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CIA Rendered Useless

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    Rendering The CIA Useless John Prados February 16, 2007 http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2007/02/16/rendering_the_cia_useless.php This week the European
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 6, 2007
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      Rendering The CIA Useless
      John Prados
      February 16, 2007
      http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2007/02/16/rendering_the_cia_useless.php


      This week the European Parliament finished its investigation into the
      CIA's use of "extraordinary renditions" to kidnap European citizens
      and residents and subject them to torture and imprisonment without
      trial. The EU condemned both the practice and 14 member nations for
      complying with it, frequently under the direction of non-elected
      intelligence officials without knowledge or consent from government
      representatives, let alone the public.

      Today an Italian court has decided to grant warrants to arrest 26 CIA
      personnel allegedly involved in the February 2003 kidnapping in Milan
      of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr. The chief of the Italian military
      intelligence service and his deputy are defending themselves before
      courts in the case. German courts in Munich recently issued arrest
      warrants against 13 alleged CIA officers and contract employees in the
      January 2004 rendition of German citizen Khaled al-Masri. The German
      parliament is reviewing its intelligence service's collaboration with
      the CIA. There is widespread outrage in both Europe and the Muslim
      world over these practices.

      What is the Bush administration response? Shoot the messengers.
      General Michael V. Hayden, the current CIA director, was asked a few
      months ago about the agency's foreign intelligence partnerships, given
      the mounting investigations of CIA activities. Without touching the
      controversial U.S. operations at all, his response was, "If an ally
      believes—fears—that we can't keep such activities private, then that
      ally is going to be much more reluctant to deal with us."

      Much as in the bad old days, the CIA persists in the delusion that
      what people say—not what it does—is the issue. The agency is riding
      for a fall. Ham-handed American spooks—who depend, by their own
      admission, on foreign intelligence services in up to 90 percent of
      their operations—have muddied the waters even with our best friends.
      The controversial "rendition" program that is at the centerpiece of
      Bush counterterrorism efforts has swept up many innocents along with
      known terrorists and has sparked trouble for our allies.

      In Canada, citizen Maher Arar was apprehended in October 2002 while
      making an airline connection in the U.S.—but then rendered to Syria by
      the CIA. The chief of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was forced to
      resign as a result of Canadian security's contribution to this
      travesty. And the Swedish intelligence service was appalled at
      high-handed CIA behavior in snatching two Egyptian nationals in that
      country in December 2001.

      Aside from the U.S. denials and wholesale evasions of
      responsibility—the Bush people have refused to take Maher Arar off the
      U.S. terrorist watch list (or even apologize), even though the man has
      been cleared by a massive royal commission investigation. The effect
      of these operations can only sour foreign cooperation with the CIA.

      A response in the form of a new long-term development plan at the CIA
      is in progress. The plan has two elements relevant here: First, the
      agency intends to increase its capability to act unilaterally; second,
      the procedure for approving covert operations is to be modified.
      Although it is also true the CIA's dependence on foreign services is
      excessive and should be reduced, unilateral efforts bear their own
      burdens (the Bay of Pigs was such an operation). More important is the
      Covert Action Review Group, the unit responsible for approving
      proposed activities, which in the new order would not be answerable to
      the chief, but to the CIA's deputy director. Today that person would
      be Stephen R. Kappes, who, while he is not the top boss and is not
      invested with the chief's private vision and knowledge, has experience
      picking up the pieces after covert disasters—unlike General Hayden,
      with no covert ops background whatever. Moreover, both Kappes and
      Hayden are heavily committed to a welter of review boards and progress
      management committees required by the new strategic development plan.

      Above the level of the CIA, covert operations proposals are supposed
      to be approved by higher authorities, reviews that seem to be cursory
      in the Bush administration. Tyler Drumheller, former chief of the
      CIA's European Division, recounts how he once had to brief Condoleezza
      Rice on a rendition operation. "Her chief concern," Drumheller told
      Der Spiegel earlier this month , "was not whether it was the right
      thing to do, but what the president would think about it." There were
      no deliberations on the value of the target or the potential flap that
      could be caused by such an intervention.

      In addition, the head of the National Clandestine Service—the former
      CIA Directorate of Operations—which produces the proposals for covert
      operations, is the same cowboy who presided over the agency's
      Counterterrorism Center at the height of the renditions program. It
      was on his watch that the Masri, Arar and Nasr affairs began. As for
      the action teams, Drumheller says they "are drawn from paramilitary
      officers who are brave and colorful ... If they didn't do paramilitary
      actions for a living, they would probably be robbing banks." These
      officers did courageous things in Afghanistan and Iraq, but they
      should not be expected to take a broad view of the missions being
      proposed. When these officers see themselves in danger of arrest in
      foreign lands, that, too, must have an impact.

      The broad international support for the United States after 9/11 has
      evaporated, and the old Cold War attitudes in America that accepted
      the use of these techniques are long gone. The Bush administration's
      covert operations have been as catastrophic as its conventional
      military campaign in Iraq, yet it is now posturing itself for
      unilateral action. This is a disaster waiting to happen. America needs
      a rational foreign policy. The country cannot be saved by a new posse
      of covert cowboys.


      John Prados is a senior fellow with the National Security Archive in
      Washington, D.C. His current book is Safe for Democracy: The Secret
      Wars of the CIA.

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