Archive for the ‘CIA’ Category

Top U.S. Spy: Mumbai Terror Came From Radical Pakistani Islamic Militant Group

December 3, 2008

Yesterday what India has been saying was verified by the top U.S. spy: the bloodshed and terror in Mumbai was caused by Lashkar-e-Taiba.  A spokesman for the Pakistan-based group denied any involvement in the Mumbai atrocities.  Lashkar-e-Taiba or     is one of the    shadowy Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda that the U.S. and the rest of Western intelligence has been watching and fighting since September 11, 2001….

The radical Islamic group, whose name means “Army of the Pious,” has past links to both Pakistani intelligence and Al-Qaeda.


US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell late Tuesday blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba for the deadly attacks in Mumbai, the first time a US official publicly fingered the group.

“The same group that we believe is responsible for Mumbai had a similar attack in 2006 attack on a train and killed a similar number of people,” said McConnell, speaking at Harvard University. “Go back to 2001 and it was an attack on the parliament.”

McConnell did not mention Lashkar-e-Taiba by name, but the group, which fought Indian rule in divided Kashmir, is notorious for a deadly assault on the Indian parliament in 2001. That attack pushed New Delhi and Islamabad to the brink of war.

By Carlos Hamann, AFP

US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, pictured ...
US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, pictured in February, 2008, on Tuesday blamed the group Lashkar-e-Taiba for last week’s deadly attacks in Mumbai.(AFP/File/Saul Loeb)

The radical Islamic group, whose name means “Army of the Pious,” has past links to both Pakistani intelligence and Al-Qaeda.

McConnell, the top US intelligence official, said he did not see the Mumbai attack as a new form of terrorism.

“If you examine the groups we think are responsible, the philosophical underpinnings are very similar to what Al-Qaeda puts out as their view of how the world should be. It is a continuation,” he said.

About 10 gunmen landed in rubber dinghies in Mumbai and wreaked havoc with automatic weapons and hand grenades, in an assault that killed at least 188 people and injured more than 300. The dead included 22 foreign nationals.

In his speech, McConnell emphasized the difficulty in fighting shadowy Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“Democratic systems that promote free speech and free movement and open discussion are incredibly vulnerable to someone who is willing to die in the context of a suicide bomber or a suicide attack,” McConnell said.

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Obama Set To Name CIA, Other Spy Chiefs

December 3, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama faces a dilemma in selecting his top intelligence advisers: finding experienced leaders who understand the challenges facing the various U.S. intelligence agencies — but who are untainted by the controversies and problems that have plagued the intelligence apparatus during the Bush era.

Seal of the Central Intelligence Agency

By Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, December 3, 2008; Page A02

Obama, who announced much of his national security team Monday, has signaled his intention to end controversial policies on detaining and interrogating terrorism suspects. Yet the nation’s next intelligence leaders will face far more vexing demands. At the top of the list are improving intelligence collection and analysis, and streamlining an unwieldy structure — all without further damaging morale.

Prominent voices in the intelligence community and the Obama camp have argued that a seasoned professional is needed when the country is waging two wars and a campaign against terrorism, and that a newcomer would face an excessively steep learning curve.

“An outsider will get eaten alive,” said Amy Zegart, an associate professor at the University of California at Los Angeles and a former security adviser to both the Clinton administration and President Bush‘s 2000 transition team. “The next CIA director has to walk a fine line between taming the building and transforming it. He’s got to ….

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Barack Obama is warned to beware of a ‘huge threat’ from al-Qaeda

November 15, 2008

Barack Obama is being given ominous advice from leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to brace himself for an early assault from terrorists.

General Michael Hayden, director of the CIA, this week acknowledged that there were dangers during a presidential transition when new officials were coming in and getting accustomed to the challenges. But he added that no “real or artificial spike” in intercepted transmissions from terror suspects had been detected.

President Bush has repeatedly described the acute vulnerability of the US during a transition. The Bush Administration has been defined largely by the 9/11 attacks, which came within a year of his taking office.

His aides have pointed to al-Qaeda’s first assault on the World Trade Centre, which occurred little more than a month after Bill Clinton became President in 1993. There was an alleged attempt to bomb Glasgow airport in Gordon Brown’s first days in Downing Street and a London nightclub attack was narrowly thwarted.

Osama bin Laden remains deeply isolated and has been forced ... 
CIA Director Michael Hayden.(AFP/File/Saul Loeb)

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Qaeda stung by U.S. pressure in Pakistan: CIA chief

November 14, 2008

U.S. pressure on al Qaeda near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan has put the group “off balance,” but the region remains the biggest terrorism threat to the United States, the CIA’s chief said on Thursday.

