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Posts Tagged ‘cia’

The real foreign collusion scandal involves Brennan and the CIA

Posted by Richard on July 20, 2018

George Neumayr presents a scathing indictment of George Brennan and the CIA:

An article in the Guardian last week provides more confirmation that John Brennan was the American progenitor of political espionage aimed at defeating Donald Trump. One side did collude with foreign powers to tip the election — Hillary’s.

Seeking to retain his position as CIA director under Hillary, Brennan teamed up with British spies and Estonian spies to cripple Trump’s candidacy. He used their phony intelligence as a pretext for a multi-agency investigation into Trump, which led the FBI to probe a computer server connected to Trump Tower and gave cover to Susan Rice, among other Hillary supporters, to spy on Trump and his people.

John Brennan’s CIA operated like a branch office of the Hillary campaign, leaking out mentions of this bogus investigation to the press in the hopes of inflicting maximum political damage on Trump. An official in the intelligence community tells TAS that Brennan’s retinue of political radicals didn’t even bother to hide their activism, decorating offices with “Hillary for president cups” and other campaign paraphernalia.

The bogus tips about Trump and the Russians came originally from Estonia, which feared that Trump would pull out of NATO, and later from British spooks who also wanted to ensure that Trump lost.

Read the whole thing, but note especially this, which is a tremendous ongoing problem:

A supporter of the American Communist Party at the height of the Cold War, Brennan brought into the CIA a raft of subversives and gave them plum positions from which to gather and leak political espionage on Trump. He bastardized standards so that these left-wing activists could burrow in and take career positions. Under the patina of that phony professionalism, they could then present their politicized judgments as “non-partisan.”

This problem exists not just in the CIA, but in countless other federal agencies and departments. That’s one reason that Congress very much needs to pass the MERIT act ASAP.

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Targeted killings

Posted by Richard on February 24, 2010

They told me that if I voted Republican, the U.S. government would escalate its use of CIA hit teams and Predator UAVs to conduct assassinations without regard for collateral damage or international humanitarian law, and they were right:

The Obama administration has stepped up these kinds of remote-control bombardments, launching at least 64 drone strikes within Pakistan in its first 13 months; in its last three years, the Bush administration unleashed 41, according to an analysis by the New America Foundation.

The U.S. doesn’t like to think of itself as being in the assassination business, which is why the preferred term is “targeted killings.” Either way, this growing practice involves large legal and moral questions that should loom large, but don’t — not compared with the outcry over coercive interrogation or extraordinary renditions.

In fact, the Obama administration has gone well beyond the Bush administration not just in the number of targeted killings, but in their scope. Today, many such hits take place deep inside Pakistan, far from the theater of war. Richard Fernandez, quoting extensively from a paper by Professor Kenneth Anderson and a post at Anderson's Law of War blog, discussed the thorny problems the Obama administration is creating for itself by trying to have it both ways (emphasis added): 

Professor Kenneth Anderson says that President Obama has failed to lay the legal groundwork for acts of targeted killing of “non-state enemies of the United States” and thereby risks impaling itself on the horns of a dilemma of his own making. By relying on “international humanitarian law” instead of asserting its own legal doctrine, the Obama administration will eventually find that it cannot defend the United States without condemning itself by the legal standard it has embraced.

The really interesting thing about the administration’s increase in the use of targeted hits, its unwillingness to take custody of prisoners and indeed to hand them over to people like the Pakistani military; and indeed its declining ability to take any enemy combatant alive at all is that it is rooted not in what Anderson called Dick Cheney’s “brutish, simplistic” determination to defend America, but in President Obama’s desire to live up to the highest standards of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). And although Anderson has no fondness for Cheney’s approach he correctly appreciates that sooner or later the public is going to discover the rank hypocrisy of Obama’s approach. “But journalistic sentiment will swing back again, particularly as the NGO community seeks to peel the CIA from the uniformed military in its use of drones and targeted killing.” An Obama deprived of his Teflon may find himself unable to simultaneously justify the actions needed to suppress the enemy (which he must do to avoid an electoral backlash) and maintain his purity in the eyes of his ideological supporters. He has to square the circle. Faced with the prospect of following the urgings of the Left which don’t work, and following the urgings of his political enemies which do work, his plan is apparently to graft the two halves together. But sooner or later, as Anderson notes, someone will notice.

