C.I.A. Director Leon Panetta told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of a program from 2001 until the his first day that was kept from Congress, revealing the C.I.A. withheld information from, misled, and deliberately lied to the Congress.

“Leon Panetta, the head of the C.I.A., came up to a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee to inform us that a program — which I can’t discuss, obviously — had been in operation from 2001 until the day before he came to meet with us and he had ended,” Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, today. “He was there to tell us that no member of Congress had ever been informed.”

Ms. Eshoo reiterated that she couldn’t discuss the program, but said, “The Committee was actually stunned.”

The C.I.A. is saying that there are no programs deliberately kept from Congress, Mr. Panetta says the program is no longer in place. Of course, it takes a lot of work to believe that the C.I.A. lying to Congress is rare, meaning that the program Mr. Panetta revealed could be anything from re-supplying factions of the mujahideen in the Af-Pak region to a detailed destabilization effort in Venezuela. What we know is that the Intelligence Committee was “stunned” after years of rendition, torture memos and torture photos being released, with virtually no accountability for such crimes.

Could Mr. Panetta mean that the C.I.A. has exported this program elsewhere in the U.S. military apparatus as a means to a different short-term endgame? Sam Stein at The Huffington Post asks: “Was the C.I.A. hiding Cheney’s ‘executive assassination ring'” that The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh discussed in March? (6:04):

Top U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, was the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), Mr. Hersh reports to be the Bush-Cheney “executive assassination wing”. “[Gen McChyrstal] is implicated in allegations of torture, assassinations, and general disregard for rules,” Amy Davidson wrote in The New Yorker last May. “Is this how we think we will win in Afghanistan? And, if JSOC is ever properly investigated, will McChrystal come to inhabit the same rhetorical role that the Republicans would assign Nancy Pelosi — a disincentive to investigate, because the trail might lead to your own guy? Because McChrystal is now Obama’s own guy.”

Protecting Gen. McChrystal keeps him using tactics to further infuriate Af-Pak region militants to better proselytize non-combatant villagers. As violence increases, so do the chances of Afghan President Hamid Karzai of losing the upcoming election.

Mr. Panetta says this program is over, Dr. Gareth Porter asked if the choice of this lieutenant-general is to enhance “unconventional” counterinsurgency tactics in an article at AntiWar.com – 12 May 09:

[T]hese explanations for the choice of McChrystal equate his command of the Special Operations forces with expertise on counterinsurgency, despite the fact that McChrystal spent his last five years as a commander of Special Operations forces focusing overwhelmingly on counter-terrorism operations, not on counterinsurgency.

Whereas counterinsurgency operations are aimed primarily at influencing the population and are primarily non-military, counter-terrorism operations are exclusively military and focus on targeting the “enemy”….

It was under McChrystal’s command, in fact, that JSOC shifted away from the very mission of training indigenous military units in counterinsurgency operations that had been a core mission of Special Operations Forces….

McChrystal and JSOC carried out targeted raids and other operations against suspected Taliban in Afghanistan which were not coordinated with the commander of other U.S. forces in the country….

U.S. air strikes, which have caused hundreds of civilian deaths, have become a major political issue in Afghanistan and the subject of official protests by Afghan President Hamid Karzai as well as by the lower house of the Afghan parliament. Many of the air strikes and commando raids that have caused large-scale civilian deaths have involved Special Operations forces operating separately from the NATO command.

Special Operations forces under McChrystal’s command also engaged in raiding homes in search of Taliban suspects, angering villagers in Herat province to the point where they took up arms against the U.S. forces, according to a May 2007 story by Carlotta Gall and David E. Sanger of The New York Times.

After a series of raids by Special Operations forces in Afghanistan in late 2008 and early 2009 killed women and children, to mounting popular outrage, McChrystal’s successor as commander of JSOC, Vice Adm. William H. McRaven, ordered a temporary reduction in the rate of such commando raids in mid-February for two weeks.

However, the JSOC raids resumed at their original intensity in March. Later that month Gen. David Petraeus issued a directive putting all JSOC operations under McKiernan’s tactical command, but there has been no evidence that the change has curbed the raids by Special Operations Forces.

Dr. Porter goes on to note the air strike on May 4 in the Farah province which killed up to 150 civilians. Saeed Shah at McClatchy has reported extensively that the U.S. is leading air strikes in regions that the U.S. and Pakistan are seeking allies, but Gen. McChrystal knows from his experiences that such tactics have resulted only in “angering villagers… to the point where they took up arms against the U.S. forces”.

“There have been at least six such strikes in the area since June 23, when a drone bombardment killed 80 people at a militant’s funeral in South Waziristan,” writes Mr. Shah, yesterday. “There also was a missile attack Tuesday in South Waziristan, reportedly killing 12 militants, including five foreign insurgents.”

“Experts” are calling these strikes “successful”, but it begs the questions: to what ends and compared to what?

We can’t get into the heads of President Obama, the Pentagon, the State Dept., etc., but Afghan civilians know first hand that these attacks on South Waziristan — with the Pakistan Army’s ‘preventative effort’ near the Afghan border — mobilizes the violence deeper into Afghanistan. Afghan civilians — already angered by the increase of U.S. air strikes and its toll on civilians — will look in one of two directions: militarize or elect a new leader because it’s clear that Mr. Karzai can’t put their voices and will into action.

What we know is that the Clinton family and top Democratic Party political strategist, James Carville, is being exported to advise Mr. Karzai’s primary opposition candidate, Ashraf Ghani. The U.S. State Dept. hasn’t directly endorsed a candidate, but Mr. Obama is growing increasingly “unhappy” with Mr. Karzai, so he needs to go. I’m hard-pressed to believe that Mr. Carville would commit to such an action without the encouragement of Hillary Clinton, the top U.S. diplomat as its secretary of state.

The U.S. message is clear: this operation of raining death will be escalated more than it always has been and nobody in the Afghan government — nor the U.S. Congress — will consider stopping it unless you elect the “right guy”.

Such means toward ends would be directly parallel to the U.S. government’s own legal definition of ‘international terrorism’.

  1. […] hiding among the Afghan population in an interview with Julian Barnes at the LAT. I wonder if this top assassin and military genius can figure out that “insurgents” aren’t […]

  2. […] I discussed the possibility of the secret C.I.A. program that the Bush Administration kept secret from Congress, recently revealed to Congress in June, being an assassination program and that it was just made policy by the Obama Administration here. […]

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