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.

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No, Hillary, 17 U.S. Intelligence Agencies Did Not Say Russia Hacked Dem E-mails

524204248Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, October 20, 2016:

Hillary Clinton in last night’s presidential debate tried to avoid talking about the substance of the damaging WikiLeaks disclosures of DNC and Clinton campaign officials by claiming 17 U.S. intelligence agencies determined that Russia was responsible for this. After Clinton made this claim, she scolded Trump for challenging U.S. intelligence professionals who have taken an oath to help defend this country.

What Clinton said was false and misleading. First of all, only two intelligence entities – the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – have weighed in on this issue, not 17 intelligence agencies. And what they said was ambiguous about Russian involvement. An unclassified October 7, 2016 joint DNI-DHS statement on this issue said the hacks

. . . are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow — the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europa and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.

Saying we think the hacks “are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts” is far short of saying we have evidence that Russia has been responsible for the hacks. Maybe high-level officials would have authorized them if Russian hackers were responsible, but the DNI and DHS statement did NOT say there was evidence Russia was responsible.

My problem with the DNI/DHS unclassified statement is that it appeared to be another effort by the Obama administration to politicize U.S. intelligence. Make no mistake, U.S. intelligence agencies issued this unprecedented unclassified statement a month before a presidential election that was so useful to one party because the Clinton campaign asked for it. The Obama administration was happy to comply.

Clinton tried to defend the DNI/DHS statement by repeating the myth that U.S. intelligence officers are completely insulated from politics. She must think Americans will forget how the CIA crafted the politicized Benghazi talking points in 2011 and how SOUTHCOM intelligence analysts were pressured to distort their analysis of ISIS and Syria to support Obama foreign policy. And that’s just under the Obama administration. Politicization of intelligence goes back decades, including such blatant efforts by CIA officers to interfere in the 2004 presidential election that the Wall Street Journal referred to it as “The CIA Insurgency” in an August 2004 editorial. I discussed the problem of the politicization of U.S. intelligence and the enormous challenge a Trump administration will have in combating it in an August 18, 2016 National Review article.

Maybe the Russians are behind the WikiLeak hacks of Democrat e-mails, possibly to influence the 2016 presidential election. I’m not convinced of this. I’m more concerned that these constant leaks of Democratic e-mails demonstrate that Democratic officials appear to have no understanding of the need for Internet security. This makes me wonder if John Podesta’s e-mail password is “password.” These are the people Clinton will be giving senior jobs with high-level security clearances. That is the real security scandal that no one is talking about.

Clinton Backed Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Regime

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2012 / AP

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2012 / AP

Talking points show Clinton called Morsi’s election ‘milestone’ for Egyptian democracy.

Washington Free Beacon, by Bill Gertz, October 13, 2016:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012 called the election of Egypt’s Islamist Muslim Brotherhood leader a “milestone” for Egyptian democracy and offered covert police and security help, according to declassified State Department documents.

A nine-page document, once-labeled “Secret,” listed talking points for Clinton’s meeting with newly-elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on July 14, 2012. The talking points said Morsi’s election was a key step toward popular democracy in the strategic North African state.

“We stand behind Egypt’s transition to democracy,” the heavily-redacted Clinton talking points state, adding that the only way to maintain a strong Egypt is “through a successful transition to democracy.”

The first key objective of the meeting was for Clinton to “offer our congratulations to Morsi and to the Egyptian people for this milestone in Egypt’s transition to democracy.”

Clinton then was meant to offer Morsi American technical expertise and assistance from both the U.S. government and private sector to support his economic and social programs.

Clinton’s talking points also included an offer of secret assistance to help Morsi “upgrade and reorient Egypt’s police force toward serving the needs of a democratic people.” The offer included sending a team of U.S. police and security experts to Egypt as part of a “framework of cooperation” that would be carried out “quite discretely.”

Also, the talking points reveal Clinton was ready to help launch an Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund, a private sector initiative of U.S. and Egyptian investors to help Egyptian businesses. The fund was to be launched with $60 million and would later involve Congress adding $300 million over five years.

The fund was created in September 2012.

Many pro-democracy Egyptians who had taken to the streets as part of the 2011 revolution that ousted long-time U.S. ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak viewed U.S. support for Morsi as a betrayal and part of a U.S. strategy of backing the Muslim Brotherhood in the region.

The meeting between Clinton and Morsi took place two months before terrorists in neighboring Libya attacked a U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA facility, killing four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stephens.

A second State Department document revealed that Deputy Secretary of State Thomas R. Nides wrote to Morsi on Sept. 24, 2012 seeking collaboration with the Egyptian leader on Syria and Iran.

“It was a honor to meet with you in Cairo,” Nides wrote in the letter. “We share the goal of growing our markets and increasing trade, as well as a desire for a stable, secure and peaceful region. As I said when we met, the United States also remains committed to helping Egypt address regional issues, including Syria and Iran.”

Both documents reveal that the State Department under Clinton had little understanding of the Islamist threat posed by the Muslim Brotherhood and its branches.

Andrew C. McCarthy, former assistant U.S. attorney in New York who prosecuted Islamist terrorism cases, said Clinton backed the Muslim Brotherhood over the Egyptian military, stating it was imperative that power be turned over to the winner of the election.

“The defining mission of the Muslim Brotherhood is the implementation of sharia,” McCarthy said. Sharia is Islamic law that critics say is antidemocratic and contrary to fundamental rights and freedoms

The documents were released under a Freedom of Information Act request seeking information on the Obama administration’s secret 2011 Presidential Study Directive-11, or PSD-11.

The directive, according to officials familiar with its contents, outlined how the administration would seek to support the Muslim Brotherhood around the world despite the Islamist supremacist organization providing the ideological underpinning for jihadist terrorism for both al Qaeda and its successor, the Islamic State.

U.S. backing for Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt was derailed by the Egyptian military a year after the meeting. Morsi, the first democratically elected head of state in Egyptian history, was ousted in a coup after he had sought to consolidate power by granting himself unlimited authority in what pro-democracy critics called an Islamist coup.

Egyptian military leaders arrested Morsi on July 3, 2013, after protesters took to the streets to oppose his rule. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi headed a military government and was later elected president.

The Muslim Brotherhood is an international organization founded in 1928 that adopted as its motto “Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our Leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the path of Allah is our highest hope.”

The leaders of the Brotherhood in September 2010 declared jihad, or holy war against the United States and Israel, six months before the Arab Spring uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.

Clinton’s backing for Arab Spring states was guided by PSD-11 and produced ongoing disasters in the region, namely in Libya and Syria.

U.S. intervention in Libya ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi but left the oil-rich state in turmoil. It is now viewed as a failed state and safe haven for several Islamist terror groups.

Syria’s civil war helped spawn the emergence of the Islamic State in 2014.

In a section on Israel, Clinton’s talking points expressed appreciation to Morsi for assertions that Egypt would continue to abide by international treaties and obligations.

“Maintaining peace with Israel is a fundamental shared interest and critical for Egypt’s ability to address its economic challenges and enjoy international support as it consolidates its democracy,” the talking points stated. “We may not have a common view, but we do have a common interest.”