Some elements of the left have already noticed. See, for instance, here, here, here, and here.

I have no problem with targeting al Qaeda and Taliban leaders. They're monstrous barbarians — "enemies of humanity" under the principle of international law applied to pirates, and fair game for anyone. I worry a bit about the "collateral damage," especially when the enterprise is shrouded in secrecy and the targeting information allegedly often comes from the Pakistanis — perhaps not the most reliable or fastidious source. But it's likely that many of the "civilian casualties" reported by Pakistani villagers are in fact the friends, family, and comrades of the terrorist targets — as are the villagers doing the reporting. 

Frankly, I confess to finding it all somewhat amusing, in a dark-humor sort of way. The Obama administration still hasn't closed Gitmo, has established a "High Value Interrogation Group," has decided military tribunals might be a good idea after all, and has dramatically escalated the CIA's campaign of targeted killings, things that 98.3% of the members of that administration once denounced as contrary to U.S. and/or international law.

Yet the mainstream media and liberal establishment (but I repeat myself), when they do criticize these things, do so mildly and cautiously. Everyone knows that this administration has good intentions, so when it does these things, it's a mistake or unfortunate lapse in judgment. Whereas the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Halliburton cabal was evil, and they did these things because they wanted to make people suffer and die.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

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Low confidence

Posted by Richard on December 5, 2007

Democrats and their mouthpieces in the media are having a great time touting the new National Intelligence Estimate's claim that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003. This supposedly proves that the Bush administration lied about Iran just like they lied about Iraq, or something like that.

To some people, an intelligence community report that contradicts their beliefs must be "politicized," while one that confirms their beliefs is automatically judged "honest and objective." Never mind that they have no evidence for (or against) either conclusion.

Those of you inclined to accept the NIE's conclusions might want to pause a moment to consider this incongruous fact — the International Atomic Energy Agency has serious doubts (emphasis added):

"To be frank, we are more skeptical," a senior official close to the agency said. "We don't buy the American analysis 100 percent. We are not that generous with Iran."

The official called the American assertion that Iran had "halted" its weapons program in 2003 "somewhat surprising."

That the nuclear watchdog agency based in Vienna is sounding a somewhat tougher line than the Bush administration is surprising, given that the administration has long criticized it for not pressuring Iran hard enough to curb its nuclear program.

But the American finding has so unsettled governments, agencies and officials dealing with Iran that it has suddenly upended commonly held assumptions.

There is relief, as one senior French official put it, that "the war option is off the table." There is also criticism and even anger in some quarters that the American intelligence assessment may be too soft on Iran.

The Wall Street Journal found the new NIE rather unconvincing (emphasis added):

For years, senior Administration officials, including Condoleezza Rice, have stressed to us how little the government knows about what goes on inside Iran. In 2005, the bipartisan Robb-Silberman report underscored that "Across the board, the Intelligence Community knows disturbingly little about the nuclear programs of many of the world's most dangerous actors." And as our liberal friends used to remind us, you can never trust the CIA. (Only later did they figure out the agency was usually on their side.)

As recently as 2005, the consensus estimate of our spooks was that "Iran currently is determined to develop nuclear weapons" and do so "despite its international obligations and international pressure." This was a "high confidence" judgment. The new NIE says Iran abandoned its nuclear program in 2003 "in response to increasing international scrutiny." This too is a "high confidence" conclusion. One of the two conclusions is wrong, and casts considerable doubt on the entire process by which these "estimates"–the consensus of 16 intelligence bureaucracies–are conducted and accorded gospel status.

Actually, it's possible — perhaps even likely — that both conclusions are wrong. Or at least hopelessly out of date. If the Iranians did suspend their nuclear weapons program in 2003, and it took "our spooks" four years to figure that out, maybe they started the program back up again in 2005 or 2006, but those same spooks won't realize it for another two or three years.

Our own "confidence" is not heightened by the fact that the NIE's main authors include three former State Department officials with previous reputations as "hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials," according to an intelligence source. They are Tom Fingar, formerly of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research; Vann Van Diepen, the National Intelligence Officer for WMD; and Kenneth Brill, the former U.S. Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

No less odd is the NIE's conclusion that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003 in response to "international pressure." The only serious pressure we can recall from that year was the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Yep — if you buy the NIE assessment, then shouldn't you acknowledge that Operation Iraqi Freedom may have persuaded not just one country to end its nuclear weapons program (Libya), but two?

