ABC Returns the Blackwater Focus to Pakistan

ABC has now caught up to Jeremy Scahill. In this Blackwater installment, they describe sketchy details of two Blackwater operations in Afghanistan/Pakistan, one in 2003, and one in 2006.

CIA officials acknowledge that two private contractors were killed in Afghanistan in 2003 when they and other members of a CIA paramilitary team were in a firefight with Taliban fighters on a remote road.

In another case, in 2006, 12 Blackwater “tactical action operatives” were recruited for a secret raid into Pakistan by the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command, according to a military intelligence planner. The target of the planned raid, code-named Vibrant Fury, was a suspected al Qaeda training camp, according to the planner, who said he did not know the outcome of the mission.

It’s not clear whether this on the record discussion of planning for an op in 2003 is the same one named above, in which two contractors (presumably BW) were killed. But note the explanation: a desire to avoid oversight.

A U.S. Army officer who ran human intelligence collections activities in Afghanistan in 2003, Tony Shaffer, says he never worked directly with Blackwater personnel but frequently encountered them in secret operations run by the military and the CIA.

“I actually met with the CIA and Blackwater operatives who were working together, totally hand in glove, to conduct operational planning and support of their objectives, which are paramilitary operations along the border,” said Shaffer, then a Major but now a Lieutenant Colonel who teaches at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies.

“The idea was to bring to bear additional resources for specific special operations missions,” he said. “The purpose for that, in my judgment, may have been to avoid some level of oversight.”

In 2006, the purpose of using BW was to provide forces that were otherwise unavailable because they were occupied in Iraq.

In the case of Operation Vibrant Fury, military personnel say the decision to request Blackwater personnel came after a request for military “tier one” operatives was denied.

A spokesperson for Blackwater said the company was unaware of any operation with the code name Vibrant Fury.

The mission was to raid, destroy and kill al Qaeda members at a camp in Pakistan where guards for Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri were believed to be training, according to the military planner.

A second person briefed on the operation confirmed Blackwater agreed to provide operatives for the military special forces.

The commanders of the elite special forces, then called Task Force 373, decided to solicit help from Blackwater, said the planner, after military superiors said the men could not be spared from Iraq.

The request to Blackwater was met on Oct. 31, 2006, according to the planner.

I’ll come back to some of the details. But for the moment, consider how the history of Bush letting Osama bin Laden go at Tora Bora played into this. Both ops were attempts to chase al Qaeda into Pakistan. One of those was an attempt to get OBL’s guards.

Wouldn’t it all have been better if we had dedicated the resources in 2001?

47 replies
  1. allan says:

    AP source: Blackwater missile contract ended

    CIA Director Leon Panetta has canceled a secret contract with the former Blackwater security firm that had allowed the company’s employees to load missiles on Predator drones in Pakistan.

    • Waccamaw says:

      *secret* contract – interesting descriptor, that.

      One wonders just how many billions of our tax dollars are funding such “secret” contracts for the BW mercenaries. So they don’t get to load the missiles on the drones but you can bloody well bet they’re the ones operating the toggles back here in the states to control their flight in Pakistan.

  2. person1597 says:

    Bush lets OBL escape from the zoo. Blame the animals! Blame the hippies! Blame Clinton!

    Better yet, let the Americans occupy the zoo.

    Ha ha ha, look at the new animals! Do they speak Russian yet?

  3. Mary says:

    Handy for CIA if Prince was an asset – he would have been a resource to keep them up to speed on what DoD was doing as DoD tried to cut them out of the loop.

    • shekissesfrogs says:

      wow.. interdepartmental/agency double agents.

      I hope the the infighting from exposure and their aversion to accountability destroys them from the inside.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It would also help interpose a “state secrets” [sic] or “national security” claim to prevent an American court from allowing discovery concerning or entertaining jurisdiction over him

    • MadDog says:

      As I’ve commented here before, remember this statement from page 5 of this September 10, 2006 WaPo article:

      …In 2004, Rumsfeld finally won the president’s approval to put SOCOM in charge of the “Global War on Terrorism.”..

