How the CIA got out of control.

“… The CIA always gets what it wants.” – President Obama.

By Yochi Dreazen and Sean Naylor


From drone strikes to torture prisoners with … September 11, 2001 Office pulls the strings of US foreign policy. And, most likely, will continue to do so in the coming years.

Dennis Blair was unhappy. In May 2009, a retired Navy held the position of General Director of National Intelligence. In theory, it gave him the controls of the CIA and the rest of Washington’s 16 intelligence agencies. In fact, he was completely powerless. He could not even appoint a “chief spy” in a given country (as was usually called CIA chiefs in world capitals from London to Beirut). Blair also held that the right to take such a decision and sent (without consulting with the White House) a written indication that since then appoint a majority of the “spy chief” was Director of National Intelligence. But this is not the most important thing in his opinion, for this position you can assign employees any US intelligence. Let Blair and said that in most cases, it still was about the CIA agent, all this had to do not like the then Director Leon Panetta control: he sent to all foreign missions letter demanding to completely ignore the resulting designation.

Media at the time spoke of the turf war. But even so, the war was too unequal: Management Blair appeared completely powerless, and casually brushed aside cling to their power by the CIA.

A few months later, after four years of the first hectic life of Barack Obama’s coming to an end, Blair spotted for themselves a new opportunity to approve the prerogatives of his office, wrote journalist Mark Mazzetti in the book “The Way of the knife» (The Way of the Knife), which tells in detail about it period. Having inherited from Bush in a number of highly sensitive dossier on undercover operations, Obama wanted to see them all one by one. It was in particular the work of the CIA to counter the Iranian nuclear program and the use of drones to eliminate militants in Pakistan. Here again attracted the attention of a lack of authority Blair as director of national intelligence in the form in which it was created in 2004, meant that his main task is to ensure the cooperation of US intelligence agencies and the government. His opinion played a role in budgetary matters, but he could not affect the covert operations abroad. Blair was absolutely not like that the CIA maintained a direct relationship with the White House in operations of this kind. In his opinion, such a program could easily move away from the original purpose and become dangerously easy (and tempting) solution for the management, which had a very vague idea about the search for solutions to such complex issues as the Iranian. Blair believed that each program must be carefully considered and discussed in Congress before a final decision about its continuation, change or stop. Panetta was fundamentally disagree with that, and said that any attempt to impose some kind of CIA leadership and formal procedures only have a negative impact on the effectiveness of programs. When all was said, in the spring of 2009, the Government informally approved all CIA program abroad, thus opening a wide channel of funding. For example, in 2013, management has requested from the budget as much as 14.7 billion dollars, which makes an impression as compared to 4.8 billion, which it received in 1994, according to information The Washington Post and released Edward Snowden materials.

When Panetta requested the White House a major expansion of funding for the secret war of the CIA with “Al Qaeda” and its allies, he hoped that his request to meet only half, writes Daniel Kleydman in “dead or alive» (Kill or Capture). However, as noted by Mazzetti, he got everything including additional funds for military drones and welcome to greater use of them in the Pakistani tribal areas. “The CIA gets everything he wants,” – Obama advisers said dryly. Seven months later, Blair was politely shown the door.

Ever since the formation in 1947 of the CIA gradually moved away from its original purpose (to spy on foreign governments) and was to devote more time and effort to track down and eliminate the people in a growing number of countries. We have long been aware that the growing role and influence in the management of the war on terrorism reflect his skills in tracking down enemies of the United States abroad, from Pakistan to Yemen. Where surprising fact that the CIA has become a true master in the art of get out of public scandals, as well as bypass the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and political opponents of the White House, Congress, the Ministry of Defence and others razvedstrukturah. As a result of all these machinations of the CIA was able to reduce or even eliminate all the essential counterweights to its influence.

The increased power and independence of the CIA, no doubt, have been reflected in the global scale. After the attacks of 11 September 2001 a large part of what the world believe US foreign policy (ie strikes drones in the Middle East, the network of secret prisons, torture of prisoners, and so on. D.), Is rooted in the headquarters of the management in Langley . Given the current dominant position of the CIA turns out that it plays a disproportionately large role in the current manner, and US actions against them in the rest of the world. Management was on the foreground in the Middle East looming prospect of a new war, in connection with which it will rule once again put to the test.