The CIA also covertly backed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, according to Egyptian news outlets. In December 2013, the news website Al Bashayer published audio recordings of a CIA delegation that met with Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Khayrat al Shatir and Brotherhood official Isam al Haddad at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Jan. 8, 2013.

The CIA asked the Muslim Brotherhood leaders to open a back channel to al Qaeda “to secure the safe exit of U.S. troops” from Afghanistan.

Additionally, another news outlet, Al-Marshad al Amni, reported that Maj. Gen. Abd-al-Hamid Khayrat, former deputy chief for Egyptian State Security Investigations said the CIA in January 2013 “asked for the help of the MB in Egypt to facilitate… the withdrawal from Afghanistan.” The Muslim Brotherhood agreed to become a “bridge” between the U.S. government and al Qaeda, Khayrat said.

The reports triggered widespread conspiracy theories in post-Morsi Egypt that the CIA was collaborating with Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to destabilize Egypt.

The Clinton talking points about the transition to democracy were reflected in a briefing given by a State Department official to reporters the day before the 2012 meeting. The covert police assistance was not mentioned.

A day after the meeting, Clinton stated in remarks at the U.S. Consulate in Alexandria, Egypt, that she told Morsi the success of his presidency and Egypt’s success “depends upon building consensus across the Egyptian political spectrum and speaking to the needs and concerns of all Egyptians—all faiths, all communities, men and women alike.”

Retired Army Lt. Col. Joseph Myers, a former DIA official and specialist on terrorism, said the documents show the endorsement and support of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt was “a fools errand and shows a disastrous strategic naivety.”

“The whole policy initiative to support a Muslim Brotherhood government anywhere is another example of a total policy failure of Secretary Clinton,” Myers said.

“But it also raises deeper questions of who in our government is advising and influencing such reckless and dangerous policies that show no fundamental comprehension of the threat we face from radical Islamic jihad,” he added. “Or worse these advisers precisely understand what they are doing to U.S. policy and Secretary Clinton could not.”

Two More Guantanamo Detainees Return to Jihad, Says National Intelligence Report

(ISIS photo)

(ISIS photo)

PJ MEDIA, BY BRIDGET JOHNSON, SEPTEMBER 15, 2016:

A status report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence revealed two more former Guantanamo Bay detainees were confirmed returning to jihad in the first six months of this year.

The DNI report breaks down the number of released detainees — 693 — and under whose administration the transfers occurred (532 under George W. Bush, 161 under President Obama).

The confirmed recidivism rate is 17.6 percent, with 122 former detainees determined to be engaged in jihadist activity since their release.

The rate of those suspected but not confirmed of returning to jihad is 12.4 percent, or 86 of 693 cases.

Nine detainees total have been confirmed of returning to jihad since Obama took office, according to the report. Eleven former detainees are suspected of returning to jihad during that time period.

No detainees were named. The terror groups joined were also not detailed.

The DNI prepares the unclassified summary in coordination with the CIA and Defense Department, and has been required to do so every six months since 2012.

“Based on trends identified during the past eleven years, we assess that some detainees currently at GTMO will seek to reengage in terrorist or insurgent activities after they are transferred. Transfers to countries with ongoing conflicts and internal instability as well as recruitment by insurgent and terrorist organizations could pose problems,” the assessment states. “While enforcement of transfer conditions may deter reengagement by many former detainees and delay reengagement by others, some detainees who are determined to reengage will do so regardless of any transfer conditions, albeit probably at a lower rate than if they were transferred without conditions.”

“Former GTMO detainees routinely communicate with each other, families of other former detainees, and previous associates who are members of terrorist organizations. The reasons for communication span from the mundane (reminiscing about shared experiences) to the nefarious (planning terrorist operations). We assess that some GTMO detainees transferred in the future also will communicate with other former GTMO detainees and persons in terrorist organizations. We do not consider mere communication with individuals or organizations—including other former GTMO detainees—an indicator of reengagement. Rather, the motives, intentions, and purposes of each communication are taken into account when assessing whether the individual has reengaged.”

Sixty-one detainees remain as Obama works toward his goal of closing the prison facility by the end of his term. Only 20 of the remaining prisoners have been cleared for transfer to a suitable country.

The House today passed 244-174 a bill blocking funds for all transfers from Guantanamo Bay until new safeguards are put in place or Obama’s term ends. A dozen Democrats voted in favor of the bill, while four Republicans voted against it.

“After the latest report that two more former Guantanamo Bay detainees have returned to the fight, it is more critical than ever that we put the safety and security of the American people first,” said sponsor Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.). “The administration has made clear it intends to transfer as many terrorist detainees as possible from Gitmo before the president leaves office in order to fulfill a misguided campaign promise.”

“This is reckless, and it puts American lives at risk. Today a bipartisan majority put our national security ahead of politics, voting to pass my bill to pause Gitmo detainee transfers until new safeguards are in place or the president’s term ends.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said last month that “we still have to go and do some diplomatic work with other countries to determine who’s willing to assume responsibility for these individuals and who’s also willing to assist with the implementation of whatever restrictions may be necessary against them after they’re transferred.”

Asked how Obama could still be confident that Gitmo will be closed by the time he leaves office, Earnest replied, “What we will continue to do is to work to overcome the obstacles that Congress has erected to prevent the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay.”

“And that’s unfortunate, particularly when you consider that Democrats and Republicans, national security professionals in both parties, agree with the conclusion that President Obama has reached, which is that the American people are best served by closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.”

All Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee subsequently warned Obama that he is releasing “increasingly dangerous terrorists” in his rush to fulfill his vow to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

Islamic State Adapting & Improving Its Escape/Evasion Tactics/Tradecraft

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Image source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-tricks-make-isis-once-easily-tracked-a-sophisticated-opponent-1473613106

Fortuna’s Corner, by R. C. Porter, Sept. 12, 2016:

Sam Schechner and Benoit Faucon had a September 11, 2016 article in the Wall Street Journal with an all too familiar theme — that the adversary is evading our attempts to surveil them — by adapting and enhancing their escape and evasion tradecraft.  Our lack of critical human intelligence (HUMINT) can be blamed on a clever adversary who has learned from their past mistakes, our inability to deeply penetrate their inner sanctum, and self-inflicted/unforced errors like closing Guantanamo Bay Prison without identifying a viable alternative.

     Getting a reliable, and highly successful human spy ensconced deep within the adversary’s lair has always been one of the most difficult intelligence collection challenges since time immemorial.  Napoleon Bonaparte once said that “one well placed spy was worth two battalions.”  Now, one well-placed spy could be worth an entire city.

     Our success in the targeted killing of the ISIS leadership no doubt sowed a heavy dose of mistrust and paranoia within the group’s ranks; and, ultimately forced those remaining to change and adapt their techniques, tactics, and procedures (TTPs) with respect to  how they communicate, plan operations, and travel — both locally and abroad.  The adversary gets a vote; and, it is to be expected that ISIS would adapt, change, and enhance its operational security (OPSEC) — especially as the targeted killing campaign eliminated their top leadership.  But, leaks by Edward Snowden, which revealed sensitive and highly lucrative NSA sources and methods, seemed to instill ISIS with a renewed sense of OPSEC, resulting in their use of enhanced encryption software, and other techniques to avoid our attempts to surveil them.

