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Archive for the ‘Pakistan’ Category

Smoke billows from the World Trade Center in New York, on September 11, 2001. (Photo: Ruth Fremson / The New York Times)

Report: Intelligence Unit Told Before 9/11 to Stop Tracking Bin Laden

Monday 23 May 2011

by: Jeffrey Kaye, Truthout

A great deal of controversy has arisen about what was known about the movements and location of Osama bin Laden in the wake of his killing by US Special Forces on May 2 in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Questions about what intelligence agencies knew or didn’t know about al-Qaeda activities go back some years, most prominently in the controversy over the existence of a joint US Special Forces Command and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) data mining effort known as “Able Danger.”

What hasn’t been discussed is a September 2008 Department of Defense (DoD) inspector general (IG) report, summarizing an investigation made in response to an accusation by a Joint Forces Intelligence Command (JFIC) whistleblower, which indicated that a senior JFIC commander had halted actions tracking Osama bin Laden prior to 9/11. JFIC is tasked with an intelligence mission in support of United States Joint Force Command (USJFCOM).

The report, titled “Review of Joint Forces Intelligence Command Response to 9/11 Commission,” was declassified last year, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists.

The whistleblower, who the IG report identified as a former JFIC employee represented only by his codename “IRON MAN,” claimed in letters written to both the DoD inspector general in May 2006 and, lacking any apparent action by the IG, to the Office of the National Director of Intelligence (ODNI) in October 2007, that JFIC had withheld operational information about al-Qaeda when queried in March 2002 about its activities by the DIA and higher command officials on behalf of the 9/11 Commission. The ODNI passed the complaint back to the IG, who then opened an investigation under the auspices of the deputy inspector general for intelligence.

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CIA Spied On Bin Laden From Safe House

TPM MUCKRAKER

Eric Lach | May 6, 2011, 9:45AM

The CIA had for months been spying on the compound where Osama bin Laden was found and killed by U.S. forces earlier this week, according to reports.

The agency maintained a rented safehouse near bin Laden’s compound, where a small team of spies “relied on Pakistani informants and other sources to help assemble a ‘pattern of life’ portrait of the occupants and daily activities at the fortified compound where bin Laden was found,” officials told The Washington Post.

A variety of technologies were used, according to The New York Times:

Observing from behind mirrored glass, C.I.A. officers used cameras with telephoto lenses and infrared imaging equipment to study the compound, and they used sensitive eavesdropping equipment to try to pick up voices from inside the house and to intercept cellphone calls. A satellite used radar to search for possible escape tunnels.

Despite the efforts, technology and millions of dollars used in the operation, agents were never able to photograph or record the voice of the man living on the top floor of the compound. According to the Times, agents called a man who took regular walks in the compound’s courtyard “the pacer,” but they were never able to confirm that he was bin Laden.

“You’ve got to give him credit for his tradecraft,” a former senior CIA official who played a leading role in the manhunt told the Post.

On the other hand, the official said, bin Laden’s decision to go to Abbottabad left him vulnerable. While it was not an obvious place to hide, and took him out of range of the U.S. drones that patrol the border with Afghanistan, Abbottabad is a place where “anybody can go.”

“It makes it easier for the CIA to operate,” the official said.

According to the Post, the safehouse was shut down after the raid.

SOURCE

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National Counterterrorism Center: How A Little-Known Spy Agency Helped Track Down Osama Bin Laden

HuffPost- David Wood
First Posted: 05/ 2/11 06:14 PM ET Updated: 05/ 2/11 07:55 PM ET

A little-known spy agency in Washington helped track the hour-by-hour movements of the al Qaeda courier who inadvertently led a Navy SEALs assault team directly to Osama bin Laden on Sunday, where they killed the terrorist mastermind with two precision shots to the head.

For eight months, after analysts tentatively identified a spacious walled compound near Islamabad, Pakistan, as a possible bin Laden hideout, an array of satellites and unmanned drones kept an unblinking, day-night “staring eye’’ watch, tracking individuals’ movements in and out, and following “individuals of interest’’ as they traveled across the region.

The data was continuously downloaded to an Air Force ground station housed in a nondescript hangar at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, where teams of analysts pored over the “take’’ and streamed it live to intelligence analysis cells at the CIA, the National Security Agency and the National Counterterrorism Center.

The NCTC, housed in an innocuous office building in Rosslyn, Va., just across the Potomac River from Washington proper, operates far from the spotlight that illuminates even the secretive CIA, but it played a pivotal role in the bin Laden manhunt.

Working with the military’s Joint Special Operations Command Targeting and Analysis Center, located at Langley, and with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency up the river in Bethesda, Md., the NCTC analysts helped develop what the military calls a “common operating picture.’’ In layman’s terms, that amounted to a detailed four-dimensional “map’’ of the bin Laden compound and its occupants and their patterns of living and working.

The data enabled JSOC’s commandos to build, in a remote section of the U.S. air base at Bagram, Afghanistan, a full-scale replica of the al Qaeda compound at Abbottabad, an hour’s drive north of Islamabad. In constant rehearsals at the mock-up, they perfected the timing and the tactics used in Sunday’s raid.

NCTC officials declined to comment publicly on the agency’s operations or the work that led to bin Laden’s death on Sunday.