Today the CIA is at the spearhead of the US government’s efforts to counter the Islamic state, which holds the key to much of the territory of Iraq and Syria. On small bases along the Turkish and Jordanian borders CIA officers involved in the recruitment and training of fighters of the so-called “moderate” Syrian opposition: on the idea they have to win an Islamic state and eventually overthrow the regime in Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad. In addition, the CIA undertook the delivery of weapons to the rebels, and other resources they need. In parallel, the Pentagon (it leaves behind much of the CIA in size, resources and support of the Congress) has sent its own special forces to the region to perform almost the same tasks for the preparation of the rebels. But if the two pillars of the national security of the United States there is a conflict over Iraq and Syria, it would be a mistake to assume that the CIA could lose. In fact, it always comes out the winner in this kind of battles for 14 years, that there is a war against terrorism.

Predator in the skies over Yemen

In spring 2002, quietly flying in the airspace of Yemen drone Predator noticed a large SUV in a sparsely populated region of the impoverished country. Responsible for surveillance experts reported that then-CIA Director George Tenet, who personally oversaw the search for the commander of “Al-Qaeda” in Yemen Qaeda Salim Sinan al-Hareth (it was believed that he stood for what happened in October 2000 terrorist attack directed against the American destroyer ” Cole “17 American sailors were killed and dozens injured). The CIA were convinced that, at last, found the terrorist. Tenet contacted Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong (high-ranking officer of the Central Command of the US Army) and asked him to make a decision on further action. Later, in an interview on PBS Frontlines Delong he said that Tenet told him: “He is in the SUV.” “Well, you can eliminate it,” – he said.

Tenet gave the order, and the car blew drone missile Hellfire. In al-Hareth and several lower-ranking militants was not a chance. The first confirmed the elimination of wanted terrorist with CIA drone was a turning point in a strange transformation management. According to Mazzetti, it has evolved from a “traditional espionage organization, which is engaged in theft of secrets to foreign governments” in the “killing machine, fully focused on the hunt for men mechanism.”

In addition, this murder has not caused the slightest protest or desire to re-evaluate the work of the CIA. On the contrary, the management seemed more confident feel in the new role of liquidator of the enemies of the United States around the world. In 2004, it has increasingly mistaken for elimination of activists abroad and even deployed to this external professionals, who were due to Blackwater (the private military company gained notoriety after a string of atrocities and abuses in Iraq). In June 2009, Panetta told Congress the existence of the secret program, stressing that he quickly put an end to it, when he led the agency earlier in the year. According to him, attracted professionals killed no one (a number of other members of management have confirmed his words), but it was not enough to calm the anger of MPs they were beside themselves with the fact that the CIA would recruit mercenaries to eliminate enemies without any control the government.

The elimination of al-Hareth marked a profound change in the policy of the agency. It certainly was a shock to many veterans of the CIA, who had been trained in the years after the commission Frank Church (it was dedicated to the abuse of special services and in particular the attempted murder of foreign leaders). A year later, then-President Gerald Ford issued an order 11905 with the ban for the CIA to organize the political killings in any country of the world.

Whatever it was, after the September 11 attacks, the CIA has returned to liquidations, and Presidents Bush and Obama have made drones weapon of choice in the hunt for enemies of the United States around the world. White House and the CIA claim that drones can achieve an unprecedented level of accuracy in history and practically avoid civilian casualties. Human rights organizations, in turn, collected a lot of evidence that the drones killed hundreds of innocent people.

Thus, for example, reported that in Pakistan alone from June 2004 to April 2015 by a CIA drone strikes killed at least 960 civilians, including 207 children. Nevertheless, the US government does not doubt their effectiveness (it used even against their own citizens). “Tens of dangerous leaders, instructors, demolition and other militants,” Al-Qaeda “were removed from the field – said Obama in a big policy speech in May 2013. – Have been destroyed by the plans of terrorists who set their sights on international flights, American vehicles, European cities and our troops in Afghanistan. Put simply, these strikes have saved lives. ”

The CIA has long ago offered to engage in operations of drones Predator (it is about them, Obama said): this means that the management was engaged in the fight against terrorism long before she became a priority for Washington. After the creation of the Centre for the fight against terrorism in 1986, the CIA appointed a whole group on tracking of only one of Osama bin Laden in 1996 and, in the words of its then director George Tenet declared “war”, “Al-Qaeda” in 1998. It is worth noting that “it is not declared Defence Minister – explains Hank Crumpton, who had worked for the CIA, and later became the coordinator for counter-terrorism at the State Department. – Neither the FBI director, or anyone else in the intelligence community did not take on such a leadership role. ”

