House Select Committee investigating Benghazi — The Unintended Consequences Of President Obama’s Undeclared War on Libya and Central Intelligence Agency Covert Operations in Libya and Syria — Congress Did Nothing To Stop An Imperial President — The Lying and Blame Game On Display — “Disgusting and Reprehensible” — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 559: October 22, 2015 

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Story 1: House Select Committee investigating Benghazi — The Unintended Consequences Of President Obama’s Undeclared War on Libya and Central Intelligence Agency Covert Operations in Libya and Syria — Congress Did Nothing To Stop An Imperial President — The Lying and Blame Game On Display — “Disgusting and Reprehensible” — Videos

benghazi-four obama_hillary_liars_benghazi_treason

Background Information

Obama and Hillary Blame Youtube Video for Benghazi Terrorist Attack as Coffins Arrive

Our Fallen Heroes

Published on Sep 15, 2012

President Obama speaks about the tragic loss of four of our fellow Americans who were serving in our diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. These Americans represented the best of our country; without people like them, we could not sustain our freedoms or security, or provide the leadership that the entire world depends on. During this time of turmoil in many different countries, the President makes it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths, but as Commander in Chief, he will never tolerate efforts to harm our fellow Americans and will ensure that those who attack our people find no escape from justice.

Obama and Press Secretary Carney Blame a Video for the Benghazi Attack

YouTube Video Maker Blamed for Benghazi Attacks Breaks Silence on CNN

White House Covers Up Benghazi Terrorist Attack

13 hours in Benghazi FULL VERSION INTERVIEW 5 parts combined.

ABC News’ Jon Karl hammers Jay Carney over New bombshell Benghazi emails

Benghazi Whistleblower Embarrassed by Obama Admin Placing Blame on a YouTube Video

Benghazi Gate – Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton – Question & Answer

Email Reveals Obama Advisor Urged Susan Rice to Blame Video for Benghazi

Exclusive: Docs Show Weapons Going From Benghazi To Syria – Benghazi Gate – Happening Now

Breaking: Hillary Clinton Knew About Libyan Arms Shipments to Syria in 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew that the US was sending arms from Libya to Syria back in 2011. She denied this during public testimony (under oath) in early 2013 after the Benghazi terrorist attack.

Melvin Goodman on why CIA Director Brennan is dangerous

The show is going to be about the response to CIA director Brennan’s press conference two weeks ago and then an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations last week, an on the record interview with Charlie Rose in New York about his plans to restructure the CIA to try to bring a more integrity to intelligence and make it less politicized. We are going to hear from today Melvin Goodman. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University. He is he is a former CIA analyst. Melvin Goodman is the author of Failure of Intelligence: the Decline and Fall of the CIA and the forthcoming book On the Path to Dissent: A Whistleblower at the CIA. Goodman is the national security columnist for Counterpunch, and he said of CIA director ‘s plan to restructure the CIA and I quote “Simply, it takes the CIA further from Truman’s concept and closer to the ability to politicize intelligence. Operations are part of the policy world and not the intelligence world. The Centers have made it too easy to provide the intelligence that the ‘masters’ desire, whether they are the masters on CIA’s 7th floor or the policy masters. Brennan’s world was the Center for Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism, and many of the intelligence errors and operational errors of the past 15 years have emanated from those centers. Organizationally, it makes no sense — what are the directorates of operations and analysis — they sound as if they are HR experts.”

CNN Benghazi Claims: Report alleges CIA operatives in Libya were sending weapons to Syrian rebels

Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin suspects US Was Running Guns To Syrian Rebels Via Benghazi

Clinton Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary

Even by the standards of arms deals between the United States and Saudi Arabia, this one was enormous. A consortium of American defense contractors led by Boeing would deliver $29 billion worth of advanced fighter jets to the United States’ oil-rich ally in the Middle East…E

Why is Benghazi still a big issue for Hillary Clinton? BBC News

General Petraeus Testifies Before Congress For The First Time Since Resigning As Director Of CIA

Select Committee on Benghazi Holds First Hearing

Former CIA Director and General David Petraeus (Ret.) testified at a hearing on U.S. policy toward the Middle East and combating ISIS* in the region. He talked about his support for military enclaves in Syria and for greater military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and ISIS. He also gave his assessment of the Russian military build-up in Syria and of the Iran nuclear agreement.

At the beginning of his testimony, General Petraeus apologized for what what he called his “serious mistake” of sharing classified information with his biographer, with whom he also had an extramarital affair.

Select Committee on Benghazi Holds Second Hearing

Select Committee on Benghazi Holds Third Hearing

Rep. Gowdy: Either Petraeus Will Come Before Congressional Committee Or He Will Be Subpoenaed

Benghazi Select Committee (Hearing 4)

House Select Committee on Benghazi

Trey Gowdy Opening Statement Benghazi Committee Hearing. 10/22/2015

Rep. Trey Gowdy addresses Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during his opening statement at a hearing Thursday by the House Select Committee on Benghazi. trey gowdy elivers opening statement of benghazi committee hearing with hillary clinton. trey gowdy says ‘We are going to find the #Truth because there is no expiration of it.’ Chairman Trey Gowdy opens #Benghazi hearing: ‘Previous investigations were not thorough. Trey Gowdy to Clinton: Trey Gowdy addressed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally at a high-stakes hearing on Thursday, telling the Democratic presidential candidate that the panel’s investigation is not about her. “Madame Secretary, I understand some people — frankly in both parties — have suggested this investigation is about you,” Gowdy said. “Let me assure you it is not. And let me assure you why it is not. This work is about something much more important than any single person. It is about four U.S. government workers, including our Ambassador, murdered by terrorists on foreign soil. It is about what happened before, during, and after the attacks that killed these four men.” He continued: “It is about what this country owes those who risk their lives to serve it. It is about the fundamental obligation of our government to tell the truth — always — to the American people. Not a single member of this Committee signed up for an investigation into you or your email system. We signed up because we wanted to honor the service and sacrifice of four people sent to a foreign land to represent us – who were killed – and do everything we can to prevent it from happening to others.” Gowdy also presented several key questions he would be asking in his opening statement: Why were there so many requests for more security personnel and equipment, and why were those requests denied in Washington? Why did the State Department compound in Benghazi not even come close to meeting proper security specifications? What policies were we pursuing in Libya that required a physical presence in spite of the escalating violence? Who in Washington was aware of the escalating violence in Libya? What special precautions, if any, were taken on the anniversary of 9-11? What happened in Washington after the first attack and what was the response to that attack? What did the military do or not do? What did our leaders in Washington do or not do and when? Why was the American public given such divergent accounts of what caused these attacks? And why is it so hard to get information from the very government these four men were representing and serving and sacrificing for?

Benghazi panel chair: Investigation not about Hillary Clinton

South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Select Committee investigating Benghazi, tells Hillary Clinton in his opening statement that the probe is not singularly focused on the former secretary of state.

Benghazi hearing: Hillary Clinton’s entire statement

Hillary Clinton gave her opening statement to the House Select Committee investigating the 2012 attacks at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya.

Benghazi Hearing Committee Chairman on Hillary Clinton’s Emails | The New York Times

Trey Gowdy questions Hillary Clinton (Part 1)

Trey Gowdy questions Hillary Clinton (Part 2)

Clinton to panel: 3 things we learned from Benghazi

Trey Gowdy GRILLS Hillary Clinton Benghazi Committee Hearing

Trey Gowdy GRILLS Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi Committee Hearing. trey gowdy went off on hillary clinton about blumenthal and more. watch the explosive exchange. Hillary Clinton coolly hit back at her Republican interrogators on the Benghazi committee during her long-awaited testimony on Thursday, rebuffing claims she was detached as the situation in Libya deteriorated and asserting she did not use email to conduct the “vast majority” of her work as secretary of state.

The Democratic front-runner told the House Selection Committee on Benghazi, which is 18 months into its probe of the 2012 attacks on the consulate in Libya, that the tragedy does not deserve partisan attacks, while insisting the U.S. needs to stay committed to diplomatic engagement.

“Despite all the previous investigations and all the talk about partisan agendas, I’m here to honor those we lost and to do what I can to aid those who serve us still,” Clinton said, speaking slowly and deliberately during her opening statement. “My challenge to you, members of this committee, is the same challenge I put to myself…. Let’s be worthy of the trust the American people bestow on us… they expect us to rise above partisanship. And I hopes it’s what we’ll strive for today and in the future.”

Republicans questioned Clinton about why numerous requests for additional security never made it Clinton’s attention. She said they went to the right place: to personnel who handled security. And when they pressed her on why she kept the compound open or did not give it additional, she retorted that she never received a recommendation to shut down the mission—even after two attacks on the compound.

The hearing kicked off on Thursday with the partisan sniping that has been the hallmark of the committee’s work, with House Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy defended his investigation, assuring Clinton that his probe is not centered on her.

WATCH LIVE: Hillary Clinton testifies before Benghazi Committee

“Madame Secretary, I understand some people — frankly in both parties — have suggested this investigation is about you. Let me assure you it is not,” Gowdy said in his opening statement, adding that it was about the people who were killed.

He also blamed her in part for the fact that the inquiry has dragged on for a year and a half.

The State Department only realized it did not have Clinton’s emails after they requested documents, triggering a lengthy process by which the department had to ask her and her top aides who also sometimes used private email for work purposes to turn them over.

“You had an unusual email arrangement with yourself, which meant the State Department could not produce your emails to us,” Gowdy said. “When you left the State Department you kept those public records to yourself for almost two years….Those decisions were your decisions, not ours… It just took longer to get them and garnered more attention in the process.

Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) blasted the committee as a partisan witch-hunt out to get Clinton, saying Republicans formed the panel because they “did not like the answers they got” in previous probe—“so they set up this select committee with no rules, no deadlines and a unlimited budget.”

“They set the noose because you’re running for president,” Cummings said, raising his voice before calling for the panel to disband. “It is time for Republicans to end this …fishing expedition.”

It only took Cummings a few minutes to highlight a number of embarrassing moments for Gowdy in recent weeks, including comments by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y) and a fired GOP Benghazi investigator who all suggested the panel was either out to hurt Clinton or increasingly focused on investigating her.

REP. Martha Roby vs Hillary Clinton at House Select Committee on Benghazi 10/22/15

Rep Jim Jordan Goes After Hillary ‘Where’d the False Narrative Start It Started With You’

REP Trey Gowdy vs Hillary Clinton Round 2 at House Select Committee on Benghazi 102215

Benghazi Select – Gowdy: this is an investigation, not a prosecution

Bickering among Benghazi panel as Clinton looks on silently

Fireworks erupt between Clinton, Republicans at Benghazi hearing

More Background Information

Weekly Address: Carrying on the Work of

America’s intelligence community, explained

THE RECRUIT – Spy School: Inside the CIA Training Program, 1 of 2

THE RECRUIT – Spy School: Inside the CIA Training Program, 2 of 2

Special Activities Division

Published on Aug 15, 2014

The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) National Clandestine Service (NCS) responsible for covert operations known as “special activities”. Within SAD there are two separate groups, SAD/SOG for tactical paramilitary operations and SAD/PAG for covert political action.
Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations that include the collection of intelligence in hostile countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be overtly associated. As such, members of the unit (called Paramilitary Operations Officers and Specialized Skills Officers) normally do not carry any objects or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government. If they are compromised during a mission, the government of the United States may deny all knowledge.