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The War Is Over. Start Packing!

Monday 2 May 2011
by: Robert Naiman, Truthout

We got our man. Wave the flag, kiss a nurse (or a sailor) and start packing the equipment. It’s time to plan to bring all our boys and girls home from Afghanistan. When the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks rolls around, let the world see that we are on a clear path to bringing home our troops from Afghanistan and handing back sovereignty to the Afghan people.

With more Sherlock Holmes than Rambo and judging from press accounts, not much role for the 100,000 US troops in Afghanistan, US intelligence tracked Osama bin Laden to a safe house in a well-appointed suburb of Pakistan’s capital and a small US force raided the compound. Press reports say Osama bin Laden was killed in a firefight in the compound and that his body has been buried at sea, in accordance with Islamic tradition that expects a burial within 24 hours.

Success typically has many authors, and I don’t doubt the ability of some to argue that our occupation of Afghanistan has contributed to this result. Perhaps, it will turn out that some prisoner captured in Afghanistan by US forces contributed a key piece of information that helped investigators find bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

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Pakistan-US Feud Boils Over CIA Drone Strikes

Saturday 23 April 2011
Via: Truthout –  by: Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers

Washington – Even as it publicly demands an end to U.S. drone attacks on militants in its tribal area, Pakistan is allowing the CIA to launch the missile-firing robot aircraft from an airbase in its province of Baluchistan, U.S. officials said Friday.

Up to 25 people reportedly died Friday in the latest drone strike, which took place in North Waziristan, a remote tribal agency from which extremists launch cross-border attacks on U.S.-led forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s contradictory positions on the strikes illustrate how the Pakistani army is trying to use public outrage in Pakistan over what are denounced as violations of national sovereignty to squeeze the U.S. into giving it a greater say in the selection of targets.

The Obama administration, however, is insisting that the Pakistani military accede to a longstanding U.S. demand to move against militant groups that control North Waziristan, which is Osama bin Laden’s suspected refuge, and that they use as a base for attacking Afghanistan.

That message was reiterated by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in talks he held with Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, the head of the Pakistani army, in Islamabad on Thursday, said a knowledgeable person who asked not to be further identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Mullen told Kayani that there would be no let-up in drone operations until there are “decisive, verifiable Pak military operations against Haqqani and related groups responsible for actions leading to the deaths of American and coalition troops in Afghanistan,” the knowledgeable person said.

The North Waziristan-based Haqqani network is regarded as the most deadly and capable of the insurgent groups fighting U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.

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Pakistan demands U.S. cut drone strikes, CIA agents

By Agence France-Presse via: Raw Story
Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 — 10:41 am

WASHINGTON — Pakistan has told the United States to sharply cut the number of CIA agents and special forces operating there, and to rein in drone strikes against militants, a US newspaper said Monday.

The New York Times said the order highlighted the near collapse of US-Pakistani cooperation, the result of a row that erupted when CIA officer Raymond Davis shot and killed two men who tried to rob him in January.

The authorities in Islamabad were asking a total of about 335 CIA officers, contractors and special operations forces to leave the country, according to a Pakistani official involved in the decision who was quoted by the daily.

Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Kayani personally ordered the reductions, it added, citing unnamed US and Pakistani officials.

The news came as Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s powerful military spy agency, met in Washington with Leon Panetta, director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

George Little, a CIA spokesman, told AFP the talks were productive and that relations between the agency and the ISI remained on a “solid footing.”

The Pakistani official involved in the decision to cut back the US presence told the newspaper that Pakistan suspects that what Washington really wants to do is to neutralize the Muslim country’s nuclear arsenal.

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By Shahid R. Siddiqi. Axis of Logic, Jan 5, 2011

Editor’s Comment: December 27, 2011 was the 3rd anniversary of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination and Shahid R. Siddiqi updates the essay he wrote for publication on Axis of Logic on the second anniversary of her death.

Associated Press of Pakistan reported Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani’s words on this third, sad anniversary. Gilani told the Pakistani people that the life of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto is “a classic study of courage, commitment towards people’s welfare, and steel like determination to accomplish the goals she set before herself.” The PM continued, calling Bhutto “an incarnation of steadfastness, perseverance and determination.” He said that her name would be “chronicled in golden words in the annals of history.”

It is curious to consider how difficult it is for human beings to speak in plain language and write honestly about the dead. Notions of “honoring the dead” seem to compel most to ignore or paint over the wrongs committed by them when they were alive. It’s a sin of kindness that can be easily forgiven in personal and family atmospheres where loved ones suffer loss and are in need of comfort. But when the person who dies is a public figure such as a head of state with great responsibility for many people, it is important to look honestly at the life lived, service rendered, values exemplified and decisions made. It’s important to measure the gains and failures wrought by that life for the historical record and for lessons to be learned by others. Shahid Siddiqi has done just this on the second and third anniversary of Benazir Bhutto’s death.

– Les Blough, Editor

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated
three years ago, December 27, 2007

South Asians are sentimental people. Over the centuries, their romanticism about revered religious deities and historical social icons has shaped their psyche of nurturing personality cults. To this when you add pervasive illiteracy and ignorance about political realities of the present times, it is not difficult to understand why some political leaders have managed to achieve their meteoric rise to power merely on the strength of their charisma.

Continues >>

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