By Larry Johnson on December 19, 2014 at 9:11 PM in Current Affairs | 21 Comments
Set aside your belief, which is not based on fact, about the efficacy of the torture inflicted on suspected Al Qaeda member. Please listen to the FBI Agent, Ali Soufan, who actually interrogated the terrorists. It is not a matter of opinion. These are cold hard facts:
In the middle of my interrogation of the high-ranking terrorist Abu Zubaydah at a black-site prison 12 years ago, my intelligence work wasn’t just cut short for so-called enhanced interrogation techniques to begin. After I left the black site, those who took over left, too – for 47 days. For personal time and to “confer with headquarters”.
For nearly the entire summer of 2002, Abu Zubaydah was kept in isolation. That was valuable lost time, and that doesn’t square with claims about the “ticking bomb scenarios” that were the basis for America’s enhanced interrogation program, or with the commitment to getting life-saving, actionable intelligence from valuable detainees. The techniques were justified by those who said Zubaydah “stopped all cooperation” around the time my fellow FBI agent and I left. If Zubaydah was in isolation the whole time, that’s not really a surprise.
One of the hardest things we struggled to make sense of, back then, was why US officials were authorizing harsh techniques when our interrogations were working and their harsh techniques weren’t. The answer, as the long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee report now makes clear, is that the architects of the program were taking credit for our success, from the unmasking of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind of 9/11 to the uncovering of the “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla. The claims made by government officials for years about the efficacy of “enhanced interrogation”, in secret memos and in public, are false. “Enhanced interrogation” doesn’t work.
I am privileged to know Ali as a friend. Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on December 18, 2014 at 10:25 PM in Current Affairs | 92 Comments
Watching the media pretend that something extraordinary has happened with Obama’s announcement that he will “normalize” relations with Cuba has me quite puzzled. You do realize, don’t you, that Cuba and the United States already have the equivalent of an functioning embassy in each other’s country. The US Interest Section in Havana is staffed by State Department Officers and Cuba’s Interest Section in Washington, DC (on 16th Street) has an array of Cuban diplomats and spies.
So Obama gets us what? Just a new Ambassador. Oh. And an opportunity to wrest some significant concessions from the Cubans. If Obama was smart and had a pair he could push for the release of other political prisoners as a per-condition for lifting the terrorist label and pushing Congress for ending the trade embargo. Let’s face it, Cuba will get more out of this deal then us. Yes, access to Cuban cigars (which are highly overrated and over priced).
As I noted in an earlier post, I think this is a long overdue policy shift. Why? Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on December 17, 2014 at 8:11 PM in Current Affairs | 66 Comments
I apologize for the profanity but it does have a North Korea link. Read on. SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT is all over the news tonight in the wake of deciding not to let the Seth Rogen, James Franco North Korean Murder Porn movie come out next week. Current theme on the Cable news shows is that the hacking of SONY and the threat to carry out “a 9-11 style” attack on the theaters if the movie aired is an act of war. Well, probably.
But can we step back for minute and catch a deep breath? What the hell was SONY thinking? I am fully on board with a comedic roast of the chubby troll that is the God-like leader of North Korea. I loved the movie, TEAM AMERICA (Fuck Yeah!!)
But SONY crossed the line in THE INTERVIEW when they portrayed the current leader as having his head blow up. Disagree? Let me ask you a question. Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on December 17, 2014 at 12:18 PM in Current Affairs | 71 Comments
Today’s announcement that we are going to establish formal diplomatic relations with Cuba highlights Obama’s lame duck strategy for his last two years in office. He recognizes that he now has a freehand to push policies that he previously shied away from, notwithstanding his campaign pledges. Cuba is a case in point. He promised to do this but, because of concerns about the effect on other Democrats, he did not touch it.
Now that the Democrats have been torched and will be running away from him in the 2016 election, he can say WTF and move forward. The Cuba policy also is a calculated move. Apart from the Cuban community in South Florida, most Americans agree with Obama. This is a great move on his part. He’ll highlight the crazy Republicans like Rubio and Cruz while appearing Statesman like. Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on December 16, 2014 at 10:02 PM in Current Affairs | 37 Comments
The dramatic fall in oil prices is not the result of mere market pressures. A market phenomena of falling prices would be triggered by a major surge in production and/or an equally large drop in demand. Something else is afoot.
