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Archive for the ‘CIA’ Category

New York City goes Stasi. Will the US?

Posted by Charles II on August 26, 2013

This is not a new story, but new information has significantly changed its interpretation.

I wish it were an exaggeration to say that New York City has gone to a level of surveillance that compares with the Stasi. Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, writing in New York Magazine make that case:

The activities [Police Commissioner Ray] Kelly set in motion after 9/11 pushed deeply into the private lives of New Yorkers, surveilling Muslims in their mosques, their sporting fields, their businesses, their social clubs, even their homes in a way not seen in America since the FBI and CIA monitored antiwar activists during the Nixon administration. It was a proactive approach, but, in constitutional terms, a novel one.

To reinvent the Intelligence Division, Kelly called on David Cohen, a former senior CIA officer…

Cohen and [CIA operative Larry] Sanchez’s guiding idea was that if the NYPD had its own eyes and ears in the ethnic communities of the five boroughs, maybe things could be different. They needed to be in bookshops to spot the terrorist with his newly grown beard, or in restaurants to overhear friends ranting about America. If detectives infiltrated Muslim student groups, maybe they could identify young men seething with embryonic fanaticism.

Sanchez told colleagues that he had borrowed the idea from Israeli methods of controlling the military-occupied West Bank, the swath of land captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War.

[Judge Charles] Haight ruled: “For the purpose of detecting or preventing terrorist activities, the NYPD is authorized to visit any place and attend any event that is open to the public on the same terms and conditions as members of the public generally.”

To accomplish their goals, however, Cohen and Sanchez needed to go far beyond what the FBI could do. They needed to take a broad view of what was related to terrorist activity. As Sanchez would explain to Congress years later: “Part of our mission is to protect New York City citizens from becoming terrorists.

He [Cohen] recruited young Middle Eastern officers who spoke Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu. They would be the ones raking the coals, looking for hot spots, and they became known as “rakers.”

The routine was almost always the same, whether they were visiting a restaurant, deli, barbershop, or travel agency. The two rakers would enter and casually chat with the owner. The first order of business was to determine his ethnicity and that of the patrons. This would determine which file the business would go into. A report on Pakistani locations, for instance, or one on Moroccans. Next, they’d do what the NYPD called “gauging sentiment.” Were the patrons observant Muslims? Did they wear traditionally ethnic clothes, like shalwar kameez? Were the women wearing hijabs?

If the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera was playing on the TV, the police would note it and observe how people were acting. Were they laughing, smiling, or cheering at reports of U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan? Did they talk Middle Eastern politics? If the business sold extremist literature or CDs, the officers would buy one or two. Was the owner selling fake I.D.’s or untaxed cigarettes? Police would note it. If customers could rent time on a computer, police might pay for a session and look at the computer’s search history. Were people viewing jihadist videos or searching for bomb-making instructions? Who was speaking Urdu?

On their way out, the rakers would look at bulletin boards. Was a rally planned in the neighborhood? The rakers might attend. Was there a cricket league? The rakers might join. If someone advertised a room for rent, the cops would tear off a tab with the address or phone number. It could be a cheap apartment used by a terrorist.

Surveillance turned out to be habit-forming. Cohen and Sanchez’s efforts also reached beyond the Muslim community. Undercover officers traveled the country, keeping tabs on liberal protest groups like [environmental awareness group] Time’s Up and the Friends of Brad Will [which protested police murders in Oaxaca, Mexico]. Police infiltrated demonstrations and collected information about antiwar groups and those that marched against police brutality. Detectives monitored activist websites and copied the contents into police files, including one memo in 2008 for Kelly that reported the contents of a website about a group of women organizing a boycott to protest the police shooting of Sean Bell, an unarmed black man killed the morning before his wedding….

The Demographics Unit had thousands of dollars to spend on meals and expenses …

That’s when [Lt. Hector] Berdecia realized that, in the hunt for terrorists, his detectives gravitated toward the best food.

