Thousands of Spooky Americans Doing Who-Knows-What in Pakistan?

As I have followed the Raymond Davis saga, this passage from an early Jeremy Scahill story on the CIA/JSOC/Blackwater programs operating in Pakistan, has haunted me.

The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help direct a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.


The source said that the program is so “compartmentalized” that senior figures within the Obama administration and the US military chain of command may not be aware of its existence.

That is, back in November 2009, even the Americans claimed not to be sure what people like Davis were doing.

There are a number of versions of stories talking about both the Pakistanis and Americans being clueless about what Raymond Davis was doing, as in this Daily Beast story suggesting the drone strikes halted to give the Americans time to figure out what we were doing in Pakistan.

The U.S. government also has its own questions about what Davis and other shadowy Americans are up to in Pakistan. According to the senior Pakistani official, the U.S. government has only a sketchy notion of what Davis and other security contractors and intelligence agents are actually doing on the ground. As a result, the CIA’s activities in Pakistan have more or less been temporarily shut down, according to the official, while a review of the agency’s activities is carried out. Hence the temporary drone freeze, since the drone program is under the direction of the CIA.

And admittedly, both parties have an incentive to plead ignorance. Plausible deniability, after all.

But what’s striking about this AP version pleading ignorance is the sheer numbers involved.

The ISI fears there are hundreds of CIA contracted spies operating in Pakistan without the knowledge of either the Pakistan government or the intelligence agency, a senior Pakistani intelligence official told the AP in an interview. He spoke only on condition he not be identified on grounds that exposure would compromise his security.

Pakistan intelligence had no idea who Davis was or what he was doing when he was arrested, the official said, adding that there are concerns about “how many more Raymond Davises are out there.”


The ISI is now scouring thousands of visas issued to U.S. employees in Pakistan. The ISI official said Davis’ visa application contains bogus references and phone numbers. He said thousands of visas were issued to U.S. Embassy employees over the past five months following a government directive to the Pakistan Embassy in Washington to issue visas without the usual vetting by the interior ministry and the ISI. The same directive was issued to the Pakistan embassies in Britain and the United Arab Emirates, he said.

Within two days of receiving that directive, the Pakistani Embassy issued 400 visas and since then thousands more have been issued, said the ISI official. A Western diplomat in Pakistan agreed that a “floodgate” opened for U.S. Embassy employees requesting Pakistani visas. [my emphasis]

In other words, some time back in September or thereabouts, the Pakistani government opened the floodgates for a bunch–hundreds or thousands–of spooky types who would not be vetted.

Back in the 60s in Vietnam, they called those hundreds and thousands “advisors,” I think.

In any case, at this point, the Pakistanis are making a concerted effort to make it clear (or claim) that they let these thousands into the country with no vetting without first ascertaining what they would be doing. Mind you, they probably did know, at least vaguely. But if these numbers are true, the sheer scope of this program may be one of the big sources of the embarrassment here.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. donbacon says:

    I’ll repeat a guess I made on Jim’s thread, and it’s only a guess, that Pakistan’s arch-enemy India is involved in this. The evidence is circumstantial: Davis’s contact with Pakistan Taliban TTP (against US policy). Senator Kerry apparently influencing Pakistan to keep Davis (against US policy), all this a result of the recent US tilting toward India (nuclear assistance, presidential visit, contracts etc.)

    I recently visited India and the visa vetting was tough and thorough, making sure I wasn’t a Pakistani. I asked one of my Indian hosts if Pakistanis ever visited his place, and he said he thought the wife of a recent visitor had a Pakistani name, but no, there would be no Pakistani visitors to his place. I haven’t visited Pakistan but I assume that the normal visa restrictions are at least as stringent if not more so. India is seven times the size and strength of Pakistan.

    The traditional stand-off between India and Pakistan, Kashmir, has now been exacerbated by India’s involvement, with strong US support, in Afghanistan, thus threatening Pakistan with encirclement. General McChrystal referred to it in his August 2009 assessment.

    Removal of vetting requirements, resulting in thousands of Pakistani visas w/o vetting, issued to people like Davis? That would be a green light to India to finance “security” operatives like Davis. Again, just a guess.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The US has interests independent of India’s and which certainly outweigh them, although some of them may overlap.

      This seems more likely to be a case of direct USG intervention on quite a large scale, with some, albeit inconsistent agreement and support within Pakistan. I think EW’s comparison to the early stages of our involvement in Vietnam is a credible analogy. The length and expensive of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan certainly are similar.

      • thatvisionthing says:

        Does USG include Congress? I’m remembering this…

        The Compromise Intelligence Authorization
        By: emptywheel Wednesday September 29, 2010 10:04 am

        As DDay noted, it looks like we’ll finally have an intelligence authorization bill. The bill is a partial win for Speaker Pelosi, as it makes full briefing to the Intelligence Committees within six months of the start of a program the default (though the Administration can still avoid doing so if it provides written rationale).

        … because my eyes still hurt

      • donbacon says:

        I’m not suggesting a US/India involvement necessarily, it could be rogue agents, even double agents. How difficult can it be to purchase the services of these kinds of people? Once the floodgates (to Pakistan) had been opened there would be all sorts of chatter on their spook commo networks, including offers from third parties to do special operations. These people crave adventure, especially when the pay is good.

        EW: Thousands of Spooky Americans Doing Who-Knows-What in Pakistan?

      • Larue says:

        Those advisors thru USAID and USOM began to flow to Vietnam in the mid 50’s. I’m the son of one of them . . . . there were also lots of silvered aviator sun glasses on lots of local flights carrying civvie program workers like my pop . . . who were also ‘advisors’ of unknown origins.

    • Larue says:

      Nice train of thought Don . . . I got a few q’s:

      1) Why would Pakistan play along with this mass lax vetting, be it US or India origin? (hard to believe bribe money enabled this as it’s not good for Pakistan’s poor OR rich, so that’s to be explained, still, given India theory).

