Guantánamo Bay files: Al-Jazeera cameraman held for six years (2011)

An al-Jazeera journalist was held at Guantánamo for six years partly in order to be interrogated about the Arabic news network, the files disclose. Sami al-Hajj, a Sudanese cameraman, was detained in Pakistan after working for the network in Afghanistan after 9/11, and flown to the prison camp where he was allegedly beaten and sexually assaulted.

His file makes clear that one of the reasons he was sent to Guantánamo was “to provide information on … the al-Jazeera news network’s training programme, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan, including the network’s acquisition of a video of UBL [Osama bin Laden] and a subsequent interview with UBL”.

The file shows that the camp authorities were convinced that al-Hajj was an al-Qaida courier who had provided funds for a charity in Chechnya suspected of having links with Bin Laden.

However, the contents of the file also appear to support complaints made by al-Hajj to his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, that during his first 100-plus interrogations he was never once questioned about the allegations he faced, and that he eventually demanded that he be questioned about what he was supposed to have done wrong.

Stafford Smith believes the US military authorities were attempting to force al-Hajj to become an informer against his employers.

Al-Hajj was finally released in May 2008.

Ian Cobain
The Guardian, Monday 25 April 2011

Find this story at 25 April 2011

© 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

CIA’s Pakistan drone strikes carried out by regular US air force personnel

Former drone operators claim in new documentary that CIA missions flown by USAF’s 17th Reconnaissance Squadron

A regular US air force unit based in the Nevada desert is responsible for flying the CIA’s drone strike programme in Pakistan, according to a new documentary to be released on Tuesday.

The film – which has been three years in the making – identifies the unit conducting CIA strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas as the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron, which operates from a secure compound in a corner of Creech air force base, 45 miles from Las Vegas in the Mojave desert.

Several former drone operators have claimed that the unit’s conventional air force personnel – rather than civilian contractors – have been flying the CIA’s heavily armed Predator missions in Pakistan, a 10-year campaign which according to some estimates has killed more than 2,400 people.

Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, said this posed questions of legality and oversight. “A lethal force apparatus in which the CIA and regular military collaborate as they are reportedly doing risks upending the checks and balances that restrict where and when lethal force is used, and thwart democratic accountability, which cannot take place in secrecy.”

The Guardian approached the National Security Council, the CIA and the Pentagon for comment last week. The NSC and CIA declined to comment, while the Pentagon did not respond.

The role of the squadron, and the use of its regular air force personnel in the CIA’s targeted killing programme, first emerged during interviews with two former special forces drone operators for a new documentary film, Drone.

Brandon Bryant, a former US Predator operator, told the film he decided to speak out after senior officials in the Obama administration gave a briefing last year in which they said they wanted to “transfer” control of the CIA’s secret drones programme to the military.

Bryant said this was disingenuous because it was widely known in military circles that the US air force was already involved.

“There is a lie hidden within that truth. And the lie is that it’s always been the air force that has flown those missions. The CIA might be the customer but the air force has always flown it. A CIA label is just an excuse to not have to give up any information. That is all it has ever been.”

Referring to the 17th squadron, another former drone operator, Michael Haas, added: “It’s pretty widely known [among personnel] that the CIA controls their mission.”

Six other former drone operators who worked alongside the unit, and who have extensive knowledge of the drone programme, have since corroborated the claims. None of them were prepared to go on the record because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Bryant said public scrutiny of the programme had focused so far on the CIA rather than the military, and it was time to acknowledge the role of those who had been carrying out missions on behalf of the agency’s civilian analysts.

“Everyone talks about CIA over Pakistan, CIA double-tap, CIA over Yemen, CIA over Somalia. But I don’t believe that they deserve the entirety of all that credit for the drone programme,” he said. “They might drive the missions; they might say that these are the objectives – accomplish it. They don’t fly it.”

Another former drone operator based at Creech said members of the 17th were obsessively secretive.

“They don’t hang out with anyone else. Once they got into the 17th and got upgraded operationally, they pretty much stopped talking to us. They would only hang out among themselves like a high school clique, a gang or something.”

Shamsi said the revelations, if true, raised “a host of additional pressing questions about the legal framework under which the targeted killing programme is carried out and the basis for the secrecy that continues to shroud it.”

She added: “It will come as a surprise to most Americans if the CIA is directing the military to carry out warlike activities. The agency should be collecting and analysing foreign intelligence, not presiding over a massive killing apparatus.

“We don’t know precisely what rules the CIA is operating under, but what we do know makes clear that it’s not abiding by the laws that strictly limit extrajudicial killing both in and out of traditional battlefields. Now we have to ask whether the regular military is violating those laws as well, under the secrecy that the CIA wields as sword and shield over its killing activities.

“Congressional hearings in the last year have made it embarrassingly clear that Congress has not exercised much oversight over the lethal programme.”

In theory, the revelation could expose serving air force personnel to legal challenges based on their direct involvement in a programme that a UN special rapporteur and numerous other judicial experts are concerned may be wholly or partly in violation of international law.

Sitting 45 miles north-west of Las Vegas in the Mojave desert, Creech air force base has played a key role in the US drone programme since the 1990s.

The 432d wing oversees four conventional US air force Predator and Reaper squadrons, which carry out surveillance missions and air strikes in Afghanistan.

There is another, far more secretive cluster of units within the wing called the 732nd Operations Group, which states that it “employs remotely piloted aircraft in theatres across the globe year-round”.

This operations group has four drone squadrons, which all appear to be linked with the CIA.

The 30th Reconnaissance Squadron “test-flies” the RQ-170 Sentinel, the CIA’s stealth drone which made headlines after one was captured over Iran in December 2011.

The 22nd and 867th Reconnaissance Squadrons each fly Reaper drones, the more heavily armed successor to the Predator.

But it is the last of the four units – the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron – that is now under the most scrutiny.

It is understood to have 300 air crew and operates about 35 Predator drones – enough to provide five or six simultaneous missions during any 24-hour period.

It operates from within an inner compound at Creech, which even visiting military VIPs are unable to access, say former base personnel. Former workers at Creech say the unit was treated as the “crown jewels” of the drone programme.

“They wouldn’t even let us walk by it, they were just so protective of it,” said Haas, who for two years was a drone operator. He was also an operational trainer at Creech.

“From what I was able to gather, it was pretty much confirmed they were flying missions almost exclusively in Pakistan with the intent to strike.”

In the Operations Cell, which receives video feeds from every drone “line” in progress at Creech, mission co-ordinators from the 17th were kept segregated from all the others.

Established as a regular drone squadron in 2002, the unit transitioned to its new “customer” in 2004 at the same time that CIA drone strikes began in Pakistan, former personnel have said.

The operators receive their orders from civilian CIA analysts who ultimately decide whether – and against whom – to carry out a strike, according to one former mid-level drone commander.

Creech air force base would only confirm that the 17th squadron was engaged in “global operations”.

“The 732nd Operations Group oversees global operations of four squadrons – the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron, 22nd Reconnaissance Squadron, 30th Reconnaissance Squadron and the 867th Reconnaissance Squadron. These squadrons are all still active … their mission is to perform high-quality, persistent, multi-role intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in support of combatant commanders’ needs.”

Although the agency’s drone strikes have killed a number of senior figures in al-Qaida and the Taliban, the CIA also stands accused by two United Nations investigators of possible war crimes for some of its activities in Pakistan. They are probing the targeting of rescuers and the bombing of a public funeral.

• Tonje Schei’s film Drone premieres on Arte on 15 April.

• Chris Woods is the author of Sudden Justice: America’s Secret Drone Wars, which is published next winter in the US and Europe.

Chris Woods
The Guardian, Monday 14 April 2014 14.30 BST

Find this story at 14 April 2014

© 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

‘Not bug splats’: Artists use poster-child in Pakistan drone protest

A poster of a young child has appeared in north-west Pakistan to raise awareness of the numerous drone attacks the region suffered. Artists who created the image hope military commanders will think twice about shooting after seeing the portrait.

More than 200 children are believed to have died in the heavily-bombed Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa according to the website ‘Bug splat’ is the name given by the military to a person who has been killed by a drone. Viewing the body through a grainy computer image gives the impression that an insect has been crushed.

Now a giant portrait of a young child has been produced to try and raise awareness of civilian casualties in the region. The hope is now the drone operator will see a child’s face on his or her computer screen, rather than just a small white dot and may think twice before attacking indiscriminately.

The child featured in the poster is nameless, but according to the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, who helped to launch the project in collaboration with a number of artists, both parents were lost to a drone attack.

Drone raids in Pakistan started in 2004 under George W. Bush’s administration as part of the US War on Terror. The vast majority of strikes have focused on the Federally Administered Tribal Area’s and the Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa area due to their proximity to Afghanistan, which the country invaded following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Image from notabugsplat.comImage from

The United States says drones, which have been continued under Barak Obama’s presidency are more accurate than any other weapon and a vital tool for killing Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders. But Pakistani deaths from drone strikes are estimated at between 2,537 and 3,646 over the period from 2004 to 2013, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism says, drawing on media reports.

Civilian deaths have long strained relations between the United States and Pakistan. The issue of drone strikes, while remaining largely out of US headlines, has become one of the most polarizing in Pakistan. While previous reports have made it clear that Pakistani leaders have authorized at least some drone strikes, they publicly maintain that that American unmanned aerial vehicles constantly buzzing in the skies undermine Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Islamabad has tried to convince the United Nations Human Rights Council to pass a resolution that would force US drone strikes to adhere to international law. However, America has not been forthcoming and boycotted recent talks in Geneva.

The number of drone strikes in Pakistan has at least fallen over the last month as the Pakistani government asked the US to limit the number of attacks as they entered peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban.

Published time: April 07, 2014 13:29
Edited time: April 08, 2014 15:04 Get short URL

Find this story at 7 April 2014

© Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “TV-Novosti”, 2005–2014

Revealed: US drone attack in Pakistan killed German ‘security contact’

A German national died in a US drone strike in Pakistan, a report revealed on Monday. The 27-year-old convert to Islam claimed to have close links with German authorities and even to be in contact with security officials.

The strike occurred on February 16, 2012, some 35 km south of the Pakistani town of Mir Ali, which itself is about 30 kilometers south east of the Afghan border.

However, it is only now that details have begun to emerge. The man in question has been identified as Patrick K., from Hesse, central Germany, according to the German paper, Süddeutsche Zeitung and the NDR broadcaster.

An entry at a jihadist forum, which also produced video evidence of his death, stated the man’s full name was Patrick Klaus. Two separate German-language video messages (Part one; Part two) posted by German Islamists show Klaus smiling at the camera as he calls on his compatriots with the same beliefs to: “Follow me”.

The German national apparently switched to Islam at the age of 14, reports Die Welt. In 2011, he moved to Waziristan, a mountainous region near Afghanistan’s border back in 2011 to live with his wife, who is thought to be a Pakistani national.

The reports state that at the time of the strike Patrick K. had been travelling in a pick-up truck alongside several Uzbek fighters. They were heading in the direction of South Waziristan when a MQ-1 Predator drone missile hit the vehicle. Nine others died alongside Patrick K., and the vehicle itself was left completely burnt out.

“He says that he was in close contact with an official from the BKA [Federal Criminal Police Office] in Hesse, who allegedly recruited him successfully,” claims the SZ paper, a link to which can be found in German.

It is also thought that an official from the domestic intelligence agency – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution – had made efforts to communicate with him.

Patrick KlausPatrick Klaus

Patrick K. had previously been arrested in Bonn in 2011, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung, in the run-up to the Social Democrat’s German Festival to celebrate 150 years of the party’s existence. Security services were on high alert and feared a possible attack. However, suspicions about him were quickly dispelled and the possibility of an attack was dismissed.

Patrick K. travelled to Pakistan a few days afterwards, according to the paper, and subsequently lost contact with the officials that he had allegedly been in contact with. Whilst in Pakistan, he was in contact with the notorious Chouka brothers – Yassin and Mounir Chouka – two German militants of Moroccan descent, who are part of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, deemed a terrorist organization by the UK, US and Russia.

At the time of the 2012 attack’s occurrence, there had been over 260 US drone strikes in the previous eight years. A week prior to the strike, several senior leaders were also killed in an attack in North Waziristan. The area is known for high militant activity, and the US government deems the strikes a necessary and carefully considered part of the struggle against militant groups in its “War against Terror” operation.

Pakistan has repeatedly condemned US drone strikes in the country, with a high court ruling in May last year that strikes in the tribal belt should be considered war crimes. Demonstrations against strikes have also taken place, with a former cricket star-turned politician, Imran Khan, leading a road block demonstration in November against the practice, of which he is a harsh critic.

Published time: January 13, 2014 17:12
Edited time: January 13, 2014 17:49 Get short URL

Find this story at 13 January 2014

© Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “TV-Novosti”, 2005–2014

Deutscher Konvertit bei Drohnenangriff getötet

Deutscher Konvertit durch Drohne getötetBild vergrößern Patrick K. ist der erste deutsche Konvertit, der bei einem Drohnenangriff getötet worden ist. (Foto: OH)

Erstmals ist ein deutscher Konvertit bei einem Drohnenangriff im afghanisch-pakistanischen Grenzgebiet ums Leben gekommen. Der Angriff soll im Februar 2012 stattgefunden haben. Dies geht aus einer Videobotschaft deutscher Islamisten hervor. Der Offenbacher Patrick K. war den Behörden bekannt: Er soll vor Jahren in Hessen als Informant der islamistischen Szene angeworben worden sein.

Von Marie Delhaes
Erstmals ist ein deutscher Konvertit in Waziristan bei einem Drohnenangriff ums Leben gekommen. Dies geht aus einer Videobotschaft deutscher Islamisten hervor. Der Name des Toten wird mit Patrick K. aus Offenbach angegeben.

Angeblich soll er nach Informationen von und des NDR bei einem Drohnenangriff am 16. Februar 2012 in der Nähe der Stadt Mir Ali getötet worden sein. Der 27-Jährige lebte zu diesem Zeitpunkt seit weniger als einem Jahr in Waziristan. Patrick K.s Ehefrau, wahrscheinlich eine Pakistanerin, reiste mit ihm ins afghanisch-pakistanische Grenzgebiet aus.

In der Videobotschaft, die in zwei Teilen in einem dschihadistischen Forum veröffentlicht wurde und der SZ vorliegt, ist Patrick K. einige Minuten lang zu sehen, er lächelt in die Kamera. In dem Video wird auch sein Leben in Deutschland geschildert. Demnach ist er bereits im Winter 2001 als 16-Jähriger zum Islam konvertiert. Angeblich war er von deutschen Sicherheitsbehörden als Informant der islamistischen Szene angeworben worden.

Nach eigenen Angaben stand er in engem Kontakt mit einem Beamten vom BKA in Hessen, der ihn erfolgreich angeworben haben soll. Auch der Verfassungsschutz soll ihn kontaktiert haben. Patrick K. war im Vorfeld des Bonner Deutschlandfestes 2011 in Offenbach festgenommen worden. Es hatte in der islamistischen Szene Gerüchte wegen eines möglichen Anschlags in Bonn gegeben. Der Verdächtige wurde aber bereits einige Stunden später wieder auf freien Fuß gesetzt, da es keine konkreten Hinweise auf einen angeblich geplanten Anschlag gab. Einige Tage später reiste K. nach Pakistan aus. Angeblich wollte er in Kontakt mit dem BKA bleiben, er setzte sich jedoch in die Stammesgebiete ab.


Bei dem Drohnenangriff am 16. Februar war er angeblich mit mehreren usbekischen Kämpfern in einem Pickup unterwegs. Sie fuhren rund 35 Kilometer südlich von Mir Ali in Richtung Südwaziristan, als Raketen der MQ-1 Predator Drohne ihr Fahrzeug trafen.

Augenzeugen berichteten, dass auch eine Stunde nach dem Angriff noch vier Drohnen über dem brennenden Autowrack kreisten. Das Fahrzeug war vollkommen ausgebrannt und keiner der Insassen überlebte. Bei dem Angriff starben insgesamt zehn Menschen.

Nach Zählungen des britischen Dokumentationszentrums “The Bureau of Investigative Journalism” steht die Attacke in einer langen Reihe von Drohnenangriffen. Es war der 263. Angriff seit 2004 und der neunte Drohnenangriff im Jahr 2012. Eine Woche zuvor, am 9. Februar, wurden bei einem Angriff, der ebenfalls in Nordwaziristan stattfand, mehrere hochrangige Führungspersonen getötet. Unter ihnen war Badar Mansoor, der Kommandeur der pakistanischen Taliban mit starken Verbindungen zu al-Qaida.

Die Brüder Chouka
Die Meldung vom Tod des deutschen Konvertiten kam von den Bonner Brüdern Mounir und Yassin Chouka. Die Choukas melden sich regelmäßig aus Waziristan. Sie sind 2008 über den Jemen ins afghanisch-pakistanische Grenzgebiet ausgereist. Seitdem sind sie die Nachrichtensprecher des Dschihads. Viele Jahre veröffentlichten sie ihre Videobotschaften unter dem Label “Studio Jundullah” (Armee Gottes) der Islamischen Bewegung Usbekistan (IBU). Seit einigen Monaten hat sich das geändert. Nun erscheint ihr zweites Video unter dem Namen “Al-Khandaq”, eine Anspielung auf eine historische Schlacht, bei der der Prophet gekämpft hat.

