Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mrs. Clinton’s Attitude Toward National Security

Mrs. Clinton has dismissed the rules concerning classified documents, This behavior is typical among the more senior echelon officers in the Department of State. On more than one occasion, I witnessed State Department officers “declassifying by scissors” documents they wished to retain in a personal vice official file. They merely snipped off the document any mention of its classification. Clearly, the document was now “unclassified”.  A review of Mrs. Clinton’s unsecured server revealed many e-mails containing classified and/or sensitive information. I wonder how this could have happened if her minions had respected the classification of the original documents.
During my years of overseas duty, I witnessed many such violations. But on one occasion, the disregard for security extended well beyond scissors declassification. The most egregious occurred at an African post. My wife, working in a U.S. Embassy administration office, visited a women’s lavatory. Inside, to her surprise, she found an African woman bathing a small baby in a sink. She asked the woman how she had managed to get into the embassy. All entrances were protected with cipher locks, the combinations known only to cleared U.S. Embassy employees. The woman told my wife that she’d gotten the combination to the cipher locks from her husband, a U.S. Embassy local employee.  She had come into the embassy to inform her husband’s supervisor he wouldn’t be coming in that day as he was ill. 
In my mind, this represented a serious violation, placing the entire embassy at risk. I reported this state of affairs to the ambassador, recommending he see to it that all cipher locks be recoded ASAP.  Also, I suggested to him that an investigation be mounted to learn how that employee came to have such access.
The ambassador stated that such an investigation would not be necessary as he, personally, had provided the cipher codes to a few local employees.  Of course, he furnished this information only to the most loyal and most trustworthy employees. He found nothing wrong with this arrangement, claiming it made for a more efficient workforce. Also, it demonstrated to these employees the faith he had in their continued loyalty.


Doctor Carson's political incorrect comment on a Muslim president

Dr. Carson has gone on record as rejecting the presidency of the U.S. to anyone of the Muslim faith.  After the publication of these remarks, along comes the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) denouncing the good Doctor for his “religious intolerance.” This organization is the American face of the Islamic Brotherhood.  And the Brotherhood is the grandfather of many of the Middle Eastern terrorist groups.  For example, Hamas, the Islamic terrorist group running Gaza, traces its foundations to the Muslim Brotherhood. The mission of the Islamic Brotherhood is simple: work towards the day when Islam will conquer the world by violent jihad. And a Muslim president who would follow the tenets of the Qur’an, would find nothing wrong with the killing of any nonbelievers, especially Jews, described in the Qur’an as monkeys and deserving of death.   

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Laura Hollis is:

Current: Associate Professional Specialist and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law at University of Notre Dame.

Past: Director at Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Associate Director and Clinical Professor at University of Illinois at rbana-Champaign.

Education: University of Notre Dame Law School, University of Notre Dame.

Summary: She has 20+ years' experience in curriculum and other program development and delivery.


Laura Hollis is already reading so many pundits and other talking heads analyzing the disaster that was this year's elections. she is adding her own ten cents. Here goes:

1. We are outnumbered.  We accurately foresaw the enthusiasm, the passion, the commitment, the
determination, and the turnout. Married women, men, independents, Catholics, evangelicals - they all went for Romney in percentages as high or higher than the groups which voted for McCain in 2008. It wasn't enough. What we aw in the election on Tuesday was a tipping point: we are now at a place where there are legitimately fewer Americans who desire a free republic with a free people than there are those who think the government should give them stuff. There are fewer of us who believe in the value of free exchange and
free enterprise. There are fewer of us who do not wish to demonize successful people in order to justify taking from them. We are outnumbered. For the moment. It's just that simple.

2. It wasn't the candidate(s). Some are already saying, "Romney was the wrong guy"; "He should have picked Marco Rubio to get Florida/Rob Portman to get Ohio/Chris Christie to get [someplace else]." With all due respect, these assessments are incorrect. Romney ran a strategic and well-organized campaign. Yes, he could have hit harder on Benghazi. But for those who would have loved that, there are those who would have found it distasteful. No matter what tactic you could point to that Romney could have done better, it would have been spun in a way that was detrimental to his chances. Romney would have been an excellent
president, and Ryan was an inspired choice. No matter who we ran this year, they would have lost. See #1, above.

