Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cheney to Lead Anti-Terrorism Plan Team


Cheney to Lead Anti-Terrorism Plan Team

New FEMA Office Will Coordinate Response Efforts of More Than 40 Agencies, Officials Say

By Vernon Loeb
Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, May 9, 2001; Page A29

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blackwater tied to CIA assassination plot


WASHINGTON - The Central Intelligence Agency in 2004 hired outside contractors from the private security contractor Blackwater USA as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda, according to current and former government officials.
Executives from Blackwater, which has generated controversy because of its aggressive tactics in Iraq, helped the spy agency with planning, training and surveillance. The C.I.A. spent several million dollars on the program, which did not capture or kill any terrorist suspects.

The fact that the C.I.A. used an outside company for the program was a major reason that Leon E. Panetta, the new C.I.A. director, became alarmed and called an emergency meeting to tell Congress that the agency had withheld details of the program for seven years, the officials said.

It is unclear whether the C.I.A. had planned to use the contractors to capture or kill Qaeda operatives, or just to help with training and surveillance. American spy agencies have in recent years outsourced some highly controversial work, including the interrogation of prisoners. But government officials said that bringing outsiders into a program with lethal authority raised deep concerns about accountability in covert operations.

Officials said that the C.I.A. did not have a formal contract with Blackwater for this program but instead had individual agreements with top company officials, including the founder, Erik D. Prince, a politically connected former member of the Navy Seals and the heir to a family fortune. Blackwater’s work on the program actually ended years before Mr. Panetta took over the agency, after senior C.I.A. officials themselves questioned the wisdom of using outsiders in a targeted killing program.

Blackwater, which has changed its name, most recently to Xe Services, and is based in North Carolina, in recent years has received millions of dollars in government contracts, growing so large that the Bush administration said that it was a necessary part of its war operation in Iraq.
It has also drawn controversy. Blackwater employees hired to guard American diplomats in Iraq were accused of using excessive force on several occasions, including shootings in downtown Baghdad in 2007 in which 17 civilians were killed. Iraqi officials have since refused to renew the company’s operating license.

Several current and former government officials interviewed for this article spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing details of a still classified program.
Paul Gimigliano, a C.I.A. spokesman, declined to provide details about the canceled program, but he said that Mr. Panetta’s decision on the assassination program was “clear and straightforward.”

“Director Panetta thought this effort should be briefed to Congress, and he did so,” Mr. Gimigliano said. “He also knew it hadn’t been successful, so he ended it.”
A Xe spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the Senate Intelligence Committee, also declined to give details of the program. But she praised Mr. Panetta for notifying Congress. “It is too easy to contract out work that you don’t want to accept responsibility for,” she said.

The C.I.A. this summer conducted an internal review of the assassination program that recently was presented to the White House and the Congressional intelligence committees. The officials said that the review stated that Mr. Panetta’s predecessors did not believe that they needed to tell Congress because the program was not far enough developed.

The House Intelligence Committee is investigating why lawmakers were never told about the program. According to current and former government officials, former Vice President Dick Cheney told C.I.A. officers in 2002 that the spy agency did not need to inform Congress because the agency already had legal authority to kill Qaeda leaders.

One official familiar with the matter said that Mr. Panetta did not tell lawmakers that he believed that the C.I.A. had broken the law by withholding details about the program from Congress. Rather, the official said, Mr. Panetta said he believed that the program had moved beyond a planning stage and deserved Congressional scrutiny.

“It’s wrong to think this counterterrorism program was confined to briefing slides or doodles on a cafeteria napkin,” the official said. “It went well beyond that.”

Current and former government officials said that the C.I.A.’s efforts to use paramilitary hit teams to kill Qaeda operatives ran into logistical, legal and diplomatic hurdles almost from the outset. These efforts had been run by the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center, which runs operations against Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks.
In 2002, Blackwater won a classified contract to provide security for the C.I.A. station in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the company maintains other classified contracts with the C.I.A., current and former officials said.

Over the years, Blackwater has hired several former top C.I.A. officials, including Cofer Black, who ran the C.I.A. counterterrorism center immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks.