12. Januar 2014 12:24

Find this story at 12 January 2014

© Süddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien GmbH

Karim Khan, Anti-Drone Activist Who Lost Family Members to U.S. Strike, Goes Missing in Pakistan

An anti-drone activist and journalist has gone missing in Pakistan just days before he was due to travel to Europe to speak with Parliament members about the impact of the U.S. drone wars. The legal charity Reprieve says Karim Khan was seized in the early hours of February 5 by up to 20 men, some wearing police uniforms. He has not been seen since. Khan’s brother and son were both killed in a drone strike. In addition to public activism, Khan was also engaged in legal proceedings against the Pakistani government for their failure to investigate the killings of his loved ones. We are joined by filmmaker Madiha Tahir, who interviewed Khan for her documentary, “Wounds of Waziristan.”

“These are people seeking peaceful, legal routes for restitution for a great harm that been done to them,” Tahir says. Of drone victim’s families’ difficulty gaining legal traction, she says, “It speaks to the secretive nature of the American state.”

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We begin today’s show in Pakistan, where an anti-drone activist and journalist has gone missing just days before he was due to travel to Europe to speak with Parliament members about the impact of the U.S. drone wars. The legal charity Reprieve says Karim Khan was seized in the early hours of February 5th by up to 20 men, some wearing police uniforms. He has not been seen since. Karim Khan’s brother and son were both killed in a drone strike. He told his story in the recent documentary Wounds of Waziristan.

KARIM KHAN: [translated] In 2009, my home was attacked by a drone. My brother and son were martyred. My son’s name was Hafiz Zaenullah. My brother’s name was Asif Iqbal. There was a third person who was a stone mason. He was a Pakistani. His name was Khaliq Dad.

Their coffins were lying next to each other in the house. Their bodies were covered with wounds. Later, I found some of their fingers in the rubble.

As you know, my son had memorized the Qur’an. He was a security guard at the girls’ school, and he was studying for grade 10. My brother had a master’s degree in English. He was a government employee. He loved to debate, but he was so short, he didn’t reach the dais, so they wouldn’t give him many chances to make speeches.

AMY GOODMAN: Karim Khan speaking in the film Wounds of Waziristan. Since his son and brother were killed in 2009, Karim became a prominent anti-drone activist. He’s been missing since last week. The executive director of Reprieve, Clare Algar, said in a statement, quote, “We are very worried about Mr Khan’s safety. He is a crucial witness to the dangers of the CIA’s covert drone programme, and has simply sought justice for the death of his son and brother through peaceful, legal routes,” she said.

Well, for more, we’re joined by Madiha Tahir. She made the film Wounds of Waziristan. She is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Vice, BBC, PRI’s The World, Global Post and other outlets, co-editor of the anthology Dispatches from Pakistan.

Madiha Tahir, thanks so much for being here. We broadcast Wounds of Waziristan and got tremendous response to it. Now one of the key figures who you interview in it, Karim Khan, is gone, at least for the moment. Explain who he is, his significance.

MADIHA TAHIR: Karim Khan is actually one of the first people to bring a case in the Pakistani courts on—about drone attacks. So he’s the one who started to bring cases forward, and he has been working with a lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, who has been fighting on behalf of drone survivors and families of the dead. And Karim was working with Shahzad to help, you know, not only in his own case, but also to help and assist in other cases that were being brought forward in Pakistani courts to demand restitution and demand transparency for—you know, for these attacks.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Madiha, can you give us a sense of how many such cases have been filed and whether other anti-drone activists in Pakistan have been targeted in any way or in fact picked up in the way that he was, Karim Khan?

MADIHA TAHIR: So, Karim is the first, that I know of, that has been picked up who is an anti-drone activist, but disappearances in Pakistan are very common. It’s a common state tactic. It has been happening in Balochistan, where there is a separatist movement, for a long time now. And, in fact, three are families protesting. There were mass graves found in Balochistan of missing people quite recently, only a few weeks ago. So this is a very common tactic by the state, and now, clearly, the Pakistani establishment, which is to say the intelligence agencies and the Pakistani army, want to send a message to the anti-drone movement to tell us to—you know, to tell the movement to shut up, basically.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to your film, Wounds of Waziristan. In this clip, Karim speaks to you, Madiha Tahir.

KARIM KHAN: [translated] You asked me a question about terrorism. Can I ask you one? What is the definition of “terrorism” or “terrorist”?

MADIHA TAHIR: [translated] I don’t know. What do you think it is?

KARIM KHAN: [translated] I think there is no bigger terrorist than Obama or Bush, those who have weaponry like drones, who drop bombs on us while we are in our homes. There are no greater terrorists than them.

AMY GOODMAN: There again, Karim Khan, who went missing last week. And the people who took him, how many people saw this go down?

MADIHA TAHIR: His family was at home. His wife and his children were at home when it happened, so they saw it, and there are other eyewitnesses who saw it. He was picked up by 15 to 20 people. It seems to be people who were dressed in plainclothes, as well as police officers, who picked him up and disappeared him. His whereabouts are unknown. His family has not been able to find out where he’s being kept. Shahzad Akbar, the lawyer, did file something on his behalf in the Lahore court, and the court has ordered the intelligence agencies now to produce him by February 20th before the court. So we have to wait for that date and see what happens. But the best scenario would be that he is released before then.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And Karim Khan moved from Waziristan to Rawalpindi. Can you talk about the significance of the area from which he was picked up and whether it’s significant that—or whether it ’ widely believed that the people who were responsible for picking him up were the ISI, the intelligence services, or the military, or a combination?

MADIHA TAHIR: I mean, I think it is significant. It speaks to the nature of—again, it speaks to the nature of state violence in Pakistan. I think the news media both in the United States and in Pakistan has been—and, you know, rightly so—discussing the attacks by militants that have happened in Pakistan, and those acts, you know, have been reprehensible. Just two days ago, there was a bomb blast in a Peshawar cinema that killed anywhere between 11 to 13 people. But it’s important to realize that that violence happens in a context, and that context is state violence, which has been brutal, in the sense of it’s very quiet, there are disappearances like this. In this case, it’s a high-profile activist, but there are many people who we don’t even know have been picked up and disappeared by the state. So it is—you know, there’s a cyclical pattern between state violence and the non-state violence that is happening in Pakistan.

AMY GOODMAN: Madiha, talk about what he would say if he did get out. Where was he going in Europe? Who was he going to be addressing?

MADIHA TAHIR: Karim Khan was actually slated to speak to several European parliaments next week, and he was going to talk about the drone attack that killed his son and his brother on New Year’s Eve in 2009. And he would have talked about the cost of these attacks on the people in the tribal areas in Pakistan, who are some of the most marginalized communities in Pakistan. For simply for wanting to speak out about what happened to him and what is happening and continues to happen in that area, he has been disappeared by the Pakistani state. And certainly, I think, you know, we shouldn’t forget that the United States has backed and funded the Pakistani military, and this is happening, so, in conjunction with these states working together, both Pakistan and the United States.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Madiha, you also spoke about the increasing cycle of violence in Pakistan, both state violence and anti-state violence. Could you draw the links between what you think is the correlation, or if there is any, between the increasing number of drone strikes and really the unprecedented number of suicide bombs that occur now in Pakistan, a place which never knew suicide bombs 10 years—you know, 10 years ago?

MADIHA TAHIR: Yes. I mean, I think it’s—we have to be wary of drawing simple causes. So it’s not that, you know, suicide bombings are happening because. You know, it’s not a straightforward cause; however, there is a linkage. And you’re right, there is a correlation. The suicide attacks have increased in the last decade as Pakistan has been attacked by drones and has participated in the war on terror. The violence in Pakistan has gotten so much worse, not just suicide bombings, but all sorts of blasts happening. So, certainly, the war on terror, if it was meant to protect Pakistanis, is not working at all. It has actually had an adverse effect. By some estimates, you know, anywhere—you know, something like 30,000 Pakistanis have been killed in attacks by non-state actors. So, the war on terror is something that is something that the U.S. and the Pakistani government have been sort of working on together, but it’s certainly not had—it’s certainly not been to the—on behalf of Pakistanis.

AMY GOODMAN: Madiha, I want to go back to your film, Wounds of Waziristan, where you speak with Karim Khan’s lawyer, the man you just mentioned, Shahzad Akbar.

MADIHA TAHIR: This is Shahzad Akbar. He’s Karim’s lawyer. They’ve filed a case against drone attacks in Pakistani courts. He told me why it’s difficult to narrate his clients’ lives for the court and the media.

SHAHZAD AKBAR: For example, you know, when I have a client and we want—OK, this was a person who was killed, so we’d like to construct his life on photographs. You know, you have family photos and—of when he was young, when he was in school, when he was in teens and when he grew up—in all those photos. They’re missing. They’re not there, because, you know, you don’t have the culture of taking pictures for that matter.

AMY GOODMAN: In 2012, Democracy Now! spoke to Shahzad Akbar, the co-founder of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, an organization that represents victims of drone strikes in Pakistani courts. Again, he is Karim Khan’s lawyer. And Akbar explained why he decided to visit the United States at that time.

SHAHZAD AKBAR: I, on behalf of the victims in Pakistan, wanted to reach out to Americans so that they can make an informed judgment on drones. Their opinion matter, and it’s going to matter in next elections, as well. So they need to know what drones are doing to humans in Pakistan, many of them who are civilians. And it has been said by independent groups and journalists, as well, a bigger—higher number of civilian victims. And that has to be reported to the American public so they can make an informed judgment on drones, that if American government should let be killing people overseas in their names.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, this is Shahzad Akbar, who you’ve just watched and listened to. He was in the United States in 2012. But this past year, when some of his clients came to the United States, drone victims—the Rafiq Rehman family, little girl, little boy, both injured when their grandmother was blown up in a drone strike—he was not granted a visa to come to the United States. The significance of this, Madiha Tahir? Of course, it made it much more difficult. They didn’t speak English. He would have been as much their navigator and their comfort. They were in a strange land, in fact a land where the drone came from that killed their grandmother.

MADIHA TAHIR: I mean, these are people that are seeking peaceful, legal routes for restitution for something—for a great harm that has been done to them and for a loss they will suffer for the rest of their lives. And so, to not allow their lawyer is to say that the U.S. doesn’t care about legal—about the rule of law and about the legal process at all, to not allow their representatives to come to the United States and to speak, you know, to stand by his clients and to speak alongside them. I think it’s highly problematic, but I think it speaks to the secretive nature of the American state.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Madiha, can you give us a sense of how many victims or families of victims of drone strikes have attempted to bring their cases to the courts, either in Pakistan or indeed in the U.S.?

MADIHA TAHIR: I’m not sure exactly what the figures are at this point, because the cases are at different levels. Some of them are still—they’re—Shahzad and others are actually still in the process of gathering information in order to, you know, get the cases out there. So the most significant cases right now are—you know, there’s been the Karim Khan’s case and also Noor Khan, who is the son of the tribal—the mullah who was killed on March 17th in a drone attack on a jirga, a gathering, that killed upwards of 40, 50 people.

AMY GOODMAN: The Obama administration is facing criticism over reports it’s debating whether to kill a U.S. citizen living in Pakistan who’s allegedly plotting terror attacks. On Monday, I spoke with journalist Glenn Greenwald, who recently launched with Jimmy Scahill and Laura Poitras. I asked Glenn about the initial Associated Press article that broke the story. And folks can go to our website at to hear what Glenn responded. I think, actually, we have it for you right now.

GLENN GREENWALD: The very idea that the U.S. government suspects an American citizen, not of having already engaged in crimes, but of planning to do so, as Jeremy said, it’s like a pre-crime framework, where the U.S. government tries to guess at who will engage in crimes in the future and then treat them as a criminal—but then, not just treat them as a criminal, but declare them guilty in secret proceedings, not involving any court, but by the decree of the president of the United States to literally, A, declare the person guilty, B, impose the death penalty, and then, C, go out and carry out the execution—just like they did with Anwar Awlaki and Samir Khan. And now they are obviously viewing it as a regular practice. I mean, no American, no matter your political affiliation or ideology, should accept the idea that the president of the United States has the power to order American citizens killed, not on a battlefield or anywhere else that is in a war zone, but simply on the suspicion that they intend to engage in future criminal behavior. To describe that power is to describe the most extremist and out-of-control government you can get.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept. Mahiha?

MADIHA TAHIR: Yes, I mean, I agree with Glenn Greenwald. It is—you know, it is a kind of pre-crime for which this American citizen is now going to be possibly attacked for by the United States. I think it’s important to remember that most of the people who are being attacked in exactly a similar way are not Americans, they are Pakistanis, Yemenis, Somali, etc. In Pakistan, as you know, there has been the tactic of what are called signature strikes, which are strikes that aren’t actually targeting a specific, named, high-value target or anything of that nature, but rather people whose behavioral patterns, for one reason or another, appear to trigger a suspicion in the U.S. intelligence apparatus that they may or may not be militants. We don’t actually know. But simply on that basis, on very faulty intelligence, much of which is happening through cellphone—unreliable cellphone data, you know, a lot of these attacks are carried out, and why we have the figures that we have of the numbers of people killed.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Find this story at 12 February 2014

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Secret military intelligence unit ran 8 covert operations abroad?

NEW DELHI: Technical Support Division (TSD), the secretive military intelligence unit set up by former Army chief General V K Singh which is accused of trying to overthrow the Omar Abdullah government, has claimed to have carried out at least eight successful covert operations in a foreign country.

But the claims are so sensitive and sensational that it would be a key reason why the government will not hand over the inquiry report into the functioning of TSD to an external investigation agency.

Sources said though the Army has recommended an independent investigation by an agency such as the CBI, the defence ministry has not fully endorsed the suggestion. In fact, official MoD notings have said the investigation won’t move forward because of lack of concrete evidence even if it is handed over to an external agency.

Gen Singh has already dismissed all allegations, saying it was the Congress-led UPA government’s vendetta politics. “This is simple vendetta as some people are not comfortable with me sharing the dais with Narendra Modi to espouse the cause of ex-servicemen in the country,” Gen Singh had said over the weekend.

Sources said the inquiry report also doesn’t conclusively prove that the money claimed to have been paid to various people reached the intended beneficiaries. “These are all based on statements of TSD officials, former DGMI (director general of military intelligence) and others. There is no concrete evidence that can stand the scrutiny of law,” a senior official.

According to sources, among the most sensational claims in the report is that the TSD carried out eight specific covert operations in a foreign country. It has claimed to have spent a few crores on those operations. There is no corroborative evidence for the claims, but if it were to emerge in public, it would be a major embarrassment for New Delhi.

Besides, the report prepared by director general military operations Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia has claimed that Rs 1.19 crore was given to Ghulam Hassan Mir, agriculture minister of Jammu and Kashmir, to topple the Omar Abdullah government.

The report also claimed that Rs 2.38 crore was given to Hakikat Singh who set up an NGO called ‘Jammu and Kashmir Humanitarian Service Organisation’ that was in turn linked to ‘Yes Kashmir’ which filed a PIL against Army chief Gen Bikram Singh in the alleged fake encounter case in Jangalat Mandi when he was a brigadier.

Bhatia’s report has also claimed that TSD spent Rs 8 crore to buy interception equipment from a Singapore-based company in November 2010. Though this was officially for Srinagar-based 15 Corps, it was misused for tapping into phone calls in New Delhi. In March 2012, the equipment was destroyed in Jammu and Kashmir. Then director general of military intelligence Lt Gen D S Thakur told the inquiry that he ordered destruction on instruction from the top brass.

The report also said that at least three retired lieutenant generals, including an Army commander, were aware of some of the payoffs of military intelligence funds for TSD activities.

Sources said the MoD recommendation was to look at closing structural gaps in the system. Among them was to ensure that the intelligence agencies do not overlap in their function. “Why should MI have such operations in foreign countries,” a source asked.

Josy Joseph, TNN Sep 24, 2013, 02.45AM IST

Find this story at 24 September 2013

© 2013 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.

Indian army spooks carried out covert operations in Pakistan

NEW DELHI – The Indian military intelligence unit set up by former army chief General VK Singh was involved in sensitive covert operations in Pakistan and was even on the trail of 26/11 mastermind and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, officials associated with it have told HT.
“Our main task was to combat the rising trend of state-sponsored terrorism by the ISI and we had developed contacts across the Line of Control in a bid to infiltrate Hafiz Saeed’s inner circle,” an official who served with the controversial Technical Services Division (TSD) said.
Asked for an official response, an army spokesperson said, “The unit has been disbanded. Details of the unit, which was the subject matter of an inquiry, are only known to the Chief and a few senior officers. It is for the defence ministry now to initiate any further inquiries.”
The spook unit was set up after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks on a defence ministry directive asking for the creation of covert capability.
Army documents, perused by HT, reveal the senior-most officers signed off on the formation of this unit. File No A/106/TSD and 71018/ MI give details of approvals by the Director General Military Intelligence, vice-chief and chief of army staff.
The TSD – disbanded after allegations that it spied on defence ministry officials through off-the-air interceptors – was raised as a strategic force multiplier for preparing, planning and executing special operations “inside depth areas of countries of interest and countering enemy efforts within the country by effective covert means”.
But it then got caught in an internecine battle between army chiefs. The TSD – which reported directly to Gen VK Singh – used secret service funds to initiate a PIL against current chief General Bikram Singh. As reported by HT in October 2012, secret funds were paid to an NGO to file the PIL, in a bid to stall Bikram Singh’s appointment as chief.
However, covert ops were the unit’s essential mandate and deniability was built into it and it reads, “The proposed organization (TSD) will enable the military intelligence directorate to provide a quick response to any act of state-sponsored terrorism with a high degree of deniability.” Its task was to carry out special missions and “cover any tracks leading to the organisation”.
Though covert operations were formally shut down by IK Gujral when he was PM in 1997, sources reveal the TSD carried out several such operations within and outside the country – such as Op Rehbar 1, 2 and 3 (in Kashmir), Op Seven Sisters (Northeast) and Op Deep Strike (Pakistan). Controversy is dogging the unit once again after disclosures in The Indian Express that secret service funds were also used to destabilise the Omar Abdullah government in Held Kashmir. The BJP has raised questions over the timing of the disclosures. While the defence ministry has had the inquiry report since March, the revelations have come soon after Singh shared the stage with the saffron party’s PM candidate Narendra Modi last Sunday.

