Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Deja vu all over again. CIA setting itself up for another Bay of Pigs, demanding that Obama cede conventional control of military to spooks. Kennedy 2

CIA Wants Obama to ‘Have Its Back’ When Things Go Wrong

By Jeff Stein, CQ Staff

Let’s say that on Jan. 21 a massive car bomb meant for Osama bin Laden goes off in a Pakistani village, killing 120 local citizens but missing the elusive al Qaeda leader, who was riding in another vehicle.

In an elaborate press conference, the president of Pakistan blames the CIA. On an easel next to him is a three-by-five foot photo of the CIA’s station chief in Islamabad, who is sent packing.

President Obama, in office for mere hours, finds out that the CIA did, in fact, plant the bomb, based on what it thought was solid intelligence that bin Laden was in the car.

How will the new president react?

That’s much on the mind of intelligence officials awaiting the Jan. 20, 2009, inauguration of Obama, a short-time U.S. senator with no discernable record and little demonstrated interest, so far, in intelligence issues.

“I was with a group of intelligence officers today,” Roger Cressey, a counterterrorism official in the Clinton White House, said on MSNBC Thursday night, “and I think the most important thing for the president to say is, ‘We’ve got your back.’ That ‘we want you to take risks — risks that conform with our law and our values as a country.’

“What the intelligence community is afraid of more than anything is the game of ‘Gotcha,’” Cressey said. “Which is, if they make a mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, the White House doesn’t support them, they’re left out to dry, and Congress crushes them. And then you get into that risk-averse mentality, which we saw for awhile. So that is what they want. They want support, so they know that the president is going to be behind them. But also that he’s going to lead them.”

CIA spokesman George Little parried a query about the agency’s expectations of Obama, but said, “Risk-taking is, of course, an essential and inherent part of what we do.

“CIA officers work hard every day to confront national security challenges, such as terrorism and weapons proliferation, with a level of creativity, agility, and sense of mission that the American people undoubtedly expect — and do so in accord with U.S. law,” Little said.

The bin Laden car bomb scenario, of course, isn’t far fetched.

In Beirut in 1985, the CIA hatched a plot to kill Sheikh Fadlallah, a leading figure in the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement of Lebanon, with a car bomb, according to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward. The bomb killed 80 people, but not Fadlallah.

But the CIA, at least back then, wasn’t adverse to hiring killers.

In 1969, CIA Beirut station chief Robert Ames recruited a spy at the highest levels of the Palestine Liberation Organization, a charismatic terrorist by the name of Ali Hassan Salameh, AKA The Red Prince.

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