Thursday, July 16 2009 - Other Important News
The Origins of the CIA
The CIA assassination programme that was recently in the media was actually first partially revealed by the Washington Post in 2005, when details enabling his originator to be identified were published. The programme made news in the last few days as CIA Director Leon Panetta admitted that the agency withheld information about it from Congress, although the CIA never actually used it to assassinate anybody. Nevertheless, the programme’s “duties” seem to have been taken over by something journalist Seymour Hersh called an “executive assassination wing” that was run out of the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney, and this grouping did go on missions and kill people.
The programme was first mentioned in Dana Priest’s groundbreaking article that highlighted the existence of the CIA’s network of black sites, CIA Holds Terror Subjects in Secret Prisons, which was published in November 2005. Priest wrote of the programme:
The CTC's chief of operations argued for creating hit teams of case officers and CIA paramilitaries that would covertly infiltrate countries in the Middle East, Africa and even Europe to assassinate people on the list, one by one.
This section of the article was ignored at the time in the storm that grew over the CIA’s rendition programme and complicity in it by US allies.
The team was also mentioned by the New York Times’ James Risen in his 2006 book State of War:
That’s on page 35 of my copy (emphasis added).
Interestingly, Risen also mentioned the OVP/Pentagon teams that supplanted Box Top:
I found that on pages 70-71. Risen therefore described both the programmes back in 2006, although he did not make the link between the non-implementation of the CIA programme and the implementation of the OVP/Pentagon version.
Although the CIA certainly does not have lists of its office holders, certainly not Counterterrorist Center (CTC) chiefs of operations, we have a pretty good idea who the chief of operations at the time was and what else he is responsible for (9/11, Osama bin Laden’s escape from Tora Bora, rendition to torture--see the timeline link below).
In January 2007, Harper’s journalist Ken Silverstein wrote an article about a CIA officer he called “James,” giving a resume that indicated he was the CTC’s chief of operations on and shortly after 9/11. Given marked similarities in the biography of James and a CIA officer who goes by a variety of aliases (Rich/Rich B/Richard)—they both served in Algeria, were close to CIA manager Cofer Black, headed the CIA’s bin Laden unit, then had another managerial position at the CTC, became station chief in Kabul after 9/11 and got involved in the rendition of Ibn Sheikh al-Libi to Egypt—it appears that they are one and the same person. Therefore, it seems that Rich B was the officer who championed Box Top.
See here for a timeline of Rich B’s activities. Don’t miss his involvement in hiding information about the 9/11 hijackers—apparently including from his own boss—what he knew before 9/11, his part in rendition to torture before and after 9/11 and his responsibility for bin Laden’s escape from Afghanistan.
This is highly intriguing as it gives us an (as-yet indirect) connection between Rich B and Cheney, a connection I’ve been trying to make for some time: when the CIA sat on the programme Rich B proposed, it was taken up by Cheney, who also prevented Box Top from being briefed to Congress. Do I think this is a coincidence? No, I don’t. We know that both Rich B and Cheney were involved in the post-9/11 rendition and torture programs -- was there any link between them on that issue as well?
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