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Be on the lookout for people who lack a sense of humor and/or are easily offended. Political correctness kills.
On Wednesday two terrorist gunmen dressed in black with hoods masking their faces, apparently followers of the religion of peace, attacked and killed 12 including 10 employees and contributors of the provocative leftist satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, in their Paris headquarter offices and two police officers. Ten others were wounded, five critically. One of the police officers, Ahmed Merabet, pleaded for mercy as he was shot in the head at point-blank range. Most French police officers are unarmed as are French citizens.
Witnesses said the terrorists brandished and fired AK-47 rifles or “Kalashnikovs’ and shouted in fluent French, “We are from al-Qaida in Yemen.” “The Prophet has been avenged.” And “Allahu akbar” – Arabic for “God is great.”
The terrorists shot and killed Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief and cartoonist Stephane Charbonner, aka Charb, deputy editor, economist and writer Bernard Marist, and cartoonists Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut, aka Cabu, Philippe Honore and Bernard Verlac, aka Tignous, columnist Elsa Cayat, sub-editor Mustapha Qurrad, maintenance man Frederic Boisseau, a visitor Michel Renard, and Charbonnier’s police bodyguard Franck Brinsolaro.
Charlie Hebdo published cartoons and articles satirizing Islam and its Prophet Muhammad as well as other religions, including Christianity and Judaism. The paper also satirizes politicians, feminism, homeland security and nuclear energy. The Charlie Hebdo offices were firebombed in 2011 with Molotov cocktails and destroyed after it had published satirical cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad. A year later, Charbonnier dismissed repeated threats against his life by stating: “I would rather die standing than live kneeling.”
The terrorists gained access to the Charlie Hebdo offices when cartoonist Corrine Rey, aka Coco, returned with her young daughter from kindergarten and was confronted and brutally threatened by the gunmen. They wanted her to enter the security system digi-code on the interphone so they could enter into the newspaper’s offices. Rey entered the code and then hid under a desk with her daughter. Rey saw the gunmen shoot two other cartoonists, Wolinski and Cabu. Rey said the shooting in the offices lasted about five minutes.
A police witness said the terrorists were asking for editor and cartoonist Charbonnier by name and shouting, “Where is Charb? Where is Charb?” The witness said, “They killed him, then sprayed everyone else.”
The terrorist gunmen exited the building and started shooting in the streets, according to witnesses. They shot and killed a police officer who arrived on the scene on a mountain bike. The gunmen fled in a black car. Police and security forces gave chase, but the gunmen abandoned their car when it was in an accident and escaped with a hijacked car.
The French police subsequently identified the two terrorist gunmen as French nationals and brothers Cherif Kouchi, 32 and Said Kouchi, 34. The brothers came back from Syria last summer. The younger brother was arrested in 2005 and sentenced in 2008 to three years in prison with 18 months suspended, for his involvement in a network sending volunteers to fight in Iraq with an al-Qaida affiliate. A third suspect Hamyd Mourad, 18, surrendered to police at Charleville-Meziers late Wednesday evening.
According to news reports, the brothers went to Syria last year where they were sent by al-Qaida to Yemen for terrorist training. Former White House counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clark said, “This looks like a team that was selected, trained probably over the course of a long period of time and sent in with this particular target in mind.” On Friday according to the Associated Press, a member of al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen said the group directed the attack on the French magazine.
Last Friday morning French security forces killed the Kourchi brothers who fired their weapons as they exited from a printing factory north of Paris. A hostage who had been held by the brothers was released unharmed.
National leaders expressed their reaction and support of France and the French people.
President Barack Obama said, “I want to express my deepest sympathies to the people of Paris and the people of France for the terrible terrorist attack that took place earlier today. … The fact that this was an attack on journalists, an attack on our free press also underscores that these terrorists fear freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The values that we share with the French people – a universal belief in freedom of expression is something that can’t be silence by the senseless violence of a few.”