Inside America’s New Covert Wars: Navy SEALs, Delta Force, Blackwater, Security Contractors (2013)

The Daring Early Years of the CIA: Covert Ops from WW2 to Vietnam (1995)

How has the CIA been used as a secret Military force? William Blum • BRAVE NEW FILMS

The CIA began as a spy agency after World War Two, but soon the CIA was planning and executing covert operations across the globe without proper congressional oversight. From the removal of the democratically elected leaders of Iran and Guatemala to the attempted invasion of Cuba, to the removal of every secular government in the Middle East, the influence of the agency is insidious. But how can a democratic society tolerate such a secret and lethal institution that works against the very values America seeks to uphold around the world?

CIA Covert Operations in Africa: How Does the U.S. Government Make Decisions?

According to the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, a covert operation (also as CoveOps or covert ops) is “an operation that is so planned and executed as to conceal the identity of or permit plausible denial by the sponsor.” It is intended to create a political effect which can have implications in the military, intelligence or law enforcement arenas. Covert operations aim to fulfill their mission objectives without any parties knowing who sponsored or carried out the operation. It is normally financed by government revenues but in this age of super-empowered individuals and corporations they could become a common tool of power beyond traditional war and diplomacy.

Under United States law, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) must lead covert operations unless the president finds that another agency should do so and properly informs the congress. Normally, the CIA is the US Government agency legally allowed to carry out covert action. The CIA’s authority to conduct covert action comes from the National Security Act of 1947. President Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12333 titled in 1984. This order defined covert action as “special activities”, both political and military, that the US Government could legally deny. The CIA was also designated as the sole authority under the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act and in Title 50 of the United States Code Section 413(e). The CIA must have a “Presidential Finding” issued by the President of the United States in order to conduct these activities under the Hughes-Ryan amendment to the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act. These findings are then monitored by the oversight committees in both the US Senate and the House of Representatives. As a result of this framework, the CIA “receives more oversight from the Congress than any other agency in the federal government”. The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, responsible for Covert Action and “Special Activities”. These special activities include covert political influence and paramilitary operations. The division is overseen by the United States Secretary of State.

Special Activities Division – Special Operations Group | SAD SOG

Published on Jun 30, 2015

The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as “special activities”. Within SAD there are two separate groups, SAD/SOG for tactical paramilitary operations and SAD/PAG for covert political action. The Special Activities Division reports directly to the Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service.

Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations that include the collection of intelligence in hostile countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be overtly associated. As such, members of the unit (called Paramilitary Operations Officers and Specialized Skills Officers) normally do not carry any objects or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government. If they are compromised during a mission, the United States government may deny all knowledge.

SOG is generally considered the most secretive special operations force in the United States. The group selects operatives from other tier one special mission units such as Delta Force, DEVGRU and ISA, as well as other United States special operations forces, such as USNSWC, MARSOC, Special Forces, SEALs and 24th STS.

SOG Paramilitary Operations Officers account for a majority of Distinguished Intelligence Cross and Intelligence Star recipients during any given conflict or incident which elicits CIA involvement. An award bestowing either of these citations represents the highest honors awarded within the CIA organization in recognition of distinguished valor and excellence in the line of duty. SAD/SOG operatives also account for the majority of the names displayed on the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters indicating that the agent died while on active duty.

REVEALED: If This Is True, Benghazi Is Even Worse Than We Ever Thought

Insiders Come Forward, Proof of Benghazi Stand Down Order, It was Obama

Obama Lies About Libya – Imperial Presidency

Media Silent About Obama’s Undeclared Wars

Did the Military Intervention in Libya Succeed? (Benjamin Friedman)

Drones are Obama’s weapon of choice for waging illegal and undeclared wars

Special Activities Division

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Seal of the Central Intelligence Agency

The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency‘s (CIA) Directorate of Operations (DO) responsible for covert operations known as “special activities”. Within SAD there are two separate groups, SAD/SOG for tactical paramilitary operations and SAD/PAG for covert political action.[1] The Special Activities Division reports directly to the Deputy Director for the Directorate of Operations.

Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations that include the collection ofintelligence in hostile countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be overtly associated.[2] As such, members of the unit (called Paramilitary Operations Officers and Specialized Skills Officers) normally do not carry any objects or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government.[3] If they are compromised during a mission, the United States government maydeny all knowledge.[4]

SOG is generally considered the most secretive special operations force in the United States. The group selects operatives from other tier one special mission units such as Delta Force, DEVGRU, ISA, and 24th STS, as well as other United States special operations forces, such as USNSWC, MARSOC, Green Berets, SEALs, SWCC, Force Recon, Pararescuemen,Combat Controllers, and Army Rangers.

SOG Paramilitary Operations Officers account for a majority of Distinguished Intelligence Cross and Intelligence Star recipients during any given conflict or incident which elicits CIA involvement. An award bestowing either of these citations represents the highest honors awarded within the CIA organization in recognition of distinguished valor and excellence in the line of duty. SAD/SOG operatives also account for the majority of the names displayed on the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters indicating that the agent died while on active duty.[5]

Political Action Group (PAG) is responsible for covert activities related to political influence, psychological operations and economic warfare. The rapid development of technology has added cyberwarfare to their mission. Tactical units within SAD are also capable of carrying out covert political action while deployed in hostile and austere environments. A large covert operation usually has components that involve many, or all, of these categories, as well as paramilitary operations. Political and Influence covert operations are used to support U.S. foreign policy. Often overt support for one element of an insurgency would be counter-productive due to the impression it would have on the local population. In such cases, covert assistance allows the U.S. to assist without damaging these elements in the process. Many of the other activities (such as propaganda, economic and cyber) support the overall political effort. There have been issues in the past with attempts to influence the US media such as in Operation Mockingbird. However, these activities are now subject to the same oversight as all covert action operations.[6]


SAD provides the President of the United States with an option when overt military and/or diplomatic actions are not viable or politically feasible. SAD can be directly tasked by the President of the United States or the National Security Council at the President’s direction. This is unlike any other U.S. special mission force. However, SAD/SOG has far fewer members than most of the other special missions units, such as the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Delta Force) or Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU).[7][8][9]

As the action arm of the DO, SAD/SOG conducts direct action missions such as raids, ambushes, sabotage, targeted killings[10][11][12] and unconventional warfare(e.g., training and leading guerrilla and military units of other countries in combat). SAD/SOG also conducts special reconnaissance, that can be either military orintelligence driven, but is carried out by Paramilitary Officers (also called Paramilitary Operatives) when in “non-permissive environments“. Paramilitary Operations Officers are also fully trained case officers (i.e., “spies”) and as such conduct clandestine human intelligence (HUMINT) operations throughout the world.[13]SAD/SOG officers are selected from the most elite U.S. military units.[9]

The political action group within SAD conducts the deniable psychological operations, also known as black propaganda, as well as “Covert Influence” to effect political change as an important part of any Administration’s foreign policy.[1] Covert intervention in a foreign election is the most significant form of political action. This could involve financial support for favored candidates, media guidance, technical support for public relations, get-out-the-vote or political organizing efforts, legal expertise, advertising campaigns, assistance with poll-watching, and other means of direct action. Policy decisions could be influenced by assets, such as subversion of officials of the country, to make decisions in their official capacity that are in the furtherance of U.S. policy aims. In addition, mechanisms for forming and developing opinions involve the covert use of propaganda.[14]

Propaganda includes leaflets, newspapers, magazines, books, radio, and television, all of which are geared to convey the U.S. message appropriate to the region. These techniques have expanded to cover the internet as well. They may employ officers to work as journalists, recruit agents of influence, operate media platforms, plant certain stories or information in places it is hoped it will come to public attention, or seek to deny and/or discredit information that is public knowledge. In all such propaganda efforts, “black” operations denote those in which the audience is to be kept ignorant of the source; “white” efforts are those in which the originator openly acknowledges himself; and “gray” operations are those in which the source is partly but not fully acknowledged.[14][15]

Some examples of political action programs were the prevention of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) from winning elections between 1948 and the late 1960s; overthrowing the governments of Iran in 1953, and Guatemala in 1954; arming rebels in Indonesia in 1957; and providing funds and support to the trade unionfederation Solidarity following the imposition of martial law in Poland after 1981.[16]

SAD’s existence became better known as a result of the “Global War on Terror“. Beginning in autumn of 2001, SAD/SOG paramilitary teams arrived in Afghanistanto hunt down al-Qaeda leaders, facilitate the entry of U.S. Army Special Forces and lead the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan against the rulingTaliban. SAD/SOG units also defeated Ansar al-Islam in Iraqi Kurdistan prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003[17][18] and trained, equipped, organized and led theKurdish peshmerga forces to defeat the Iraqi army in northern Iraq.[13][17] Despite being the most covert unit in U.S. Special Operations, numerous books have been published on the exploits of CIA paramilitary officers, including Conboy and Morrison’s Feet to the Fire: CIA Covert Operations in Indonesia,[19] and Warner’sShooting at the Moon: The Story of America’s Clandestine War in Laos.[20] Most experts consider SAD/SOG the premiere force for unconventional warfare (UW), whether that warfare consists of either creating or combating an insurgency in a foreign country.[7][21][22]


There remains some conflict between the National Clandestine Service and the more clandestine parts of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM),[23] such as the Joint Special Operations Command. This is usually confined to the civilian/political heads of the respective Department/Agency. The combination of SAD and USSOCOM units has resulted in some of the most notable successes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to include the locating and killing of Osama bin Laden.[22][24] SAD/SOG has several missions. One of these missions is the recruiting, training, and leading of indigenous forces in combat operations.[22] SAD/SOG and its successors have been used when it was considered desirable to have plausible deniability about U.S. support (this is called a covert operation or “covert action”).[13] Unlike other special missions units, SAD/SOG operatives combine special operations and clandestine intelligence capabilities in one individual.[9] These individuals can operate in any environment (sea, air or ground) with limited to no support.[7]

Covert action

Under U.S. law, the CIA is authorized to collect intelligence, conduct counterintelligence and to conduct covert action by the National Security Act of 1947.[1]President Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12333 titled “United States Intelligence Activities” in 1984. This order defined covert action as “special activities,” both political and military, that the U.S. government would deny, granting such operations exclusively to the CIA. The CIA was also designated as the sole authority under the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act and mirrored in Title 50 of the United States Code Section 413(e).[1][22] The CIA must have a presidential findingissued by the President of the United States in order to conduct these activities under the Hughes-Ryan amendment to the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act.[25]These findings are then monitored by the oversight committees in both the U.S. Senate, called the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and the U.S. House of Representatives, called the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).[26]

The Pentagon commissioned a study to determine whether the CIA or the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) should conduct covert action paramilitary operations. Their study determined that the CIA should maintain this capability and be the “sole government agency conducting covert action.” The DoD found that, even under U.S. law, it does not have the legal authority to conduct covert action, nor the operational agility to carry out these types of missions.[27] The operation in May 2011 that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden was a covert action under the authority of the CIA.[24][28]

Selection and training

SAD/SOG has several hundred officers, mostly former members of special operations forces (SOF) and a majority from theJoint Special Operations Command (JSOC).[29] The CIA has also recruited individuals within the agency.[30] The CIA’s formal position for these individuals is “Paramilitary Operations Officers” and “Specialized Skills Officers.” Paramilitary Operations Officers attend the Clandestine Service Trainee (CST) program, which trains them as clandestine intelligence operatives (known as “Core Collectors” within the Agency). The primary strengths of SAD/SOG Paramilitary Officers are operational agility, adaptability, and deniability. They often operate in small teams, typically made up of six operators (with some operations being carried out by a single officer), all with extensive military special operations expertise and a set of specialized skills that does not exist in any other unit.[9] As fully trained intelligence case officers, Paramilitary Operations Officers possess all the clandestine skills to collect human intelligence—and most importantly—to recruit assets from among the indigenous troops receiving their training. These officers often operate in remote locations behind enemy lines to carry out direct action (including raids and sabotage), counter-intelligence, guerrilla/unconventional warfare, counter-terrorism, and hostage rescue missions, in addition to being able to conduct espionage via HUMINT assets.