Agency Director Michael Hayden also told a Washington think tank he and the head of Pakistan‘s intelligence service, Lt.-Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, shared in a meeting last month common views on how to contain the militant threat.

This was despite heated Pakistani protests over U.S. military strikes inside Pakistan aimed at stopping al Qaeda and Taliban cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.

By Randall Mikkelsen, Reuters

Osama bin Laden remains deeply isolated and has been forced ... 
Osama bin Laden remains deeply isolated and has been forced to devote much of his energy to his own security, CIA Director Michael Hayden, pictured in February 2008, said in a speech on Thursday.(AFP/File/Saul Loeb)

“There’s a lot more commonality on how the threat should be dealt with than many people seem to assume,” Hayden told the Atlantic Council of the United States.

There may be Taliban elements the United States could talk to, he said, to fracture its alliance with al Qaeda — a view also expressed by advisers to President-elect Barack Obama.

The United States in recent months has stepped up drone-carried missile strikes against militants inside Pakistan, and in September launched a commando ground attack across the border.

Washington has shrugged off protests from Pakistan, but some experts fear the raid may have undermined Pakistan’s fragile democracy and cooperation with the United States.

Hayden, without acknowledging the strikes or the U.S. role in them, said several veteran al Qaeda fighters and commanders had died over the past year, “by violence or natural causes.”

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Obama Expected to Replace Key National Intelligence Team

November 12, 2008

The nation’s top two intelligence officers expect to be replaced by President-elect Barack Obama early in his administration, according to senior intelligence officials.

A number of influential congressional Democrats oppose keeping Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael V. Hayden in their posts because both have publicly supported controversial Bush administration policies on interrogation and telephone surveillance. One Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee said there is a “consensus” view on the matter.

From left, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael V. Hayden testified on Capitol Hill in February about the annual threat assessment.

From left, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael V. Hayden testified on Capitol Hill in February about the annual threat assessment. (By Nikki Kahn — The Washington Post)

By Walter Pincus and Karen DeYoung
The Washington Post

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Bush Approved Secret Attacks Against Al Qaeda, Others in Syria, Pakistan: New York Times

November 10, 2008

Since 2004, the Pentagon has used broad, secret authority to carry out about 12 attacks against al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, The New York Times reported on its website.
Quoting what it said were more than six unnamed military and intelligence officials and senior Bush administration policy makers, the newspaper said the military operations were authorized by a classified order signed by former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with the approval of President George Bush.

Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld

From TVNZ, New Zealand

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By Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti 
The New York Times

The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.
These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said. The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States.

In 2006, for example, a Navy Seal team raided a suspected militants’ compound in the Bajaur region of Pakistan, according to a former top official of the Central Intelligence Agency. Officials watched the entire mission — captured by the video camera of a remotely piloted Predator aircraft — in real time in the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorist Center at the agency’s headquarters in Virginia 7,000 miles away.

U.S. Navy SEAL Insignia

Some of the military missions have been conducted in close coordination with the C.I.A., according to senior American officials, who said that in others, like the Special Operations raid in Syria on Oct. 26 of this year, the military commandos acted in support of C.I.A.-directed operations.

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Obama to begin receiving intelligence briefings

November 6, 2008

“The world is a much more dangerous place that Barack Obama has ever realized before,” a CIA analyst told Peace and Freedom.  “The the challenges are daunting and the president elect will have a new realization staring today.”


By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer
CHICAGO – Barack Obama will begin receiving highly classified briefings from top intelligence officials Thursday, as the rush of his campaign gives way to intensive preparations to take over as commander in chief and build a Democratic administration. The briefings typically last 45 minutes to an hour, but Obama’s initial one is expected to be longer.

A U.S. intelligence official speaking on condition of anonymity said Joe Biden, the vice president-elect, also will begin receiving briefings this week.

The president’s daily brief that Obama will receive is mostly written by the Central Intelligence Agency and will include the most critical overnight intelligence for the president. They sometimes dig deeply into a specific topic to give the president an in-depth understanding.
Seal of the Central Intelligence Agency

Obama began his first full day as president-elect with the simple pleasure of having breakfast with his daughters, the type of everyday activity with his family that he often said during the nearly two-year campaign was his greatest sacrifice.

