Thursday, July 16, 2009

[cloak and dagger] does the cia have jason bournes

The LA Times has an interesting piece on the CIA being far from as portrayed in Bourne. I’m just reading Ludlum’s Bourne Ultimatum now.

According to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, the CIA spent seven years trying to assemble teams capable of killing the world's most wanted terrorists but could never find a formula that worked.

The struggles came during a period in which the agency had been given unprecedented authority and resources, and a cause -- responding to the Sept. 11 attacks -- with broad public support.

But officials could not solve daunting logistical problems, including how to get teams close to their targets while keeping U.S. involvement secret and being able to extract them safely if they succeeded in killing a terrorist.

In particular, officials said, ambitions for the program expanded to include creating teams that were made up not only of CIA personnel but counterparts from other countries, presumably Pakistan; and to be capable not just of killing high-value targets but also executing raids and other operations to gather evidence and intelligence that might lead to elusive Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri.

Now isn’t that interesting because the CIA was denying the connection with the ISI but this vid claimed they had that connection:

Now it seems they had.

Former officials said support for the program persisted in recent years largely because it could compensate for a crucial shortcoming in the ongoing campaign of Predator strikes. The drones had emerged as a potent weapon against Al Qaeda in Pakistan but had failed to bring the agency closer to Bin Laden.

CIA leaders continued to pursue the idea of elite paramilitary teams that could mount lethal operations on short notice but also quietly capture lower-ranking Al Qaeda members and raid sites struck by Predator missiles to gather any intelligence material left behind.

The broader dimensions of the program may account for why some lawmakers, particularly Republicans, have been critical of CIA Director Leon E. Panetta's decision last month to kill it.

"The program [Panetta] killed was never fully operational and never took a single terrorist off the battlefield," said George Little, a CIA spokesman. "We've had a string of successes against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and that program didn't contribute to any of them."

Former intelligence officials said there were intermittent discussions about having special operations troops assigned to the CIA as part of the program, but it was not clear how far those plans progressed.

A second former official with extensive knowledge of the CIA effort said it was seen as crucial that the units reside within the CIA so that the U.S. government would be able to deny involvement if a team were exposed or captured.

Special operations forces routinely carry out clandestine missions, but unlike their CIA counterparts they operate with the expectation that their ties to the U.S. government will not be denied if the mission breaks down.

The vulnerability of being far removed from U.S. protection was seen as another major barrier to the success of the program.

Even if an assassination team were deployed and succeeded in killing a senior Al Qaeda figure, "what happens to the shooter?" said Mark Lowenthal, a former senior CIA official. "We don't send people on suicide missions. I'm sure they were troubled by how to get the guy out of there."

The agency has traditionally had paramilitary capabilities as part of its Special Activities Division, which swelled in size after the Sept. 11 attacks and is made up mainly of former members of U.S. military special operations forces.

But carrying out close-range killings "is something they don't really have a capacity for," said a former senior CIA official. "There really isn't Jason Bourne walking around doing stuff like this."

Do you think the CIA has Jason Bournes working for it?


  1. I think they all have, CIA, FBI, MI5 + 6, KGB as was, and uncle Tom Cobbly and all.

    Snag is most of them are now poiticians:)

  2. I would imagine that we would have people that would be happy to go and risk their lives to get Obama, sorry, Osama... typo, its just that politicians are holding back howmany they put into the field at once for fear it gets out and impacts their careers.

    I too believe there are many out there although I doubt nowadays they have as much money to play with.

  3. Anonymous - I took out your ad hominem and reprint the rest of your comment here:

    "Its fucked up to even think of assassinating a US President.

    Yes, I think they have people like Bourne out there. The fact is, the CIA does things that many of us would find repulsive, but that keep all of us safe. I would even bet that they sometimes break the law with their "special activities"."


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