And now, the lawyers in the Handschu case [which reined in police infiltration of legitimate political activism] have returned to court, arguing that Kelly and Cohen, in their effort to keep the city safe, have crossed constitutional lines. Regardless of the outcome, the NYPD’s programs are likely to join waterboarding, secret prisons, and NSA wiretapping as emblems of post-9/11 America, when security justified many practices that would not have been tolerated before.

No successes in stopping terrorism; indeed, no information garnered about a potential actual terrorist. Many thousands of people monitored and files created. Surveillance extended even to plainly domestic and plainly legitimate activist groups: the restrictions of Handschu circumvented by an appeal to anti-terrorism. CIA operatives designing surveillance of Americans.

And Ray Kelly could become the head of Homeland Security.

Posted in CIA, Constitutional crisis, fascism, impunity, terrorism | 2 Comments »

Papal news, 3/18/13

Posted by Charles II on March 19, 2013

In my previous post, I posed the following as one of the key questions raised by the elevation of Jorge Bergoglio to Pope.

4. Since past money-laundering by the Church has involved CIA operations to overthrow left-wing governments, is Communion and Liberation part of such an effort to overthrow the Bolivarian governments of Central and South America?

The point is that the CIA and the Church share a near-paranoid, or perhaps actually paranoid fear of Communism. Even today, Argentine Dictator Jorge Rafael Videla is shouting from his prison cell that his compatriots need to maintain the physical ability to combat the Marxism of duly elected president Cristina Kirchner. This is just a bit crazy.

Yes, Communist governments have persecuted the Church. But Communism is only one of many forces that have been pernicious to the Church. Wealth has been a far more deadly enemy. In Germany, the Church was seduced into joining the State.

Kyle Barron of NACLA has provided some historical context to help understand the question posed. In particular is the interesting note that John Paul II appointed a conservative to head the Jesuits in 1980. Rafael Videla was dictator until 1981, and dictatorship continued until 1983. Barron notes that:

The CIA was the primary instrument used to influence the church. A year-long investigation by Mother Jones magazine in 1983 revealed that after World War II the CIA “passed money to a large number of priests and bishops—some of whom became witting agents in CIA covert operations,” even creating a special unit devoted to working with the Vatican. In the 1970s the CIA began supplying information on practitioners of radical religion and sat by as 850 nuns and clergy were tortured, killed, or arrested. Its main strategy was to divide the church between progressive and conservative elements.

The CIA funded various conservative religious groups throughout Latin America, including Opus Dei members in Chile who subsequently entered into Pinochet’s administration after the 1973 coup, as well as funding the Bolivian Interior Ministry at the time it drew up and disseminated the “Banzer Plan,” which called for the persecution of progressive priests and clergy. The United States saw Liberation Theology as a threat that signaled Latin America’s move toward Marxism. The fight against progressive elements in the church was seen as another battlefront in the Cold War.

On another topic, Jim in comments, linked a Washington Post article on Cardinal Bergoglio’s dealing with sex abuse cases.

Also, there’s an interesting NCR piece by John Allen claiming to have inside information sugggests that Bergoglio was selected as “the last man standing,” an outsider who might have a shot at reforming the Vatican, and a Latin American who could shore up the Church’s standing in that region.

I think it’s pretty clear that this story will simmer for a while without anything further being resolved. Argentina as a nation, and Catholics generally, will want to give the new Pope a chance.

Posted in CIA, politics masquerading as religion, The Vatican | 6 Comments »

New Internet Meme Alert: Moar Droanz

Posted by Charles II on November 20, 2012

Emptywheel has it. Moar Droanz. (Via Jay Ackroyd, Atrios)

Posted in CIA, humor | Comments Off

My suspicion is…

Posted by Charles II on November 12, 2012

My suspicion is that Paula Broadwell, David Petraeus’ ex-lover, is an updated version of Lucianne Goldberg.

