Beneath the headlines, beneath the
cartoony segments offered up by the nightly news, and beneath the government of
the United States, is an entirely different world, a clandestine web of
networks most American's know nothing about.
The major players in this underground world are the CIA and the Department of
Defense. Rather than work in tandem, these two government agencies have engaged
in ongoing head butting over who's in charge of what, when, and where. At one
point Rumsfeld asked why he had to get permission from the CIA to carry out
attacks on terrorist cells? The main reason was that the CIA considered itself,
and so did the rest of our counterintelligence underground, that they had a
direct path to the White House and that anyone attempting to interfere with
this path prevented the agency from doing it's job.
The day after the attacks of 9/11, our intelligence agencies went upside down
and sideways. Panic ensued. Blame was tossed around, from lack of information
from the FBI , the CIA's politically messy intelligence regarding al Qaeda, and
the spooky world of undercover, covert operations.
Did the Bush Administration know of the attacks before 9/11? The answer is a
"kind of sort of " scrapbook of Al Qaeda terrorism gathered before
9/11 that the CIA didn't want to get involved with. They did, however realize
the danger posed by Osama bin Laden, who was someone of interest to both the
Department of Defense and the CIA, but decided it wasn't worth launching a
major offensive to capture him. If, however, intelligence surfaced
pinpointing bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan, they probably would have
taken him out. Reports came in from CIA stations in Kabul and from Pakistani
intelligence services monitoring bin Laden's activities from across the thin border
between Afghanistan and Pakistan. These reports were inconclusive and relied
more on eyewitness sightings and drones that were deployed to areas where bin
Laden and his lieutenants were reported to be. However, the drones were
banned from crossing the border into Pakistan to gather video surveillance. The
best the CIA could do was to "peek" into Pakistan by flying the
drones along the mountainous border separating the two countries.
By now, most of us have heard about Predator drones which are large, remote
controlled devices, equipped with Hellfire missiles, operated by controllers
housed inside used racing trailers here in this country that allow us to spy
and take out threats to America's security anywhere in the world. These drones
were first used by the CIA which flew them over Afghanistan, but not Pakistan.
The reason for this was that Pakistan was friends with the United States but
didn't want these things buzzing around Pakistani airspace, threatening
Pakistan's fragile government .
The feud between the CIA and the Department of Defense under Donald Rumsfeld
involved the question of which agency was in charge of carrying out
lethal operations against America's enemies. Rumsfeld felt that his budget,
much larger than that of the CIA's, was better equipped to launch offensive
operations. The one thing the DOD didn't have was the intelligence needed to
ensure any operation against suspected terrorists was successful. After 9/11,
the CIA was granted the right to use lethal means which would allow them to
avoid being hamstrung by Rumsfeld's crabby insistence of not allowing any
agency to carry out assassinations other than the Department of Defense.
Things have changed. The CIA is now back to focusing on intelligence gathering
rather than shooting suspects in the back of the head in major European cities.
And although the Department of Homeland Security was created to moderate
squabbles between competing counterintelligence units, it's track record
appears to be mediocre at best.
Our underground covert intelligence gathering capabilities have cost us
billions of dollars in bribes, payoffs, and munitions deliveries to countries
and warlords that have turned against us. I find it interesting that as we
pulled combat troops out of Iraq, we had already determined where our next war
would be waged. It's a country that's recently been in the headlines for it's
suspected use of chemical weapons against it's own people. Our next target was
to be Syria, where, unlike Iraq, Bashar al-Assad appears to have those much
vaunted weapons of mass destruction.