September 23, 2013
The Nation Monitoring

Find this story at 23 September 2013

© The Nation

Random afluisteren in India

In het voorjaar van 2010 was India een paar weken in de ban van een afluisterschandaal, maar vervolgens verdween dat in de vergetelheid. Dit is opmerkelijk gezien de staat van dienst van de inlichtingenwereld in India. Schandalen die gewone Indiërs raken, maar ook corruptie, slecht management, verkeerde technologie en apparatuur en bovenal incompetentie lijken de boventoon te voeren bij de NTRO, die verantwoordelijk wordt gehouden voor het schandaal. NTRO, National Technical Research Organisation, gebruikt IMSI Catchers om voor lange tijd en op grote schaal politici, ambtenaren, zakenmensen, beroemdheden en gewone Indiërs af te luisteren.

Het gebruik van een IMSI catcher moet nauwlettend gecontroleerd worden. Het afluisterschandaal in India laat zien wat de gevaren zijn van het toelaten van het apparaat in een veiligheidsstelsel. Een IMSI catcher is een mobiele zendmast. Het International Mobile Subscriber Identity nummer is een uniek nummer dat aan een SIM kaart voor een mobiele telefoon is gekoppeld. Aan het IMSI nummer zit tevens een uniek telefoonnummer. Het IMSI nummer bestaat uit drie groepen getallen, 111/22/3333333333. Aan het nummer is te zien uit welk land de SIM kaart komt. De eerste cijfers (111) staan voor het land, Nederland heeft bijvoorbeeld 204 als code. De tweede set cijfers (22) onthullen de provider, KPN heeft bijvoorbeeld 08 en Vodafone 04. De laatste cijfers, maximaal tien cijfers, zijn het unieke abonnementsnummer. Dit is niet hetzelfde als het telefoonnummer. Telefoons waar twee SIM kaarten in zitten, hebben ook twee IMSI nummers.
De IMSI catcher fungeert als mobiele antenne die het gsm verkeer in de buurt opvangt, hierbij gaat het alleen om uitgaande gesprekken. Bij gewone mobiele telefoons vindt de versleuteling van de conversaties plaats in de dichtstbijzijnde mast. De IMSI catcher hoeft de informatie dus niet te kraken, maar kan simpelweg de gesproken of geschreven data lezen. De catcher moet het telefoonverkeer wel doorgeleiden naar een reguliere mast anders kan er geen contact worden gemaakt met de persoon die door de gsm wordt gebeld. De catcher fungeert als tussenstation om de data ofwel direct af te vangen ofwel niet versleuteld door te geleiden. Het doel van de catcher is natuurlijk ook? om het telefoonnummer van een beller te achterhalen. Voor opsporingsinstanties die het gsm nummer van een verdachte niet kunnen traceren is dit een handig middel. Men plaatst een catcher in de buurt van de persoon in kwestie, vangt de nummers allemaal af en kan nagaan welk nummer men moet hebben. Bij politie-invallen kan het apparaat ook zijn dienst bewijzen door op locatie het telefoonverkeer te monitoren, vooral als binnen een onderzoek niet alle gsm-nummers bekend zijn. Tevens kan de catcher worden gebruikt voor spionage doeleinden, vooral spionage die de overheid niet aan de grote klok wil hangen. Bij het afluisteren met een IMSI catcher heeft men namelijk geen medewerking van een Telecom provider nodig. De IMSI catcher laat echter wel een spoor achter die een gebruiker kan wijzen op onregelmatigheden in de transmissie en het apparaat is niet altijd succesvol. De IMSI catcher was tot begin 2011 ook te koop door particulieren. Verschillende bedrijven in New Delhi, Gurgaon en Noida boden de ‘off-the-air-monitoring’ systemen aan. In 2011 besloot de regering de handel van de apparaten aan banden te leggen. Private ondernemingen bleken namelijk gebruik te maken van de catcher.

In India is de IMSI Catcher op grote schaal ingezet voor spionage doeleinden, zo onthulde het weekblad Outlook in het voorjaar van 2010. Vanaf waarschijnlijk eind 2006 tot en met april 2010 werden politieke tegenstanders, mensen die promotie zouden maken, leden van het kabinet en allerlei andere politieke en niet politieke figuren door één van de Indiase geheime diensten afgeluisterd. De gesprekken werden afgeluisterd, opgenomen en bewaard. De dienst die verantwoordelijk is voor het afluisteren is de National Technical Research Organisation, de NTRO. De NTRO werd na de Kargil oorlog in 1999 opgezet. Dit conflict ontstond toen het Pakistaanse leger posities in het district Kargil, in de regio Kashmir innam. India reageerde furieus en verdreef de Pakistanen uit een groot deel van Kargil. De laatste posities werden door Pakistan verlaten na diplomatieke druk. De Kargil Review Committee concludeerde in 1999 dat een van de redenen van het uit de hand lopen van het conflict gebrekkige inlichtingen was. De Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) en de National Technical Facilities Organization (NTFO) die al snel NTRO werd gedoopt, werden opgezet.
De NTRO begon zijn werkzaamheden in april 2004. De NTRO is de Indiase stofzuiger van data, zowel internet als telecommunicatie data, en monitort het Indiase grondgebied en luchtruim. De NTRO gebruikt hiervoor allerlei technische hulpmiddelen, van satellieten tot IMSI catchers. De Technology Experiment Satellite (TES), een satelliet die is uitgerust met een camera die foto’s kan maken van voorwerpen van een meter, is een van de hulpmiddelen. De satelliet werd in oktober 2001 gelanceerd en de beelden worden beheerd door de Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Beelden worden ook commercieel verhandeld door een bedrijf dat verbonden is aan de ISRO, Antrix Corporation. BBC News rapporteerde dat India door TES ook beelden bezit van de oorlog in Afghanistan. In 2001 was India het tweede land naast de Verenigde Staten dat een satelliet bezit die beelden kan genereren van voorwerpen van een meter groot. Een van de functionarissen die centraal staat in de introductie van de afluister praktijken door de NTRO is dhr. Narayanan. Narayanan heeft decennia lang een centrale rol gespeeld in de Indiase inlichtingenwereld. Hij was hoofd van het Intelligence Bureau van 1988 tot 1992, en diende daarbij onder vijf verschillende minister-presidenten. Daarna nam hij een adviserende rol op zich onder de directe verantwoordelijkheid van de minister-president van India. In zijn rol als National Security Advisor (NSA) introduceerde hij de nieuwe afluistertechnologie in India in 2005. Narayanan wordt wel de ‘super spook’ van India genoemd, omdat hij zijn gehele wat? leven? al in de kringen van de Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), het Intelligence Bureau en de NSA heeft bewogen. Zijn verhouding met minister-president Manmohan Singh was toen hij National Security Advisor niet close. Hij had bezwaren tegen de nucleaire samenwerking tussen Amerika en India en de toenadering van India en Pakistan. In de Wikileaks Cables over India die begin 2011 zijn vrijgegeven door The Hindu wordt Narayanan echter wel omschreven als een belangenbehartiger van de relatie met de Verenigde Staten. In een van de berichten wordt hij omschreven als de smeerolie voor zaken die voor de Amerikanen interessant zijn.
De NTRO valt onder de verantwoordelijkheid van de inlichtingendienst buitenland van India, de Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), hoewel het een zekere mate van onafhankelijkheid heeft. De NTRO faciliteit waar het afluisteren van de communicatie met het buitenland wordt gedaan ligt in de buurt van Kala Ghoda, zuidelijk Mumbai. Bij Malad, dat in de buurt ligt van Kala Ghoda, komen de datakabels die internet- en telecommunicatie tussen continenten mogelijk maken het Indiase vasteland binnen. De NTRO zit er letterlijk boven op. Hierbij gaat het om communicatie tussen India en het buitenland. De inlichtingendiensten van India hebben daarnaast genoeg binnenlandse capaciteit om de iedere Indiase burger af te luisteren.

Het afluisterschandaal van de NTRO werd eind april 2010 door het weekblad Outlook onthuld. In de editie van 3 mei van dat jaar zegt een senior inlichtingenofficier dat de NTRO geen toestemming nodig heeft om een telefoon te tappen. Het gaat volgens hem om het onderscheppen van een signaal tussen de gsm en de antenne. Volgens de officier gaat het daarom niet om het afluisteren van een telefoonnummer. Het apparaat zou signalen binnen een cirkel van twee kilometer kunnen onderscheppen. De medewerker van de NTRO lijkt te suggereren dat er helemaal niets mis is met het afluisteren met behulp van een IMSI catcher, het signaal wordt gewoon opgevangen en bewaard. Op dezelfde wijze lijkt de minister van Binnenlandse Zaken van India, P. Chidambaram, de storm rond het afluisterschandaal te willen sussen. In een van de eerste reacties verklaarden bronnen binnen de regering dat het ging om een proef van de NTRO. De regering had geen opdracht gegeven, dus is zij niet verantwoordelijk, en er hoeft geen onderzoek te komen. Volgens de minister waren in de bestanden van de NTRO ook geen bewijzen gevonden van het afluisteren van politici. Tevens wees de regering erop dat de NTRO niet zelfstandig operaties uitvoert, maar werkt onder auspiciën van andere diensten. Bij deze diensten zou het gaan om zeven inlichtingendiensten: het Intelligence Bureau, de Research and Analysis Wing, de Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Economic Intelligence Unit and Directorate-General of Investigations, Income-Tax (CBDT). Een oud medewerker van de NTRO voegde daar in de Economic Times van 24 april 2010 nog aan toe dat de dienst slechts onderzoek doet naar technische hulpmiddelen. Volgens hem luistert de dienst geen individuen af en wordt het NTRO in diskrediet gebracht door verongelijkte werknemers.
Ook de politie heeft de bevoegdheid om af te luisteren. De minister van Binnenlandse Zaken stelde dat ruim dertig instanties in de verschillende Indiase deelstaten de mogelijkheid hebben om te tappen en af te luisteren. Volgens minister Chidambaram ligt daarom de macht tot het uitvoeren van deze observaties niet alleen op nationaal niveau, maar ook op deelstaatniveau. Dat dit ook daadwerkelijk aan de hand is werd in dezelfde periode geïllustreerd door een afluisterschandaal van de CBDT. Deze dienst had lobbyisten van de telecommunicatie industrie afgeluisterd ten tijde van de toewijzing van mobiele breedband netwerken met de 2G technologie. Bij deze onthulling werd niet de CBDT beschuldigd van illegale taps, maar kregen de bedrijven het te verduren. De afgeluisterde gesprekken onthulden de grote invloed van de industrie op de besluitvorming van de regering. De CBDT luisterde de lobbyisten af in het kader van een onderzoek naar belastingfraude. Zowel politiek als binnen de juridische wereld worden er vraagtekens gezet bij het afluisteren van mensen die worden verdacht van belastingfraude.
Hoewel de onthulling in de Outlook erg gedetailleerd was, was het antwoord van de minister en de dienst dat er niets aan de hand is. Er wordt niet afgeluisterd en er is geen bewijs gevonden dat het is gebeurd, luidde het officiële regeringsstandpunt. De Indiase Telecomwet van 1885 en de toegevoegde wijziging van 2008 maken afluisteren echter wel mogelijk. Bij het afluisteren gaat het om uitzonderlijke situaties en niet om een standaard regel. Het was dus wel degelijk een schending van wettelijke regels. In de week erna bevestigden enkele inlichtingenofficieren anoniem dat er op grote schaal afgeluisterd wordt. Naast de vier politici waarover Outlook in het nummer van 3 mei 2010 publiceerde bleken er veel meer mensen te zijn afgeluisterd. Het gaat daarbij naast politici om ambtenaren, zakenmensen, gewone Indiërs en beroemdheden. Volgens de anonieme officieren werden de gesprekken zonder wettelijke toestemming afgeluisterd . De officieren vertellen in de Outlook van 10 mei 2010 dat zij de opdrachten mondeling kregen of soms op een geel memo papiertje. Volgens de officieren waren de afluisteroperaties allemaal illegaal , zonder toestemming van de NSA of het kabinet van de minister-president. Er mocht ook geen administratie van worden bijgehouden. De IMSI catchers werden ingezet om bijvoorbeeld in Delhi, de hoofdstad van India, rond te rijden om gsm verkeer op te vangen. Eigenlijk waren het ‘fishing operaties’ op zoek naar dat ene gesprek dat mogelijk een gevaar kan zijn voor de nationale veiligheid. Het systeem scant alle nummers zonder onderscheid te maken en kan alles opnemen. Op elk willekeurig moment kan het apparaat dat in India is gebruikt maximaal 64 gesprekken opnemen. Sommige gesprekken werden vernietigd, andere werden bewaard. Het wordt uit het interview met de medewerkers niet duidelijk wie er verantwoordelijk was voor het besluit om gesprekken al dan niet te vernietigen. In The Times of India worden anonieme bronnen aangehaald die zeggen dat het afluisteren van de politici was uitgevoerd door “junior officials”, maar dat hun werk deel uitmaakt van een grotere operatie.
Volgens de medewerkers van de inlichtingendiensten gaat het om in totaal vijf apparaten die door de NTRO gebruikt worden. Van de ritten van de auto met de IMSI Catcher worden twee logboeken bijgehouden. Het ene logboek bevat geen enkel detail van de operatie. Het andere logboek is “top secret” en bevat gedetailleerde informatie over de locatie waar het apparaat heeft afgeluisterd. De precieze route, bestemmingen, data en tijden zijn in dat logboek te vinden. Medewerkers van de inlichtingendienst vertelden dat het niet alleen de NTRO hoeft te zijn die verantwoordelijk is voor het tappen. Verschillende van de zeven inlichtingendiensten en zelfs de politie hebben een IMSI catcher. Bronnen in de inlichtingenwereld hebben het weekblad Outlook aangegeven dat er in totaal 90 apparaten zijn aangeschaft door de verschillende instanties. Vooral in regio’s waar veel moslims wonen gebeurt dit volgens de officier. De inlichtingenofficieren die in Outlook worden geïnterviewd worden ondersteund in hun verhalen door een oud- directeur van het Intelligence Bureau (IB), dhr. Dhar. Hij vertelde het Indiase weekblad Tehelka dat de NTRO namen moet hebben gekregen om af te luisteren. Tevens verklaart hij dat politieke leiders regelmatig inlichtingendiensten de opdracht geven om mensen af te luisteren zonder schriftelijke toestemming. Medewerkers van diensten die weigeren aan deze afluisterpraktijken mee te doen, worden ontslagen volgens de oud-directeur van het Intelligence Bureau.

Iedereen is verdacht
Het is onduidelijk wat het doel is van de afluisteroperatie die zeker vier jaar heeft geduurd. Hoewel de verantwoordelijk minister in zijn eerste reactie had aangegeven niets van het afluisteren af te weten, gaven regeringsbronnen aan de The Times of India toe dat de NTRO wel toezicht uitvoerde. Welk toezicht wordt door de Times niet vermeld. Volgens de bronnen staan die activiteiten onder directe verantwoordelijkheid van de National Security Advisor of het kabinet van de minister-president waaronder de Research and Analysis Wing en de NTRO valt. Bij de NSA zou het gaan om dhr. Narayanan, de man die aan de wieg stond van het afluisteren in 2005. In de Indiase media worden ook verbanden gelegd met de lange traditie van de Indian National Congress (INC), een regeringspartij, om de oppositie in diskrediet te brengen door het verzamelen van politiek gevoelige informatie door het inzetten van inlichtingendiensten. Het dagblad The Pioneer vergelijkt het met de werkwijze van de Indiase roddelpers, maar dan veel serieuzer. Volgens de krant gaat het er bij het afluisteren om om te achterhalen wie elkaar ontmoeten, met wie iemand contact heeft, met wie personen van de elite slapen en vergelijkbare vragen uit de roddelbladen. Het lijkt er volgens de krant op dat de inlichtingendiensten de levens van politieke spelers in kaart probeert te brengen.
De Indian National Congress (INC) is echter niet de enige politieke partij die deze middelen inzet. Het lijkt erop dat het binnen de Indiase democratie de gewoonte is om de oppositie op allerlei manieren in de gaten te houden. De wijze waarop de oppositie het schandaal gebruikte om de regering onder druk te zetten, lijkt deze stelling ook te ondersteunen. De oppositie is geschokt en wil uitleg van de minister-president, maar daadwerkelijke wettelijke hervormingen werden niet met zoveel woorden geëist.
De verantwoordelijk minister voor de afluisteroperatie is Chidambaram. Chidambaram is lid van de Indian National Congress (INC). Onder de afgeluisterde politici bevond zich ook de minister voor Consumentenzaken, voedsel en distributie, Sharad Pawar van de Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), een afsplitsing van de INC. De NCP neemt op dit moment ook deel aan de regering samen met het INC. Ook leden van de partij van de minister van Binnenlandse Zaken zoals dhr. Digvijay Singh werden afgeluisterd, evenals leden van de oppositie, zoals het hoofd van de Communistische Partij India, dhr. Karat. Het afluisteren vond niet alleen nationaal plaats, ook in deelstaten van India zoals in Bihar werden hoge politici afgeluisterd, zoals de premier van Bihar, dhr. Kumar.
De onderwerpen van de gesprekken die Outlook in haar bezit heeft, zijn uiteenlopend. Bij de gesprekken van de minister van Consumentenzaken ging het om het grote schandaal rond de Indian Premier League (IPL), de Indiase cricket competitie, IPL-gate, waar sprake was van witwassen van geld en het vooraf bepalen van de winnaar van een wedstrijd. De premier van Bihar belde een collega om te lobbyen voor meer geld voor zijn deelstaat. En van de communistische partij zijn gesprekken bewaard uit 2008 toen er oppositie werd gevoerd tegen de aankoop van nucleaire technologie van de Verenigde Staten. Hoewel Karat tegenstander was van de overeenkomst tussen India en de Verenigde Staten stond hij onderhandelingen met minister-president Singh niet in weg. Hij fungeerde ook als een belangrijke exponent van de oppositie in India tegen de overeenkomst. De gegevens over de afluisterpraktijk van de NTRO geven nu aan dat dhr. Karat toen is afgeluisterd. Uiteindelijk bleef de Communistische Partij bij haar standpunt om tegen te stemmen, maar de regering behaalde toch een nipte overwinning. De Samajwadi Party (SP) en tien leden van de BJP, beide oppositie partijen, hielpen de regering aan haar meerderheid. De overeenkomst met de Amerikanen kon doorgaan. Naar nu blijkt werden er tijdens de onderhandelingen over het akkoord met de Amerikanen parlementariërs omgekocht. In documenten van de Amerikaanse vertegenwoordiging in India die door Wikileaks zijn buitgemaakt, blijkt dat de Amerikanen op de hoogte waren van de steekpenningen die parlementariërs ontvingen om voor te stemmen. Of de afgeluisterde gesprekken hebben bijgedragen aan het omkopen van leden van het parlement is niet duidelijk.