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy said, “This is a direct savage attack on one of the principles of the French Republic we hold the most dear: Freedom of expression.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “Shooting in France is not only an attack on French citizens, but freedoms of press and speech.
British Prime Minister David Cameron in the House of Commons said, “I know this House and this country stands united with the French people in opposition to all forms of terrorism and we stand squarely for free speech and democracy. These people will never take us off these values.”
French President Francois Hollande called for a day of mourning and said, “Our greatest strength is our unity.”
In cities across France, the people are coming out for “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) rallies.
A similar Islamic terrorist attack took place in the United States on Nov. 5, 2009 at Fort Hood, the nation’s largest Army post. U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, M.D., psychiatrist, and practicing Muslim of Palestinian descent, shot and killed 13 people (12 soldiers and one civilian) and wounded 32, mostly uniformed soldiers. A civilian police Sergeant Mark Todd exchanged gunfire with Hasan, who was wounded four times and paralyzed from the waist down. Hasan was subsequently found guilty of 13 counts of premeditated murder in 2013 and was sentenced to death. Hasan has yet to be executed.
In a memorial service for the Fort Hood victims, Obama refused to acknowledge that Islamic terrorism has a role in the shooting and said, “no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts.” The Obama administration instead considered the slaughter as “workplace violence.” This despite the fact that Hasan was yelling “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) and had exchanged emails with the American born imam Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida terrorist leader in Yemen. Obama subsequently authorized in 2011 al-Awlaki’s killing by missiles fired by two Predator drones.
On Sept. 11, 2012, an al-Qaida affiliate, Ansar al-Sharia, attacked and killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and wounded 7 Americans, some seriously. Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice knew this was a well-planned, organized and executed terrorist attack, yet repeatedly mislead and lied to the American people claiming it was a “spontaneous demonstration” caused by an inflammatory YouTube video.
Obama went to the United Nations on Sept. 25, 2012, and said, “A crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world” and “I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. And the answer is enshrined in our laws: Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech.” Later in his remarks, he said, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.”
While Obama at least described the latest incident as a terrorist attack, he refuses to describe it as an Islamic jihadist terrorist attack, which all three events clearly were. The aim of those who practice political correctness is not to tell the truth but to limit and ideally stop the free expression and exchange of ideas and opposing points of view. Political correctness lives in the Obama administration. Political correctness kills. Time to tell the whole truth, not half-truths, Mr. President.
Gunmen Kill At Least 12 In ‘Terrorist Attack’ At French Satirical Newspaper
January 7, 2015 1:30 PM
PARIS (CBS News/CBSDC/AP) — Three masked gunmen stormed the Paris offices of a satirical newspaper Wednesday, killing 12 people, including its editor, before escaping in a car. It was France’s deadliest postwar terrorist attack.
CBS News’ Elaine Cobbe reports that, according to witnesses, two armed and masked men walked into the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and opened fire in the entrance hallway, killing people as they saw them. The gunmen reportedly sought out members of the newspaper’s staff by name during the rampage through the 2nd floor office, which lasted between five and 10 minutes, according to witnesses.
Security forces were hunting for the gunmen who spoke flawless, unaccented French in the military-style noon-time attack on the weekly newspaper, located near Paris’ Bastille monument. The publication’s caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed have frequently drawn condemnation from Muslims.
President Francois Hollande called the slayings “a terrorist attack without a doubt,” and said several other attacks have been thwarted in France “in recent weeks.”
France raised its security alert to the highest level and reinforced protective measures at houses of worship, stores, media offices and transportation. Schools closed across Paris, although thousands of people jammed Republique Square near the site of the shooting to honor the victims.
Top government officials held an emergency meeting and Hollande planned a nationally televised address later Wednesday evening.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which also left four people critically wounded, and was condemned by world leaders as an attack on freedom of expression, but praised by supporters of the militant Islamic State group.
