The highest court in Italy has reversed a lower court's decision to acquit three CIA agents for their conduct in a 2003 extraordinary rendition case. This brings the number of Americans convicted for participating in the CIA's torture program to 26. The court also increased the sentences of some of those convicted earlier, from 5 to 7 years.
Among those sentenced: Former Rome CIA Station Chief Jeff Castelli who received a sentence of 7 years. The former CIA Station Chief in Milan, Robert Lady, had his sentence increased to 9 years, which makes him eligible for extradition. [More...]
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The David Petraeus story grows: An undisclosed woman started the FBI investigation when she reported getting threatening emails which came from David Petraeus' e-mail account. The e-mails had been sent by Paula Broadwell from Petraus' G-Mail (not CIA) account, reportedly because she thought the woman was getting to close to Petraeus. Woman #2 is neither a family member or government employee.
If this is all about jealousy, the Gin Blossoms could be the official band for Petraeus and Broadwell: Found Out About You; Follow You Down and Till I Hear it From You. They are playing Monday night in Denver (Lakewood) at The Grizzly Rock -- and free admission and no cover.
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“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair,” Mr. Petraeus said in his statement, expressing regret for his abrupt departure. “Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the president graciously accepted my resignation.”
Why does an extra-marital affair compromise his position as CIA Director?
By acknowledging an extramarital affair, Mr. Petraeus, 60, was confronting a sensitive issue for a spy chief. Intelligence agencies are often concerned about the possibility that agents who engage in such behavior could be blackmailed for information.
Doesn't sound like much of a reason to me. Is this really about his affair? [More...]
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Via the Washington Post, there are now more agents in the CIA's counter-terrorism division than there are core members of al-Qaeda around the world (about 2400.). Not only that, the CIA's mission has changed since 9/11.
In the decade since the Sept. 11, 2011, attacks, the agency has undergone a fundamental transformation. Although the CIA continues to gather intelligence and furnish analysis on a vast array of subjects, its focus and resources are increasingly centered on the cold counterterrorism objective of finding targets to capture or kill.
Even analysts are now being used to track targets for capture and kill operations: [More...]
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A lawsuit between two private contracting companies that transported detainees between the U.S., Guantanamo and secret black-hole overseas prisons has revealed major new details about the Government's secret rendition program under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
The company is DynCorp, now known as Dyncorp Internatiobal.[More...]
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Time Magazine reports a federal grand jury is investigating the 2003 torture and killing of Manadel al-Jamadi at Abu Ghraib as a potential war crime. Years ago, navy seals were charged over the death. At least one went to trial and was found not guilty.
TIME has obtained a copy of a subpoena signed by Durham that points to his grand jury's broader mandate, which could involve charging additional CIA officers and contract employees in other cases. The subpoena says "the grand jury is conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws involving War Crimes (18 USC/2441), Torture (18 USC 243OA) and related federal offenses." [More...]
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In the mail this week: Steve Hendrick's "A Kidnapping in Milan: The CIA on Trial". It's detective vs. spy. From the inside cover:
A Kidnapping in Milan is at once a detective story, a history of the terrorist menace and an indictment of the belief that man's savagery against man can be stilled with more savagery yet.
The story focuses on the CIA's 2003 kidnapping of Muslim cleric, Abu Omar on the streets of Milan and his extraordinary rendition (via Ghost Air) to Egypt where he was tortured. Italian authorities, led by Magistrate Armando Spaturo, launched an investigation that exposed the embarrassing details of the covert CIA operation and indicted 26 CIA agents on charges of kidnapping. 23 were convicted and sentenced in abstentia.
Scott Horton at Harper's has an interesting interview with Hendricks about the book, which promises to be a great read.
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U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan, presiding over the case of former Guantanamo detainee, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, ruled today that Hussein Abebe, a key government witness, may not take the stand because he was identified as a result of statements Ghailani made during secret CIA interrogation using harsh interrogation techniques, alleged to be torture. The Government, to avoid litigating the legality of the CIA's action, previously assured the judge information obtained during the interrogation would not be used at trial. Jury selection has been postoned until next week to give the Government time to regroup or appeal.
"The court has not reached this conclusion lightly," Kaplan wrote. "It is acutely aware of the perilous nature of the world in which we live. But the Constitution is the rock upon which our nation rests. We must follow it not when it is convenient, but when fear and danger beckon in a different direction."
