Category Archives: CIA

CIA Torture Whistleblower John Kiriakou: Wake Up, You’re Next

Setting people on fire is barbaric and uncivilised… unless you’re doing it with drone missiles

Burning Victims to Death: Still a Common Practice

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

[…] Unlike ISIS, the U.S. usually (though not always) tries to suppress (rather than gleefully publish) evidence showing the victims of its violence. Indeed, concealing stories about the victims of American militarism is a critical part of the U.S. government’s strategy for maintaining support for its sustained aggression. That is why, in general, the U.S. media has a policy of systematically excluding and ignoring such victims (although disappearing them this way does not actually render them nonexistent).

One could plausibly maintain that there is a different moral calculus involved in (a) burning a helpless captive to death as opposed to (b) recklessly or even deliberately burning civilians to death in areas that one is bombing with weapons purposely designed to incinerate human beings, often with the maximum possible pain. That’s the moral principle that makes torture specially heinous: sadistically inflicting pain and suffering on a helpless detainee is a unique form of barbarity.

But there is nonetheless something quite obfuscating about this beloved ritual of denouncing the unique barbarism of ISIS.’

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The U.S. Media and the 13-Year-Old Yemeni Boy Burned to Death Last Month by a U.S. Drone

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

"Militants": media propagandaOn January 26, the New York Times claimed that “a CIA drone strike in Yemen. . . . killed three suspected Qaeda fighters on Monday.” How did they know the identity of the dead? As usual, it was in part because “American officials said.” There was not a whiff of skepticism about this claim despite the fact that “a senior American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, declined to confirm the names of the victims” and “a C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment.”

That NYT article did cite what it called “a member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” (AQAP), who provided the names of the three victims, one of whom was “Mohammed Toiman al-Jahmi, a Yemeni teenager whose father and brother were previously killed in American drone strikes.” The article added that “the Qaeda member did not know Mr. Jahmi’s age but said he was a member of the terrorist group.”

In fact, as the Guardian reported today, “Mr. Jahmi’s age” was 13 on the day the American drone ended his life. Just months earlier, the Yemeni teenager told that paper that “he lived in constant fear of the ‘death machines’ in the sky that had already killed his father and brother.” It was 2011 when “an unmanned combat drone killed his father and teenage brother as they were out herding the family’s camels.” In the strike two weeks ago, Mohammed was killed along with his brother-in-law and a third man.’

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Obama: Transparency Helps Terrorists

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

gitmo prisonersThe Obama administration, self-described Most Transparent Administration in History™, is currently engaged in a multi-pronged legal battle to prevent an iota more transparency related to illegal torture. If there was any lingering hopes that the President might use the last two years of his final term in office to bring some accountability to the despicable actions of the CIA or the US military, it appears that he will instead continue to use the power of the office to fight to keep them hidden.

Later today [Feb 4th], the government will showcase its latest suppression effort, as the Justice Department will urge a federal judge in New York to keep secret hundreds of photos of torture from Abu Ghraib prison from almost a decade ago. President Obama once promised to release the photos, only to reverse himself months after coming into office – and he’s since been fighting for years to keep them secret.’

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Freed CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou Says “I Would Do It All Again” to Expose Torture

Editor’s Note: Below are excerpts from John Kiriakou’s interview with Democracy Now! You can listen to the full 45 minute interview here.

Exiles from Chagos Islands given hope of returning soon to their lost paradise

Jamie Doward reports for The Guardian:

‘It is a scandal stretching across six decades: the forced removal of hundreds of native people from a British overseas territory to make way for a US military base. That Diego Garcia, the main island in the Chagos archipelago – seven atolls in the Indian Ocean – has played a part in the CIA’s torture programme has only added to Britain’s sense of shame.

However, after myriad legal battles – and now that more than half of the 1,800 Chagossian people who were removed from their homeland between 1967 and 1973 have died – there is a real possibility that the survivors and their children will finally be allowed to go home.’

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War Is the New Normal: Seven Deadly Reasons Why America’s Wars Persist

William J. Astore writes for Tom Dispatch:

It was launched immediately after the 9/11 attacks, when I was still in the military, and almost immediately became known as the Global War on Terror, or GWOT.  Pentagon insiders called it “the long war,” an open-ended, perhaps unending, conflict against nations and terror networks mainly of a radical Islamist bent.  It saw the revival of counterinsurgency doctrine, buried in the aftermath of defeat in Vietnam, and a reinterpretation of that disaster as well.  Over the years, its chief characteristic became ever clearer: a “Groundhog Day” kind of repetition.  Just when you thought it was over (Iraq, Afghanistan), just after victory (of a sort) was declared, it began again.