      (My Bold)

      The command of SOCOM when this decision was made back in 2004 was none other than: LTG Stanley McChrystal – September 2003 to June 2008.

      And I want to again point out the significance of this decision.

      As of 2004, the CIA was not the lead organization in charge of fighting the GWOT.

      As of 2004, JSOC (SOCOM) was the lead organization in charge of fighting the GWOT. All other US government organizations played second fiddle to JSOC (SOCOM) decisions and operations worldwide!

      And as I also pointed out here before, this responsibility as the lead organization in charge of fighting the GWOT continues to this very day!

      See the very latest from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (thanks to Secrecy News for this 125 page PDF) as of July 1st this very year – page 18 and then again, page 80:

      Commander, US Special Operations Command (CDRUSSOCOM) is responsible for synchronizing planning for global operations against terrorist networks, and will do so in coordination with other combatant commands, the Services, and, as directed, appropriate USG agencies…

      Command and Control

      3. United States Special Operations Command

      CDRUSSOCOM is a global synchronizer for the war on terrorism and responsible for synchronizing planning, and as directed, executing operations against terrorist networks on a global basis in coordination with other combatant commands, the Services, and as directed, appropriate USG agencies…

      And the last point I want to make which I believe is the most important is that during the Bush/Cheney regime, secret operations run by components of the DOD were determined by the Bush/Cheney regime not to fall under the National Security Act notification requirements to Congress.

      In regard to the lack of Congressional notification of DOD secret operations, I don’t think there has been any difference in approach under the Obama Administration.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Just making sure that no one misses the point that you made @10:

        And the last point I want to make which I believe is the most important is that during the Bush/Cheney regime, secret operations run by components of the DOD were determined by the Bush/Cheney regime not to fall under the National Security Act notification requirements to Congress.

        Meanwhile, in the background, the Surveillance State was being implemented, the fortunes of utilities all along the West Coast were being looted by Enron and other scams, wealth was concentrating and being moved offshore, and the DoJ was being used to offer rationalizations about why torture was ‘legal’.

        All these things seem connected by a logic of greed, expedience, insolence, and delusion.

      • emptywheel says:

        I’m not sure it’s safe to say that JSOC can avoid disclosure under NSA. Or rather, the state of play is clearly not what it was under Bush.

        That’s because, first of all, it took a number of years for Congress to understand that Bush was doing this.

        They have changed the complete avoidance of disclosure by ensuring there is an Intell person on the defense appropriations subcommittees (that’s been true since 2007).

        And Congress is attempting to explicitly require JSOC disclosure to intell committees. (Indeed, this entire Blackwater thing came out in context of their demands for such disclosure). While I think the issue is not settled, I’d suggest that it is in a very different stance than it was under Bush.

        • MadDog says:

          I’m not sure it’s safe to say that JSOC can avoid disclosure under NSA…

          …While I think the issue is not settled, I’d suggest that it is in a very different stance than it was under Bush…

          I do agree with the point you make about JSOC and disclosure. I, too, believe it is a legal requirement under the NSA.

          However,there still is that disagreement between the Executive branch and DOD versus Congress on this issue, as well as the never-ending territorial pissing matches between Congressional DOD committees and Intel committees.

          But as to the different stance or the state of play, I’m still keeping that open in my scepticism folder. *g*

          There certainly is a difference in what the Obama Administration “says”, but I’m more troubled by the “lack” of difference in what they actually “do”.

          Defense Secretary Gates still does not testify before the House and Senate Intel committees on DOD Intel issues and operations, nor does his subordinates.

          Now perhaps the DNI testifies before the House and Senate Intel committees as regards to some aspects of DOD operations (NSA comes to mind), but I’d think you’d agree that Congressional Intel committees still lack the ability to directly question those within the DOD who are responsible for DOD Intel policies, plans and operations.

          For example, if JSOC (SOCOM) has been the lead organization on the GWOT since 2004, and continues to be so today, where is the Congressional notification (and more importantly, the rigorous questioning) on their activities taking place?

          It ain’t happening at the Congressional Armed Services Committees.

          While I also agree with you that some level of DOD Intel briefings occurs at the defense appropriations subcommittees, I believe that you would also agree that it would not, and does not, substitute for substantive “Intelligence Oversight” that is chartered under the Congressional Intel committees.