There are four principal elements within SAD’s Special Operations Group: the Air Branch, the Maritime Branch, the Ground Branch, and the Armor and Special Programs Branch. The Armor and Special Programs Branch is charged with development, testing, and covert procurement of new personnel and vehicular armor and maintenance of stockpiles of ordnance and weapons systems used by SOG, almost all of which must be obtained from clandestine sources abroad, in order to provide SOG operatives and their foreign trainees with plausible deniability in accordance with U.S. Congressional directives.

Together, SAD/SOG contains a complete combined arms covert military. Paramilitary Operations Officers are the core of each branch and routinely move between the branches to gain expertise in all aspects of SOG.[30] As such, Paramilitary Operations Officers are trained to operate in a multitude of environments. Because these officers are taken from the most highly trained units in the U.S. military and then provided with extensive additional training to become CIA clandestine intelligence officers, many U.S. security experts assess them as the most elite of the U.S. special missions units.[31]

SAD, like most of the CIA, requires a bachelor’s degree to be considered for employment. Many have advanced degrees such as Master’s and law degrees.[32]Many candidates come from notable schools, many from Ivy League institutions and United States Service Academies, but the majority of recruits today come from middle-class backgrounds.[33] SAD officers are trained at Camp Peary, Virginia (also known as “The Farm”) and at privately owned training centers around the United States. They also train its personnel at “The Point” (Harvey Point), a facility outside of Hertford, North Carolina.[34][35] In addition to the eighteen months of training in the Clandestine Service Trainee (CST) Program[36] required to become a clandestine intelligence officer, Paramilitary Operations Officers are trained to a high level of proficiency in the use and tactical employment of an unusually wide degree of modern weaponry, explosive devices and firearms (foreign and domestic), hand to hand combat, high performance/tactical driving (on and off road), apprehension avoidance (including picking handcuffs and escaping from confinement), improvised explosive devices, cyberwarfare, covert channels, Military Free Fall parachuting, combat and commercial SCUBA and closed circuit diving, proficiency in foreign languages, surreptitious entry operations (picking or otherwise bypassing locks), vehicle hot-wiring, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape(SERE), extreme survival and wilderness training, combat EMS medical training, tactical communications, and tracking.


World War II

While the World War II Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was technically a military agency under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in practice it was fairly autonomous of military control and enjoyed direct access to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Major General William Joseph Donovan was the head of the OSS. Donovan was a soldier and Medal of Honor recipient from World War I. He was also a lawyer and former classmate of FDR at Columbia Law School.[37] Like its successor, the CIA, OSS included both human intelligence functions and special operations paramilitary functions. Its Secret Intelligence division was responsible for espionage, while its Jedburgh teams, a joint U.S.-UK-French unit, were forerunners of groups that create guerrilla units, such as the U.S. Army Special Forces and the CIA. OSS’ Operational Groups were larger U.S. units that carried out direct action behind enemy lines. Even during World War II, the idea of intelligence and special operations units not under strict military control was controversial. OSS operated primarily in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) and to some extent in the China-Burma-India Theater, while General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was extremely reluctant to have any OSS personnel within his area of operations.

From 1943 to 1945, the OSS also played a major role in training Kuomintang troops in China and Burma, and recruited other indigenous irregular forces for sabotage as well as guides for Allied forces in Burma fighting the Japanese army. OSS also helped arm, train and supply resistance movements, including Mao Zedong‘s People’s Liberation Army in China and the Viet Minh in French Indochina, in areas occupied by the Axis powers. Other functions of the OSS included the use ofpropaganda, espionage, subversion, and post-war planning.

One of the OSS’ greatest accomplishments during World War II was its penetration of Nazi Germany by OSS operatives. The OSS was responsible for training German and Austrian commandos for missions inside Nazi Germany. Some of these agents included exiled communists and socialist party members, labor activists, anti-Nazi POWs, and German and Jewish refugees. At the height of its influence during World War II, the OSS employed almost 24,000 people.[38]

OSS Paramilitary Officers parachuted into many countries then behind enemy lines, including France, Norway, Greece and The Netherlands. In Crete, OSS paramilitary officers linked up with, equipped and fought alongside Greek resistance forces against the Axis occupation.

OSS was disbanded shortly after World War II, with its intelligence analysis functions moving temporarily into the U.S. Department of State. Espionage and counterintelligence went into military units, while paramilitary and related functions went into an assortment of ‘ad hoc’ groups, such as the Office of Policy Coordination. Between the original creation of the CIA by the National Security Act of 1947 and various mergers and reorganizations through 1952, the wartime OSS functions generally went into CIA. The mission of training and leading guerrillas generally stayed in the United States Army Special Forces, but those missions required to remain covert were folded into the paramilitary arm of the CIA. The direct descendant of the OSS’ Special Operations is the CIA’s Special Activities Division.


After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in October 1950, the CIA inserted SAD paramilitary teams into Tibet to train and lead Tibetan resistance fighters against thePeople’s Liberation Army of China. These teams selected and then trained Tibetan soldiers in the Rocky Mountains of the United States;[39] training occurred atCamp Hale.[40][41] The SAD teams then advised and led these commandos against the Chinese, both from Nepal and India. In addition, SAD Paramilitary Officers were responsible for the Dalai Lama‘s clandestine escape to India, narrowly escaping capture and certain execution by the Chinese government.[39]

According to a book by retired CIA officer John Kenneth Knaus, entitled Orphans Of The Cold War: America And The Tibetan Struggle For Survival, Gyalo Thondup, the older brother of the 14th (and current) Dalai Lama, sent the CIA five Tibetan recruits. These recruits were then trained in paramilitary tactics on the island ofSaipan in the Northern Marianas.[42] Shortly thereafter, the five men were covertly returned to Tibet “to assess and organize the resistance” and selected another 300 Tibetans for training. U.S. assistance to the Tibetan resistance ceased after the 1972 Nixon visit to China, after which the United States and China normalized relations.[43]


The CIA sponsored a variety of activities during the Korean War. These activities included maritime operations behind North Korean lines. Yong Do Island, connected by a rugged isthmus to Pusan, served as the base for those operations. These operations were carried out by well-trained Korean guerrillas. The four principal U.S. advisers responsible for the training and operational planning of those special missions were Dutch Kramer, Tom Curtis, George Atcheson and Joe Pagnella. All of these Paramilitary Operations Officers operated through a CIA front organization called the Joint Advisory Commission, Korea (JACK), headquartered at Tongnae, a village near Pusan, on the peninsula’s southeast coast.[44] These paramilitary teams were responsible for numerous maritime raids and ambushes behind North Korean lines, as well as prisoner of warrescue operations. These were the first maritime unconventional warfare units that trained indigenous forces as surrogates. They also provided a model, along with the other CIA-sponsored ground based paramilitary Korean operations, for theMilitary Assistance Command, Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) activities conducted by the U.S. military and the CIA/SAD in Vietnam.[7][44] In addition, CIA paramilitary ground-based teams worked directly for U.S. military commanders, specifically with the 8th Army, on the “White Tiger” initiative. This initiative included inserting South Korean commandos and CIA Paramilitary Operations Officers prior to the two major amphibious assaults on North Korea, including the landing at Inchon.[7]

Cuba (1961)

Main article: Bay of Pigs Invasion

Map showing the location of the Bay of Pigs

The Bay of Pigs Invasion (known as “La Batalla de Girón”, or “Playa Girón” in Cuba), was an unsuccessful attempt by a U.S.-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba and overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The plan was launched in April 1961, less than three months after John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency of the United States. TheCuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, trained and equipped by Eastern Bloc nations, defeated the exile-combatants in three days.

The sea-borne invasion force landed on April 17, and fighting lasted until April 19, 1961. CIA Paramilitary Operations OfficersGrayston Lynch and William “Rip” Robertson led the first assault on the beaches, and supervised the amphibious landings.[45] Four American aircrew instructors from Alabama Air National Guard were killed while flying attack sorties.[45]Various sources estimate Cuban Army casualties (killed or injured) to be in the thousands (between 2,000 and 5,000).[46] This invasion followed the successful overthrow by the CIA of the Mosaddeq government in Iran in 1953[47] and Arbenz government in Guatemala in 1954,[48] but was a failure both militarily and politically.[49] Deteriorating Cuban-American relations were made worse by the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.


The National Liberation Army of Bolivia (ELN-Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Bolivia) was a communist guerrilla force that operated from the remote Ñancahuazú region against the pro-U.S. Bolivian government. They were joined by Che Guevara in the mid-1960s.[50][51] The ELN was well equipped and scored a number of early successes against the Bolivian army in the difficult terrain of the mountainous Camiri region.[52] In the late 1960s, the CIA deployed teams of SAD Paramilitary Operations Officers to Bolivia to train the Bolivian army in order to counter the ELN.[52] These SAD teams linked up with U.S. Army Special Forces and Bolivian Special Forces to track down and capture Guevara, who was a special prize because of his leading role in the Cuban Revolution.[52] On October 9, 1967, Guevara was executed by Bolivian soldiers on the orders of CIA paramilitary operative Félix Rodríguez shortly after being captured, according to CIA documents.[53]

Vietnam and Laos

South Vietnam, Military Regions, 1967

The original OSS mission in Vietnam under Major Archimedes Patti was to work with Ho Chi Minh in order to prepare his forces to assist the United States and their Allies in fighting the Japanese. After the end of World War II, the US agreed at Potsdam to turn Vietnam back to their previous French rulers and in 1950 the US began providing military aid to the French.[54]

CIA Paramilitary Operations Officers trained and led Hmong tribesmen in Laos and Vietnam, and their actions of these officers were not known for several years. Air America was the air component of the CIA’s paramilitary mission in Southeast Asia and was responsible for all combat, logistics and search and rescue operations in Laos and certain sections of Vietnam.[55] The ethnic minority forces numbered in the tens of thousands and they conducted direct actions mission, led by Paramilitary Operations Officers, against the communist Pathet Lao forces and their North Vietnamese allies.[7]

Elements of SAD were seen in the CIA’s Phoenix Program. One component of the Phoenix Program was involved in the capture and killing of suspected Viet Cong (National Liberation Front – NLF) members.[56] Between 1968 and 1972, the Phoenix Program captured 81,740 National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF or Viet Cong) members, of whom 26,369 were killed. This was a large proportion of U.S. killings between 1969 and 1971. The program was also successful in destroying their infrastructure. By 1970, communist plans repeatedly emphasized attacking the government’s “pacification” program and specifically targeted Phoenix agents. The NLF also imposed quotas. In 1970, for example, communist officials near Da Nang in northern South Vietnam instructed their agents to “kill 400 persons” deemed to be government “tyrant[s]” and to “annihilate” anyone involved with the “pacification” program. Several North Vietnamese officials have made statements about the effectiveness of Phoenix.[57][58]

