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As a general rule, when Dick Cheney favors a foreign policy position it’s best to be on the opposite side if you value liberty over war and authoritarianism. The former vice president’s enthusiastic endorsement of not only Gina Haspel as CIA director but of the torture program she oversaw should tell us all we need... Read More
How did a person who should be in the criminal dock both in the US and in the International Criminal Court for running a torture prison get appointed the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency? What is all the Washington talk about defending human rights when a torturer is put in charge of covert... Read More
Introduction Over the past half-century, I have been engaged in research, lectured and worked with social movements and leftist governments in Latin America. I interviewed US officials and think tanks in Washington and New York. I have written scores of books, hundreds of professional articles and presented numerous papers at professional meetings. In the course,... Read More
President Trump’s recent cabinet shake-up looks to be a real boost to hard-line militarism and neo-conservatism. If his nominees to head the State Department and CIA are confirmed, we may well have moved closer to war.Before being chosen by Trump to head up the CIA, Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo was one of the... Read More
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On Sunday, Former CIA Director John Brennan and Former National Intelligence Director (NID) James Clapper appeared on CNN’s morning talk show, State of the Union, to discuss Donald Trump’s brief meeting with Vladimir Putin in Vietnam. The two ex-Intel chiefs were sharply critical of Trump and wondered why the president did not “not acknowledge and... Read More
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Or How I Learned Not to Love Big Brother
[This piece has been adapted and expanded from the introduction to Alfred W. McCoy’s new book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power.] In the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks, Washington pursued its elusive enemies across the landscapes of Asia and Africa, thanks in part to... Read More
Hired psychologists devised "enhanced interrogation techniques” to break prisoners
Given the intense media coverage over Charlottesville, a recent small headlinelargely escaped notice, but it could have a major impact on how Americans come to terms with the excesses that developed from the “global war on terror.” For the first time, several individuals closely associated with the CIA torture program were about to become answerable... Read More
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Hating Russia and Trump is de rigueur
Long ago, when I was a spear carrying middle ranker at CIA, a colleague took me aside and said that he had something to tell me “as a friend,” that was very important. He told me that his wife had worked for years in the Agency’s Administrative Directorate, as it was then called, where she... Read More
Said the president: "For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and, at times, a policy-making arm of the Government. ... [T]his quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being... Read More
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What will those rascals in Moscow do next?
It has been another week full of news about Russia. Americans might be surprised to learn that nearly every aspect of their lives has been somehow impacted by the insidious covert activity of a former global enemy that now has an economy the size of Spain or Italy. One of the latest claims is that... Read More
Washington might be sending too many spies, making them more vulnerable
The Central Intelligence Agency, established through the National Security Act of 1947, was primarily intended to be a centralized clearinghouse for information to prevent another Pearl Harbor-style attack on the United States. Be that as it may, the initiation of what would eventually be termed the Cold War soon after led to the rapid expansion... Read More
Why sources and methods matter more than the material itself
Intelligence agencies and senior government officials tend to use a lot of jargon. Laced with acronyms, this language sometimes does not translate very well into journalese when it hits the media. For example, I experienced a sense of disorientation two weeks ago over the word “sensitive” as used by several senators, Sally Yates, and James... Read More
Why whistleblowers are treated worse than traitors
President Barack Obama was a master at using the tools available through the Justice Department to silence whistleblowers and otherwise put a lid on developments that might embarrass his administration. He initiated numerous claims of the state-secrets privilege to stop lawsuits against the government, while also prosecuting leakers with a zeal previously unseen. So perhaps... Read More
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Will Trump Take on the Spooks?
Although many details are still hazy because of secrecy – and further befogged by politics – it appears House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes was informed last week about invasive electronic surveillance of senior U.S. government officials and, in turn, passed that information onto President Trump. This news presents Trump with an unwelcome but unavoidable... Read More
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The danger lies in what might be coming next
The WikiLeaks exposure of thousands of documents relating to the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) hacking program, which was expanded dramatically under President Barack Obama between 2013 and 2016, has created something of a panic in the users of cell phones, online computers and even for smart television viewers. The documents describe “more than a thousand... Read More
The CIA created and accumulated from other sources a huge array of malware and cyber attack capability capable of stealing information from any individual, any government, any corporation, any intelligence agency and either leaving no trace or leaving a “fingerprint” of an innocent party. The CIA, being arrogant and incompetent, lost control over its monster... Read More
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And the devil is spelled T-R-U-M-P
Last Monday The Washington Post featured an op-ed by one Edward Price entitled “I didn’t think I’d ever leave the CIA. But because of Trump, I quit.” I must admit that it was refreshing at first to read something in The Post that did not rush to blame BOTH Trump and Vladimir Putin for everything... Read More
We need to understand, and so does President Trump, that the hoax “war on terror” was used to transform intelligence agencies, such as the NSA and CIA, and criminal investigative agencies, such as the FBI, into Gestapo secret police agencies. Trump is now threatened by these agencies, because he rejects the neoconservative’s agenda of US... Read More
Well, if you were wondering who really runs things in Washington, D.C.—where the real power lies—now you know: it’s with the intelligence agencies, with a little help from the Main Stream Media. Next question: why do they hate Russia so much? December 29th, the day still-President Barack Obama expelled a raft of Russian diplomats on... Read More
How Can We Recognize Our Friends in the Mixed-Up World of Donald Trump?