          As I said, Secretary Gates hasn’t appeared before the Congressional Intel committees, nor do I believe has former JSOC (SOCOM) Commander, General McChrystal or current JSOC (SOCOM) Commander, Admiral McRaven.

          I’ll agree that perhaps this is a work-in-progress with the Obama Administration, but I’m not ready yet to pat them on the head for actually accomplishing anything.

          • emptywheel says:


            I appreciate your point, but I strongly disagree.

            Until about (I’m guessing 2005 or 2006), the Bush Administration carried out entire programs that were completely compartmented from the intelligence committees.

            Now, if they want to get money, they by definition tell someone who is in a position to go to the Chair of the intelligence committee and say, “they’re not telling you everything.”

            Which, regardless of the dispute (I suspect that Obama is trying to prove good behavior in theory to avoid regulation in law), means things have changed.

            And again, this entire BW disclosure–the whole thing!!–can be traced back to the House’s efforts to make funding contingent on appropriate disclosure. That doesn’t mean that appropriate disclosure has happened or that DOD agrees with the Intell committees. But it does mean that they are being forced to make compromises.

            That’s not good enough. But it is qualitatively, demonstrably different than what was heppening under Bush through 2006.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          And Congress is attempting to explicitly require JSOC disclosure to intell committees. (Indeed, this entire Blackwater thing came out in context of their demands for such disclosure). While I think the issue is not settled, I’d suggest that it is in a very different stance than it was under Bush.

          Did I miss a post? Or simply misread one?
          I didn’t realize that this Blackwater seepage was in response to demands for info.

          But your Torture Timeline makes pretty clear that it took awhile for Congress to figure out what was going on; however, I see no evidence that any GOP Senators did any digging.

          • emptywheel says:

            Panetta’s disclosure to Congress came at a time when HPSCI had drafted a requirement that all JSOC activities be disclosed to HPSCI. Obama threatened a veto in response. And then within a week Panetta came a ‘fessed up to the Blackwater stuff. We don’t know whether Panetta knew or told them about the extent of the JSOC stuff–though I’m betting by September it had become clear–but we do know that this process happened at a time when HPSCI was threatening to make all funding contingent on JSOC disclosure.

      • Mary says:

        I didn’t include the /s on my McChrystal comment, but that’s what I was getting at – the guy that Congress has been listening to and looking to for advice and who Obama picked as his go-to for Afghanistan has a lovely history of actively hiding the ball from Congress, a ball that included things like murder raids into Syria based on BW fingering.

        How much prouder a mission do you get than to leave a 6 yo boy surrounded by the bodies of his parents and everyone else in sight? And to get to keep it all silent from Congress, and to know your eyes on the ground were actually CIA assets while they were working for DoD – it just doesn’t get much better, does it?

        @25 – I left responses to you below Rayne, but re the TSF number, the ABC piece EW linked mentions task force 373. That’s consistent with the tf #s for special operations hit squads in this older piece from Arkin

        All are part of the North Carolina-based Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). JSOC’s various task forces have been known by numerous names since Sept. 11, Task Force (TF) 11, TF 121, TF 145, and TF 6-26. They have also gone by other named designations, such as Task Force Omaha. These Task Force designations change periodically for “operational security” reasons and are used to identify specific country and/or unit deployments.

        According to military sources familiar with special operations organization, the current designations are Task Force 11-9, Task Force 16, and Task Force 373. Task Force 88 is also used as the overall designation for JSOC in Iraq,

        You can’t google up much on task force 373, although there is some on 145 and 88

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks, that syncs up with what I now have — which means there must be some other content buried inside each of the taskings for those task force numbers.

  4. DanC says:

    But Bush/Cheney swore up & down that the Iraq folly hadn’t diverted any vital resources from Afghanistan — it’s not possible they were lying, is it?

  5. Mary says:

    Panetta cancles drone contract wtih Blackwater

    OK – he cancelled “earlier this year” but just today they decided to get AP to run this story.