Clad all in black with hoods and carrying machine guns, the attackers forced one of the cartoonists arriving at the office building with her young daughter to open the door with a security code.
The staff was in an editorial meeting and the gunmen headed straight for the paper’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier – widely known by his pen name Charb – killing him and his police bodyguard first, said Christophe Crepin, a police union spokesman. Minutes later, two men strolled out to a black car waiting below, calmly firing on a police officer, with one gunman shooting him in the head as he writhed on the ground, according to video.
Ten journalists and two police office were killed, Crepin said, including one assigned as Charb’s bodyguard and another who had arrived on the scene on a mountain bike. Among the dead were Bernard Maris, an economist who a contributor to the newspaper and was heard regularly on French radio, and Georges Wolinski, a celebrated cartoonist who also worked for Paris Match magazine.
“Hey! We avenged the Prophet Muhammad! We killed Charlie Hebdo,” one of the men shouted in French, according to a video shot from a nearby building and broadcast on French TV. Other videoshowed two gunmen in black at a crossroads who appeared to fire down one of the streets. A cry of “Allahu akbar!” – Arabic for “God is great”- could be heard among the gunshots.
The video showed the killers moving deliberately and calmly. One even bent over to toss a fallen shoe back into the small black car before it sped off. The car was later found abandoned in northern Paris, police said.
Luc Poignant of the SBP police union said the attackers switched to another vehicle that had been stolen.
A reporter for Britain’s Telegraph newspaper in Paris told Sky News that the first two officers to arrive, who were apparently unarmed, fled after seeing gunmen armed with automatic weapons and possibly a grenade launcher.
Corinne Rey, the cartoonist who said she was forced to let the gunmen in, said the men spoke fluent French and claimed to be from al Qaeda. In an interview with the newspaper l’Humanite, she said the entire shooting lasted perhaps five minutes.
The Guardian reports a witness in the office building said one of the gunman asked where Charlie Hebdo was located.
“Then someone opened the door to our office and asked where Charlie Hebdo was. He had a rifle. We backed away. Afterwards he left, we heard gunfire. We went to the windows, there were two men running with guns, speaking in bad French … They were shouting outside, and shooting again. Afterwards I saw someone leaving the building with his hands covered in blood,” the unnamed witness said, according to The Guardian.
The security analyst group Stratfor said the gunmen appeared to be well-trained, “from the way they handled their weapons, moved and shot. These attackers conducted a successful attack, using what they knew, instead of attempting to conduct an attack beyond their capability, failing as a result.”
Both al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have repeatedly threatened to attack France. Just minutes before the attack, Charlie Hebdo had tweeted a satirical cartoon of the Islamic State’s leader giving New Year’s wishes:
Charlie Hebdo has been repeatedly threatened for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and other sketches. Its offices were firebombed in 2011 after an issue featured a caricature of the prophet on its cover. Nearly a year later, the publication again published Muhammad caricatures, drawing denunciations from the Muslim world because Islam prohibits the publication of drawings of its founder.
Another cartoon, released in this week’s issue and entitled “Still No Attacks in France,” had a caricature of a jihadi fighter saying “Just wait – we have until the end of January to present our New Year’s wishes.” Charb was the artist.
“This is the darkest day of the history of the French press,” said Christophe DeLoire of Reporters Without Borders.
The last tweet from the magazine came less than an hour before the reports of a shooting. It was a picture depicting Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, with a message wishing him, “Best wishes.”
“The motive here is absolutely clear; trying to shut down a media organization that lampooned the Prophet Mohammad,” CBS News security consultant and former CIA deputy chief Mike Morell told “CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose. “What we have to figure out here is the perpetrators and whether they were self-radicalized or whether they were individuals who fought in Syria and Iraq and came back, or whether they were actually directed by ISIS or al Qaeda.”
Morrell added a warning that law enforcement and intelligence agencies would need to “worry about copycat attacks, not only in France but in the rest of the world, and I would even say in the broader world to include the United States.”
