Aug
12
2011

Drones in Pakistan: Equal Time for Killers?

The New York Times has a long piece (8/12/11) looking at the question of how many civilians in Pakistan are killed by CIA drones. The agency doesn't even speak about the program on the record, except to make the far-fetched claim that no civilians have died in the past year or so. The article, written by Scott Shane, includes some useful criticism of the CIA, and it's hard not to conclude that the agency's claims are not very credible. But the real problem with the piece is that it gives much weight to the CIA's defense at all, using their […]

May
26
2011

The Curious Case of the CIA Whistleblower

Every so often reports surface about the Justice Department's prosecution of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling–often due to the government's attempts to convince New York Times reporter James Risen to testify about his interactions with Sterling. The Times reported on the latest such efforts yesterday (5/25/11): Federal prosecutors are trying to force the author of a book on the CIA to testify at a criminal trial about who leaked information to him about the agency's effort to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program at the end of the Clinton administration. Such efforts to get journalists to testify often lead media outlets to […]

Mar
18
2011

NYT on Pakistani Beliefs

On the release of CIA agent Raymond Davis, who was held in Pakistan on charges of killing two Pakistani men on a street in Lahore, the Times explains the reaction (3/17/11) The Davis episode was particularly sensitive because of the resentment among Pakistanis who believe that a growing American security contingent roams the country with relative impunity. The Davis incident would seem to confirm this "belief," wouldn't it?

Feb
21
2011

Our Man in Pakistan?

Yesterday the Guardian reported that Raymond Davis, the American held in Pakistan on charges of killing two men last month in Lahore, was working for the CIA. The Davis case has received sustained coverage in the U.S. media and is the subject of intense U.S lobbying. All the while U.S. officials referred to Davis as a "diplomat." Today the New York Times has posted a story on its website catching up with the Guardian. The most notable revelation, though, comes when the Times admits that it knew Davis' status–but obeyed a government request to keep it quiet: The New York […]

Feb
16
2011

Action Alert: Newsweek Downplays Critics of Drone Assassinations

A Newsweek report (2/21/11) looks at the CIA's aerial drone assassination program through the agency's eyes–leaving questions about civilian deaths and the effort's dubious legality for a couple of brief paragraphs at the end. To encourage Newsweek to take critics of the drone program seriously, see FAIR's new Action Alert. Please leave copies of your messages–or comments on the alert–in the comments thread here.

Oct
04
2010

Does Anyone Object to U.S. Drone Wars in Pakistan?

Apparently not, judging by theWashington Post's October 3 story ("Military Drones Aid CIA's mission") about the CIA's expansion of its drone war in Pakistan.It is "part of a high-stakes attempt by the Obama administration to deal decisive blows to Taliban insurgents," and also "a significant evolution of an already controversial targeted killing program." Post readersget details from "a U.S. official"–who says things like, "Our intelligence has gotten a lot better." The only other perspective comes from Bruce Reidel at Brookings, who is "a former CIA analyst who led the Obama administration's initial overhaul of its Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy." In other words, […]

Aug
25
2010

The 'Broader' Questions About the Secret War in Yemen

"CIA Sees Increased Threat in Yemen" is the Washington Post's headline today (8/25/10) over astory thattells of a"sober new assessment" of Al Qaeda-related activities that has "helped prompt senior Obama administration officials to call for an escalation of U.S. operations there–including a proposal to add armed CIA drones to a clandestine campaign of U.S. military strikes." At present, U.S. airstrikes in Yemen are not carried out by drones,but "have involved cruise missiles and other weapon that are less precise." The Post adds: Proponents of expanding the CIA's role argue that years of flying armed drones over Pakistan have given the […]

Sep
17
2009

Ignatius Proposes a 'New Deal for the CIA' That's Two Centuries Old

David Ignatius starts off his Washington Post column today ("A New Deal for the CIA," 9/17/09) with a story about Jeannie de Clarens, a 90-year-old Frenchwoman who infiltrated the Nazi army, discovered information about German rockets that "saved London," was captured by the Gestapo and survived a year in a concentration camp without betraying her secrets. De Clarens sounds like a real hero with a great story. But the moral Ignatius draws from it is not so great: "When we read about waterboarding and other techniques that shock the conscience, it's easy to lose sight of what intelligence agents like […]

Jun
15
2009

Battling 'Baseless, Worthless Grants of Anonymity'

Deeming "the battle against baseless, worthless grants of anonymity by journalists" to be "at this point, probably futile," Salon's Glenn Greenwald (6/15/09, ad-viewing required) is exasperated to see how "even many of the nation's best and most valuable reporters–such as the New Yorker's Jane Mayer–seem helplessly addicted to it." Greenwald points to "an otherwise solid and at times enlightening article on CIA Director Leon Panetta and his resistance to investigating past CIA abuses" in which Mayer includes this passage at the beginning of her article to explain how Panetta was chosen only after Obama's first choice, John Brennan, was rejected: […]

Jun
02
2009

As 'Truth-Tellers' Are 'Controversialized,' Others Rise

"Amid all the recent negatives in the worlds of intelligence and journalism," Consortium News' Robert Parry (6/2/09) has spotted "one encouraging development": "the recognition of common ground between two beleaguered groups, honest U.S. intelligence analysts and honest American journalists, two groups that previously had been on opposite sides of the secrecy divide." The strangeness of which is not lost on Parry, who says that "what brought them together, ironically, was that they both were targeted by the same dishonest forces": Through the 1980s, the neocons spearheaded an assault on the CIA's analytical division by pushing a politicization of intelligence that […]

May
27
2009

Media Still Crushing on Old Flame Colin Powell

Robert Parry (Consortium News, 5/25/09) thinks that "there is no one, it seems, that the U.S. mainstream news media loves more than Colin Powell," and as proof offers "Powell's disingenuous response" to Bob Schieffer's May 24 CBS Face the Nation "question about the ex-secretary of state's knowledge regarding 'enhanced interrogation techniques,' which the International Committee of the Red Cross and virtually all other objective observers say constituted torture": Powell–whom, Parry recalls, "was a member of President George W. Bush's Principals Committee, which oversaw the interrogation policies"–claimed to an unchallenging Schieffer, "to have been kept mostly out of the loop…. He […]

May
22
2009

CIA Tortured by Questions About Torturing

The independent website Raw Story (5/6/09) recently summarized the human toll of the U.S. government's torture program. Approximately 100 prisoners have died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to human rights investigators, with 34 of those deaths officially classified as homicides; at least eight individuals were tortured to death. Yet somehow, when corporate media report on the torture program's victims, they focus on the CIA, the agency that designed and helped implement the array of torture techniques known as "enhanced interrogation." A May 19 article by Walter Pincus, intelligence correspondent for the Washington Post, is a particularly gross […]

Apr
26
2009

Bill O'Reilly Constructs Imaginary Intelligence 'Wall'

Demonstrating his trademark ability to move effortlessly from belligerent grandstanding to completely fictive political commentary, Fox star Bill O'Reilly claimed on April 22 that current and former attorney generals "Eric Holder and Janet Reno put the wall up between the FBI and the CIA, which led to the 9/11 attacks." But Media Matters points out (4/23/09): in fact, the 1995 Justice Department memo and guidelines to which O'Reilly referred only addressed communications among divisions within DOJ, clarifying longtime unwritten restrictions on the sharing of information between the FBI's intelligence arm and DOJ's criminal division. They had no impact on communications […]