MAC-V SOG (Studies and Observations Group) (which was originally named the Special Operations Group, but was changed for cover purposes), was created and active during the Vietnam War. While CIA was just one part of MAC-V SOG, it did have operational control of some of the programs. Many of the military members of MAC-V SOG joined the CIA after their military service. The legacy of MAC-V SOG continues within SAD’s Special Operations Group.[59]

Maritime activities against the USSR

In 1973, SAD/SOG and the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology built and deployed the USNS Glomar Explorer (T-AG-193), a large deep-sea salvage ship, on a secret operation. This operation was called Project Azorian (erroneously called Project Jennifer by the press).[60] Her mission was to recover a sunken Sovietsubmarine, K-129, which had been lost in April 1968.[61][62] A mechanical failure caused two-thirds of the submarine to break off during recovery,[60] but SAD recovered two nuclear-tipped torpedoes, cryptographic machines and the bodies of six Soviet submariners.[63] An alternative theory claims that all of K-129 was recovered[64] and that the official account was an “elaborate cover-up”.[65]

Also in the 1970s, the U.S. Navy, the National Security Agency (NSA) and SAD/SOG [66] conducted Operation Ivy Bells and a series of other missions to place wire taps on Soviet underwater communications cables. These operations were covered in detail in the 1998 book Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage.[67] In the 1985 edition of “Studies in Intelligence”, the CIA’s in-house journal that outsiders rarely get to see, the CIA describes the “staggering expense and improbable engineering feats” that culminated in the August 1974 mission.[68]


In 1979, the U.S.-backed Anastasio Somoza Debayle dictatorship in Nicaragua fell to the socialist Sandinistas. Once in power, the Sandinistas disbanded theNicaraguan National Guard, who had committed many human rights abuses, and arrested and executed some of its members. Other former National Guard members helped to form the backbone of the Nicaraguan Counterrevolution or Contra. SAD/SOG paramilitary teams were deployed to train and lead these forces against the Sandinista government. These paramilitary activities were based in Honduras and Costa Rica. Direct military aid by the United States was eventually forbidden by the Boland Amendment of the Defense Appropriations Act of 1983. The Boland Amendment was extended in October 1984 to forbid action by not only the Defense Department, but also to include the Central Intelligence Agency.[69][70]

The Boland Amendment was a compromise because the U.S. Democratic Party did not have enough votes for a comprehensive ban on military aid. It covered only appropriated funds spent by intelligence agencies. Some of Reagan’s national security officials used non-appropriated money of the National Security Council (NSC) to circumvent the Amendment. NSC officials sought to arrange funding by third parties. These efforts resulted in the Iran-Contra Affair of 1987, which concerned Contra funding through the proceeds of arms sales to the Islamic Republic of Iran. No court ever made a determination whether Boland covered the NSC and on the grounds that it was a prohibition rather than a criminal statute, no one was indicted for violating it. Congress later resumed aid to the Contras, totaling over $300 million. The Contra war ended when the Sandinistas were voted out of power by a war-weary populace in 1990.[70][71] Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega was re-elected as President of Nicaragua in 2006 and took office again on January 10, 2007.

El Salvador

CIA personnel were also involved in the Salvadoran civil war.[72] Some allege that the techniques used to interrogate prisoners in El Salvador foreshadowed those later used in Iraq and Afghanistan.[73] In fact, when a similar counter-insurgency program was proposed in Iraq, it was referred to as “the Salvador Option”.[74]


Location of Somalia

SAD sent in teams of Paramilitary Operations Officers into Somalia prior to the U.S. intervention in 1992. On December 23, 1992, Paramilitary Officer Larry Freedman became the first casualty of the conflict in Somalia. Freedman was a former ArmyDelta Force operator who had served in every conflict that the U.S. was involved in, both officially and unofficially, since Vietnam.[75] Freedman was killed while conducting special reconnaissance in advance of the entry of U.S. military forces. His mission was completely voluntary, as it required entry into a very hostile area without any support. Freedman was awarded the Intelligence Star on January 5, 1993 for his “extraordinary heroism”.[76]

SAD/SOG teams were key in working with JSOC and tracking high value targets (HVT), known as “Tier One Personalities”. Their efforts, working under extremely dangerous conditions with little to no support, led to several very successful joint JSOC/CIA operations.[77] In one specific operation, a CIA case officer, Michael Shanklin[78] and codenamed “Condor”, working with a CIA Technical Operations Officer from the Directorate of Science and Technology, managed to get a cane with a beacon in it to Osman Ato, a wealthy businessman, arms importer, and Mohammed Aideed, a money man whose name was right below Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s on the Tier One list.

Once Condor confirmed that Ato was in a vehicle, JSOC‘s Delta Force launched a capture operation.

a Little Bird helicopter dropped out of the sky and a sniper leaned out and fired three shots into the car’s engine block. The car ground to a halt as commandos roped down from hovering Blackhawks [sic], surrounded the car and handcuffed Ato. It was the first known helicopter takedown of suspects in a moving car. The next time Jones saw the magic cane, an hour later, Garrison had it in his hand. “I like this cane,” Jones remembers the general exclaiming, a big grin on his face. “Let’s use this again.” Finally, a tier one personality was in custody.[77]

President Bill Clinton withdrew U.S. forces on May 4, 1994.[79]

In June 2006, the Islamic Courts Union seized control of southern Somalia, including the country’s capital Mogadishu, prompting the Ethiopian government to send in troops to try to protect the transitional government. In December, the Islamic Courts warned Ethiopia they would declare war if Ethiopia did not remove all its troops from Somalia. Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, leader of the Islamic Courts, called for a jihad, or holy war, against Ethiopia and encouraged foreign Muslim fighters to come to Somalia. At that time, the United States accused the group of being controlled by al-Qaeda, but the Islamic Courts denied that charge.[80]

In 2009, PBS reported that al-Qaeda had been training terrorists in Somalia for years. Until December 2006, Somalia’s government had no power outside of the town of Baidoa, 150 miles (240 km) from the capital. The countryside and the capital were run by warlords and militia groups who could be paid to protect terrorist groups.[80]

CIA officers kept close tabs on the country and paid a group of Somali warlords to help hunt down members of al-Qaeda according to the New York Times.[citation needed] Meanwhile, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, issued a message calling for all Muslims to go to Somalia.[80]On January 9, 2007, a U.S. official said that ten militants were killed in one airstrike.[81]

On September 14, 2009, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a senior al-Qaeda leader in East Africa as well as a senior leader in Shabaab, al Qaeda’s surrogate in Somalia, was killed by elements of U.S. Special Operations. According to a witness, at least two AH-6 Little Bird attack helicopters strafed a two-car convoy. Navy SEALs then seized the body of Nabhan and took two other wounded fighters captive.[82][83] JSOC and the CIA had been trying to kill Nabhan for some time including back in January 2007, when an AC-130 Gunship was called in on one attempt. A U.S. intelligence source stated that CIA paramilitary teams are directly embedded with Ethiopian forces in Somalia, allowing for the tactical intelligence to launch these operations.[84] Nabhan was wanted for his involvement in the 1998 United States embassy bombings, as well as leading the cell behind the 2002 Mombasa attacks.[82][85]

From 2010 to 2013, the CIA set up the Somalia National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) by providing training, funding and diplomatic access. In the same time period, the EU and UN has spent millions of dollars for the military training of the Somali National Army (SNA). NISA is considered a professional Somali security force that can be relied upon to neutralize the terrorist threat.[86] This force responded to the complex al-Shabaab attack on the Banadir Regional Courthouse in Mogadishu which killed 25 civilians. NISA’s response however saved 100s and resulted in the death of all the al-Shabaab guerrillas involved.[87]

Significant events during this timeframe included the targeted drone strikes against British al-Qaida operative Bilal el-Berjawi [88] and Moroccan al-Qaida operative Abu Ibrahim.[89] It also included the rescue of U.S. citizen Jessica Buchanan by U.S. Navy SEALs.[90] All likely aided by intelligence collection efforts in Somalia.[91]


Hamid Karzai with Special Forces and CIA Paramilitary in late 2001.

During the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Paramilitary Operations Officers were instrumental in equippingMujaheddin forces against the Soviet Army. Although the CIA in general, and a Texas congressman named Charlie Wilson in particular, have received most of the attention, the key architect of this strategy was Michael G. Vickers. Vickers was a young Paramilitary Operations Officer from SAD/SOG. The CIA’s efforts have been given credit for assisting in ending the Sovietinvolvement in Afghanistan and bringing Taliban to power.[92]

SAD paramilitary teams were active in Afghanistan in the 1990s in clandestine operations to locate and kill or capture Osama Bin Laden. These teams planned several operations, but did not receive the order to execute from President Bill Clintonbecause the available intelligence did not guarantee a successful outcome weighed against the extraordinary risk to the SAD/SOG teams that would execute the mission.[13] These efforts did however build many of the relationships that would prove essential in the 2001 U.S. Invasion of Afghanistan.[13]

On September 26, 2001, members of the Special Activities Division, led by Gary Schroen, were the first U.S. forces inserted into Afghanistan. The Northern Afghanistan Liaison Team entered the country nine days after the 9/11 attack[93][94] and linked up with the Northern Alliance as part of Task Force Dagger.[95]

They provided the Northern Alliance with resources including cash to buy weapons and prepared for the arrival of USSOCOM forces. The plan for the invasion of Afghanistan was developed by the CIA, the first time in United States history that such a large-scale military operation was planned by the CIA.[96] SAD, U.S. Army Special Forces, and the Northern Alliance combined to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan with minimal loss of U.S. lives. They did this without the use of conventional U.S. military ground forces.[13][97][98][99]

The Washington Post stated in an editorial by John Lehman in 2006:

What made the Afghan campaign a landmark in the U.S. Military’s history is that it was prosecuted by Special Operations forces from all the services, along with Navy and Air Force tactical power, operations by the Afghan Northern Alliance and the CIA were equally important and fully integrated. No large Army or Marine force was employed”.[100]

In a 2008 New York Times book review of Horse Soldiers, a book by Doug Stanton about the invasion of Afghanistan, Bruce Barcott wrote:

The valor exhibited by Afghan and American soldiers, fighting to free Afghanistan from a horribly cruel regime, will inspire even the most jaded reader. The stunning victory of the horse soldiers – 350 Special Forces soldiers, 100 C.I.A. officers and 15,000 Northern Alliance fighters routing a Taliban army 50,000 strong – deserves a hallowed place in American military history”.[101]

Small and highly agile paramilitary mobile teams spread out over the countryside to meet with locals and gather information about the Taliban and al-Qa’ida. During that time, one of the teams was approached in a village and asked by a young man for help in retrieving his teenage sister. He explained that a senior Taliban official had taken her as a wife and had sharply restricted the time she could spend with her family. The team gave the man a small hand-held tracking device to pass along to his sister, with instructions for her to activate it when the Taliban leader returned home. The team responded to her emergency signal, capturing the senior Taliban official and rescuing the sister. The siblings’ tearful reunion left the team at a loss for words—a rarity for the normally loud warriors of CIA’s Special Activities Division.[102]