The New York Police Department released a statement, saying it had a detective stationed in Paris and “will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
“There are standing contingency plans in place to adjust police deployments based on any unfolding situation in the world. That includes how we use and where we position and deploy specialized police resources, said Deputy Commissioner Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller.
In the winter 2014 edition of the al Qaeda magazine Inspire, a so-called chief describing where to use a new bomb said: “Of course the first priority and the main focus should be on America, then the United Kingdom, then France and so on.”
In 2013, the magazine specifically threatened Charb and included an article titled “France the Imbecile Invader.”
An al Qaeda tweeter who communicated Wednesday with AP said the group is not claiming responsibility, but called the attack “inspiring.”
CBS News national security analyst Juan Zarate also noted on “CBS This Morning” that “France has been dealing with the problem of French foreign fighters flowing into Syria and Iraq and coming back into France.”
He says it may be more likely, however, that the attack on Charlie Hebdo was carried out by “self-radicalized individuals, individuals who take their prompt from the propaganda of these groups and took it upon themselves, perhaps, to attack.”
Zarate pointed to the attack by young French Muslim man Mohamed Merah, who shot up a Jewish community center in the country’s south in March 2012, as an example of this sort of violence.
“France is not new to this, and the perpetrators could be a wide spectrum of individuals who were inspired to attack fellow French citizens,” said Zarate.
President Obama said he has reached out to Hollande to express his sympathies for the attack in Paris Wednesday. In remarks before a meeting with Secretary Kerry and Vice President Biden, Obama called the shootings “cowardly and evil.”
“The fact that this was an attack on journalists, an attack on our free press, also underscores the degree to which these terrorists fear freedom of speech, freedom of the press,” Obama said.
He continued, “A universal belief in freedom of expression is something that can’t be silenced because of the senseless violence of the few.” The president promised the U.S. would stand with France and said that U.S. counterterrorism was providing assistance to the French to help hunt for those responsible for the shooting.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said his country stood united with France,
“We stand squarely for free speech and democracy. These people will never be able to take us off those values,” Cameron said in the House of Commons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also condemned the attack as a “cynical crime,” and pledged cooperation in fighting terrorism,
Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the Union of French mosques, condemned the “hateful act,” and urged Muslims and Christians “to intensify their actions to give more strength to this dialogue, to make a united front against extremism.”
On social media, supporters of militant Islamic groups praised the move. One self-described Tunisian loyalist of al Qaeda and the Islamic State group tweeted that the attack was well-deserved revenge against France.
Elsewhere on the Internet, the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie was trending as people expressed support for weekly and for journalistic freedom.
Standing together in defiance, thousands gather across France to show support for 12 people slaughtered by ‘Al Qaeda’ gunmen in attack on Paris magazine as manhunt for terrorists continues
Masked gunmen storm Paris headquarters with AK-47s shouting ‘Allahu akbar!’ and ‘the Prophet has been avenged’
Stalked building asking for people’s names before killing the editor, three cartoonists and the deputy chief editor
Editor Stephane Charbonnier had famously shrugged off threats, saying: ‘I’d rather die standing than live kneeling’
Horrific footage shows a police officer begging for his life before being shot in the head at point-blank range
Cartoonist Corrine Rey told how she cowered with her young daughter as she watched two colleagues gunned down
Killers fled in stolen car across eastern Paris after a ‘mass shoot-out’ with police officers and remain on the loose
Militants believed to be from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula which was behind plane bomb plots in U.S. and UK
Newspaper had earlier posted a picture of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on its Twitter account
Publication’s offices were firebombed in 2011 for publishing satirical cartoon of Prophet Mohammed
White House had previously criticised Charlie Hebdo in 2012 for publishing its religiously sensitive cartoons
By SIMON TOMLINSON and PETER ALLEN and JAY AKBAR and CHRIS PLEASANCE FOR MAILONLINE
Thousands of people gathered across Europe tonight to show their support to an anti-Islamist newspaper, after its offices in Paris were targeted today by suspected Al Qaeda militants who massacred 12 people.