      As Mr. Schechner and Mr. Faucon note, “the extremists group’s communications, once commonly conducted on phones and social media accounts easily tracked by authorities [and intelligence agencies], have evolved into a mix of encrypted chat-app messages over What‘sApp and Telegram, face-to-face meetings, written notes, stretches of silence, and misdirection.”  The use of couriers, and disposable cell phones also remain a staple of their tradecraft.  The group’s move to enhanced encryption occurred within three months after the Edward Snowden leasks.  Additionally, as expressed on the group’s social media websites, ISIS members and followers were warned about Western surveillance techniques — as revealed by the Snowden leaks, and what to do to avoid them.

     The POTUS’s insistence on closing Guantanamo Bay Prison, means the United States lacks a dedicated interrogation facility where high-value targets can be taken and interrogated over a prolonged period of time.  As a result, the U.S. is forced to conduct tactical/limited interrogations overseas; and/or, depend on an ally or foreign partner to conduct these investigations — and never really being sure that such interrogations were adequate.  The next POTUS needs to reinstate Guantanamo as a dedicated interrogation facility, or settle on a useful alternative that does not unduly deprive our, and our intelligence agency partners of the opportunity to thoroughly question those who wish to kill as many Americans and Westerners as they can.

     As former CIA officer Philip Giraldi wrote in the July 23, 2014 edition of The American Conservative, “terrorists now know that using a cell phone is dangerous, that transferring money using commercial accounts can be detected [thus the increased use of Bitcoins], that moving around when a drone is overhead can be fatal [thus the increased use/employment of human shields — women/children, etc.]; and, that communicating by computer is likely to be intercepted or exposed unless it is encrypted.

     And, as Mr. Giraldi correctly observes, “technical intelligence has its limitations:  while it is excellent on picking up bits and pieces, and using sophisticated computers to work through the bulk collection of chatter, it is largely unable to learn the intentions of terrorist groups and leaders.  To do that,” he argues, “you need spies, ideally someone who is placed in the inner circle of an organization; and who is therefore — privy to decision-making.”

     But, the Intelligence Community has a very poor record when it comes to deeply penetrating a terrorist group with a well-placed human spy.  To be fair, these groups are typically close-knit, very suspicious of new-comers, and vet new members through family and tribal connections — thus making a successful HUMINT penetration challenging to say the least.

     At the end of the day, intelligence collection against a low-tech adversary, who learns our sources and methods from leaks such as Edward Snowden’s, and adapts their TTPas in clever and unexpected ways, makes them a ‘hard target’ for a reason.  All the more important that we avoid self-inflicted wounds like shuttering Guantanamo  Bay Prison — without a viable alternative — and, consider establishing a leading-edge, deep penetration center of excellence, designed to try new means and methods to collect against low-tech, hard to penetrate adversarial entities.  V/R, RCP

Also see:

Despite ‘28 pages’ release, Saudi’s 9/11 involvement still buried

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

New York Post, by Paul Sperry, Sept. 10, 2016:

The White House thinks releasing the “28 pages” summarizing Saudi involvement in 9/11 satisfied the public’s need to know. But don’t be fooled. The full story remains buried under more than 100,000 pages of other, still-secret documents.

The public didn’t even get to see everything that was in those long-classified 28 (actually 29) pages from the congressional inquiry, which narrowly focus on Saudi government officials’ contacts with just two of the 15 Saudi hijackers during their stay in San Diego. The Obama administration blacked-out critical information throughout the document.

In all, there are nearly 100 separate redactions, ranging from single words, such as names of Saudi suspects, to paragraphs and entire sections of text. Obama’s censors offered no reason why any of that information had to be kept secret 15 years after the attacks, even though such explanations are required as part of declassification reviews.

The 29 pages reveal numerous, reinforcing connections between Saudi officials and the 9/11 hijackers. As convincing as they are in tying them together as co-conspirators, they’re merely a summary of the FBI and CIA case files that detail the supporting evidence, including Saudi phone and financial records and statements from material witnesses and informants. The FBI files on alleged Saudi intelligence agent and hijacker handler Omar al-Bayoumi alone are said to run more than 4,000 pages. They are said to include interviews with Saudi government officials who had contact with Bayoumi.

Lawyers for 9/11 families suing the Saudi kingdom, who Friday won congressional passage of a bill removing Saudi’s sovereign immunity, want to get their hands on those documents, along with:

  • More than 80,000 pages of unreleased documents related to the FBI’s investigation of a wealthy, well-connected Saudi family in Sarasota, Fla., who had “many connections” to “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001,” according to a 2002 FBI report.
  • Still-classified FBI case files from the investigations of hijackers based in Virginia and New Jersey, as well as Arizona and Oklahoma.
  • Still-secret material from the 9/11 Commission, including investigators’ 2003 interview with Saudi Prince Bandar, the transcript of which remains under lock and key at the National Archives. (The interview could shed light on why, according to the 29 pages, Bandar personally wrote checks to one of the hijackers’ alleged handlers and why a top al Qaeda operative captured in Pakistan possessed an unlisted phone number tied to Bandar’s Aspen mansion, as well as the phone number for one of Bandar’s bodyguards at the Saudi embassy in Washington.)
  • An entire section on the Saudi’s role in 9/11 that was blanked-out from the 2015 report of the 9/11 Review Commission, set up to assess the FBI’s and CIA’s performance in implementing the original commission’s recommendations and to evaluate new evidence.
  • The 2005 “joint FBI-CIA intelligence report assessing the nature and extent of Saudi government support of terrorism,” which remains classified.
  • Some 632 pages withheld by the Treasury Department explaining why a Saudi charity tied to al Qaeda was formally designated a foreign terrorist organization.
  • Documents and other materials recovered from the raid of Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad,Pakistan compound in 2011 that still remain sealed.
  • Redacted pages from a 2002 CIA report titled “Saudi-Based Financial Support for Terrorist Organizations.”
  • Federal documents related to the investigations of as many as 70 Saudi nationals with Saudi diplomatic credentials who were kicked out of the country and sent back to their country after 9/11, most of whom worked in the Islamic Affairs offices of the Saudi Embassy in DC.
  • FBI reports and State Department memos detailing the decision to deny re-entry into the US in 2003 of Fahad al-Thumairy, a Saudi cleric who worked at the Saudi consulate in LA and is said to have acted as the advance man for two of the Saudi hijackers and, in fact, may have been at the center of the US support network for them.

The White House and Riyadh hoped the public would move on after the partial release of the 29 pages.

“Now that the declassification is complete,” said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, “we hope to continue our close cooperation with the US.” Not so fast. With so much still hidden from public view, the release of the 29 pages should be just the start of 9/11 transparency, not the end of it.

Paul Sperry is author of “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.”

Erik Prince: Clinton’s ‘Foreign Policy Record Is a Disaster,’ Trump Is ‘Willing to Take a Different Direction’

Getty Images

Getty Images

Breitbart, by John Hayward, Sept. 8, 2016:

Retired Navy SEAL and former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince thought it was “shocking indeed that Matt Lauer asked any question that wasn’t pre-scripted from the Clinton team” during Wednesday night’s national security forum.