But that's assuming you buy the NIE assessment. Regarding that, Paul Mirengoff at Power Line said it best (emphasis added):

In the end, we have no way to assess why the intelligence community flipped from saying with high confidence in 2005 that Iran is currently determined to develop nuclear weapons, to saying now with high confidence that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. The only thing we can say with high confidence is that our intelligence community's assessments do not deserve our high confidence. 

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Pardon Libby

Posted by Richard on June 6, 2007

The so-called "CIA leak" case was completely bogus from the beginning. Even before Attorney General Gonzales appointed Patrick Fitzgerald as special prosecutor, the Justice Department knew that it was Deputy Secretary of State (and administration critic) Richard Armitage who told Bob Novak (and Bob Woodward) that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA. 

Fitzgerald either concluded that "outing" Plame wasn't a crime — that is, Plame wasn't covert, and thus her identity wasn't protected by the statute — or that he'd give Armitage a pass on that major felony, and instead try to trip up someone else on picayune perjury charges.

Fitzgerald apparently glommed onto the left's (and media's) baseless contention that there was a Cheney-Rove-Libby conspiracy to persecute Wilson, and decided to get to the bottom of it. Or maybe he just liked the idea of having an all-powerful, high-profile, cushy government job with an unlimited expense account.

In any case, Fitzgerald "caught" Libby claiming that a conversation took place on a Friday, when it really took place on a Tuesday. Or maybe it was a Monday, not a Thursday. Was it perjury or forgetfulness? Fitzgerald persuaded the jury it was the former (with the help of a hostile judge). But consider this: no two witnesses who testified in that case had the same recollection of whom they talked to when.

Joe Wilson has demonstrably lied about his Niger trip and his wife every step of the way. The source of the Plame "leak" has been known from the beginning. The appointment of a special prosecutor was a stupid, foolish attempt to assuage unassuageable critics, and it should never have happened. Fitzgerald's dogged pursuit of something, anything, to charge someone connected to Cheney with was unconscionable. The conviction of Lewis Libby was a gross miscarriage of justice.

Pardon him now, Mr. President. And apologize for the suffering your administration's incompetence and disunity have caused this man.  

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Posted by Richard on May 1, 2007

I didn't watch the 60 Minutes interview of George Tenet Sunday night, but I read the CBS News story. Looks like yet another in a long line of fawning, softball-laden interviews with authors of self-serving, history-rewriting, Bush-bashing books. Yawn.   

CBS has already had to post a correction, but naturally, their correction misrepresents the situation:

(Editor's Note: In his book, "At the Center of the Storm," and on Sunday's broadcast of 60 Minutes, George Tenet said he encountered Pentagon advisor Richard Perle outside the White House on Sept. 12, 2001, the day after the 9/11 attacks. Perle disputes Tenet's account, saying the encounter never happened because he was stranded in France that day, and was not able to return to the country until September 15. George Tenet told Tom Brokaw Monday, April 30, 2007, "I may have been off by a couple of days," but says the conversation did happen.)

Perle was indisputably in France, unable to return to the U.S. until the 15th due to the grounding of all flights — that part is verifiably true, not just a claim by Perle (as CBS' phrasing suggests). But what about Tenet's counter-claim that he was just "off by a couple of days"? Is this really a "he said / he said" situation as CBS implies?

No. Tenet's own words paint his story as bogus (emphasis added):

The truth of Iraq begins, according to Tenet, the day after the attack of Sept. 11, when he ran into Pentagon advisor Richard Perle at the White House.

"He said to me, 'Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday, they bear responsibility.' It’s September the 12th. I’ve got the manifest with me that tell me al Qaeda did this. Nothing in my head that says there is any Iraqi involvement in this in any way shape or form and I remember thinking to myself, as I'm about to go brief the president, 'What the hell is he talking about?'" Tenet remembers.

In both the book and the interview, Tenet remembered Perle saying "what happened yesterday" and remembered being on his way to brief the president that al Qaeda was responsible. Now that he's been confronted with the impossibility of his assertion, is it really believable that he misremembered both "yesterday" and the date on which he first briefed the president about this horrendous attack, and that the encounter with Perle took place a few days later? Not in my book.

Tenet's response to Pelley's follow-up question is a marvel of misdirection: 

"You said Iraq made no sense to you in that moment. Does it make any sense to you today?" Pelley asks.