Among those slaughtered was a police officer as he begged for mercy.
Masked attackers brandishing Kalashnikovs burst into the Charlie Hebdo headquarters, opening fire on staff after seeking out journalists by name in France’s deadliest post-war terrorist attack.
Clad all in black with hoods and speaking flawless French, the militants forced one of the cartoonists – who was at the office with her young daughter – to open the door.
Witnesses said the gunmen were heard shouting ‘we are from the Al Qaeda in Yemen’, ‘the Prophet has been avenged’ and ‘Allahu akbar!’ – Arabic for ‘God is great’ – as they stalked the building.
They headed straight for the paper’s editor and cartoonist, Stephane Charbonnier, killing him and his police bodyguard, who had been recruited to protect him after extremists firebombed the offices in 2011 over a satirical cartoon about the Prophet Mohammed.
A year later, Mr Charbonnier famously dismissed threats against his life, declaring: ‘I would rather die standing than live kneeling.’
The militants also killed three other renowned cartoonists – men who had regularly satirised Islam – and the newspaper’s deputy chief editor.
Despite a shoot-out with armed officers, the gunmen escaped in a hijacked car and remain on the loose this evening, leaving the French capital in virtual lockdown as police and soldiers flooded the streets to join the search.
President Barack Obama offered U.S. help in pursuing the gunmen, saying they had attacked freedom of expression.
But it also emerged that the White House had previously criticised Charlie Hebdo in 2012 over its Prophet Mohammed cartoon, saying the images would be ‘deeply offensive to many and have the potential to be inflammatory.’
Meanwhile, horrific footage emerged showing an injured police officer slumped on the pavement as two gunmen approached him outside the office minutes later.
In an apparent desperate plea for his life, the officer is seen slowly raising his hand towards one of the attackers, who responds by callously shooting him in the head at point-blank range.
Scroll down for videos and audio
Demonstration: Protesters at the Place de la Republique in Paris tonight, following an attack by gunmen on the offices of Charlie Hebdo
Elsewhere: People gather at the Place Royale in Nantes to show their solidarity for the victims of the attack on the offices of the satirical weekly
Brutal execution: A police officer pleads for mercy on the pavement in Paris before being shot in the head by masked gunmen during an attack on the headquarters of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, a notoriously anti-Islamic publication
Gunned down in cold blood: Horrific footage shows the injured police officer slumped on the pavement as two of the gunmen approach. In a desperate plea for his life, the officer slowly raises his hand towards one of the attackers, who callously shoots him at point-blank range
‘Massacre’: The gunmen are seen brandishing Kalashnikovs as they move in on the injured police officer from their vehicle outside the office
Emergency: Police officers and firefighters gather in front of the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris today after gunmen stormed the building
Critical: Firefighters carry an injured man on a stretcher in front of the offices of French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo after the shooting
Terrifying video shows trained terrorists gunning down police
Despite a fierce firefight with police, the men were able to get away in a hijacked car, and, within an hour of the atrocity, appeared to have disappeared without trace.
France raised its security alert to the highest level and reinforced protective measures at houses of worship, stores, media offices and transportation.
President Francois Hollande described the bloodbath as a ‘barbaric attack against France and against journalists’ and vowed to hunt down those responsible.
Jacques Myard, French MP with opposition party UMP, said: ‘We knew something would happen. The (security) services used to say to us it’s not if but when and where. We know that we are at war. The Western nations – like Britain, France, Germany – we are at war.’
The Queen today sent her ‘sincere condolences to the families of those who have been killed’ in the attack, while Prime Minister David Cameron described the murders as ‘sickening’.