3. It's the culture, stupid! We have been trying to fight this battle every four years at the voting booth. It is long past time we admit that is not where the battle really is. We abdicated control of the culture - starting back in the 1960s. And now our largest primary social institutions - education, the media, Hollywood
(entertainment) have become really nothing more than an assembly line for cranking out reliable little Leftists. Furthermore, we have allowed the government to undermine the institutions that instill good character - marriage, the family, communities, schools, our churches. So, here we are, at least two full generations later - we are reaping what we have sown. It took nearly fifty years to get here; it will take another fifty years to get back. But it starts with the determination to reclaim education, the media, and the entertainment business. If we fail to do that, we can kiss every election goodbye from here on out. And much more.

4. America has become a nation of adolescents.  The real loser in this election was adulthood: Maturity. Responsibility. The understanding that liberty must be accompanied by self-restraint. Obama is a spoiled child, and the behavior and language of his followers and their advertisements throughout the campaign makes it clear how many of them are, as well. Romney is a grown-up. Romney should have won. Those of us who expected him to win assumed that voters would act like grownups. Because if we were a nation of grownups, he would have won. But what did win? Sex. Drugs. Bad language. Bad manners. Vulgarity. Lies.
Cheating. Name-calling. Finger-pointing. Blaming. And irresponsible spending. This does not bode well. People grow up one of two ways: either they choose to, or circumstances force them to. The warnings are all there, whether it is the looming economic disaster, or the inability of the government to respond to crises like Hurricane Sandy, or the growing strength and brazenness of our enemies. American voters stick their fingers in their ears and say, "Lalalalalala, I can't hear you." It is unpleasant to think about the circumstances it will take to force Americans to grow up. It is even more unpleasant to think about Obama at the helm when those circumstances arrive.

5. Yes, there is apparently a Vagina Vote. It's the subject matter of another column in its entirety to point out, one by one, all of the inconsistencies and hypocrisies of the Democrats this year. Suffice it to say that the only "war on women" was the one waged by the Obama campaign, which sexualized and objectified women, featuring them dressed up like vulvas at the Democrat National Convention, appealing to their "lady parts," comparing voting to losing your virginity with Obama, trumpeting the thrills of destroying our children in the womb (and using our daughters in commercials to do so), and making Catholics pay for their birth
control. For a significant number of women, this was appealing. It might call into question the wisdom of the Nineteenth Amendment, but for the fact that large numbers of women (largely married) used their "lady smarts" instead. Either way, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are rolling over in their graves.

6. It's not about giving up on "social issues".  No Republican candidate should participate in a debate or go out on the stump without thorough debate prep and a complete set of talking points that they stick to. This should start with a good grounding in biology and a reluctance to purport to know the will of God. (Thank you, Todd and Richard.) That said, we do not hold the values we do because they garner votes. We hold the values we do because we believe that they are time-tested principles without which a civilized, free and prosperous society is not possible. We defend the unborn because we understand that a society which views some lives as expendable is capable of viewing all lives as expendable. We defend family - mothers, fathers, marriage, children - because history makes it quite clear that societies without intact families quickly descend into anarchy and barbarism, and we have plenty of proof of that in our inner cities where marriage is infrequent and unwed motherhood approaches 80 percent. When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, many thought that the abortion cause was lost. Forty years later, ultrasound technology has demonstrated the inevitable connection between science and morality. More Americans than ever define themselves as "pro-life." What is tragic is that tens of millions of children have lost their lives while Americans figure out what should have been obvious before. There is no "giving up" on social issues. There is only the realization that we have to fight the battle on other fronts. The truth will win out in the end.