“I think perhaps the lies, the distortions have reached a tipping point, that the rest of the media is saying, we can’t be this dishonest all the time on these matters, we have to do something right,” Prince told Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM.

He thought Trump was stronger on content during the forum, because “Hillary doesn’t have anything to be strong on, content-wise.”

“Her foreign policy record is a disaster, whether it’s being part of pulling out of Iraq, basically when the war had been won and the country had been stabilized, all that blood and treasure and effort, literally thrown down the drain by the Obama Administration,” Prince said.

“And then her leading a cavalry charge into Libya, to cause what was a cooperating state on counter-terrorism, they’d given up their nuclear weapons, and she turned it into an Islamic fascist kinda hell-hole that is still melting down – a transit point for millions of refugees a year, thousands of which drowned, people being beheaded, Coptic Christians being murdered, the list of terribles. So she has no record to go on,” he pronounced.

Prince agreed with a caller that Trump could do more with Hillary Clinton’s sale of American uranium reserves to Russia, calling the story “an under-explored question, certainly by the mainstream media.”

Clinton Cash does an excellent job of covering it. Unfortunately, enough of America hasn’t seen it yet,” he said. “To elaborate, due to a significant donation into the Clinton Foundation, the State Department ended up approving the sale of a company that owns 20% of the uranium in the United States, certainly a strategic fuel stock for us here, for nuclear energy production, and of course for nuclear weapons, if necessary. It’s now in the hands of a Russian state enterprise.”

Marlow asked for Prince’s take on Donald Trump’s often-repeated call for “taking the oil” after an operation such as the Iraq War. During the Wednesday night forum, Trump more specifically called for seizing oil production before the Islamic State could take it.

“The caliphate, ISIS, operates with legitimacy in their minds because they control land,” Prince noted. “That land they control holds oil. They sell that oil, they sell it off – oddly enough, by truck, to Erdogan’s son, the ruler of Turkey, so that even the Erdogan family is in on the criminal enterprise of it all. But when he says ‘take the oil,’ if friendly forces occupy that territory, that oil is no longer available to the enemy for sale.”

He said that holding land even allows ISIS to run its own science programs, since they have “taken over the University of Mosul, their science department, and they are using it as a weapons lab for doing research on weapons that will evade detection in the West.”

“You have to take away any legitimacy that the caliphate has by owning or controlling land. They cannot have a state,” he urged. “Doing so will cut off a major part of their money supply. They would still get money, like al-Qaeda does, via some high-net-worth radical Islamist donors, and there’s other ways to deal with that, but you have to take away the legitimacy of the caliphate, by denying them sanctuary anywhere. That’s going to take them from conventional-sized units that can go from battalions, up to even brigade size, thousands of people, down to at least operating at no more than two- to four-man terror cells.”

“It was interesting in the forum last night, Hillary saying ‘I will never use U.S. ground troops,’ and she’s going to try to phone it in from the air – clearly a strategy that hasn’t been working for the last two and a half years, because ISIS is still very active, and still ever as deadly,” Prince said.

“Whether you use U.S. ground forces, whether you use local Arab forces, or whether you use contracted forces, it’s not that difficult to assemble a force – a few thousand people, we’re not talking tens of thousands. If you give it to the conventional military, they will insist on tens of thousands, just because they move with a much, much larger logistics footprint,” he said. “If you think about, what was the most effective response the U.S. has had to terrorism, I would say it was the first 12 months after 9/11, where you had a few case officers, a handful of special operations officers, supported by capable air and agency air, and it literally turned the Taliban back in a matter of weeks.”

“The U.S. military’s war plan, going back to 9/11, was basically bombs, missile raid, and a ranger raid for the first six months. They didn’t want to put any significant boots on the ground until the following April, of 2002, and this is while their headquarters, the Pentagon, was still smoking under attack,” Prince recalled. “A light, unconventional, again contracted or indigenous force, ought to roll up and destroy any conventional pockets of ISIS, in the entire Iraq/Syria theater.”

“You have to negotiate a deal with what Syria looks like, post-ISIS, with Putin,” he continued. “You know, the Alawites, the Assad family are from the Alawite tribe, that’s a Shia minority. He can’t leave, because if he does, the Alawites will be slaughtered. A Shia minority being in charge in Syria is almost like the untouchables running India – it just doesn’t happen. So it’s been that way for 40 years, and you have to separate them, because those two are in a blood feud, and unless they have a very clear boundary, they’re going to continue to fight.”

“You have to basically have the Russians and Assad be willing to shrink the footprint of what Assad’s going to run, and I would take eastern Syria, western Iraq, and put it into a greater Sunni country, call it Sunnistan,” he proposed. “Give the Kurds, who have been our most steadfast allies, fighting against Daesh and radicalism there, give them their own homeland. With that, you could actually have a homeland for Christians, because Christianity’s been in the Middle East for longer than Islam, for the past 2,000 years. And they have largely been run out of Dodge by continued attacks and violence.”

On the matter of giving Christians a homeland, Prince said there will be a conference called “In Defense of Christians” in Washington this very weekend.

He talked about how the maps of modern Iraq and Syria were drawn by the Sykes-Picot treaty in 1916, and that old world has “gone away.” He advised drawing a new map along “tribal and religious lines,” and then allowing good borders to make good neighbors.

Prince said the persecution of Christians draws relatively little media coverage in the United States because “when you have very few people who believe anymore here, who are in those positions of writing, it’s easy for them to ignore.”

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, Christians find themselves in a “war of tribal extinction, where you have ISIS rolling into a village, lining everyone up, and asking them what they believe. You’ve even seen other cases of that in Somalia, or Nigeria, or wherever, where radical Islamist terrorists are lining up people and murdering them, if they can’t recite lines from the Koran.”

Prince predicted Trump would “have his hands full” if he became Commander-in-Chief.

“He’s gonna have a military bureaucracy that needs massive reform,” he said. “When you throw hundreds of billions of dollars onto an organization, year after year after year, it creates a lot of bad habits, it creates a lot of fat. It makes for a very heavy triathlete that’s going to have a hard time bobbing, and moving, and flexing, and moving quickly to fight non-state actors.”

Prince said of Hillary Clinton’s position, “There’s no there there.”

“To announce that you’re never going to use ground troops is wrong. It means basically to ISIS saying, yes, we can sit back and tear away at these Americans, because they’re afraid to commit their people to come and get us,” he said. “Her position is untenable. It’s just saying well, we’re going to get our Arab allies to do more.”

“There’s no there there,” he repeated. “You’re not going to trust the Turks. The Turks’ main interest is in destroying the Kurds. Remember, Turkey was a major transit point – and still is – for ISIS fighters and weapons, et cetera. It’s a mess that someone’s going to have to go clean out.”

“You’re not going to get Saudi Arabia to send troops,” he continued. “They’re being destroyed left, right, and center along their southern border in Yemen. Jordan is pretty much tapped out. And so there’s not a lot of other real military capability in the Middle East.”

He recalled the CIA’s use of indigenous forces after 9/11, “led by CIA officers, supported by American air power,” and suggested Trump tap the same kind of intelligence teams to conduct a similar strategy against the Islamic State on the ground, combining “cash, authority, and a real will to fight.”

