CIA officer who purged torture evidence is rewarded with promotion

Chuck Hagel, Barack Obama, John BrennanBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A United States Central Intelligence Agency officer who was personally involved in the illegal controversial destruction of videotapes showing CIA personnel torturing detainees, is now leading the Agency’s operations division. At the center of the affair are nearly 100 recordings of interrogation sessions of al-Qaeda suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The videotapes were made in 2002 at a CIA black site in Thailand and kept inside a safe at the Agency’s station in the Asian country. The CIA decided to destroy the videotapes soon after May of 2005, when the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate demanded access to them. In 2007, after The New York Times revealed the destruction of the videotapes, the US Department of Justice ordered two separate investigations into the incident. However, under pressure from the administration of President Barack Obama, no criminal charges were ever pressed. The videotape affair is bound to resurface in the headlines, however, after The Washington Post revealed on Wednesday that a female CIA officer, who personally ordered the destruction of the videotapes, even though she knew that Congress had asked for them, was recently promoted to one of the CIA’s most senior posts. The officer, whose name cannot legally be revealed, because she remains undercover within the Agency, is currently in charge of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service (NCS), which is responsible for conducting covert action and espionage around the world. Many consider the NCS as the ‘heart and soul’ of the CIA, and it is the first time in the history of the CIA that a woman has led that secretive division. Citing “current and former intelligence officials”, The Post alleged that the officer entered the position in an acting capacity a few weeks ago, following the retirement of her boss. Read more of this post

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US Senate to review allegations CIA tried to smear professor

Juan Cole

Juan Cole

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Intelligence Committee of the United States Senate will review allegations, made on Friday by a former CIA officer, that the spy agency tried to gather derogatory information about an American university professor who is critical of the ‘war on terrorism’. According to its chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Committee may “take further action”, depending on its preliminary findings. The allegations surfaced last Friday in an article by New York Times reporter James Risen. Acting on a tip by an unnamed source, Risen spoke to former CIA officer Glenn L. Carle, who confirmed that the Agency “at least twice” displayed an interest in gathering discrediting information about University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole. Dr Cole, who specializes in Middle Eastern history and speaks fluent Arabic, Persian, and Urdu, has been consistently critical of US foreign policy in the Middle East through his writings on his influential blog, Informed Comment. Carle, who made the allegations to The New York Times, retired from the CIA in 2007, after a career that spanned two decades in the Agency’s National Clandestine Service. In the last few years of his public service, Carle was a senior counterterrorism official at the US National Intelligence Council, which operates under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #470

  • Blackwater still working for US despite denials. Reports that Blackwater is out of the US government’s private-security game appear to have been greatly exaggerated. A consigliore to the company’s new owners has said the firm still holds security contracts with the US State Department, and intends to seek more.
  • CIA gets spooky with new radio commercials. The CIA’s National Clandestine Service is continuing its recruitment drive with new radio commercials, complete with a spooky soundtrack of sawing violins and rising timpani –and something about “no one will ever know what you do”.
  • Iranian shah’s son found dead in Boston. Alireza Pahlavi, the youngest son of the late shah of Iran, has been found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Boston’s South End. In June 2001, Alireza’s sister Leila was found dead in a London hotel room from an overdose of barbiturates. The late siblings’ father was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic revolution. He died in Egypt in 1980.

CIA spies consider Mossad ‘most unfriendly’ agency

Mossad seal

Mossad seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
This blog frequently considers the issue of US-Israeli intelligence relations, said to be undergoing a turbulent period in recent times. Indeed, the change of guard at the White House, the rearrangement of Washington’s policy priorities following the economic crash, as well as the dramatic rightwing shift in Israeli politics have rapidly altered the political playing field between the two nations. To this extent, it is worth noting that Meir Dagan, director of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, told a Knesset committee last July that “Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden”. How is this evident in intelligence relations between Washington and Tel Aviv? The Washington Post’s security correspondent Jeff Stein may be able to help fill in the picture. He wrote a few days ago that an internal poll, which was recently administered to CIA operatives, found that Israeli intelligence agencies are considered the world’s least friendly and most uncooperative with their US counterparts. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #324 (CIA edition)

  • Intelligence not hampered by waterboarding ban, says CIA’s top spy. Michael Sulick, head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, told a student audience last week that the spy agency has seen no fall-off in intelligence since waterboarding was banned by the Obama administration.
  • CIA given details of British Muslim students. Personal information concerning the private lives of almost 1,000 British Muslim university students is to be shared with US intelligence agencies. IntelNews has frequently reported on the CIA’s increased activities in the UK.
  • CIA death at Salt Pit gets fresh attention. Jeff Stein revisits the case of Gul Rahman, who died in 2002 after weeks of interrogations at the Salt Pit secret CIA facility in Afghanistan. His death was kept off the CIA books, and his body, which was secretly buried, has never been found.

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CIA destroyed 92 torture tapes, US government says

Rodriguez

Rodriguez

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
United States government lawyers said on Monday that the CIA incinerated 92 videotapes containing footage of torture applied on several “war on terrorism” detainees. The decision to destroy the tapes was taken in November 2005 by CIA official Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., who at the time headed the Agency’s National Clandestine Service. Interestingly, Rodriguez took the decision to destroy the videotapes just as the public concern over alleged torture of CIA detainees increased, causing considerable anxiety at Langley. Moreover, Rodriguez had the videotapes destroyed even though CIA lawyers advised him that “getting rid of the recordings was sloppy and unwise”. Read more of this post

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