Archive for intel

Pardoned Iran-Contra figure aided #Bergdahl hunt

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the more you know msnbc Iran-Contra

The Sunday Los Angeles Times has a substantive report about now-freed Bowe Bergdahl's captors. It chronicles the events that led to his release and provides background on the groups involved with his imprisonment. They break down the timeline as best they can in the years-long efforts by the U.S. to find and rescue Bergdahl. It's interesting stuff, worth a read. One nugget in particular caught my eye: How U.S. officials relied on a private company in the search. And one of those hired by that company was a guy who was indicted for perjury in the Iran-Contra scandal.

We paid Sunni militants for peace during Bush's fraudulent war, we paid private contractors to fight that war-- Blackwater. That ended well, didn't it?-- and then we paid a private intel group to aid in Bergdahl's recovery. And in turn, they paid local tattletales. We sure do have a lot of spare cash lying around:

The U.S. search for Bergdahl, and his ultimate release, involved an array of U.S. and foreign military and intelligence agencies.

It also included a private intelligence outfit called the Eclipse Group that was run by a former top CIA operations officer, Duane "Dewey" Clarridge.

In 1991, Clarridge was indicted on seven counts of perjury in the Iran-Contra scandal but was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush before his trial was over. He has said he maintained a network of spies and informants in Afghanistan and Pakistan after he left the CIA.

A former Eclipse member said the group paid local informants to collect intelligence, which was passed on to U.S. military commanders searching for Bergdahl.

According to a senior member of the U.S. military who was part of the search for Bergdahl, the Eclipse reports included not only facts, but also rumors. In spite of the unreliability of some of the information, he said, "We take everything we can get." Even advice from an Iran-Contra perjurer.

The more you know.

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Pres. Obama promises to increase intelligence support, provide new weaponry to Iraq

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back to the future

Here we go again. Hello Iraq.

It's understandable that President Obama would feel it necessary to go back to Iraq if it means eliminating or at least containing an increasingly out of control Al Qaeda, but America no longer has the stomach for it. I know I don't.

And this puts the president in the tough position of sticking to withdrawal from Iraq while feeling obligated to counter a growing problem that threatens our national security. But to put it in the simplest terms possible: Oy vey.

The Los Angeles Times has a lot more, but here are the bare bones:

Facing a deadly resurgence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, President Obama signaled Friday that he would begin increasing U.S. military support for Baghdad after five years of reducing it.... Administration officials said this would include growing intelligence support and new weaponry. [...]

And the Obama administration, despite a deep reluctance to become more entangled in the Middle East, believes it cannot afford a further strengthening of the Al Qaeda affiliate, which is also called the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant. [...]

Maliki, who had not visited the White House for two years, spent the week in Washington lobbying administration and congressional officials for more arms, intelligence help and training.

Iraqi officials said they did not ask for special forces or CIA advisors, but were not ruling out such things.

American drone strikes, carried out with the support of Maliki's government, are another option.... But Maliki's aides said Iraq could turn to other world powers if the United States turned down its request.

Back to the future...

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U.S. relies on appalling death toll from #Syria attack to make case, but our casualty figures "much higher than others'"

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drumbeat to syria

Via a New York Times email alert:

A divided Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday approved an authorization of force against the Syrian regime, setting up a showdown next week in the full Senate on whether President Obama should have the authority to strike.

President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are pushing as hard as they can to persuade us that bombing Syria is the right thing to do. In fact, per another email alert I received, Kerry is saying that the administration wants a “trigger” that would authorize military action for 60 days each time al-Assad’s regime uses chemical weapons.

But they're getting a lot of resistance and for good reason. There are still unanswered questions, Americans are queasy about jumping into yet another conflict in a volatile region, and some of the answers we've gotten don't sound as convincing as they should.

And now this from the Los Angeles Times:

The death toll given by the Obama administration for an alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack is far higher than confirmed counts of two key allies and a main activist group, which said it was shocked by the U.S. figure.

In pressing Congress to authorize a military strike against Syria, the administration has asserted that the government of President Bashar Assad killed 1,429 people, including at least 426 children, in an Aug. 21 attack on the suburbs of Damascus.

But Britain and France have cited far lower numbers of confirmed deaths, raising questions about the intelligence the White House is using to make its case to launch missile strikes against Syria.

"Raising questions about intelligence" is not a welcome phrase right about now.

British intelligence came up with 350 as the number of people who had been killed. French intelligence said there were at least 281 confirmed deaths, but maybe as many as 1,500.

But so what, right? The point is that civilians were murdered. Not so fast.

The casualty figures are important because the administration is resting its case for military action in part on the scale of the attack.

If we're going to commit an act of war (and yes, bombing another country is an act of war), then it goes without saying, especially after the fraudulent Iraq debacle, that we should base our actions on reliable intel.

The precision of the U.S. figure, given the initial confusion surrounding the attack and the often contradictory reports of the violence in Syria, also raised questions among some observers.

But never mind all that.

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Also for your consideration, Mark Karlin at BuzzFlash has posted this: What Congress Will Be Voting on Is Another War, Not a "Limited Punitive Strike"

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Bin Laden raid intel yields leads on al Qaeda No. 2 al Zawahiri

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Now that Osama Bin Laden is dead as a doornail, his al Qaeda chief deputy and likely successor, Ayman al Zawahiri, is the focus of U.S. scrutiny.

And guess what? There were files at Bin Laden's suburban palace that contained "positive intelligence" on Zawahiri’s location. Watch out, #2, you are in our sights.

CBS:

The intelligence source said that there are "numerous" leads giving them locations but cautioned that they are fluid as al Qaeda leaders may be on the run, changing their locations. [...]

Analysts are working around the clock scrutinizing the documents and 2.7 terabytes of computer data, knowing that the information may be perishable.

God we're good. Now we have to be fast. And accurate. And fast. And effective. And careful. Very, very careful. And I have every confidence we'll be all that and more.

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