You know you’re living in a looking-glass world when former Vice President Dick Cheney speaks out against one of Donald Trump’s executive orders. He’s a good example of how past adversaries of movements for peace and justice are lining up against our current adversary, the new president. The United States, Cheney told radio host Hugh... Read More
CIA employees are not staging a coup against Donald Trump
It would never occur to ordinary CIA officers that derailing a presidency might be a desirable thing to do. The rumor of some kind of coup in the making is the creation of a media that is looking for a story and trying to bash Donald Trump at the same time. To be sure, there... Read More
Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s foreign policy positions have been anything but consistent. One day we heard that NATO was obsolete and the US needs to pursue better relations with Russia. But the next time he spoke, these sensible positions were abandoned or an opposite position was taken. Trump’s inconsistent rhetoric left us wondering... Read More
The Collective "Wisdom" of the U.S. Intelligence Community
They call themselves the U.S. “Intelligence Community,” or the IC. If you include the office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which in 2005 began as a crew of 12 people, including its director, and by 2008 had already grown to a staff of 1,750, there are 17 members (adding up to an alphabet... Read More
When I read Trump’s defenders, such as Daniel Lazare, having to balance their defense with denunciations of Trump, I think the CIA’s propaganda is working. In his article, Lazare asks the rhetorical question, “Is a military coup in the works?” He then goes on to describe the CIA and presstitute coup against Trump unfolding before... Read More
If Trump intends to survive, he must break the CIA into a thousand pieces as President John F. Kennedy intended before the CIA assassinated him. Trump must arrest for treason the neoconservatives and put them on trial. Trump must curtail NSA’s spying, which is in complete violation of the US Constitution, on all communications of... Read More
As President-elect Donald Trump fights off fierce assaults by the massed national security apparatus, Democrats, the neocon Praetorian Guard, and a host of other political foes, I am feeling a sharp sense of déjà vu. Trump claimed that these attacks were like ‘living in Nazi Germany.’ Not so. The president-elect could have found a much... Read More
If you want to learn about the CIA as a deep state within the surface state, read this book. The strength of this book is that it gives us the goods on the Phoenix program used in Vietnam for assassination and murder and explains its use in Afghanistan and how it has been established in... Read More
Fact, fiction, or speculation?
Yesterday, BuzzFeed published a 35-page dossier containing allegations that Russian operatives worked to identify and develop compromising personal and financial information about Donald Trump. Allegedly, this is the full document from which a two-page synopsis was drawn and provided to Trump and President Obama as an appendix to a report about Russian interference in the... Read More
What to expect from his new director
The midnight oil is burning over at the Central Intelligence Agency as senior managers consider options relating to how to play new president Donald Trump and new director Mike Pompeo, neither of whom possesses any serious understanding either of intelligence operations or of how to lead 20,000 often difficult-to-manage employees. With the exception of the... Read More
Jon Rappoport’s mocking of the US presstitutes is superb: “Vladimir Putin is the secret president of the United States. “Yep. That’s it. The US is now the USSR. It’s all over. Trump is a Communist who took orders from Putin. Trump is a Red. That was his game all along. He’s a billionaire Commie.” Ridicule... Read More
There is a long tradition of trusting candidates with classified information
Providing intelligence briefings to presidential candidates is a practice that goes back more than sixty years to the administration of Harry Truman. The briefings are a courtesy and have no basis in law but they are intended to level the playing field somewhat so that an incumbent would not necessarily have an advantage over an... Read More
Intelligence agencies have struggled to be worthy of their name
A little more than one year ago Director John Brennan announced a shake-up at CIA that would, inter alia, enhance the eroded capabilities of the Clandestine Service. An earlier move to appoint paramilitary officer Gregory Vogel as deputy director for the agency’s spies signaled to the bureaucracy that shooting and droning had replaced espionage as... Read More
Should NSA listen in when a foreign government seeks to shape America's foreign policy?
The Wall Street Journal story revealing that the Barack Obama administration used the National Security Agency (NSA) to listen to phone calls made by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his aides is being spun in a number of different directions depending on one’s political proclivities. Sen. Rand Paul told Fox News that he... Read More
An all-star cast teams up to spin their enhanced interrogation regime
Back in the days when I was a spy there were certain things that one just did not dwell upon. Everyone who worked in the field knew that there were episodes that it would be best not to recall, either because they were embarrassing, possibly unsavory, or even, more rarely, wildly successful though at a... Read More
Working closely together encourages tunnel vision and groupthink.
