zenpundit.com » CIA

Archive for the ‘CIA’ Category

Clinton Comey?

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — with a side dish of Tzipi Livni ]
.

Ckinton Comey
photo credit: Greg Nash via The Hill

I’ll be socratic here, asking questions to illuminate my hunches.

**

I’m seldom fully convinced by anything that comes from the left and reads the way I’d expect the left to read, and seldom convinced by anything that comes from the right and reads the way I’d expect the right to read, so I don’t take the left’s assertions downplaying H Clinton’s security behavior with reflex belief, and on the whole I’m inclined to follow John Schindler, who — both as an ex-NSA analyst and as a regular at The Observer — takes a very hard line on Clinton’s security behavior, writing just a couple of weeks ago under the title, The Coming Constitutional Crisis Over Hillary Clinton’s EmailGate.

I also follow War on the Rocks, though, and was struck a while back by a post there from Mark Stout, drawing some interesting distinctions in line with its subtitle, “A former intelligence analyst who worked at both the CIA and the State Department explains how different approaches to classifying information sits at the heart of the scandal that threatens to undo Hillary Clinton.”

Which does somewhat complicate matters, while somewhat helping us understand them.

**

I’m neither an American nor a lawyer, and as someone who is generally inclined more to bridge-building than to taking sides in any case, I don’t feel qualified to debate the Comey-Clinton affair – but was interested to see emptywheel’s Marcy Wheeler, whom I take to be leftish, coming out today describing Comey’s decision as an “improper public prosecutorial opinion”. She writes:

Understand, though: with Sterling and Drake, DOJ decided they were disloyal to the US, and then used their alleged mishandling of classified information as proof that they were disloyal to the US ..Ultimately, it involves arbitrary decisions about who is disloyal to the US, and from that a determination that the crime of mishandling classified information occurred.

Comey, in turn, seems to have made it pretty clear that “Secretary Clinton or her colleagues“ were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information” – specifically:

.. seven email chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received.  These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending emails about those matters and receiving emails from others about the same matters.

**

Is there, in your views, special treatment in this matter for persons of high rank present here?

livni

And out of curiosity, if so, do you see a similar case of special treatment for persons of high rank over in the UK, known to be substantially less Israel-friendly than the US, where Scotland Yard wanted to question Tzipi Livni about alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza under her watch as Foreign Minister, and “after diplomatic talks” Livni was “granted special diplomatic immunity”?

**

On the one hand, I don’t like show-trials, trials-by-press, banana courts or mob justice, and far prefer just laws justly applied – and on the other, I can understand that the scrutiny those in high office find themselves under can render them legally vulnerable in ways that may unduly influence their decision-making – and justice may be platonically blind, but is not always uniformly applied in practice. Such, it seems to me, is the human dilemma.

What say you?

I do so hate it when people speak foreign

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — the Pakistani politician Imran Khan and Alec Station’s Mike Scheuer think (somewhat) alike ]
.

I do so hate it when people speak foreign, and am happy when bilinguals tweet the relevant quotes in regular language:

**

Imran Khan, who is being quoted from this interview as saying “George Washington was a terrorist for the English & freedom fighter for Americans” is a Pakistani cricketer (captain of the team that won the 1992 World Cup, and credited with 3807 runs batting and 362 wickets bowling in Test matches) turned politician (founder of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party which governs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, formerly the North West Frontier Province) — and philanthropist (founder of a cancer hospital, and more).

Comparisons, they say, are odious — and you may well think it odious to compare Osama bin Laden with George Washington.

What, though, if the comparison is between Imran Khan and Michael Scheuer, who in the runup to 9/11 was the chief of Alec Station (ie the CIA’s Bin Laden Issue Station). In his first book, Through our Enemies’ Eyes, published anonymously in 2002, Scheuer wrote:

I think we in the United States can best come to grips with this phenomena by realizing that bin Laden’s philosophy and actions have embodied many of the same sentiments that permeate the underpinnings of concepts on which the United States itself is established. This can be illustrated, I think, with reference to the writings or actions of such seminal figures in our history as John Brown, John Bunyan, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Paine.

and:

Bin Laden’s character, religious certainty, moral absolutism, military ferocity, integrity, and all-or-nothing goals are not much different from those of individuals whom we in the United States have long identified and honored as religious, political, or military heroes, men such as John Brown, John Bunyan, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Paine. I do not argue that these are exact analogies, but only that they are analogies that seemed pertinent as I researched bin Laden.

and again, specifically:

A final analogy I found useful in thinking about Osama bin Laden in a context pertinent … Professor John L. Esposito drew me to this analogy in his fine book The Islamic Threat. Myth or Reality?, as did the editors of the respected Pakistani newspaper Nawa-i-Wakt. In his book, Esposito warned that when Americans automatically identify Islamist individuals and groups as terrorists, they forget the “heroes of the American Revolution were rebels and terrorists for the British Crown,” while the editors of Nawa-i-Waqt lamented that “it is unfortunate that the United States, which obtained its independence through a [revolutionary] movement is calling Muslim freedom fighters [a] terrorist organization.”

Like him or not as he currently presents himself and his opinions, Scheuer was plausibly the person best situated to explain bin Laden to an American audience back in 2002 — and today’s Imran Khan and yesterday’s Michael Scheuer seem to have a major analogy for assessing & explaining bin Laden in common…

Owls and roosters, wolves and warnings

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — too quiet, too loud, two versions ]
.

rooster and owlm fine cuisine
.
This isn’t the rooster and owl conjunction I refer to in this post, but it’s popping up in the DC area

**

I’m sure I first heard of the problem of the little boy who cried “Wolf” back in the mists of childhood, but it wasn’t until today, when reading up on retires CIA counterterrorist analyst and current novelist Susan Hasler that I first saw it applied to the issue of analysts alerting decision-makers of terrorism risks..

DQ hasler landes

Reading Hasler’s words, I was immediately reminded of Richard Landes‘ distinction between “end times” roosters and owls, which has been a salient analytic heuristic for me since the mid-nineties, when I was invited to join Landes in Boston University’s Center for Millennial Studies.

Both quotes revolve around warning noises, and each features both “loud” and “soft” variants — but the differences between Hasler’s wolves and warnings and Landes’ owls and roosters are subtler than the similarities between them.

Setting them up as poles for paired contemplation energizes my thought processes — and even if I don’t arrive at any specific and immediate conclusions, let alone any actionable intelligence — it preps me with yet another pattern to watch for in my daily trawling of the highways and byways of the arts, sciences and OSINT on the [wild & wonderful] web.

Susan Hasler on Trump & Cruz, Yeats on 1916

Monday, March 28th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — the self-examining word ]
.

DQ Hasler Yeats

Hasler‘s Getting the response to terrorism completely wrong — which goes after Trump and Cruz by name — was published tomorrow — it’s 11.58pm Sunday here in California.

Yeats‘ poem remembers the Easter of 1916, a hundred years ago today.

Perils of Biblical literalism

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — okay, i’m sure this was unintentional ]
.

DQ CIA vs DOD Syria

Hey, fellas — this is really taking the literal interpretation of scripture a bit too literally..

**

Sources:

  • King James Version, Matthew 6.3
  • Chicago Tribune, CIA-armed militias are shooting at Pentagon-armed ones in Syria

  • Switch to our mobile site