Mitt Romney did only one truly exceptional thing this campaign: Slightly two hours after the first report of firing on the consulate and well before the facts were established, he broke an embargo on the 9/11 commemoration in order to blame Barack Obama over the attack on the Benghazi consulate, falsely accusing him of “sympathiz[ing] with those who waged the attacks”.

Now, what happened in Benghazi is still unclear. Was it being used to hold and perhaps torture militia members? Was the anti-Muslim film a factor in the attack? Was there a demonstration before the attack, or did it begin with an attack? Why was there no effective response to defend the ambassador? But what happened politically in the US in the aftermath of the attack– about that there is no doubt. The entire Republican machine, led by Mitt Romney, rose up to condemn Barack Obama well before the facts were in. When the primary attack theme of a campaign is put forth so early and with the support of the entire GOP, there’s reason to wonder whether they didn’t have someone on the inside feeding them information.

And now we learn that Paula Broadwell, in October, claimed that there were holding cells in the consulate, something that if true she could only have learned from classified information and therefore presumably committed a criminal act. Not only that, since she is a former military intelligence officer, this would have been a conscious crime. We know that Darrell Issa released classified cables, endangering Libyans who were working with the US. What did Broadwell discuss with congressional Republicans?

Obviously, it’s early. But my suspicion is that in leaking [potentially]classified [and in any case damaging] information, Paula Broadwell was primarily serving a power hostile to this nation’s interest: the GOP. This is one of those situations where it really would be irresponsible not to speculate.
_________
Update: Lawrence O’Donnell says (based on WSJ) that the FBI agent who initiated the investigation that exposed Broadwell as the source of e-mails to Jill Kelley (a) had political leanings of a definite nature, and (b) sent shirtless photos of himself to Kelley(not that there’s anything inherently suspicious or wrong about that, but it does suggest that their friendship was closer than the hi-how-are-you variety).

The agent went to Cong. David Reichert, which would be really bad if this were actually a national security investigation. Reichert is not on the intelligence committees, and it’s very doubtful that he has a security clearance sufficient to cover a case like that. Broadwell did have classified information on her computer, but it didn’t come from Petraeus. The intelligence committee heads/ranking members were not briefed, so they are ticked off.

Posted in CIA, Republicans as cancer | 2 Comments »

Darrell Issa Burns A Few US Agents In Libya, Just So He Can Look Good On The Sunday Talk Shows

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 20, 2012

Remember when Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby burned a high-value CIA agent, Valerie Plame, in revenge for her husband Joe Wilson’s proclaiming that a key Bush-Cheney pretext for the invasion of Iraq — the alleged Niger yellowcake shipments — was bogus?

Now we find that, just so he could score some political points, Darrell Issa, former car thief and now a guy who at $500 million in wealth is the richest member of Congress, just outed a number of currently working CIA operatives, many of whom are in-country Libyans and who were doing some important projects in addition to their CIA work:

One of the cables released by Issa names a woman human rights activist who was leading a campaign against violence and was detained in Benghazi. She expressed fear for her safety to U.S. officials and criticized the Libyan government.

“This woman is trying to raise an anti-violence campaign on her own and came to the United States for help. She isn’t publicly
associated with the U.S. in any other way but she’s now named in this cable. It’s a danger to her life,” the administration official said.

Another cable names a Benghazi port manager who is working with the United States on an infrastructure project.

“When you’re in a situation where Ansar al-Sharia is a risk to Americans, an individual like this guy, who is an innocent civilian
who’s trying to reopen the port and is doing so in conjunction with Americans, could be at risk now because he’s publicly affiliated with America,” the official said, referring to the group thought to have led the Benghazi attack.

One cable names a local militia commander dishing dirt on the inner workings of the Libyan Interior Ministry. Another cable names
a militia commander who claims to control a senior official of the Libyan armed forces. Other cables contain details of conversations between third-party governments, such as the British and the Danes, and their private interactions with the U.S., the U.N., and the Libyan governments over security issues.