    CIA Director Leon Panetta has canceled a contract with the former Blackwater security firm that allowed the company’s operatives to load missiles on Predator drones in Pakistan.

    Panetta canceled the contract earlier this year and the work is being transitioned to government personnel, a person familiar with the contract said Friday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the classified program.

    Talk about a non-denial in the AP story – a “U.S. official” tells AP that yeah – Blackwater went with the CIA on its missions, but they “were not hired to directly participate.” Just, ya know, to go along and protect CIA operative on their missions.

    And a House Intell committee spokesperson is saying that the committee has contacted CIA for additional details. A foremer CIA officer is also saying, ‘nuh uh, bw did not go on no raids’

    Intersting article

  6. MadDog says:

    …A CIA spokesperson, George Little…

    …”At this time,” said Little, “Blackwater is not involved in any CIA operations in other than a security or support role…”

    Let’s parse this one real close:

    1. “At this time” – this can be read as only this very second/minute/hour/day, but yesterday or tomorrow, all bets are off.

    2. “”Blackwater is not involved in any CIA operations in other than a security or support role” – this can be read to mean that when on those cross-border Pakistan raids, Blackwater mercs are carrying the guns (providing security), Blackwater mercs are firing their weapons (providing support), kicking down doors (providing support), killing or capturing al Qaeda targets (providing support), and damn near anything else one could imagine.

    So CIA spokesperson George Little could actually be telling the truth, only you don’t know if his truth bears any resemblance to or comports with the statement’s intended truthiness.

  7. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    But for the moment, consider how the history of Bush letting Osama bin Laden go at Tora Bora played into this. Both ops were attempts to chase al Qaeda into Pakistan. One of those was an attempt to get OBL’s guards.

    The EW Ghorbanifar Timeline sections about third parties “planting WMD” in Iraq in the spring of 2003, in addition to the lack of Congressional oversight revealed in the EW Torture Timeline, are recurring themes; elements outside the control of the military command appear to have been unleashed from **inside** the OVP-DoD-OSP, if I’m reading correctly.

    Cheney, former Sec Def, former Chair of House Intel, would have known how to design workarounds to avoid Congressional oversight, but did his plans also involve subverting the traditional military command structure? Because it sure looks that way.

    At Abu Gharib, wasn’t Karpinski elbowed aside by G. Miller? When the shit came down, it was all dumped on her, and she’d been career military.

    At the time that Admiral ‘Fox’ Fallon resigned as commander of the Near East region, he made some comment to the effect that he could not control the military activities in the region.

    And the reports surrounding the death of Westhusing also carry the theme that contractors — not the uniformed military — were ‘in charge’.

    WTF does all this mean?

  8. MadDog says:

    OT, or maybe not. Now naming names – from Siobhan Gorman over at the WSJ:

    Drone Kills a Leader of Al Qaeda

    A U.S. drone strike this week killed a senior al Qaeda operator in a Pakistani tribal area near the Afghan border, U.S. and Pakistani officials said Friday.

    U.S. officials said Saleh al-Somali, who was responsible for al Qaeda’s operations outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan, was killed in the strike Tuesday. He was on the Central Intelligence Agency’s list of the top 20 al Qaeda targets, according to an official familiar with the list…

  9. marc says:

    But…but…but… but the State Department has stated unequivocally right up to this week that there are no Blackwater operatives employed by the U.S. in Pakistan. I guess the sensationalist Pakistani press is right and the U.S. government is lying….as usual.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I guess State assumes the public are unaware of cut-out employers and subsidiary or parent operations not named Xe or Blackwater.

  10. freeman says:

    Can anyone tell me what the status of posse comitatus is today . I know the warner amendment has been repealed although Bush made a signing statement but I have been under the opinion that many bekieve it has been revoked . Anybody ?

  11. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    I do agree with the point you make about JSOC and disclosure. I, too, believe it is a legal requirement under the NSA.

    Apart from disclosure, the fact that Cheney went as far as to obtain a legal judgment that he could claim ‘state secrets’ privilege for his [Secret] Energy Task Force discussions must have emboldened the BushBots and CheneyBots even more.