7. Obama does not have a mandate. And he does not need one. I have to laugh - bitterly - when I read conservative pundits trying to assure us that Obama "has to know" that he does not have a mandate, and so
he will have to govern from the middle. I don't know what they're smoking. Obama does not care that he does not have a mandate. He does not view himself as being elected (much less re-elected) to represent individuals. He views himself as having been re-elected to complete the "fundamental transformation" of America, the basic structure of which he despises. Expect much more of the same - largely the complete disregard of the will of half the American public, his willingness to rule by executive order, and the utter inability of another divided Congress to rein him in. Stanley Kurtz has it all laid out here.

8. The Corrupt Media is the enemy. Too strong? I don't think so. I have been watching the media try to throw elections since at least the early 1990s. In 2008 and again this year, we saw the media cravenly cover up for the incompetence and deceit of this President, while demonizing a good, honorable and decent man with lies and smears. This is on top of the daily barrage of insults that conservatives (and by that I mean the electorate, not the politicians) must endure at the hands of this arrogant bunch of elitist snobs. Bias is one thing. What we observed with Benghazi was professional malpractice and fraud. They need to go. Republicans, Libertarians and other conservatives need to be prepared to play hardball with the Pravda press from here on out. And while we are at it, to defend those journalists of whatever political stripe (Jake Tapper, Sharyl Atkisson, Eli Lake) who actually do their jobs. As well as Fox News and talk radio. Because you can fully expect a re-elected Obama to try to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine in term 2.

9. Small business and entrepreneurs will be hurt the worst.  For all the blather about "Wall Street versus Main Street," Obama's statist agenda will unquestionably benefit the biggest corporations which - as with
the public sector unions - are in the best position to make campaign donations, hire lobbyists, and get special exemptions carved out from Obama's health care laws, his environmental regulations, his labor laws. It will be the small business, the entrepreneur, and the first-time innovators who will be crushed by their inability to compete on a level playing field.

10. America is more polarized than ever; and this time it's personal I've been following politics for a long time, and it feels different this time. Not just for me. I've received messages from other conservatives who
are saying the same thing: there is little to no tolerance left out there for those who are bringing this country to its knees - even when they have been our friends. It isn't just about "my guy" versus "your guy." It is my
view of America versus your view of America - a crippled, hemorrhaging, debt-laden, weakened and dependent America that I want no part of and resent being foisted on me. I no longer have any patience for stupidity, blindness, or vulgarity, so with each dumb "tweet" or FB post by one of my happily lefty comrades, another one bites the dust, for me. Delete. What does this portend for a divided Congress? I expect that Republicans will be demoralized and chastened for a short time. But I see them in a bad
position. Americans in general want Congress to work together. But many do not want Obama's policies, and so Republicans who support them will be toast. Good luck, guys.

11. It's possible that America just has to hit rock bottom I truly believe that most Americans who voted for Obama have no idea what they are in for. Most simply believe him when he says that all he really wants is for the rich to pay "a little bit more." So reasonable! Who could argue with that except a greedy racist?
America is on a horrific bender. Has been for some time now. The warning signs of our fiscal profligacy and culture of lack of personal responsibility are everywhere - too many to mention. We need only look at
other countries which have gone the route we are walking now to see what is in store. For the past four years - but certainly within the past campaign season - we have tried to warn Americans. Too many refuse to listen, even when all of the events that have transpired during Obama's presidency - unemployment,
economic stagnation, skyrocketing prices, the depression of the dollar, the collapse of foreign policy, Benghazi, hopelessly inept responses to natural disasters - can be tied directly to Obama's statist philosophies, and his decisions. What that means, I fear, is that they will not see what is coming until the
whole thing collapses. That is what makes me so sad today. I see the country
I love headed toward its own "rock bottom," and I cannot seem to reach those who are taking it there.

Please share this with as many as you can!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

How Long, General Petraeus, How long?

In the Sunday, 4 March 2012 Washington Post, Army Special forces Major Fernando M. Lugar posed the following question: "How to get Afghans to trust us once again?"

I chose to take this question as rhetorical. After all, we've been at this war in Afghanistan for 10 years. Why should we still have to prove ourselves?

Answer that, Gerneral Petraeus. If we were winning to the degree to which you always claimed, how is it that a simple error in judgment by five soldiers can cause such a furor, not to mention the cold-blooded murder of four military personnel?