Now, as we find ourselves enmeshed in Iraq War 3.0, what better way to memorialize the post-9/11 American way of war than through repetition.  Back in July 2010, I wrote an article for TomDispatch on the seven reasons why America can’t stop making war.  More than four years later, with the war on terror still ongoing, with the mission eternally unaccomplished, here’s a fresh take on the top seven reasons why never-ending war is the new normal in America.  In this sequel, I make only one promise: no declarations of victory (and mark it on your calendars, I’m planning to be back with seven new reasons in 2019).’

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CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou released from prison, torture practitioners yet to enter

John Kiriakou, the CIA whistleblower who exposed the agency’s use of torture and the only person to have gone to prison for the scandal, was released from a federal corrections facility on Tuesday. Government transparency advocates have long blasted the former spy’s sentence as the persecution of a hero who exposed massive agency wrongdoing, while also pointing out the hypocrisy of those who actually undertook the torture remaining free. Jesselyn Radack, author of “Traitor,” discusses with RT’s Ben Swann.’ (RT America)

Almost 2,500 now killed by covert US drone strikes since Obama’s inauguration six years ago

Jack Serle reports for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

A ground creman walks in front of a US Air Force Reaper as it sits on the tarmac in the desert lanscape of an air base in AfghanistanAt least 2,464 people have now been killed by US drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones (Afghanistan and Iraq) since President Barack Obama’s inauguration six years ago, the Bureau’s latest monthly report reveals.

Of the total killed since Obama took his oath of office on January 20 2009, at least 314 have been civilians, while the number of confirmed strikes under his administration now stands at 456.

Research by the Bureau also shows there have now been nearly nine times more strikes under Obama in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia than there were under his predecessor, George W Bush.

And the covert Obama strikes, the first of which hit Pakistan just three days after his inauguration, have killed almost six times more people and twice as many civilians than those ordered in the Bush years, the data shows.’

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This is how a police state protects “secrets”

Marcy Wheeler writes for Salon:

This is how a police state protects "secrets": Jeffrey Sterling, the CIA and up to 80 years on circumstantial evidenceThe participants in the economy of shared tips and intelligence in Washington D.C., breathed a collective sigh of relief when, on January 12, the government announced it would not force James Risen to testify in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling. “Press freedom was safe! Our trade in leaks is safe!” observers seemed to conclude, and they returned to their squalid celebration of an oppressive Saudi monarch.

That celebration about information sharing is likely premature. Because, along the way to the conviction of Sterling this week on all nine counts – including seven counts under the Espionage Act — something far more banal yet every bit as dear to D.C.’s economy of secrets may have been criminalized: unclassified tips.’

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Jury Convicts Former CIA Officer Jeffrey Sterling of Leaking to Journalist & Violating Espionage Act

Kevin Gosztola writes for The Dissenter:

Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling has been convicted by a jury in Alexandria, Virginia, of charges brought against him because the government argued he leaked classified information about a top secret CIA operation in Iran to New York Times reporter James Risen.

Sterling’s case was the first case involving an alleged leak to the press to proceed to a full trial in thirty years. The last case involved Samuel L. Morison, a Navy civilian analyst who was charged under President Ronald Reagan for leaking photographs of Soviet ships to alert America to what he perceived as a new threat.’

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Ex-spies infiltrate Hollywood as espionage TV shows and movies multiply

Ian Shapira reports for The Washington Post:

‘[…] The career afterlife of a CIA official has typically followed well-known paths: Work for a private military contractor. Launch an “intelligence-driven” LLC. Join a law firm. Consult for the CIA. Write a memoir. But the hunger for espionage on TV and movies in recent years is cracking open new career opportunities for ex-CIA personnel with a flair for drama, the kind that’s less clandestine.

“Hollywood tends to be a destination spot for a lot of Washingtonians,” said David Nevins, the president of Showtime, which produces the spy juggernaut “Homeland.”

“There was the ‘West Wing’ crowd of former politicos. I’ve met with more than one former Navy SEAL. And now, certainly the intelligence community has been the most recent in a long line of Washingtonians trying to come out and tell their stories.”’

