The Return of CIFA. Now, with Interrogation Capabilities!

Jeff Stein notes that the Defense Intelligence Agency has plans to set up a new records center for its counterintelligence operation.

The Defense Intelligence Agency wants to open a new repository for information about individuals and groups in what appears to be a successor to a controversial counterintelligence program that was disbanded in 2008.

The new Foreign Intelligence and Counterintelligence Operation Records section will be housed in DIA’s Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center, or DCHC, formed after the demise of the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, according to an announcement that appeared Tuesday in the Federal Register.

As Stein notes, DCHC replaced CIFA, the DOD organization that got caught spying on Quakers and the blogger Jesus’ General. And now, they apparently want to set up a system that will be subject to the Privacy Act.

The Defense Intelligence Agency proposes to add a system of records to its inventory of record systems subject to the Privacy Act of 1974, (5 U.S.C. 552a), as amended.

Which I presume means they’ve got records of Americans in there.

Two points on this. First, as Mark Ambinder recently reported, the organization that took over CIFA’s activities, DCHC, is also the organization running our black site prison in Afghanistan.

It has been previously reported that the facility, beige on the outside with a green gate, was operated by members of a Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)  group, allegedly outside of Harward’s jurisdiction. But JSOC, a component command made up of highly secret special mission units and task forces, does not operate the facility.

Instead, it is manned by intelligence operatives and interrogators who work for the DIA’s Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC). They perform interrogations for a sub-unit of Task Force 714, an elite counter-terrorism brigade.


The DCHC is a relatively new organization. It has several branches and has absorbed staff from the the now largely disbanded Strategic Support Branch, which provided CIA-like intelligence services to ground combat units. The DCHC also performs some of the work that the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), which was accused of spying on American political groups, used to do. Many of the staff, civilian and military, as well as many contractors, previously worked with CIFA.

How efficient, huh? They’ve now got the allegedly abusive interrogations being performed by the same folks with an expanding DOD database of information on Americans. Cheney never managed to centralize his favorite activities under one entity, but Obama apparently has done so.

Also note that Stein muses that maybe they kept the old records of CIFA after all.

The “activity” was disbanded, but evidently not its records database, which seems to be headed to the new unit.

But that isn’t–or at least it shouldn’t–be right. DOD’s Inspector General told us years ago that the records collected under CIFA in the TALON database had just poof! disappeared in June 2006 just as the Cunningham investigation was getting close to MZM, a company tied to the bribery.

Holy Shit. Remember TALON and CIFA? Here’s a description I wrote in April:

It was designed to gather intelligence on threats to defense installments in the United States–to try to collect information (in the TALON database) on threatening people scoping out domestic bases. But it ended up focusing on peace activists and the lefty blogosphere’s own Jesus’ General.

Well, here are the three conclusions of a DOD IG report just released on the program:

  • TALON reports were generated for law enforcement and force protection purposes as permitted by DoD Directive 5200.27,1 and not as a result of an intelligence collection operation; therefore, no violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act occurred.
  • The Counterintelligence Field Activity did not comply with the 90 day retention review policy required by DoD Directive 5200.27. We could not determine whether the U.S. Northern Command complied with the policy requirement because all TALON reports were deleted from their database in June 2006 with no archives.
  • The Cornerstone database that the Counterintelligence Field Activity used to maintain TALON reports did not have the capability to identify TALON reports with U.S. person information, to identify reports requiring a 90-day retention review, or to allow analysts to edit or delete the TALON reports.

In other words, DOD at least claims to have destroyed these records in 2006. I guess they could get a pretty sizeable new collection in the interim 4 years. But if they’ve got the old records–the ones on the Quakers and on bloggers–then they pulled a fast one with those materials in 2006, when they said they destroyed them.

25 replies
  1. klynn says:

    I am going to forward this post to the American Friends Service Committee’s legal counsel.

    Additionally, this does not sound so good on the heels of your drones post.

    • ghostof911 says:

      klynn, creepy thought, but the drone business could become the great equalizer. Not if, but when whiz kid teenagers start conconting homemade versions of the killer missiles, shouldn’t they be protected by the sacred Second Amendment? And then, when the MOTUs start cornering the world’s grain supply (see Frederick Kaufman in this month’s Harpers), the proles can start lobbing drones over the walls of the gated communities.

      Don’t forget peoples, there are more of us than there are of them.

      • PJEvans says:

        They’re not going to be storing all that grain inside their gated-and-guarded walls. (No room in there.)
        That means that we can barricade their exits, and keep them in their expensive luxury jail cells, or let them out only on foot.