Ghailani is charged in federal court with the 1998 Africa embassy bombings. He was captured in 2004, transferred to a CIA secret prison overseas, where he allegedly was tortured. He was then transferred to Guantanamo, where he stayed for almost three years. In 2009, he was charged in federal court in New York and transferred.
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Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, is resigning at the request of President Obama.
Among the agencies Blair has supervisory authority over is the National Counterterrorism Center. Analysts at the NCTC have been blamed for failing to connect intelligence dots and for not sharing information about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who planned to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day.
While Blair, as Director of National Intelligence, is responsible for supervising the NCTC and 15 other intelligence-related agencies, the actual Director of the NCTC is Michael E. Leiter. Will he keep his job? The FBI and State Department were also found to have contributed to the intelligence lapses that failed to prevent Abdulmutallab from boarding the plane. Is anyone being canned from those agencies? Or is Blair just expendable and a convenient fall guy? [More...]
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Update: 1/1/10: More confirmation here.
As I speculated here, new reports show the suicide bomber who killed 8 CIA agents yesterday at a U.S. intelligence post in Afghanistan, was a person being groomed to be an informant. He had been invited onto the base, and although he had never been there before, he wasn't searched. As to why he was invited on to the base:
An experienced Central Intelligence Agency debriefer came from Kabul for the meeting, suggesting that the purpose was to gain intelligence, the official said.
Among the seven CIA officials killed was the female base chief, a mother of three. While some reports say the attack happened in the gym, others says it happened as he was getting out of a car. Maybe she walked up to the car to greet the would-be informant and he blew himself up as he was getting out.
The Taliban, which has taken credit for the attack, says the bomber was posing as an Afghan officer. So the CIA thought they had flipped the guy, but he was playing them. This story is still developing.
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About those doctors who attended the CIA interrogation sessions at which enhanced technigues, aka torture, were used:
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), a non-profit group that has investigated the role of medical personnel in alleged incidents of torture at Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and other US detention sites, accuses doctors of being far more involved than hitherto understood.
....The most incendiary accusation of PHR's latest report, Aiding Torture, is that doctors actively monitored the CIA's interrogation techniques with a view to determining their effectiveness, using detainees as human subjects without their consent. The report concludes that such data-gathering was "a practice that approaches unlawful experimentation".
The report cites the recently released 2004 CIA Inspector General's report. [More...]
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Attorney General Eric Holder issued this statement today about his decision to conduct a review of some cases of CIA abuse of detainees as recommended in the Inspector General's report.
"I have reviewed the OPR report in depth. Moreover, I have closely examined the full, still-classified version of the 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report, as well as other relevant information available to the Department.
As a result of my analysis of all of this material, I have concluded that the information known to me warrants opening a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations.
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The C.I.A. today announced the closure of overseas CIA prisons for detainees. Private contractors will no longer be involved in interrogating prisoners.
The C.I.A. has never revealed the location of its overseas facilities, but intelligence officials, aviation records and news reports have placed them in Afghanistan, Thailand, Poland, Romania and Jordan, among other countries.
More from CIA Chief Leon Pannetta's statement: [More...]
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Huffington Post has an exclusive interview with Yemen citizen Mohamed Farag Bashmilah:
From October 2003 until May 2005, I was illegally detained by the U.S. government and held in CIA-run "black sites" with no contact with the outside world. On May 5, 2005, without explanation, my American captors removed me from my cell and cuffed, hooded, and bundled me onto a plane that delivered me to Sana'a, Yemen. I was transferred into the custody of my own government, which held me -- apparently at the behest of the United States -- until March 27, 2006, when I was finally released, never once having faced any terrorism-related charges.
He's never gotten an explanation and all of his attempts to obtain documentation have been ignored or rejected. Why is he coming forward at Huffpo today? As part of an effort underway to get President Obama to establish a commission. [More...]
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"The most serious charge against Kappes, as best I can tell, comes from his role in the abduction and rendition of Abu Omar, the Egyptian cleric taken by the CIA off the streets of Milan and tortured in Egypt. A 2007 article from The Chicago Tribune about the rendition reports briefly that Kappes was "one of those who signed off on the Abu Omar abduction." (h/t TalkLeft.) No doubt that's troubling. Extraordinary rendition is legally and morally problematic. Italy is prosecuting in absentia the CIA agents involved in the Abu Omar rendition."
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