The latitude available to the CIA’s anti-terrorism resources only further emphasized his inability to detect and prevent terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. After the attacks the US government formed a bipartisan committee of ten experts in Washington to review the circumstances of the disaster and make recommendations to reduce the risk of new terrorist attacks. In published in 2004 report, the Commission criticized the CIA for the fact that it has not been able to identify two potential terrorists (Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi) and “informed the FBI of the US visa of a future terrorists and a trip to the US his successor. ” Another report, compiled by the Commission of Inquiry of the Senate and House of Representatives, noted that the CIA knew about the relationships both with international terrorism, but it is transferred to FBI data on them just a few weeks before the terrorist attacks. As the Commission, because of the delay the FBI was unable to take advantage of the available one of his informants links with terrorists: “If contact an informant with the terrorists managed to use, they would have given the management of the FBI in San Diego, the largest in the entire intelligence community a chance kill in the bud the project September 11 “.

In addition, the CIA greatly missed over a potential arsenal of weapons of mass destruction of Saddam Hussein: this catastrophic mistake opened the way for the war in Iraq and became an indelible stain on the reputation management. Later he was accused of failing to predict the rise of an Islamic state, and Russia’s plans to capture and annexation of the Crimea. Obama, apparently, he expressed dissatisfaction with the CIA and other intelligence agencies, when at the end of 2014 stated that all Syrian intelligence community had underestimated the impact of the chaos on the development of the IG. The CIA and its defenders, in turn, argue that the White House said in advance of the Islamists, and Vladimir Putin, but he chose to ignore the warnings.

Those with whom I studied

Thanks to a series of bureaucratic advantages CIA managed to get an advantage over their rivals and critics of the intelligence community. The Director of National Intelligence (this position was held by Blair during the unsuccessful attack on the management) does not have sufficient authority for the appointment of the head of the CIA or bias: This prerogative belongs to the president. As a result, all the directors of the CIA have closer ties with the White House than with his immediate superior, often allowing them to operate with impunity over his head. In addition, the post of Director of National Intelligence, there is only a little more than ten years, while the tradition of the CIA to maintain close ties with the president and other representatives of the authorities in Washington has developed from the base controls.

For example, long-standing ties with other control centers of power in Washington, due to the fact that most of his colleagues were in the Ivy League universities, wished to remain anonymous said the former analyst at Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which competes with the CIA in the broad field of American intelligence. According to him, for the White House and most influential deputies of the “CIA officials have always been people of the same variety as those with whom they studied.” When Eisenhower was led by Princeton graduate management Allen Dulles, at Ford – a graduate of Yale and the future president of the United States George W. Bush, and under Obama – another “prinstonets” David Petraeus. In other words, the Ivy League is given a significant role in the CIA.

Under Obama these ties even become more closely: the current CIA director, John Brennan, was one of his top advisers on intelligence and counter-terrorism during the 2008 campaign, as well as at least four years in the White House advisor to the President for Homeland Security and the fight terrorism. “No one in the American razvedkrugah has never been access to and political support for that now have Brennan, – says the former DIA analyst. – But Does it continue to continue? The new director will have the same support? Hardly, but Brennan is now really have all the levers. ”

When Brennan was appointed head of the department in 2013, Obama began a second mandate and recognized the importance of the CIA. Former deputy director of the management of John McLaughlin spent in it for decades and worked with the presidents of both camps. According to him, Obama, like many other American leaders before him, before taking office as poorly understood, is doing and what the CIA is able to:

“I do not think he started to work with a hostile attitude to the CIA, but it seems to me, he wanted to focus primarily on domestic affairs, and only later realized that foreign policy will play in his work is much more important than he thought . Then he realized that the CIA is one of its instruments and that they should definitely take advantage of. ”

This, no doubt, is the main advantage of the CIA: it is, in fact, do not need to report to anyone other than the US president. DIA is engaged in the collection and analysis of intelligence and military working for the Pentagon. The FBI has played a key role in the struggle against espionage and terrorism, and subordinate to the Ministry of Justice. Office of Intelligence and Research has been providing intelligence support to US diplomacy and reports to the State Department. Even the famous NSA, the largest and most well-funded of all US intelligence agencies, is part of the Pentagon. If you believe Hank Crumpton, often it is derived from “unprecedented powers to conduct covert operations … in a secret war.”

Heavy battle

The CIA had all means to fight for the preservation of this power, even if it meant a confrontation with other members of the intelligence community.