C.I.A. operatives also regularly use the company’s training complex in North Carolina. The complex includes a shooting range used for sniper training.

An executive order signed by President Gerald R. Ford in 1976 barred the C.I.A. from carrying out assassinations, a direct response to revelations that the C.I.A. had initiated assassination plots against Fidel Castro of Cuba and other foreign politicians.

The Bush administration took the position that killing members of Al Qaeda, a terrorist group that attacked the United States and has pledged to attack it again, was no different from killing enemy soldiers in battle, and that therefore the agency was not constrained by the assassination ban.

But former intelligence officials said that employing private contractors to help hunt Qaeda operatives would pose significant legal and diplomatic risks, and they might not be protected in the same way government employees are.

Some Congressional Democrats have hinted that the program was just one of many that the Bush administration hid from Congressional scrutiny and have used the episode as a justification to delve deeper into other Bush-era counterterrorism programs.

But Republicans have criticized Mr. Panetta’s decision to cancel the program, saying he created a tempest in a teapot.

“I think there was a little more drama and intrigue than was warranted,” said Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.
Officials said that the C.I.A. program was devised partly as an alternative to missile strikes using drone aircraft, which have accidentally killed civilians and cannot be used in urban areas where some terrorists hide.

Yet with most top Qaeda operatives believed to be hiding in the remote mountains of Pakistan, the drones have remained the C.I.A.’s weapon of choice. Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has embraced the drone campaign because it presents a less risky option than sending paramilitary teams into Pakistan.

This article, C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help in Plan to Kill Jihadists, first appeared in The New York Times.

Attorney: FBI trained NJ blogger to incite others


Monday, July 20, 2009

India helped FBI trace ISI-terrorist links


Cheney to Lead Anti-Terrorism Plan Team


New FEMA Office Will Coordinate Response Efforts of More Than 40 Agencies, Officials Say
By Vernon LoebWashington Post Staff WriterWednesday, May 9, 2001; Page A29

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Upcoming Military Robot Could Feed on Dead Bodies


It could be a combination of 19th-century mechanics, 21st-century technology — and a 20th-century horror movie.

A Maryland company under contract to the Pentagon is working on a steam-powered robot that would fuel itself by gobbling up whatever organic material it can find — grass, wood, old furniture, even dead bodies.

Robotic Technology Inc.'s Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot — that's right, "EATR" — "can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment (and other organically-based energy sources), as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable," reads the company's Web site.

That "biomass" and "other organically-based energy sources" wouldn't necessarily be limited to plant material — animal and human corpses contain plenty of energy, and they'd be plentiful in a war zone.

EATR will be powered by the Waste Heat Engine developed by Cyclone Power Technology of Pompano Beach, Fla., which uses an "external combustion chamber" burning up fuel to heat up water in a closed loop, generating electricity.

The advantages to the military are that the robot would be extremely flexible in fuel sources and could roam on its own for months, even years, without having to be refueled or serviced.
Upon the EATR platform, the Pentagon could build all sorts of things — a transport, an ambulance, a communications center, even a mobile gunship.

In press materials, Robotic Technology presents EATR as an essentially benign artificial creature that fills its belly through "foraging," despite the obvious military purpose.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

13 doctors demand inquest into Dr David Kelly's death


Grand Jury Inquiry on Destruction of C.I.A. Tapes



Published: July 2, 2009

WASHINGTON — Current and former top Central Intelligence Agency officers have appeared before a federal grand jury in Virginia as part of an 18-month investigation into the agency’s destruction of 92 videotapes depicting the brutal interrogations of two Qaeda detainees.

The witnesses recently called by the special prosecutor, former government officials said, include the agency’s top officer in London and Porter J. Goss, who was C.I.A. director when the tapes were destroyed in November 2005.

The grand jury testimony of C.I.A. officers is further evidence that, despite President Obama’s pledge not to punish agency operatives for their role in the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects, the shadow of the controversial program still looms over the agency’s daily operations.