It appears that Obama’s team cut a deal with the Saudis. A very short sighted deal. Goal? Produce enough oil to cause a drop in prices that would put pressure on both Iran and Russia. That was the plan.
the U.S. government basically began saying that eight months ago, when it joined with other Western nations in imposing a series of economic sanctions on Putin’s Russia.
The sanctions hurt Russia a bit, but now oil’s freefall is causing the ruble to crash and slamming that nation with a guaranteed recession or even depression.
This would be something worthy of extreme vigilance for the U.S. government and investors alike even if Russia were a true democracy governed by at least semi-responsible leaders.
But it’s worse. Much worse.
Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on December 15, 2014 at 10:07 PM in Current Affairs | 93 Comments
I am shocked by some of retired CIA case officers who are going on TV to extol the virtues and value of torture. Why? Because this was totally against everything they were trained to do. The CIA officers who go overseas to entice foreigners to betray their countries or causes (or both) must first pass FOTC (at least, that’s what it used to be called). FOTC? (Pronounced FOT SEE) Field Officers Training Course. This course taught young men and women the fundamentals of how to identify and recruit someone from another country to come to work, on a secret basis of course, for the United States.
That’s only part of the course. Once an agent is recruited then the real work begins. Getting them to provide information to us without being discovered.
Here’s my point. Guess how many courses new CIA officers were given in “coercive interrogation?” Not one.
I cringe now watching my friend, Gary Berntsen, go on TV and cheer-lead for torture. Gary is a good American, he was a fine Case Officer, but he is dead ass wrong. Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on December 14, 2014 at 9:48 PM in Current Affairs | 71 Comments
Consider this an open thread. The black banner in the window in the Lindt Cafe in Sydney means an ISIS sympathizer, at a minimum. We do not know how many hostage takers there are. Early reports indicate at least 40 people inside–10 employees and 30 customers. If there is only one bad guy inside this thing will not last long. Wny?
Mother Nature. People will have the need to urinate and defecate. Crude but true. If they do it in place the conditions will rapidly become intolerable. If the bad guy has to start taking people to the bathroom it will make it more difficult to control matters on the inside.
The Aussies have robust, capable forces for resolving a hostage incident. Biggest priority right now is to keep the goddamn media away from the scene. Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on December 14, 2014 at 11:53 AM in Current Affairs | 26 Comments
Ignore the propaganda and lies from Dick Cheney, Michael Hayden, Jose Rodriguez, Bill Harlow and others circulating on the media trying to justify the CIA’s torture of terrorist suspects. Why? Because you do not understand what is supposed to be the central mission of the CIA–recruiting spies.
Ninety-five percent of Americans, including our politicians, do not understand what the CIA is supposed to be doing and what the torture campaign against Al Qaeda did to damage the ability of the CIA to collect accurate, relevant human intelligence. Most spy movies and TV show you have ever watched, especially the James Bond series and 24, have little to do with actual reality of developing and running human intelligence. One of the few exceptions to this are the BBC versions of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People.
The core of the CIA’s mission, at least it should be, is the recruitment of foreign men and women who are able to give us information about the inner workings and decisions of governments and terrorist groups. This is where secrecy is paramount. Once you have signed up someone who is a traitor to their country or cause, protecting their identity is critical. If their government or terrorist colleagues discover their treachery they will be killed. No doubt.
So, how do we get such sources (or, “human assets,” to use the CIA language)? Do we use torture or other coercive tactics? No. Ignore the silly Vince Flynn torture fantasies, the actual work of finding and recruiting a someone who will spy for us is more akin to a seduction or romance. What I am going to explain to you is not a “secret” of the CIA. It is a fundamental of trade craft for every quality intelligence service in the world.
