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Posted at 7:31 PM ET, 05/19/2010

CIA domestic ops go far beyond Shahzad probe

By Jeff Stein

People upset about the CIA’s involvement in domestic interrogations might be surprised to learn that the spy agency’s most explosive growth in recent years has been right here in the USA -- not in the back alleys of Karachi or in the mountains of Afghanistan.

According to some insider estimates, most of the CIA’s recruitment of foreign spies now takes place in the United States. Hundreds of CIA officers working out of cover offices and companies in areas where foreign students and scientists abound -- such as Boston, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and the like -- try to make contact with their marks and send them back home as spies.

Advocates say it’s a lot easier, and safer, than trying to recruit agents in places like China, under the scrutiny of Beijing’s secret police and counterspy service, not to mention in places like the Middle East and Pakistan.

But the strategy has its critics, too, especially former CIA operations officers who say the spy agency is playing it too safe -- and not delivering the goods to U.S. commanders who need strong intelligence in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"In response to criticism that more than 90 percent of its officers live and work entirely within the United States, and that the remainder work within American embassies, the CIA periodically promises to get more officers under cover, on the street, in foreign countries," a former CIA officer who uses the pseudonym Ishmael Jones told me in April.

But it doesn’t, he maintains.

“Get the CIA's clandestine officers out of the United States and move them to assignments in foreign countries, as required by the CIA's charter,” he argued last year in The Atlantic online.

“Move more CIA officers outside the diplomatic/embassy system,” he added. “Congress has directed this and has been providing massive funding for years, but the CIA has not complied. Establish strict accounting and audit procedures for federal funds, as is already required by law.”

We were moved to bring this up by an apparent kerfuffle set off by an AP report that noted the CIA’s participation in the new High Value Interrogation Group, kind of a multiagency flying squad for domestic terrorism cases.

“The senior administration officials insist the group can legally be used to question U.S. citizens or foreigners — and that includes the participation of CIA agents,” wrote the AP’s Kimberly Dozier. “But one added that an effort would be made to keep the CIA agents out of the interrogation process inside the U.S. to avoid having defense attorneys call them into court.”

That, in turn, generated a headline on Josh Gerstein’s Politico blog, “CIA sees no legal bar to joining U.S. interrogations,” based on a conference call with an official who spoke only on the basis of anonymity.

The official “seemed eager to rebut the conventional wisdom that the CIA cannot legally engage in any operational activities in the U.S.,” Gerstein wrote.

That would be the "conventional wisdom," yes, and how wrong it is.

In the telling, you’d think the CIA’s domestic operations were pretty limited to listening outside the interrogation room as FBI agents questioned suspects like Faisal Shahzad, scrupulously observing the legal prohibitions against CIA operations here.

Which is not to point a finger at Gerstein or Dozier, of course.

Indeed, a former CIA official hinted at reality by telling Gerstein that "the more meaningful distinction [in what the CIA can do at home] involved not U.S. soil but whether the suspect is a U.S. person [a U.S. citizen or permanent resident]."

Any more than that, however, the CIA is very, very reluctant to own up to.

As for the statement by Jones, a deep-cover operative for 18 years, about the large bulk of CIA assignments being made at home, agency spokesman George Little says, “That’s not true.”

By Jeff Stein  | May 19, 2010; 7:31 PM ET
Categories:  Intelligence, Justice/FBI  
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Comments

The open pourous borders and militarized coyotes certainly points to trouble walking in.

The CIA officials should also apply for jobs and sit in the chairs and cubicles of all of the US Immigration offices.
Something seems terribly wrong there.

Posted by: dottydo | May 19, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

If you're a spy agency that doesn't have personnel who know the language and culture of your targets, what better way to still continue to justify ever-bigger budgets than by expanding your domestic operations?

A police-state doesn't just happen overnight. It takes lots of hard work by somewhat well-meaning, only-a-little-bit unprincipled, careerist bureaucrats to get there.

Posted by: kcx7 | May 19, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

If I recall the history correctly, this increasing "involvement" actually dates back to the Casey years with the creation of CIA's National Collection Division (NCD), which itself was an expansion of the old Domestic Contact Service (DCS). And there was a separate effort at recruiting foreign targets domestically by CIA's Foreign Resources Division (FR). NCD and FRD merged into a new National Resources Division.

