U.S. Special Forces teams sent overseas on secret spying missions have clashed with the CIA and carried out operations in countries that are staunch U.S. allies, prompting a new effort by the agency and the Pentagon to tighten the rules for military units engaged in espionage, according to senior U.S. intelligence and military officials.This is actually not a new story, the LA Times are just re-hashing it as an issue for Bob Gates to deal with. And the "officials say" text I highlighted above is just the start of the big official "downplay" thread that runs through the article.
The spy missions are part of a highly classified program that officials say has better positioned the United States to track terrorist networks and capture or kill enemy operatives in regions such as the Horn of Africa, where weak governments are unable to respond to emerging threats.
But the initiative has also led to several embarrassing incidents for the United States, including a shootout in Paraguay and the exposure of a sensitive intelligence operation in East Africa, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter. And to date, the Special Forces espionage effort has not led to the capture of a significant terrorism suspect.
But the bottom line is this rather amazing fact: the USA has teams of armed, military-trained spies running around the world (including Europe) without the knowledge of anyone other than the local US Ambassador (supposedly), and these people are shooting, killing and kidnapping people. They are barely accountable to anyone. And they are prone to "accidents"!
With that in mind, check out this little story from Iraq:
Plain-clothes Americans have taken a former Iraqi electricity minister, who is a dual U.S. citizen, from Iraqi police custody where he was awaiting trial on corruption charges, Iraqi officials said on Monday.Of course, "plain-clothes Americans" in the Green Zone could be just about anybody, including private contractors (as the article suggests).
The officials spoke variously of "U.S. forces" and men in "American cars" removing him on Sunday from his cell in a police station in the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the Iraqi government and the U.S. and British embassies.
A lot of spooky people have reported to Uncle Donald Rumsfeld over the years, and it's a line of work where loyalties are sometimes stronger than chains of command. Rummy is supposed to be on his way out of town, but knowing the guy's Modus Operandi, and Cheney's continuing hold on power, you have to wonder.
The Iraqi minister was spruing from jail about the same time as, or shortly after, Rumsfeld's "farewell tour" of Baghdad.