Monday, January 24, 2005

Strategic Support Branch: Rumsfeld's Own Personal CIA

The following article brings some clarity to a situation that we believe is loaded with potential for abuse and tragedy for America.

Strategic Support Branch: Rumsfeld’s Own Personal CIA
by Kurt Nimmo published by Another Day in the Empire

One day the Pentagon vehemently denies it is covertly operating inside Iran—or at least disputes particular details, as outlined recently by Seymour Hersh—and the next day Pentagon officials describe a new organization, the Strategic Support Branch (SSB), designed “to operate without detection and under the defense secretary’s direct control,” deploy “small teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists alongside newly empowered special operations forces,” and essentially replace “the CIA’s Directorate of Operations,” according to the Washington Post.

Note: the CIA’s Directorate of Operations was responsible for covert action, in other words, secret wars. “You have a target: a government that you don’t like,” writes John Stockwell, a former CIA agent. “They send the CIA in with its resources and its activists: hiring people, hiring agents to tear apart the social and economic fabric of the country. It’s a technique for putting pressure on the government, hoping they can make the government come to the U.S.’s terms, or that the government will collapse altogether and they can engineer a coup d’etat, and have the thing wind up with their own choice of people in power.”

As the Post seems to be saying, Rumsfeld wants to cut the CIA out of the loop and have the Pentagon take over the dirty business of covertly targeting countries, minus any oversight or accountability.

In short, Rumsfeld is in the process of creating his own intelligence operation, not answerable to Congress or the American people. “Two longtime members of the House Intelligence Committee, a Democrat and a Republican, said they knew no details before being interviewed for this article,” notes the Post. “Pentagon officials said they established the Strategic Support Branch using ‘reprogrammed’ funds, without explicit congressional authority or appropriation. Defense intelligence missions, they said, are subject to less stringent congressional oversight than comparable operations by the CIA.”

As the Post explains, the SSB will cooperate with the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a clandestine unit run out of the Tampa-based U.S. Special Operations Command. “Although JSOC’s stated purpose is to provide a unified command structure for conducting joint special operations and exercises, it is widely reported that JSOC is actually the command responsible for conducting US counter-terrorism (CT) operations,” writes GlobalSecurity.org. “These SMUs [Special Missions Units] are tasked with conducting CT operations, strike operations, reconnaissance in denied areas, and special intelligence missions,” for instance in Afghanistan, where “a unit called Task Force 11, composed mostly of Delta Force soldiers and SEALs” are “hunting for senior Taliban and al Qaeda members.”

As GlobalSecurity notes, JSOC units have reportedly been involved in a number of covert military operations over the last two decades. Some of these operations include providing assistance to Italian authorities during their search for kidnapped US Army Gen. James Dozier, participating in Operation Urgent Fury; the US invasion of Grenada, planning a rescue attempt of US hostages being held in Lebanon, rescuing hostages being held aboard the cruise liner Achille Lauro, participating in Operation Just Cause; the US intervention in Panama, directing US Scud hunting efforts during Operation Desert Storm, conducting operations in support of UN mandates in Somalia, and searching for suspected war criminals in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. SSB and JSOC bring to mind another Rumsfeld pet project—the Proactive Preemptive Operations Group, or P2OG.

In September, 2002, UPI reported details on a Defense Science Board (DSB) report presented to Rumsfeld proposing “an elite group of counter-terror operatives to make the war on terrorism pre-emptive and proactive, duping al Qaida into undertaking operations it is not prepared for and thereby exposing its personnel. … Rather than simply trying to find and foil terrorists’ plans—the approach that characterizes the current strategy—the “Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group” —known as P2OG—would devise ways to stimulate terrorists into responding or moving operations, possibly by stealing their money or tricking them with fake communications, according to the report.” The DSB report is interesting in light of Hersh’s recent revelations about what the Pentagon plans to do in Iran. “The panel would also create a team of specially trained special forces soldiers able to search out and take offensive action against suspected nuclear, chemical or biological weapons sites,” the UPI story reports. Naturally, since P2OG will (or is) run out of the Pentagon, it does not have to report to Congress or the American people. “The proposal is the latest sign of a new assertiveness by the Defense Department in intelligence matters, and an indication that the cutting edge of intelligence reform is not to be found in Congress but behind closed doors in the Pentagon,” wrote the Federation of American Scientists in October, 2002.