These people are what they are. They are not civilized by the standard to which we apply that adjective. They are most primitive. They follow a religion that requires a father to slit his daughter's throat for being seen on the streets with a man who is not a relative.

First, it was an author whose work was deemed to be insulting to the prophet. A fatwa required his death and, as a result, a number of otherwise innocents were murdered. Then it was a series of murders following the publication of cartoons deemed insulting to the prophet. Now it's the inadvertent burning of some copies of the Qur'an that has resulted in cries for the death penalty from the Afghan people.

And these are the people we have protected from the Taliban and al Qaeda. These are the people for whom we have built schools. These are the people on whose behalf we have put up with corruption on a scale that would make Chicago blush. These are the people on whose behalf so much American blood has been shed.

Shame on them! Unfortunately, in their culture, this is meaningless. They are completely without shame.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Truth, Lies and Afghanistan

For those of you who missed it, what follows is Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis' take on the situation in Afghanistan. He stated that because he had no faith in his military chain of command forwarding his report to appropriate policy makers, he took it upon himself to distribute his report to Congress and the press. Here is his report:

I spent last year in Afghanistan, visiting and talking with U.S. troops and their Afghan partners. My duties with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force took me into every significant area where our soldiers engage the enemy. Over the course of 12 months, I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces.

What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.

Entering this deployment, I was sincerely hoping to learn that the claims were true: that conditions in Afghanistan were improving, that the local government and military were progressing toward self-sufficiency. I did not need to witness dramatic improvements to be reassured, but merely hoped to see evidence of positive trends, to see companies or battalions produce even minimal but sustainable progress. instead, I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level. My arrival in country in late 2010 marked the start of my fourth combat deployment, and my second in Afghanistan. A Regular Army officer in the Armor Branch, I served in Operation Desert Storm, in Afghanistan in 2005-06 and in Iraq in 2008-09. In the middle of my career, I spent eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve and held a number of civilian jobs — among them, legislative correspondent for defense and foreign affairs for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.

As a representative for the Rapid Equipping Force, I set out to talk to our troops about their needs and their circumstances. Along the way, I conducted mounted and dismounted combat patrols, spending time with conventional and Special Forces troops. I interviewed or had conversations with more than 250 soldiers in the field, from the lowest-ranking 19-year-old private to division commanders and staff members at every echelon. I spoke at length with Afghan security officials, Afghan civilians and a few village elders.

I saw the incredible difficulties any military force would have to pacify even a single area of any of those provinces; I heard many stories of how insurgents controlled virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a U.S. or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base. I saw little to no evidence the local governments were able to provide for the basic needs of the people. Some of the Afghan civilians I talked with said the people didn’t want to be connected to a predatory or incapable local government. From time to time, I observed Afghan Security forces collude with the insurgency. From Bad to Abysmal.

Much of what I saw during my deployment, let alone read or wrote in official reports, I can’t talk about; the information remains classified. But I can say that such reports — mine and others’ — serve to illuminate the gulf between conditions on the ground and official statements of progress. And I can relate a few representative experiences, of the kind that I observed all over the country.

In January 2011, I made my first trip into the mountains of Kunar province near the Pakistan border to visit the troops of 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry. On a patrol to the northernmost U.S. position in eastern Afghanistan, we arrived at an Afghan National Police (ANP) station that had reported being attacked by the Taliban 2½ hours earlier.

Through the interpreter, I asked the police captain where the attack had originated, and he pointed to the side of a nearby mountain. “What are your normal procedures in situations like these?” I asked. “Do you form up a squad and go after them? Do you periodically send out harassing patrols? What do you do?” As the interpreter conveyed my questions, the captain’s head wheeled around, looking first at the interpreter and turning to me with an incredulous expression. Then he laughed. “No! We don’t go after them,” he said. “That would be dangerous!” According to the cavalry troopers, the Afghan policemen rarely leave the cover of the checkpoints. In that part of the province, the Taliban literally run free.