What were CIA clandestine officer–aka Case Officers–trained to do? Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on December 11, 2014 at 2:46 PM in Current Affairs | 151 Comments
Unbelievable. How does current CIA Director, John Brennan, deal with the allegations of torture raised by the Senate Select Committe on Intelligence? He came out and wrapped himself in the horror of 9-11. When in doubt or under the gun, use fear to cow Americans. Despicable. This was nothing more than a pathetic propaganda show. And the vast majority of the media appears too stupid or too lazy to call him out on it. The thrust of his argument is that we were under attack and urgent action was necessary.
Really? So let’s look at the case of Abu Zubaydah. Please open the report and start reading at p. 21 of 499 (if you are using Adobe it shows up as p. 47 of 525). Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan and taken to Thailand. It was in Thailand that he was interviewed by Ali Soufan and another FBI Agent. On April 10, 2002, Zubaydah told Ali Soufan about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (see p. 25 of 499. This is months before he was water boarded. He was cooperating. This is not opinion. This is documented fact.
So what did the CIA do? On 12 April 2002, CIA Director Tenet got word from the field that the Agency team in Thailand was going to transfer Zubaydah from the hospital to the interrogation site aka DETENTION SITE GREEN (see p. 26 of 499). Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on December 10, 2014 at 11:10 AM in Current Affairs | 92 Comments
The Senate Report on Torture pulls the veil back on the lies and culpability of people like former CIA Director Hayden and former Chief of the Clandestine Service, Jose Rodriguez. It also explains why Hayden and Rodriguez are loudly insisting they did not do anything wrong. Although the report does not mention Jose Rodriguez by name on p. 45, this paragraph is about Jose (note, even Jose admitted in his OP Ed on Sunday that he was the Chief of this group):
Notwithstanding the Hart investigation findings, just five years later, in 1983, a CIA officer incorporated significant portions of the KUBARK manual into the Human Resource Exploitation (HRE) Training Manual, which the same officer used to provide interrogation training in Latin America in the early 1980s, and which was used to provide interrogation training to the 1981.” CIA officer was involved in the HRE training and conducted interrogations. The CIA inspector general later recommended that he be orally admonished for inappropriate use of interrogation techniques.’ In the fall of 2002, became the CIA’s chief of interrogations in the CIA’s Renditions Group, the officer in charge of CIA interrogations.”
Do you understand? The CIA produced a training manual in the 1960s that endorsed torture and was used to interrogate a Soviet defector. That manual and those practices were repudiated by CIA leadership n 1978. Yet, five years later, Jose Rodriguez, among other, used that manual and taught practices that were clearly a violation of CIA standards.
And Hayden? Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on December 8, 2014 at 6:22 PM in Current Affairs | 150 Comments
Did you catch the rant of former CIA Spy Chief Jose Rodriguez in Sunday’s Washington Post Opinion section? I will let you hear from him before I tell you why he is wrong.
In one ear they hear the public, the media and members of Congress raising alarms about the terrorist threat from the Islamic State: Do something! Do it now! Why didn’t you do something sooner? Politicians from both sides of the aisle are saying that the militant group is an enormous challenge and must be prevented from bringing its brutality to America’s shores. The president assures us that the United States will “degrade and ultimately destroy” these terrorists, while the vice president doubles down and says we will follow the Islamic State to “the gates of hell.”
But shouting in CIA officers’ other ear are people such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) regarding the 500-page summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the agency’s interrogation efforts, which is expected to be released next week. The report’s leaked conclusion, which has been reported on widely, that the interrogation program brought no intelligence value is an egregious falsehood; it’s a dishonest attempt to rewrite history. I’m bemused that the Senate could devote so many resources to studying the interrogation program and yet never once speak to any of the key people involved in it, including the guy who ran it (that would be me).
I am at least glad that Jose had the courage to admit he was one of the guys in charge of this illegal, immoral program. Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on December 6, 2014 at 12:53 PM in Current Affairs | 109 Comments
Obama has been shameless in spiking the football in the wake of successful counter terrorism operations. He did the Super Bowl shuffle after taking credit for killing Bin Laden (of course, he ignored the fact that he had drug his feet for months before being coerced to give the green-light to that op). Is he now man enough to take responsibility for failure?
We have news that Luke Somers, a US hostage in Yemen, was killed during a botched Special Ops raid early today (Saturday).
