Keeping the Covert War a Secretposted by Ron Beasley at 1/17/2005 01:35:00 PM
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The title may sound redundant, it's not. In the NewYorker, Seymour Hersh tells us how the Pentagon under Rumsfeld with the help of Bush/Cheney is neutering the CIA in order to circumvent laws put in place to limit CIA activities after the abuses in the 70's.
Rumsfeld will become even more important during the second term. In interviews with past and present intelligence and military officials, I was told that the agenda had been determined before the Presidential election, and much of it would be Rumsfeld?s responsibility. The war on terrorism would be expanded, and effectively placed under the Pentagon?s control. The President has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia.The first target is Iran and it's nuclear program. Typical of the Bush administration they have refused to cooperate with anyone else in addressing this very real problem.
The President's decision enables Rumsfeld to run the operations off the books free from legal restrictions imposed on the C.I.A. Under current law, all C.I.A. covert activities overseas must be authorized by a Presidential finding and reported to the Senate and House intelligence committees. (The laws were enacted after a series of scandals in the nineteen-seventies involving C.I.A. domestic spying and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders.) "The Pentagon dosen't feel obligated to report any of this to Congress," the former high-level intelligence official said. "They don't even call it "covert ops"it's too close to the C.I.A. phrase. In their view, it's "black reconnaissance." They're not even going to tell the cincs--the regional American military commanders-in-chief.
One Western diplomat told me that the Europeans believed they were in what he called a "lose-lose position" as long as the United States refuses to get involved. "France, Germany, and the U.K. cannot succeed alone, and everybody knows it," the diplomat said. "If the U.S. stays outside, we don't have enough leverage, and our effort will collapse." The alternative would be to go to the Security Council, but any resolution imposing sanctions would likely be vetoed by China or Russia, and then the United Nations will be blamed and the Americans will say, "The only solution is to bomb."The brut force and ignorance of this administration is putting the entire world in danger. Keep in mind Rumsfeld has fucked up everything else he has done from Afghanistan to Iraq. But now Rumsfeld will have a free hand to do as he pleases, a fact that should terrify everyone.
"Rumsfeld will no longer have to refer anything through the government's intelligence wringer," the former official went on. "The intelligence system was designed to put competing agencies in competition. What's missing will be the dynamic tension that insures everyone's priorities in the C.I.A., the D.O.D., the F.B.I., and even the Department of Homeland Security are discussed. The most insidious implication of the new system is that Rumsfeld no longer has to tell people what he's doing so they can ask, "Why are you doing this?" or "What are your priorities?" Now he can keep all of the mattress mice out of it.The Hersh piece is very long and I would suggest you check out the entire thing.