Social media users have responded to the Charlie Hebdo massacre with an outpouring of solidarity using the hashtag #jesuischarlie which is trending on Twitter.
By 4.15pm, nearly five hours after the attack, it had already been tweeted more than 250,000 times, according to one social analytics website.
Thousands of people also jammed Republique Square near the site of the shooting to honor the victims, holding aloft pens and papers reading ‘Je suis Charlie’ – ‘I am Charlie.’
Guy Verhofstadt, the President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe tweeted: ‘A tragic day for the freedom of speech #jesuischarlie.’
Marches have also been organised through Paris and London in support of journalistic freedom.
As well as the AK47 assault rifles, there were also reports of a rocket-propelled grenade being used in the attack, which took place during the publication’s weekly editorial meeting at around 12pm (11pm GMT), meaning all the journalists would have been present.
A young mother and cartoonist who survived the massacre told how she had let the suspected Al Qaeda killers into the office.
Corrine Rey said she had returned from picking up her young daughter from a kindergarten when she was confronted by two heavily armed men wearing balaclavas.
‘I had gone to pick up my daughter at day care, arriving in front of the building, where two masked and armed men brutally threatened us,’ said Ms Rey, who draws under the name ‘Coco’.
‘They said they wanted to go up to the offices, so I tapped in the code,’ said Ms Rey, referring to the digi-code security system on the interphone.
Ms Rey and her daughter hid under a desk, from where they saw two other cartoonists being executed. ‘They shot Wolinski and Cabu,’ she said. ‘It lasted five minutes. I had taken refuge under a desk.’
Terrifying sounds of gunshots from rooftop above Paris offices
Faces of the victims: Among the journalists killed were (l to r) Charlie Hebdo’s deputy chief editor Bernard Maris and cartoonists Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut, aka Cabu, Stephane Charbonnier, who is also editor-in-chief, and Bernard Verlhac, also known as Tignous
At large: The gunmen are seen near the offices of the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo before fleeing in a car. They remain on the loose
Forensic experts examine the car believed to have been used as the escape vehicle by gunmen who attacked the Charlie Hebdo office
A truck tows the car apprently used by armed gunmen who stormed the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people
A police photographer (partially hidden) works with investigators as they examine the impacts from machine gun fire on a police vehicle
Ms Rey said the men ‘spoke French perfectly’ and ‘claimed they were ‘Al Qaeda terrorists’.
Gunmen reportedly told another witness: ‘You say to the media, it was Al Qaeda in Yemen.’
A police source told the Liberation newspaper the gunmen were asking for the Mr Charbonnier by name, shouting: ‘Where is Charb? Where is Charb?’
The source added: ‘They killed him then sprayed everyone else.’
Mr Charbonnier was included in a 2013 Wanted Dead or Alive for Crimes Against Islam article published by Inspire, the terrorist propaganda magazine published by Al Qaeda.
The latest tweet published by the newspaper’s official Twitter account earlier in the day featured a cartoon of Abu Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, who wishes everyone ‘good health’.
Cartoonists Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski were all also reported dead.
Radio France chief executive Mathieu Gilet later announced on Twitter that a contributor, Bernard Maris, was another of the victims.
Meanwhile, there were reports of a car explosion outside a synagogue in Sarcelles, a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, just hours after the Charlie Hebdo attack.
The blast, which happened at around 1.30pm GMT, is not thought to be connected to the massacre, according to Paris Metro which quoted the mayor of Sarcelles.
Florence Pouvil, a salesperson at Lunas France on Rue Nicolas Appert, opposite the Charlie Hebdo offices, told MailOnline: ‘I saw two people with big guns, like Kalashnikovs outside our office and then we heard firing. We were very confused.’
‘There were two guys who came out of the building and shot everywhere. We hid on the floor, we were terrified.
‘They came from the building opposite with big guns. It has a bunch of different companies inside. Some of our co-workers work there so we were frightened for them.
‘They weren’t just firing inside the Charlie Hebdo offices. They were firing in the street too.