Spring 2012 DIA presented a large-scale expansion project in existence in his small contingent of scouts called “Secret Service of the Ministry of Defense.” In the summer of that year he led the DIA Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. He made the project a priority. In particular, he stressed the importance of increasing the number of officers in the potential and actual war zones to gather information about defense priorities (for example, on military bases that the US military could use in case of crisis).

This initiative has been from the outset challenged by some members of the CIA, who even got to actively counter the program, considering it as a potential rival of the National Secret Service. The structure of the CIA it is given human intelligence and in particular the theft of strategic secrets of foreign organizations and governments. In other words, the foundation of the Office and its official reputation. Therefore, it is with hostility any attempt Pentagon takes to compete with him. “For the CIA is a very sensitive issue – explains the retired officer Joseph control of Trani, who happens to work as a senior consultant to the director of national intelligence. – Human resources – is its advantage over the others. ”

CIA spokesman denied that the management tried to prevent the formation of a new razvedstruktury Pentagon. On the contrary, they say, the CIA saw this as an opportunity to share the collection of information and analysis of intelligence on the enemy of the US. Nevertheless, a number of representatives of the State Department (both retired and working) claimed that some members of the CIA were categorically against the creation of the Secret Service of the Ministry of Defense, because they were afraid of mixing the roles of the two agencies. Flynn had to deal with strong opposition within his own organization, but “he had more critics and enemies abroad, in particular in other razvedstrukture, which did not believe that the DIA required the expansion of prerogatives – said to work closely with the agency employee Defense Ministry. – There have been constant friction. ”

One of the most effective weapons in the fight becomes a CIA control over the less well-known bodies of the US government bureaucracy. Project Flynn on sending new scouts abroad would have to be accompanied by an extension of the state of the US embassy, ​​where they would be enrolled as a cover. Whatever it was, the State Department set clear limits on the number of diplomatic posts, and the CIA is holding a pre-existing. Therefore, although the State Department and the CIA has not officially rejected a request by the DIA, delaying the response was “serious restrictive element,” – says a former employee of the State Department.

In fact, in such a confrontation between the two agencies is nothing really new, but the CIA often gets the advantage because of the large number of its former employees in key positions in the US government. For example, two former directors of administration, Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, became defense minister. Michael Vickers, who played a key role in the secret CIA operations in Afghanistan in the 1980s, was an assistant secretary of defense for special operations from 2007 to 2011 and then was appointed deputy minister of intelligence (the third most important post in the Pentagon that involves the management of all its intelligence agencies and programs). Deputy Flynn DIA was David Shedd, a former CIA officer, like his predecessor, Doug Wise.

In August 2014, Michael Flynn unexpectedly resigned. Less than six months later at the helm of the DIA stood Lieutenant-General Stuart Vincent. In March Steward told a group of veterans of the intelligence community about their priorities for the post of Director to return the support of Congress to form future leaders, and generally raise the bar of quality control personnel. About the Secret Service he was not even given a hint.

Concerns about the CIA

In a surprisingly fine and warm day in March 2014 the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein stood on a wooden platform in the building of the upper house of Congress, once again checked the records and brought down on a pile of CIA extraordinary charges. According to her, the management had violated the law by hacking computers of employees of the Senate, who were investigating several years of imprisonment and torture of people suspected of terrorism during the Bush.

“I have serious concerns about the CIA: it could violate prescribed in the US Constitution the principle of separation of powers, – she said. – This may be the encroachment on the constitutional foundations, which are key to effective oversight over the activities of the Congress razvedstruktur and carrying out any other government needs. ”

With similar accusations were other influential Democrats (then chairman of the Senate Committee on Legal Affairs Patrick Leahy noted that all this entails “serious constitutional consequences), but the statement Feinstein done the most noise because the senator has long been considered one of the most vocal supporters of the intelligence community. So, after the publication of the first revelations of Snowden in 2013, she wrote in a USA Today article about the fact that a large-scale collection of information the NSA as a result of telephone wiretapping of hundreds of millions of Americans was “lawful” and was an “effective way to prevent terrorist plots against the United States and its allies” . In addition, it is also actively supporting the use of CIA drones to eliminate suspected terrorists (including US citizens) without trial and to provide evidence of their alleged activities, which attracted the attention of management.