"In terms of complicity with 9/11, absolutely none," Tenet says. "It never made any sense. We could never verify that there was any Iraqi authority, direction and control, complicity with al Qaeda for 9/11 or any operational act against America. Period." 

Unable to verify. No authority, direction and control, or complicity. Period. It all sounds so clear-cut and definitive — a "slam-dunk," if you'll forgive the expression. Andrew McCarthy pointed out how Tenet avoided the real issue (emphasis in original, as italics):

Of course, that’s not the point at all. The point was whether Iraq was working with al Qaeda, not whether it was necessarily aware of and complicit in specific operations like 9/11. Al Qaeda exists — its singular purpose is — to carry out operations against the U.S. If you are helping al Qaeda at all, what on earth do you suppose you’re helping it do?

The issue is not rogue-state culpability for 9/11. After all, there’s no hard evidence that the Taliban was involved in 9/11. Yet we attacked and overthrew the Taliban — a military incursion even liberal Democrats say they supported — because the Taliban was aiding and abetting al Qaeda. No one contends that our rationale requires proof of direct Taliban involvement in 9/11.

Al Qaeda was headquartered in Afghanistan, not Iraq, so the evidence of Saddam’s assistance to the terror network is less blatant. But the principle is the same. Let’s pretend for a moment that there were no unresolved issues about Iraq and 9/11 — no possible meeting between Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in April 2001; no Ahmed Hikmat Shakir (an Iraqi intelligence operative) at the January 2000 Kuala Lampur meeting involving two of the 9/11 hijackers. That is, let’s pretend 9/11 never happened. There would still be the little matter of Iraq aiding and abetting al Qaeda. That is what the invasion of Iraq was about — the Bush Doctrine: You’re with us or you’re with the terrorists … especially if there’s good reason to think you might share WMDs with the terrorists (and remember Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2002 that CIA believed Iraq and al Qaeda were working together on both WMDs and conventional weapons).

Follow McCarthy's link above and read that 2002 letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee. It's rather interesting. And read McCarthy's entire two-part, five-point critique of Tenet's claims — it starts here.

McCarthy took on CBS' distortion of the Niger issue, but missed the whopper they told (maybe it's only in the news story) regarding Iraq and nukes (emphasis added):

The vice president upped the ante, claiming Saddam had nuclear weapons, when the CIA was saying he didn’t.

"What's happening here?" Pelley asks.

"Well, I don't know what's happening here," Tenet says. "The intelligence community's judgment is 'He will not have a nuclear weapon until the year 2007, 2009.'" 

When, exactly, did Cheney — or anyone else, for that matter — claim Saddam had nukes? I'd like to see CBS' evidence to back up that statement. Maybe Dan Rather has a memo. 

And by the way, I for one wouldn't have considered a CIA assessment that Saddam won't have nukes for another four years very reassuring. 

Regarding Iraq, yellowcake, and Niger, read Daffyd's angry rant (triggered by the New York Times puff piece on Tenet) about mainstream media efforts to rewrite history:

I have now seen the same pugnaciously ignorant pronouncement of falsity from AP, Reuters, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and several other newspapers; and it has become clear that this is no accident: I am now convinced that the elite media editors have literally conspired with each other to rewrite the past. They pretend that the Intel Committee report said that Bush lied and Joe Wilson was right about Iraq seeking uranium in Africa — when in fact, it was the other way 'round.

Daffyd also did a good job of dissecting Tenet's revisionist explanation of his "slam dunk" remark, actually bothering to look up CBS' 2004 interview with Woodward (emphasis in original):

On another point, George Tenet now claims that he only used the term "slam dunk" to say that a good job of salesmanship would "sell" the war:

During the meeting, the deputy C.I.A. director, John McLaughlin, unveiled a draft of a proposed public presentation that left the group unimpressed. Mr. Tenet recalls that Mr. Bush suggested that they could “add punch” by bringing in lawyers trained to argue cases before a jury.

“I told the president that strengthening the public presentation was a ‘slam dunk,’ a phrase that was later taken completely out of context,” Mr. Tenet writes. “If I had simply said, ‘I’m sure we can do better,’ I wouldn’t be writing this chapter — or maybe even this book.”