Posted by: alexrblackwell | May 19, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Sorta meanders about. On one hand, CIA is recruiting foreigners here in the USA -- targets, while on the other hand, CIA is participating in interrogations of terrorists -- suspects.

Posted by: blasmaic | May 19, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

The CIA is a terrorist organization and organized criminal enterprise that along with the rest of the US Govt's secret police engage in organized criminal activities aimed at American civilians. The US Govt Regime uses its secret police to engage in political persecution of American citizens, to rob American civilians of their private property, to steal private property and trade, technical, industrial property from American citizens much like the Nazis of another Fascist era/regime stole art from their victims. These animals and their secret police institutions are criminals, thugs, and evil.

Posted by: max21c | May 19, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

to max21c

The KGB is a terrorist organization and organized criminal enterprise that along with the rest of the USSR Govt's secret police engage in organized criminal activities aimed at Soviet civilians. The US SR Govt Regime uses its secret police to engage in political persecution of Soviet and Soviet Jews citizens, to rob Soviet civilians of their private property, to steal private property and trade, technical, industrial property from Soviet citizens much like the Nazis of another Fascist era/regime stole art from their victims. These animals and their secret police institutions are criminals, thugs, and evil.

Posted by: Rockvillers | May 19, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

to Rockvillers (the apologist for the CIA and other US Govt Secret Police)

The USSR never claimed to be a free country.

The Washington Regime uses its secret police to commit crimes against American citizens.

Posted by: max21c | May 20, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

"the spy agency’s most explosive growth in recent years has been right here in the USA". And this is news to who, exactly ?

Posted by: jralger | May 20, 2010 6:11 AM | Report abuse

The Washington Regime uses its secret police to commit crimes against American citizens.

...

Some, for sure.

Others, I don't know, it's not a homogeneous organization -- that would reflect poor planning, and most of the people who laid the foundation for American defense weren't stupid -- they kind of know how police states evolve, the frailties of the human psyche.

I've always thought , with regard to the success the American government has had despite the cripples, a real intelligence man must be more in the vein of Norm Chomsky or Robert Oppenheimer or Carl Sagan.

Liberty isn't just an ideal, it's the only workable solution to maintaining American, or really, NATO, strategic dominance -- an inherent paradox to those concrete blondes (Obama) who insist on thinking a police state (torture, press control, murder, harming others surreptitiously, you know, just like a TERRORIST organization -- they've become the USSR, haven't they, those meowers) is the only way to maintain control.

Silly kooks.

Look what happened to the Soviets -- and why did that happen.

Their inability to figure it out kinda points to the fact they aren't intelligent.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | May 20, 2010 7:04 AM | Report abuse

If the FBI is doing it's job why would the CIA need to become involved in domestic cases? This appears to be a situation in which empire building of the CIA is involved.
In my mind, I see Abu Gahrib prisoners being questioned under the direction of the CIA standing naked and wearing hoods. What tactics would this organization use on US citizens?

Posted by: OhMy | May 20, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

What tactics would this organization use on US citizens?

...

ROTFLMAO

You're speaking of people with the IQ of JOhn Yoo and Dick Cheney.

I wonder if there is anyone in America smarter than that crew o' ko0k?

Man -- why DO revolutions happen, why do governments fall, and how did the founding fathers, in their creation of our government, systematically divert and solve this problem?

The first American feat of dazzling engineering, and it's been pretty much that way since...

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | May 20, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse


Alex Blackwell is right: perfectly legal CIA operations in the US by FRD and DCD in their various historical forms go back a half a century or more.

See http://tinyurl.com/38sb8om for a summary.

Posted by: TexLex | May 20, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"Th' CIA" is probably the greatest fun subject for speculation running the whole gamut from closet nut jobs to the pseudo-sort-of-concerned-for-the-public-good do- gooders with absolutely no responsibility for the welfare of anything at all.
...and, every single bit of their stuff is right here advertising the posters' melon-headedness.

Read on, everybody....enjoy....have a spectacular speculative day.

Posted by: CharlesGriffith1 | May 20, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

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