“DOD can support that, but it must be an Agency-led effort,” Prince specified. “If I were in the Trump Administration, I would say that the Pentagon does not have a leading role to play, battling non-state actors. It should be an intelligence function. The Pentagon, as Mr. Trump laid out, needs to beef up its conventional military capabilities, which have been eroded and chewed up, trying to fight basically guys with pickup trucks, with our first-rate, very expensive military equipment.”

Instead, he advised using “other guys in pickup trucks” to combat these non-state irregular forces, adding “a few elements of technology to give your side the advantage.”

“You focus on going cheap,” Prince said. “This is the Long War. This is not an invasion of Grenada that’s going to be done in five days. This is a long, drawn-out, long and slow-burning fight, and you have to provision and plan to fight the enemy, to be able to outlastthem. When the Pentagon gets involved, and you start rolling blocks of 10,000 people in, it comes at an enormous cost. That’s why we’re still spending $44 billion a year in Afghanistan, and right now the Taliban controls more land in Afghanistan then they did on 9/11, 15 years ago.”

“To go at this the same way it’s been done is the definition of insanity, because we keep going around and around in circles,” he said of Hillary Clinton’s counter-terrorist agenda. “Again, the most effective time the U.S. had against terrorism was about the first year, post-9/11, and the more the Pentagon got involved, and the more battalions of lawyers and bureaucrats got involved, everything slowed down, and all progress stopped.”

In response to a caller who had military experience in Iraq, Prince talked about the restrictive rules of engagement and burdensome force-protection policies imposed on U.S. troops, pronouncing them too cumbersome for dealing with a vicious irregular enemy.

He cited legendary military theorist Carl von Clausewitz’s idea that military courage comes in two forms: the individual courage of the soldier, which the U.S. has a “surplus” of, thanks to our “fantastic soldiers, NCOs, and junior officers.”

“The other kind of courage it takes are senior leaders that are willing to commit their people to action, with an uncertain outcome,” he said. “I think that’s what we’ve suffered from. We’ve built up this massive barrier mentality when we’re trying to engage with the enemy, and it prevents effective action.”

For example, he said that “if you’re fighting in Afghanistan, you have to call a U.S. lawyer sitting in an air-conditioned office in Qatar, at some U.S. Air Force base, to get permission to drop a bomb.”

“That’s wrong. That is a non-serious way to fight a war,” he declared.

“To me, that’s disqualifying for Hillary, because that’s what she would default to,” Prince said. “I think Mr. Trump is willing to take a different direction. He’s listening to some different voices on this, and who knows what that would look like, but I have way more confidence in Mr. Trump doing the right thing than Hillary.”

LISTEN:

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Also see:

British Journo: Syrian Kidnapper Who Shot Me Twice Is Now a CIA-Vetted ‘Moderate’

CIA-kidnapper-turned-CIA-moderate.sized-770x415xtPJ MEDIA, BY PATRICK POOLE, SEPTEMBER 3, 2016:

British reporter Anthony Loyd recounts in The Times (UK) today his reaction when he saw his former Syrian “rebel” kidnapper Hakim Abu Jamal, aka Abdel Hakim al-Yaseen and Hakim Anza, celebrating a victory in northern Syria two weeks ago as part of a supposedly CIA-vetted “moderate” rebel group.

Loyd reports (The Times article is behind a paywall; link is to same article in The Australian):

It was with some surprise watching a video of a victorious band of western-backed rebels that I noticed the face of America’s newest ally in the war against Isis in Syria.

It was the face of a man I last saw in May 2014 when he leant forward to shoot me twice in the left ankle at almost point-blank range while my hands were tied. It was punishment for having attempted to escape his gang of kidnappers in northern Syria who had hoped to sell me on.He shot me in the middle of a crowd of onlookers, after a savage preliminary beating, denouncing me as “a CIA spy”. Now, it seems, he works with them.

The grainy footage of the video – posted last month on Facebook – showed Hakim Abu Jamal waving his Kalashnikov in the air to proclaim a small victory, courtesy of US air power, on a dusty street in the border town of al-Rai.

I remember him well from across the years. Now, Hakim, forage cap on his head, was standing in the middle of a group of ten other Syrian rebel fighters all belonging to a CIA-vetted group.

The group was backed by Turkish artillery and US airstrikes to oust Isis fighters from a key stretch of road before the capture of the town of Jarabulus last month. Hakim Abu Jamal, who also goes by the names Abdel Hakim al-Yaseen and Hakim Anza, was among the hundreds of other Syrian rebels who crossed from Turkey into Syria two weeks ago to purge ISIS.

And it seems that U.S. authorities aren’t eager to respond to questions about their newly minted “moderate” rebels:

Last month, however, video surfaced of Hakim Anza proving that he was not only free, but was also serving in a CIA-vetted Syrian rebel group, First Regiment (al-Fawj al-Awwal), which was receiving US weaponry, including Tow missiles, as well as air strikes in support of their operations. In between times he appears to be based in southern Turkey, where he takes orders from the Hawar Kilis Operations room.Four US hostages were murdered in Syria in 2014. Two British hostages were also beheaded there. The memories of Britain and America must be short, for on Friday sources in the Free Syrian Army and US confirmed Hakim Anza’s membership of the CIA-backed group, in which he is sub-commander.

Centcom, the US Central Command, did not respond to Times requests over three days this week to explain how such a well-known hostage taker with family connections to extremists could have passed US vetting procedures.

However, a Pentagon official, who preferred not to be named, described repeated US air support for a recent mission conducted by vetted Syrian rebel groups, where Hakim Anza was filmed with his men on August 17. He has apparently transformed effortlessly from criminal pariah to a worthy foot soldier allied to Operation Inherent Resolve, the 60-nation coalition, motto “One Mission, Many Nations”, in the Middle East to fight ISIS.

Remarkably, the New York Times reported four years ago from Hakim’s camp, where he was observed engaging in war crimes, namely, sending a Syrian regime prisoner to a Syrian Army checkpoint under the ruse of a prisoner exchange, but wiring the vehicle to remotely explode once it arrived at the checkpoint. In a video accompanying the NYT article, Hakim appears dejected when informed the bomb did not detonate.

This is hardly the first time that U.S.-backed “rebels” have been responsible for kidnapping Western journalists.

As I reported here at PJ Media more than a year ago, several U.S. reporters taken captive by U.S.-backed “moderate” rebel groups have ended up in the hands of Al-Qaeda, and even ISIS.

That would include American journalist James Foley, beheaded by the Islamic State in its first such grisly video, who reportedly came into ISIS custody when the Free Syrian Army (FSA)-aligned Dawud Brigade that kidnapped and held Foley pledged allegiance to ISIS and delivered him to ISIS as a token of their submission.

In October 2014, American journalist Theo Padnos — who was captured by the U.S.-backed FSA and then given over to — told the story of his two-year captivity in the New York Times Magazine.

At one point, Padnos says he escaped from his Al-Qaeda captors and found himself back in the hands of the FSA, who then, again, promptly turned him back over to the terror group.