DE NTRO als schandaal
De NTRO heeft absoluut geen schoon blazoen. De korte historie van de dienst kent al vele schandalen, gebrekkig functioneren, politieke benoemingen en tekenen van corruptie. India kent geen Commissie van Toezicht op de Inlichtingen en Veiligheidsdiensten, wel een algemene controledienst, te vergelijken met de algemene Rekenkamer. De regering stelde dhr. P.V. Kumar van de Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) aan om de misstanden bij de NTRO te onderzoeken. Kumar is een oud medewerker van de Research and Analysis Wing en werd na zijn onderzoek begin 2011 aangesteld om de NTRO te leiden. In hoeverre er een einde is gekomen aan de misstappen is dan ook niet duidelijk. Een van de schandalen naast het afluisteren van politici is de benoeming van de tweede man van de dienst, dhr. Vijararaghavan, en zijn betrokkenheid bij een deal met het Amerikaanse bedrijf CISCO. Na de deal met CISCO werd de dochter van Vijararaghavan door CISCO in dienst genomen. De positie van de tweede man staat ook ter discussie omdat hij naast zijn functie bij de NTRO ook nog zijn oude functie als hoofd van Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) vervult en tevens directeur is van een lobbygroep van de elektronica-industrie. Ook diverse andere benoemingen worden door de CAG onderzocht op hun onvolkomenheden. Het gerechtshof in Delhi oordeelde verder dat er een onderzoek moet komen naar administratieve en financiële onregelmatigheden bij de aanstelling van ruim zeventig werknemers. Vacatures zouden zijn opgevuld met niet capabele mensen zonder de juiste opleiding en voor sommige functies is zelfs geen vacature uitgeschreven, maar die zijn onderhands opgevuld.
Naast het personeelsbeleid zijn er ook vragen gerezen over de aankoop van apparatuur door de dienst. Een medewerker schafte zonder overleg met het agentschap dat over de aankopen van gevoelige apparatuur gaat, computers aan die vitale Chinese onderdelen bevat. De spanningen tussen India en China fluctueren al decennia lang tussen gespannen en vriendschappelijk. De laatste jaren gaat het beter, maar tien jaar geleden had de verhouding tussen de twee landen een nieuw dieptepunt bereikt na Indiase kernproeven. En dat de relatie verre van close is maakten Canadese onderzoekers van de Information Warfare Monitor (IWM) duidelijk toen zij India erop wezen dat begin 2010 Chinese hackers zich de toegang hadden verschaft tot computers van het Indiase leger. IWM had de Indiase overheid er een jaar eerder al op gewezen dat haar computers en servers kwetsbaar waren voor aanvallen uit vooral China. Op de computers die in 2010 gehackt zijn, zou informatie staan over het raketprogramma van India, de artillerie-brigades van Assam, luchtmachtbases en andere militaire informatie. De Canadese onderzoekers produceerden een rapport over de Chinese elektronische infiltratie, ‘Shadow in the Cloud’. In mei 2010 bleek dat de schade van de Chinese spionage operatie aanzienlijk is. Computers en servers van diplomatieke vestigingen van India in Kabul, Moskou, Dubai, Abuja, in de Verenigde Staten, Servië, België, Duitsland, Cyprus, het Verenigd Koninkrijk en Zimbabwe waren door de Chinezen overgenomen. Ook het kantoor van de National Security Advisor was besmet en zelfs bedrijven als Tata, YKK India en DLF Limited. Naast deze militair en economisch strategische spionage hadden de Chinezen het ook gemunt op de Tibetaanse gemeenschap in Dharamshala.
Een andere medewerker kocht satelliet communicatiemiddelen van een bedrijf uit Singapore (Singapore Technologies), een bedrijf dat door de Indiase overheid op een zwarte lijst was geplaatst. Bij de aanbesteding van de satelliet communicatie apparatuur kwamen de specificaties van de NTRO precies overeen met het product van Singapore Technologies. In andere gevallen, zoals bij de aanschaf van onbemande vliegtuigen van het Israëlische bedrijf Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is door het NTRO geen aanbesteding uitgeschreven volgens de onderzoekers van CAG. De onbemande vliegtuigen moesten in januari 2010 aan de grond worden gehouden, omdat bleek dat de NTRO onveilige en open radiofrequenties gebruikte voor de besturing van de vliegtuigen. Volgens de India Today zouden ook de onbemande vliegtuigen van het Indiase leger op deze manier worden bediend. Bij grote uitgaven dient de NTRO een aanbesteding te doen en toestemming te vragen aan de National Security Advisor en uiteindelijk de minister-president. Ook dit laatste is bij diverse aankopen door de dienst niet gebeurd.
Naast deze personele en technische misstappen wordt de kwaliteit van het werk van de dienst in het publieke debat in India in twijfel getrokken. Hoewel haar taak het verzamelen van informatie over mogelijke terroristische aanslagen, cyber crime, opstanden en illegale grensoverschrijdingen is, heeft de dienst geen enkel duidelijk succes geboekt. De aanslagen van 26 november 2008 in Mumbai worden gezien als het bewijs van de mislukking van de dienst. Toch lijkt de dienst onaantastbaar, zoals zoveel inlichtingendiensten. Twee jaar later was het opnieuw raak. Op basis van informatie van de inlichtingendiensten werd een man gearresteerd die verantwoordelijk werd gehouden van de aanslag op de “Duitse bakkerij”, een populaire uitgaansgelegenheid voor toeristen in Pune. Minister Chidambaram feliciteerde de inlichtingendiensten, maar ze bleken het bij het verkeerde eind te hebben. De man moest worden vrijgelaten wegens ontlastend bewijs.
En hoewel de NTRO de stofzuiger is van data van Indiase burgers staat zij net als de andere spelers in de Indiase inlichtingenwereld bekend om het ‘kwijtraken’ van gevoelige data. In 2003 was de Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) plotseling 53 computers kwijt. Toen zij werden teruggevonden, ontbraken de harde schijven. Op de harde schijven stonden geheime codes voor communicatie met inlichtingendiensten en het leger. In 2006 raakte een belangrijke wetenschapper van de DRDO zijn laptop kwijt op het vliegveld van Delhi. Op de laptop bewaarde de wetenschapper geheime informatie over het Indiase kernwapenarsenaal en raketsystemen. En in 2008 raakte een directeur van de NTRO zijn laptop met geheime informatie over de kernwapenprogramma’s in Pakistan, China en Noord Korea kwijt in Washington DC.

Het schandaal staat niet op zich
De NTRO is niet de enige dienst die tekenen vertoont van verval. Ook de dienst waaruit zij is voortgekomen, de Research and Analysis Wing, wordt geteisterd door technische, personele, administratieve en financiële schandalen. Eigenlijk is het niet onlogisch dat er schandalen optreden binnen de Indiase inlichtingenwereld. Met zoveel onregelmatigheden is het bijna vanzelfsprekend dat er schandalen plaatsvinden die ook Indiase burgers raken. Het NTRO schandaal staat dan ook niet op zich. Vergelijkbare afluisterpraktijken zijn de afgelopen decennia aan het licht gekomen. In de jaren tachtig kwam aan het licht dat de Indiase overheid politieke leiders afluisterde. Daarnaast werden ook toen toonaangevende journalisten in de gaten gehouden. In 1990 – 1991 was het opnieuw raak met een nieuw afluisterschandaal. De Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), een burgerrechtenbeweging, bracht de zaak voor de rechter. Tijdens de rechtzaak gaf de CBI, Central Bureau of Investigation, toe dat op grote schaal journalisten, parlementariërs en leden van het kabinet zowel op nationaal als op deelstaatniveau waren afgeluisterd. Het CBI gaf toe dat deze afluisterpartij onwettig was.
En is er wat veranderd na het schandaal in het voorjaar van 2010 dat de Indiase politiek enkele weken bezig hield? Nee, in juli van hetzelfde jaar werd de IMSI Catcher als nieuw gepresenteerd in een operatie met de codenaam Fox, alsof het om een nieuwe strijd ging tegen terrorisme en criminele bendes. De media waren het schandaal van twee maanden eerder al weer vergeten.

Find this story at 20 April 2013

Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan

This report is the result of nine months of research by the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic of Stanford Law School (Stanford Clinic) and the Global Justice Clinic at New York University School of Law (NYU Clinic). Professor James Cavallaro and Clinical Lecturer Stephan Sonnenberg led the Stanford Clinic team; Professor Sarah Knuckey led the NYU Clinic team. Adelina Acuña, Mohammad M. Ali, Anjali Deshmukh, Jennifer Gibson, Jennifer Ingram, Dimitri Phillips, Wendy Salkin, and Omar Shakir were the student research team at Stanford; Christopher Holland was the student researcher from NYU. Supervisors Cavallaro, Sonnenberg, and Knuckey, as well as student researchers Acuña, Ali, Deshmukh, Gibson, Salkin, and Shakir participated in the fact-finding investigations to Pakistan.

In December 2011, Reprieve, a charity based in the United Kingdom, contacted the Stanford Clinic to ask whether it would be interested in conducting independent investigations into whether, and to what extent, drone strikes in Pakistan conformed to international law and caused harm and/or injury to civilians. The Stanford Clinic agreed to undertake independent fact-finding and analysis on these questions, as well as others related to drone strikes and targeted killings in Pakistan, beginning in December 2011. Later, the NYU Clinic agreed to join the research project and participated in the second research trip to Pakistan, as well as in additional research, writing, and editing of this report.

In the course of the research, the Stanford and NYU Clinics have exchanged information and logistical support with Reprieve and its partner organization in Pakistan, the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR). The latter organization assisted in contacting many of the potential interviewees, particularly those who reside in North Waziristan, and in the difficult work of arranging interviews. The Stanford and NYU Clinics designed the research project, analyzed information, and drafted and edited the report independently from Reprieve and FFR.

Cavallaro, Knuckey, and Sonnenberg supervised and directed the preparation of the report, oversaw the writing, and served as the final editors of this publication. Students Acuña, Ali, Deshmukh, Gibson, and Shakir drafted initial sections of the report. Acuña, Ali, Gibson and Shakir synthesized and restructured the initial draft sections. Holland from the NYU Clinic also assisted with research for the report. Firas Abuzeid, Jennifer Ingram, Usman Liaqat, Clara Long, Waqas Mustafeez, Ada Sheng, and Zade Shakir assisted the research team in the review and fact-checking of the final version.

Abdulrasheed Alabi, Danny Auron, Dr. Rajaie Batniji, Kristen DeRemer, Aisha Ghani, Emi MacLean, Veerle Opgenhaffen, Professor Margaret Satterthwaite, Dr. Saad Shakir, Hina Shamsi, Professor Shirin Sinnar, Professor Allen Weiner, and Nate Wessler reviewed and commented on this report or some part thereof. The Stanford and NYU Clinics would like to thank these scholars and practitioners for volunteering their time and expertise. The opinions and positions articulated in this report are the exclusive responsibility of the research team and not of these external reviewers.

The Clinics also extend our appreciation to the Brave New Foundation, in particular its president, Robert Greenwald, as well as Josh Busch, Aminta Goyel, Jeff Cole, David Fisher, Joseph Suzuki, and John Amick for preparing a short video to accompany the report.

The Stanford and NYU Clinics express our sincere thanks to our translators in Islamabad and Peshawar. In particular, we would like to thank Muhammad Abdullah Ather, Rascim Khan Khattak, Muzafar Mohiuddin, Obaid Khan, Adnan Wazir, Usama Khilji, and Amna Bilal.

A particular debt of gratitude is owed to those who agreed to be interviewed for this report, often at risk to themselves. This includes in particular the Waziris who traveled long distances and faced significant risks to share their accounts of living under drones with our research team.

Executive Summary and Recommendations

In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.[1]

This narrative is false.

Following nine months of intensive research—including two investigations in Pakistan, more than 130 interviews with victims, witnesses, and experts, and review of thousands of pages of documentation and media reporting—this report presents evidence of the damaging and counterproductive effects of current US drone strike policies. Based on extensive interviews with Pakistanis living in the regions directly affected, as well as humanitarian and medical workers, this report provides new and firsthand testimony about the negative impacts US policies are having on the civilians living under drones.

Real threats to US security and to Pakistani civilians exist in the Pakistani border areas now targeted by drones. It is crucial that the US be able to protect itself from terrorist threats, and that the great harm caused by terrorists to Pakistani civilians be addressed. However, in light of significant evidence of harmful impacts to Pakistani civilians and to US interests, current policies to address terrorism through targeted killings and drone strikes must be carefully re-evaluated.

It is essential that public debate about US policies take the negative effects of current policies into account.

First, while civilian casualties are rarely acknowledged by the US government, there is significant evidence that US drone strikes have injured and killed civilians. In public statements, the US states that there have been “no” or “single digit” civilian casualties.”[2] It is difficult to obtain data on strike casualties because of US efforts to shield the drone program from democratic accountability, compounded by the obstacles to independent investigation of strikes in North Waziristan. The best currently available public aggregate data on drone strikes are provided by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), an independent journalist organization. TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562-3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children.[3] TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228-1,362 individuals. Where media accounts do report civilian casualties, rarely is any information provided about the victims or the communities they leave behind. This report includes the harrowing narratives of many survivors, witnesses, and family members who provided evidence of civilian injuries and deaths in drone strikes to our research team. It also presents detailed accounts of three separate strikes, for which there is evidence of civilian deaths and injuries, including a March 2011 strike on a meeting of tribal elders that killed some 40 individuals.

Second, US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury. Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals. In addition, families who lost loved ones or their homes in drone strikes now struggle to support themselves.

Third, publicly available evidence that the strikes have made the US safer overall is ambiguous at best. The strikes have certainly killed alleged combatants and disrupted armed actor networks. However, serious concerns about the efficacy and counter-productive nature of drone strikes have been raised. The number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low—estimated at just 2%.[4] Furthermore, evidence suggests that US strikes have facilitated recruitment to violent non-state armed groups, and motivated further violent attacks. As the New York Times has reported, “drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants.”[5] Drone strikes have also soured many Pakistanis on cooperation with the US and undermined US-Pakistani relations. One major study shows that 74% of Pakistanis now consider the US an enemy.[6]

Fourth, current US targeted killings and drone strike practices undermine respect for the rule of law and international legal protections and may set dangerous precedents. This report casts doubt on the legality of strikes on individuals or groups not linked to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, and who do not pose imminent threats to the US. The US government’s failure to ensure basic transparency and accountability in its targeted killing policies, to provide necessary details about its targeted killing program, or adequately to set out the legal factors involved in decisions to strike hinders necessary democratic debate about a key aspect of US foreign and national security policy. US practices may also facilitate recourse to lethal force around the globe by establishing dangerous precedents for other governments. As drone manufacturers and officials successfully reduce export control barriers, and as more countries develop lethal drone technologies, these risks increase.

In light of these concerns, this report recommends that the US conduct a fundamental re-evaluation of current targeted killing practices, taking into account all available evidence, the concerns of various stakeholders, and the short and long-term costs and benefits. A significant rethinking of current US targeted killing and drone strike policies is long overdue. US policy-makers, and the American public, cannot continue to ignore evidence of the civilian harm and counter-productive impacts of US targeted killings and drone strikes in Pakistan.