In June, I was in the Zharay district of Kandahar province, returning to a base from a dismounted patrol. Gunshots were audible as the Taliban attacked a U.S. checkpoint about one mile away. As I entered the unit’s command post, the commander and his staff were watching a live video feed of the battle. Two ANP vehicles were blocking the main road leading to the site of the attack. The fire was coming from behind a haystack. We watched as two Afghan men emerged, mounted a motorcycle and began moving toward the Afghan policemen in their vehicles. The U.S. commander turned around and told the Afghan radio operator to make sure the policemen halted the men. The radio operator shouted into the radio repeatedly, but got no answer. On the screen, we watched as the two men slowly motored past the ANP vehicles. The policemen neither got out to stop the two men nor answered the radio — until the motorcycle was out of sight. To a man, the U.S. officers in that unit told me they had nothing but contempt for the Afghan troops in their area — and that was before the above incident occurred. In August, I went on a dismounted patrol with troops in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province. Several troops from the unit had recently been killed in action, one of whom was a very popular and experienced soldier. One of the unit’s senior officers rhetorically asked me, “How do I look these men in the eye and ask them to go out day after day on these missions? What’s harder: How do I look [my soldier’s] wife in the eye when I get back and tell her that her husband died for something meaningful? How do I do that?” One of the senior enlisted leaders added, “Guys are saying, ‘I hope I live so I can at least get home to R&R leave before I get it,’ or ‘I hope I only lose a foot.’ Sometimes they even say which limb it might be: ‘Maybe it’ll only be my left foot.’ They don’t have a lot of confidence that the leadership two levels up really understands what they’re living here, what the situation really is.”

On Sept. 11, the 10th anniversary of the infamous attack on the U.S., I visited another unit in Kunar province, this one near the town of Asmar. I talked with the local official who served as the cultural adviser to the U.S. commander. Here’s how the conversation went:

Davis: “Here you have many units of the Afghan National Security Forces [ANSF]. Will they be able to hold out against the Taliban when U.S. troops leave this area?”

Adviser: “No. They are definitely not capable. Already all across this region [many elements of] the security forces have made deals with the Taliban. [The ANSF] won’t shoot at the Taliban, and the Taliban won’t shoot them. “Also, when a Taliban member is arrested, he is soon released with no action taken against him. So when the Taliban returns [when the Americans leave after 2014], so too go the jobs, especially for everyone like me who has worked with the coalition. “Recently, I got a cellphone call from a Talib who had captured a friend of mine. While I could hear, he began to beat him, telling me I’d better quit working for the Americans. I could hear my friend crying out in pain. [The Talib] said the next time they would kidnap my sons and do the same to them. Because of the direct threats, I’ve had to take my children out of school just to keep them safe. “And last night, right on that mountain there [he pointed to a ridge overlooking the U.S. base, about 700 meters distant], a member of the ANP was murdered. The Taliban came and called him out, kidnapped him in front of his parents, and took him away and murdered him. He was a member of the ANP from another province and had come back to visit his parents. He was only 27 years old. The people are not safe anywhere.” That murder took place within view of the U.S. base, a post nominally responsible for the security of an area of hundreds of square kilometers. Imagine how insecure the population is beyond visual range. And yet that conversation was representative of what I saw in many regions of Afghanistan.

In all of the places I visited, the tactical situation was bad to abysmal. If the events I have described — and many, many more I could mention — had been in the first year of war, or even the third or fourth, one might be willing to believe that Afghanistan was just a hard fight, and we should stick it out. Yet these incidents all happened in the 10th year of war. As the numbers depicting casualties and enemy violence indicate the absence of progress, so too did my observations of the tactical situation all over Afghanistan.

Credibility Gap

I’m hardly the only one who has noted the discrepancy between official statements and the truth on the ground. A January 2011 report by the Afghan NGO Security Office noted that public statements made by U.S. and ISAF leaders at the end of 2010 were “sharply divergent from IMF, [international military forces, NGO-speak for ISAF] ‘strategic communication’ messages suggesting improvements. We encourage [nongovernment organization personnel] to recognize that no matter how authoritative the source of any such claim, messages of the nature are solely intended to influence American and European public opinion ahead of the withdrawal, and are not intended to offer an accurate portrayal of the situation for those who live and work here.”