‘We feared for our lives so we hid under our desks so they wouldn’t see us. Both men were dressed in black from head to toe and their faces were covered so I didn’t see them.
‘They were wearing military clothes, it wasn’t common clothing, like they were soldiers.’
According to the New York Times, one journalist at the Charlie Hebdo office, who asked not to be named, texted a friend after the shooting to say: ‘I’m alive. There is death all around me. Yes, I am there. The jihadists spared me.’
A man is carried into an ambulance. Ten people were reportedly in wounded, four critically, in the attack by suspected Al Qaeda militants
Life-threatening: An injured person is evacuated outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s office
Several people were left critically wounded when terrorists carried out a ‘military-style’ attack on the newspaper office
Shell-shocked: A woman cries outside the office. Witnesses reported hearing loud gunfire and at least one explosion during the attack
Trail of destruction: Police inspect the damage after a collision between police cars at the scene during a firefight with Islamic militants
ARE PARIS GUNMEN FROM YEMENI AL QAEDA CELL BEHIND PLANE BOMB PLOTS IN THE U.S. AND BRITAIN?
The gunmen being hunted by police over the Charlie Hebdo attack are believed to be from militant group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The group was established by Yusef al-Ayeri in 2003 in Saudi Arabia, but was forced to flee to Yemen after a series of attacks drove them back.
Yemen’s weak government allowed the group to rally and gain members, though they are only thought to have around 400 troops today.
While their attacks initially focused on targets in the Middle East, such as an attempted suicide attack on Saudi Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, they quickly spread to Western targets.
On Christmas Day in 2009, they were implicated in the underwear bomb plot after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was discovered on a Detroit-bound plane trying to detonate liquid explosives in his underpants.
The following year AQAP also took responsibility for a plot to blow up two devices hidden inside printer cartridges loaded on to cargo planes travelling from Yemen to the United States.
One device was discovered during a stopover at East Midlands Airport in Britain, while another was uncovered in Dubai.
According to Stanford University the group is currently lead by Yemen-born Nasser al-Wuhayshi, who is an apprentice of Osama Bin Laden and was imprisoned for a time in Yemen, but escaped in 2006 along with 22 others.
The group has a global jihadist agenda. Like ISIS, they aim to create a single Arab caliphate, covering Pakistan Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and the Levant – the area encompassing Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Israel.
If today’s attack is confirmed as coming from AQAP, it will be the first time the group has used lone-wolf style tactics, in which gunmen act alone or in small groups to attack targets.
Officers were involved in a gunfight with the men, who escaped in a hijacked car and sped away from the office towards east Paris
On red alert: After the first shots rang out, it is thought that three policemen on bicycles were the first to respond to the atrocity
Benoit Bringer, a journalist with Agence Premiere Ligne, told the iTele network he saw several masked men armed with machine guns
Carnage: A police official, Luc Poignant, said he was aware of one journalist dead and several injured, including three police officers
Terror: In footage filmed from a rooftop, people are seen running for cover as the gunmen rampage through the building
A picture posted on Twitter appearing to show people taking refuge on the roof of the Charlie Hebdo office
Targeted: A picture posted on Twitter reportedly showing bullets in one of the windows of the Charlie Hebdo offices
Harrowing Instagram video captures audio of gunfire in Paris
Another witness, Gilles Boulanger, who works in the same building, told Itele: ‘A neighbour called to warn me that there were armed men in the building and that we had to shut all the doors.
‘And several minutes later, there were several shots heard in the building from automatic weapons firing in all directions. So then we looked out of the window and saw the shooting was on Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, with the police. It was really upsetting. You’d think it was a war zone.’
French journalist, Stefan De Vries, told Sky News: ‘There was protection at the door but they killed the police officers, they executed them and they started shooting in the offices.’
An unnamed eyewitness told the BBC World Service: ‘When I arrived at the scene it was quite disturbing as you can imagine. There were several corpses on the floor.