Tora Bora

In December 2001, SAD/SOG and the Army’s Delta Force tracked down Osama bin Laden in the rugged mountains near the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan.[103]Former CIA station chief Gary Berntsen as well as a subsequent Senate investigation claimed that the combined American special operations task force was largely outnumbered by al-Qaeda forces and that they were denied additional US troops by higher command.[104] The task force also requested munitions to block the avenues of egress of bin Laden, but that request was also denied.[105] The team allegedly uncovered evidence in the subsequent site exploration that bin Laden’s ultimate aim was to obtain and detonate a nuclear device in a terrorist attack.[96] According to other press reports, SAD were ineffectual and “Bin Laden and bodyguards walked uncontested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan’s unregulated tribal area.”[106]


In September 2009, the CIA planned on “deploying teams of spies, analysts and paramilitary operatives to Afghanistan, part of a broad intelligence ‘surge’ ordered by President Obama. This will make its station there among the largest in the agency’s history.”[107] This presence is expected to surpass the size of the stations in Iraq and Vietnam at the height of those wars.[107] The station is located at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and is led “by a veteran with an extensive background in paramilitary operations”.[108] The majority of the CIA’s workforce is located among secret bases and military special operations posts throughout the country.[108][109]

Also in 2009, General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, planned to request an increase in teams of CIA operatives, including their elite paramilitary officers, to join with U.S. military special operations forces. This combination worked well in Iraq and is largely credited with the success of that surge.[108][110] There have been basically three options described in the media: McChrystal’s increased counterinsurgency campaign; a counter-terror campaign using special operations raids and drone strikes; and withdrawal. The most successful combination in both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been the linking up of SAD and military special forces to fight alongside highly trained indigenous units. One thing all of these options have in common is a requirement for greater CIA participation.[110]

The End Game

According to the current and former intelligence officials, General McChrystal also had his own preferred candidate for the Chief of Station (COS) job, a good friend and decorated CIA paramilitary officer.[111] The officer had extensive experience in war zones, including two previous tours in Afghanistan with one as the Chief of Station, as well as tours in the Balkans, Baghdad and Yemen. He is well known in CIA lore as “the man who saved Hamid Karzai‘s life when the CIA led the effort to oust the Taliban from power in 2001″. President Karzai is said to be greatly indebted to this officer and was pleased when the officer was named chief of station again. According to interviews with several senior officials, this officer “was uniformly well-liked and admired. A career paramilitary officer, he came to the CIA after several years in an elite Marine unit”.[111][112]

General McChrystal’s strategy included the lash up of special operations forces from the U.S. Military and from SAD/SOG to duplicate the initial success and the defeat of the Taliban in 2001[113] and the success of the “Surge” in Iraq in 2007.[114] This strategy proved highly successful and worked very well in Afghanistan with SAD/SOG and JSOC forces conducting raids nearly every night having “superb results” against the enemy.[115]

In 2001, the CIA’s SAD/SOG began creating what would come to be called Counter-terrorism Pursuit Teams (CTPT).[116][117] These units grew to include over 3,000 operatives by 2010 and have been involved in sustained heavy fighting against the enemy. It is considered the “best Afghan fighting force”.

Located at 7,800 feet (2,400 m) above sea level, Firebase Lilley in Shkin serves as a “nerve center for the covert war”.[117] This covert war includes being a hub for these CTPT operations with Firebase Lilley being just one in a constellation of CIA bases across Afghanistan.[117] These units have not only been highly effective in combat operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, but have also been used to engage with the tribes in areas with no other official government presence.[118]

This covert war also includes a large SOG/CTPT expansion into Pakistan to target senior al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA).[119] CTPT units are the main effort in both the “Counterterrorism plus” and the full “Counterinsurgency” options being discussed by the Obama administration in the December 2010 review.[120] SOG/CTPT are also key to any exit strategy for the U.S. government to leave Afghanistan, while still being able to deny al-Qaeda and other trans-national extremists groups a safehaven both in Afghanistan and in the FATA of Pakistan.[121]

In January 2013, a CIA drone strike killed Mullah Nazir a senior Taliban commander in the South Waziristan area of Pakistan believed responsible for carrying out the insurgent effort against the US military in Afghanistan. Nazir’s death degraded the Taliban.[122]

The U.S. has decided to lean heavily on CIA in general and SAD specifically in their efforts to withdraw from Afghanistan as it did in Iraq.[123] There are plans being considered to have several US Military special operations elements assigned to CIA after the withdrawal.[124]


On November 5, 2002, a missile launched from a CIA-controlled Predator drone killed al-Qaeda members traveling in a remote area in Yemen. SAD/SOG paramilitary teams had been on the ground tracking their movements for months and called in this air strike.[125] One of those in the car was Ali Qaed Senyan al-Harthi, al-Qaeda’s chief operative in Yemen and a suspect in the October 2000 bombing of the destroyer USS Cole. Five other people, believed to be low-level al-Qaeda members, were also killed to include an American named Kamal Derwish.[126][127] Former Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz called it “a very successful tactical operation” and said “such strikes are useful not only in killing terrorists but in forcing al-Qaeda to change its tactics”.[126]

“It’s an important step that has been taken in that it has eliminated another level of experienced leadership from al-Qaeda,” said Vince Cannistraro, former head of counter-terrorism for the CIA and current ABC News consultant. “It will help weaken the organization and make it much less effective.”[128][129] Harithi was on the run, pursued by several security forces who were looking for him and Muhammad Hamdi al-Ahdal, another suspect in the USS Cole bombing case.[130]

In 2009, the Obama administration authorized continued lethal operations in Yemen by the CIA.[131] As a result, the SAD/SOG and JSOC have joined together to aggressively target al-Qaeda operatives in that country, both through leading Yemenese special forces and intelligence driven drone strikes.[131] A major target of these operations is Imam Anwar al-Aulaqi, an American citizen with ties to both Nidal Hassan, the alleged Fort Hood attacker, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas 2009 attempted bomber of Northwest Airline flight 253.[132] Imam al-Aulaki was killed on September 30, 2011 by an air attack carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command.[133]


SAD paramilitary teams entered Iraq before the 2003 invasion. Once on the ground they prepared the battle space for the subsequent arrival of U.S. military forces. SAD teams then combined with U.S. Army special forces (on a team called the Northern Iraq Liaison Element or NILE).[17] This team organized the KurdishPeshmerga for the subsequent U.S. led invasion. This joint team combined in Operation Viking Hammer to defeat Ansar al-Islam, an Islamist group allied to al-Qaeda, which several battle-hardened fighters from Afghanistan had joined after the fall of the Taliban, in a battle for control over the northeast of Iraq – a battle that turned out being one of the “most intense battles of Special Forces since Vietnam”.[134] This battle was for an entire territory that was completely occupied by Ansar al-Islam and was executed prior to the invasion in February 2003. If this battle had not been as successful as it was, there would have been a considerable hostile force in the rear of the U.S./secular Kurdish force in the subsequent assault on the Iraqi army to the south. The U.S. side was represented by paramilitary operations officers from SAD/SOG and the army’s 10th Special Forces Group (10th SFG). 10th SFG soldiers were awarded three Silver Stars and six Bronze Stars with V for valor for this battle alone [135] and several paramilitary officers were awarded the Intelligence Star for valor in combat.[136] This battle was a significant direct attack and victory on a key U.S. opponent. It resulted in the deaths of a substantial number of militants and the uncovering of a crude laboratory that had traces of poisons and information on chemical weapons at Sargat.[17][137] The team found foreign identity cards, visas, and passports on the enemy bodies. They had come from a wide variety of Middle Eastern and north African countries including Yemen, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Tunisia, Morocco, and Iran.[135]Sargat was also the only facility that had traces of chemical weapons discovered in the Iraq war.[18][136][138]

The village of Biyara and Base of Ansar al-Islam 2001–2003

In a 2004 U.S. News & World Report article, “A firefight in the mountains”, the author states:

“Viking Hammer would go down in the annals of Special Forces history—a battle fought on foot, under sustained fire from an enemy lodged in the mountains, and with minimal artillery and air support.”[135]

SAD/SOG teams also conducted high risk special reconnaissance missions behind Iraqi lines to identify senior leadership targets. These missions led to the initial assassination attempts against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his key generals. Although the initial air strike against Hussein was unsuccessful in killing the dictator, it was successful in effectively ending his ability to command and control his forces. Other strikes against key generals were successful and significantly degraded the command’s ability to react to and maneuver against the U.S.-led invasion force.[17][139] SAD operations officers were also successful in convincing key Iraqi army officers to surrender their units once the fighting started and/or not to oppose the invasion force.[18]

NATO member Turkey refused to allow its territory to be used by the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division for the invasion. As a result, the SAD/SOG, U.S. Army special forces joint teams, the Kurdish Peshmerga and the 173d Airborne Brigade were the entire northern force against the Iraqi army during the invasion. Their efforts kept the 13 divisions of the Iraqi Army in place to defend against the Kurds rather allowing them to contest the coalition force coming from the south.[134] This combined U.S. special operations and Kurdish force defeated the Iraqi Army.[17] Four members of the SAD/SOG team received CIA’s rare Intelligence Star for “extraordinary heroism”.[18]

The mission that captured Saddam Hussein was called “Operation Red Dawn“. It was planned and carried out by JSOC’s Delta Force and SAD/SOG teams (together called Task Force 121). The operation eventually included around 600 soldiers from the 1st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division.[140][141] Special operations troops probably numbered around 40. Much of the publicity and credit for the capture went to the 4th Infantry Division soldiers, but CIA and JSOC were the driving force. “Task Force 121 were actually the ones who pulled Saddam out of the hole” said Robert Andrews, former deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict. “They can’t be denied a role anymore.”[140]

CIA paramilitary units continued to team up with the JSOC in Iraq and in 2007 the combination created a lethal force many credit with having a major impact in the success of “the Surge“. They did this by killing or capturing many of the key al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq.[142][143] In a CBS 60 Minutes interview, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward described a new special operations capability that allowed for this success. This capability was developed by the joint teams of CIA and JSOC.[144] Several senior U.S. officials stated that the “joint efforts of JSOC and CIA paramilitary units was the most significant contributor to the defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq”.[142][145]

In May 2007, Marine Major Douglas A. Zembiec was serving in SAD Ground Branch in Iraq when he was killed by small arms fire while leading a raid.[146][147]Reports from fellow paramilitary officers stated that the flash radio report sent was “five wounded and one martyred”[148] Major Zembiec was killed while saving his soldiers, Iraqi soldiers. He was honored with an intelligence star for his valor in combat.[149]

On October 26, 2008, SAD/SOG and JSOC conducted an operation in Syria targeting the “foreign fighter logistics network” bringing al-Qaeda operatives into Iraq (See 2008 Abu Kamal raid).[150] A U.S. source told CBS News that “the leader of the foreign fighters, an al-Qaeda officer, was the target of Sunday’s cross-border raid.” He said the attack was successful, but did not say whether or not the al-Qaeda officer was killed.[151] Fox News later reported that Abu Ghadiya, “al-Qa’ida’s senior coordinator operating in Syria”, was killed in the attack.[152] The New York Times reported that during the raid U.S. forces killed several armed males who “posed a threat”.[153]

