Category Archives: Secret Wars

CIA Claims Release of its History of the Bay of Pigs Debacle Would “Confuse the Public.”

open quote7 April 2012 UPDATE: Fifty-one years after the failed attempt to invade Cuba, the Central Intelligence Agency and Department of Justice continue to claim that releasing the final volume of a CIA history of the debacle would “confuse the public” and should therefore remain withheld. The National Security Archive originally requested the document in 2005. Last year, the Archive filed a FOIA lawsuit to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bay of Pigs debacle. That prompted the release of three volumes of the five volume history (one volume was already available at the Johnson Presidential Library); the CIA and DOJ have continued to fight the release of the fifth volume. Judge Kessler, of the US District Court in Washington DC, is expected to soon rule on the case.

In late 2011, the Central Intelligence Agency explained to Judge Kessler of the US District Court in Washington DC that releasing the final volume of its three-decade-old history of the 1961 Bay of Pigs debacle would “confuse the public,” and should be withheld because it is a “predecisional” document. Wow. And I thought that I had heard them all.close quote (Read more)

CIA Secret Prison: Polish Leaders Break Silence About Black Site

open quoteFor years, the notion that Poland could allow the CIA to operate a secret prison in a remote lake region was treated as a crackpot idea by the country’s politicians, journalists and the public.

A heated political debate this week reveals how dramatically the narrative has changed.

In a string of revelations and political statements, Polish leaders have come closer than ever to acknowledging that the United States ran a secret interrogation facility for terror suspects in 2002 and 2003 in the Eastern European country.close quote (Read more)

Philippines: Most-wanted terror leaders killed

This is from last month. There’s a quiet war in the Philippines too!

open quoteThe Philippine military said it killed Southeast Asia’s most-wanted terrorist and two other senior militants Thursday in a U.S.-backed airstrike marking one of the region’s biggest anti-terrorism successes in recent years.

The dawn strike targeting a militant camp on a southern Philippine island killed Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, a top leader of the regional, al Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror network, said military spokesman Col. Marcelo Burgos.

The U.S. had offered a $5 million reward for the capture of Marwan, a U.S.-trained engineer accused of involvement in a number of deadly bombings in the Philippines and in training new militants. A U.S. official confirmed Thursday that the Pentagon had assisted in the strike.close quote (Read more)

Why American ‘democracy promotion’ rings hollow in the Middle East

open quoteI have to laugh when I see the International Republican Institute (IRI) described by the international media as an “organization that promotes democracy” (in this case, on NPR). The IRI is in the news lately because Egypt’s military government has put some of its members on a “no-fly” list and thereby trapped them in the country, facing investigation and possible trial. I am wondering just how credulous these journalists and editors are: if I were to describe the Center for Economic and Policy Research as “a magical organization that transforms scrap metal into gold”, would that become CEPR’s standard description in the news?

The IRI is an international arm of the US Republican party, so anyone with the stomach to watch the Republican presidential debates might doubt whether this would be a “democracy-promotion” organization. But a look at some of their recent adventures is enough to set the record straight: in 2004, the IRI played a major role in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Haiti. In 2002, the head of the IRI publicly celebrated the short-lived military coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Venezuela. The IRI was also working with organizations and individuals that were involved in the coup. In 2005, the IRI was involved in an effort to promote changes in Brazil’s electoral laws that would weaken the governing Workers party of then President Lula da Silva.

Most recently, in 2009, there was a military coup against the democratically elected government of Honduras. The Obama administration did everything it could to help the coup succeed, and supported “elections” in November of 2009 to legitimize the coup government. The rest of the world – including even the Organization of American States (OAS), under pressure from South American democracies – refused to send observers.close quote (Read more)

Israeli Mossad agents posed as American spies to recruit members of the terrorist organization Jundallah to fight their covert war against Iran

open quoteBuried deep in the archives of America’s intelligence services are a series of memos, written during the last years of President George W. Bush’s administration, that describe how Israeli Mossad officers recruited operatives belonging to the terrorist group Jundallah by passing themselves off as American agents. According to two U.S. intelligence officials, the Israelis, flush with American dollars and toting U.S. passports, posed as CIA officers in recruiting Jundallah operatives — what is commonly referred to as a “false flag” operation.

The memos, as described by the sources, one of whom has read them and another who is intimately familiar with the case, investigated and debunked reports from 2007 and 2008 accusing the CIA, at the direction of the White House, of covertly supporting Jundallah — a Pakistan-based Sunni extremist organization. Jundallah, according to the U.S. government and published reports, is responsible for assassinating Iranian government officials and killing Iranian women and children.

