The New York Times November 9, 2012
The sudden development came just days after President Obama won re-election to a second term. Mr. Petraeus, a highly decorated general who had led the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, had been expected to remain in the president’s administration.
Instead, Mr. Petraeus said in the statement that the president accepted his resignation on Friday after he had informed him of his indiscretion a day earlier.
“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair,” Mr. Petraeus wrote. “Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the president graciously accepted my resignation.”
The New York Times October 4, 2012
WASHINGTON — It seemed like a simple idea: In the chaos that is Somalia, create a sophisticated, highly trained fighting force that could finally defeat the pirates terrorizing the shipping lanes off the Somali coast.
But the creation of the Puntland Maritime Police Force was anything but simple. It involved dozens of South African mercenaries and the shadowy security firm that employed them, millions of dollars in secret payments by the United Arab Emirates, a former clandestine officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, and Erik Prince, the billionaire former head of Blackwater Worldwide who was residing at the time in the emirates.
And its fate makes the story of the pirate hunters for hire a case study in the inherent dangers in the outsourced wars in Somalia, where the United States and other countries have relied on proxy forces and armed private contractors to battle pirates and, increasingly, Islamic militants.
That strategy has had some success, including a recent offensive by Kenyan and African Union troops to push the militant group Al Shabab from its stronghold in the port city of Kismayu.
But with the antipiracy army now abandoned by its sponsors, the hundreds of half-trained and well-armed members of the Puntland Maritime Police Force have been left to fend for themselves at a desert camp carved out of the sand, perhaps to join up with the pirates or Qaeda-linked militants or to sell themselves to the highest bidder in Somalia’s clan wars — yet another dangerous element in the Somali mix.
New torture flights between Lithuania and secret CIA prisons in Afghanistan & Morocco revealed as European Parliament debates rendition report
Reprieve September 10, 2011
Lawyers for “high value detainee” Abu Zubaydah – who was waterboarded 83 times by the CIA – have today filed a new submission concerning his transfer to and from a prison site in Lithuania. The filing, by London-based organization Interights, comes as Reprieve releases new information showing how renditions contractor Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) arranged covert flights connecting Lithuania to other countries in the CIA’s secret prison network, including Morocco and Afghanistan. The revelation comes ahead of a debate in the European Parliament, led by rapporteur Hélène Flautre, on a new report on the kidnapping – or ‘rendition’ – and illegal detention of prisoners in European countries by the CIA.
The US intelligence agency ran a so-called ‘black site’ outside Vilnius between 2004 and 2007, where detainees were held without charge. In their new report, the European Parliament’s Justice Committee concluded that “the layout of the buildings and installations inside appear compatible with the detention of prisoners” and that “many questions related to CIA operations in Lithuania remain open” despite a judicial investigation which closed in January 2011.
Aronson Capital Partners Blog July 10, 2012
The post-war reductions of CIA personnel in Iraq could provide greater opportunities for contractors with niche capabilities in intelligence collection, processing, and analysis.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the CIA is considering plans to reduce its presence in Iraq to 40% of wartime levels due, in part, to Iraqi officials’ unfavorable feelings toward a major CIA presence in the country.1 U.S. officials have since complained that deteriorating communications with Iraq have resulted in significant losses of situational awareness regarding the activities of al-Qaeda in Iraq. As a result, the CIA and other members of the Intelligence Community (“IC”) will have to shift operations back toward traditional intelligence collection and will need the help of private contractors to augment such a shift.
In light of fiscal pressures and sequestration concerns, the IC contracting community is expected to experience cuts in contracting and spending. However, there are still valuable growth opportunities which complement the Obama administration’s national security strategy to conduct smaller operations by combining intelligence and special operations capabilities. Leon Panetta, Defense Secretary and former Director of the CIA, stated in the January 5, 2012 strategic review briefing that even with a reduction in the overall defense budget, “We will protect our investments in special operations forces, new technologies like ISR and unmanned systems, space and cyberspace capabilities, and our capacity to quickly mobilize.”2
Several other lawsuits filed by Contractor Employers will expose the extent to which Civilian Contractors were actually working for the CIA and the State Department in capacities that are not known to the public.
It is known that Ronco Consulting has worked for/with the CIA via the State Department .