The following month, Anthony Cordesman, on behalf of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote that ISAF and the U.S. leadership failed to report accurately on the reality of the situation in Afghanistan. “Since June 2010, the unclassified reporting the U.S. does provide has steadily shrunk in content, effectively ‘spinning’ the road to victory by eliminating content that illustrates the full scale of the challenges ahead,” Cordesman wrote. “They also, however, were driven by political decisions to ignore or understate Taliban and insurgent gains from 2002 to 2009, to ignore the problems caused by weak and corrupt Afghan governance, to understate the risks posed by sanctuaries in Pakistan, and to ‘spin’ the value of tactical ISAF victories while ignoring the steady growth of Taliban influence and control.”

How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding and behind an array of more than seven years of optimistic statements by U.S. senior leaders in Afghanistan? No one expects our leaders to always have a successful plan. But we do expect — and the men who do the living, fighting and dying deserve — to have our leaders tell us the truth about what’s going on.

I first encountered senior-level equivocation during a 1997 division-level “experiment” that turned out to be far more setpiece than experiment. Over dinner at Fort Hood, Texas, Training and Doctrine Command leaders told me that the Advanced Warfighter Experiment (AWE) had shown that a “digital division” with fewer troops and more gear could be far more effective than current divisions. The next day, our congressional staff delegation observed the demonstration firsthand, and it didn’t take long to realize there was little substance to the claims. Virtually no legitimate experimentation was actually conducted. All parameters were carefully scripted. All events had a preordained sequence and outcome. The AWE was simply an expensive show, couched in the language of scientific experimentation and presented in glowing press releases and public statements, intended to persuade Congress to fund the Army’s preference. Citing the AWE’s “results,” Army leaders proceeded to eliminate one maneuver company per combat battalion. But the loss of fighting systems was never offset by a commensurate rise in killing capability.

A decade later, in the summer of 2007, I was assigned to the Future Combat Systems (FCS) organization at Fort Bliss, Texas. It didn’t take long to discover that the same thing the Army had done with a single division at Fort Hood in 1997 was now being done on a significantly larger scale with FCS. Year after year, the congressionally mandated reports from the Government Accountability Office revealed significant problems and warned that the system was in danger of failing. Each year, the Army’s senior leaders told members of Congress at hearings that GAO didn’t really understand the full picture and that to the contrary, the program was on schedule, on budget, and headed for success. Ultimately, of course, the program was canceled, with little but spinoffs to show for $18 billion spent.

If Americans were able to compare the public statements many of our leaders have made with classified data, this credibility gulf would be immediately observable. Naturally, I am not authorized to divulge classified material to the public. But I am legally able to share it with members of Congress. I have accordingly provided a much fuller accounting in a classified report to several members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, senators and House members. A nonclassified version is available at www.afghanreport.com. [Editor’s note: At press time, Army public affairs had not yet ruled on whether Davis could post this longer version.]

Tell The Truth

When it comes to deciding what matters are worth plunging our nation into war and which are not, our senior leaders owe it to the nation and to the uniformed members to be candid — graphically, if necessary — in telling them what’s at stake and how expensive potential success is likely to be. U.S. citizens and their elected representatives can decide if the risk to blood and treasure is worth it. Likewise when having to decide whether to continue a war, alter its aims or to close off a campaign that cannot be won at an acceptable price, our senior leaders have an obligation to tell Congress and American people the unvarnished truth and let the people decide what course of action to choose. That is the very essence of civilian control of the military. The American people deserve better than what they’ve gotten from their senior uniformed leaders over the last number of years. Simply telling the truth would be a good start.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Khost Rethought

In my blog titled, “Time to Bring Back the Dinosaurs” I suggested that had CIA received an infusion of good, old-fashioned tradecraft, the Khost massacre might have been avoided. In light of the article titled, “A family bereaved and divided,” (Washington Post 29 Jan. 2012) it would appear that assigning full blame to the base chief, Jennifer Matthews, was most unfair.