But while the memos show that the United States had barred even the most incidental contact with Jundallah, according to both intelligence officers, the same was not true for Israel’s Mossad. The memos also detail CIA field reports saying that Israel’s recruiting activities occurred under the nose of U.S. intelligence officers, most notably in London, the capital of one of Israel’s ostensible allies, where Mossad officers posing as CIA operatives met with Jundallah officials.

The officials did not know whether the Israeli program to recruit and use Jundallah is ongoing. Nevertheless, they were stunned by the brazenness of the Mossad’s efforts.

“It’s amazing what the Israelis thought they could get away with,” the intelligence officer said. “Their recruitment activities were nearly in the open. They apparently didn’t give a damn what we thought.” close quote (Read more)

Blowback in Somalia

open quoteIndha Adde is not simply a warlord, at least not officially, anymore. Nowadays, he is addressed as Gen. Yusuf Mohamed Siad, and he wears a Somali military uniform, complete with red beret and three stars on his shoulder. His weapons and his newfound legitimacy were bestowed upon him by the US-sponsored African Union force, known as AMISOM, that currently occupies large swaths of Mogadishu.

It is quite a turnabout. Five years ago, Indha Adde was one of Al Qaeda and the Shabab’s key paramilitary allies and a commander of one of the most powerful Islamic factions in Somalia fighting against foreign forces and the US-backed Somali government. He openly admits to having sheltered some of the most notorious Al Qaeda figures—including Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 1998 bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania—and to deceiving the CIA in order to protect the men. (Fazul was killed in June in Mogadishu.)

“The CIA failed to convince me to work with them,” Indha Adde recalls of his meetings in Somalia, Kenya and Dubai with agency operatives beginning in 2004, when, he says, he met the CIA’s East Africa chief in the Emirates. “They offered me money, they offered funding for the region I was controlling, they offered me influence and power in Somalia through US cooperation, but I refused all those offers.” At the time, Indha Adde—like many Muslims around the globe—viewed the United States as “arrogant” and on a crusade against Islam. “Personally, I thought of even Osama [bin Laden] himself as a good man who only wanted the implementation of Islamic law,” he tells me at one of his homes in Mogadishu.

Yusuf Mohamed Siad was not always known just as Indha Adde. As one of the main warlords who divided and destroyed Somalia during the civil war that raged through the 1990s, he brutally took control of the Lower Shabelle region, which was overwhelmingly populated by a rival clan, earning him the moniker “The Butcher.” There are allegations that he ran drug and weapons trafficking operations from the Merca port. Then, as the religious and political winds began to shift in Somalia after 9/11, he remade himself into an Islamic sheik of sorts in the mid-2000s and vowed to fight foreign invaders, including rival warlords funded and directed by the CIA.

Perhaps more than any other figure, Indha Adde embodies the mind-boggling constellation of allegiances and double-crosses that has marked Somalia since its last stable government fell in 1991. And his current role encapsulates the contradictions of the country’s present: he is a warlord who believes in Sharia law, is friendly with the CIA, and takes money and weapons from AMISOM. There are large parts of Mogadishu that are not accessible without his permission, and he controls one of the largest militias and possesses more technicals (truck-mounted heavy automatic weapons) in the city than any other warlord.

While the United States and other Western powers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on arms, training and equipment for the Ugandan and Burundian militaries under the auspices of AMISOM, the Somali military remains underfunded and under-armed. Its soldiers are poorly paid, highly undisciplined and, at the end of the day, more loyal to their clans than to the central government. That’s where Indha Adde’s rent-a-militia comes in.

Over the past year, the Somali government and AMISOM have turned to some unsavory characters in a dual effort to build something resembling a national army and, as the United States attempted to do with its Awakening Councils in the Sunni areas of Iraq in 2006, to purchase strategic loyalty from former allies of the current enemy—in this case, the Shabab. Some warlords, like Indha Adde, have been given government ministries or military rank in return for allocating their forces to the fight against the Shabab. Several are former allies of Al Qaeda or the Shabab, and many fought against the US-sponsored Ethiopian invasion in 2006 or against the US-led mission in Somalia in the early 1990s that culminated in the infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident.

Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed claims that Indha Adde and other warlords have sworn allegiance to the government, but it is abundantly clear from traveling extensively through Mogadishu with Indha Adde that his men are loyal to him above all else. President Sharif seemed almost detached from this reality when I met him at his offices in Mogadishu. “As more territory is gained, it will be easier to unite [the various militias] under one umbrella,” he says.

