly growing intelligence, military, and cyber threat. Russia has exploited a power vacuum in the Middle East caused by President Obama’s failure to exercise leadership in the region. ISIS, which did not exist in 2009, is now a global threat and could be planning new terrorist attacks with chemical weapons and dirty bombs.

Protecting our nation from such threats requires extremely competent and capable individuals to conduct intelligence operations and write analysis in challenging security and legal environments. This means the intelligence profession needs officers who will speak truth to power, obey the law, and resist pressure to politicize analysis.

CIA Director John Brennan apparently believes otherwise and that advancing President Obama’s political and social agendas should be an important part of the CIA’s mission. This may be why Brennan recently announced his “Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (2016–2019)” to make the CIA more diverse and politically correct. Brennan says in the introduction to this strategy:

Diversity at CIA is defined as the wide range of life experiences and backgrounds needed to ensure multiple perspectives that enable us to safeguard US national security. It encompasses the collection of individual attributes that together help Agencies pursue organizational objectives efficiently and effectively. These include but are not limited to characteristics such as national origin, language, race, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic status, veteran’s status and family structures.

Brennan has mandated “diversity and inclusion performance objectives for all CIA managers and supervisors and ultimately [for] the entire workforce,” so that CIA personnel must weigh diversity and gender figures in making key assignments and senior-level promotions. Brennan’s plan also includes agency-wide “unconscious bias” training.

I support a fair and equitable workplace at CIA without any form of unlawful discrimination. But this as a dangerous development because Brennan is creating diversity quotas for hiring and promotions instead of promoting a work environment that prioritizes competence and achievement.

Brennan is doing this in response to President Obama’s efforts to create a more diverse federal work force. While there may be merit in this for many U.S. government jobs, hiring and promoting intelligence officers based on diversity quotas will not, as Brennan claims, better enable CIA to safeguard our national security. The CIA’s mission is too serious to be distracted by Obama’s social-engineering efforts meant to redress real and perceived injustices in our society.

It is not unjust to hire a white male with a Ph.D. from Harvard and a background in nuclear science to analyze the Iranian nuclear program over someone with weaker credentials who is a member of a racial or gender minority. Altering the rules so the latter candidate will win a competition for such a job is not in our national interest. Adding such considerations to CIA promotion rules will further complicate the agency’s management, which is already suffering from politicization and political correctness. This is why in the CIA Directorate of Intelligence, where I worked for 19 years, many highly qualified officers refuse to apply for management jobs — or they last in them for only a few years before returning to analyst positions.

As a former CIA officer, I believe one of the worst signs of how backward the agency’s personnel system has become under Director Brennan is that his diversity plan lists Maja Lehnus as the agency’s new “Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.”  I was stunned when I read this. Ms. Lehnus served as director of the CIA Weapons Intelligence and Nonproliferation Center and the director of the National Intelligence Counterproliferation Center (NCTC). According to the NCTC website, Lehnus worked for 20 years in a wide range of CIA technical and management positions on counterproliferation and weapons of mass destruction.

At a time of growing WMD threats from North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, and ISIS, why is this brilliant WMD expert being moved from such a critical intelligence mission to a position overseeing diversity quotas?

There are two discernible reasons for this.

First, this is just the latest evidence that the Obama administration is not serious about protecting U.S. national security. We know this already, given its “leading from behind” and “strategic patience” approaches to foreign policy and constant leaks of sensitive intelligence to advance their political agenda. It therefore is not surprising that Obama would make diversity and political correctness at the CIA a higher priority than improving its analysis and operations. The fact that the administration would move one of the agency’s leading WMD experts from a senior job in her area of expertise to heading Brennan’s ludicrous diversity program is a clear sign of the CIA’s distorted priorities.

Second, there are many signs that the work of the CIA and other intelligence agencies has been thoroughly politicized by the Obama administration. CIA Director Brennan has been criticized for doctoring White House talking points on the 2011 terrorist attack on the Benghazi consulate to favor the Obama administration misrepresentation of this attack. Brennan also has straddled the fence on the legality of the CIA’s enhanced-interrogation program, probably due to pressure from the White House and Senate Democrats.

In recent years, we’ve also seen strong evidence that the White House has exerted political pressure to conform intelligence analysis to meet its agenda. More than 50 U.S. intelligence analysts working with the U.S. Central Command filed complaints with the Pentagon inspector general last year, claiming that their analyses were manipulated by senior officials to downplay the threat from ISIS and the al-Nusra Front (the al-Qaeda branch in Syria). I witnessed similar politicization of analysis at CIA last August when I attended an unclassified briefing by a senior CIA WMD analyst on the nuclear deal with Iran; the official’s assessment sounded as if it had been directly drawn from White House talking points.

The United States urgently needs intelligence agencies that are effective and innovative, and that will speak truth to power. While many of the U.S. intelligence community’s problems predate this administration, they have gotten much worse since 2009. It is vital that the next president name strong and decisive leaders to top intelligence posts. Our next commander-in-chief must stand by their efforts to conduct major reforms that will reverse the nonsensical initiative of the Obama years and improve the ability of America’s intelligence agencies to counter the national-security threats facing our nation.

These reforms should promote fair hiring and promotion practices but should not undermine the CIA’s effectiveness with politically correct schemes that will only lower standards and create quotas. Due to the life-and-death nature of CIA’s mission, it is vital that its officers be hired and promoted on the basis of competence and achievement, not misguided social-engineering schemes.

— Fred Fleitz is a former CIA analyst and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staff. He is now senior vice president of the Center for Security Policy. This article has been reviewed and cleared for classification reasons by the CIA Prepublication Review Board.