    There’s no way that we will ever be able to know how differently things would have been if that single legal decision had been different. As it was, I think they took it as a signal that they could hide anything they damn well pleased, and that if they so much as sneezed, they could mark it ‘Top Secret’.

    And that kind of thinking certainly would produce the type of ‘Pixie Dust’ insta-declassification and ego-riddled messes that have been documented at EW’s these past four years or more. It seems to be premised in a sense of personal privilege: ‘it’s what I decide to call it, when I decide to call it, and f*ck the rest of you peons.’

    Interesting that the Bush Cheney regime thought the decision was theirs to make, no? Completely in character.

  12. Rayne says:

    But for the moment, consider how the history of Bush letting Osama bin Laden go at Tora Bora played into this.

    I’ll disagree with you that there was a resource allocation issue at all. See Prince’s VF piece, in which the cases of Darkazanli and Khan are discussed, and in which “a source familiar with the program” says in “both cases, the source insists, the authorities in Washington chose not to pull the trigger.” (Personally, I think the source is Prince with validation from a secondary source — Ciralsky’s piece makes it sound like Prince is throwing his voice in more than a few places.)

    It sounds as if it was entirely a political calculation. Darkazanli, for example, has been characterized as a Saudi asset. Would that explain why authorities in Washington didn’t want him actually taken out?

    Could similar circumstances underpin the decisions behind actions taken/not taken WRT OBL, other Al-Qaeda and Khan?

    Also wanted to point out that this is the first time we heard about “Vibrant Fury”; the name is floated in this piece, almost in isolation. I watched ABC’s morning news program today, on which Brian Ross appeared; he didn’t use this code name that I recall. Leads me to think there has been some scrambling regarding sourcing and validation and trying to report more from leakers who may be in jeopardy while outlets try to get out in front of each other.

    Putting that aside, we now have a compromised program code name. What’s the joint task force number, and what military and non-military services were combined under that program?

    • emptywheel says:

      I agree that may be one of the reasons they let OBL go free–or even that someone in the chain of command made it easy for him to go free. (Or even that we have no independent ops without ISI, and therefore he was bound to go free and still is.)

      But that doesn’t change the fact that the commanders on the ground–who, if these issues were in play didn’t know about them–wanted more resources and didn’t get them.

      • Mary says:

        It’s worth a read of Jawbreaker – even with all its redactions (and even with Berntsen using his slot to defend the CIA and its torturers roles in establishing a secret, torture regime as our undergoverment, to infect every branch and every element of our society) for one version of the read on bin laden escaping to Pakistan – he includes info on direct supplications to Bush from his CIA briefer IIRC.

      • Sara says:

        “But that doesn’t change the fact that the commanders on the ground–who, if these issues were in play didn’t know about them–wanted more resources and didn’t get them.”

        EW, that is one of the true values of Berntsen’s Jawbreaker that Mary references at 42. The Author details the multiple requests for deployment of US Military Assets to block the passes between Tora Bora and Pakistan, and where in the military chain of command those requests were made. In Kerry’s recent report, he puts the weight for saying No with CENTCOM and with Rumsfeld…Tommy Franks and Don Rumsfeld.

        I suspect the key question that needs a clear answer here is whether Bush ever had the resource matter placed squarely before him as a Commander-in-Chief issue? How was it framed? Let’s look at possible contingent issues.

        First of all — Musharraf was upset because the Northern Alliance along with the US and British forces had taken Kabul. Bush had promised they would not, but Northern Alliance in particular went ahead. In the period between the opening of the attack on 7 October, and the entry into Kabul, both Bush and Musharraf make press statements about some sort of moderate Taliban Kabul government — but the reality is Bush has to “take care” of Musharraf’s interests by extracting Pakistani Military from Afghanistan, getting ISI officers out of the grasp of the Northern Alliance, including the air-lift out of Kunduz.

        I think the critical point to understand here is that US Military were not in complete control of the dynamic situation on the ground in Afghanistan as they did not “command” the Northern Alliance. Thus Bush could neither promise nor fulfill promises to Musharraf. The interests of Pakistan were not those of the US — Pakistan wanted Kabul weak, wanted a role for what they termed the “Moderate Taliban” and essentially wanted a significant role for Pakistan in a future Afghanistan. They were deeply suspicious of the Northern Alliance connections with Iran, India, and Russian or former Soviet entities that had supported Northern Alliance over the years of Taliban Rule.