      2) Why would US WANT thousands of cloaked and daggered run arounds in Pakistan to begin with? (is this a step in pushing out Asif Ali Zardari and if so, why?).

      3) Just how much hidden money/value does CIA/USA/XE et al have from their cuts in the drug trades and routes in Af/Pak?

      N is THAT money being used to bribe Pakistani’s to casually vet thousands of spooks? N again, why WOULD Pakistani’s, bribes included, WANT this vetting to occur? What could POSSIBLY be Pakistan’s motive for enabling the vetting?

      Given all the above, Mz. WHeeler’s info, and your posit . . . is Pakistan fractured/fracturing politically along US support and India hater lines?

      Gotta be brutal for Pakistani’s who want US money and support, who also hate India, and now might be seeing US/India cozy that disturbs them greatly.

      Time will tell, but we got ourselves a dandy of a clusterphuck being outed in all of this.

      Yet another US/CIA Foreign Policy clusterphuck . . . sigh they never learn.

  2. orionATL says:

    it’s bedtime but –

    thank god some american official(s) is reviewing what has been going on with americans with “unusual freedom to operate” in a foreign country, even that of an ally.

    normally, an american representing the american govt in a foreign country is unusually (for americans) respectful of customs and laws, adopts a pleasant, head-down demeanor, and willingly listens a lot.

    motoring around with weapons, offing host country nationals is a NO-NO—NO!

    i am not convinced davis was a spy, though he could easily have been one.

    but his repeated assignment where he was known but not at all welcome

    raises serious questions in my mind about the competence of his supervisors,

    or whether in fact he and his program were being supervised at all.

    it is not inconceivable that davis is in a dod program that is not well-controlled by dod, cia, or state.

    likewise, in a poorly supervised cia program.

    bottom line, though, is that the us govt has created a mess for itself in pakistan.

    the hint above that i detect is that this may be another cia f-up.

    • Larue says:

      Rogue XE operations vaguely acknowledged by CIA/US, with funding hidden from drug trade monies. Now totally out of control, it would seem.

  3. marksb says:

    This whole thing just stinks to high heavens, gives a whole new meaning to a word that starts with ‘cluster’.
    If this is the ship of state, who the hell’s got the tiller?

    • MarkH says:

      who the hell’s got the tiller?

      From out POV that *is* the key question.
      From the Pakistani POV they just want the guy to pay. Hard to blame ’em.

  4. bmull says:

    The simplest reason the drone attacks stopped is that the Pakistanis were pissed off and told the U.S. to stop.

    • MarkH says:

      the drone attacks stopped

      Interesting we haven’t seen any stories in the MSM to that effect. How long before Davis went into Pakistan did that happen?

  5. Gitcheegumee says:


    Judge: Eric Holder Violated DOJ Policy With Statements On FBI’s Portland Sting Case

    Source: Talking Points Memo

    Judge: Eric Holder Violated DOJ Policy With Statements On FBI’s Portland Sting Case

    A federal judge said Wednesday that Attorney General Eric Holder violated Justice Department policy by making statements defending the FBI’s actions in the sting case against the so-called Christmas Tree bomber.

    U.S. District Judge Garr M. King wrote in a filing late Wednesday that he was concerned about statements Holder made “regarding defendant’s state of mind and specific activities,” which he concluded “constitute a breach” of a Justice Department policy on the release of information relating to criminal and civil proceedings.

    Lawyers for Mohamed Osman Mohamud, the man accused of trying to blow up a car bomb at a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon, had argued that Holder’s statements regarding the FBI sting case were inappropriate.

    Holder dismissed concerns about entrapment in the case in his comments to the media after Mohamud was arrested by FBI agents in late November.

    Read more:

  6. Rayne says:

    Went through my link library to pull these tidbits together:

    Mercenaries? CIA Says Expanded Role for Contractors Legitimate

    The CIA and the military special forces have quietly expanded the role of private contractors, including Blackwater, to include their involvement in raids and secret paramilitary operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, four current and former U.S. military and intelligence officers tell ABC News.

    American law specifically prohibits the use of private soldiers or mercenaries in combat, according to Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University.

    “The United States Congress has never approved the use of private contractors for combat operations,” Turley told ABC News in an interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC World News with Charles Gibson.

    The U.S. Invades and Occupies Pakistan: A Pakistani viewpoint
    by Talha Mujaddidi, Global Research, August 31, 2009

    On 9/21/08 a bomb ripped through the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad killing scores of people and injuring hundreds. Prior to the bombing, U.S. marines off-loaded steel boxes from a truck, by-passed security and took them to the 4th floor of the building. US officials refused to cooperate with the government’s attempts to investigate their activities. One year later, U.S. Marines are leading the occupation of Pakistan.

    Until this landing of U.S. forces, the nation’s spokesman for Foreign Affairs had been denying that 1000 U.S. marines were on their way to Islamabad. The thousand marines are now in the capital city of Islamabad. Some of them may be quietly slipping into Balochistan where the presence of JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) have been reported by foreign journalists. But most are here to defend what will be the largest U.S. embassy/fortress in the world, now under construction and to spearhead the invasion and occupation.

    1,200 US Army men issued visas
    The News International, October 22, 2009

    NEW YORK: Pakistan’s embassy in the United States had issued 26 visas to American diplomats, 1,200 to US Army officials and 2,500 to civilians travelling for Afghanistan during last 15 months, the embassy spokesman told Online.

    The spokesman said that since last June to September this year, 12-13,000 Pakistani-Americans were issued visas.