In September 2014 with the rise of the Islamic State, the U.S. government began aggressive military operations against them in both Iraq and Syria. SAD Ground Branch was placed in charge of the ground war.[154] This is a testament to SAD being the preeminent force for unconventional warfare and their long-standing relationship with the most effective fighting force in the region, the Kurdish Peshmerga.[155]


SAD/SOG has been very active “on the ground” inside Pakistan targeting al-Qaeda operatives for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Predator strikes and along with USSOCOM elements they have been training Pakistani Special Service Group Commandos.[156] Before leaving office, President George W. Bush authorized SAD’s successful killing of eight senior al-Qaeda operatives via targeted air strikes.[157] Among those killed were the mastermind of a 2006 plot to detonate explosives aboard planes flying across the Atlantic Rashid Rauf and the man thought to have planned the Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing on September 20, 2008 that killed 53 people.[158][159] The CIA Director authorized the continuation of these operations and on January 23, SAD/SOG performed killings of 20 individuals in northwestern Pakistan that were terrorists. Some experts assess that the CIA Director – at that time Leon Panetta – has been more aggressive in conducting paramilitary operations in Pakistan than his predecessor.[160] A Pakistani security official stated that other strikes killed at least 10 insurgents, including five foreign nationals and possibly “a high-value target” such as a senior al-Qaeda or Taliban official.[161] On February 14, the CIA drone killed 27 taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in a missile strike in south Waziristan, a militant stronghold near the Afghan border where al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri were believed to be hiding.[162]

According to the documentary film Drone, by Tonje Schei, since 2002 the U.S. Air Force 17th Reconnaissance Squadronhas been working for the CIA as “customer”, carrying out at least some of the armed missions in Pakistan.[163]

In a National Public Radio (NPR) report dated February 3, 2008, a senior official stated that al-Qaeda has been “decimated” by SAD/SOG’s air and ground operations. This senior U.S. counter-terrorism official goes on to say, “The enemy is really, really struggling. These attacks have produced the broadest, deepest and most rapid reduction in al-Qaida senior leadership that we’ve seen in several years.”[164] President Obama’s CIA Director Leon Panetta stated that SAD/SOG’s efforts in Pakistan have been “the most effective weapon” against senior al-Qaeda leadership.[165][166]

These covert attacks have increased significantly under President Obama, with as many at 50 al-Qaeda militants being killed in the month of May 2009 alone.[167][168][169] In June 2009, sixty Taliban fighters were killed while at a funeral to bury fighters that had been killed in previous CIA attacks.[170] On July 22, 2009, National Public Radio reported that U.S. officials believeSaad bin Laden, a son of Osama bin Laden, was killed by a CIA strike in Pakistan. Saad bin Laden spent years under house arrest in Iran before traveling last year to Pakistan, according to former National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell. It’s believed he was killed sometime in 2009. A senior U.S. counter-terrorism said U.S. intelligence agencies are “80 to 85 percent” certain that Saad bin Laden is dead.[171]

On August 6, 2009, the CIA announced that Baitullah Mehsud was killed by a SAD/SOG drone strike in Pakistan.[172] The New York Times said, “Although President Obama has distanced himself from many of the Bush administration’s counter-terrorism policies, he has embraced and even expanded the C.I.A.’s covert campaign in Pakistan using Predator and Reaper drones”.[172] The biggest loss may be to “Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida”. For the past eight years, al-Qaeda had depended on Mehsud for protection after Mullah Mohammed Omar fled Afghanistan in late 2001. “Mehsud’s death means the tent sheltering Al Qaeda has collapsed,” an Afghan Taliban intelligence officer who had met Mehsud many times told Newsweek. “Without a doubt he was Al Qaeda’s No. 1 guy in Pakistan,” adds Mahmood Shah, a retired Pakistani Army brigadier and a former chief of the Federally Administered Tribal Area, or FATA, Mehsud’s base.[173]

Airstrikes from CIA drones struck targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan on September 8, 2009. Reports stated that seven to ten militants were killed to include one top al-Qaida leaders. He was Mustafa al-Jaziri, an Algerian national described as an “important and effective” leader and senior military commander for al-Qaida. The success of these operations are believed to have caused senior Taliban leaders to significantly alter their operations and cancel key planning meetings.[174][175]

The CIA is also increasing its campaign using Predator missile strikes on al-Qaeda in Pakistan. The number of strikes in 2009 exceeded the 2008 total, according to data compiled by the Long War Journal, which tracks strikes in Pakistan.[108] In December 2009, the New York Times reported that President Obama ordered an expansion of the drone program with senior officials describing the program as “a resounding success, eliminating key terrorists and throwing their operations into disarray”.[176] The article also cites a Pakistani official who stated that about 80 missile attacks in less than two years have killed “more than 400” enemy fighters, a number lower than most estimates but in the same range. His account of collateral damage was strikingly lower than many unofficial counts: “We believe the number of civilian casualties is just over 20, and those were people who were either at the side of major terrorists or were at facilities used by terrorists.”[176]

On December 6, 2009, a senior al-Qaeda operative, Saleh al-Somali, was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan. He was responsible for their operations outside of the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and formed part of the senior leadership. Al-Somali was engaged in plotting terrorist acts around the world and “given his central role, this probably included plotting attacks against the United States and Europe”.[177][178] On December 31, 2009, senior Taliban leader and strong Haqqani ally Haji Omar Khan, brother of Arif Khan, was killed in the strike along with the son of local tribal leader Karim Khan.[179]

In January 2010, al-Qaeda in Pakistan announced that Lashkar al-Zil leader Abdullah Said al Libi was killed in a drone missile strike. Neither al-Qaeda nor the US has revealed the date of the attack that killed Libi.[180] On January 14, 2010, subsequent to the suicide attack at Camp Chapman, the CIA located and killed the senior Taliban leader in Pakistan, Hakimullah Mehsud. Mehsud had claimed responsibility in a video he made with the suicide bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi.[181]

On February 5, 2010, the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and CIA’s SAD/SOG conducted a joint raid and apprehended Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Baradar was the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the beginning of the Afghan War more than eight years ago until that date. He ranked second to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder and was known to be a close associate of Osama bin Laden. Mullah Baradar was interrogated by CIA and ISI officers for several days before news of his capture was released.[182] This capture sent the message that the Taliban leadership is not safe in Afghanistan or Pakistan.[183] “The seizure of the Afghan Taliban’s top military leader in Pakistan represents a turning point in the U.S.-led war against the militants”, U.S. officials and analysts said.[184] Per Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, several raids in Karachi in early February netted dozens of suspected Afghan militants.[184] In other joint raids that occurred around the same time, Afghan officials said that the Taliban “shadow governorsP for two provinces in northern Afghanistan had also been detained. Mullah Abdul Salam, the Taliban’s leader in Kunduz, and Mullah Mir Mohammed of Baghlan were captured in Akora Khattack.[185]

On February 20, Muhammad Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, was one of four people killed in the drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal region in North Waziristan, according to two Pakistani intelligence sources.[186]

On May 31, 2010, the New York Times reported that Mustafa Abu al Yazid (AKA Saeed al Masri), a senior operational leader for Al Qaeda, was killed in an American missile strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas.[187]

From July to December 2010, predator strikes killed 535 suspected militants in the FATA to include Sheikh Fateh Al Misri, Al-Qaeda’s new third in command on September 25.[188] Al Misri was planning a major terrorist attack in Europe by recruiting British Muslims who would then go on a shooting rampage similar to what transpired in Mumbai in November 2008.[189]

Operation Neptune Spear

File:President Obama on Death of Osama bin Laden.ogv

President Barack Obama‘s address(Text)

On May 1, 2011, President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed earlier that day in Abbottabad, Pakistan by “a small team of Americans” acting under his direct orders during a CIA operation under Director Leon Panetta.[24][28][190] The helicopter raid was executed from a CIA forward operating base in Afghanistan by the elements of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group (assigned to the CIA) and CIA paramilitary operatives.[191] [192][193]

The operation in the Bilal military cantonment area in the city of Abbottabad resulted in the acquisition of extensive intelligence on the future attack plans of al-Qaeda.[194][195][196] The body of bin Laden was flown to Afghanistan to be identified and then out to the USS Carl Vinson for a burial at sea.[197] DNA from bin Laden’s body, compared with DNA samples on record from his dead sister, confirmed his identity.

The operation was a result of years of intelligence work that included the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the CIA, the DSS, and the Delta Force‘s, apprehension and interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammad (KSM),[198][199][200] the discovery of the real name of the courier disclosed by KSM, the tracking, via signal intelligence, of the courier to the Abbottobad compound by paramilitary operatives and the establishment of a CIA safe house that provided critical advance intelligence for the operation.[201][202][203][203]

The material discovered in the raid indicated that bin Laden was still in charge of his Al-Qaeda organization and was developing plans and issuing orders at the time of his death. There is considerable controversy over claims that elements of the Pakistani government, particularly the ISI, may have been concealing the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.[204][205][206] Bin Laden’s death has been labeled a “game changer” and a fatal blow to Al-Qaeda, by senior U.S. officials.[207]


In the early 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency and Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service were ordered to overthrow the government of Iran, Prime MinisterMohammed Mosaddeq, and re-install deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.[208] This event was called Operation Ajax.[209][210] The senior CIA officer was Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., the grandson of American president Theodore Roosevelt. The operation utilized all of SAD’s components to include political action, covert influence and paramilitary operations. The paramilitary component included training anti-Communist guerrillas to fight the Tudeh Party if they seized power in the chaos of Operation Ajax.[211] Although a significant tactical/operational success, Operation Ajax is considered very controversial with many critics.[212]

In November 1979, a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American embassy in support of the Iranian Revolution.[213] Operation Eagle Claw was the unsuccessful United States military operation that attempted to rescue the 52 hostages from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran on April 24, 1980. Several SAD/SOG teams infiltrated into Tehran to support this operation.[214]

On March 9, 2007 alleged CIA Agent Robert Levinson was kidnapped from Iran’s Kish Island. On July 7, 2008, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist and author Seymour Hersh wrote an article in the New Yorker stating that the Bush Administration had signed a Presidential Finding authorizing the CIA to begin cross border paramilitary operations from Iraq and Afghanistan into Iran. These operations would be against Quds Force, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, public and private sector strategic targets, and “high-value targets” in the war on terror. Also enrolled to support CIA objectives were the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, known in the West as the M.E.K.,and the Baluchis insurgents. “The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.”[215] Any significant effort against Iran by the Obama Administration would likely come directly from SAD.[216] and in July 2010, Director Panetta chose a former chief of SAD as the new NCS Director.[217]


After the Arab Spring movements overthrew the rulers of Tunisia and Egypt, its neighbours to the west and east respectively, Libya had a major revolt beginning in February 2011.[218][219] In response, the Obama administration sent in SAD paramilitary operatives to assess the situation and gather information on the opposition forces.[220][221] Experts speculated that these teams could be determining the capability of these forces to defeat the Muammar Gaddafi regime and whether Al-Qaeda had a presence in these rebel elements.