Blackwater/Academi has banked more than $2 billion from security and training contracts with various federal agencies, including the CIA, since 2002. Several former CIA officials later went to work for the company.
Five ex-Blackwater executives, facing federal firearms charges in connection with a gift of weaponry to a Middle Eastern monarch, have come up with a new explanation for how it occured:
It was a CIA operation.
In court papers filed last month in Raleigh, the defendants say the gift of five guns to King Abdullah II of Jordan during a royal visit to Blackwater’s Moyock, N.C., headquarters in March 2005 was requested, directed and authorized by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Attorneys for the five have filed declarations from two retired CIA officials, including a former Jordan station chief, who say they are familiar with the circumstances of the king’s visit and would be willing to testify about it.
The CIA did not respond to a request for comment.
It’s a new wrinkle in a case that dates to April 2010, when the five security company executives were indicted on a variety of felony firearms charges. One key section of the indictment involved King Abdullah’s 2005 visit to Moyock, during which the monarch was presented a Bushmaster M4 rifle, a Remington shotgun and three Glock handguns.
Associated Press March 11, 2012
PRESCOTT, Ark. — When their older brother Jeremy died in Afghanistan, Ben and Beau Wise did what loyal brothers and soldiers do. They stood solemnly in uniform at his memorial, laid red roses in front of his picture, and Ben spoke bravely to a chapel full of loved ones who came to mourn
Soldiers themselves, Ben and Beau knew what their fallen brother had experienced and seen. They knew the difficulties of being a warrior and a devoted husband, and what a testament it was to Jeremy’s character that he had excelled at both.
“Jeremy, I miss you and I love you, brother,” Ben said. “And see you again.”
Two years later, Ben died at a hospital in Germany after an insurgent attack left him with injuries that first cost him his legs, then cost him his life. He was 34, a year younger than Jeremy was when a suicide bomber killed him at a CIA base where he was working as a defense contractor.
For a family that had already paid the highest price of war, it was time for another funeral, another eulogy, another grave.
The eldest Wise boys are two of the thousands of Americans who have died since the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan began. But they share a link that most do not: They were brothers.
“They laid down their lives, both of them, so that others could live,” their mother, Mary Wise, said.
Jeremy had just retired as a Navy SEAL and was working as a defense contractor in Afghanistan. He thought he could spend more time with his family that way and still serve his country. When he was home in Virginia, he played ninjas with his stepson, Ethan, and hung around his wife, Dana, even if she was doing something as mundane as laundry.
International Business Times March 8, 2012
The press agency of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement charged Wednesday that the CIA, Israel’s Mossad and private security firms have been exposed supporting Syrian rebels in Homs.
Al-Manar, a channel linked to the Shi’ite militia Hezbollah — a close ally of the Assad regime in Syria — asserted that 700 Arab and Western gunmen along with Israeli, American and European-made weapons were seized in the rebellious Homs neighborhood of Baba Amro when government forces overwhelmed and routed the rebel Free Syrian Army last weekend. It said mercenaries of Xe Services LL, formerly known as Blackwater, and Academi were also apprehended
The site quoted one predicting: “Huge and critical surprises will be uncovered in the coming few days, such as the kinds of arms seized, as well as the military tactics the armed groups follows, and the sides that supervised the operations.”
Salim Harba, a Syrian security expert, told Al-Manar that “a coordination office was established in Qatar under American-Gulf sponsorship. The office includes American, French, and Gulf — specifically from Qatar and Saudi Arabia — intelligence agents, as well as CIA, Mossad, and Blackwater agents and members of the Syrian Transitional Council.”
He added, “Qatar had also made deals with Israeli and American companies to arm the armed groups, and Gulf countries have been financing the agreements.”
AP IMPACT by Desmond Butler Associated Press February 12, 2012
Piece by piece, in backpacks and carry-on bags, American aid contractor Alan Gross made sure laptops, smartphones, hard drives and networking equipment were secreted into Cuba. The most sensitive item, according to official trip reports, was the last one: a specialized mobile phone chip that experts say is often used by the Pentagon and the CIA to make satellite signals virtually impossible to track.
The purpose, according to an Associated Press review of Gross’ reports, was to set up uncensored satellite Internet service for Cuba’s small Jewish community.
The operation was funded as democracy promotion for the U.S. Agency for International Development, established in 1961 to provide economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. Gross, however, identified himself as a member of a Jewish humanitarian group, not a representative of the U.S. government.