Even while recounting this, the Times couldn't even be bothered to interview Bob Woodward, in whose book Plan of Attack the exchange occurs, as CBS News reported:

”McLaughlin has access to all the satellite photos, and he goes in and he has flip charts in the oval office. The president listens to all of this and McLaughlin's done. And, and the president kind of, as he's inclined to do, says ‘Nice try, but that isn't gonna sell Joe Public. That isn't gonna convince Joe Public,’” says Woodward.

In his book, Woodward writes: "The presentation was a flop. The photos were not gripping. The intercepts were less than compelling. And then George Bush turns to George Tenet and says, 'This is the best we've got?'"

Says Woodward: “George Tenet's sitting on the couch, stands up, and says, ‘Don't worry, it's a slam dunk case.’" And the president challenges him again and Tenet says, ‘The case, it's a slam dunk.’ …I asked the president about this and he said it was very important to have the CIA director — ‘Slam-dunk is as I interpreted is a sure thing, guaranteed. No possibility it won't go through the hoop.’ Others present, Cheney, very impressed.”

Not "strengthening the public presentation was a ‘slam dunk,’" as Tenet now says he said… just "it's a slam-dunk case."

Which version should we believe? The one Tenet tells in his book, defending his career, now that he knows no stockpiles of WMD were found in Iraq (not counting all the stuff we found that was the wrong kind of WMD)? Or should we buy the version that everybody else in the room told to Bob Woodward in 2004?

For heaven's sake, the version that Tenet retails today doesn't even make semantic sense. What on earth does it mean to say "strengthening the public presentation [is] a ‘slam dunk’?" I can't even parse the sentence. It's like saying "adding more cayenne pepper to the stew is a home run": It might make the stew into a home run, but the act of adding a particular spice is not itself a home run.

And don't miss Christopher Hitchens' harsh assessment of Tenet in Slate:

It's difficult to see why George Tenet would be so incautious as to write his own self-justifying apologia, let alone give it the portentous title At the Center of the Storm. There is already a perfectly good pro-Tenet book written by a man who knows how to employ the overworked term storm. Bob Woodward's 2002 effort, Bush at War, was, in many of its aspects, almost dictated by George Tenet

It is a little bit late for him to pose as if Iraq was a threat concocted in some crepuscular corner of the vice president's office. And it's pathetic for him to say, even in the feeble way that he chooses to phrase it, that "there was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat." (Emphasis added.) There had been a very serious debate over the course of at least three preceding administrations, whether Tenet "knew" of it or not. (He was only an intelligence specialist, after all.) As for his bawling and sobbing claim that faced with crisis in Iraq, "the administration's message was: Don't blame us. George Tenet and the CIA got us into this mess," I can say, as one who has attended about a thousand postmortems on Iraq in Washington, that I have never, ever, not once heard a single partisan of the administration say anything of the kind. …

A highly irritating expression in Washington has it that "hindsight is always 20-20." Would that it were so. History is not a matter of hindsight and is not, in fact, always written by the victors. In this case, a bogus history is being offered by a real loser whose hindsight is cockeyed and who had no foresight at all.

In contrast to the liberal Hitchens, White House chief of staff Andrew Card (one of the people present during the "slam dunk" meeting) was sympathetic toward Tenet, called him a "true patriot," and defended his record at the CIA.

Personally, I lean more toward Hitchens' and McCarthy's view than Card's. I sure won't be buying Tenet's book. 

UPDATE: In February 2003, Tenet testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committeee. Amanda B. Carpenter compiled quotes from those hearings. There's not much ambiguity, uncertainty, or hedging in those quotes. His sworn testimony is fully consistent with the "slam dunk" characterization of the case for war — both with regard to WMD and with regard to Iraqi support of al Qaeda.

So, Tenet made the same "slam dunk" case for war to the Senate in October 2002 and twice in February 2003. Who's really guilty of mischaracterizing the December 2002 "slam dunk" statement?

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Why we’re safer

Posted by Richard on September 7, 2006

Last week in Salt Lake City, President Bush delivered the first of a series of speeches about the war against Islamofascism. I dubbed the speech "Bush channels Sharansky" –it made the case for rejecting the policy of promoting Middle East "stability" (which the U.S. pursued for over a half-century) in favor of encouraging freedom and democracy.