An NBC News crew taken captive in Syria in December 2012, and who later repeatedly claimed they had been held by an Assad regime militia, later admitted – following a New York Times investigation – that they were in fact held by an FSA criminal network.

Also, there is evidence that NBC News executives knew from the time of the crew’s capture that they were held by U.S. allies, but allowed the blame to fall on Assad since that didn’t conflict with the Obama administration’s position at the time.

For more than two years I’ve reported extensively on the extensive vetting failures related to the U.S. support of the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels:

July 7, 2014: U.S. ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Brigades Surrender Weapons, Pledge Allegiance to Islamic StateSept. 3, 2014: U.S.-Backed Free Syrian Army Operating Openly with ISIS, Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra

Sept. 9, 2014: Fighter With ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Tells L.A. Times They Fight Alongside Al-Qaeda

Sept. 10, 2014: ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Commander Admits Alliance with ISIS, Confirms PJ Media Reporting

Sept. 13, 2014: Yet Another U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Makes Peace with ISIS

Sept. 24, 2014: U.S.-Backed Syrian Group Harakat al-Hazm Condemns U.S. Strikes on ISIS as ‘Attack on the Revolution’

Nov. 2, 2014: U.S.-Armed ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebel Groups Surrender, Defect to Al-Qaeda

Nov. 3, 2014: How Obama Walked Boehner and GOP Leadership Off the Syrian Rebel Cliff

Nov. 24, 2014: More Defections of ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Rebels to ISIS

Dec. 2, 2014: US-Backed Syrian Rebels Ally with al-Qaeda in South, Surrender CIA-Supplied Weapons in the North

Dec. 14, 2014: Report: Al-Qaeda Using CIA-Supplied TOW Anti-Tank Missiles in Northern Syria

Dec. 28, 2014: NY Times Admits: U.S.-Backed Free Syrian Army Under Effective al-Qaeda Control

March 3, 2015: U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Collapses, U.S.-Supplied Weapons End Up in Al-Qaeda Hands

March 24, 2015: Video Shows Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra Using U.S.-Provided TOW Anti-Tank Missiles in Syria

April 16, 2015: U.S. Analyst Admits ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Have Been Working with Al-Qaeda All Along

May 8, 2015: CIA-Backed, “Vetted Moderate” Rebels Now Working Openly With Al-Qaeda

June 27, 2015: ISIS Using U.S. TOW Antitank Missiles In Latest Syrian Offensive

July 9, 2015: Report: ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Fighting Alongside Al-Qaeda, Islamic State Against Assad Regime

July 23, 2015:U.S.-Funded Free Syrian Army Unit Shows Off Its Kidnapping Skills in New Training Video

July 27, 2015: #BringBackOurRebels: Obama’s 50-Man ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebel Army Vanishes After Training in Turkey

July 29, 2015: #BringBackOurRebels Part 2: Al-Qaeda Arrests 18 U.S.-Trained Rebels On Their First Day in Syria

July 30, 2015: #BringBackOurRebels: Despite Pentagon Denial, Reports Confirm That U.S.-Trained Syrian Rebels Were Kidnapped By Al-Qaeda Almost Immediately

July 31, 2015: Report: Al-Qaeda Kills Five Members of Obama’s 54-Man Syrian Rebel Army

July 31, 2015: Chechen Terrorists In Syria Have Obtained U.S.-Provided TOW Anti-Tank Missiles

Sept. 22, 2015: Report: U.S.-Trained, ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebel Leader Defects to Al-Qaeda, Turns Weapons Over to Terror Group

Oct. 27, 2016: New Video Shows Al-Qaeda Using Weapons U.S. Gave to ‘Vetted Moderates’

Nov. 24, 2015:U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebels Destroy Russian Helicopter with CIA-Provided TOW Anti-Tank Missile

July 20, 2016: CIA-Vetted, “Moderate” Syrian Rebels Behead Child Soldier

And yet the Obama administration continues on a reckless course of backing these rebels well knowing that any actual moderates have become few and far between in Syria, and that some of these CIA-“vetted” groups have been directly involved in the abduction and killing of U.S. citizens.

And a larger question looms: as the mountain of evidence continues to grow about the extremism of U.S.-backed rebel groups, at what point does the U.S. become complicit in their crimes?

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.

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Ex-CIA spook who whitewashed Benghazi endorses Hillary

Hillary Clinton Photo: Reuters

Hillary Clinton Photo: Reuters

New York Post, by Kenneth R.  Timmerman, Aug. 5, 2016:

Hillary has become a spook’s candidate. Former deputy CIA Director Michael Morell, who so conveniently covered her tracks in Benghazi, has now confirmed it.

In a glowing endorsement his friends at The New York Times prominently featured Friday, Morell gave his full-throated support to Clinton, while insisting that he was no partisan and had even voted Republican in the past.

Like an obedient party hack vying for a new job, Morell spouted the party line that Donald Trump was “not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security.”

Those are strong words, especially coming from someone who we are led to believe is an unimpeachable source. But is he?

The “non-partisan” Morell was caught “mis-speaking” to Congress about his role in sanitizing the infamous CIA talking points prepared for US Ambassador Susan Rice to deliver on the Sunday talk shows after the Benghazi attacks. And when he was caught out, like a faithful soldier, he fell on his sword.

Here’s how it happened: After Susan Rice’s outlandish claims on the Sunday talk shows that the Benghazi attacks began as a spontaneous protest over a “hateful” YouTube video, Congress began asking where she had gotten that information. This is how lawmakers discovered that the intelligence community had drafted her talking points, with input from the White House and Hillary Clinton’s staff.

Early drafts of the talking points included a mention of al Qaeda. But that reference was removed in the final drafts. Sen. Lindsay Graham explained to me what happened next.

“On Nov. 27, 2012, Morell and Susan Rice came into my office,” he told me. “I asked Morell who changed [the talking points]. He said, the FBI deleted the reference to al Qaeda because of an ongoing criminal investigation. So I called the FBI. They said, no, they didn’t change the talking points. They were furious.”

Apparently, that was an understatement: Someone at a senior level at FBI called the CIA to protest directly. Graham continued the story: “At 4 p.m. that day, CIA called me and said Morell ‘mis-spoke’ in his meeting with me, and that CIA deleted [the reference to al Qaeda], but they couldn’t give a reason why.”

Graham thought the reason was obvious: “If the truth had been known that al Qaeda killed four Americans seven weeks before an election, it would have been a different political story.”

Remember what Obama and his surrogates were saying? “Osama is dead, GM is alive.” That was their campaign mantra.

In fact, it was Morell himself who made those changes.

Morell subsequently testified before the House Select Committee on Intelligence, and eventually before the Benghazi Select Committee, twisting himself into a pretzel to explain why he removed any mention of the al Qaeda involvement in the attacks.

He ultimately claimed he believed news reports calling the Benghazi attacks a protest gone wild were more credible than repeated e-mails and cables from his own station chief in Libya insisting there had never been a protest.

It was an admission of gross incompetence — or partisanship. But that was the party line Clinton was putting out.

Morell was rewarded after the 2012 election. When he retired from CIA, Morell took a position with Beacon Global Strategies, a company cofounded by Andrew Shapiro and Philippe Reines, members of Hillary Clinton’s inner circle at the State Department.