This report also supports and reiterates the calls consistently made by rights groups and others for legality, accountability, and transparency in US drone strike policies:
The US should fulfill its international obligations with respect to accountability and transparency, and ensure proper democratic debate about key policies. The US should:
Release the US Department of Justice memoranda outlining the legal basis for US targeted killing in Pakistan;
Make public critical information concerning US drone strike policies, including as previously and repeatedly requested by various groups and officials:[7] the targeting criteria for so-called “signature” strikes; the mechanisms in place to ensure that targeting complies with international law; which laws are being applied; the nature of investigations into civilian death and injury; and mechanisms in place to track, analyze and publicly recognize civilian casualties;[8]
Ensure independent investigations into drone strike deaths, consistent with the call made by Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism in August 2012;[9]
In conjunction with robust investigations and, where appropriate, prosecutions, establish compensation programs for civilians harmed by US strikes in Pakistan.
The US should fulfill its international humanitarian and human rights law obligations with respect to the use of force, including by not using lethal force against individuals who are not members of armed groups with whom the US is in an armed conflict, or otherwise against individuals not posing an imminent threat to life. This includes not double-striking targets as first responders arrive.
Journalists and media outlets should cease the common practice of referring simply to “militant” deaths, without further explanation. All reporting of government accounts of “militant” deaths should include acknowledgment that the US government counts all adult males killed by strikes as “militants,” absent exonerating evidence. Media accounts relying on anonymous government sources should also highlight the fact of their single-source information and of the past record of false government reports.

Find this story at September 2012

Find the report

© Copyright 2012 Living Under Drones by Stanford Law School

How a Single Spy Helped Turn Pakistan Against the United States

The burly American was escorted by Pakistani policemen into a crowded interrogation room. Amid a clatter of ringing mobile phones and cross talk among the cops speaking a mishmash of Urdu, Punjabi and English, the investigator tried to decipher the facts of the case.

“America, you from America?”


“You’re from America, and you belong to the American Embassy?”

“Yes,” the American voice said loudly above the chatter. “My passport — at the site I showed the police officer. . . . It’s somewhere. It’s lost.”

On the jumpy video footage of the interrogation, he reached beneath his checkered flannel shirt and produced a jumble of identification badges hanging around his neck. “This is an old badge. This is Islamabad.” He showed the badge to the man across the desk and then flipped to a more recent one proving his employment in the American Consulate in Lahore.

“You are working at the consulate general in Lahore?” the policeman asked.


“As a . . . ?”

“I, I just work as a consultant there.”

“Consultant?” The man behind the desk paused for a moment and then shot a question in Urdu to another policeman. “And what’s the name?”

“Raymond Davis,” the officer responded.

“Raymond Davis,” the American confirmed. “Can I sit down?”

“Please do. Give you water?” the officer asked.

“Do you have a bottle? A bottle of water?” Davis asked.

Another officer in the room laughed. “You want water?” he asked. “No money, no water.”

Another policeman walked into the room and asked for an update. “Is he understanding everything? And he just killed two men?”

Hours earlier, Davis had been navigating dense traffic in Lahore, his thick frame wedged into the driver’s seat of a white Honda Civic. A city once ruled by Mughals, Sikhs and the British, Lahore is Pakistan’s cultural and intellectual capital, and for nearly a decade it had been on the fringes of America’s secret war in Pakistan. But the map of Islamic militancy inside Pakistan had been redrawn in recent years, and factions that once had little contact with one another had cemented new alliances in response to the C.I.A.’s drone campaign in the western mountains. Groups that had focused most of their energies dreaming up bloody attacks against India were now aligning themselves closer to Al Qaeda and other organizations with a thirst for global jihad. Some of these groups had deep roots in Lahore, which was why Davis and a C.I.A. team set up operations from a safe house in the city.

But now Davis was sitting in a Lahore police station, having shot two young men who approached his car on a black motorcycle, their guns drawn, at an intersection congested with cars, bicycles and rickshaws. Davis took his semiautomatic Glock pistol and shot through the windshield, shattering the glass and hitting one of the men numerous times. As the other man fled, Davis got out of his car and shot several rounds into his back.

He radioed the American Consulate for help, and within minutes a Toyota Land Cruiser was in sight, careering in the wrong direction down a one-way street. But the S.U.V. struck and killed a young Pakistani motorcyclist and then drove away. An assortment of bizarre paraphernalia was found, including a black mask, approximately 100 bullets and a piece of cloth bearing an American flag. The camera inside Davis’s car contained photos of Pakistani military installations, taken surreptitiously.

More than two years later, the Raymond Davis episode has been largely forgotten in the United States. It was immediately overshadowed by the dramatic raid months later that killed Osama bin Laden — consigned to a footnote in the doleful narrative of America’s relationship with Pakistan. But dozens of interviews conducted over several months, with government officials and intelligence officers in Pakistan and in the United States, tell a different story: that the real unraveling of the relationship was set off by the flurry of bullets Davis unleashed on the afternoon of Jan. 27, 2011, and exacerbated by a series of misguided decisions in the days and weeks that followed. In Pakistan, it is the Davis affair, more than the Bin Laden raid, that is still discussed in the country’s crowded bazaars and corridors of power.

Davis was taken to Kot Lakhpat prison, on the industrial fringes of Lahore, a jail with a reputation for inmates dying under murky circumstances. He was separated from the rest of the prisoners and held in a section of the decaying facility where the guards didn’t carry weapons, a concession for his safety that American officials managed to extract from the prison staff. The United States Consulate in Lahore had negotiated another safeguard: A small team of dogs was tasting Davis’s food, checking that it had not been laced with poison.

For many senior Pakistani spies, the man sitting in the jail cell represented solid proof of their suspicions that the C.I.A. had sent a vast secret army to Pakistan, men who sowed chaos and violence as part of the covert American war in the country. For the C.I.A., the eventual disclosure of Davis’s role with the agency shed an unflattering light on a post–Sept. 11 reality: that the C.I.A. had farmed out some of its most sensitive jobs to outside contractors — many of them with neither the experience nor the temperament to work in the war zones of the Islamic world.

The third child of a bricklayer and a cook, Davis grew up in a small clapboard house outside Big Stone Gap, a town of nearly 6,000 people in Virginia coal country. He became a football and wrestling star at the local high school, and after graduating in 1993, Davis enlisted in the Army and did a tour in Macedonia in 1994 as a United Nations peacekeeper. When his five-year hitch in the infantry was up, he re-enlisted, this time in the Army’s Third Special Forces Group based at Fort Bragg, N.C. He left the Army in 2003 and, like hundreds of other retired Navy SEALs and Green Berets, was hired by the private security firm Blackwater and soon found himself in Iraq working security for the C.I.A.

Little is known about his work for Blackwater, but by 2006, Davis had left the firm and, together with his wife, founded a security company in Las Vegas. Soon he was hired by the C.I.A. as a private contractor, what the agency calls a “Green Badge,” for the color of the identification cards that contractors show to enter C.I.A. headquarters at Langley. Like Davis, many of the contractors were hired to fill out the C.I.A.’s Global Response Staff — bodyguards who traveled to war zones to protect case officers, assess the security of potential meeting spots, even make initial contact with sources to ensure that case officers wouldn’t be walking into an ambush. Officers from the C.I.A.’s security branch came under withering fire on the roof of the agency’s base in Benghazi, Libya, last September. The demands of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had so stretched the C.I.A.’s own cadre of security officers that the agency was forced to pay inflated sums to private contractors to do the security jobs. When Davis first deployed with the C.I.A. to Pakistan in 2008, he worked from the agency’s base in Peshawar, earning upward of $200,000 a year.

By mid-February 2011, with Davis still sitting in prison, anti-American passions were fully inflamed, and daily street protests and newspaper editorials demanded that the government not cave to Washington’s demands for Davis’s release but instead sentence him to death. The evidence at the time indicated that the men Davis killed had carried out a string of petty thefts that day, but there was an added problem: the third man killed by the unmarked American S.U.V. fleeing the scene. Making matters even worse for Davis was the fact that he was imprisoned in Lahore, where the family of Nawaz Sharif dominated the political culture. The former leader of the country made no secret about his intentions to once again run Pakistan, making him the chief antagonist to President Asif Ali Zardari and his political machine in Islamabad, a four-hour drive away. As the American Embassy in Islamabad leaned on Zardari’s government to get Davis released from jail, the diplomats soon realized that Zardari had little influence over the police officers and judges in the city of the president’s bitter rival.

But the most significant factor ensuring that Davis would languish in jail was that the Obama administration had yet to tell Pakistan’s government what the Pakistanis already suspected, and what Raymond Davis’s marksmanship made clear: He wasn’t just another paper-shuffling American diplomat. Davis’s work in Pakistan was much darker, and it involved probing an exposed nerve in the already-hypersensitive relationship between the C.I.A. and Pakistan’s military intelligence service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or I.S.I.

Ever since the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (the Army of the Pure) dispatched teams of assassins to lay siege to luxury hotels and other sites in Mumbai, India, in November 2008, killing and wounding more than 500 people over four days of mayhem, C.I.A. analysts had been warning that the group was seeking to raise its global profile by carrying out spectacular attacks beyond South Asia. This spurred the agency to assign more of its expanding army of operatives in Pakistan toward gathering intelligence about Lashkar’s operations — a decision that put the interests of the C.I.A. and the I.S.I. in direct conflict. It was one thing for American spies to be lurking around the tribal areas, hunting for Al Qaeda figures; it was quite another to go into Pakistani cities on espionage missions against a group that the I.S.I. considered a valuable proxy force in its continuing battle with India.

The I.S.I. had nurtured the group for years as a useful asset against India, and Lashkar’s sprawling headquarters outside Lahore housed a radical madrassa, a market, a hospital, even a fish farm. The group’s charismatic leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, had been put under house arrest at various times, but in 2009 the Lahore High Court quashed all terrorism charges against him and set him free. A stocky man with a wild beard, Saeed preached out in the open on many Fridays, flanked by bodyguards and delivering sermons to throngs of his followers about the imperialism of the United States, India and Israel. Even after the U.S. offered a $10 million reward for evidence linking Saeed to the Mumbai attacks, he continued to move freely in public, burnishing his legend as a Pakistani version of Robin Hood.

By the time Raymond Davis moved into a safe house with a handful of other C.I.A. officers and contractors in late 2010, the bulk of the agency’s officers in Lahore were focused on investigating the growth of Lashkar. To get more of its spies into Pakistan, the C.I.A. had exploited the arcane rules in place for approving visas for Americans. The State Department, the C.I.A. and the Pentagon all had separate channels to request visas for their personnel, and all of them led to the desk of Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s pro-American ambassador in Washington. Haqqani had orders from Islamabad to be lenient in approving the visas, because many of the Americans coming to Pakistan were — at least officially — going to be administering millions of dollars in foreign-aid money. By the time of the Lahore killings, in early 2011, so many Americans were operating inside Pakistan under both legitimate and false identities that even the U.S. Embassy didn’t have accurate records of their identities and whereabouts.

The American Embassy in Islamabad is essentially a fortress within a fortress, a pile of buildings enclosed by walls topped with razor wire and surveillance cameras and then encircled by an outer ring of walls that separates a leafy area, called the Diplomatic Enclave, from the rest of the city. Inside the embassy, the work of diplomats and spies is kept largely separate, with the C.I.A. station occupying a warren of offices in its own wing, accessed only through doors with coded locks.

After Davis was picked up by the Lahore police, the embassy became a house divided by more than mere geography. Just days before the shootings, the C.I.A. sent a new station chief to Islamabad. Old-school and stubborn, the new chief did not come to Pakistan to be friendly with the I.S.I. Instead, he wanted to recruit more Pakistani agents to work for the C.I.A. under the I.S.I.’s nose, expand electronic surveillance of I.S.I. offices and share little information with Pakistani intelligence officers.

That hard-nosed attitude inevitably put him at odds with the American ambassador in Islamabad, Cameron Munter. A bookish career diplomat with a Ph.D. in history, Munter had ascended the ranks of the State Department’s bureaucracy and accepted several postings in Iraq before ultimately taking over the American mission in Islamabad, in late 2010. The job was considered one of the State Department’s most important and difficult assignments, and Munter had the burden of following Anne W. Patterson, an aggressive diplomat who, in the three years before Munter arrived, cultivated close ties to officials in the Bush and Obama administrations and won praise from the C.I.A. for her unflinching support for drone strikes in the tribal areas.

Munter saw some value to the drone program but was skeptical about the long-term benefits. Arriving in Islamabad at a time when relations between the United States and Pakistan were quickly deteriorating, Munter wondered whether the pace of the drone war might be undercutting relations with an important ally for the quick fix of killing midlevel terrorists. He would learn soon enough that his views about the drone program ultimately mattered little. In the Obama administration, when it came to questions about war and peace in Pakistan, it was what the C.I.A. believed that really counted.

With Davis sitting in prison, Munter argued that it was essential to go immediately to the head of the I.S.I. at the time, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, to cut a deal. The U.S. would admit that Davis was working for the C.I.A., and Davis would quietly be spirited out of the country, never to return again. But the C.I.A. objected. Davis had been spying on a militant group with extensive ties to the I.S.I., and the C.I.A. didn’t want to own up to it. Top C.I.A. officials worried that appealing for mercy from the I.S.I. might doom Davis. He could be killed in prison before the Obama administration could pressure Islamabad to release him on the grounds that he was a foreign diplomat with immunity from local laws — even those prohibiting murder. On the day of Davis’s arrest, the C.I.A. station chief told Munter that a decision had been made to stonewall the Pakistanis. Don’t cut a deal, he warned, adding, Pakistan is the enemy.

The strategy meant that American officials, from top to bottom, had to dissemble both in public and in private about what exactly Davis had been doing in the country. On Feb. 15, more than two weeks after the shootings, President Obama offered his first comments about the Davis affair. The matter was simple, Obama said in a news conference: Davis, “our diplomat in Pakistan,” should be immediately released under the “very simple principle” of diplomatic immunity. “If our diplomats are in another country,” said the president, “then they are not subject to that country’s local prosecution.”

Calling Davis a “diplomat” was, technically, accurate. He had been admitted into Pakistan on a diplomatic passport. But there was a dispute about whether his work in the Lahore Consulate, as opposed to the American Embassy in Islamabad, gave him full diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. And after the shootings in Lahore, the Pakistanis were not exactly receptive to debating the finer points of international law. As they saw it, Davis was an American spy who had not been declared to the I.S.I. and whom C.I.A. officials still would not admit they controlled. General Pasha, the I.S.I. chief, spoke privately by phone and in person with Leon Panetta, then the director of the C.I.A., to get more information about the matter. He suspected that Davis was a C.I.A. employee and suggested to Panetta that the two spy agencies handle the matter quietly. Meeting with Panetta, he posed a direct question.

Was Davis working for the C.I.A.? Pasha asked. No, he’s not one of ours, Panetta replied. Panetta went on to say that the matter was out of his hands, and that the issue was being handled inside State Department channels. Pasha was furious, and he decided to leave Davis’s fate in the hands of the judges in Lahore. The United States had just lost its chance, he told others, to quickly end the dispute.

That the C.I.A. director would be overseeing a large clandestine network of American spies in Pakistan and then lie to the I.S.I. director about the extent of America’s secret war in the country showed just how much the relationship had unraveled since the days in 2002, when the I.S.I. teamed with the C.I.A. in Peshawar to hunt for Osama bin Laden in western Pakistan. Where had it gone so wrong?

While the spy agencies had had a fraught relationship since the beginning of the Afghan war, the first major breach came in July 2008, when C.I.A. officers in Islamabad paid a visit to Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Pakistani Army chief, to tell him that President Bush had signed off on a set of secret orders authorizing a new strategy in the drone wars. No longer would the C.I.A. give Pakistan advance warning before launching missiles from Predator or Reaper drones in the tribal areas. From that point on, the C.I.A. officers told Kayani, the C.I.A.’s killing campaign in Pakistan would be a unilateral war.

The decision had been made in Washington after months of wrenching debate about the growth of militancy in Pakistan’s tribal areas; a highly classified C.I.A. internal memo, dated May 1, 2007, concluded that Al Qaeda was at its most dangerous since 2001 because of the base of operations that militants had established in the tribal areas. That assessment became the cornerstone of a yearlong discussion about the Pakistan problem. Some experts in the State Department warned that expanding the C.I.A. war in Pakistan would further stoke anti-American anger on the streets and could push the country into chaos. But officials inside the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center argued for escalating the drone campaign without the I.S.I.’s blessing. Since the first C.I.A. drone strike in Pakistan in 2004, only a small number of militants on the C.I.A.’s list of “high-value targets” had been killed by drone strikes, and other potential strikes were scuttled at the last minute because of delays in getting Pakistani approval, or because the targets seemed to have been tipped off and had fled.

So, in July 2008, when the C.I.A.’s director, Michael Hayden, and his deputy, Stephen Kappes, came to the White House to present the agency’s plan to wage a unilateral war in the mountains of Pakistan, it wasn’t a hard sell to a frustrated president. That began the relentless, years-long drone assault on the tribal areas that President Obama continued when he took office. And as the C.I.A.’s relationship with the I.S.I. soured, Langley sent station chiefs out to Islamabad who spent far less time and energy building up good will with Pakistani spies than their predecessors had. From 2008 on, the agency cycled a succession of seasoned case officers through Islamabad, and each left Pakistan more embittered than the last. One of them had to leave the country in haste when his identity was revealed in the Pakistani press. The C.I.A. suspected the leak came from the I.S.I.

