'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Monday, January 24, 2005

Connecting the Dots 

So the Post reported today:

The Pentagon, expanding into the CIA's historic bailiwick, has created a new espionage arm and is reinterpreting U.S. law to give Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld broad authority over clandestine operations abroad, according to interviews with participants and documents obtained by The Washington Post.

The previously undisclosed organization, called the Strategic Support Branch, arose from Rumsfeld's written order to end his "near total dependence on CIA" for what is known as human intelligence. Designed to operate without detection and under the defense secretary's direct control, the Strategic Support Branch deploys small teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists alongside newly empowered special operations forces.

To risk stating the obvious, this article covers much the same ground as Seymour Hersh's recent New Yorker piece. One isn't apprised of the obvious, however, in the Post piece itself, which mentions neither Seymour Hersh nor Iran -- as didn't any of the other American commentary on this topic that I have read.

Internationally however we get the following from the Swiss think-tank ISN:

A new Strategic Support Branch under the US Department of Defense (DoD) is taking on clandestine operations abroad to end what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld calls the DoD’s “near total dependence” on the CIA for human intelligence. The unit had been operating in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries for close to two years. That revelation comes on the heels of an article by Seymour Hersh that caused a mild sensation. “The Coming Wars: What the Pentagon Can Now Do in Secret”, in the 24-31 January issue of The New Yorker, alleged that the DoD had been engaged in covert operations in Iran for the past six months. While the Pentagon was quick to deny the allegations made in the Hersh report, The Washington Post on Sunday published a story citing documents revealing the new espionage arm. The gist of Hersh’s article, however, was the rivalry over areas of responsibility between the DoD and the CIA. Hersh alleges that the Pentagon is increasingly taking over some of the CIA’s former roles and becoming the facilitator of White House policy at the expense of the intelligence agency. A review of the December law on the reorganization of intelligence agencies and a look at competition between the DOD and the CIA since 9/11 all support the thesis. The CIA has indeed had its wings clipped, and the Pentagon’s role in intelligence gathering and operations has been enhanced at its expense.

Also, as Atrios pointed out, there's a nice bit of circumlocution in this DiRita quote

DiRita denied that Rumsfeld controls a secret group of spies. "There is no unit that is directly reportable to the Secretary of Defense for clandestine operations as is described in The Washington Post," he said in a statement. "Further, the Department is not attempting to 'bend' statutes to fit desired activities, as is suggested in this article."

Yeah, there may not be a clandestine group that is "directly reportable" to Rumsfeld but I bet there's something that's directly reportable to Undersecretary Stephen Cambone, as mentioned in both "The Coming Wars" and "The Salvador Option".

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?