Cuban President Raul Castro called him a spy, and Gross was sentenced last March to 15 years in prison for seeking to “undermine the integrity and independence” of Cuba. U.S. officials say he did nothing wrong and was just carrying out the normal mission of USAID.
Jeremy Scahill at The Nation September 11, 2012
The notorious Somali paramilitary warlord who goes by the nom de guerre Indha Adde, or White Eyes, walks alongside trenches on the outskirts of Mogadishu’s Bakara Market once occupied by fighters from the Shabab, the Islamic militant group that has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda.
In one of the trenches, the foot of a corpse pokes out from a makeshift grave consisting of some sand dumped loosely over the body. One of Indha Adde’s militiamen says the body is that of a foreigner who fought alongside the Shabab. “We bury their dead, and we also capture them alive,” says Indha Adde in a low, raspy voice. “We take care of them if they are Somali, but if we capture a foreigner we execute them so that others will see we have no mercy
Despite such thug talk, Indha Adde is not simply a warlord, at least not officially, anymore. Nowadays, he is addressed as Gen. Yusuf Mohamed Siad, and he wears a Somali military uniform, complete with red beret and three stars on his shoulder. His weapons and his newfound legitimacy were bestowed upon him by the US-sponsored African Union force, known as AMISOM, that currently occupies large swaths of Mogadishu.
It is quite a turnabout. Five years ago, Indha Adde was one of Al Qaeda and the Shabab’s key paramilitary allies and a commander of one of the most powerful Islamic factions in Somalia fighting against foreign forces and the US-backed Somali government. He openly admits to having sheltered some of the most notorious Al Qaeda figures—including Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 1998 bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania—and to deceiving the CIA in order to protect the men. (Fazul was killed in June in Mogadishu.)
TEHRAN, Iran – An American man accused by Iran of working for the CIA could face the death penalty, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported Tuesday.
In a closed court hearing, the prosecution applied for capital punishment, the report said, because the suspect, identified as Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, “admitted that he received training in the United States and planned to imply that Iran was involved in terrorist activities in foreign countries” after returning to the U.S.
The prosecutor said Hekmati entered Iran’s intelligence department three times.
The report said Hekmati repeated a confession broadcast on state TV Dec. 18.
Under the Iranian law spying can lead to death penalty only in military cases.
The Fars report said Hekmati’s lawyer, who was identified only by his surname, Samadi, denied the charges. He said Iranian intelligence blocked Hekmati from infiltrating, and under the Iranian law, intention to infiltrate is not a crime.
The lawyer said Hekmati was deceived by the CIA. No date for the next court hearing was released.
Hekmati, 28, was born in Arizona. His family is of Iranian origin. His father, who lives in Michigan, said his son is not a CIA spy and was visiting his grandmothers in Iran when he was arrested.
Because his father is Iranian, Hekmati is considered an Iranian citizen
US Citizen Killed in Attack was CIA employee, wounded American still not identified
KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan working for the U.S. government killed one CIA employee and wounded another American in an attack on the intelligence agency’s office in Kabul, officials said Monday. The assailant was killed.
Afghan employee kills U.S. citizen at Kabul CIA base
(Reuters) - An Afghan employee of the U.S. government opened fire inside a CIA office in Kabul on Sunday evening, killing an American and injuring a second, U.S. and Afghan officials said, in the second major breach of embassy security in two weeks.
The CIA compound is one of the most heavily guarded in Kabul, and has been off-limits for almost a decade, since shortly after the Taliban’s fall from power in 2001.
It also lies at the heart of the capital’s heavily-guarded military, political and diplomatic district, a virtual “green zone” that is almost impossible for ordinary Afghans to enter.
The New York Times Alissa Rubin September 26, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan — An American citizen was killed and another was wounded on the grounds of an annex to the United States Embassy here by an Afghan employee, an embassy spokesman said on Monday
The gunman was killed and the motivation for the attack is under investigation, said Gavin Sundwall, the embassy spokesman. The wounded American was evacuated to a military hospital for treatment.
The killing was followed by a barrage of gunfire between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. People who were near the compound where the attack occurred said they heard an explosion before gunfire erupted.