Later in the morning, Obama left the house alone, clad in workout clothes, a ball cap and sunglasses and carrying a newspaper on his lap. He ducked into a friend’s apartment building where he usually uses the gym while in Chicago. About a dozen onlookers expecting his arrival had gathered with cameras and cell phones to get a glimpse of him.

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The larger (nuclear) threat

October 21, 2008

By Glenn Kessler
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 
The Washington Times


As important as the economy is, our survival is more important. As FBI Director Robert Mueller has told me, al Qaeda’s goal is to wipe us out with nuclear weapons. In considering which presidential candidate would better protect us, we need to understand why we have not had a successful attack in more than seven years.

Many would say it’s an accident or luck. They are wrong. The reason we have not been hit is the sweeping changes in the intelligence community initiated by President Bush and the work of the FBI and CIA under his direction.

When Mr. Bush proclaimed any country harboring a terrorist would be considered a terrorist country, Arab countries began cooperating in the war on terror, turning over thousands of terrorists and leads. Mr. Bush made the FBI become more prevention-oriented. Now every case becomes the basis to develop new sources. These informants may be run out for years to infiltrate terrorist groups.

As Art Cummings, who heads FBI counterterrorism investigations, has told me, when an agent wants to make an arrest, he tells the agent, “Your objective is not to make the arrest. Your objective is to make that suspect our collection platform. That guy now is going to tell us just how big and broad the threat might be. He now becomes a means to collection, instead of the target of collection.”

The media claim that the FBI and CIA still don’t speak to each other. But in 2005, Mr. Bush established the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Va., where 200 analysts from the CIA and FBI sit side by side analyzing threats 24 hours a day.

Mr. Bush’s Patriot Act tore down the so-called wall Attorney General Janet Reno imposed, a wall that prevented FBI agents from sharing information with each other and with the CIA. Despite al Qaeda’s efforts to use the Iraq war as a recruitment tool, a Pew Research Center survey found over the last six years support for suicide bombings and for Osama bin Laden in many Muslim countries has been cut by half or more.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI, the CIA and the military have rolled up about 5,000 terrorists worldwide. Every few months, the FBI announces new arrests of terrorists. Thus, many plots are never hatched because terrorists have been killed, arrested or sent back to their own countries and imprisoned.

Barack Obama has made it clear that, if elected president, he would take away tools necessary not only to connect the dots but also to find them in the first place. In fact, he twice voted against revising the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to allow the National Security Agency to continue to monitor foreign terrorists’ calls without a warrant, even if all parties are foreigners situated overseas. When he saw the tide was turning, he eventually voted for the bill.

Like a Rip Van Winkle who is unaware of recent history, Mr. Obama has cited the government’s prosecution of those responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as the correct way to deal with terrorism. Apparently, Mr. Obama missed learning that the Sept. 11 hijackers wanted to be martyrs and were prepared to be jailed or killed. No threat of prosecution would have deterred them.

Mr. Obama later backtracked, saying his policy position papers assert he would use military force as well. But his televised comments tell more about his true feelings than papers drafted by advisers. What he said is disturbingly consistent with the rest of his views on national security.

Asked by Brian Williams how he would change the U.S. military stance overseas if terrorists hit two American cities simultaneously, Mr. Obama began talking about having an emergency response plan. After two planes hit the World Trade Center in 2001, no emergency response plan would have saved the men and women who jumped to their deaths from windows of the Twin Towers. Nor would any emergency plan have helped the young children who, with tears streaming down their faces, held up photos of their mothers or fathers, hoping someone would say they survived the attack.

When the Rev. Rick Warren asked Mr. Obama….

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High-level al-Qaida figure is captured

March 14, 2008
By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Authorities have captured a high-level al-Qaida figure who helped Osama bin Laden escape from Afghanistan in 2001, the Pentagon announced Friday.
Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to say when or where Mohammad Rahim was captured — or by whom — announcing only that he was handed over by the CIA to the Pentagon earlier this week and is being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

But in a memo obtained by The Associated Press, CIA Director Michael Hayden told agency employees that Rahim was detained last summer, and he suggested Rahim was not captured by American authorities.

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CIA Director: China “Strangling” Smaller Entities

March 13, 2008

By Bill Gertz
The Washington Times
March 13, 2008

China is “strangling” emerging island democracies in the Pacific in pursuit of narrow goals such as friendly votes at the United Nations, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said in an interview in which he criticized Beijing’s failure to act as a responsible global power.

CIA Director Hayden

Mr. Hayden also criticized China’s pursuit of Sudanese oil supplies, even at the cost of backing a government that the United States accuses of participating in genocidal activities in the Darfur region of Sudan.

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