Director of Central Intelligence John Brennan has convened a panel to consider Agency reorganization. The central issue is whether CIA analysts should be more operationally integrated with Clandestine Service officers, but reform might also include creating new staffs operating independently of the geographical divisions that have traditionally run the spies. China, might, for example, become... Read More
Readers have asked for my take on the CIA torture report. There is so much information and commentary available that it is unnecessary. Igor Volsky http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40428.htm provides a concise summary. President George W. Bush signed off on torture and then told the gullible people that “this government does not torture people.” The torture was horrific.... Read More
It was an open secret Pakistan’s ISI fostered the Taliban but the US never confronted Islamabad
The controversy over the use of torture by the CIA obscures two important aspects of “the war on terror” which the agency was supposedly waging. The first is that this war has demonstrably failed since Isis, terrorists by any definition of the term, today rules a large part of the Middle East in northern Iraq... Read More
Incoming intel committee chair Richard Burr will end any hope of holding out of control spy agencies accountable
The wheels up party is a venerable CIA tradition, normally celebrated at overseas stations when a particularly incompetent Chief of Station or a hostile ambassador was in the process of permanently leaving post. The drinking would begin at a time estimated to coincide with the moment when the dearly departed’s aircraft lifted off from the... Read More
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David Copperfield is a CIA Contractor?
The crisis involving the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a Godsend to politicians, which is probably why the threat actually posed by the group is being hyped as it is while the White House and Pentagon continue to change the meaning of commonly used English expressions to enable the attacking of just... Read More
Intelligence pros are far more skeptical of government claims than their bosses let on
That the United States’ intention to confront Russia over Ukraine, a place where it has no real interests, borders on the incomprehensible has been clearly demonstrated by both Scott McConnell and Daniel Larison. University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer has also described in some detail how the dangerous confrontation is largely the fault of Washington... Read More
America's high-tech spies aren't equipped to penetrate low-tech terrorist organizations
The inability of the United States government to anticipate the ISIS offensive that has succeeded in taking control of a large part of Iraq is already being referred toas an “intelligence failure.” To be sure, Washington has unparalleled technical capabilities to track money movements and to obtain information from the airwaves. It is adept at... Read More
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It's Always Illegal and Often Immoral
It is being reported that the attempt by Director of Central Intelligence John Brennan to steer the CIA away from paramilitary action and back towards conventional spying and analysis is not going well. Media coverage of the problem is depicting it as being partly driven by bureaucratic obstacles associated with budgeting and allocation of personnel,... Read More
Government bureaucracies, like many private sector businesses, are initially created in response to a perceived need either to do something or provide a service. The Department of Defense in its current incarnation rose out of the developing Cold War in the post-Second World War environment, while the CIA was created to prevent a second Pearl... Read More
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A Quality That is Sometimes Hard to Find
I recently had lunch with an old friend who described how a fellow army officer had, back in April 2008, attended a mandatory all hands meeting at the National Defense University in Washington. The purpose of the meeting, which was held in the university’s largest auditorium, was to promote a book written by noted neocon... Read More
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How do you say that in Arabic?
How do you process 1.7 billion pieces of information in a day? You can’t, so if you are the National Security Agency (NSA) you screen through it insofar as you are able to do so using computers with sophisticated algorithms to identify key words and then store it somewhere so you can always check back... Read More
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The “unitary executive” crowd that came to the fore under George W. Bush argue basically that because the government does something it is therefore ipso facto legal. It is not a new concept though one heard only intermittently in the United States where constitutional checks and balances were long the Gospel prior to 9/11. Ironically,... Read More
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This month, as the main character in the Showtime series Homeland was willingly captured by Iranian guards as part of an elaborate CIA assassination plot, The Associated Press was reporting that real-life American Robert Levinson, kidnapped in Iran nearly seven years ago, had been working for the Agency at the time of his disappearance. As... Read More
U.S. covert human intelligence has specialized in failure
“Intelligence failure” is the get out of jail free card for the political class. If one can plausibly cite an inability of the intelligence community to provide accurate information in a timely fashion, it is possible to walk away from any disastrous policy with only minimal political damage. The 2003 invasion of Iraq is a... Read More
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The White House is pushing hard to keep a significant number of American soldiers in Afghanistan contrary to President Barack Obama’s earlier pledge to have then all out by the end of 2014. As the United States President has demonstrated himself to be a habitual liar that failure to connect promises made in 2008 with... Read More
How the CIA Bungled the War on Terror
Call it the Jason Bourne strategy. Think of it as the CIA’s plunge into Hollywood -- or into the absurd. As recent revelations have made clear, that Agency’s moves couldn’t be have been more far-fetched or more real. In its post-9/11 global shadow war, it has employed both private contractors and some of the world’s... Read More
Category Classics
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
While other top brass played press agents for the administration’s war, William Odom told the truth about...
Which superpower is more threatened by its “extractive elites”?