The court appearances are tied to a criminal investigation led by John L. Durham, whom the Justice Department appointed in January 2008 to investigate the destruction of the tapes. The tapes had shown C.I.A. officers using harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding, on two detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

Mr. Durham has shrouded his investigation in a level of secrecy rare even by the normally tight-lipped standards of special prosecutors, and after 18 months it is still difficult to assess either the direction or the targets of his investigation.

Current and former intelligence officials say the tapes were ordered destroyed by Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then the head of the C.I.A.’s clandestine branch. Mr. Rodriguez had worried that the tapes might be leaked and put undercover operatives in legal and physical jeopardy.
One top C.I.A. officer who recently appeared before Mr. Durham’s grand jury is the agency’s station chief in London, who had worked with Mr. Rodriguez when he led the agency’s Counterterrorism Center and who eventually became his chief of staff at the clandestine branch.
Because she remains undercover, The New York Times is not publishing her name. She is said by former agency officers to have helped carry out Mr. Rodriguez’s order to destroy the tapes.

The tapes had been kept in a safe at the C.I.A. station in Thailand, the country where the interrogations took place. Mr. Goss, whom President George W. Bush removed from the C.I.A in May 2006, is said by several former C.I.A. officials to have opposed the destruction of the tapes.
Mr. Rodriguez has not yet testified before the grand jury, two former C.I.A. officers said.

In a court filing last year, Mr. Durham indicated he planned to wrap up interviews for the investigation by late February, but Obama administration officials have indicated more recently that Mr. Durham could continue his work through the summer. One reason for the pace of the investigation, officials said, is that the grand jury convenes only once a month to hear testimony.
The current and former government officials interviewed for this article all spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing details of a continuing criminal investigation.

Besides the question of who at the C.I.A. and White House might have authorized the destruction of the tapes, Mr. Durham is investigating the legal guidance Mr. Rodriguez received before giving the order. One issue is whether the agency might have broken the law by destroying tapes that could have been introduced as evidence in federal trials.

Mr. Rodriguez told colleagues at the time that two lawyers inside the agency’s clandestine branch, Steven Hermes and Robert Eatinger, had advised him that there was no legal impediment to destroying the tapes and that he had the authority to give the order.
But the advice of the two lawyers was careful, the former officials said, and they never gave official approval for the tapes’ destruction.

The C.I.A. never disclosed the existence of the tapes to either the Sept. 11 commission or federal courts that had been hearing the cases of Qaeda suspects in American custody.
At the time the tapes were destroyed, lawyers for Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 plot, were seeking information from the Bush administration about the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah that might have pertained to Mr. Moussaoui’s role in the 2001 attacks.

Some legal experts said Mr. Durham might have trouble building a criminal case around the role of the C.I.A. lawyers. “It seems difficult to prove that lawyers had criminal intent,” said John Radsan, a former C.I.A. lawyer and federal prosecutor who now teaches at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, “and they didn’t have Rodriguez’s personal interest in getting rid of the tapes.”

“Incompetence does not equal obstruction of justice,” Mr. Radsan said. As Mr. Durham’s investigation proceeds, the Obama administration has also been forced under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to make public a number of top-secret documents related to the C.I.A. detention program. On Thursday, the Justice Department sent a letter to a judge in New York saying that it would need until Aug. 31 to produce a copy of a 2004 report by the agency’s inspector general detailing a number of abuses at C.I.A. prisons overseas.

David Johnston contributed reporting.

Facebook Withdraws Changes in Data Use


Amnesty International accuses Israel of war crimes in Gaza


Cheney linked to concealment of CIA project


The AIPAC propagandist Dennis Ross moves over to the National Security Council


NSA to help defend civilian agency networks


"The program will only review data going to or from government systems", Department of Homeland Security officials told the Washington Post, which first reported the story.

