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Entries in Central Intelligence Agency (31)


Pakistan Feature: How and Why the US Started "Targeted Killing" With Drones (Mazzetti)

Pakistani insurgent Nek Muhammad, the first victim of a CIA drone strike in 2004 (Photo: Kamran Wazir/Reuters)

Mr. Muhammad and his followers had been killed by the C.I.A., the first time it had deployed a Predator drone in Pakistan to carry out a “targeted killing.” The target was not a top operative of Al Qaeda, but a Pakistani ally of the Taliban who led a tribal rebellion and was marked by Pakistan as an enemy of the state. In a secret deal, the C.I.A. had agreed to kill him in exchange for access to airspace it had long sought so it could use drones to hunt down its own enemies.

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Iraq Feature: Amid Rising Protests, CIA Expands Co-operation with "Anti-Terrorism" Units (Wall Street Journal)

The Central Intelligence Agency is ramping up support to elite Iraqi antiterrorism units to better fight al Qaeda affiliates, amid alarm in Washington about spillover from the civil war in neighboring Syria, according to U.S. officials.

The stepped-up mission expands a covert U.S. presence on the edges of the two-year-old Syrian conflict, at a time of American concerns about the growing power of extremists in the Syrian rebellion.

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US War on Terror Feature: Obama Seeks a "Formal Rule Book" for Drone Attacks

Aftermath of US Drone Strike in AfghanistanFacing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.

The matter may have lost some urgency after Nov. 6. But with more than 300 drone strikes and some 2,500 people killed by the Central Intelligence Agency and the military since Mr. Obama first took office, the administration is still pushing to make the rules formal and resolve internal uncertainty and disagreement about exactly when lethal action is justified.

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US Politics Feature: Biggest Loser from the Petraeus Affair? --- The CIA

See also EA Video Analysis: The Real Story of General David Petraeus

The Petraeus affair emphasizes the increasing marginalization and militarization of the CIA in the post-9/11 world. Despite a reputation of omnipotence, the CIA has always been buffeted by forces outside of its control, including its bureaucratic competitors and the whims of whomever is in the White House.

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US Feature: Obama's Man Writing the "Playbook" for the "War on Terror" (DeYoung)

John Brennan & Barack Obama (Pete Souza/White House)In his windowless White House office, presidential counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan is compiling the rules for a war the Obama administration believes will far outlast its own time in office, whether that is just a few more months or four more years.

The “playbook,” as Brennan calls it, will lay out the administration’s evolving procedures for the targeted killings that have come to define its fight against al-Qaeda and its affiliates. It will cover the selection and approval of targets from the "disposition matrix", the designation of who should pull the trigger when a killing is warranted, and the legal authorities the administration thinks sanction its actions in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond.

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US Feature: Obama Administration Plans to Expand Its "Kill List" (Miller)

Scene of a US drone strike in Afghanistan (Photo: EPA)

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”

The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.

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Pakistan to Yemen to North Africa Feature: The CIA Seeks More Drones

Protest in Pakistan earlier this month against US drone strikes

The CIA is urging the White House to approve a significant expansion of the agency’s fleet of armed drones, a move that would extend the spy service’s decade-long transformation into a paramilitary force, U.S. officials said.

The proposal by CIA Director David H. Petraeus would bolster the agency’s ability to sustain its campaigns of lethal strikes in Pakistan and Yemen and enable it, if directed, to shift aircraft to emerging al-Qaeda threats in North Africa or other trouble spots, officials said.

If approved, the CIA could add as many as 10 drones, the officials said, to an inventory that has ranged between 30 and 35 over the past few years.

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Syria Analysis: Assessing a US Warning over Arms to the Insurgency

Some within the US Government are using their regular channel --- David Sanger of The New York Times --- to put out a warning over support of the Syria insurgency.

The key political question: is there a general view across the Administration, pointing to a policy of caution and even reversal in backing of the insurgency? Is it a signal to Turkey, which has been increasing its co-operation with opposition fighters, at least indirectly, through operations across the Syrian border? Or is this one faction within the US Government using Sanger to fight against another group which favours more US intervention?

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War on Terror Flashback: How US Delivered Detainees to Torture in Qaddafi's Libya (Human Rights Watch)

Laura Pitter of Human Rights Watch talks to the Guardian about the report of US delivery of detainees to torture in Muammar Qaddafi's Libya

When rebel forces overtook Tripoli in August 2011, prison doors were opened and office files exposed, revealing startling new information about Libya’s relations with other countries. One such revelation, documented in this report, is the degree of involvement of the United States government under the Bush administration in the arrest of opponents of the former Libyan Leader, Muammar Gaddafi, living abroad, the subsequent torture and other ill-treatment of many of them in US custody, and their forced transfer to back to Libya.

The United States played the most extensive role in the abuses, but other countries, notably the United Kingdom, were also involved.

This is an important chapter in the larger story of the secret and abusive US detention program established under the government of George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the rendition of individuals to countries with known records of torture.

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Syria Analysis: The Narrow Intelligence of US Intelligence Services

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warns of the presence of Al Qa'eda in Syria

Like all of us, the CIA has been caught off-guard by the pace of events in Syria. The advance of insurgents in parts of the country might have been expected, but suddenly the battle was in Damascus. Then came Wednesday's surprise: the bomb that decimated the top ranks of the Assad regime.

So what does a responsible intelligence service do? It launches a public-relations campaign.

The CIA got in touch with its long-time if unofficial Press Secretary, David Ignatius of The Washington Post, and the Obama Administration also fed lines to Helene Cooper of The New York Times. The message? Ignatius declares, "President Obama is seeking a 'managed transition' in Syria with the twin goals of removing President Bashar al-Assad as soon as possible and doing so without the evaporation of the authority of the Syrian state."

Using Ignatius and Cooper's transcripts, what are the CIA's priorities in that managed transition?

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