The attack was at a building used by the Central Intelligence Agency in Kabul, according to several western officials. It is near the presidential palace. It was not clear whether the dead American was a C.I.A. employee, a contractor or someone else working on the grounds.
Rarely visible, the agency has acknowledged few losses in Afghanistan. The last one that was made public was in 2009 when a suicide bomber penetrated the agency’s base in Khost Province, killing at least seven agency employees, including a senior operative.
The C.I.A. station in Kabul, the agency’s largest outpost overseas part of the United States Embassy complex. On Sept. 13, militants carried out a daylong attack on another part of the embassy grounds, and top American officials have attributed that attack to a group called the Haqqani network, which they say is supported by parts of Pakistan’s spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence. A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment about the latest attack.
Associated Press September 1, 2011
The secret airlift of terrorism suspects and American intelligence officials to CIA-operated overseas prisons via luxury jets was mounted by a hidden network of U.S. companies and coordinated by a prominent defense contractor, newly disclosed documents show.
More than 1,700 pages of court files in a business dispute between two aviation companies reveal how integral private contractors were in the government’s covert “extraordinary rendition” flights. They shuttled between Washington, foreign capitals, the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and, at times, landing points near once-secret, CIA-run overseas prisons.
The companies ranged from DynCorp, a leading government contractor that secretly oversaw the flights, to caterers that unwittingly stocked the planes with fruit platters and bottles of wine, the court files and testimony show.
A New York-based charter company, Richmor Aviation Inc., which supplied corporate jets and crews to the government, and a private aviation broker, SportsFlight Air, which organized flights for DynCorp, have been engaged in a four-year legal dispute. Both sides have cited the government’s program of forced transport of detainees in testimony, evidence and legal arguments. The companies are fighting over $874,000 awarded to Richmor by a New York state appeals court to cover unpaid costs for the secret flights
(AP) at CBS News July 13, 2011
WASHINGTON – A CIA officer who oversaw the agency’s interrogation program at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and pushed for approval to use increasingly harsh tactics has come under scrutiny in a federal war crimes investigation involving the death of a prisoner, witnesses told The Associated Press.
Steve Stormoen, who is now retired from the CIA, supervised an unofficial program in which the CIA imprisoned and interrogated men without entering their names in the Army’s books.
The so-called “ghosting” program was unsanctioned by CIA headquarters. In fact, in early 2003, CIA lawyers expressly prohibited the agency from running its own interrogations, current and former intelligence officials said. The lawyers said agency officers could be present during military interrogations and add their expertise but, under the laws of war, the military must always have the lead
Yet, in November 2003, CIA officers brought a prisoner, Manadel al-Jamadi, to Abu Ghraib and, instead of turning him over to the Army, took him to a shower stall. They put a sandbag over his head, handcuffed him behind his back and chained his arms to a barred window. When he leaned forward, his arms stretched painfully behind and above his back.
The CIA interrogated al-Jamadi alone. Within an hour, he was dead
Newsweek June 20, 2011
On Dec. 30, 2009, seven CIA operatives were killed at a U.S. base in Khost, Afghanistan, when a Jordanian double agent who claimed to have cracked Al Qaeda’s inner circle proved instead to be a suicide bomber—in other words, a triple agent.
The attack, the deadliest for the CIA in 25 years, was unlike any in the agency’s history. Over the decades, a multitude of CIA informants had lied, defrauded, betrayed, stolen money, or skipped town. But none had sought to lure his handlers into a trap with the aim of killing them, along with himself.
A 2010 internal CIA review identified a chain of failures that allowed 32-year-old physician Humam al-Balawi to gain access to the highly secure CIA base, breezing through checkpoints without a search until he came face to face with a large gathering of CIA officers anxious to meet him. Balawi had promised to deliver Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy to Al Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden. (Last week, in the wake of bin Laden’s death, Zawahiri emerged as the terrorist group’s new leader, though he was already in essence its operational commander.)
Balawi had backed his intelligence claims with evidence so electrifying that even President Obama had been briefed in advance. But the Jordanian was not what he seemed.
The warning signs, painfully obvious in hindsight, would be obscured by two singular forces that collided at Khost on that late-December day. One was the mind of Balawi, a man who flitted pre-cariously between opposing camps. The other was the eagerness of war-weary intelligence operatives who saw a mirage and desperately wanted it to be real.