In his Times op-ed, Morell claims Donald Trump is an “unwitting agent” of Russia because he makes friendly remarks toward Putin. But Trump has never taken a dime from Putin. As we now know, Clinton and her husband have both profited handsomely from their relations to Russian state-owned banks and corporations — and actually helped Russia get its hands on a company with rights to a fifth of US uranium. Does that make her a “witting agent” of Russia?

This former spook’s willingness to skewer the truth on behalf of a political patron should suffice to make any thinking person reject his judgment.

As for the truth about Hillary, well, we’ve seen her selling political favors to foreign countries and companies while secretary of state through the Clinton Foundation. And lying to the public incessantly — about Benghazi, her e-mails, you name it. Just imagine what she’ll do if elected president.

Kenneth R. Timmerman’s latest book, Deception: the Making of the YouTube Video Hillary and Obama Blamed for Benghazi, was released two weeks ago and is already in its 4th printing.

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.

 

What Should We Make Of The Islamic State’s Ramadan Wave Of Violence?

smoke-1024x683FPRI, Author:  Clint Watts

The Islamic State has taken the final week of Ramadan to make a big statement: “We will not go quietly.” In the last seven days the terror group has shown that a “wounded Islamic State is a dangerous Islamic State” lashing out in an unprecedented wave of suicide bombings and other attacks around the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia.

The Islamic State’s gradual decline in Syria and Iraq has finally brought a long expected shift in the group’s tactics from conventional military operations back towards insurgencies paired with regional and international terror attacks. The Islamic State overtook al Qaeda by declaring a caliphate and has since surpassed their forefathers as a terror group by executing a daily string of directed and networked attacks in six countries while narrowly missing in a seventh.

Here’s a quick recap of the Islamic State’s Ramadan Campaign. (For an explanation of the directed versus networked taxonomy see “Directed, Networked and Inspired: The Muddled Jihad of ISIS and al Qaeda Post Hebdo.” I’m estimating whether these attacks are directed or networked based upon available open source information. These classifications may change as further information arises.)

June 27 to July 5: The Islamic State’s Cascading Terrorism

Success breeds success for the Islamic State and their directed suicide assaults seek to amplify their image, rally their base during a down time, and inspire their supporters to undertake further violence in their name. Here’s what the Islamic State has perpetrated in short order.

Interestingly, only two of the above attacks do not involve a suicide operation – Bangladesh and Malaysia. Jama’at ul Mujahideen Bangladesh, a group connected with the Islamic State, but not a formal wilayat, had until recently only perpetrated targeted sectarian assassinations and this attack appears to not only be a major, violent step forward for the group but also seems more reminiscent of the Paris attacks and other international hostage seizures. Association of the Malaysian grenade attack with the Islamic State would also be a new trend regionally. In both cases, these peripheral attacks in South and Southeast Asia show the lesser capability of these distant Islamic State associates. It’s difficult to tell at this point whether they don’t have the capability to perpetrate suicide bombings or the personnel willing to execute such attacks.

Ultimately, the Islamic State has cascaded its terror attacks striking one target in a different country each day. Will it inspire attacks globally? Only time will tell, but possibly not. Western media has paid short attention to these attacks with the exception of the Istanbul airport. As al Murabitoon and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb learned with its Western African terror campaign post Paris, Western media coverage endures when Westerners are killed in the West, all other attacks have less value.

Here are some other items of note from this past week’s terror campaign.

The Islamic State against all enemies – Muslim, Christian, Shi’a, Sunni, Arab, Western

Some have incorrectly suggested that the Islamic State nimbly focuses its attacks predominately against Westerners or certain audiences. This week’s Islamic State attacks and resulting deaths point to the opposite conclusion: all enemies of the Islamic State are targets and Muslims have suffered the worst. In Saudi Arabia alone, the Islamic State hit near a Western consulate, a Shi’a mosque and a Sunni holy site. Lebanon saw targeting of Christians. Bangladesh brought a focus on Westerners. The Istanbul attack killed mostly Muslims. Yemen and Saudi Arabia saw the Islamic State concentrating on security forces. Each Islamic State affiliate may pick and choose certain targets for local reasons but as an aggregate, no one faith or ethnicity is spared from the Islamic State’s wanton violence.

Islamic State’s Remaining Fighters: Die In Place Or Go Out With A Bang?

The Islamic State lost Fallujah last week and some of its members that tried to escape were pulverized in massive airstrikes. Many Islamic State foreign fighters can’t return home or have no Islamic State affiliate to drift back to. For those homeless foreign fighters, the choice is simple: they can either die in place fighting for a crumbling caliphate or they can go out as martyrs striking their homelands or a regional or international targets. The Islamic State owns the largest number of homeless foreign fighters in history. As the group loses turf, they’ll likely become part of the largest human missile arsenal in history and be directed against any and all soft targets they can reach. This campaign is likely not the end of the Islamic State’s suicide campaign, but only the beginning.

Foreign Fighters Go As Far As Their Passports Will Take Them

Last winter, the West suffered from the Islamic State’s decision to allegedly dispatch hundreds of European foreign fighters back to their homelands. Paris and Brussels burned and operatives across a host of European countries were arrested. Western passport holders and those hidden in refugee flows pushed as far as they could to hit high profile soft targets. Turkey struggled for years with foreign fighters passing easily through their borders into Syria and fighters from the Caucasus and Central Asia found the country quite permissible, likely facilitating this past week’s Russian-speaking suicide bombers. Richard Engel reported that as many as 35 operatives were recently dispatched into Turkey alone. The Yemeni and Saudi attacks focused more heavily on security forces and were likely perpetrated by Islamic State pledges from their respective countries and possibly a Pakistani. The bottom line: the Islamic State is sending its bombers to the locations where they can achieve the biggest results. They are not in short supply of Western, Middle Eastern, Central Asian, or Russian operatives – expect more suicide attacks in places that al Qaeda only dreamed of reaching.

Strong Counterterrorism Matters: The Islamic State Preys On The Weak

Those countries with stronger counterterrorism and security apparatuses have fared the best this past week. The Saudis, long known for squelching terrorists in their midst, sustained far fewer deaths than other countries hit this week. Iraq, despite years of investment, seems unable to protect itself from suicide attacks with yet another massive suicide bombing. Lebanon and Bangladesh, two locations of rising promise for the Islamic State (see Figure 1), have weaker security environments and local conditions ripe for extremism. The Islamic State will likely learn from this past week and exploit those places where they got the greatest return on their investment.

Is The Islamic State Looking For An Exit Strategy?

In conclusion, the Islamic State’s rapid pace of violence may come at a time when they need to find a new home for the brand. Their caliphate revenues and oil production continue to dry up. They will need to shift to illicit schemes and donations to survive. Successful attacks attract investors: will this latest string of violence bring money? Probably not, but what this rampant violence can do is signal to Islamic State’s central leadership which affiliates are still committed to the Islamic State brand. Affiliates, existing or emerging, may want to carry on the Islamic State’s vision outside of Syria and Iraq. Much like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was for the al Qaeda Central during their downturn, Islamic State Central will need an affiliate to carry the black banner forward or their caliphate experiment will crumble as fast as it was created.