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The “Humanitarian” Weapon: Drones and the New Ethics of War

Never Gordon writes for CounterPunch:

theoryofdroneThis Christmas small drones were among the most popular gift under the tree in the U.S. with manufacturers stating that they sold 200,000 new unmanned aerial vehicles during the holiday season. While the rapid infiltration of drones into the gaming domain clearly reflects that drones are becoming a common weapon among armed forces, their appearance in Walmart, Toys “R” Us and Amazon serves, in turn, to normalize their deployment in the military.

Drones, as Grégoire Chamayou argues in his new book, A Theory of the Drone, have a uniquely seductive power, one that attracts militaries, politicians and citizens alike. A research scholar in philosophy at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, Chamayou is one of the most profound contemporary thinkers working on the deployment of violence and its ethical ramifications. And while his new book offers a concise history of drones, it focuses on how drones are changing warfare and their potential to alter the political arena of the countries that utilize them.’

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Yemen Chaos Throws a Wrench in US Drone War

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘The Obama Administration had pretty much unconditional support from the Saleh government in Yemen throughout its early years, going to the trouble of covering up botched airstrikes for them.

When long-time dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh faced growing unrest, the US orchestrated the “election” of another military strongman, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in a single-candidate election in 2012. Since then, Hadi’s been the go-to guy for rubber stamping US airstrikes.

The US backed dictators of a country constantly being pounded by US drones aren’t near as stable as officials had hoped, however, and amid growing chaos, Hadi resigned on Thursday, throwing the drone campaign into uncertainty.’

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How the CIA made Google

Nafeez Ahmed writes for INSURE INTELLIGENCE/Medium:

‘[…] As our governments push to increase their powers, INSURGE INTELLIGENCE can now reveal the vast extent to which the US intelligence community is implicated in nurturing the web platforms we know today, for the precise purpose of utilizing the technology as a mechanism to fight global ‘information war’ — a war to legitimize the power of the few over the rest of us. The lynchpin of this story is the corporation that in many ways defines the 21st century with its unobtrusive omnipresence: Google.

Google styles itself as a friendly, funky, user-friendly tech firm that rose to prominence through a combination of skill, luck, and genuine innovation. This is true. But it is a mere fragment of the story. In reality, Google is a smokescreen behind which lurks the US military-industrial complex.

The inside story of Google’s rise, revealed here for the first time, opens a can of worms that goes far beyond Google, unexpectedly shining a light on the existence of a parasitical network driving the evolution of the US national security apparatus, and profiting obscenely from its operation.’

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Did CIA Murder Screenwriter Over Panama Revelations?

Mia De Graaf and Sean O’Hare report for The Daily Mail:

Accident? Devore, a former truck driver, was found dead in the California Aqueduct a year later but his Toshiba laptop contained the finished script was missing from his Ford Explorer, as were his hands‘When the skeletal remains of Hollywood screenwriter Gary Devore were found strapped into his Ford Explorer submerged beneath the California Aqueduct in 1998 it brought an end to one of America’s most high profile missing person cases.

The fact that Devore was on his way to deliver a film script that promised to explain the ‘real reason’ why the US invaded Panama, has long given rise to a slew of conspiracies surrounding the nature of his ‘accidental’ death.

It didn’t help that Devore’s hands were missing from the crash scene, along with the script, and that investigators could offer no plausible explanation as to how a car could leave the highway and end up in the position it was found a year after he disappeared.

Now the Daily Mail can exclusively reveal that Devore was working with the CIA in Panama and even a White House source concedes his mysterious death bears all the hallmarks of a cover-up.

The findings, published in a new documentary The Writer With No Hands, are the first testimonies ever aired that give credence to the theories that surrounded the case in the late 90s.’

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U.S. federal prosecutors recommend charges against ex-CIA chief David Petraeus

Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt report for The New York Times:

The FBI and Justice Department prosecutors have recommended bringing felony charges against retired Gen. David Petraeus for providing classified information to his former mistress while he was director of the CIA, officials said, leaving Attorney General Eric Holder to decide whether to seek an indictment that could send the pre-eminent military officer of his generation to prison.

The Justice Department investigation stems from an affair Petraeus had with Paula Broadwell, an Army Reserve officer who was writing his biography, and focuses on whether he gave her access to his CIA email account and other highly classified information. FBI agents discovered classified documents on her computer after Petraeus resigned from the CIA in 2012 when the affair became public.”

