How will the CIA deal with 'rendition' supervisor?
The CIA is apparently standing by the counterterrorism official who supervised the “extraordinary rendition” and harsh treatment of an innocent man six years ago, even as Spanish prosecutors stir up new interest in the case with their request for the arrest of 13 of her underlings.
The woman, whose identity is being withheld at the CIA’s request, has been promoted twice since the abduction of Khaled el-Masri, a Muslim of Lebanese descent who had become a German citizen in 2003, according to intelligence sources.
Masri was picked up at her urging in 2004, when she was the CIA’s “hard-charging” al-Qaeda unit chief, and bundled off to a secret prison in Afghanistan, according to published accounts in The Washington Post and elsewhere.
“He wasn’t acting like a terrorist.”
The CIA’s Kabul station chief “was incensed” that he’d been handed “an innocent person” and protested to the Counterterrorism Center, Mayer wrote in an account that echoed earlier reporting by The New York Times and others.
“But the CTC officials sent back word that the head of the Al Qaeda Unit wanted Masri held and interrogated. She thought he seemed suspicious.”
“She always did these cases based on her gut,” a CIA counterterrorism veteran told SpyTalk, with disdain. "She'd say, 'this guy's bad, that guy's dirty,' because she had a 'feeling' about them."
Masri was subjected to harsh treatment for the next 149 days, until outraged colleagues who were convinced the woman had the wrong man went to CIA Director George Tenet and got him released. A CIA team dropped him off on a road in Albania.
The woman was promoted inside the CTC, multiple intelligence sources said.
The head of the CTC, a former Baghdad station chief known as Mike, “pushed her along and elevated her,” said the counterterrorism veteran.
A retired senior operations official said that although the woman was only a GS-14 analyst at the time of the Masri operation, her willingness to do the kind of detail work case officers shun -- poring through electronic intercepts and field reports -- "gave her immense power" in the CTC.
"It's a nasty job nobody wants," he said.
“There has been talk lately of sending her overseas, in a down-range management assignment,” said the counterterrorism veteran, who cannot be identified discussing sensitive personnel matters.
The veteran is only one of a half-dozen CIA counterterrorism officials who have told SpyTalk of their disgust with the continued advancement of the woman.
“Nobody’s swinging for [the Masri mistake], because too many heads are in play,” the veteran said. “They’re all saying, ‘If I go down, you go down.’”
"Again," the veteran added, "it's an issue of accountability. No one is ever held accountable."
But one person, who insisted on being identified only as “an intelligence official,” said it was unfair to single out the woman.
"Our country has outstanding counter-terror experts--including this officer--but no one should think that a single individual drives the whole train," he said. "That's not how it works, it's a team effort, and it's foolish to focus exclusively on any one person, for praise or blame."
The intelligence official indicated that the woman's position was secure.
"You're talking about someone whose profound expertise has contributed powerfully to the disruption of terrorist plots and the capture of dangerous extremists in several parts of the world,” he said.
“It's tough, crucial, demanding work, and this individual has, over many years, made major contributions to it."
| May 14, 2010; 4:04 PM ET
Categories: Intelligence, Justice/FBI
Save & Share: Previous: Backchannel chatter: Secrets of the leaks trade
Next: Report advises Africa-based GIs: Mind the nomads
Posted by: beeker25 | May 14, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jralger | May 14, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jkoch2 | May 14, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ashrink | May 14, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bigbrother1 | May 14, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bigbrother1 | May 14, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: axolotl | May 14, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: contradan | May 14, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | May 14, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sunrise2 | May 15, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.