    I think you have an explanation as to why the papers were hiding Davis’ affiliation, and there’s what now appears to be a permanent deployment of military personnel to Pakistan, numbering in the thousands, in addition to what the papers won’t call mercenaries. The numbers have to be giving Pakistan’s leaders fits, and the floodgates were open much farther back; their people are quite angry whenever one reads or hears their reaction to U.S. intervention inside their country — and yet there’s little outward sign that the U.S. is trying to offer any conciliatory efforts or even manipulating reaction to make this easier to swallow.

    • klynn says:


      Those expansions were sold as “Three Cups Of Tea” diplomacy and development were they not?

      The former Army medic, 51, who will receive Pakistan’s highest civil award next March, has even been tapped by the U.S. military. He has lectured at the Air Force, Naval and West Point academies, and he has shared his philosophy of curtailing Islamic extremism through education with such Pentagon brass as Gen. David Petraeus; Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Adm. EricLarson, SOCOM commander (Special Operations).

    • Larue says:

      Why would Pakistan vet so many visas in such a casual means knowing full well is was not in their best of interests?

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Excellent observation. Something greater than the fate of a single former soldier/cultural affairs officer/spy, accused of unlawfully killing two men had to spur the direct, personal, public involvement of the president of the United States.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    REMINDER: Court decision expected today [Thursday] on Sweden’s request to extradite Julian Assange:

    Julian Assange will today learn if he is to be extradited to Sweden to face rape and sexual assault allegations. The WikiLeaks founder’s legal team has said it is already preparing an appeal in anticipation of the judge’s decision going against him.

    Mr Assange will learn his fate shortly after 10am today at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court when Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle delivers his judgment. Mark Stephens, Mr Assange’s solicitor, said last night that his team was already preparing for the worst. “Both sides, the prosecution and the defence, have told the judge that they are going to appeal if they lose, so we are already working on that principle,” he said.

  9. bmull says:

    What I read was there was a slow-down in Visa processing on the Pakistani side due to complaints that the U.S. was rejecting too many visa requests from Pakistanis.

    Apparently those issues were resolved and that’s why the pace has picked up. The vast majority of the Visas are short term (3 months).

    But I would agree from my own experience living in Pakistan 25 years ago that there are hundreds of covert operatives working there. Everybody knew it. You could walk down the street in Peshawar and see any number of Caucasians decked out in the local garb looking furtive. It was a joke.

  10. maa8722 says:

    Isn’t the issue at least partly, “don’t get caught”?

    I wonder if the guy had a black passport or not? If he did, then the Pakistanis should merely expell him from the country.

    Yet in the real world now if they determine he wasn’t doing diplomatic duties, black passport or not, I’m afraid he’s toast.

    • captjjyossarian says:

      Thanks for the link! I was just listening to Obama’s statement regarding diplomatic immunity for David and it just seemed…. bizzare. I can’t imagine us accepting that Russian, Chinese or Iranian gunmen had diplomatic immunity if they were gunning down our citizens on our own streets.

  11. orionATL says:

    of all the odd things about the davis affair, the oddest is this:

    the u.s. has a crotical ally in pakistan.

    the current (democratically elected) govt has been an american ally at a substantoal cost to itself.

    the immdiate freeing of davis to american custody would likely result in, st least, heavy syreet violence and could cause the fall of the govt


    the usg is pushing for the immediate release of davis.

    how is it that davis’ freedom is more important than the stability of the pak govt ally?

    is all the obama protestation for (us) domestic consumption?

    is davis’ work (ostensively bodyguard to cia agents) that important to hide?

    • Rayne says:

      They’re not an ally. Pakistan is not a single entity, and these entities align with multiple partners at any time. And by partner I mean other entities which have agendas that mesh compatibly if not completely.

      Pakistan as a whole wants partners which will guard against India’s incursions; this means parts of it will align with China, or Russia, or the U.S. as needs dictate. When U.S. interests swamp Pakistani interests, it tightens its relations with China or Russia as the case may be. And the terrorist/political factions within the country constantly game all of the powers that be to gain leverage over their internal opposition.

      It’s a freaking mess — but this is more common that the average American realizes, it’s just that Pakistan is far less stable internally than some of the other countries we “dance” with.

      Take Egypt, for example, which under Mubarak had been making deals regularly with China, Russia and Brazil which dwarfed the size of our aid to them. Who was Egypt really “dancing” with? Who is Egypt partnered with now, and why? Most Americans don’t even think about this because they perceive Egypt as being more stable even mere days after the resignation of Mubarak as compared to Pakistan.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Why would it required of any state to dance only with the US, a partner notorious for its inability to be monogamous or loyal? Every country has an interest in developing multiple relationships, to maximize the value of its resources, as counterweights to overweening demands of others, to spread risk. Only a fool or someone with no other choice would rely solely on the beneficence of a single foreign great power.

        • Rayne says:

          Can you point to where I said or advocated that any country including Pakistan should limit its “dancing partners” to the U.S.?

          Personally I don’t think any of the U.S., India, China, Russia, U.K. are particularly savory partners, and at this rate, what’s left of Pakistan is going to be ripped to shreds between them.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            You said this, which seems critical of having diverse interests rather than encouraging them:

            Take Egypt, for example, which under Mubarak had been making deals regularly with China, Russia and Brazil which dwarfed the size of our aid to them. Who was Egypt really “dancing” with? Who is Egypt partnered with now, and why?

            That any one partner is a shit, but a necessary one is one reason to partner with several (when better partners are unavailable), in hopes that the distaff side of any bargain might be outweighed by the benefits of others. We probably agree on that.

            • Rayne says:

              In re: Egypt — the scuttle I’ve read is that certain elements — possibly the U.S. — had problems with deals Egypt made with China. Why is this important? Because this may have been enough to give what was ten years of protests in country a push over the tipping point.

              I’ll point out that China is evacuating personnel from Libya now; did somebody get uncomfortable with Libya’s deals with China, too?