ISIS-affiliates-Figure-1

Also see:

CIA Director: Turkish Terror Attack Underscores ISIS Threat to Americans

John Brennan / AP

John Brennan / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Aaron Kliegman, June 29, 2016:

CIA Director John Brennan warned in an interview published Wednesday that the Islamic State is likely responsible for the suicide bombings Tuesday night at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport that killed 41 people and wounded hundreds more and is trying to carry out similar attacks in the United States.

“I am worried from the standpoint of an intelligence professional who looks at the capabilities of Daesh … and their determination to kill as many people as possible and to carry out attacks abroad,” Brennan told Yahoo News in an exclusive interview at CIA headquarters, using the acronym for the Arabic name of the Islamic State.

ISIS has so far not taken credit for the Turkish airport attack and Brennan did not confirm that it was responsible, but Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters shortly after the Istanbul bombings that ISIS was likely the culprit.

Brennan indicated that the method of attack points to the jihadist group rather than the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has launched attacks inside Turkey while battling the Turkish state for Kurdish autonomy.

“It was a suicide bombing [which] is usually more a Daesh technique,” Brennan said. “You look at what happened in the Turkish airport, these were suicide vests. It’s not that difficult to actually construct and fabricate a suicide vest … so if you have a determined enemy and individuals who are not concerned about escape, that they are going into it with a sense that they are going to die, that really does complicate your strategy in terms of preventing attacks.”

Brennan warned that “I’d be surprised if Daesh is not trying to carry out that kind of attack in the United States.”

He credited intelligence and homeland security measures for stopping ISIS from directing an attack on the American homeland up to this point. (The terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando were carried out by individuals inspired by ISIS, not directed by them.)

The CIA chief said ISIS has a motive to attack Turkey because Ankara is going after terrorists in neighboring Syria and has helped the American-led coalition to fight the terror group. Turkey’s failure to police its border to stop foreign fighters from flowing into and out of Iraq and Syria has frustrated Washington, but Brennan said America’s NATO ally has taken steps recently to better monitor the border.

ISIS has used terror tactics to “offset” losses of territory and other setbacks in Iraq and Syria, but the group’s upsurge in attacks in the greater Middle East and Europe is also part of a wider offensive, according to Brennan.

“Over the past year and a half they have made a more determined effort to carry out attacks abroad, and we see in terms of their plans, their preparations, the movement of people as well as propagandizing outside, exhorting, inciting a much more determined effort to carry out these external operations,” Brennan said.

“Brennan was blunt about the slow nature of progress both in the fight against ISIS and efforts to push Syrian President Bashar Assad out of power,” the article reads. America’s top spy toldlawmakers earlier this month that the U.S. campaign to defeat ISIS has not curbed the group’s global reach, and he echoed those sentiments in the Yahoo interview.

“We’ve yet to really thwart Daesh’s ability to reach beyond the Syria-Iraqi borders and put in place some of the plans and preparations to carry out attacks,” Brennan said. “I am very concerned we have not had the success against Daesh in that environment as we’ve had in the core areas of Syria and Iraq.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper raised similar concerns last month, telling CNN that ISIS has the capability to launch a large-scale Paris-style attack inside the United States.

Brennan added that a key aspect of America’s strategy to defeat ISIS is to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, who he described as a “magnet” for a number of jihadist groups to fight in Syria. Brennan acknowledged that Assad is in a stronger position today, despite President Obama calling for his ouster since 2011 when the Syrian civil war began.

“Relative to where he was on the battlefield last year, [Assad] is in a better and stronger position [today],” Brennan said, blaming Russia for Assad’s stronger position by intervening on the Syrian leader’s behalf in September 2015. “The Russians sometimes want their cake and eat it too as far as having the cooperation with us against terrorists but not wanting to do anything that’s going to lead to a political settlement that will have a more durable future as far as a political agreement,” Brennan added.

Brennan expressed a broader frustration with Moscow, discussing a recent report that Russia is harassing U.S. diplomats throughout Europe. The CIA director “told his counterparts ‘in direct terms,’ that the behavior was ‘unacceptable’ and ‘destructive’ to the relationship,” according to Yahoo.

Brennan also discussed Russia granting asylum to Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who disclosed highly classified surveillance programs, which infuriated the U.S. intelligence community. Brennan said that Snowden has “dishonored his oath” and should return to the United States to face charges. When asked to comment on former Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent statement that Snowden “actually performed a public service,” Brennan said, “I do not believe that at all. I respectfully but vehemently disagree with the former attorney general.”

Yahoo News will post the full transcript of the interview next week.

***

Also see:

Stolen CIA Weapons from Syria Used to Murder Americans

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CounterJihad, June 27, 2016:

The Central Intelligence Agency’s program to train and equip ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels suffered yet another embarrassment when arms intended for those rebels instead ended up on the black market.  Some of the arms were then used in an attack on an American training facility in Jordan that killed two American DynCorp employees.  That attack also killed several police officers who were being trained by the American private security firm at the behest of the US State Department.

According to a joint investigation by the New York Times and Al Jazeera, the theft involved millions of dollars of American weapons secretly shipped into the country by the CIA.

The revelations are only the most recent humiliation for American efforts in Syria under the Obama administration.  In mid-February, a group of CIA-backed rebels ended up fighting against, and losing to, a group of Pentagon-backed rebels.  The previous fall, CIA-backed rebels surrendered a quarter of their equipment al Qaeda.

The CIA’s efforts have also come under attack by Russia, which focused its bombing campaign not on the Islamic State (ISIS) but on the American-backed groups.  The US State Department suffered the humiliation of having to admit, publicly, that it could do nothing to protect its proxy forces from Russian bombers.  This month, US Secretary of State John F. Kerry asked the Russians to stop bombing al Qaeda because American-supported fighters had become “marbled” with al Qaeda.  Thus, Russian bombs targeting Qaeda militias were also hitting US-supported militias — because they are fighting alongside al Qaeda.

The CIA is not alone in having been embarrassed by its execution of President Barack Obama’s Syria policy.  Then Commanding General of US Central Command, Lloyd Austin, was forced to admit to Congress that his $500 million program to equip and train fighters in Syria had produced only “four or five” reliable soldiers.  Senator Claire McCaskill expressed astonishment that General Austin would admit that while appearing before Congress to ask for another $600 million to continue the program.

Last week fifty-one Foreign Service Officers signed a “dissent cable,” expressing their sense that the administration’s policy in Syria was wrong-headed and irresponsible.  They called instead for robust air strikes against the Assad regime.  Normally such cables are signed by only one or two officers, as the effect of dissenting from official policy can badly damage one’s career.  It is unprecedented for dozens of such officers to sign a joint statement of dissent.  It is especially noteworthy that they called for a more “military assertive” role given the at-times intense competition between the State Department and the Defense Department for resources and control.

Clearly, a new strategy is needed in this conflict.  Fortunately, one is available.  In the monograph Cut Down the Black Flag:  A Plan to Defeat the Islamic State, a number of security professionals led by former US Special Forces Master Sergeant Jim Hanson set out a range of military options for resolving the conflict.  Perhaps the Administration should pick up a copy.  It sounds like they need the help.

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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