The reason for such drastic changes in her opinion is worthy of a spy thriller, and is the result of a succession of events that have jeopardized more than 40-year relationship of the CIA and its “watchdogs” on Capitol Hill. In 2009, the staff of the Senate began to take more than five years of investigation that ended with 6000-page report on the methods of detention and interrogation under Bush, Jr., and in particular the use of practices such as waterboarding, which decried Obama himself. In his research investigators had to use the computers provided by the CIA in the control room to the north of Virginia. In his speech, Feinstein accused the CIA in the illegal entry into computers of employees, who searched for the millions of highly confidential documents. According to her, this behavior is a potential violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution (it refers to protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures”), the law on computer fraud in 1986 (he considers the entry into government computers without proper authorization as a federal crime) and Presidential Decree 12333, which prohibits the CIA to conduct surveillance and monitoring in the country.

Representatives of management, in turn, also made a number of surprising charges. For example, they said that Senate investigators illegally seized several secret documents that are not relevant to the interests of the investigation and are included in the “prerogative of the executive branch.” CIA transferred charges to the Justice Department and the FBI opened a case on the work of the investigators. Brennan Feinstein called the accusations “false” and “totally unfounded.” That for his part demanded that the Ministry of Justice to find out whether the CIA violated the law. In July 2014, Brennan was forced to admit penetration of its employees computers Senate investigators.

However, the main clamor rose, when the White House made a last attempt to limit the impact of future report on torture. By demonstrating a clear desire to protect brand management, Obama sent the head of his administration, Denis McDonough in San Francisco that he would personally asked Feinstein “edited” report. She agreed to change some things at the last moment to please the White House, but dismissed the remainder of the beginning of December and released a summary report. According to her, the investigators detected the Senate was “a stain on the values ​​and the history of” the United States.

Avalanche horrific details

The report, page by page, dumped on the reader an avalanche of horrific details, accusing the CIA of torturing prisoners and systematic deception of the Bush administration, Congress and the public about the value obtained by means of these atrocities information (for example, the agents threatened to rape and kill the mothers of prisoners and even subjected to some “rectal feeding”). In particular, the report describes how since the end of 2002 and beginning of 2003, interrogated Abd Rahim Nashiri (he was suspected of having links with “Al-Qaeda”) CIA officer threatened him with a drill. It also concluded that the CIA lied in 2011, saying that tough interrogations of militants, “Al-Qaeda” will allow to find and eliminate bin Laden. Investigators concluded that the data were obtained before the prisoners tortured. A few days after the publication of the report of the CIA convened journalists at a press conference in Langley (a rare case!) With Brennan.

CIA director had to make certain concessions. He criticized the current system after September 11, which can be sent to jail and ruthlessly interrogate any person suspected of terrorism. He even acknowledged that some of the interrogation techniques were “monstrous.” Whatever it was, he was seriously angered many Democrats by refusing to repeat the words of Obama’s “torture” in the administration. He also pointed to the absence of a law that would prohibit openly what we did with the captives management staff. This means that the next president can, if desired, re-enable the CIA atrocities against prisoners.

It was clear from comments of wrath Feinstein, which began in real time on Twitter to challenge every statement Brennan (he had not yet finished speaking). “The new president can change the order of the executive power, the power to return the interrogation program. Therefore, we need a law, “- she wrote.

Less than three weeks later, Feinstein sent a letter to Obama and talked about the intention to submit a legislative tool that, she said, should “stop up all the holes in the torture.” We are talking about banning the CIA for a long time to send the prisoners behind bars and to apply non-manual army interrogation techniques. Atrocities like water torture should be considered a violation of US laws, not a tool that the president may authorize the use in its sole discretion.

The fact that Feinstein feels the need to adopt such a law (it was approved by the Senate in June, but not yet ratified The price representatives), is proof of Obama’s willingness to take the abuse of the CIA under Bush, despite campaign promises to stop them. In addition, Brennan still retain his post. “Obama – the only one who has the power to require me to stay or go,” – he said in March 2014.

Feinstein, in turn, lost the post of head of the Senate Intelligence Committee after the Republican victory in elections in 2014, when they got a majority in the upper house. The new chairman of its Republican Richard Burr said the CIA in recent years became the object of attention too. “Personally, I do not think that what is happening in the Intelligence Committee in general should be discussed in public,” – he said in 2014. He kept his word and in practice one of his first steps in his new position was a written appeal to Barack Obama, in which he demanded the immediate return of all copies of the full report on torture (Feinstein sent them to various departments of the executive power). Experts from the private sector believe that Burr acting on the orders of the CIA, which does not want to report ever made public under the Freedom of Information Act. Another proof that the CIA, in the words of Obama, always gets what it wants.

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