On Tuesday at the Capital Hilton in Washington, Bush followed up with a speech to the Military Officers Association of America, which included a sobering picture of our enemies:

We know what the terrorists intend to do because they’ve told us — and we need to take their words seriously. So today I’m going to describe — in the terrorists’ own words, what they believe… what they hope to accomplish, and how they intend to accomplish it. I’ll discuss how the enemy has adapted in the wake of our sustained offensive against them, and the threat posed by different strains of violent Islamic radicalism. I’ll explain the strategy we’re pursuing to protect America, by defeating the terrorists on the battlefield, and defeating their hateful ideology in the battle of ideas.

The terrorists who attacked us on September the 11th, 2001, are men without conscience — but they’re not madmen. They kill in the name of a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs that are evil, but not insane. These al Qaeda terrorists and those who share their ideology are violent Sunni extremists. They’re driven by a radical and perverted vision of Islam that rejects tolerance, crushes all dissent, and justifies the murder of innocent men, women and children in the pursuit of political power. They hope to establish a violent political utopia across the Middle East, which they call a "Caliphate" — where all would be ruled according to their hateful ideology. …

We know what this radical empire would look like in practice, because we saw how the radicals imposed their ideology on the people of Afghanistan. Under the rule of the Taliban and al Qaeda, Afghanistan was a totalitarian nightmare — a land where women were imprisoned in their homes, men were beaten for missing prayer meetings, girls could not go to school, and children were forbidden the smallest pleasures like flying kites. Religious police roamed the streets, beating and detaining civilians for perceived offenses. Women were publicly whipped. Summary executions were held in Kabul’s soccer stadium in front of cheering mobs. …

The goal of these Sunni extremists is to remake the entire Muslim world in their radical image. In pursuit of their imperial aims, these extremists say there can be no compromise or dialogue with those they call "infidels" — a category that includes America, the world’s free nations, Jews, and all Muslims who reject their extreme vision of Islam. They reject the possibility of peaceful coexistence with the free world. Again, hear the words of Osama bin Laden earlier this year: "Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us."

Read the whole thing — it’s excellent.

Today, Bush followed up with the third installment, and it was the big newsmaker because of Bush’s revelations about terrorists held by the CIA:

In addition to the terrorists held at Guantanamo, a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war have been held and questioned outside the United States, in a separate program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency. This group includes individuals believed to be the key architects of the September the 11th attacks, and attacks on the USS Cole, an operative involved in the bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and individuals involved in other attacks that have taken the lives of innocent civilians across the world. These are dangerous men with unparalleled knowledge about terrorist networks and their plans for new attacks. The security of our nation and the lives of our citizens depend on our ability to learn what these terrorists know.

Many specifics of this program, including where these detainees have been held and the details of their confinement, cannot be divulged. Doing so would provide our enemies with information they could use to take retribution against our allies and harm our country. I can say that questioning the detainees in this program has given us information that has saved innocent lives by helping us stop new attacks — here in the United States and across the world. Today, I’m going to share with you some of the examples provided by our intelligence community of how this program has saved lives; why it remains vital to the security of the United States, and our friends and allies; and why it deserves the support of the United States Congress and the American people.

Please don’t just rely on the 90-second news stories about this speech. Read the whole thing — or better yet, watch the video (about 30 minutes, available at the same link; requires Real Player). Bush is compelling and persuasive, and his recounting of the events set in motion by the capture of Abu Zubaydah –including the thwarting of several planned attacks on the U.S. — is the stuff of great spy thrillers. In particular, I found the revelation of a foiled anthrax weapons program chilling.

Bush presented, in my opinion, a powerful defense of the CIA detention program and the interrogation techniques used:

These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution, and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful. I cannot describe the specific methods used — I think you understand why — if I did, it would help the terrorists learn how to resist questioning, and to keep information from us that we need to prevent new attacks on our country. But I can say the procedures were tough, and they were safe, and lawful, and necessary.

This program has been, and remains, one of the most vital tools in our war against the terrorists. It is invaluable to America and to our allies. Were it not for this program, our intelligence community believes that al Qaeda and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland. By giving us information about terrorist plans we could not get anywhere else, this program has saved innocent lives.

This program has been subject to multiple legal reviews by the Department of Justice and CIA lawyers; they’ve determined it complied with our laws. This program has received strict oversight by the CIA’s Inspector General. A small number of key leaders from both political parties on Capitol Hill were briefed about this program. All those involved in the questioning of the terrorists are carefully chosen and they’re screened from a pool of experienced CIA officers. Those selected to conduct the most sensitive questioning had to complete more than 250 additional hours of specialized training before they are allowed to have contact with a captured terrorist.