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Obama Has Killed More People With Drones Than Died On 9/11

Washington’s Blog writes:

‘Law school teacher Marjorie Cohn – president of the National Lawyers Guild – writes:

Obama has killed more people with drones than died on 9/11. Many of those killed were civilians, and only a tiny percentage of the dead were al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders.

She may be right …

The Council on Foreign Relations estimates that U.S. drone strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan have killed 3,674 people.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that up to 4,404 people have been killed – just in Pakistan and Yemen alone – between 2004 and 2014.

While it’s hard to estimate how many additional people have been killed by drone in Iraq and Afghanistan, a December 2012 report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that US and UK forces had carried out over 1,000 drone strikes in Afghanistan over the previous five years.  Given thatnumerous people are often killed by  each drone strike, it is reasonable to assume that several thousand people have been killed by drone in that country.

And many Iraqis have also been killed by drones … long before ISIS even appeared on the scene.    So – altogether – the number of people killed by drone is probably well above five thousand.

In contrast,  under 3,000 people were killed on 9/11.’

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NY Times reporter James Risen refuses to reveal sources on failed CIA effort against Iran

Aruna Viswanatha reports for Haaretz/Reuters:

‘New York Times reporter James Risen refused on Monday to answer all but a few basic questions in court about his book detailing a failed CIA effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear weapons program, in a case that has become a flashpoint for press freedom.

Risen testified in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, as part of the U.S. government’s case against former Central Intelligence Agency officer Jeffrey Sterling, who is charged with leaking classified information to Risen.

Risen, appearing under oath on the witness stand for the first time, declined to identify what information confidential sources provided for his book, where or when he met with unnamed sources, or who had not served as a source.

The terse, and at times combative, testimony prompted a lawyer for Sterling to question whether prosecutors could even proceed with their case.’

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The CIA has to approve every script for spy drama ‘The Americans’

Matt Novak reports for Gizmodo:

‘The Cold War TV spy drama The Americans is a fictional account of two Soviet spies living in the United States. It may be fiction, but that doesn’t stop American intelligence agencies from being concerned about the show’s content. In fact, the CIA has to approve every script before it’s even shot.

The Americans was created by Joe Weisberg, a former CIA agent. And since he knows all kinds of stuff that the CIA would like to keep secret, they’ve reserved the right to censor anything they don’t like on the show.’

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A Brief History of the CIA’s Unpunished Spying on the Senate

Conor Friedersdorf writes for The Atlantic:

This is the story of John Brennan’s CIA spying on Congress and getting away with it.

Last March, Senator Dianne Feinstein accused the CIA of spying on the Senate intelligence committee as it labored to finalize its report on the torture of prisoners. “I have grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution,” she said. “I have asked for an apology and a recognition that this CIA search of computers used by its oversight committee was inappropriate. I have received neither.”

CIA Director John Brennan denied the charge. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “We wouldn’t do that. That’s just beyond the scope of reason in terms of what we’d do.” It would be months before his denial was publicly proved false. “An internal investigation by the C.I.A. has found that its officers penetrated a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee in preparing its damning report on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program,” The New York Times reported. “The report by the agency’s inspector general also found that C.I.A. officers read the emails of the Senate investigators and sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department based on false information.”‘

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CIA Admits: Most UFO Sightings in 50’s, 60’s Were Our Planes

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘The nuclear age gave way to a fascination in the 1950’s with space aliens, leading to the creation of Project BLUE BOOK by the Air Force to track the soaring number of UFO sightings being reported nationwide.

The CIA is now admitting that they were actually to blame for the vast majority of such sightings, confirming in a report on the U-2 spy planes that test flights over the US coincided with the mania.’

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Irony 101: Study Ethics with Legal Ace Who Sanctioned NSA Wiretapping, CIA Torture

Ken Silverstein writes for The Intercept:

Waterboarding: Yes or no? It’s OK to selectively violate the Geneva Convention, right? Spying on Americans is illegal, but aren’t rules made to be broken?

The world is a confusing place and it’s hard for young people to answer complicated questions like these on their own. Fortunately, students at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, have Professor Robert Deitz to help them navigate the contemporary moral morass. “All of us are familiar with basic ethical notions,” he writes in the syllabus for his Spring 2015 course, Ethical Challenges in Public Policy. “We learn from childhood the idea that some conduct is right and other conduct is not right.”

