Most Ruthless Intelligence Agency Part-2 CIA
Redwan bin Abdul Baten
According to the author of the newly released ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’, the exception to CIA incompetence was the arming between 1979 and 1988 of thousands of Afghan moujahedeen (“freedom fighters”). The agency flooded Afghanistan with an astonishing array of extremely dangerous weapons and “unapologetically moved to equip and train cadres of high tech holy warriors in the art of waging a war of urban terror against a modern superpower,” in this case, the USSR.
The recent movie ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’, featuring the famous Tom Hanks as Charlie Wilson, depicts clearly how this US lawmaker turned Afghanistan into his main attention and that of his whole nation. After visiting the war ridden country and seeing in reality what the Soviets were doing to the general Muslims, he became a convert towards the Afghan cause. From then on, he never rested. Once Reagan replaced Carter, Wilson was able to add several millions to the CIA’s funds for secretly arming the Afghan guerrillas, each dollar of which the Saudi government secretly matched.
Although Wilson romanticized the mountain warriors of Afghanistan, the struggle was never as uneven as it seemed. Pakistan provided the fighters with sanctuary, training and arms and even sent its own officers into Afghanistan as advisors on military operations. Saudi Arabia served as the fighters’ banker, providing hundreds of millions with no strings attached. Several governments, including those of Egypt, China and Israel, secretly supplied arms. And the insurgency enjoyed the backing of the United States through the CIA.
The CIA also channeled U.S. aid to Afghan resistance fighters via Pakistan in a covert operation known as Operation Cyclone. It denied dealing with non-Afghan fighters, or having direct contact with bin Laden. However, various authorities relate that the Agency brought both Afghans and Arabs to the United States for military training. Azzam and Bin Laden set up recruitment offices in the U.S., under the name “Al-Khifah”, the hub of which was the Farouq Mosque in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue.
This brings to light one of the policies of CIA that boomeranged on them. The work they did in Afghanistan was really impressive. You can watch the movie ‘Rambo 3’ where Rambo acts on behalf of the mujahadeens against the Soviets. But what went wrong was that, the arms and training provided to them could not have been brought back. Alarmingly, CIA left the country into the hands of these guerilla leaders. They did not provide any support for education or economy or development of the country. As a result, Afghanistan was still living in a stone age, with no privileges of citizenship. This ultimately led to the rising of militant groups like the Taliban who took over the country within the decade and unfortunately, the event that has shaped the world today, 9/11.
United States attacked Afghanistan and was soon facing an invincible and invisible enemy, Osama Bin Laden and his group of fanatics, the Al-Qaeda. Soon, most of their efforts had turned into a sole mission, the hunt for Bin Laden. But by 2005, many inside the C.I.A. had reached the conclusion that the Bin Laden hunt had grown cold, and the agency’s top clandestine officer ordered an overhaul of the agency’s counterterrorism operations. The result was Operation Cannonball, a bureaucratic reshuffling that placed more C.I.A. case officers on the ground in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
They finally got a tip off during the investigation of several Al Qaeda leaders. With more agents in the field, the C.I.A. finally got a name. A most reliable courier was identified so was the courier’s family name. With that, they turned to one of their greatest investigative tools — the National Security Agency began intercepting telephone calls and e-mail messages between the man’s family and anyone inside Pakistan. From there they got his full name. His nom de guerre, however, was Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.
In July 2010, Pakistani agents working for the C.I.A. spotted al-Kuwaiti driving his vehicle near Peshawar. When, after weeks of surveillance, he drove to the sprawling compound in Abbottabad, American intelligence operatives felt they were onto something big, perhaps even Bin Laden himself. It was hardly the spartan cave in the mountains that many had envisioned as his hiding place. Rather, it was a three-story house ringed by 12-foot-high concrete walls, topped with barbed wire and protected by two security fences. He was, said John O. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism chief, “hiding in plain sight.”
The attack on Osama Bin Laden’s safe house in Bilal town, Abbottbad, Pakistan, occurred at 1:00 a.m. when the walls were breached by around 20 Navy SEALS using explosives. An airborne unit of the US special operations command, known as the Night Stalkers, provided two modified Black Hawk Helicopters and two Chinooks as backups. The SEALS split into two groups, one group taking to the main house. This group found Bin Laden on the third floor, unarmed, and shot him twice, one hit the left side of his head, another hit his chest. After the raid, U.S. forces took bin Laden’s body to Afghanistan for identification, then buried it at sea within 24 hours of his death. Remember, all of this was the creation and dirtywork of the CIA all along.
The years since 9/11 have seen a new urgency in the agency’s work, as well as new rounds of criticism, first over the failure to detect the Sept. 11 plot, then later over the handling of intelligence on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the 2003 invasion. The then vice-[resident of the USA, Dick Chenney was seen as the most dominant person behind the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. CIA was hunting down its own created monster. Chenney and his buddies were simply manipulating these invasions for contracts worth billions of dollars. The theme was that war was actually useful. The more war, the more profit.
CIA has a trademark of ruthlessness all over the world. Areas of controversy about inappropriate, often illegal actions include experiments, without consent, on human beings to explore chemical means of eliciting information or disabling people. Another area involved torture and clandestine imprisonment. There have been attempted assassinations under CIA orders and support for assassinations of foreign leaders by citizens of the leader’s country, and, in a somewhat different legal category that may fall under the customary laws of war, assassinations of militant leaders.