              I’m neutral about the deals because my household has relied on Chinese business to get through the last couple of years; doing business with them hasn’t been all bad, and maybe over the long run it might be okay for some of these mid-east countries. But it’s naive not to realize the Chinese or deals with any one of the other big partners isn’t enough to set off an uprising or a revolution to set democratic reforms in motion, or that during ensuing instability the partners will change and make things even worse.

      • Larue says:

        Rayne, thats one of the most succinct and accurate descriptions of Af/Pak (Pak) that I’ve read, anywhere . . . sheer genius . . . wow.

        Bookmarked in my Af/Pak folder . . . sez it all about Pakistan.

        Add in oil/gas/drug routes and you got US involvement down to a T . . . and US headaches, competitors, complications.

        N toss in rogue and crazed mercenary ops sanctioned by US/DOD/CIA (not officially sanctioned of course) and Sec State Clinton . . . . well, shit happens and NO ONE can control shit when it happens under them circumstances . . .

        Nicely done, Rayne, thanks for that clarity.

        It’s just like every other clusterphuck US/CIA foreign policy effort for 60+ years or more.

  12. PeasantParty says:

    Our Secretary of State should know the answers to all your questions. In fact, she is the one that helps approve the contracter hires. Then there are some of her past statements and letters asking not to use Blackwater, etc.

    “For those who don’t remember, the old Clinton vowed to ban the use of private security contractors. As perennial PMC critic Jeremy Scahill of The Nation reported back in July, “”These private security contractors have been reckless and have compromised our mission in Iraq,” Clinton said in February 2008. “The time to show these contractors the door is long past due.” Clinton was one of only two senators to sponsor legislation to ban these companies.”

    “MICHELE KELEMEN: Secretary Clinton says she’s trying to change the way the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development do business. She wants to evaluate programs on their results rather than dollars spent. And she’s reorganizing the agencies to better meet today’s threats – creating a new coordinator for cyber issues, for instance. Out at the embassy she’s hoping ambassadors will act more like CEOs, making sure all U.S. representatives in the field are working together.

    Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (Department of State): You know, if you’re a regional commander in the United States military and you are going to be operating in a country in your region, the ambassador in that country needs to know and needs to approve. And we feel that that has to be the way we proceed, and I’m looking forward to the many challenges of implementation that that presents.”

    (Soundbite of laughter)

    “Despite these and other past problems, senior representatives from the State Department and Wackenhut Services, Inc. offered sworn testimony at a June 2009 Senate hearing that security at the Embassy is effective, and that previously identified problems had been fully remedied.17 The State Department renewed the contract again through July 2010, with the option to extend it until 2012.18 Yet the extensive evidence provided to POGO of continued security problems at the U.S. Embassy Kabul counters those sworn statements; calls into question AGNA and Wackenhut’s ability to provide effective security of the Embassy; and makes a clear case that the State Department has failed in its oversight of its security contractor.”

  13. harpie says:

    I know I’ve quoted this here before, but I thought the interaction between DoD and State quite interesting, so, fwiw…

    U.S. Military Aid to Central Asia, 1999–2009: Security Priorities Trump Human Rights and Diplomacy; Lora Lumpe; Central Eurasia Project of Open Society Foundations; 10/10 [link to the paper can be found here:]

    [p11] […] U.S. ambassadors, as the highest ranking emissary of the U.S. government to each Central Asian country, should have a full picture of all U.S. military activities taking place in and planned for that country. However, that is not necessarily the case. The geographic combatant commands (like CENTCOM) now have staff in some embassies who report not to the ambassador or chief of mission, but rather solely to the military command.12

    Beginning in the early 2000s, the power of the combatant commanders in their respective areas of responsibility came to rival and, in many instances, surpass the influence of U.S. ambassadors in countries in their region.13 This trend paralleled their increased ability to dispense military aid directly via new programs and authorities granted by Congress.

    Inside of each U.S. embassy is a Security Cooperation Office (SCO), staffed by military officers chosen by the DOD in concurrence with the State Department and the chief of mission.14 The SCO determines the DOD’s priority military aid wish list for the recipient country. These classified “Country Plans” are forwarded on to the State and Defense Departments, as well as to CENTCOM. The SCO is also responsible for managing all U.S. military aid and security cooperation functions in collaboration and concert with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency at the Pentagon.15


    12. DOD Directive 5105.75, “Department of Defense Operations at U.S. Embassies,” December 21, 2007.

    13. According to a journalistic account in 2003, “The huge imbalance between the diplomatic civilian resources being offered by the United States and the largesse of the U.S. military and CIA worried every U.S. ambassador in the [Central Asian] region.” Dana Priest, The Mission, pp. 16 and 103.

    14. SCOs go by different names in different embassies. The embassy and host nation agree on one that will arouse the least political sensitivity. For whatever reason, the SCOs in U.S. embassies in all five Central Asian countries are called the OMC—Office of Military Cooperation.

    15. DOD Directive 2055.3, “Manning of Security Assistance Organizations and the Selection of USDP Training of Security Assistance Personnel,” March 11, 1985.

    The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs is a powerful voice within the State Department:

    (PM), headed by Assistant Secretary Andrew J. Shapiro, is the Department of State’s principal link to the Department of Defense. The PM Bureau provides policy direction in the areas of international security, security assistance, military operations, defense strategy and plans, and defense trade.

    • Knut says:

      The geographic combatant commands (like CENTCOM) now have staff in some embassies who report not to the ambassador or chief of mission, but rather solely to the military command.12

      Very scary. Like the Praetorian Guard. Coming to your neighborhood cinema soon.

  14. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    a mess indeed!

    and into this unstable nation the usg injects hundreds or thousands of military/intelligence operatives on long, long leashes?

    not a wise policy it would seem to me.

    one bright light would be if the davis affair was a trigger for the american dod-cia gwot beginnig to fall of its own weight.

    one can hope.