How’d Deitz get so smart about ethics? He’s magna cum laude from Harvard (like President Obama) and then spent eights years as General Counsel at the National Security Agency, serving as the official Yes Man for General Michael Hayden, and after that three years as his Senior Councillor at the Central Intelligence Agency until 2009. At the former post Deitz rubber-stamped NSA surveillance. At the latter, he sought to derail an independent investigation by then-CIA Inspector General John Helgerson into the agency’s torture and rendition of terrorism suspects.’

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John Perkins on Embracing Cuba, TPP Kiss of Death & Restoring the Life Economy

Abby Martin interviews Author and Activist, John Perkins, discussing the economic impact of the US’ new policy towards Cuba as well as the damage that international free trade agreements do to third world economies.’ (Breaking the Set)

U.S. State Deptartment Delays Release of Study on 1953 Iran Coup

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

In 1953, the CIA orchestrated a coup d’etat against the democratically elected government of Iranian Premier Mohammad Mossadegh, installing Shah Reza Pahlavi.

It’s no secret that the CIA did it, and the US has admitted it time and again, but the State Department has announced it is once again delaying the release of its study on the coup, claiming the admission would undermine “ongoing negotiations with Iran.”’

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The CIA Didn’t Just Torture, It Experimented on Human Beings

Lisa Hajjar reports for The Nation:

‘[…] The “war on terror” is not the CIA’s first venture into human experimentation. At the dawn of the Cold War, German scientists and doctors with Nazi records of human experimentation were given new identities and brought to the United States under Operation Paperclip. During the Korean War, alarmed by the shocking rapidity of American POWs’ breakdowns and indoctrination by their communist captors, the CIA began investing in mind-control research. In 1953, the CIA established the MK-ULTRA program, whose earliest phase involved hypnosis, electroshock and hallucinogenic drugs. The program evolved into experiments in psychological torture that adapted elements of Soviet and Chinese models, including longtime standing, protracted isolation, sleep deprivation and humiliation. Those lessons soon became an applied “science” in the Cold War.

During the Vietnam War, the CIA developed the Phoenix program, which combined psychological torture with brutal interrogations, human experimentation and extrajudicial executions. In 1963, the CIA produced a manual titled “Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation” to guide agents in the art of extracting information from “resistant” sources by combining techniques to produce “debility, disorientation and dread.” Like the communists, the CIA largely eschewed tactics that violently target the body in favor of those that target the mind by systematically attacking all human senses in order to produce the desired state of compliance. The Phoenix program model was incorporated into the curriculum of the School of the Americas, and an updated version of the Kubark guide, produced in 1983 and titled “Human Resource Exploitation Manual,” was disseminated to the intelligence services of right-wing regimes in Latin America and Southeast Asia during the global “war on communism.”

In the mid-1980s, CIA practices became the subject of congressional investigations into US-supported atrocities in Central America. Both manuals became public in 1997 as a result of Freedom of Information Act litigation by The Baltimore Sun. That would have seemed like a “never again” moment.

But here we are again.’

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Leaked Internal CIA Document Admits US Drone Program “Counterproductive”

Jon Queally reports for Common Dreams:

‘Wikileaks on Thursday has made public a never-before-seen internal review conducted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency that looked at the agency’s drone and targeted assassination programs in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere.

The agency’s own analysis, conducted in 2009, found that its clandestine drone and assassination program was likely to produce counterproductive outcomes, including strengthening the very “extremist groups” it was allegedly designed to destroy.’

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Why The Guardian Censored One of Its Top Journalists: Interview with Nafeez Ahmed

Editor’s Note: Nafeez Ahmed recently launched a crowdfunding drive in order to support his great journalism and with the hopeful aim of creating his own investigative journalism collective. Please support him in any way you can. You can find links to more of his work here.

Abby Martin interviews investigative journalist, Nafeez Ahmed, about what was not discussed in the torture report and his claims of censorship at the Guardian newspaper, where he used to work.’ (Breaking the Set)

9/11 Commission Based on Torture

Editor’s Note: The below interview was conducted by Democracy Now in February 2008. Philip Zelikow served as executive director of the 9/11 Commission, Robert Windrem is an investigative journalism who co-authored an analysis on the 9/11 Commission Report, and Michael Ratner is the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. You can view the full uninterrupted interview here.