. . . .

Although there was certainly a small Al Qaeda presence in Somalia before the United States launched its operations—and Islamic militants did carry out assassinations, including the killing of four foreign aid workers in the relatively peaceful Somaliland region in late 2003 and early 2004—the actions of Qanyare and his fellow CIA-backed warlords gave the Islamic militants fodder for an effective propaganda and recruitment campaign.

Qanyare and his allied warlords engaged in a targeted kill-and-capture campaign against individuals they suspected of supporting Islamic radicals. “These people were already heinous warlords; they were widely reviled in Mogadishu. And then they start assassinating imams and local prayer leaders who had nothing to do with terror,” says Abdirahman “Aynte” Ali, a Somali analyst who has written extensively on the history of the Shabab and warlord politics. “They were either capturing them and then renditioning them to Djibouti, where there is a major American base, or in many cases they were chopping their head off and taking the head to the Americans or whoever. And telling them, ‘We killed this guy.’”

. . . .

The “US government was not helping the [Somali] government but was helping the warlords that were against the government,” Buubaa, the former foreign minister, tells me. Washington “thought that the warlords were strong enough to chase away the Islamists or get rid of them. But it did completely the opposite. Completely the opposite.”

. . . .

In the summer of 2006 the ICU, along with fighters from the Shabab, ran the CIA’s men out of town. “The warlords were ejected out of Mogadishu for the first time in sixteen years. No one thought this was possible,” recalls Aynte. From June to December 2006, the ICU “brought a modicum of stability that’s unprecedented in Mogadishu,” reopening the airport and the seaport. “You could drive in Mogadishu at midnight, no problem, no guards. You could be a foreigner or Somali. It was at total peace.”

. . . .

The Bush administration considered the ICU unreconcilable.

. . . .

“The US sponsored the Ethiopian invasion, paying for everything including the gas that it had to expend, to undertake this. And you also had US forces on the ground, US Special Operations forces. You had CIA on the ground. US airpower was a part of the story as well. All of which gave massive military superiority to the Ethiopians,” says Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, director of the Center for the Study of Terrorist Radicalization and a frequent adviser to the US military, including Centcom. “If there’s one lesson in terms of military operations of the past ten years, it’s that the US is a very effective insurgent force. In areas where it’s seeking to overthrow a government, it’s good at doing that. What it’s not shown any luck in doing is establishing a viable government structure.”

The US-backed Ethiopian forces swiftly overthrew the Islamic Courts Union and sent its leaders fleeing or to the grave. Many were rendered to Ethiopia, Kenya or Djibouti; others were killed by US Special Operations forces or the CIA. By New Year’s Day 2007, Prime Minister Gedi was installed in Mogadishu, thanks to the Ethiopians.

. . . .

“Every step taken by the US has benefited Al Shabab,” he told me. “What brought about the ICU? It was the US-backed warlords. If Ethiopia did not invade and the US did not carry out airstrikes, Al Shabab would not have survived so long, because they were outnumbered by those who had positive agendas.”

. . . .

Extrajudicial killings by Ethiopian soldiers were widely reported, particularly in the final months of 2007. Reports of Ethiopian soldiers “slaughtering” men, women and children “like goats”—slitting throats—were widespread, according to Amnesty International. Both Somali government and Ethiopian forces were accused of horrific sexual violence.

. . . .

If Somalia was already a playground for Islamic militants, the Ethiopian invasion blew open the gates of Mogadishu for Al Qaeda.

. . . .

The Ethiopian occupation began to wind down following an agreement signed in Djibouti in June 2008 between Sharif’s faction of the ARS and officials from the TFG. The “Djibouti Agreement” paved the way for Sharif to assume the presidency in Mogadishu in early 2009. To veteran observers of Somali politics, Sharif’s re-emergence was an incredible story. The United States had overthrown his ICU government only to later back him as the country’s president.

. . . .

When President Obama took office in 2009, the United States increased its covert military involvement in and around Somalia, as the CIA and JSOC intensified air and drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen, and began openly hunting people the United States alleged were Al Qaeda leaders. In September of that year, Obama authorized the assassination of Saleh Ali Nabhan, in his administration’s first known targeted-killing operation in Somalia. A JSOC team helicoptered into Somalia and gunned down Nabhan. JSOC troops then landed and collected the body. Earlier, in April, Obama had authorized JSOC to kill Somali pirates who had hijacked the Maersk Alabama, a ship operated by a major Defense Department contractor. But as the United States began striking in Somalia, the Shabab’s influence was spreading.