        Who needs drones to deal with the MOTUs?

      • b2020 says:

        There are no equalizers. There is no right to bear nukes, no right to assault rifles, military training, tanks, or even a 50cal “hunting” rifle.

        Somehow the gated Few always succeed in taxing the Many to pay some of them for handling and killing the others. More complexity – aka drones – does not change that dynamics. The definiciency is in the heart, and metastasizes in the brain, no matter what you hold in your hands.

        This is where Bill Joy’s inane ranting about energetically impossible “grey goo” turns into the useful idiocy of “Knowledge-Enabled Mass Destruction”. In countries with proud authoritarian traditions, the consequences can be impressive – in Germany, paintball counts as prohibited paramilitary training. Yes, if everybody has a Make-a-virus kit at home, the equation does change, and not for the better. Voila, the National Information Security State is born – ignorance, all of a sudden, has become the virtue that preserves civilization. The more comprehensively ignorant we are, the safer we – and our betters – will be.

        In 70′ Germany, there was a nationwide conflict over nuclear first strike weapons (Pershing deployment) and civilian use of nuclear power in the absence of a clearly defined fuel cycle and nuclear waste disposal solution. The most principled argument against a plutonium economy was that the circulation of hundreds of tons of radiactive material, a lot of it enriched and/or potentially weapon-grade, was fundamentally incompatible with civil rights and an open society. The hardware you invest in will shape the society you will live in, as surely as the flintstone our ancestors picked up shaped our hands and brain. I do not think you will change the dynamics by insisting on your own private military-industrial basement.

  2. Frank33 says:

    What best describes the Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center? The Gestapo? or The SS? or NKVD? Or Stasi?

  3. BoxTurtle says:

    Who needs drones to deal with the MOTUs?

    If you shoot the king, you’d better kill him.

    But the only weapon that works against the MOTUs is a lawyer. Or another MOTU.

    Boxturtle (Money also works, but nobody here has that many zeros in their balance book)

  4. lysias says:

    OT (but not really), Iceland has passed the press freedom law Wikileaks asked it to: Iceland says yes to Wikileaks law:

    Iceland’s government and parliament, the Alþing, has voted for the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), a law co-developed with whistleblowing website Wikileaks. The law is posed to turn Iceland into a press haven for journalists worldwide, as it is combines best-practice legislation from around the world in a legislative package designed to protect sources and whistleblowers.

    Laws from Belgium, the State of New York, Sweden and other countries were examined to find the best possible ways to protect the flow of information to the public.

    Communications between journalists and whistleblowers, for instance, will be legally protected and may not be intercepted by the state. Further issues corrected by IMMI are prior restraint, or simply put gagging orders hindering a newspaper or the nine o’clock news on reporting on a certain subject. Libel laws and libel tourism will also be addressed, making sure reporters do not face claims where their judgement has not breached any laws.

    Archives will also find protection. According to European law, an archived newspaper story is published anew when it is pulled from a site and displayed in a browser. This means an English newspaper may have to pull investigative reports if it is brought to court, even two years after publication. IMMI will set a time limit of two months after publication of a report, making sure archives can stay complete.

  5. Hmmm says:

    …because all TALON reports were deleted from their database…

    Uh… that’s not at all the same as saying the underlying information was deleted from the database. It’s deleting the generated outputs, not deleting the raw data inputs.

      • Hmmm says:

        Seems so.

        Glad you’re here, let me run this past you:

        I had this insight the other night which I’m sure is full of holes, but the basic idea was that what most of the actors whom we call ‘conservatives’ really are is ‘imperialists’. They stand above all else for continuity and expansion of the American empire in the world. It’s not really a political position, it’s identification with that power, and a dedication to serving as an instrument of that power. Social issues, law, and anything else is only important to them to the extent that it supports that power and their role in its maintenance and expansion.

        Fully crazy?

        • fatster says:

          Thank you for the compliment *blush*. I don’t deserve it, but I’m sure enjoying it.

          I don’t think conservatives’ overriding position is one of identifying with imperialism. I think they are self-absorbed pricks who identify with the MOTU even though almost all of them have not one fig’s chance of being accepted by the MOTU. They are used, and used badly. But they enjoy it because it makes them feel accepted and part of a larger whole. They have not one ounce of human compassion. None. They’re only in it for what ego-strokes they can get. And of course they enjoy the monetary and other perks that are bestowed upon them for their loyalty (so long as it serves the interest of the MOTU).