“It betrays the trust of people we are trying to maintain contact with on a regular basis, including security officials inside
militias and civil society people as well,” another administration official told The Cable. “It’s a serious betrayal of trust for us and it hurts our ability to maintain these contacts going forward. It has the potential to physically endanger these people. They didn’t sign up for that. Neither did we.”

Again, does this remind you of how Cheney and Scooter Libby outed Valerie Plame — and her entire in-country network of Iraqi contacts — just to get back at her hubby Joe Wilson for saying that he didn’t find any WMDs or WMD precursors in Niger?

The main difference here, besides the fact that this information, though sensitive and tightly held, was not classified, is this: Darrell Issa doesn’t even have the excuse of wanting revenge. He did it for cheap political posturing — and because he could do it, and could get away with it.

Posted in CIA, IOKIYAR, Iraq war, Libya, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Valerie Plame | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

US furious as Egyptian dictatorship raids US-sponsored fifth column groups

Posted by Charles II on December 30, 2011

Peter Beaumont and Paul Harris, The Guardian:

Relations between Egypt’s military rulers and the United States threatened to hit a new low after Egyptian security forces launched unprecedented armed raids on a series of high profile human rights and pro-democracy organisations.

The raids included targeting the US-government funded National Democratic Institute – founded by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright – and the International Republican Institute, whose chairman is Republican senator John McCain. Both organisations are affiliated with the two major US political parties.

Security forces also raided the offices of Washington-based Freedom House.

During the raids riot police confined staff to their offices and forbade them from making phone calls. Seventeen Egyptian and international groups were targeted as part of a widespread investigation into foreign funding of Egyptian civic society groups.

All of these groups are widely believed, whether correctly or not I don’t know, to be CIA fronts. It doesn’t really matter whether they are CIA-connected or not: they are agents of US influence, funded by the US Government. Throughout Latin America, they are accused of interfering in and rigging elections. So to have the Egyptian military raid them is really very extraordinary.

Is this a case of thieves falling out? Of Islamist power demanding the military assert national sovereignty? More kabuki?

The US government could not protest the cold-blooded slaughter of 28 protesters. It could not do better than express concern about stripping, brutalizing, and humiliating women. Now it is “deeply concerned.” Oh, that’ll make them cower.

Posted in Arab Spring, CIA, State Department | 1 Comment »

Chiang Kai Shek, the C.I.A., and drug running; also, a fascinating sidelight about Patton

Posted by Charles II on December 9, 2011

I finally found a site that reviews the history of how the US got into the business of running drugs: The Takao Club.

Now, it’s important to understand that the US was not the first. The British beat us into the state-driven drug trade by a couple of centuries in the Opium Wars. But drug running has become a central part of US military action. The roots of US involvement are in World War II. Alfred McCoy gives a comprehensive history of that involvement through the mid-70s. In the case of Luciano, drug running was incidental; Luciano was clearly a bad guy (McCoy adds the fascinating point that Patton’s sweep through Sicily was facilitated by the Mafia). In Southeast Asia, drug running became part of policy.

Here’s what the Takao Club says about the connection between the CIA and the opium trade; I’ve highlighted a sentence that I think is based on the political fear that still reigns Taiwan politics:

The rise to power of China’s Nationalist movement was closely linked with Shanghai’s eminence as an international drug capital….

Chiang’s control of Shanghai was made possible with the aid of two main groups: the wealthy and the criminal. Wealthy merchants and foreign capitalists supported the KMT with the understanding that there would be no reforms that threatened their interests. The Shanghai criminal organizations were dominated by two secret society groups called the Green Gang and the Red Gang.

Tu and the Green Gang solved the problem for Chiang Kai-shek. On April 12, 1927, the gangsters initiated a vicious crackdown on the local Communist party organizers and labour activists. During the subsequent ‘reign of terror’, the city’s Communist party and labour movement was destroyed. This pact with the Kuomintang strengthened the Green Gang’s grip on official power, so that Tu was given a seemingly free hand to operate throughout Nationalist China.