    • Rayne says:

      The mess is why there’s been such a big insertion of people — or at least one of the reasons why so many American resources have been inserted is related to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and proliferation. Whether we’re actually doing anything constructive to reduce the arsenal or proliferation is a different question.

      • Knut says:

        Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is a problem for Israel. The Indian situation is with like between the USA and the Soviet union. I still don’t understand why we are doing Israel’s heavy lifting.

          • Knut says:

            Pakistan is the only Islamic state that has the bomb. They have Taliban. The aren’t arabs (nor are the Persians of whom we are all so concerned), but the news goes there as it does everywhere else. Who else do they threaten that the US government could conceivably care about?

            • eCAHNomics says:

              So you really think that Pak would use its nukes to attack Israel?

              My opinion is that the only reason every country in the world should have nukes is to prevent the U.S. or Israel from attacking it. Works like a charm for DPRK.

              WRT Pak, the only other reason any country would have nukes, is bc of India.

              So what possible reason would Pak have to nuke Israel?

                • eCAHNomics says:

                  You seem to miss my point, which is that possessing nukes is the ultimate defensive weapon.

                  The only country ever to use nukes offensively is the U.S.A.

                    • eCAHNomics says:


                      It’s an easy point to miss if you haven’t thought about it as long as some. But it’s also one of those faves of mine, that once it’s pointed out to you, you never forget it bc it’s so obvious.

                  • TarheelDem says:

                    Nuclear weapons have a deterrence paradox that makes the credibility of the threat to use them the biggest part of the weapon. And fundamentally, the threat to use nuclear weapons is not credible unless you convince people that either you are crazy or would have a spasmodic response.

                    Which is to say, nuclear weapons are fundamentally useless as an instrument of policy. And that makes their continued existence dangerous.

                    • eCAHNomics says:

                      And that makes their continued existence dangerous.

                      Not as long as the U.S.A. exists. The U.S. has proven it did not only use nukes in the past, but its rhetoric and it’s actions strongly support the notion that it will do so again. So any other nation can protect itself against the U.S. and Israel only by having nukes.

                    • Larue says:

                      Which is to say, nuclear weapons are fundamentally useless as an instrument of policy. And that makes their continued existence dangerous.

                      Well, ya had me till that quote.

                      I’d posit and counter with, they’re useful and ARE an instrument of policy and the rest of the world is greatly concerned with the lunacy and idiocy and ability of USA or Israel to use them.

                      I’d not ignore yer last sentence, as that IS what makes them still incredibly dangerous . . . n the US and Isreal work that till the cows come home.

                      N I’ll close with a thought that even with the nuke capability of US/Israel, the rest of the world can still rise up and confront them both.

                      N I think, that’s pretty evident, given recent world events and affairs.

                      Our empire, despite the nuke fears, is fading . . . fast.

                      Only the American People are still afraid of our nation.

                      The rest of the planet has met us, and taken stands.

                      And in the end, empire is unsustainable, anyways, as it eliminates the caring and concern and development of the masses, who always turn on it.

                      N in these times and climes, mama nature and science are hitting back on it all . . . ya just can’t fuck up a planet and not expect species impacting bad things to happen at this point.

                      Always enjoy your comments THD . . . thanks for it all.

                • Larue says:

                  I don’t recall a sitch where leaders ever worried about the pollution their actions caused?

                  Not sure where yer comin from . . .

                  Aside from that are you guys still moving out of the area?

                  I’ll miss that, just knowing yer down the road . . .

                  Can Ron pick and sang? I need a lil pickin time with him . . . ;-)

              • Larue says:

                Damn I wisht I had come into this earlier . . . hope you see this.


                You make the solid points and ask the solid questions.

                All I got is . . . well, so far USA and Israel frowns on ANY one having what they have.

                Ergo, Pakistan having nukes is FRAMED (the only nation in the region with nukes till ya get to India) as being a threat to Israel and all that’s holy . . .

                Never mind the Pak/India issues which trump EVERYthing . . . in Paki eyes.

                N well, what we DO HAVE proof of is that Pakistan let untold US visas go thru with great laxity, Pakistan has nukes, Pakistan and India are enemies, Pakistan is part of a lot of things as Rayne points out, and we also got a wealth of US Foreign Affairs Policy and History to view WRT our present sitch there.

                I’d say, you’ve got a good grip on it all . . .


            • MarkH says:

              Pakistan is the only Islamic state that has the bomb. They have Taliban. The aren’t arabs (nor are the Persians of whom we are all so concerned), but the news goes there as it does everywhere else. Who else do they threaten that the US government could conceivably care about?

              The current Pakistani political elite aren’t the problem, but if militant jihadists got the bomb there could be problems for India other non-muslims nearby or Israel & America & Europe. It’s better for Pakistan if their current secular government continues. So, we help them. Simple as that.

        • Rayne says:

          Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is a problem for ALL of the globe, not just Israel.

          Consider the amount of terrorist activity which happens within Pakistan itself by looking at this Wikipedia page; imagine any of the groups which caused these attacks getting their hands on nuclear material and using it not on Pakistan, but selling it for cash to fund their next attacks. To whom might they sell it?

          And to whom is Pakistan selling nuclear technology already — and which portions of the many entities within Pakistan are making these sales?

          North Korea didn’t get their nuclear technology by virgin birth, after all.

  15. fatster says:

    O/T He even targeted Franken.

    Another ‘runaway general’[Mullen]? Military reportedly employed ‘psyops’ against US Senators


    • Gitcheegumee says:

      Now that is particularly interesting .

      Just recently,if I am not mistaken, there was a thread here about the Chamber of Commerce and it’s far reaching influence on foreign counries and their policies.

      The Chamber was out in full force against Franken when he was running against Coleman a couple of years ago. (Franken had a strong pro labor bent,and was a vocal supporter of EFCA..The CoC was in overdrive to deafeat him.)