          Now, having made such bold pronouncements, let me say that, once upon a time “conservative” meant something very different from what it does now. It was an odd position to have, kind of rigid and set in its ways, but some of those who held it did have a sense of honor compared to what the term and those who hold it have come to mean today.

          • fatster says:

            And let me hasten to add that Mr. Natural has the perfect rejoinder to my little outburst above, and I am aware of that.


          • Hmmm says:

            I think there’s definitely a lot of overlap there. Per John Dean, authoritarianism follower personality type also plays a major role in there, and he did such an excellent job of distinguishing that from principled conservatism. Which, though like you I mostly don’t identify with, is at least understandable and respectable and not inherently monstrous.

            Thanks, fatster for thinking about that with me.

  6. fatster says:


    Cracks Show BP Battled Well Two Months Before Blast (Update1)

    “June 17 (Bloomberg) — BP Plc was struggling to seal cracks in its Macondo well as far back as February, more than two months before an explosion killed 11 and spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico.”


  7. fatster says:

    Admiral Allen had a news conference. Very interesting, including:

    “And under the current containment cap that sits on the well head by bringing additional vessels in and being able to draw oil off the choke and the kill lines and produce that on the surface, we expect to get to a capacity of around 53,000 barrels a day by the end of June.

    :At that point, sometime during the month of July, we want to convert over and put a new cap on the well bore that will allow us to have multiple hoses come up to a much larger processing vessel. And the goal is by the end of July if we, if it is required by the amount of oil that’s coming out to increase our capacity between 60 and 80,000 barrels a day.

    “It’s the same point Development Driller II, which is the, drilling the relief well is proceeding at pace and they are 9,000 feet below the sea floor right now and starting to close in on the well bore itself. We anticipate over the next three to four weeks they will close in and be able to tap into the well itself.

    . . .

    “First of all we’re going to have to put an absolute cap over the lower marine riser package. And right now all we have is a containment cap. That’s going to mean we’re probably going to have to unbolt the flange that’s connected to that riser pipe and replace it with a very tight fitting that will allow no oil to escape.”


  8. bobschacht says:

    “First of all we’re going to have to put an absolute cap over the lower marine riser package. And right now all we have is a containment cap. That’s going to mean we’re probably going to have to unbolt the flange that’s connected to that riser pipe and replace it with a very tight fitting that will allow no oil to escape.”

    I was suggesting that a week or two ago, but was told by other commentators here that it couldn’t be done.

    Of course, if the well bore is as leaky as some have been saying, an “absolute cap” might have the effect of forcing the oil and gas from the well bore into the ocean floor, from which it might erupt uncontrollably.

    What they prolly oughta do is, after attaching the new LMRP to the flange, pull out the drill pipe, then push down as big an inside pipe as you can down through the BOP all the way down to the oil deposit itself, and then pump cement down the annulus between the new pipe and the next larger pipe, to seal the well bore. There’s probably a reason they haven’t done this, but I can’t figure out why not.

    Bob in AZ

    • fatster says:

      Not specific to your subject, Bob, since I don’t have the knowledge to respond with anything helpful at all–other than to thank you–but I was impressed with Adm. Allen during this press conference. He’s speaking knowledgeably, and I sense with some confidence. Prior to this, he’d sort of muddle through and, as you well know because I’m not clever at hiding things, I was not favorably impressed. So, I don’t know if this means somebody’s gotten through to BP and told them to quit telling him crap to pass on to us, if somebody’s gotten in control who actually knows this subject and is working vigorously to do the best they can, or whatever, but I do hope whatever is going on behind the scenes (my interpretation of what’s happening, FWIW) continues.

      I’m not all hopeful and such, but at least I don’t think the public is being played for a complete fool now.

      Go to the main page. There’s a video up that they think MIGHT show oil coming up from the seabed itself, and not that busted mess of pipe and BOP and so forth.

      • bobschacht says:

        Go to the main page. There’s a video up that they think MIGHT show oil coming up from the seabed itself, and not that busted mess of pipe and BOP and so forth.

        Whose main page? theoildrum? I’ve just been there and I don’t see any such video.


        • bmaz says:

          Is at FDL, but may be down the queue by now. Video is date stamped the 13th which is right about when the big gush started.

  9. fatster says:

    And now they’re finally discovering that the amount of methane (a climate-warming gas) escaping from Tony’s hole in the Gulf is much greater than the typical well. LINK.

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