In 2009, revelations dribbled out about brutal interrogation techniques used by the agency and approved by the Bush administration. The Justice Department began a review to determine whether criminal prosecutions were warranted. In July 2009, officials disclosed that since 2001 the agency had developed plans to send small teams overseas to assassinate senior al Qaeda leaders. And in the spring of 2010, news that the Obama administration had authorized the agency to kill a terrorism suspect who is an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, set off a debate over the legal and political limits of drone missile strikes, a mainstay of the campaign against terrorism.
When the name of the CIA is mentioned, it does not always bring up the picture of a bad guy, always calculating and manipulating. It also has its creative sides. For example, most people wouldn’t think of the common house cat as being a potential master of espionage, but the CIA sure did. In the 1960s, American intelligence is said to have spent over $20 million on “Acoustic Kitty,” a top-secret project that used cats as recording devices. The project took a group of specially trained cats and surgically implanted microphones, antennae and batteries into their tails, and then set them loose near the Russian embassy. The idea was that an unassuming cat would be able to stride right up to groups of communist officials and listen in on their conversation, which it could then beam back to agents with its sophisticated radio equipment. The plan was eventually put into action, but the first cat sent into the field was supposedly run over by a taxi before it could make a recording and operation ‘Acoustic Kitty” was abandoned shortly thereafter.
3. Acoustic Kitty
The Directorate of Science & Technology was established to research, create, and manage technical collection disciplines and equipment of CIA. Many of its innovations were transferred to other intelligence organizations, or, as they became more overt, to the military services.
For example, the development of the U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft was done in cooperation with the United States Air Force. The U-2’s original mission was clandestine imagery intelligence over denied areas such as the Soviet Union. These U-2’s were instrumental in identifying the Soviet missiles in Cuba during the 60’s.
4. CIA espionage artifact
Currently, some of the CIA’s artifacts are on display in an exhibition called Spy: The Secret World of Espionage at Discovery Times Square Museum in New York City until early 2013. The intent of this new exhibit is to strip away the glossy façade painted over the world of espionage by Hollywood and unearth the cold hard facts as they’ve never been seen before. To do this, Discovery Times Square has assembled a collection of exhibits and interactive experiences that will immerse guests in the lives of real double-agents. At the core of the exhibit will be the personal collection of author H. Keith Melton. This author of many spy books currently owns the largest collection of privately-held espionage artifacts in the world at 10,000-plus pieces. In addition to contributing much of his collection to the exhibit, Melton has published a new book to coincide with the opening of SPY entitled “Spy’s Guide to New York.” Melton’s latest offering of spy literature gives readers an in-depth look at the history of espionage in New York.
5. Artificial tooth to hide microfilms
CIA has always been creative and imaginative. From microfilms hidden inside a false tooth to trying to control the whole media, CIA always took bold initiatives. One of the most ambitious and downright insidious programs ever launched by the CIA was Operation Mockingbird, a propaganda project that was implemented in the early 1950s. It was a massive undertaking that saw as many as 3,000 CIA agents and collaborators attempt to gain some control of the free press by feeding select groups of reporters’ information and using newspapers at home and abroad to filter the kinds of stories that got to the public. At its height, the program included writers for the New York Times, Newsweek, and Time Magazine among its ranks, and was said to have a significant influence on as many as 25 major newspapers. The program had a major impact abroad, as well, as it served a major function in helping to sway public opinion in the run-up to the eventual overthrowing of Guatemala’s leftist president. Operation Mockingbird continued to have a major effect on worldwide media throughout the 50s, and it was not until the 60s that a series of reports by investigative journalists brought the program to light.
6. Operation Mocking Bird
The recruiting of CIA is most carefully handled, as is found in the Al Pacino movie, ‘The Recruit’. The recruiting is actually done at the University level where the most sharpest and brilliant minds are brought on board. The Office of Training begins with the Junior Officer Training program for new employees before going on to conducting courses in a wide range of specialized professional disciplines.
For later stage of training of student operations officers, there is at least one classified training area at Camp Peary, near Williamsburg, Virginia. Students are selected, and their progress evaluated, in ways derived from the OSS, published as the book Assessment of Men, Selection of Personnel for the Office of Strategic Services.
The National Security Act of 1947established the CIA, affording it “no police or law enforcement functions, either at home or abroad”. But when Mr. Panetta was director of CIA, he hastened the transformation of the spy agency into a paramilitary organization, overseeing a sharp escalation of the C.I.A.’s bombing campaign in Pakistan using armed drone aircraft, and an increase in the number of secret bases and covert operatives in remote parts of Afghanistan.
The result is that American military and intelligence operatives are at times virtually indistinguishable from each other as they carry out classified operations in the Middle East and Central Asia. Some members of Congress have complained that this new way of war allows for scant debate about the scope and scale of military operations. In fact, the American spy and military agencies operate in such secrecy now that it is often hard to come by specific information about the American role in major missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Yemen.
All said, CIA is the worlds’ leading spying organization. With limitless budget and with the ambitions of the only super power of the world, CIA is at its all time peak. Whenever a govt. is sought to be overthrown, the involvement of CIA immediately comes up. All this leads to the dark side of CIA also. The phantoms that it has created along its path to victory may one day haunt it back. Who knows, maybe the microfilm in the tooth may one day contain plans to compromise the CIA itself!