      Well, as recently as last fall, Franken was calling for hearings on CoC funding from foreign nations.

      Here’s a few sites for those who are interested in further perusal:

      U.S. Chamber of Commerce targets Al Franken and his pro-labor …Oct 14, 2008 … Coleman has promised to dial down his attacks against Franken. But that doesn’t apply to outside groups. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has ……/us-chamber-of-c.html – Cached – Similar

      Franken to FEC: Investigate foreign cash charges against Chamber …Franken to FEC: Investigate foreign cash charges against Chamber of Commerce. Posted by Jeremy Herb. Last update: October 5, 2010 – 5:03 PM …

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        Too late to add on edit:

        And just FWIW, In the same time frame Franken was requesting FEC to investigate foreign cash charges, Rupert Murdoch donated another $1 million to CoC.

        Murdoch Donates $1M to Chamber of CommerceThe Rupert Murdoch-owned media giant News Corporation has donated another one million dollars to a business coalition campaigning against Democrats in the midterm elections.
        News Corp.’s holdings include Fox News Channel, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.

        Democracy Now

        NOTE: Doesn’t Prince Alaweed own a big chunk of Murdoch’s media?

        • Gitcheegumee says:

          Perhaps it was elsewhere,Harpie. But thank you so much-it’s a great start.(And a real treat to see you again.)

          To flesh out my earlier post,and to underscore that politics and propaganda indeed make the strangest of bedfellows(sometimes cuckolded ones), here is a thread from FDL,circa last summer. Interesting indeed,imho:

          Early Morning Swim: The Daily Show Exposes the Fox News Connection …Aug 24, 2010 … So what is the Koch brothers’ stake in NewsCorp, in which Prince al-Waleed is the largest shareholder after the Murdoch family? …
…/early-morning-swim-the-daily-show-exposes-the-fox- news-connection-/

          • harpie says:

            Hi, Gitcheegumee, and thanks. :-)

            Did you check the comments-I know I learned a lot about the “Chamber Pot” during that discussion…and Donahue-which is who Marcy was writing about…and CIPE and NED….which are funded through the State Department. Look at #41…but there are probably other threads around here as well.

            • Gitcheegumee says:

              I had some up close and very personal experiences with chamber pots in my childhood…I always considered them to be small chambers of horrors.*G*

              I suspect that Donohue’s “chamber pot” is one of secrets.

              • harpie says:

                and @44. Oh! Thanks for that…I’ll have to read it when I get a chance. I won’t be around for a while, again. Maybe when I get back, I’ll be able to catch up, but with the speed of things around here, I kind of doubt it. ;-)

    • thatvisionthing says:

      Not Mullen, Adm. Mullen was a potential target; the runaway general’s name is buried in the story: Lt. Gen. William Caldwel. Lord love a unit:

      However, when told to target high-profile individuals such as Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Al Franken (D-MN), Carl Levin (D-MI) and even Adm. Mike Mullen — one unit resisted, citing federal law that information warfare not be used against Americans.

      “At minimum,” Hastings writes, “the use of the [information operations] team against U.S. senators was a misuse of vital resources designed to combat the enemy.”

      The report added that documents provided to the magazine showed the operations cost taxpayers over $6 million.

      Those that resisted, the report said, were targeted for retaliation.

      I bet this is what Jim White was writing about last year, McChrystal’s Employment of Military Deception — information operations, psyops, MILDEC, Stanley McChrystal, Pat Tillman, Afghan pregnant women killed, lies, lies, lies — let’s see, testimony to Senate: “USSOCOM envisions IO supporting surgical, limited duration, counterterrorism missions, as well as, long range planning to develop coordinated, trans-regional strategies against terrorists and their supporters.” (you, Senator?) — based in Lackland AFB Texas, 400+, frequently relies on contractors — lovely illustration Fig. V-1 Deception Execution Cycle.

      They’re targeting Franken? What was the name of his book? Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them)? I bet he’s laughing.

      Kinda perfect ending to Hastings’ story:

      Caldwell’s office, the report noted, issued a rebuttal that “categorically denies the assertion that the command used an Information Operations Cell to influence Distinguished Visitors.”

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        TVT,do you recall the Rendon group that was doing governmental PR for many, many years?Had a list and grading system of “sympathetic” journalists?

        And embeds?

        The present administrationn ,IIRC,was reported to have cancellled their contract.

        For some reason,all this reminded me of all that.

        • Gitcheegumee says:

          Rendon Group – SourceWatchMay 27, 2010 … The Rendon Group is a secretive public relations firm that has assisted a number of U.S. military interventions in nations including …

 – Cached – Similar

          *An interesting entry regarding Smith Munn Act(prohibiting dissemination of domestic propoganda) is contained therein .

        • thatvisionthing says:

          I never read much on that, should have. But it just seemed like a continuation. The phrase “lie big lie first” comes to mind… but on google I guess it’s just “Lie first.” Reagan and his disinformationists:

          GOP & KAL007: ‘The Key is to Lie First’

          By Robert Parry
          July 20, 2009 (Originally Posted in 1998)

          But in covering the emerging U.S. policy toward Central America in late 1980, I encountered a systematic strategy of lying. The incoming Reagan administration apparently saw “disinformation” as just one more ideological weapon in the Cold War arsenal, with the ends justifying the means. … In his book, Snyder acknowledged his role in the [KAL007] deception and drew an ironic lesson from the incident. The senior USIA official wrote, “The moral of the story is that all governments, including our own, lie when it suits their purposes. The key is to lie first.”

          And going back to the atom bomb. In 2004 Amy and David Goodman asked that New York Times reporter “Atomic Bill” Laurence’s 1946 Pulitzer be revoked because he was additionally a government mouthpiece and reported things he knew were not true, thus misleading everyone for years since he was THE source for information.