So, where to begin affixing blame? First, I’d suggest it was negligence on the part of the Agency to permit Jennifer to apply for the posting. What was behind this? The Agency is not noted for personal consideration when making assignments. So, was it impossible for the Agency to find any operations officers to accept this job? Was this why they put an analyst vice an operations officer into this dangerous place? Granted, she was a highly trained analyst. Maybe she’d worked with operations officers in conducting debriefings, but she was not an agent handler. She had not received special operations training which should have been the sine qua non for such a job.

Next, I’d fix blame on the case officer in liaison with the Jordanian service. An Agency officer cannot accept a foreign intelligence service’s word for the trustworthiness of an agent they’d recruited. It was incumbent on the Agency officer in liaison with the service to conduct his own validation procedure. This, he clearly had not done. Why not? Had he just been remiss? Had Headquarters been so enthused at running jointly with the Jordanians an agent who claimed to have direct access to bin Laden that they told this officer, “Just get on with the program?” We’ll never know the answer to this question.

It was poor tradecraft for Headquarters to order the debriefing to take place at Forward Operating Base Chapman. Jennifer should have been ordered to travel to a more secure location maybe in the Kabul area where better security could have been exercised. When is it permitted to bring an unvetted agent into your base, to meet face-to-face with other CIA officers? Never!

Jennifer deserves praise for having agreed to undertake such a dangerous assignment. She left home and hearth to do her part to protect our Homeland by operating against al Qaeda. Her husband, her children, her family can be proud of this CIA analyst who was prepared to give up so much, to take such a risk, all in the hopes of making this world a safer place. In the end, she gave her all.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

On understanding the Afghan military partnership

This was contributed by a former colleague. He knows more about the intelligence business than the whole blooming Agency combined.

Now a French trained Afghan has killed four French trainers.

To some of my acquaintances who believe that Islamists are for the most part peaceful and so on, I make the following comment. I lived in three Arab countries, and traveled in a number of others, and dealt with locals on a regular basis, but never came to the point where I felt I could really trust one of them completely. So, I posit the following to these people.

Let us assume that you live next door to a devout Afghan Muslim family. For some years you and your family have had good relations and you are in social situations essentially comfortable together. One day a Mullah comes to the male in the Arab family and says something like this.

"Your American neighbor has a close relative fighting in Afghanistan who with his military unit was responsible for blowing up a Mosque in your village outside of Khandahar. Some of your relatives were killed. It has been decreed that in retaliation you must kill your next door neighbor--even if you should later be killed by the infidels you will be a martyr."

Now here is the problem. Which will win out, your friendship with the Arab in which case he will not act against you, or he will, because of his total devotion to Islam, follow the instructions of the cleric and comply with the instructions passed to him. (I for one would not want to deal with this option.) Of course, one can introduce factors that would tend to obviate this dilemma in some way. But in its essence it is still out there.

I have never given up my strong sense of cynicism about Arabs and how, when, and where they place their loyalty. As you know, Brits said you can't buy an Arab but only rent him. Certainly in our Stations it was an attitude that was easy to adopt and act on.

We had a friend in Baghdad, an elderly but wealthy Arab who had the Carrier Air Conditioner distributorship for several Arab countries. He felt he was too old to continue to manage it and so gave the business to his son to manage. The son did so for a brief while and then disposed of it, making a lot of money. He promptly went to Beirut to live in a big penthouse, and became a playboy. Don't know the end of this since we were evacuated at the time of the 6 Day War, but such intra-family betrayals are not, I believe, unusual.

I never felt they trusted each other, and now, with factions arising in the mobs of the Arab Spring, it is easy to see that unity and loyalty does not rate high among them. Well, I guess we, you, I and others of us have fought our battles, will become victims, of the wisdom of our contemporary leaders who see good in all those things, people, and places we question.

And thus ends my colleague's offering. Are all Muslims this devious? No, not the modern ones. But a Muslim who believes in guiding his life according to Sharia,....

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