I want to be absolutely clear with our people, and the world: The United States does not torture. It’s against our laws, and it’s against our values. I have not authorized it — and I will not authorize it. Last year, my administration worked with Senator John McCain, and I signed into law the Detainee Treatment Act, which established the legal standard for treatment of detainees wherever they are held. I support this act. And as we implement this law, our government will continue to use every lawful method to obtain intelligence that can protect innocent people, and stop another attack like the one we experienced on September the 11th, 2001.

Personally, I wouldn’t have been as diplomatic and restrained in discussing McCain — or the Hamdan decision. I’d have said that this crap about humiliation, intimidation, and degrading treatment being torture is ridiculous and insults the victims of real torture (in fact, I have). But I’m not a politician, and I suppose Bush is right not to complain about things he can’t change now.

I’m glad Bush is going to Congress. It’s about time they quit just carping and viewing with alarm, and actually fulfilled their role. Bush is correct that, in the wake of Hamdan, we need specific legislation spelling out what is and isn’t legal. And Congress should certainly authorize military tribunals to deal with the men at Gitmo — they can’t and shouldn’t be handled as a law enforcement problem.

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Maybe “military intelligence” is an oxymoron, but…

Posted by Richard on May 9, 2006

OK, some healthy skepticism about anything related to government intelligence activities is probably a good idea — heck, throw in a little suspicion, caution, and paranoia if you like. But let’s not be stupid. Regarding the nomination of Lt. Gen. Michael Hayes to head the CIA, the concerns expressed by a bipartisan collection of Washington dolts are just plain stupid. A case in point is the slow-witted, inarticulate, bumbling fool who inexplicably sits just two heartbeats away from the presidency:

Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., declared his opposition to Hayden’s appointment, siding with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra, a Republican from Michigan.

Hastert "believes a military figure should not be the head of a civilian agency," said Ron Bonjean, Hastert’s spokesman.

Let’s briefly recall the history of the CIA, shall we? Its precursor was the Office of Strategic Services, created by FDR in 1942. FDR named Bill Donovan as director. Donovan, although a Medal of Honor recipient and Colonel in WWI, was a civilian at the time, but FDR made him a general.

President Truman established the Central Intelligence Group in 1946 and named the first Director of Central Intelligence: Rear Admiral Sidney W. Souers. The CIG became the CIA in 1947.

Quite a few military men have served as Directors and Deputy Directors of Central Intelligence over the years.


Rear Adm. Sidney W. Souers, USNR, 23 January 1946 —10 June 1946

Lt. Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, USA, 10 June 1946 —1 May 1947
Rear Adm. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, USN, 1 May 1947 — 7 October 1950
Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, USA, 7 October 1950 — 9 February 1953
Vice Adm. William F. Raborn, Jr., USN (Ret.), 28 April 1965 — 30 June 1966
Adm. Stansfield Turner, USN (Ret.), 9 March 1977— 20 January 1981(Admiral Turner retired from the Navy during his tenure as DCI)

Deputy Directors (some of whom served as acting directors, too):

Brig. Gen. Edwin K. Wright, USA, 20 January 1947— 9 March 1949

Gen. Charles P. Cabell, USAF, 23 April 1953 — 31 January 1962
Lt. Gen. Marshall S. Carter, USA, 3 April 1962 — 28 April 1965
Vice Adm. Rufus L. Taylor, USN, 13 October 1966 —1 February 1969
Lt. Gen. Robert E. Cushman, Jr., USMC, 7 May 1969 — 31 December 1971
Lt. Gen. Vernon A. Walters, USA, 2 May 1972 — 7 July 1976
Adm. Bobby R. Inman, USN, 12 February 1981—10 June 1982
Adm. William O. Studeman, USN, 9 April 1992 — 3 July 1995
Gen. John A. Gordon, USAF, 31 October 1997 —29 June 2000

Anyone who expresses concern about "a military figure" heading the CIA is either remarkably ignorant or has an ulterior motive.

In the case of Hastert, I’m inclined to go with "remarkably ignorant." But I suspect that most of the others expressing concern about the Hayes nomination would have found some reason to oppose anyone Bush cared to name.

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