        Second — we need to consider what Pakistan probably did given these developments. I would focus on two things, first the attack on the State Parliment building in Jammu & Kashmir, followed several weeks later in the December attack on the National Parliment Building in New Delhi. As would be predicted in the wake of such attacks, India mobilized its army and moved military units toward the Pakistani-Indian borders both in Kashmir and in Sind. Pakistan thus placed priority on countering what they considered an Indian Threat with a counter mobilization, removing regular Pakistani Army units from the Af-Pak border, and shifting them to the east and the Indian Border regions. One clear outcome of this was that Musharraf could say NO to Bush with respect to the expectation that he would strongly reinforce the Af-Pak border as the US attacked al-Quada at Tora Bora. Since I believe Musharraf would have been under extreme pressure from the Pakistani Military to preserve the resource they had nurtured — Taliban and the al-Quada fighters — I think it highly likely the attacks on the two Indian Parliment buildings were tactical moves by the Pakistani Military, to provoke the predicted response that the Indian Army would mobilize, thus requiring a Pak counter-mobilization on their eastern border with India.

        Third — US interest have never been to get inbetween Pakistan and India. At times US policy during the Cold War was to assure some degree of balance of forces between the two (thus the many arms “sales” over the years) but US policy has never been to “take sides” in the overall conflict. If India got tanks from the Soviets, the US would “sell” tanks to Pakistan so as to balance forces — but we took no position on the underlying issues. Post Cold War, US interests changed. We were far more interested in engaging India in economic relationships, trade and all — and when 9/11 occurred, we had been in the midst for about ten years in developing a quite different, more friendly, more engaged relationship with India which was punching through as a developing country. Pakistan’s economy was always frail, and was going down hill. Post 2001 it has mostly been kept out of bankruptcy by IMF loans, and the Billions it has extracted from the US for use of territory vis a vis Afghanistan. (Look at Clinton’s policy, and realize that Bush continued and pushed forward many of Clinton’s initatives.) Post Cold War development of much stronger and deeper relationships between US and India are deeply distressing to Pakistan, as they can no longer see the US as a likely ally in any India/Pak conflict. But in fact it remains in the US interest to stand somewhat aloof from this conflict — which is the problem that presented itself in late 2001 when both Indian and Pakistan mobilized. My guess is that Musharraf and the Pak Military thought by provoking India to mobilize they could also achieve more of a commitment of the US to the Pakistani Agenda vis a vis Kashmir and other matters.

        I think this state of affairs might have restrained Bush and DoD, and perhaps CIA in December 2001 with respect to demands on Pakistan to follow through, and block passes from Afghanistan, and otherwise assist in the defeat of Taliban and al-Quada. It seems that in the end Bush settled for an early 2002 speech by Musharraf declaring some of the Islamist Groups illegal (they then changed their names), and agreeing some of them were terrorists. Bush got his odd lot of lower level fighters that allowed him to populate Gitmo, and eventually a few High Value operatives who were probably tracked by FBI and CIA, or by lucky breaks such as intelligence from the British based al-Jazeera reporter who interviewed bin-al-Sheib and KSM.

        So while I think it highly likely that the reasons resources needed at Tora Bora were not released by CENTCOM at the time bin Laden and al-Quada were cornered there, and had much to do with turf wars between DoD and CIA — Rumsfield, and probably Cheney didn’t like the fact it was a CIA plan and CIA Command that was successful in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 — I also think Bush was cornered by Musharraf’s tactics of bringing forward the Pakistan/India conflicts, essentially using that conflict to block his own army’s mission to assume a blocking position on the Af-Pak Border, and assist in destroying Taliban and al-Quada forces.

        I think this rasises the question of Bush Administration Planning — we know that in the case of Iraq, they intentionally excluded from the planning process most of the persons with legitimate Iraqi Expertise who in fact did, almost to the person, predict the insurgency. I just wonder if anyone with extensive knowledge of Pakistani/Indian relations and history was close to those planning and executing on Afghani operations?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Okay, I’m feeling really, really stupid here.
      The way that I read you is: Prince to Cheney, “I’ll tell why you didn’t take out OBL, and Khan, and others, if I don’t get to teach high school history.”