A U.S. journalist and a South African teacher held by al Qaeda militants in Yemen were killed along with some of their captors during a night rescue attempt by U.S. and Yemeni forces in a remote desert village, officials said on Saturday.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and a Yemeni intelligence official said Luke Somers, 33, and South African Pierre Korkie were shot by their kidnappers shortly after the raid began in the arid Wadi Abadan district of Shabwa, a province in southern Yemen long seen as one of al Qaeda’s most formidable strongholds.
There are limits to what special ops forces can do. They are very skilled but they are not miracle workers. Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on December 4, 2014 at 12:06 PM in Current Affairs | 196 Comments
God Almighty. America has lost its friggin mind. Having actually been born in the era when blacks were routinely referred to a Negroes and the presence of African Americans in professional sports teams was a relatively new phenomena and lynchings in the South were routine, it is a goddamn lie to pretend that police are pursuing jihad on blacks.
The nonsense surrounding the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. Neither of this fat asses were upstanding citizens busily working on improving their lives or the welfare of their communities. Brown was a bully and a thief and Garner was breaking a law selling loose cigarettes. The latter, I grant you, is a minor crime, but it did matter to the other business owners on that street. Many of them also were African America.
And the facts just don’t matter. It would be one thing if the cops who pulled Eric Garner to the ground were all white and commanded by a Knight of the Ku Klux Klan. But the senior officer on scene was an African American female.
Say what??? Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on December 3, 2014 at 11:14 AM in Current Affairs | 46 Comments
Believe it or not, Obama’s nominee to replace Eric Holder, Ms. Loretta Lynch, is a solid choice. Let’s start with the NY Times, which provides some perspective today:
In the wake of a string of abuses by New York police officers in the 1990s, Loretta E. Lynch, the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, spoke forcefully about “the pain of a broken trust” that African-Americans felt and said the responsibility for repairing generations of miscommunication and mistrust fell to law enforcement.
“Frankly, the onus is on law enforcement because we are the ones who have taken the oath to protect and to serve the people of this city,” Ms. Lynch said in 2000. “And we are the ones who have the ability to change from within.”
Continue reading the main story
Ms. Lynch, a career prosecutor, is now awaiting a hearing on her nomination to be the next attorney general. Her remarks, made in two speeches during her first term as United States attorney during the Clinton administration, received little attention at the time. Today, however, the transcripts of those speeches offer insight into Ms. Lynch’s thinking about an issue that will immediately occupy her attention if she is confirmed as the first black woman to serve as attorney general.
I checked with a buddy of mine, a senior DEA Agent who also is from New York. Big, white and Irish. Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on November 29, 2014 at 2:01 PM in Current Affairs | 248 Comments
The scamming, lying race baiters like Al Sharpton need to be stripped naked, adorned with Rolex watches and forced to walk thru the streets of Chicago, especially the African American neighborhoods. You know the place–more than 1000 black boys, girls, men and women slaughtered in the last four years. They were not massacred by white people. This is black on black. And the media’s response? A collective yawn. More about Chicago and Democrat lies in a minute, but first a word from Milwaukee.
This police chief should be man of the year:
While the United States has a shameful history with respect to the mistreatment African Americans, we have come light years since the Jim Crow days of the 50s. Yet, the biggest threat to a teen age black male is another teen age black male. It ain’t a police officer.
Where is the rage? Where is the protest? Blame whitey may be emotionally satisfying for the intellectually immature and the uneducated, but that will not stop the killing.
Which brings me back to Chicago. Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on November 25, 2014 at 9:38 AM in Current Affairs | 269 Comments
Mamas. Don’t teach your boys to be assholes. That’s the fundamental lesson from Ferguson, Missouri. If “Big” Mike Brown had not been such an impetuous bully he might be alive today. Why he thought it a good idea to steal cigarillos, assault a store clerk and then refuse to comply with a lawful police order will never be known. He’s dead.
