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Covert operations

 
  

Project: US Military

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July 2002

       President George Bush issues an executive order transferring control of the covert operation Gray Fox (it now has a new codename) from the Army to Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in Tampa at the insistence of Rumsfeld's office. [New Yorker, 1/24/2005 Sources: unnamed former high-level intelligence official interviewed by Seymour Hersh]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld
          

December 2004

       Intelligence Brief, a newsletter published by former CIA officers Vince Cannistraro and Philip Giraldi, reports that the White House has given the Pentagon permission “to operate unilaterally in a number of countries where there is a perception of a clear and evident terrorist threat,” including Algeria, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Malaysia, [New Yorker, 1/24/2005] and Tunisia. [New Yorker, 1/24/2005 Sources: unnamed former high-level intelligence official interviewed by Seymour Hersh] The operations' chain of command will include Donald Rumsfeld and two of his deputies, Stephen Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, and Army Lieutenant General William G. (Jerry) Boykin. Under these new arrangements, “US military operatives would be permitted to pose abroad as corrupt foreign businessmen seeking to buy contraband items that could be used in nuclear-weapons systems,” New Yorker magazine reports. “In some cases, according to the Pentagon advisers, local citizens could be recruited and asked to join up with guerrillas or terrorists. This could potentially involve organizing and carrying out combat operations, or even terrorist activities.” Describing how the operations would be conducted, Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker reports: “The new rules will enable the Special Forces community to set up what it calls ‘action teams’ in the target countries overseas which can be used to find and eliminate terrorist organizations. ‘Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?’ ... [a] former high-level intelligence official asked me.... ‘We founded them and we financed them,’ he said. ‘The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren't going to tell Congress about it.’ A former military officer, who has knowledge of the Pentagon's commando capabilities, said, ‘We're going to be riding with the bad boys.’ ” [New Yorker, 1/24/2005]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, William Boykin, Stephen Cambone, Vince Cannistraro, Philip Giraldi, Donald Rumsfeld
          

January 8, 2005

       Newsweek reports that the Pentagon is considering a new approach to dealing with the insurgency in Iraq, which they call the “El Salvador Option.” During the 1980s, the US funded and supported El Salvadorian paramilitary units which were implicated in numerous assassinations and kidnappings including the murder of four American nuns in 1980. Now the Pentagon is debating whether the same tactics should be used in Iraq. “What everyone agrees is that we can't just go on as we are,” one unnamed senior military officer tells Newsweek. “We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing.” Another military source interviewed by the magazine contends that Iraqis who sympathize with the insurgents need to be targeted. “The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists,” the source says. “From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation.” One proposal would “send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria,” Newsweek explains. Among the proposal's supporters is Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. [Newsweek, 1/8/2005]
People and organizations involved: Ayad Allawi
          

January 23, 2005

       The Washington Post reports that according to “[f]our people with firsthand knowledge” the Strategic Support Branch (see Shortly after September 11, 2001) has “begun operating under ‘non-official cover’ overseas, using false names and nationalities” in missions that “skirt the line between clandestine and covert operations.” Under US law, “clandestine” operations are conducted in secret, while “covert” operations are more sensitive and are denied by the government if revealed. Covert actions require a written “finding” by the president affirming its necessity with prompt notification of senior congressional leaders of both parties. [The Washington Post, 1/23/2005]
People and organizations involved: Strategic Support Branch, or Project Icon
          


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