. . . .

By 2010 the Shabab was in control of a greater swath of Somalia—by a long shot—than the Transitional Federal Government, even though the TFG was supported by thousands of US-trained, -armed and -funded African Union troops. The Ugandan government essentially picked up where the Ethiopian government had left off, and in Mogadishu AMISOM forces consistently shelled Shabab-held neighborhoods teeming with civilians. While the United States and its allies began bumping off militant figures, the civilian death toll pushed some clan leaders to lend support to the Shabab.

. . . .

Under pressure from its paymasters to show that it had some control in Mogadishu, President Sharif’s government began turning to former ICU warlords for help. In parallel, Washington intensified its dealings with various regional power players and warlords.

By late 2010 the Obama administration unveiled what it referred to as a “dual-track” approach to Somalia wherein Washington would simultaneously deal with the “central government” in Mogadishu as well as regional and clan players in Somalia. “The dual track policy only provides a new label for the old (and failed) Bush Administration’s approach,” observed Somalia analyst Afyare Abdi Elmi. “It inadvertently strengthens clan divisions, undermines inclusive and democratic trends and most importantly, creates a conducive environment for the return of the organized chaos or warlordism in the country.”

The dual-track policy encouraged self-declared, clan-based regional administrations to seek recognition and support from the United States. “Local administrations are popping up every week,” says Aynte. “Most of them don’t control anywhere, but people are announcing local governments in the hopes that CIA will set up a little outpost in their small village.”

. . . .

the Shabab’s meteoric rise in Somalia, and the legacy of terror it has wrought, is blowback sparked by a decade of disastrous US policy that ultimately strengthened the very threat it was officially intended to crush. In the end, the greatest beneficiaries of US policy are the warlords, including those who once counted the Shabab among their allies and friends. “They are not fighting for a cause,” says Ahmed Nur Mohamed, the Mogadishu mayor. “And the conflict will start tomorrow, when we defeat quote (Read more)

Change: whereas Bush fought his wars out in the open and with Congressional approval, Obama fights them covertly and with no public discussion, debate or accountability

open quotetoday we have a column from The New York Times‘ Roger Cohen (presumably no relation) that accomplishes that task with even more stunning (though equally unintentional) brilliance.

Cohen observes, quite rightly, that President Obama — who repeatedly vowed to usher in The Most Transparent Administration Ever — has taken U.S. foreign policy almost completely underground and draped it in sweeping, anti-democratic secrecy:

The Obama administration has a doctrine. It’s called the doctrine of silence. A radical shift from President Bush’s war on terror, it has never been set out to the American people. There has seldom been so big a change in approach to U.S. strategic policy with so little explanation. . . . President Obama has gone undercover.

So finally, after a long search, we have discovered a “change” from Bush’s foreign policy: whereas Bush fought his wars out in the open and with Congressional approval, Obama fights them covertly and with no public discussion, debate or accountability: he’s “undercover.” Cohen lists the numerous covert wars the Obama administration is fighting — meaning wars fought without a whiff of public debate or even acknowledgement — including in Iran, Pakistan, and Yemen (he could have added Somalia). Referring to the numerous murders of Iran’s nuclear scientists (and sometimes wounding of their wives), Terrorist explosions routinely taking place in that country, and cyber attacks on their facilities, Cohen points out that it “would take tremendous naïveté to believe these events are not the result of a covert American-Israel” effortclose quote (Read more)

Report: Dozens of U.S. spies captured in Lebanon and Iran

open quoteCurrent and former U.S. officials concede that CIA suffered difficult blow; sources say Lebanon informants were compromised by meeting CIA agents at a Beirut Pizza Hut.

Dozens of spies working for the CIA were captured recently in Lebanon and Iran, current and former U.S. officials told The Associated Press and ABC News on Monday.

The CIA’s operations in Lebanon have been badly damaged after Hezbollah identified and captured a number of the U.S. spies, officials told The Associated Press.

Hezbollah’s longtime leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, boasted on television in June that he had rooted out at least two CIA spies who had infiltrated the ranks of Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers a terrorist group closely allied with Iran. Though the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon officially denied the accusation, current and former officials concede that it happened and the damage has spread even further.

According to a report by ABC News, there were two distinct espionage rings targeting Iran and Hezbollah in which spies were recruited by the CIA.