Officer Darren Wilson and his family will probably have to move. Wilson’s major failing from that day is a lapse in judgment. There was no urgency for him to take on two possible suspects. The theft of a handful of kiddie cigars (Swisher Sweets for God’s sake) is not the same circumstance as responding to an armed robbery. I am not bringing this up to beat up on Officer Wilson. But it goes to the heart of having a properly trained police force and being able to make sound, split-second decisions. If he had that day back I am willing to bet that he would handle the situation differently. Wilson is not the bad guy here.
What really has me baffled is the decision making of the Democrat leaders in Missouri. Why do they announce the decision of the Grand Jury at 8 pm Central Standard Time? Why the hell do you not have the National Guard deployed in the street to protect buildings and people? This failure was criminal. Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on November 24, 2014 at 11:34 AM in Current Affairs | 108 Comments
The resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today cements the meme that Barack Obama has no clue what he is doing. Why dump Hagel? It is not like he was Don Rumsfeld, trumpeting non-existent successes in Iraq while the insurgents grew in numbers. He has been, at best, a grey man. A non-personality. In other words, Chuck Hagel was not an oversized ego intent on being the center of attention and launching policy initiatives on his own.
This has more to do with the internal dysfunction of the Obama Administration. This is Valerie Jarret and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough trying to do something that makes it appear that Obama is in charge and still has a leadership mojo. And they are going to replace Hagel with who? Michelle Flournoy? You got to be kidding me.
Michelle and I testified together several years ago before Joe Biden’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Michelle is a smart lady, but she has no military experience whatsover. Has no real depth in intelligence operations. She is a great Hill staffer. She has no business serving as Secretary of Defense. If she gets the nod then it is further confirmation that Obama’s second term team is staffed by the midgets of Lilliput.
The problem remains that Obama has no strategic vision for American’s defense and national security policy. Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on November 22, 2014 at 1:27 PM in Current Affairs | 83 Comments
Much of the media is celebrating the new report from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Committee as a vindication for the Obama Administration. Well, it is not. Only one little problem, you have to read the report like a lawyer in order to understand the meat of the matter.
There are six key findings.
The first is typical of the obsfuscation:
The Committee first concludes that the CIA ensured sufficient security for CIA facilities in Benghazi and, without a requirement to do so, ably and bravely assisted the State Department on the night of the attacks.
Yes, but the response was delayed because the Chief of Base refused to give immediate clearance to launch a rescue mission:
The security contractors — Kris “Tanto” Paronto, Mark “Oz” Geist and John “Tig” Tiegen — spoke exclusively, and at length, with Fox News about what they saw and did that night. Baier, Fox News’ chief political anchor, asked them about one of the most controversial questions arising from the events in Benghazi: Was help delayed?
Word of the attack on the diplomatic compound reached the CIA annex just after 9:30 p.m. Within five minutes, the security team at the annex was geared up for battle, and ready to move to the compound, a mile away. Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on November 19, 2014 at 9:12 PM in Current Affairs | 181 Comments
You can’t make this shit up. On the very day that most of the Senate Dummycrats vote to tank the possibility of building the Keystone Pipeline, a vast swath of the United States is being crushed by the grip of an early arriving Old Man Winter. This waas not just a snowstorm. This was/is snowmageddon.
Pity this poor dog:
With over 200 million Americans freezing their collective asses of, the Democrats want to use the myth of man-made Global warming to block a project that would even reduce the carbon footprint of oil. So, in the midst of a massive blizzard the Democrats opt to ignore science. Do you think Grueber was thinking of them when he referred to the “stupidity” of the American people?
Hell, at least that dog was able to walk. What about this pup? Read the rest
By Larry Johnson on November 19, 2014 at 1:14 AM in Current Affairs | 54 Comments
The murder of orthodox Jews praying by two Palestinians is an unspeakable crime. This is not just an act of terrorism. It is an act of depravity.
While I think Israel has aggravated the situation over the past three decades by dehumanizing the Palestinians, there is no excuse or justification for today’s attack. It is sickening and despicable.
Compounding the horror is the fact that Palestinians celebrated this atrocity. What kind of animals are they?
I’m hoping that Netanyahu does not over react, but that’s not likely. If he decides to bulldoze the homes of those men and punish their families he ends up perpetuating this cycle of revenge.
Let’s consider an alternative scenario. Read the rest