U.S. grants support to Iranian dissidents


Bush sanctions 'black ops' against Iran


Neda Sultan R.I.P - Iran Elections


CIA head: Cheney almost wishing for an attack


Israeli settlement 'shooter' released


Couple indicted on charges of spying for Cuba


"Sit Down!" The Power to Silence the Truth about 9/11


U.S. to Drop Spy Case Against Pro-Israel Lobbyists



Wiretap Recorded Rep. Harman Discussing Aid for AIPAC Defendants


Computer Files Hold Key in CIA Case

Officer Had Maps, Photos Involving Abducted Cleric, Court Told

By Craig WhitlockWashington Post Foreign Service Thursday, June 26, 2008; Page A11

BERLIN, June 25 -- As Italian police investigated the mysterious disappearance of a radical Islamic cleric in 2003, they found a trove of clues on the home computer of the CIA's chief spy in Milan, according to court testimony.

Angelo Foglieri, an Italian anti-terrorism investigator, said Wednesday during trial proceedings in Milan that police found street maps on the CIA officer's computer that had been downloaded from an Internet travel service, Expedia.com. The maps, he said, showed the quickest routes from the cleric's mosque and home in Milan to Aviano Air Base, a joint U.S.-Italian military installation a few hours' drive away.

Also found on the computer were surveillance photos of the Egyptian cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, taken about a month before his alleged abduction, Foglieri said.

Foglieri's testimony came during a trial of 26 Americans charged with grabbing Nasr off the street as he walked toward a Milan mosque on Feb. 17, 2003. He was later flown to Cairo, where he has asserted he was tortured by the Egyptian secret police as part of an investigation into al-Qaeda.

All of the American defendants are being tried in absentia. Italian authorities said all but three are known only by aliases. Several members of the Italian military intelligence agency, SISMI, are also on trial, charged with conspiring with the CIA.

The seized computer belonged to Robert Seldon Lady, the CIA's chief in Milan at the time. It was taken by Italian police after they came to suspect CIA involvement in Nasr's disappearance, despite the agency's denials to Italian anti-terrorism investigators.

Recovered computer files also showed that Lady used Expedia to book a plane reservation to Cairo around the time Nasr was kidnapped. Lady left Italy before he was charged. He has since retired from the CIA.

The computer also contained a list of about 70 hotels around Milan that Italian investigators used to help identify CIA operatives who played a role in the kidnapping, according to testimony from Foglieri and another Italian investigator, the Associated Press reported.
Italian authorities have said they were astounded to find the evidence left unprotected on Lady's computer. But according to the testimony and court records, the CIA repeatedly failed to cover its tracks during the operation.

While most of the CIA officers used false identities, they left a long paper and electronic trail that enabled Italian investigators to retrace their movements, court documents show.
Posing as tourists and business travelers, the Americans often stayed in the same five-star hotels -- with rates as high as $500 a night. They rarely paid in cash, gave their frequent traveler account numbers to desk clerks and made dozens of calls from room phones that were not secure.

They were also spotted in broad daylight. A witness reported seeing men jump out of a van and grab Nasr as he was walking down the street around noon on Feb. 17, 2003.
Prosecutors in Milan have asked the Italian Justice Ministry in Rome to seek the extradition of the American defendants. So far, the Italian government has refused, but arrest warrants for the Americans have been posted throughout the European Union.

Accused 9/11 mastermind: 'I make up stories'


Waterboarding used 266 times on 2 suspects


Thursday, March 12, 2009

U.S. Intel Chief: Israel takes Worst-Case view of Iran Nuke!

It's interesting to know that even with two top U.S. intelligence officials saying Iran is far from a nuke, the mainstream media in the U.S is still able to make Americans think there's reason to believe otherwise.

In testimony before Congress on Tuesday, the officials - Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Maples - said Iran does not have any highly enriched uranium, the fuel used to power a nuclear warhead.
Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair also defended Charles (Chas) Freeman who was slated to be picked as the new chairman of the National Intelligence Council, but withdrew his candidacy for the post on Tuesday after criticism for not "anti-semitism", but "anti-Israel" views. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1070041.html

"I think I can do a better job if I'm getting strong analytical viewpoints to sort out and pass on to you and to the president than if I am getting pre-cooked pablum judgments that don't really challenge," Blair told the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier on Tuesday.([b][color=red]But specifically he was replying to that scoundrel Lieberman[/color][/b]):http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/03/blair-defends-c.html

Amazing! We can't even nominate an intelligence official without him being pro-Israel!