          This is interesting. The current psyops story says that that runaway Lt. Gen. Caldwell attacks public figures through wikipedia? What a difference between wikipedia’s telling of Laurence’s story and the Goodmans’. Wikipedia narrows it down to Laurence disputing one detail of one scientist’s op-ed and concludes that Laurence was right. A comparison:


          Call for revocation of 1946 Pulitzer Prize

          In 2004, journalists Amy Goodman and David Goodman called for the Pulitzer Board to strip Laurence and his paper, The New York Times, of his 1946 Pulitzer Prize.[7] The journalists wrote that at the time Laurence “was also on the payroll of the War Department[8]” and that, after the atomic bombings, he “had a front-page story in the Times[9] disputing the notion that radiation sickness was killing people.[10]” They concluded that “his faithful parroting of the government line[11] was crucial in launching a half-century of silence about the deadly lingering effects of the bomb.”[12]

          Laurence and Groves were responding to the false Hiroshima fallout radiation panic-causing claims made by Manhattan Project Health Physicist Dr Harold Jacobsen in the Washington Post on August 8, 1945 [1] … Laurence was proved right: Hiroshima was not made barren of human and animal life for 75 years.

          versus the Goodmans — hard for me to excerpt, it’s all good, but I’ll try:

          Hiroshima Cover-up
          By Amy Goodman and David Goodman
          10 August, 2004 –

          Governments lie.
          — I. F. Stone, Journalist

          …General MacArthur had gone to pains to restrict journalists’ access to the bombed cities, and his military censors were sanitizing and even killing dispatches that described the horror. The official narrative of the atomic bombings downplayed civilian casualties and categorically dismissed reports of the deadly lingering effects of radiation. … Evans recounted: “After the bombing, the brilliant but bullying Groves continually suppressed or distorted the effects of radiation. He dismissed reports of Japanese deaths as ‘hoax or propaganda.’ The Times’ Laurence weighed in, too, after Burchett’s reports, and parroted the government line.” Indeed, numerous press releases issued by the military after the Hiroshima bombing–which in the absence of eyewitness accounts were often reproduced verbatim by U.S. newspapers–were written by none other than Laurence.

          Laurence’s front-page story, U.S. ATOM BOMB SITE BELIES TOKYO TALES: TESTS ON NEW MEXICO RANGE CONFIRM THAT BLAST, AND NOT RADIATION, TOOK TOLL, ran on September 12, 1945, following a three-day delay to clear military censors. “This historic ground in New Mexico, scene of the first atomic explosion on earth and cradle of a new era in civilization, gave the most effective answer today to Japanese propaganda that radiations [sic] were responsible for deaths even after the day of the explosion, Aug. 6, and that persons entering Hiroshima had contracted mysterious maladies due to persistent radioactivity,” the article began.3 Laurence said unapologetically that the Army tour was intended “to give the lie to these claims.”

          Laurence quoted General Groves: “The Japanese claim that people died from radiation. If this is true, the number was very small.”

          Laurence then went on to offer his own remarkable editorial on what happened: “The Japanese are still continuing their propaganda aimed at creating the impression that we won the war unfairly, and thus attempting to create sympathy for themselves and milder terms . . . Thus, at the beginning, the Japanese described ‘symptoms’ that did not ring true.”

          But Laurence knew better. He had observed the first atomic bomb test on July 16, 1945, and he withheld what he knew about radioactive fallout across the southwestern desert that poisoned local residents and livestock. He kept mum about the spiking Geiger counters all around the test site.

          William L. Laurence went on to write a series of ten articles for the Times that served as a glowing tribute to the ingenuity and technical achievements of the nuclear program. Throughout these and other reports, he downplayed and denied the human impact of the bombing. Laurence won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting.

          It turns out that William L. Laurence was not only receiving a salary from The New York Times. He was also on the payroll of the War Department.

          I remember reading someone saying that we didn’t win the Cold War, it was lose-lose? I’ll vote for that. The rot starts there and I just don’t know when to call the loss, then, now, or … when the unitary secret state empire collapses? It reminds me of William Black in Capitalism: A Love Story describing the financial collapse as a dam failing. First the mighty dam, he says, then a little crack, and then … tick tick tick … and then, and then, and then, and then … and then whoosh.

      • fatster says:

        Thanks so much for the correction, thatvisionthing. I guess I was having one of “thosememorythings”. Sigh.

        • thatvisionthing says:

          No, it was really buried in the seventh paragraph. I thought that part of the story was weirdly obscured.

  16. JohnLopresti says:

    Without intending this comment as comic relief, there is an [undated,?circa 2004?] two-page biographical sketch of the [now-2011] intell chief in the US, Mr. Panetta, from which the following are excerpted:

    Mr. Panetta*s awards and honors include: the Farm Bureau*s Golden Plow Award, 1991.

    [S]tarting in 1997, he served a six-year term on the Board of Directors of the New York Stock Exchange.

    In March 2006, Mr. Panetta was chosen to serve on the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan committee established at the urging of Congress and organized by the U.S. Institute of Peace.

    [H]e serves as a member of the Fleishman-Hillard International Advisory Board and the External Advisory Board for BP America.

    The biography enumerates many humanitarian and education initiatives of which Panetta was a part, as well as numerous maritime ecology efforts. Truly, a diverse person; surely, Mr. Panetta is scanning the [compartment] reports on the incident which is topic in the post.

  17. ondelette says:

    Oh geez, Gitcheegumee, this is going to bring up all the stuff I didn’t put in that post.

    I have a hunch that the Chamber has the Administration extremely pissed off right now. It’s still a hunch, but I think someone at DoJ got reviewed or perhaps fired. I also thing stuff at State may be under review.