Current and former U.S. officials said the two different spy rings were discovered separately but both caused a significant setback in U.S. efforts to track Iran’s nuclear activities and Hezbollah actions against Israel.close quote (Read more)

“Fast And Furious” Just Might Be President Obama’s Watergate

open quoteWhy a gunrunning scandal codenamed “Fast and Furious,” a program run secretly by the U.S. government that sent thousands of firearms over an international border and directly into the hands of criminals, hasn’t been pursued by an army of reporters all trying to be the next Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein is a story in itself.

But the state of modern journalism aside, this scandal is so inflammatory few realize that official records show the current director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), B. Todd Jones — yes the individual the Obama administration brought in to replace ATF Director Kenneth Melson Aug. 30 in an effort to deflect congressional criticism — also has questions to answer about his involvement in this gunrunning scandal.

Fast and Furious was an operation so cloak-and-dagger Mexican authorities weren’t even notified that thousands of semi-automatic firearms were being sold to people in Arizona thought to have links to Mexican drug cartels. According to ATF whistleblowers, in 2009 the U.S. government began instructing gun storeowners to break the law by selling firearms to suspected criminals. ATF agents then, again according to testimony by ATF agents turned whistleblowers, were ordered not to intercept the smugglers but rather to let the guns “walk” across the U.S.-Mexican border and into the hands of Mexican drug-trafficking organizations.

When the Gunrunning Program Began

A Jan. 8, 2010 briefing paper from the ATF Phoenix Field Division Group VII says: “This investigation has currently identified more than 20 individual connected straw purchasers…. To date (September 2009-present) this group has purchased in excess of 650 firearms (mainly AK-47 variants) for which they have paid cash totaling more than $350,000.”close quote (Read more)

Special US commandos are deployed in about 75 countries around the world – and that number is expected to grow.

open quoteBorn of a failed 1980 raid to rescue American hostages in Iran, in which eight US service members died, US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was established in 1987. Having spent the post-Vietnam years distrusted and starved for money by the regular military, special operations forces suddenly had a single home, a stable budget, and a four-star commander as their advocate.

Since then, SOCOM has grown into a combined force of startling proportions. Made up of units from all the service branches, including the Army’s “Green Berets” and Rangers, Navy SEALs, Air Force Air Commandos, and Marine Corps Special Operations teams, in addition to specialised helicopter crews, boat teams, civil affairs personnel, para-rescuemen, and even battlefield air-traffic controllers and special operations weathermen, SOCOM carries out the United States’ most specialised and secret missions. These include assassinations, counterterrorist raids, long-range reconnaissance, intelligence analysis, foreign troop training, and weapons of mass destruction counter-proliferation operations.

One of its key components is the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, a clandestine sub-command whose primary mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists. Reporting to the president and acting under his authority, JSOC maintains a global hit list that includes US citizens. It has been operating an extra-legal “kill/capture” campaign that John Nagl, a past counterinsurgency adviser to four-star general and soon-to-be CIA Director David Petraeus, calls “an almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine”.

This assassination programme has been carried out by commando units like the Navy SEALs and the Army’s Delta Force as well as via drone strikes as part of covert wars in which the CIA is also involved in countries like Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen. In addition, the command operates a network of secret prisons, perhaps as many as 20 black sites in Afghanistan alone, used for interrogating high-value targets.close quote (Read more from

The Muslim Cry for Justice: Will the US Be Able to Stifle It Again?

open quoteNo candidate opposed to the US occupation is permitted to run in Iraqi or Afghan elections. It will be the same in Egypt and Libya if the US gets its way. Soviet-style rigged elections make a mockery of the occupied peoples’ desire for self-determination, for honest courts, for social mobility, and for an end to the wealth-stealing dictators and monarchs who have forced servitude on the Arab world, thanks to the US empire.close quote Radio Show from Lew Rockwell

U.S. Gov’t has been preparing Egypt spy chief to take over

I’m sure the CIA has tentacles on every side of the conflict in Egypt. They want to have influence over whoever happens to win, as Ron Paul has said. Here is one example:

open quoteNew cables released by Wikileaks reveal that the U.S. government has been quietly anticipating as well as cultivating Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian spy chief, as the top candidate to take over the country should anything happen to President Hosni Mubarak. On Saturday, this expectation was proved correct when Mubarak named Suleiman to the post of vice-president making him the first in line to assume power.

An intelligence official who trained at the U.S. Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, Suleiman became head of the spy agency in 1993 which brought him into close contact with the Central Intelligence Agency. Recently he took up a more public role as chief Egyptian interlocuter with Israel to discuss the peace process with Hamas and Fatah, the rival Palestinian factions.close quote (Read more from