Even many of the operations that at first seemed likely to signal a new era of cooperation between the C.I.A. and the I.S.I. ended in recriminations and finger-pointing. In January 2010, a clandestine team of C.I.A. officers and American special-operations troops working in Karachi traced a cellphone to a house in Baldia Town, a slum in the western part of the sprawling city. The C.I.A. did not conduct unilateral operations inside large Pakistani cities, so the Americans notified the I.S.I. about the intelligence. Pakistani troops and policemen launched a surprise raid on the house.

Although the C.I.A. didn’t know in advance, hiding inside the house was Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a man considered to be the Afghan Taliban’s military commander and the second in command to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the leader of the Taliban. Only after suspects in the house were arrested and questioned did the C.I.A. learn that Baradar was among the detainees. The I.S.I. took him to a detention facility in an industrial section of Islamabad and refused the C.I.A. access to him. “At that point, things got really complicated,” one former C.I.A. officer said.

Was the entire episode a setup? Rumors had circulated inside Pakistan that Baradar wanted to cut a deal with the Americans and bring the Taliban to the negotiating table in Afghanistan. Had the I.S.I. somehow engineered the entire arrest, feeding intelligence to the C.I.A. so that Baradar could be taken off the street and the nascent peace talks spoiled? Had the I.S.I. played the C.I.A.? Months later, senior C.I.A. officials at Langley still couldn’t answer those questions. Today, more than three years later, Mullah Baradar remains in Pakistani custody.

As Davis languished in the jail cell in Lahore, the C.I.A. was pursuing its most promising lead about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden since 2001, when he escaped from Tora Bora, in Afghanistan, and fled across the border into Pakistan. A small group of officers inside the agency’s Counterterrorism Center had become convinced that Bin Laden was hiding in a large compound in Abbottabad, a quiet hamlet north of Islamabad. For months, Panetta had been pushing clandestine officers to find a shred of hard proof that Bin Laden was hiding in the compound. The intelligence-gathering operating in Abbottabad had become the highest priority for the C.I.A. in Pakistan.

It was therefore more than a bit inconvenient that one of its undercover officers was sitting in a jail in Lahore facing a double murder charge. Pakistan’s Islamist parties organized street protests and threatened violent riots if Raymond Davis was not tried and hanged for his crimes. American diplomats in Lahore regularly visited Davis, but the Obama administration continued to stonewall Pakistan’s government about the nature of Davis’s work in the country.

And then the episode claimed another victim. On Feb. 6, the grieving widow of one of Davis’s victims swallowed a lethal amount of rat poison and was rushed to the hospital in Faisalabad, where doctors pumped her stomach. The woman, Shumaila Faheem, was certain that the United States and Pakistan would quietly broker a deal to release her husband’s killer from prison, a view she expressed to her doctors from her hospital bed. “They are already treating my husband’s murderer like a V.I.P. in police custody, and I am sure they will let him go because of international pressure,” she said. She died shortly afterward and instantly became a martyr for anti-American groups inside Pakistan.

The furor over the Davis incident was quickly escalating, threatening to shut down most C.I.A. operations in the country and derail the intelligence-gathering operation in Abbottabad. But the C.I.A. stood firm and sent top officials to Islamabad, who told Ambassador Munter to stick to the strategy.

By then, though, Munter had decided that the C.I.A.’s strategy wasn’t working, and eventually even high-level officials in the agency began to realize that stonewalling the Pakistanis was only causing the I.S.I. to dig in. After discussions among White House, State Department and C.I.A. officials in Washington, Munter approached General Pasha, the I.S.I. chief, and came clean. Davis was with the C.I.A., he said, and the United States needed to get him out of the country as quickly as possible. Pasha was fuming that Leon Panetta had lied to him, and he was going to make the Americans squirm by letting Davis sit in jail while he considered — on his own timetable — the best way to resolve the situation.

Back in Washington, Ambassador Haqqani was summoned to C.I.A. headquarters on Feb. 21 and taken into Panetta’s spacious office overlooking the agency’s campus in Langley, Va. Sitting around a large conference table, Panetta asked Haqqani for his help securing Davis’s release.

“If you’re going to send a Jason Bourne character to Pakistan, he should have the skills of a Jason Bourne to get away,” Haqqani shot back, according to one person who attended the meeting.

More than a week later, General Pasha came back to Ambassador Munter to discuss a new strategy. It was a solution based on an ancient tradition that would allow the matter to be settled outside the unpredictable court system. The issue had already been discussed among a number of Pakistani and American officials, including Ambassador Haqqani in Washington. The reckoning for Davis’s actions would come in the form of “blood money,” or diyat, a custom under Shariah law that compensates the families of victims for their dead relatives. The matter would be handled quietly, and Davis would be released from jail.

Pasha ordered I.S.I. operatives in Lahore to meet the families of the three men killed during the January episode and negotiate a settlement. Some of the relatives initially resisted, but the I.S.I. negotiators were not about to let the talks collapse. After weeks of discussions, the parties agreed on a total of 200 million Pakistani rupees, approximately $2.34 million, to offer “forgiveness” to the jailed C.I.A. officer.

Only a small group of Obama administration officials knew of the talks, and as they dragged on, Lahore’s high court was preparing to rule on whether Davis would be granted diplomatic immunity, a decision the C.I.A. expected to go against the United States and worried might set a precedent for future cases in Pakistan.

Davis remained in the dark about all of this. When he arrived for his court appearance on March 16, he was fully expecting to hear that the trial would proceed and that the judge would issue a new court date. He was escorted into the courtroom, his wrists cuffed in front of him, and locked inside an iron cage near the judge’s bench. According to one person’s account, General Pasha sat in the back of the courtroom, his cellphone out. He began sending out a stream of nervous text messages to Ambassador Munter, updating him about the court proceedings. Pasha was one of the most powerful men in Pakistan, and yet the I.S.I. had little control over the mercurial courts in Lahore, and he wasn’t entirely sure that things would proceed according to plan.

The first part of the hearing went as everyone expected. The judge, saying that the case would go ahead, noted that his ruling on diplomatic immunity would come in a matter of days. Pakistani reporters frantically began filing their stories about how this seemed a blow to the American case, and that it appeared that Davis would not be released from jail anytime soon. But then the judge ordered the courtroom cleared, and General Pasha’s secret plan unfolded.

Through a side entrance, 18 relatives of the victims walked into the room, and the judge announced that the civil court had switched to a Shariah court. Each of the family members approached Davis, some of them with tears in their eyes or sobbing outright, and announced that he or she forgave him. Pasha sent another text message to Munter: The matter was settled. Davis was a free man. In a Lahore courtroom, the laws of God had trumped the laws of man.

The drama played out entirely in Urdu, and throughout the proceeding, a baffled Davis sat silently inside the cage. He was even more stunned when I.S.I. operatives whisked him out of the courthouse through a back entrance and pushed him into a waiting car that sped to the Lahore airport.

The move had been choreographed to get Davis out of the country as quickly as possible. American officials, including Munter, were waiting for Davis at the airport, and some began to worry. Davis had, after all, already shot dead two men he believed were threatening him. If he thought he was being taken away to be killed, he might try to make an escape, even try to kill the I.S.I. operatives inside the car. When the car arrived at the airport and pulled up to the plane ready to take Davis out of Pakistan, the C.I.A. operative was in a daze. It appeared to the Americans waiting for him that Davis realized only then that he was safe.

The Davis affair led Langley to order dozens of covert officers out of Pakistan in the hope of lowering the temperature in the C.I.A. – I.S.I. relationship. Ambassador Munter issued a public statement shortly after the bizarre court proceeding, saying he was “grateful for the generosity” of the families and expressing regret for the entire incident and the “suffering it caused.”

But the secret deal only fueled the anger in Pakistan, and anti-American protests flared in major cities, including Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. Demonstrators set tires ablaze, clashed with Pakistani riot police and brandished placards with slogans like “I Am Raymond Davis, Give Me a Break, I Am Just a C.I.A. Hit Man.”

The entire episode — and bin Laden’s killing in Abbottabad later that spring — extinguished any lingering productive relations between the United States and Pakistan. Leon Panetta’s relationship with General Pasha, the I.S.I. chief, was poisoned, and the already small number of Obama officials pushing for better relations between Washington and Islamabad dwindled even further. Munter was reporting daily back to Washington about the negative impact of the armed-drone campaign and about how the C.I.A. seemed to be conducting a war in a vacuum, oblivious to the ramifications that the drone strikes were having on American relations with Pakistan’s government.

The C.I.A. had approval from the White House to carry out missile strikes in Pakistan even when the agency’s targeters weren’t certain about exactly whom they were killing. Under the rules of so-called “signature strikes,” decisions about whether to fire missiles from drones could be made based on patterns of activity deemed suspicious. For instance, if a group of young “military-age males” were observed moving in and out of a suspected militant training camp and were thought to be carrying weapons, they could be considered legitimate targets. American officials admit it is nearly impossible to judge a person’s age from thousands of feet in the air, and in Pakistan’s tribal areas, adolescent boys are often among militant fighters. Using such broad definitions to determine who was a “combatant” and therefore a legitimate target allowed Obama administration officials at one point to claim that the escalation of drone strikes in Pakistan had not killed any civilians for a year. It was something of a trick of logic: in an area of known militant activity, all military-age males could be considered enemy fighters. Therefore, anyone who was killed in a drone strike there was categorized as a combatant.

The perils of this approach were laid bare on March 17, 2011, the day after Davis was released from prison and spirited out of the country. C.I.A. drones attacked a tribal council meeting in the village of Datta Khel, in North Waziristan, killing dozens of men. Ambassador Munter and some at the Pentagon thought the timing of the strike was disastrous, and some American officials suspected that the massive strike was the C.I.A. venting its anger about the Davis episode. More important, however, many American officials believed that the strike was botched, and that dozens of people died who shouldn’t have.

Other American officials came to the C.I.A.’s defense, saying that the tribal gathering was in fact a meeting of senior militants and therefore a legitimate target. But the drone strike unleashed a furious response in Pakistan, and street protests in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar forced the temporary closure of American consulates in those cities.

Munter said he believed that the C.I.A. was being reckless and that his position as ambassador was becoming untenable. His relationship with the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad, already strained because of their disagreements over the handling of the Davis case, deteriorated even further when Munter demanded that the C.I.A. give him the chance to call off specific missile strikes. During one screaming match between the two men, Munter tried to make sure the station chief knew who was in charge, only to be reminded of who really held the power in Pakistan.

“You’re not the ambassador!” Munter shouted.

“You’re right, and I don’t want to be the ambassador,” the station chief replied.

This turf battle spread to Washington, and a month after Bin Laden was killed, President Obama’s top advisers were arguing in a National Security Council meeting over who really was in charge in Pakistan. At the June 2011 meeting, Munter, who participated via secure video link, began making his case that he should have veto power over specific drone strikes.

Panetta cut Munter off, telling him that the C.I.A. had the authority to do what it wanted in Pakistan. It didn’t need to get the ambassador’s approval for anything.

“I don’t work for you,” Panetta told Munter, according to several people at the meeting.

But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came to Munter’s defense. She turned to Panetta and told him that he was wrong to assume he could steamroll the ambassador and launch strikes against his approval.

“No, Hillary,” Panetta said, “it’s you who are flat wrong.”

There was a stunned silence, and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon tried to regain control of the meeting. In the weeks that followed, Donilon brokered a compromise of sorts: Munter would be allowed to object to specific drone strikes, but the C.I.A. could still press its case to the White House and get approval for strikes even over the ambassador’s objections. Obama’s C.I.A. had, in essence, won yet again.

As for Raymond Davis, he tried to settle back into his life in the United States after being flown out of Pakistan. He found work as a firearms instructor, but in the end he couldn’t stay out of trouble. On Oct. 1, 2011, just seven months after his abrupt departure from Pakistan, Davis was eyeing a parking spot in front of a bagel shop in Highlands Ranch, Colo., a suburb of Denver. So was Jeffrey Maes, a 50-year-old minister who was driving with his wife and two young daughters. When Maes beat Davis to the spot, Davis shouted profanities through his open window. Then he jumped out of his car and confronted Maes, telling the minister that he had been waiting for the parking spot.

According to an affidavit given by Maes, he told Davis to “relax and quit being stupid.”

Davis struck Maes in the face, knocking him to the pavement. Maes said in court that when he stood up from the fall, Davis continued to hit him. The minister’s wife, later recalling the episode, said she had never in her life seen a man so full of rage. Just last month, after protracted legal proceedings, Davis pleaded guilty to a charge of third-degree misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to two years of probation. A judge ordered him to pay restitution and attend anger-management classes.

April 9, 2013
Editor: Joel Lovell

Find this story at 9 April 2013

© 2013 The New York Times Company

U.S. secret: CIA collaborated with Pakistan spy agency in drone war

Even as its civilian leaders publicly decried U.S. drone attacks as breaches of sovereignty and international law, Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency secretly worked for years with the CIA on strikes that killed Pakistani insurgent leaders and scores of suspected lower-level fighters, according to classified U.S. intelligence reports.

Dozens of civilians also reportedly died in the strikes in the semi-autonomous tribal region of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan that is a stronghold of al Qaida, Afghan militants, other foreign jihadists and a tangle of violent Pakistani Islamist groups.

Copies of top-secret U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy provide the first official confirmation of joint operations involving drones between the U.S. spy agency and Pakistan’s powerful army-run Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, as well as previously unknown details of that cooperation. The review takes on important significance as the administration reportedly is preparing to expand the use of drones in Afghanistan and North Africa amid a widespread debate over the legality of the strikes in Pakistan.

The documents show that while the ISI helped the CIA target al Qaida, the United States used drone strikes to aid the Pakistani military in its battle against the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, or TTP – assistance that the Obama and Bush administrations never explicitly acknowledged or legally justified.

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for a comment on McClatchy’s findings. The Pakistani government denied there was ever any cooperation on drone strikes.

The partnership was so extensive during the Bush administration that the Pakistani intelligence agency selected its own targets for drone strikes. Until mid-2008, the CIA had to obtain advanced approval before each attack, and under both administrations, the Pakistanis received briefings and videos of the strikes.

The U.S. intelligence reports illustrate how the Pakistani army retained its grip on national security policy after 2008 elections ended the nation’s fourth bout of military rule and brought to power a civilian government, which condemned drone strikes as violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty and international law. The strikes killed hundreds of civilians and produced new recruits for Islamist extremist groups, charged the government, which resigned last month in advance of May 11 parliamentary voting.

What remains unclear is the degree to which the government under President Asif Ali Zardari, which tried unsuccessfully to wrest control of the ISI from the military, acquiesced in the CIA-ISI collaboration.

The ISI is a domestic and international spy and paramilitary service that officially reports to Pakistan’s prime minister. In reality, however, the agency answers to the chief of staff of the army, which has ruled Pakistan for most of its 66 years. Former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in 2011 called the army a “state within a state.”

Traditionally commanded by an army general and mostly staffed by military officers, the ISI has an ominous reputation as the Pakistani army’s instrument for rigging elections and crushing internal dissent. It has been accused of directing proxy wars and terrorist attacks by Islamist extremists in India and on civilians and U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan.

The CIA-ISI cooperation on drones reflects one of the major contradictions that have long infected relations between the United States and Pakistan.

The United States has regularly praised the ISI for helping to capture and kill key al Qaida operatives, including those behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But senior U.S. officials also have charged that elements in the ISI support the Afghan Taliban and allied insurgents fighting U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. Neither the ISI nor the army high commander were told in advance of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, for fear he’d be tipped off and escape. At the same time, the U.S. has provided billions to Pakistan in military aid and assistance to stabilize democracy and help secure its nuclear weapons.

For their part, Pakistani officials deny that the ISI supports Afghan insurgents. For years, the Pakistani army has spurned U.S. demands that it close their sanctuaries, contending that its counterterrorism cooperation with the United States has cost the lives of tens of thousands of security forces and civilians. And the army has declared its support for the civilian leadership’s position on drone strikes.

“As far as drone attacks are concerned, (the) army has repeatedly conveyed to all concerned that these are not acceptable under any circumstances. There is no room for ambiguity in this regard,” the military’s top commanders said in a June 9, 2011, statement.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington said, “We forcefully contest” that there was any collaboration between the ISI and CIA on drone strikes.

In its limited disclosures about the secret drone program, the Obama administration has said drones only are used to eliminate confirmed “senior operational leaders” of al Qaida and “associated groups” involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S. who are plotting “imminent” violent attacks on Americans and can’t be captured.

The U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy covered most – though not all – of the drone strikes in 2006-2008 and 2010-2011. Several listed casualty estimates as well as the names of targeted militant groups. Most were against al Qaida. But they also targeted the Haqqani network of Afghan insurgents, several factions of the Pakistani Taliban and groups identified only as “foreign fighters” and “other militants.”

While the Pakistani Taliban works closely with al Qaida, it wasn’t formed until 2007. Also, many U.S. officials never took seriously its occasional threats to stage attacks inside the United States, and the group is not known to have initiated any operations against the U.S. homeland. It did provide perfunctory training and funds to a Pakistani American who staged a failed car-bombing in New York’s Times Square on May 2, 2010, but he admitted seeking them out.

The Pakistani government, which resigned last month in advance of May 11 national elections, for years publicly insisted that it opposed U.S. drone strikes, and it frequently delivered official and unofficial protests to the United States.

In a statement after a March 11-13 visit to Pakistan, Ben Emmerson, a British lawyer who is leading a U.N. investigation into civilian casualties caused by drones, said that the Pakistani government “emphasized its consistently stated position that drone strikes on its territory are counterproductive, contrary to international law, a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and that they should cease immediately.”