    At any rate, I’m going to the rally this weekend with a sign against Benchmark, Sony Ericsson, and Abacus. I have a special place in my hunch for Sony Ericsson as the protests spread south in Africa (Gabon, Cameroon, Zimbabwe), not only will they not hire the unemployed in the U.S. but Sony used conflict minerals big time several years ago to launch PlayStation 2. Now if we could only get an AmCham connection by building a black bridge or two.

    • ondelette says:

      Well I don’t think it’s an accident he’s back in play. I’ve been watching the move south. We got phony stories from Gabon several weeks ago about a crazed disappointed office seeker. It turns out that the TV Station he suddenly announced his presidency on had gone off the air suddenly the day after the elections 14 months before, and his supporters, buoyed by the protests in Egypt, had fired it up surreptitiously. He was made to look crazy here. Then the opposition candidate in Cameroon has been beaten to within an inch of her life. Now 45 people in Zimbabwe have been charged with treason for watching video recordings of the Egyptian protests. We have a problem with minerals for high-tech products. We have a problem with embassy officials getting caught being CIA. We have a problem with the Chamber of Commerce getting caught on several fronts. All of a sudden, there’s John Negroponte again, the consummate liar who nobody associates with Iran-Contra but knows everything about going around the government and burying stuff below the level of accountability. I bet he knows the Koch brothers or someone in that pile.

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        Incidentally, just for the sake of the record,and FWIW, Rendon lists the Chamber of Commerce as a client.

        In all fairness, probably lots of firms do,however.

  18. spanishinquisition says:

    The Obama Administration wants war – it’s all about turning us into the next Egypt operating for decades under emergency decree. Why else would the US spend $1T per year for the Iraq embasssy?:
    The new embassy cost $600 million to build, and is expected to cost another $1.2 billion a year to run—a high price even by the profligate standards of the war in Iraq.
    Then how about the Pakistani embassy:
    Senior State Department officials said the expanded diplomatic presence is needed to replace overcrowded, dilapidated and unsafe facilities and to support a “surge” of civilian officials into Afghanistan and Pakistan ordered by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
    Then there’s Gitmo North where even if it had happened, it showed that the intent was for long-term use:
    On the call, the briefers used two numbers to discuss the Thomson purchase and security upgrading needed–$250 million and $270 milllion. Asked to clarify, the Chicago Sun-Times was told the Justice Department fiscal 2011 request will include “$237 million to purchase, modify, and operate Thomson for a full year.

    “This should not be viewed as the purchase price alone – it includes the cost of modifying and operating the facility for a year. The negotiation process with the State of Illinois regarding the purchase price is ongoing, and this number builds in flexibility depending on the final appraisals and final negotiated price with the state.”

    The Obama White House is proposing acquiring Thomson for a dual use: To house an estimated 100 Guantanamo detainees who are being held indefinitely in a facility run by the Department of Defense and to use the rest of the complex to house federal prisoners in a facility to be run by the Bureau of Prisons.

    You don’t spend billions of dollars on embassies in third world countries and spend hundreds of millions of dollars to house a 100 inmates unless the true goals are to have war going on for a long time. Whether Obama is in for one or two terms, I expect that no matter what we will have war and we will have things like the Patriot Act – it’s all part of the long-term plan.

  19. TarheelDem says:

    The source said that the program is so “compartmentalized” that senior figures within the Obama administration and the US military chain of command may not be aware of its existence.

    One of the products of compartmentalization is that compartments can generate their own black ops, which are organizationally invisible to the chain of command. Not just invisible from the President but also the immediate oversight of the immediate or the skip-level supervisor. And contracting just increases the opaqueness of that black box operation. All the government contract manager sees are the memos going in and out and the bills coming in for payment. BTW, these same sort of unaccountable activities can occur in contracts with domestic agencies as well.

    • Larue says:

      I believe all that, yet I lack the words to use to describe it.

      Nice, thanks THD . . . VERY well put to the point.

      Kudo’s cuz I been remiss, to Mz. WHeeler for this diary and the resultant comments.

      Once again . . . TheWheelRocks!

  20. SnarkiChildOfLoki says:

    For some reason, when reading the headling of this post, I saw:

    “Thousands of Snooki Americans Doing Who-Knows-What in Pakistan?”

    Which brings to mind an entirely different set of images.

  21. lareineblanche says:

    Thoughts from Philip Giraldi, former CIA officer, on this, after Marcy’s interview w/ Scott Horton :

    The guy was definitely not a NOC and the pause in the drone activity has nothing to do with the case. Davis was a CIA contractor either out providing security for a CIA case officer who was meeting a source that was not completely trusted or he was himself meeting such a source. The backup van was there in case something went wrong and to provide additional security. He was not a diplomat as he was not accredited to the Pak foreign ministry, but he would have limited immunity if it could be demonstrated that he was out doing work for the consulate (which he will be unable to do). I have been “technical and administrative” while overseas and it really provides very little protection. The US government is going crazy trying to get this guy freed because CIA is apoplectic insisting that it has to be done because the US government takes care of its own, particularly when they are on dangerous missions. The Obamas have mishandled the whole thing by publicly demanding the release. It should have been dealt with quietly with plenty of bribe money all around, which is not to say this guy should go free, but that is the way CIA makes flaps go away.

    As for why he had contacts from the tribal areas on his cell phone :

    Because he was meeting people from those areas, which is where the militants are as well as the targets for drones. It would not be safe to meet them outside of an urban area with elaborate security laid on.
    I am not saying that the intelligence he might have been seeking wasn’t connected to drone activity, only that the pause is unrelated. BTW the Agency fear is that Davis might start blabbing to save his skin and tell about all of the CIA unilateral operations in Pakistan, which would end any cooperation from the Paks.

  22. martyp3 says:

    #1 donbacon’s comment that Sen Kerry encouraged the Pakistanis to keep Davis was a head snapper. Does anybody know the source of that. Thanks martyp3