      If that’s the dangling threat, that’s one hell of a threat.
      And yeah, I’m feeling really, really dumb for not spotting it sooner.

      IF that’s what you are notSayingButStillSayingKindaSorta.

      • Rayne says:

        See my comments at 77 and 133 in this EW post.

        And then this subsequent EW post.

        We’re a long way from sussing out all the threats EP implied, but I think there were enough obvious ones in that VF piece to set off an invisible and nasty tug-of-war behind the scenes, until EP is out of the woods.

        The immediate problem is collateral damage. There are a lot of folks who could be hurt in the fallout, and it looks as if it’s going to be a sustained process like slow motion dominoes.

        We could really use another Church Committee right about now.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Okay, looks like I’ll have to find time to actually read that VP piece, though it’s not what I plan to do with my weekend.

          Meanwhile, oldie but goodie, Sy Hersh’s “The Redirection“, from a March 2007 issue of the New Yorker:

          The key players behind the redirection are Vice-President Dick Cheney, the deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, the departing Ambassador to Iraq (and nominee for United Nations Ambassador), Zalmay Khalilzad, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser. While Rice has been deeply involved in shaping the public policy, former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney.

          …Saudi money was involved in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, and a few of the players back then—notably Prince Bandar and Elliott Abrams—are involved in today’s dealings.
          Iran-Contra was the subject of an informal “lessons learned” discussion two years ago among veterans of the scandal. Abrams led the discussion.

          One conclusion was that even though the program was eventually exposed, it had been possible to execute it without telling Congress.

          As to what the experience taught them, in terms of future covert operations, the participants found:

          One, you can’t trust our friends.
          Two, the C.I.A. has got to be totally out of it.
          Three, you can’t trust the uniformed military, and
          four, it’s got to be run out of the Vice-President’s office”—a reference to Cheney’s role, the former senior intelligence official said.


          You can’t trust the ‘uniformed’ military. Nor the CIA.
          Iran-Contra, globalized and on steriods…oh, and run out of OVP.

          What was it Fitzgerald said about Cheney and a ‘dark cloud’…?

  13. Hmmm says:

    Hey all.

    OT — but speaking of men in quasi-military uniform — Anybody else in the US seeing an increased level of local law enforcement acting out against local businesses? Evidently the city of San Francisco is harrassing live music venues with excessive/selective police operations and lawsuits, and Oakland police have been staging grocery store alcohol-to-minors stings with reportedly way disproportionate show-of-force. Just checking.

    • Rayne says:

      Nope. Can’t say we have. But then we’d need more money to pay for police officers to do that.

      Apparently CA municipal police forces aren’t quite as desperate as ours here in MI.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      No clue, really.
      Just an observation: living in Western Washington, I cannot tell you how ghastly having five police officers murdered within about two weeks has been.

      One was shot just sitting in his squad car in Seattle.
      Then last week, in a town quite near Ft Lewis, four officers sitting at coffee were murdered in cold blood.

      It would not surprise me one iota if officers far and wide are feeling a bit extra ‘defensive’ at the moment.

      In fact, it’s simply too upsetting to mention at any further length.
      Absolutely mind-boggling, and far too sad for words.

  14. WTFOver says:

    Turley: Obama bags Peace Prize while his lawyers are ‘gutting’ Nuremberg

    “There is no limiting principle here,” Turley explained. “John Yoo was essential to this torture program. … If John Yoo cannot not be sued for an alleged war crime, what possibly could a Justice official be sued for? … We’re talking about the most extreme case.”

  15. x174 says:

    “What appears to be a deep relationship between Blackwater and the CIA should cause all Americans to take pause. It is extremely dangerous for the U.S. to become dependent on private contractors for military or intelligence operations.”

    –>So is Blackwater providing similar assistance to the DIA and DOD?

    CIA canceled Blackwater Predator missile contract; government employees will load drones

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