Emmerson, who didn’t meet military leaders, quoted Pakistani officials as saying there have been at least 330 drone strikes that have killed an estimated 2,200 people, including as many as 600 civilians.

On Feb. 5, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Sherry Rehman, told reporters in Washington that drone strikes are “an anomaly that we are constantly addressing in all conversations with the United States, and it’s certainly not a part of our playbook to have drone operations carry on. It never was and we don’t see it as the future and we don’t want our engagement with the United States to be defined by that or our operations to devolve to this kind of low.”

According to two former U.S. officials, however, it was accepted in Washington and Islamabad that the Pakistani government publicly would denounce the strikes to hide the ISI’s role in order to shield civilian and military leaders from angry popular backlashes over the strikes and civilian casualties.

“There was an understanding on both sides of the kabuki dance that . . . the Pakistani military had to be perceived as not being a participant,” said one of the former U.S. officials. Both requested anonymity to discuss the issue because of its sensitivity.

Secret U.S. diplomatic cables made public by the Wikileaks online whistle-blowing group corroborate the former U.S. officials’ assertions. In an Aug. 23, 2008, cable, Anne Patterson, then the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, reported that in a meeting with former Prime Minister Gilani, Gilani “brushed aside” his interior minister’s suggestion that the strikes stop and told Patterson, “I don’t care if they (the CIA) do it as long as they get the right people. We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.”

Finally, it was an open secret that the drones were launched from within Pakistan itself.

For years, CIA drones were based at Shamsi, a remote airfield in southwestern Baluchistan province once used by Gulf Arab sheikhs for hawking expeditions. They continued flying from there until December 2011, when the CIA was evicted after U.S. troops in Afghanistan, under fire from Pakistan’s side of the border, called in a NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani troops. CIA drone strikes into Pakistan have since continued from bases in Afghanistan at a much lower rate.

Cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistani spy agencies on drone strikes began in 2004 during the rule of the former dictator, retired Army Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and extended at least through June 2010, according to the U.S. intelligence reports.

The first confirmed CIA drone strike took place on June 17, 2004. It killed Nek Mohammad, a Pakistani Islamist who’d fought for the Afghan Taliban regime that was ousted by the 2001 U.S. invasion. At the time of his death, he was leading an uprising in the South Waziristan agency. The New York Times reported on Sunday that the strike was a joint CIA-ISI operation.

The documents that reveal the most about the CIA-ISI cooperation covered drone strikes that took place in 2006 to 2008 and in a 20-month period ending in September 2011. During that period, at least 50 strikes were launched against non-al Qaida targets.

The CIA sought ISI approval for seven strikes in 2006, according to the U.S. intelligence reports. The ISI approved four attacks and rejected three. But it eventually relented under CIA cajoling and agreed to one “forced approval.” The documents said that the ISI requested a single strike in 2006.

“We wouldn’t win every argument. But they would help us and support us,” said a former senior U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The documents didn’t identify the 2006 targets, but Pakistani and international news media reported only two confirmed strikes that year. Several former U.S. officials, however, noted that in the early years, the Pakistani army took credit for attacks that actually were CIA strikes.

The 2006 strikes included a Jan. 13 attack on a compound in the Bajour agency that triggered what appears to have been Pakistan’s first official denunciation of the drone operations.

Al Qaida’s then-No. 2 leader, Ayman Zawahiri, was thought to have been in the compound, although U.S. officials later acknowledged that he wasn’t there. At least 18 civilians were killed, however, igniting violent protests around the country. The Foreign Ministry summoned then-U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker to deliver an official protest, and the Pakistani government vowed that it would “not allow such incidents to reoccur.”

In 2007, the CIA sought ISI approval for 15 strikes, received prompt approval for three and a single “forced approval,” according to the documents, which said that the ISI asked the CIA to strike five targets.

One ISI-requested strike occurred on May 22, 2007, and was against an insurgent training camp in the North Waziristan agency after a Pakistani army assault on the compound was repulsed, the documents said. The Pakistani army sought the strike even though it had been told that drones wouldn’t be used to support Pakistani troops in combat, said an individual familiar with the episode. He requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue.

Pakistani and international news media reported five drone strikes in 2007, but they didn’t include a May 22 attack.

The following year saw a major escalation in drone strikes, with 35 recorded in one U.S. intelligence report. Independent studies based almost exclusively on news media reports put the number at 38.

The increase came as the Bush administration began winding down the war in Iraq and redirecting U.S. funds, personnel and hardware to halting the expanding Pakistan-based insurgency in Afghanistan. It also sought to re-energize a flagging hunt for Osama bin Laden, who was believed to be hiding in Pakistan’s tribal area, and U.S. officials were growing alarmed over the stability of nuclear-armed Pakistan as the Pakistani Taliban insurgency exploded.

Another reason for the escalation, said a former administration official, was that U.S. officials worried about an increasing threat to the United States following a series of plots in Europe by al Qaida-linked extremists who’d been trained in Pakistan’s tribal area.

“There was a growing chorus of threat reporting to the homeland,” said the former official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “This was about European tracking of people migrating through Turkey (to Pakistan) and back to Europe and particularly to here (the United States). The agency (CIA) was tracking that down. They would not be left holding the bag if there was another 9/11.”

McClatchy Washington Bureau

Posted on Tue, Apr. 09, 2013
U.S. secret: CIA collaborated with Pakistan spy agency in drone war
By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers

last updated: April 10, 2013 05:09:02 AM

Find this story at 9 April 2013


Latest US strikes: Pakistan December 21 & Yemen December 24


Ob303 – December 21 2012
♦ 3-4 reported killed
♦ ‘Several’ injured
At least three alleged militants were reported killed in an attack on a house in the Mir Ali area, after a pause of 12 days. One source noted that unidentified ‘foreigners’ may have been among the dead. On the same day, a US drone reportedly crashed in South Waziristan.

Location: Hassokhel near Mir Ali, North Waziristan
Reference: Express Tribune, Dawn, The Nation (Pakistan), News Pakistan, Geo TV

Related article: Obama terror drones: CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals


December 24 2012
♦ 2-3 killed
♦ 3 reported wounded
At least two men were killed when a suspected US drone destroyed their vehicle in the southern Bayda province; local press reported the strike took place at around 5pm. It was the first strike in Yemen for 47 days. Little was known of one casualty – he was simply described as a Jordanian. There was confusion over the identity of another. AFP named him as Abdullah Hussein al Waeli from Marib province, a wanted man ‘after he escaped from prison two years ago’. Associated Press and Reuters named him as Abdel-Raouf Naseeb, a ‘mid-level al Qaeda Yemeni operative’. A Naseeb family member confirmed his death, according to both agencies. Reuters said Naseeb had fled to Bayda from neighbouring Lawdar province earlier in 2012, during a military offensive. And Associated Press and Reuters said he had previously survived the first US drone strike outside Afghanistan. On November 3 2002 (YEM001) a CIA Predator drone killed six men, among them Qa’id Salim Sinan al Harithi – alleged mastermind of the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole – and US citizen Abu Ahmad al Hijazi.

Type of Action: Possible US drone strike
Location: Manaseh, Bayda province
Reference: AFP, Associated Press, Reuters, Reuters, Gulf News, Long War Journal, Yemen Post

December 24 2012
♦ 3-5 killed
Up to five more alleged militants were killed in the second suspected US drone strike of the day. The unmanned aircraft reportedly fired three missiles on the men riding motorcycles and armed with pistols according to one source. The strike hit east of the provincial capital Mukalla. It was the first strike on the eastern Hadramout province recorded by the Bureau for 15 weeks (YEM113). Gulf News quoted an unnamed senior security official saying: ‘Four of the people died at the scene and the fifth suffered heavy injuries and died later on in hospital. We do not know whether they are members of Al Qaida or not. Shiher residents suspect that there are outsiders.’

Type of Action: Possible US drone strike
Location: Shehr, Hadramout
Reference: AFP, Reuters, Gulf News, Long War Journal

By The Bureau | Published in Bureau Stories, Drones carousel

Find this story at 25 December 2012

ISI enjoys immunity in 26/11, says US

Efforts to bring Pakistan’s former spy masters before a New York court to face charges filed by relatives of American victims in the Mumbai terror attacks are getting nowhere with the US Government taking the stand that the notorious Inter-Services Intelligence and its top brass enjoy immunity under the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

In response to a civil case filed on behalf of the American victims, a top official of the Department of Justice said the United States strongly condemns the 26/11 attacks and believes that Pakistan “must take steps to to dismantle Lashkar-e-Taiba and to support India’s efforts to counter this terrorist threat”.

But the ISI and its former chiefs Shuja Pasha and Nadeem Raj cannot be proceeded against in a US court because of immunity conferred under the American law, Principal Deputy Attorney General Stuart Delery informed the New York court.

In a 12-page affidavit, the official said the State Department has determined that Pasha and Taj are immune because the allegations by the plaintiffs relate to actions taken by them in their official capacities as directors of ISI, which is a fundamental part of the Government of Pakistan.

Six Americans were among the 166 people killed in the Mumbai attacks in 2008. Some, such as Linda Ragsdale of Tennessee, survived the attack. Ragsdale, who had been shot in her back at the Oberoi Trident Hotel, had filed a case in a New York court. Another lawsuit had been filed by the relatives of Rabbi Gavriel Noah Holtzberg and his pregnant wife Rivka.

Following the lawsuit, a US court did issue summons to Pasha, the ISI chief at the time and Lashkar’s top guns including founder Hafiz Saeed. But Pak moved to block the lawsuit by roping in top-notch US lawyers, who sought quashing the case on the grounds that the US had no jurisdiction in the matter. They argued that any US assertion of jurisdiction over Pakistani officials would be “an intrusion on its sovereignty, in violation of international law”.

Ragsdale, in her civil complaint, sought a compensation of a minimum of $75,000 from the ISI. The US Government’s affidavit in the case, filed on Monday, sought to emphasise that while making the immunity determination, it was not expressing any view on the merits of the claims put forth by the plaintiffs.

Besides the former ISI chiefs and Saeed, the case filed in the US court has also named other top Lashkar operatives involved in the Mumbai operation: Zaki-ur-Rahman, Sajid Mir and Azam Cheema.

Thursday, 20 December 2012 13:44 S Rajagopalan | Washington

Find this story at 20 December 2012

Copyright © 2011 The Pioneer. All Rights Reserved.

US wants immunity for Pakistanis implicated in attacks that killed 166

The United States government has argued in court that current and former officials of Pakistan’s intelligence service should be immune from prosecution in connection with the 2008 Mumbai attacks. At least 166 people, including 6 Americans, were killed and scores more were injured when members of Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba stormed downtown Mumbai, India, taking the city hostage between November 26 and 29, 2008. The Indian government has openly accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) of complicity in the attack, which has been described as the most sophisticated international terrorist strike anywhere in the world during the last decade. Using evidence collected by the Indian government, several Americans who survived the bloody attacks sued the ISI in New York earlier this year for allegedly directing Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Mumbai strikes. But Stuart Delery, Principal Deputy Attorney General for the US Department of State, has told the court that the ISI and its senior officials are immune from prosecution on US soil under the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. According to the 12-page ‘Statement of Interest’ delivered to the court by Delery, no foreign nationals can be prosecuted in a US court for criminal actions they allegedly carried out while working in official capacities for a foreign government. The affidavit goes on to suggest that any attempt by a US court to assert American jurisdiction over current or former Pakistani government officials would be a blatant “intrusion on [Pakistan’s] sovereignty, in violation of international law”. It appears that nobody has notified the US Department of State that the US routinely “intrudes on Pakistan’s sovereignty” several times a week by using unmanned Predator drones to bomb suspected Taliban militants operating on Pakistani soil. Washington also “intruded on Pakistan’s sovereignty” on May 2, 2011, when it clandestinely sent troops to the town of Abbottabad to kill al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. Reacting to the US position, the Indian government expressed “extreme and serious disappointment” on Thursday, arguing that “It cannot be that any organization, state or non-state, which sponsors terrorism, has immunity”. Indian media quoted Foreign Office spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin as saying that all those behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks “should be brought to justice irrespective of the jurisdiction under which they may reside or be operating”.

December 21, 2012 by Joseph Fitsanakis 2 Comments


Find this story at 21 December 2012

CIA’s Global Response Staff emerging from shadows after incidents in Libya and Pakistan

The rapid collapse of a U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya exposed the vulnerabilities of State Department facilities overseas. But the CIA’s ability to fend off a second attack that same night provided a glimpse of a key element in the agency’s defensive arsenal: a secret security force created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Two of the Americans killed in Benghazi were members of the CIA’s Global Response Staff, an innocuously named organization that has recruited hundreds of former U.S. Special Forces operatives to serve as armed guards for the agency’s spies.

The GRS, as it is known, is designed to stay in the shadows, training teams to work undercover and provide an unobtrusive layer of security for CIA officers in high-risk outposts.

But a series of deadly scrapes over the past four years has illuminated the GRS’s expanding role, as well as its emerging status as one of the CIA’s most dangerous assignments.

Of the 14 CIA employees killed since 2009, five worked for the GRS, all as contractors. They include two killed at Benghazi, as well as three others who were within the blast radius on Dec. 31, 2009, when a Jordanian double agent detonated a suicide bomb at a CIA compound in Khost, Afghanistan.

GRS contractors have also been involved in shootouts in which only foreign nationals were killed, including one that triggered a diplomatic crisis. While working for the CIA, Raymond Davis was jailed for weeks in Pakistan last year after killing two men in what he said was an armed robbery attempt in Lahore.

The increasingly conspicuous role of the GRS is part of a broader expansion of the CIA’s paramilitary capabilities over the past 10 years. Beyond hiring former U.S. military commandos, the agency has collaborated with U.S. Special Operations teams on missions including the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and has killed thousands of Islamist militants and civilians with its fleet of armed drones.

CIA veterans said that GRS teams have become a critical component of conventional espionage, providing protection for case officers whose counterterrorism assignments carry a level of risk that rarely accompanied the cloak-and-dagger encounters of the Cold War.

Spywork used to require slipping solo through cities in Eastern Europe. Now, “clandestine human intelligence involves showing up in a Land Cruiser with some [former] Deltas or SEALs, picking up an asset and then dumping him back there when you are through,” said a former CIA officer who worked closely with the security group overseas.

Bodyguard details have become so essential to espionage that the CIA has overhauled its training program at the Farm — its case officer academy in southern Virginia — to teach spies the basics of working with GRS teams.

The security apparatus relies heavily on contractors who are drawn by relatively high pay and flexible schedules that give them several months off each year. In turn, they agree to high-risk assignments in places such as Benghazi and are largely left on their own to take basic precautions, such as finding health and life insurance.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said the GRS has about 125 employees working abroad at any given time, with at least that many rotating through cycles of training and off-time in the United States.

At least half are contractors, who often earn $140,000 or more a year and typically serve 90- or 120-day assignments abroad. Full-time GRS staff officers — those who are permanent CIA employees — earn slightly less but collect benefits and are typically put in supervisory roles.

The work is lucrative enough that recruiting is done largely by word of mouth, said one former U.S. intelligence official. Candidates tend to be members of U.S. Special Forces units who have recently retired, or veterans of police department SWAT teams.

Most GRS recruits arrive with skills in handling the weapons they will carry, including Glock handguns and M4 rifles. But they undergo additional training so they do not call attention to the presence or movements of the CIA officers they are in position to protect.

Although the agency created the GRS to protect officers in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan, it has been expanded to protect secret drone bases as well as CIA facilities and officers in locations including Yemen, Lebanon and Djibouti.

In some cases, elite GRS units provide security for personnel from other agencies, including National Security Agency teams deploying sensors or eavesdropping equipment in conflict zones, a former special operator said. The most skilled security operators are informally known as “scorpions.”

“They don’t learn languages, they’re not meeting foreign nationals and they’re not writing up intelligence reports,” a former U.S. intelligence official said. Their main tasks are to map escape routes from meeting places, pat down informants and provide an “envelope” of security, the former official said, all while knowing that “if push comes to shove, you’re going to have to shoot.”

The consequences in such cases can be severe. Former CIA officials who worked with the GRS still wince at the fallout from Davis’s inability to avoid capture as well as his decision to open fire in the middle of a busy street in Pakistan. The former security contractor, who did not respond to requests for comment, said he was doing basic “area familiarization” work, meaning learning his surroundings and possibly mapping routes of escape, when he was confronted by two Pakistanis traveling by motorcycle.

Davis became trapped at the scene, and his arrest provoked a diplomatic standoff between two tense allies in the fight against terrorism.

The CIA took heavy criticism for the clumsiness of the Davis episode, temporarily suspending the drone campaign in Pakistan before U.S. payments to the families of the men Davis had killed helped secure his release.

By contrast, the CIA and its security units were praised — albeit indirectly — in a report released last week that was otherwise sharply critical of the State Department security failures that contributed to the deaths of four Americans in Libya three months ago.

In Benghazi, a GRS team rushed to a burning State Department compound in an attempt to rescue U.S. diplomats, then evacuated survivors to a nearby CIA site that also came under attack. Two GRS contractors who had taken positions on the roof of the site were killed by mortar strikes.

Among those killed was Glen Doherty, a GRS contractor on his second CIA assignment in Libya who had served in about 10 other places, including Mexico City, according to his sister, Kathleen Quigley.