By mid-July 1935, Chiang had turned most of the opium enterprises over to his ally, Tu Yueh-sheng. The Kuomintang jurisdiction in 1935 did not lead to opium suppression but brought instead stricter regulation of cultivation and sale…

Following World War II, the Green Gang fell under the control of a Nationalist army lieutenant general, Kot Siu-wong.

With CIA support, the Kuomintang remained in Burma until 1961, when a Burmese army offensive drove them into Laos and Thailand. By this time, however, the Kuomintang had expanded Shan State opium production by almost 1,000 percent-from less than 40 tons after World War 11 to an estimated three hundred to four hundred tons by 1962.

Shan heroin refinery in Thailand

From bases in northern Thailand the Kuomintang continued to send huge mule caravans into the Shan States to bring out the opium harvest. Until 1971, over twenty years after the CIA first began supporting Kuomintang troops in the Golden Triangle region, these Kuomintang caravans controlled almost a third of the world’s total illicit opium supply and a growing share of Southeast Asia’s thriving heroin business.

The Hong Kong-based ’14K’ triad, with its strong links to the old Shanghai Green Gang and Nationalist officers, was able to link the Kuomintang-controlled highlands of the Golden Triangle to the distribution channels of the USA and Europe.

Whether the Kuomintang in Taiwan had any connection with this trade remains an open question. However, it can be assumed that Taipei had little incentive to risk the American aid that flowed in after the Korean War, and the American supply contracts that flooded in during the Vietnam War, launching Taiwan on its ‘economic miracle’.

In the early 1990s, Taiwan came to notice as a transit point for Asian drug trafficking organizations moving heroin to the Western Hemisphere. The largest heroin seizure on record is the nearly half-ton of heroin that U.S. authorities discovered in Hayward, California in 1991. The drugs, which originated in China, had transited Taiwan en route to the United States.

(Also consult The Soong Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave)

Now, I don’t think it’s an open question as to what the relationship between the KMT on Taiwan and the narcotics trade was. Alfred McCoy, in The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia wrote:

In 1950 the Defense Department extended military aid to the French in Indochina. In that same year, the CIA began regrouping those remnants of the defeated Kuomintang army in the Burmese Shan States for a projected invasion of southern China. Although the KMT army was to fail in its military operations, it succeeded in monopolizing and expanding the Shan States’ opium trade.

The KMT shipped bountiful harvests to northern Thailand, where they were sold to General Phao Sriyanonda of the Thai police, a CIA client. The CIA had promoted the Phao-KMT partnership in order to provide a secure rear area for the KMT, but this alliance soon became a critical factor in the growth of Southeast Asia’s narcotics traffic.

With CIA support, the KMT remained in Burma until 1961, when a Burmese army offensive drove them into Laos and Thailand. By this time, however, the Kuomintang had already used their control over the tribal populations to expand Shan State opium production by almost 1,000 percent-from less than 40 tons after World War 11 to an estimated three hundred to four hundred tons by 1962. (130) From bases in northern Thailand the KMT have continued to send huge mule caravans into the Shan States to bring out the opium harvest. Today, over twenty years after the CIA first began supporting KMT troops in the Golden Triangle region, these KMT caravans control almost a third of the world’s total illicit opium supply and have a growing share of Southeast Asia’s thriving heroin business. (131)

At first glance the history of the KMT’s involvement in the Burmese opium trade seems to be just another case of a CIA client taking advantage of the agency’s political protection to enrich itself from the narcotics trade. But upon closer examination, the CIA appears to be much more seriously compromised in this affair.

What is particularly notable is the destination of the products of the opium that the KMT was producing: the streets of America. The addiction of Americans was financing secret wars being conducted by the CIA.

If you want to understand why Burma–a US ally during WW II–has been so hostile to the US, you cannot understand without understanding this history. If you want to understand why Italy is so ungovernable, this history is an important source to visit. If you want to understand the violence in Latin America, look into this history. All through the world history of the last 60 years, this secret drug empire lurks as a primary cause of America’s defeats.

