News you may have missed #579 (CIA edition)

Robert Grenier

Robert Grenier

►►Interview with ex-CIA Islamabad station chief. Robert Grenier, who was the CIA’s Islamabad station chief from 1999 to 2001, tells Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper that the US unmanned drone program, which began as “a very surgically employed tool against international terrorists”, has now “become much more of a conventional weapon against militants”. He also rejects allegations that Pakistani government officials were aware of osama bin Laden’s whereabouts, saying that “no one has apparently found any compelling evidence”.
►►Who will guide Petraeus in his new CIA job? Siobhan Gorman, of The Wall Street Journal, opines that, when US General David Petraeus takes the helm at the Central Intelligence Agency next month, it will fall to the Agency’s deputy director Michael J. Morell, a little-known 31-year CIA veteran, to guide the new director.
►►CIA drone kills al-Qaeda deputy. An anonymous US official has told The New York Times that a CIA drone killed al-Qaeda’s second-ranking operative in Pakistan’s northwest province of Waziristan. Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who in the past year had taken over as al-Qaeda’s top operational planner, was killed on August 22, according to the official. Al-Qaeda is still officially led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is also believed to be in Pakistan.

News you may have missed #498

  • US claims Iran helping Syria crackdown. Iran is secretly helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad put down pro-democracy demonstrations, according to US officials, who say Tehran is providing gear to suppress crowds and assistance blocking and monitoring protesters’ use of the Internet, cellphones and text-messaging.
  • Frenchmen arrested in Pakistan. One of the French citizens is of Pakistani origin and the other is a Caucasian convert to Islam; the two had apparently intended to travel to Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, where al-Qaida’s top command is based, for terrorist training, according to a US official.
  • Did US blow up its old spy satellite? The US military’s huge reconnaissance satellite Lacrosse 2, which was launched 20 years ago, has been reported by amateur satellite observers as missing in action –a sign that the classified spacecraft may have been purposely destroyed in Earth’s atmosphere.

Abduction of former Pakistani ISI officials raises questions

Colonel Imam

Colonel Imam

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Questions are being raised about the reported abduction of two well-known veterans of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, who appear to have been kidnapped by an unknown group in Pakistan’s remote tribal regions. The two are Khalid Khawaja and Sultan Amir Tarar, a.k.a. Colonel Imam. Khawaja, a retired ISI officer, was a critical mediator between the CIA and Osama bin Laden in the 1980s, during the al-Qaeda’s war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Colonel Imam, also a former intelligence officer and a diplomat, was the ISI handler of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in the 1980s and early 1990s. Both Khawaja and Imam are considered senior members of the ISI’s ‘old guard’, who have strong ideological sympathies for both al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and frequently voice support for the latter. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #311

Al-Qaeda technical expert believed killed. Hussein Yemeni, an al-Qaeda bomb expert and trainer, is believed to have been among more than a dozen people killed in a CIA strike last week in Miram Shah, the largest town in Pakistan’s North Waziristan. Yemeni is thought to have had a major planning role in the December 30 suicide bombing in Khost, Afghanistan that killed seven CIA officers.

Al-Qaeda on the run, claims CIA director. CIA air attacks against al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal region have driven Osama bin Laden and his top deputies deeper into hiding and disrupted their ability to plan sophisticated operations, CIA Director Leon Panetta said Wednesday. Interesting; that’s not exactly what he said last week.

UK government defends use of foreign intel. The British Foreign Office has defended its use of intelligence obtained by foreign security agencies from terrorism suspects, even when it could not be sure how the informants had been treated. It’s not the first time this opinion has been expressed by a senior UK government source.

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US drone strikes inside Pakistan increasingly lethal, study finds [updated]

Predator drone

Predator drone

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Strikes by CIA or Pentagon unmanned Predator drones in Pakistan have increased in frequency and lethality, according to a study published yesterday. Some may question the study, which was conducted on behalf of The Long War Journal, a news and analysis outlet edited by retired US Navy Intelligence Specialist D.J. Elliott, who maintains strong ties to the US Department of Defense [*] Bill Roggio, who also contributes to Bill Kristol’s neoconservative Weekly Standard. Despite its limitations, the report provides an almost unique public record of the frequency and tactical outcomes of the US airstrikes in Pakistan. Read more of this post

Comment: Obama Should Address CIA Assassinations

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Just hours after issuing executive orders for the abolition of the use of torture against terrorism detainees and the closure of the Guantánamo detention facility, US President Barack Obama was already being praised as acting “in a manner consistent with our nation’s values, consistent with our Constitution and consistent with the rule of law”. One jubilant pundit publicly opined that the US has now “reclaimed its place among nations that respect the rule of law and human dignity”. Not so fast. Blinded by the glare of triumphant statements about reclaiming America’s lost moral ground, observers overlooked two US missile strikes that hit Pakistan on Friday afternoon, killing at least 20 people, according to international news agencies. Keep Reading–>