P2OG is the perfect Strausscon tool. It would “invigorate U.S. intelligence,” now run out of the Pentagon, leaving the CIA in the dust, and develop “an entirely new capability to proactively, preemptively evoke responses from adversary/terrorist groups,” as the DSB characterized it. In other words, it would “evoke” the sort of “responses” from “terrorists” ideal for establishing pretexts for “preemptively” attacking nations on the Strausscon roster, namely Iran and Syria. As “DSB Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering Terrorism,” a PowerPoint presentation delivered on August 16, 2002, notes, the “lead responsibility” for P2OG falls on the shoulders of the “SecDef,” in other words Rumsfeld.

“Operation Northwoods was such a scheme,” writes Chris Floyd. “The US government is planning to use ‘cover and deception’ and secret military operations to provoke murderous terrorist attacks on innocent people. Such operations are not new for the United States authorities.”

It was a plan put forward by America’s top military brass in 1963 to justify the invasion of Cuba. It called for a phony terrorist campaign complete with bombings, hijackings, plane crashes and dead Americans to provide justification for an invasion of Cuba. President John F. Kennedy rejected the plan – and was assassinated a few months later.

Another similar provocation was a reported attack by Vietnamese naval craft on the US navy in the Tonkin Gulf. It was used by President Lyndon B. Johnson to escalate the invasion of Vietnam by American forces. It was subsequently revealed that the incident never took place – but that was after hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians were killed in the Vietnam War.

Many believe that the events of September 11 were another such provocation using a terrorist organization infiltrated by the CIA and under its effective control. There is no other logical explanation for the complete failure of the interception of the hijacked planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. September 11 has been used by Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and others to launch the phony ‘war on terrorism’.

The “war on terrorism” requires a steady stream of alleged “terrorist” actions and who better to arrange them than the CIA and Rumsfeld’s “Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group” or other “special’ forces.”

As William D. Hartung explains, under “the leadership of Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Perle, the DSB has been transformed from a nonpartisan advisory body designed to give the secretary of defense a broader range of views on pressing security issues into a megaphone for the rigid policy preferences of the secretary of defense. In the run-up to the March 2003 U.S. intervention in Iraq, Perle, former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, former Reagan administration Arms Control and Disarmament Agency head Kenneth Adelman, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and the other appointees to the thirty-member DSB were all over the press and television, stumping for Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz’s war.” It was this coterie of Strausscons, with the help of Douglas Feith and the Office of Special Plans, who came up with the lies and fabrications to make the invasion possible, most notably Saddam’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction and his fictitious relationship with Osama bin Laden.

But, according to Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita, who characterized Seymour Hersh’s article in the New Yorker last week as a work of fiction, the SSB does not exist. “There is no unit that is directly reportable to the Secretary of Defense for clandestine operations as is described in the Washington Post article of January 23, 2005″ and the department “is not attempting to ‘bend’ statutes to fit desired activities,” DiRita said in a prepared statement issued by the Department of Defense.

Either DiRita is lying or the Pentagon officials mentioned in the Washington Post made the whole thing up. Considering the covert activities of the Joint Special Operations Command enumerated above, Operation Northwoods, P2OG, the “ad hoc relationship” between Defense Department Special Operations forces (the Combat Applications Group and the Naval Special Warfare unit known as SEAL Team 6, also called the Development Group) and CIA officers, and the urgency of both the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees to create INTCOM, or Intelligence Command—a consolidation of the intelligence branches of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the three agencies under Pentagon control that run spy satellites and intercept enemy communications: the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency—headed by a four-star general or admiral, there is a good chance the Pentagon officials who talked with the Washington Post are on to something DiRita and Rumsfeld want to keep secret.

I wonder how long it will be before Michael Ledeen, the big kahuna of the attack Iran crowd, calls for the editors of the Washington Post to be sent to Camp Gitmo, as he echoed the Moonie Tony Blankley’s call for Seymour Hersh to be put to death, or at least locked up for life, because he spilled the beans about what the Strausscon side of the Pentagon is doing in Iran?

-->