And this returns us to why the Gary Webb story is so important. Today, December 9th, is the seventh anniversary of his death.

Posted in China, CIA, War On Some Drugs | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

CIA (hearts) Moammar

Posted by Charles II on September 3, 2011

Rod Nordland, NYTimes News Service, via t/o:

Tripoli, Libya – Documents found at the abandoned office of Libya’s former spymaster appear to provide new details of the close relations the Central Intelligence Agency shared with the Libyan intelligence service — most notably suggesting that the Americans sent terrorism suspects at least eight times for questioning in Libya despite that country’s reputation for torture.

We even did speechwriting for the dictator.

Posted in CIA, Conflict in the Middle East | Comments Off

Maybe we need a 9/11 Commission

Posted by Charles II on August 11, 2011

Jason Leopold, Truthout:

in a stunning new interview made available to Truthout that is scheduled to air on a local PBS affiliate in Colorado tonight, former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, for the first time, levels explosive allegations against three former top CIA officials – George Tenet, Cofer Black and Richard Blee – accusing them of knowingly withholding intelligence from the Bush and Clinton White House, the FBI, Immigration and the State and Defense Departments about two of the 9/11 hijackers who had entered the United States more than a year before the attacks. Moreover, Clarke says the former CIA officials likely engaged in a cover-up by withholding key details about two of the hijackers from the 9/11 Commission.

“It’s not as I originally thought, which was that one lonely CIA analyst got this information and didn’t somehow recognize the significance of it,” Clarke said during the interview. “No, fifty, 5-0, CIA personnel knew about this. Among the fifty people in CIA who knew these guys were in the country was the CIA director.”

That’s an allegation that surfaced in Lawrence Wright’s groundbreaking book, “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and The Road to 9/11.” Wright, who interviewed Clarke for his book, said a team of FBI investigators and federal prosecutors known as Squad I-49 came to believe that the CIA “was shielding Mihdhar and Hazmi because it hoped to recruit them”

No, this doesn’t mean that George Bush authorized 9/11. It means that CIA management was negligent to the point of incompetence. But this is why it was such a mistake to have a presidential commission led by whitewashers like Lee Hamilton and infiltrated by White House staff, Philip Zelikow, serving as commission counsel.

For the record, the CIA denies that Tenet knew about these guys ahead of time.

Posted in CIA, FBI, terrorism, World Trade Center | 8 Comments »

US has secret prisons. It just doesn’t own or operate them.

Posted by Charles II on July 13, 2011

Jeremy Scahill of The Nation has an excellent article and interview on why we should be skeptical about the Administration’s claims to have ended torture. I should note that Scahill nowhere alleges torture–just ill-treatment and extreme isolation. But where there is no judicial oversight, abuses are sure to follow.

From the article:

Nestled in a back corner of Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport is a sprawling walled compound run by the Central Intelligence Agency. … The site… is guarded by Somali soldiers, but the Americans control access. At the facility, the CIA runs a counterterrorism training program for Somali intelligence agents and operatives aimed at building an indigenous strike force capable of snatch operations and targeted “combat” operations against members of Al Shabab, an Islamic militant group with close ties to Al Qaeda.

As part of its expanding counterterrorism program in Somalia, the CIA also uses a secret prison buried in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters, where prisoners suspected of being Shabab members or of having links to the group are held. Some of the prisoners have been snatched off the streets of Kenya and rendered by plane to Mogadishu. While the underground prison is officially run by the Somali NSA, US intelligence personnel pay the salaries of intelligence agents and also directly interrogate prisoners.

This is not what I voted for in November, 2008. It doesn’t matter whether this is part of the US government or whether the operations have been outsourced to Somali contractors for deniability. It’s wrong.

Posted in Africa, CIA, torture | 1 Comment »

 
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