U.S. officials had made it clear that no U.S. troops would be “on the ground”, making the use of covert paramilitary operatives the only alternative.[222] During the early phases of the Libyan offensive of U.S. led air strikes, paramilitary operatives assisted in the recovery of a U.S. Air Force pilot who had crashed due to mechanical problems.[223] [224] There was speculation that President Obama issued a covert action finding in March 2011 that authorizes the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and support to the Libyan opposition.[225]


CIA paramilitary teams have been deployed to Syria to report on the uprising, to access the rebel groups, leadership and to potentially train, equip and lead one of those rebel groups against the Bashar al-Assad regime.[226] In early September 2013, President Obama told U.S. Senators that the CIA had trained the first 50-man insurgent element and that they had been inserted into Syria.[227] The deployment of this unit and the supplying of weapons may be the first tangible measure of support since the U.S. stated they would begin providing assistance to the opposition.[228][229]

In October 2013, SAD was tasked with overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. This program was considered too limited to have the desired outcome.[230] However, with the rise of the Islamic State, SAD was given the overall command and control of the ground fight against them. This fight will cross the borders between Iraq and Syria.[154][231]

Worldwide mission

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after his capture

The CIA has always had a Special Activities Division, which secretly carries out special operations mission. However, since September 11, 2001 the US government has relied much more on SAD/SOG because fighting terrorists does not usually involve fighting other armies. Rather, it involves secretly moving in and out of countries like Pakistan, Iran and Somaliawhere the American military is not legally allowed to operate.[232]

If there are missions in these countries that are denied to U.S. military special operations forces, SAD/SOG units are the primary national special missions units to execute those operations.[233]

In the War on Terror, SAD has the lead in the covert war being waged against al Qaeda.[11][234] SAD/SOG paramilitary teams have apprehended many of the senior leaders. These include: Abu Zubaydah,[235] the chief of operations for al-Qaeda;Ramzi bin al-Shibh,[236] the so-called the “20th hijacker”;[237] Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.;[238] Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, alleged to be the mastermind of theUSS Cole bombing and leader of al Qaeda operations in the Persian Gulf prior to his capture in November 2002;[239] Abu Faraj al-Libi, al Qaeda’s “field general” believed to have taken the role of No. 3 in al Qaeda following the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Pakistan;[240] andMullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the number two taliban commander and the highest level taliban commander apprehended in the Afghan War.[241] Prior to the beginning of the “War on Terror”, SAD/SOG located and captured many notable militants and international criminals, including Abimael Guzman and Carlos the Jackal. These were just three of the over 50 caught by SAD/SOG just between 1983 and 1995.[242]

In 2002, the George W. Bush Administration prepared a list of “terrorist leaders” the CIA is authorized to kill in a targeted killing, if capture is impractical and civilian casualties can be kept to an acceptable number. The list includes key al Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden (deceased) and his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as other principal figures from al Qaeda and affiliated groups. This list is called the “high value target list”.[243] The U.S. president is not legally required to approve each name added to the list, nor is the CIA required to obtain presidential approval for specific attacks, although the president is kept well informed about operations.[243]

SAD/SOG teams have been dispatched to the country of Georgia, where dozens of al Qaeda fugitives from Afghanistan are believed to have taken refuge withChechen separatists and thousands of refugees in the Pankisi Gorge. Their efforts have already resulted in 15 Arab militants linked to al Qaeda being captured.[125]

The SAD/SOG teams have also been active in the Philippines, where 1,200 U.S. military advisers helped to train local soldiers in “counter-terrorist operations” against Abu Sayyaf, a radical Islamist group suspected of ties with al Qaeda. Little is known about this U.S. covert action program, but some analysts believe that “the CIA’s paramilitary wing, the Special Activities Division (SAD), has been allowed to pursue terrorist suspects in the Philippines on the basis that its actions will never be acknowledged”.[125]

On July 14, 2009, several newspapers reported that DCIA Leon Panetta was briefed on a CIA program that had not been briefed to the oversight committees in Congress. Panetta cancelled the initiative and reported its existence to Congress and the President. The program consisted of teams of SAD paramilitary officers organized to execute targeted killing operations against al Qaeda operatives around the world in any country. According to the Los Angeles Times, DCIA Panetta “has not ruled out reviving the program”.[11] There is some question as to whether former Vice President Dick Cheney instructed the CIA not to inform Congress.[244]Per senior intelligence officers, this program was an attempt to avoid the civilian casualties that can occur during predator drone strikes using Hellfire missiles.[245][246]

According to many experts, the Obama administration has relied on the CIA and their paramilitary capabilities, even more than they have on U.S. military forces, to maintain the fight against terrorists in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region, as well as places like Yemen, Somalia and North Africa.[247][248] Ronald Kessler states in his book The CIA at War: Inside the Secret War Against Terror, that although paramilitary operations are a strain on resources, they’re winning the war against terrorism.[247][249]

SAD/SOG paramilitary officers executed the clandestine evacuation of U.S. citizens and diplomatic personnel in Somalia, Iraq (during the Persian Gulf War) andLiberia during periods of hostility, as well as the insertion of Paramilitary Operations Officers prior to the entry of U.S. military forces in every conflict since World War II.[250] SAD officers have operated covertly since 1947 in places such as North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Libya, Iraq, El Salvador,Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Pakistan.[251]

Innovations in special operations

The Fulton system in use

The Fulton surface-to-air recovery system (STARS) is a system developed in the early 1950s by CIA paramilitary officers for retrieving persons on the ground from a MC-130E Combat Talon I aircraft. It uses a harness and a self-inflating balloon that carries an attached lift line. An MC-130E engages the line with its V-shaped yoke and the individual is reeled on board.[252]Project COLDFEET was a very successful mission in 1962 in which two military officers parachuted into a remote abandoned Soviet site in the Arctic. The two were subsequently extracted by the Fulton sky hook. The team gathered evidence of advanced research on acoustical systems to detect under-ice US submarines and efforts to develop Arctic anti-submarine warfare techniques.[253]

Sergeant Major (SgtMaj) Billy Waugh was a Special Forces soldier attached to CIA in the 1960s. During his time at MACV-SOG in Vietnam, he developed and conducted the first combat High Altitude-Low Opening (HALO) jump, “In October 1970, my team made a practice Combat Infiltration into the NVA owned War Zone D, in South Vietnam, for reassembly training, etc. This was the first one in a combat zone.”[254] HALO is a method of delivering personnel, equipment, and supplies from a transport aircraft at a high altitude via free-fall parachute insertion. HALO andHAHO (High Altitude-High Opening) are also known as Military Free Fall (MFF). In the HALO technique, the parachutist opens his parachute at a low altitude after free-falling for a period of time to avoid detection by the enemy. Waugh also led the last combat special reconnaissance parachute insertion into enemy territory occupied by communist North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops on June 22, 1971.[255]

Notable paramilitary officers

On October 25, 2003, paramilitary officers Christopher Mueller and William “Chief” Carlson were killed while conducting an operation to kill/capture high level al-Qa’ida leaders near Shkin, Afghanistan. Both these officers were honored with Stars on the CIA Memorial Wall at their Headquarters in Langley, Virginia.[256] “The bravery of these two men cannot be overstated,” Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet told a gathering of several hundred Agency employees and family members. “Chris and Chief put the lives of others ahead of their own. That is heroism defined.” Mueller, a former US Navy SEAL and Carlson, a former Army Special Forces soldier, Delta Force operator, and member of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, died while on this covert operation. Both officers saved the lives of others, including Afghan soldiers, during the engagement with al-Qa’ida forces.[256][257][258] In Oliver North’s book American Heroes in Special Operations, a chapter is devoted to their story.[259]

Notable political action officers

  • Virginia Hall Goillot started as the only female paramilitary officer in the OSS. She shot herself in the leg while hunting in Turkey in 1932, which was then amputated below the knee. She parachuted into France to organize the resistance with her prosthesis strapped to her body. She was awarded theDistinguished Service Cross. She married an OSS officer named Paul Goillot and the two joined the CIA as paramilitary operations officers in SAD. Once aboard, Mrs. Goillot made her mark as a political action officer playing significant roles in the Guatemala and Guyana operations. These operations involved the covert removal of the governments of these two countries, as directed by the President of the United States.[260]
  • E. Howard Hunt (October 9, 1918 – January 23, 2007) was an Ivy league educated Naval officer who joined the CIA in 1949 after serving with the OSS in World War II. Hunt was a political action officer in what came to be called their Special Activities Division.[261] He became station chief in Mexico City in 1950, and supervised William F. Buckley, Jr., (Not to be confused with a famous SAD Paramilitary Officer of the same name) who worked for the CIA in Mexico during the period 1951–1952. Buckley, another SAD political action specialist, only served briefly in the CIA and went on to be considered the father of the modern American conservative movement. Buckley and Hunt remained lifelong friends.[262] Hunt ran Operation PBSUCCESS, which overthrew the government in Guatemala in 1954, was heavily involved in theBay of Pigs Invasion operation, frequently mentioned in the JFK assassination, and was one of the operatives in the Watergate scandal.[263]Hunt was also a well-known author with over 50 books to his credit. These books were published under several alias names and several were made into motion pictures.[264]
  • David Atlee Phillips Perhaps the most famous propaganda officer ever to serve in CIA, Phillips began his career as a journalist and amateur actor in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He joined the Agency in the 1950s and was one of the chief architects of the operation to overthrow Communist president Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. He was later heavily engaged as a principal member of the Bay of Pigs Task Force at Langley, and in subsequent anti-Castro operations throughout the 1960s. He founded the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) after successfully contesting a libel suit against him.

CIA Memorial Wall

Main article: CIA Memorial Wall

The CIA Memorial Wall is located at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It honors CIA employees who died in the line of duty.[265] As of August 6, 2012, there were 103 stars carved into the marble wall,[266] each one representing an officer. A majority of these were paramilitary officers.[265] A black book, called the “Book of Honor”, lies beneath the stars and is encased in an inch-thick plate of glass.[266] Inside this book are stars, arranged by year of death, and the names of 77 employees who died in CIA service alongside them.[265][266] The other names remain secret, even in death.[265]

See also

Declaration of war by the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the declaration of war against Japan on December 8, 1941

A declaration of war is a formal declaration issued by a national government indicating that a state of war exists between that nation and another. The document Declarations of War and Authorizations for the Use of Military Force: Historical Background and Legal Implications gives an extensive listing and summary of statutes which are automatically engaged upon the US declaring war.

For the United States, Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution says “Congress shall have power to … declare War”. However, that passage provides no specific format for what form legislation must have in order to be considered a “declaration of war” nor does the Constitution itself use this term. Many[who?] have postulated “Declaration(s) of War” must contain that phrase as or within the title. Others oppose that reasoning. In the courts, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in Doe v. Bush, said: “[T]he text of the October Resolution itself spells out justifications for a war and frames itself as an ‘authorization’ of such a war.”[1] in effect saying an authorization suffices for declaration and what some may view as a formal Congressional “Declaration of War” was not required by the Constitution.

This article will use the term “formal declaration of war” to mean Congressional legislation that uses the phrase “declaration of war” in the title. Elsewhere, this article will use the terms “authorized by Congress”, “funded by Congress” or “undeclared war” to describe other such conflicts.


The United States has formally declared war against foreign nations five separate times, each upon prior request by the President of the United States. Four of those five declarations came after hostilities had begun.[2] James Madison reported that in the Federal Convention of 1787, the phrase “make war” was changed to “declare war” in order to leave to the Executive the power to repel sudden attacks but not to commence war without the explicit approval of Congress.[3] Debate continues as to the legal extent of the President’s authority in this regard.