“Was he aware of the risks? Absolutely,” Quigley said in an interview, although she noted that “he wasn’t there to protect an embassy. He was there to recover RPGs,” meaning he was providing security for CIA teams tracking Libyan stockpiles of rocket-propelled grenades.

Doherty took the CIA job for the pay and abundant time off, as well as the chance to continue serving the U.S. government abroad, Quigley said.

By Greg Miller and Julie Tate, Thursday, December 27, 2:00 AM

Find this story at 27 December 2012

© The Washington Post Company

Acting CIA Chief shoots down Osama bin Laden film, ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ as ‘not a realistic portrayal of the facts’

The enhanced interrogation techniques portrayed in the film are being decried as inaccurate.

Acting CIA Director Michael Morell critized “Zero Dark Thirty” as a “dramatization, not a realistic portrayal of the facts” in a letter to employees released Friday.

“Zero Dark Thirty” isn’t getting five stars from the CIA.

The acting head of the agency shot down the highly-anticipated movie that chronicles the hunt for Osama bin Laden in a rare letter to employees, adding to the controversy already brewing over the flick’s factuality.

“What I want you to know is that ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ is a dramatization, not a realistic portrayal of the facts,” Michael Morell wrote in a memo posted on the CIA’s website Friday.

“CIA interacted with the filmmakers through our Office of Public Affairs but, as is true with any entertainment project with which we interact, we do not control the final product.”

Morell slammed the Oscar-contender, which he said “departs from reality,” for suggesting that “enhanced interrogation techniques,” or what some would call torture, “were the key” to locating and killing the Al Qaeda leader.


The film, which hit theaters Dec. 19, shows agents using waterboarding and other extreme techniques to force Guantanamo Bay detainees to speak.

Jonathan Olley
The film, starring Jessica Chastain, follows the hunt and May 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden by Navy SEAL Team 6.

“That impression is false,” Morell wrote. “And, importantly, whether enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from those detainees, as the film suggests, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitively resolved.”

The acting CIA director also blasted “Zero Dark Thirty” for taking “considerable liberties in its depiction of CIA personnel and their actions, including some who died while serving our country.”

“We cannot allow a Hollywood film to cloud our memory of them,” he added.

Morell’s note comes just two days after three senators, Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), John McCain (R-Az.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), condemned the flick for being “grossly inaccurate and misleading” in suggesting that torture led to the May 2011 killing of bin Laden by Navy SEAL Team 6.

The trio sent a letter to Sony Pictures, the film’s distributor, calling for the studio to add a disclaimer to the film.

By Christine Roberts / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, December 23, 2012, 12:35 PM


Find this story at 23 December 2012

© Copyright 2012 All rights reserved

Revealed: CIA agents envious of glamorous Hollywood treatment of Jessica Chastain’s real-life relentless Bin Laden tracker ‘Maya’

Upcoming film ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ claims that Bin Laden might not have been found if not for a young female CIA analyst
She devoted the best part of a decade to finding the terrorist
According to colleagues, she was one of the first to advance the theory that the key to finding Bin Laden was in Al Qaeda’s courier network

CIA agents were envious of the glamorous treatment given to the real-lief tenacious operative who tracked Osama bin Laden for the better part of a decade, it was revealed today.

Hollywood starlet Jessica Chastain plays the undercover analyst known as Maya, the woman who eventually finds the location of the then al-Qaeda leader. She is portrayed in a glamorous light – with wardrobes full of designer clothes and an enviable figure.

But the real-life ‘Maya’ didn’t have it as easy as the strawberry-blonde Chastain; despite being one of the key people responsible for bin Laden’s demise, Maya was passed over for a promotion.

Jealousy? Robert Baer, left, said that the CIA was and continues to be a boy’s club, left, Valerie Plame, a former CIA officer herself said that she’d love to get a drink with the real-life ‘Maya’

Former CIA operative Bob Baer told the ‘TODAY’ show that it was unsurprising that the female CIA operative was looked over for a promotion that would have given her an additional $16,000 per annum. ‘It’s an old-boy network,’ he explained.

‘You don’t know why people are promoted, why people are held back, and often people think the worst.’

Valerie Plame, a CIA officer whose identity was leaked, told the show that she admired the operative’s moxy. ‘I’d love to have a drink with her one day,’ she said.

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius told the ‘TODAY’ show that the response from the CIA was not unusual, saying that operatives are often ‘quite contrary,’

The reality of America’s battle against terrorism couldn’t have been more different to the glamorized, politically-correct fiction of Homeland, the hit TV show in which Claire Danes plays a beautiful CIA agent who spots the Al Qaeda plot which her misguided male colleagues have missed.

CIA supersleuth: A attractive young female CIA agent, played by Jessica Chastain in the film Zero Dark Thirty, spent the best part of a decade to finding Bin Laden and became the SEALs’ go-to expert on intelligence matters about their target

The world’s most dangerous terror group foiled by a killer blonde in Calvin Klein who wars with her superiors? Only in Hollywood’s dreams, surely.

But, astonishingly, it has now emerged that truth may indeed be as strange as fiction. According to Zero Dark Thirty, a forthcoming film about the hunt for Bin Laden — whose makers were given top-level access to those involved — he might never have been found if it hadn’t been for an attractive young female CIA agent every bit as troublesome as Homeland’s Carrie Mathison.

CIA insiders have confirmed claims by the film’s director Kathryn Bigelow that she is entirely justified in focusing on the role played by a junior female CIA analyst, named Maya in the film and played by Jessica Chastain. And just as in Homeland, the real agent has been snubbed by superiors and fallen out with colleagues since the Bin Laden raid in May last year.

But who is this CIA supersleuth? Although the woman is still undercover and has never been identified, Zero Dark Thirty’s emphasis on Maya’s importance tallies with the account of a U.S. Navy SEAL involved in the raid who later wrote about it in a book.

Bin Laden hunt: A very different side of the agent was seen days after Bin Laden’s body was brought back. She even started crying

Matt Bissonnette writes in No Easy Day of flying out to Afghanistan before the raid with a CIA analyst he called ‘Jen’ who was ‘wicked smart, kind of feisty’ and liked to wear expensive high heels.

She had devoted the best part of a decade to finding Bin Laden and had become the SEALs’ go-to expert on intelligence matters about their target, he said.

And while her colleagues were only 60 per cent sure their quarry was in the compound in Abbottabad, she told the SEAL she was 100 per cent certain.

‘I can’t give her enough credit, I mean, she, in my opinion, she kind of teed up this whole thing,’ Bissonnette said later.

The commando saw a very different side of her days later when they brought Bin Laden’s body back to their Afghan hangar. Having previously told Bissonnette she didn’t want to see the body, ‘Jen’ stayed at the back of the crowd as they unzipped the terrorist’s body bag.

She ‘looked pale and stressed’ and started crying. ‘A couple of the SEALs put their arms around her and walked her over to the edge of the group to look at the body,’ wrote Bissonnette. ‘She didn’t say anything . . . with tears rolling down her cheeks, I could tell it was taking a while for Jen to process.

She’d spent half a decade tracking this man. And now there he was at her feet.’

Jen’s role in the operation passed largely unremarked when Bissonnette’s book came out but now the new film — which is released in the UK in January — has confirmed his estimation of her importance.

Although she remains active as a CIA analyst, it is believed Mark Boal, Bigelow’s screenwriter, was allowed to interview her at length. It has emerged that she is in her 30s and joined the CIA after leaving college and before the 9/11 attacks turned American security upside down.

On target: The agent was one of the first to advance the theory that the key to finding Bin Laden lay in Al Qaeda’s courier network which led to his compound (pictured is the attack scene in the movie)

According to the Washington Post, she worked in the CIA’s station in Islamabad, Pakistan, as a ‘targeter’, a role which involves finding people to recruit as spies or to obliterate in drone attacks.

But CIA insiders say she worked almost solely on finding Bin Laden for a decade. She was still in Pakistan when the hunt heated up after Barack Obama became President in 2008 and ordered a renewed effort to find him.

According to colleagues, the female agent was one of the first to advance the theory — apparently against the views of other CIA staff — that the key to finding Bin Laden lay in Al Qaeda’s courier network.

The agency was convinced Bin Laden, who never used the phone, managed to communicate with his disparate organisation without revealing his whereabouts by passing hand-delivered messages to trusted couriers.

The agent spent years pursuing the courier angle, and it was a hunch that proved spectacularly correct when the U.S. uncovered a courier known as Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti and tracked him back to a compound in the sleepy Pakistan town of Abbottabad.

Fiesty: Jessica Chastain as agent Maya in Zero Dark Thirty about the hunt for Bin Laden

It was a stunning success for the dedicated agent, though she hardly endeared herself to her colleagues in the process.

As one might expect of a woman working in the largely male world of intelligence, colleagues stress she is no shrinking violet but a prickly workaholic with a reputation for clashing with anyone — even senior intelligence chiefs — who disagreed with her.

‘She’s not Miss Congeniality, but that’s not going to find Osama Bin Laden,’ a former colleague told the Washington Post.

Another added: ‘Do you know how many CIA officers are jerks? If that was a disqualifier, the whole National Clandestine Service would be gone.’

In the film, Maya is portrayed as a loner who has a ‘her-against-the-world’ attitude and pummels superiors into submission by sheer force of will. CIA colleagues say the film’s depiction of her is spot-on.

If this is the case, then she shows little of the feminine tenderness that serves Carrie Mathison so well in Homeland and which Hollywood usually uses to soften female protagonists like Maya.

Instead, the film shows her happily colluding in the torture by waterboarding of an Al Qaeda suspect.

And Navy SEAL Bissonnette reported how she had told him she wasn’t in favour of storming the Bin Laden compound but preferred to ‘just push the easy button and bomb it’. Given that the bombing option would almost certainly have killed the women and children the CIA knew were inside, her comment suggests a cold indifference to ‘civilian’ casualties.

But then the real female agent is hardly your archetypal film heroine. She has reportedly been passed over for promotion since the Bin Laden raid, perhaps adding to her sense of grievance.

Although she was among a handful of CIA staff rewarded over the operation with the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the agency’s highest honour, dozens of other colleagues were given lesser gongs.

Fellow staff say this prompted her anger to boil over: she hit ‘reply all’ to an email announcing the awards and added her own message which — according to one — effectively said: ‘You guys tried to obstruct me. You fought me. Only I deserve the award.’

Although colleagues say the intense attention she received from the film-makers has made many of them jealous, they are shocked she was passed over for promotion and merely given a cash bonus for her Bin Laden triumph.

Glamorised fiction: The reality of America’s battle against terrorism couldn’t have been more different to the politically-correct hit TV show Homeland, in which Claire Danes plays a beautiful CIA agent who spots the Al Qaeda plot which her misguided colleagues missed

She has also been moved within the CIA, reassigned to a new counter-terrorism role.

By Tom Leonard

PUBLISHED: 23:54 GMT, 13 December 2012 | UPDATED: 23:54 GMT, 13 December 2012

Find this story at 13 December 2012

© Associated Newspapers Ltd

In ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ she’s the hero; in real life, CIA agent’s career is more complicated


She was a real-life heroine of the CIA hunt for Osama bin Laden, a headstrong young operative whose work tracking the al-Qaeda leader serves as the dramatic core of a Hollywood film set to premiere next week.

Her CIA career has followed a more problematic script, however, since bin Laden was killed.

The operative, who remains undercover, was passed over for a promotion that many in the CIA thought would be impossible to withhold from someone who played such a key role in one of the most successful operations in agency history.

She has sparred with CIA colleagues over credit for the bin Laden mission. After being given a prestigious award for her work, she sent an e-mail to dozens of other recipients saying they didn’t deserve to share her accolades, current and former officials said.

The woman has also come under scrutiny for her contacts with filmmakers and others about the bin Laden mission, part of a broader internal inquiry into the agency’s cooperation on the new movie and other projects, former officials said.

Her defenders say the operative has been treated unfairly, and even her critics acknowledge that her contributions to the bin Laden hunt were crucial. But the developments have cast a cloud over a career that is about to be bathed in the sort of cinematic glow ordinarily reserved for fictional Hollywood spies.

The female officer, who is in her 30s, is the model for the main character in “Zero Dark Thirty,”a film that chronicles the decade-long hunt for the al-Qaeda chief and that critics are describing as an Academy Award front-runner even before its Dec. 19 release.

The character Maya, which is not the CIA operative’s real name, is portrayed as a gifted operative who spent years pursuing her conviction that al-Qaeda’s courier network would lead to bin Laden, a conviction that proved correct.

At one point in the film, after a female colleague is killed in an attack on a CIA compound in Afghanistan, Maya describes her purpose in near-messianic terms: “I believe I was spared so I could finish the job.”

Colleagues said the on-screen depiction captures the woman’s dedication and combative temperament.

“She’s not Miss Congeniality, but that’s not going to find Osama bin Laden,” said a former CIA associate, who added that the attention from filmmakers sent waves of envy through the agency’s ranks.

“The agency is a funny place, very insular,” the former official said. “It’s like middle-schoolers with clearances.”

The woman is not allowed to talk to journalists, and the CIA declined to answer questions about her, except to stress that the bin Laden mission involved an extensive team. “Over the course of a decade, hundreds of analysts, operators and many others played key roles in the hunt,” said agency spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood.

Friction over mission, movie

The internal frictions are an unseemly aspect of the ongoing fallout from a mission that is otherwise regarded as one of the signal successes in CIA history.

The movie has been a source of controversy since it was revealed that the filmmakers — including director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal — were given extensive access to officials at the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA.

Members of Congress have called for investigations into whether classified information was shared. The movie’s release was delayed amid criticism that it amounted to a reelection ad for President Obama.

The film’s publicity materials say that Maya “is based on a real person,” but the filmmakers declined to elaborate. U.S. officials acknowledged that Boal met with Maya’s real-life counterpart and other CIA officers, typically in the presence of someone from the agency’s public affairs office. The character is played by Jessica Chastain.

Her real-life counterpart joined the agency before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, officials said, and served as a targeter — a position that involves finding targets to recruit as spies or for lethal drone strikes — in the CIA’s station in Islamabad, Pakistan.

She was in that country when the search for bin Laden, after years of being moribund, suddenly heated up. After Obama took office, CIA operatives reexamined several potential trails, including al-Qaeda’s use of couriers to hand-deliver messages to and from bin Laden.

“After this went right, there were a lot of people trying to take credit,” the former intelligence official said. But the female targeter “was one of the people from very early on pushing this” courier approach.

Lashing out in an e-mail

This spring, she was among a handful of employees given the agency’s Distinguished Intelligence Medal, its highest honor except for those recognizing people who have come under direct fire. But when dozens of others were given lesser awards, the female officer lashed out.

“She hit ‘reply all’ ” to an e-mail announcement of the awards, a second former CIA official said. The thrust of her message, the former official said, was: “You guys tried to obstruct me. You fought me. Only I deserve the award.”

Over the past year, she was denied a promotion that would have raised her civil service rank from GS-13 to GS-14, bringing an additional $16,000 in annual pay.

Officials said the woman was given a cash bonus for her work on the bin Laden mission and has since moved on to a new counterterrorism assignment. They declined to say why the promotion was blocked.

The move stunned the woman’s former associates, despite her reputation for clashing with colleagues.

“Do you know how many CIA officers are jerks?” the former official said. “If that was a disqualifier, the whole National Clandestine Service would be gone.”

By Greg Miller, Published: December 11

Joby Warrick contributed to this report.

Find this story at 11 December 2012

© The Washington Post Company

Why the woman who tracked down Bin Laden was denied promotion by her CIA bosses

Operative at heart of new film was ‘difficult’ and sent abusive emails

A picture of the real-life CIA agent at the heart of Zero Dark Thirty – director Kathryn Bigelow’s new film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden – has emerged this week. But the young and determined agent named “Maya”, who is played by actress Jessica Chastain, has been described by colleagues as combative and difficult.

“She’s not Miss Congeniality, but that’s not going to find Osama bin Laden,” one of her former CIA colleagues told The Washington Post. “Do you know how many CIA officers are jerks?” said another. “If that was a disqualifier, the whole National Clandestine Service would be gone.”

The woman, who remains undercover and is in her 30s, was reportedly passed over for promotion this year, and clashed with colleagues about who should take credit for tracking down the al-Qa’ida leader to the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was killed by US Special Forces in May 2011, in the 12.30am raid that gives Ms Bigelow’s film its title.

A CIA operative since before 9/11, she was stationed in Islamabad in the years before the raid, where she worked to uncover the network of couriers that would eventually lead to Bin Laden.

Though hundreds of people were involved in the decade-long search, the Post’s CIA sources acknowledge that “Maya’s” contribution was crucial. Following the raid, she was awarded the CIA’s Distinguished Intelligence Medal, and given a cash bonus. But she riled colleagues by responding to the award with a group email, accusing others in the agency of having obstructed her in her work. Those colleagues were further irked by the amount of attention she has received. The woman also appears, as “Jen”, in No Easy Day, a book about the raid by former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, who took part in the mission.

Zero Dark Thirty is Ms Bigelow’s follow-up to her Oscar-winning Iraq war film The Hurt Locker (2008), and is expected to feature heavily during the 2013 awards season.

When Bin Laden was killed, the director was working on a project about the attempts to find him. Screenwriter Mark Boal tore up the script and started again, and the film began shooting in spring this year. It opens in US cinemas this week, delayed to avoid accusations that it would give an electoral boost to President Obama, who ordered the raid.

Tim Walker

Los Angeles

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Find this story at 11 December 2012