After Congress repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in January 1971 and President Richard Nixon continued to wage war in Vietnam, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution (Pub.L. 93–148) over the veto of Nixon in an attempt to rein in some of the president’s claimed powers. The War Powers Resolution proscribes the only power of the president to wage war which is recognized by Congress.

Declarations of war


The table below lists the five wars in which the United States has formally declared war against eleven foreign nations.[4] The only country against which the United States has declared war more than once is Germany, against which the United States has declared war twice (though a case could be made for Hungary as asuccessor state to Austria-Hungary).

In World War II, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Germany and Italy, led respectively by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, declared war on the United States, and the U.S. Congress responded in kind.[5][6]

War Declaration Opponent(s) Date of declaration Votes President Result
Senate House
War of 1812 Declaration of War upon the U.K.  United Kingdom June 18, 1812 19–13 79–49 James Madison Treaty of Ghent(December 24, 1814)
Mexican–American War “An Act providing for the Prosecution of the existing War between the United States and the Republic of Mexico.”[7] Mexico May 13, 1846 40–2 173–14 James K. Polk Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (February 2, 1848)
Spanish–American War Declaration of War upon Spain  Spain April 25, 1898 42–35 310–6 William McKinley Treaty of Paris(December 10, 1898)
World War I Declaration of War upon Germany  Germany April 6, 1917 82–6 373–50 Woodrow Wilson Treaty of Berlin (August 25, 1921)
Declaration of War upon Austria-Hungary[8][9]  Austria-Hungary December 7, 1917 74–0 365–1 1921 U.S.–Austrian Peace Treaty (August 24, 1921), 1921 U.S.-Hungarian Peace Treaty (August 29, 1921)
World War II Declaration of War upon Japan  Japan December 8, 1941 82–0 388–1 Franklin D. Roosevelt V-J Day, Japanese Instrument of Surrender(September 2, 1945),Treaty of San Francisco(September 8, 1951)
Declaration of War upon Germany  Germany December 11, 1941 88–0 393–0 V-E Day, German Instrument of Surrender(May 8, 1945), Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany (September 12, 1990), Treaty of Vienna with Austria (May 15, 1955)
Declaration of War upon Italy  Italy 90–0 399–0 Paris Peace Treaty(February 10, 1947)
Declaration of War upon Bulgaria  Bulgaria June 5, 1942 73–0 357–0
Declaration of War upon Hungary[8]  Hungary 360–0
Declaration of War upon Romania[8]  Romania 361-0

Military engagements authorized by Congress

In other instances, the United States has engaged in extended military combat that was authorized by Congress.

War or conflict Opponent(s) Initial authorization Votes President Result
U.S. Senate U.S. House
Quasi-War France Act Further to Protect the Commerce of the United States
July 9, 1798
18-4 John Adams Treaty of Mortefontaine
First Barbary War Tripoli February 6, 1802[10] Thomas Jefferson War ended 1805
Second Barbary War Algiers May 10, 1815[11] James Madison War ended 1816
Enforcing 1808 slave trade ban; naval squadron sent to African waters to apprehend illegal slave traders Slave traders and pirates “Act in addition to the acts prohibiting the Slave Trade” 1819 James Monroe 1822 first African-American settlement founded in Liberia, 1823 U.S. Navy stops anti-trafficking patrols
Redress for attack on U.S. Navy‘sUSS Water Witch  Paraguay 1858.[12] James Buchanan
Occupation of Veracruz  Mexico H.J.R. 251, 38 Stat. 770
April 22, 1914
337–37 Woodrow Wilson Force withdrawn after six months. However, the Joint Resolution was likely used to authorize the Pancho Villa Expedition. In the Senate, “when word reached the Senate that the invasion had gone forward before the use-of-force resolution had been approved, Republicans reacted angrily” saying it was a violation of the Constitution, but eventually after the action had already started, a resolution was passed after the action to “justify” it since Senators did not think it was a declaration of war.[13][14]
Intervention during the Russian Civil War  Russia 1918 [15] Woodrow Wilson
Lebanon crisis of 1958 Lebanese opposition, led by
Progressive Socialist Party
H.J. Res. 117, Public Law 85-7, Joint Resolution “To promote peace and stability in the Middle East”, March 9, 1957[16] 72–19 355–61 Dwight D. Eisenhower U.S. forces withdrawn, October 25, 1958
Vietnam War Viet Cong
North Vietnam
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, August 7, 1964 88–2 416–0 John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon U.S. forces withdrawn under terms of the Paris Peace Accords signed January 27, 1973
Multinational Force in Lebanon Shia and Druze militias; Syria S.J.R. 159
September 29, 1983
54–46 253–156 Ronald W. Reagan Forces withdrawn in 1984
Persian Gulf War Iraq H.R.J. Res. 77
January 12, 1991.
52–47 250–183 George H.W. Bush The United Nations Security Council drew up terms for the cease-fire, April 3, 1991
War in Afghanistan Afghanistan
S.J. Res. 23
September 14, 2001
98–0 420–1 George W. Bush War ended on December 28, 2014
Iraq War[17] Iraq H.J. Res. 114,
March 3, 2003
77–23 296–133 George W. Bush Ba’athist Iraqi government deposed April 2003. U.S. combat operations ended August 31, 2010. War ended December 15, 2011. Destabilization of Iraq and emergence of ISIL in the region 2011–present.[18]

Military engagements authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolutions and funded by Congress

In many instances, the United States has engaged in extended military engagements that were authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolutions and funded by appropriations from Congress.

Military engagement Opponent(s) Initial authorization President Result
Korean War  North Korea
UNSCR 84, 1950 Harry S. Truman Korean Armistice Agreement,[19] 1953
Multinational Force in Lebanon Shia militias, Druzemiltias, Syria UNSCR 425, 1978UNSCR 426, 1978 Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan U.S. forces withdrew in 1984
Persian Gulf War Iraq UNSCR 678, 1990 George H. W. Bush UNSCR 689, 1991
Bosnian War Republika Srpska UNSCR 770, 1992
UNSCR 776, 1992
UNSCR 836, 1993
Bill Clinton Reflagged as IFOR in 1995, Reflagged as SFORin 1996, Completed in 2004
Second Liberian Civil War Peacekeeping UNSCR 1497, 2003 George W. Bush U.S. forces are withdrawn in 2003 after theUNMIL is established.
Haitian coup d’état UNSCR 1529, 2004UNSCR 1542, 2004 2004
Libyan Civil War Libya UNSCR 1973, 2011 Barack Obama Debellation of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, October 31, 2011

Other undeclared wars

On at least 125 occasions, the President has acted without prior express military authorization from Congress.[20] These include instances in which the United States fought in the Philippine–American War from 1898–1903, in Nicaragua in 1927, as well as the NATO bombing campaign of Yugoslavia in 1999.

The United States’ longest war was fought between approximately 1840 and 1886 against the Apache Nation. During that entire 46-year period, there was never more than 90 days of peace.[citation needed]

The Indian Wars comprise at least 28 conflicts and engagements. These localized conflicts, with Native Americans, began with European colonists coming to North America, long before the establishment of the United States. For the purpose of this discussion, the Indian Wars are defined as conflicts with the United States of America. They begin as one front in the American Revolutionary War in 1775 and had concluded by 1918. The United States Army still maintains a campaign streamer for Pine Ridge 1890–1891 despite opposition from certain Native American groups.[21]

The American Civil War was not an international conflict under the laws of war, because the Confederate States of America was not a government that had been granted full diplomatic recognition as a sovereign nation by other sovereign states.[22][23] The CSA was recognized by the United States government as a belligerent power, a different status of recognition that authorized Confederate warships to visit non-U.S. ports. This recognition of the CSA’s status as a belligerent power did not impose any duty upon the United States to recognize the sovereignty of the Confederacy, and the United States never did so.

The War Powers Resolution

In 1973, following the withdrawal of most American troops from the Vietnam War, a debate emerged about the extent of presidential power in deploying troops without a declaration of war. A compromise in the debate was reached with the War Powers Resolution. This act clearly defined how many soldiers could be deployed by the President of the United States and for how long. It also required formal reports by the President to Congress regarding the status of such deployments, and limited the total amount of time that American forces could be deployed without a formal declaration of war.

Although the constitutionality of the act has never been tested, it is usually followed, most notably during the Grenada Conflict, the Panamanian Conflict, the Somalia Conflict, the Persian Gulf War, and the Iraq War[clarification needed]. The only exception was President Clinton’s use of U.S. troops in the 78-day NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War.[citation needed] In all other cases, the President asserted the constitutional authority to commit troops without the necessity of Congressional approval, but in each case the President received Congressional authorization that satisfied the provisions of the War Powers Act.

On March 21, 2011, a number of lawmakers expressed concern that the decision of President Barack Obama to order the U.S. military to join in attacks of Libyan air defenses and government forces exceeded his constitutional authority because the decision to authorize the attack was made without Congressional permission.[24]

See also


  1. Jump up^ Doe v. Bush, 03-1266, (March 13, 2003)”. FindLaw. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  2. Jump up^ Henderson, Phillip G. (2000). The presidency then and now. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-8476-9739-7.
  3. Jump up^ The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 reported by James Madison : August 17,The Avalon Project, Yale Law School, retrieved Feb 13, 2008
  4. Jump up^ Official Declarations of War by Congress
  5. Jump up^ BBC News, On This Day
  6. Jump up^ Whereas the Government of Germany has formally declared war against the government and the people of the United States of America… the state of war between the United States and the Government of Germany which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared. The War Resolution
  7. Jump up^ United States Congress (May 13, 1846). “An Act providing for the Prosecution of the existing War between the United States and the Republic of Mexico.” (PDF).Government of the United States of America. Government of the United States of America. Retrieved August 10, 2006.
  8. ^ Jump up to:a b c
  9. Jump up^ H.J.Res.169: Declaration of War with Austria-Hungary, WWI, United States Senate
  10. Jump up^ Key Events in the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia, (retrieved on August 10, 2010).
  11. Jump up^ Key Events in the Presidency of James Madison, Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia, (retrieved on August 10, 2010).
  12. Jump up^ Expenses – Paraguay Expedition, House of Representatives, 36th Congress, 1st Session, Mis. Doc. No. 86 (May 11, 1860), p. 142
  13. Jump up^
  14. Jump up^
  15. Jump up^ A History of Russia, 7th Edition, Nichlas V. Riasanovsky & Mark D. Steinberg, Oxford University Press, 2005.
  16. Jump up^
  17. Jump up^
  18. Jump up^ Londoño, Ernesto (August 19, 2010). “Operation Iraqi Freedom ends as last combat soldiers leave Baghdad”. The Washington Post.
  19. Jump up^ s:Korean Armistice Agreement
  20. Jump up^ The President’s Constitutional Authority To Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorists and Nations Supporting Them
  21. Jump up^ Army Continues to Parade Wounded Knee Battle Streamer, National Congress of American Indians.
  22. Jump up^ “Preventing Diplomatic Recognition of the Confederacy, 1861–1865”. U.S. Department of State.
  23. Jump up^ McPherson, James M. (2007). This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War. Oxford University Press US. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-19-531366-6.
  24. Jump up^ Obama Attacked for No Congressional Consent on Libya, New York Times.

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