‘We saw the number of casualties was very high, so we just tried to help as we could – there were a lot of people down on the floor and there was blood everywhere.
‘I’m very traumatised by this attack and everything and now we’re in psychological hell where we’re being attended to by professionals.’
Benoit Bringer, a journalist at the scene who works next door, took refuge on the roof of the building, which is in the 11th arrondissement of Paris.
He said: ‘There were very many people in the building. We evacuated via the roof just next to the office. After around ten minutes we saw two heavily armed, masked men in the street’.
Another witness said: ‘There was a loud gunfire and at least one explosion. When police arrived there was a mass shoot-out. The men got away by car, stealing a car.’
A police official, Luc Poignant, said: ‘It’s carnage.’
After the shooting, hundreds of comments were posted on the Charlie Hebdo Twitter page, with one user, David Rault, writing: ‘A sad day for freedom of expression.’
Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief Gerard Biard escaped the massacre because he was in London.
He told France Inter: ‘I am shocked that people can have attacked a newspaper in France, a secular republic. I don’t understand it.
‘I don’t understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war.’
France reinforced security at houses of worship, stores, media offices and transport after masked gunmen stormed the Charlie Hebdo offices
Mr Biard said he did not believe the attack was linked to the newspaper’s latest front page, which featured novelist Michel Houellebecq, who has previously sparked controversy with comments about Islam.
And he said the newspaper had not received threats of violence: ‘Not to my knowledge, and I don’t think anyone had received them as individuals, because they would have talked about it. There was no particular tension at the moment.’
A visibly shocked French President François Hollande, speaking live near the scene of the shooting, said: ‘France is today in shock, in front of a terrorist attack.
‘This newspaper was threatened several rimes in the past and we need to show we are a united country.
‘We have to be firm, and we have to be stand strong with the international community in the coming days and weeks.
‘We are at a very difficult moment following several terrorist attacks. We are threated because we are a country of freedom
‘We will punish the attackers. We will look for the people responsible.’
Defiant: Stephane Charbonnier, known by his pen name Charb, was editor of Charlie Hebdo, and gunned down by men with assault weapons
Mr Charbonnier was named as one of nine men the extreme Islamist group were targetting (pictured centre right). Their photographs were printed alongside the caption ‘a bullet a day keeps the infidel away’
Tragic: Cartoonist Georges Wolinski was named by officials as one of those shot dead at the offices of Charlie Hebdo
Lead cartoonist Jean ‘Cabu’ Cabut (left) was among the 12 massacred by terrorists in Paris today, along with Bernard ‘Tignous’ Verlhac (right)
Radio France chief executive Mathieu Gilet announced on Twitter that a contributor, Bernard Maris (above right) was another of the victims
Committee to Protect Journalists reacts to Paris attack
The Queen today sent her ‘sincere condolences to the families of those who have been killed’ in the attack.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron described the murders as ‘sickening’.
He added: ‘We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press.’
The British Foreign Office immediately updated is advice for travellers heading to Pairs, warning: ‘There is a high threat from terrorism.’
It added: ‘If you’re in Paris or the Ile de France area take extra care and follow advice of French authorities.’
Luce Lapin and Laurent Leger, who have both worked at Charlie Hebdo, were using Twitter hours before the attack, with the most recent tweet posted by Lapin praising cartoonist Cabu.
It read: ‘Cabu, a great man! And honest, he doesn’t eat foie gras.’
While Leger’s made a political point about taxes.
It said: ‘Macron [French ministry of economy] wants more billionaires in France, the same that use tricks for not paying ISF [solidarity tax on wealth].’
Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the Union of French mosques, condemned the ‘hateful act,’ and urged Muslims and Christians ‘to intensify their actions to give more strength to this dialogue to make a united front against extremism’.
David Cameron condemns barbaric gun attack in Paris
Location: Officers were involved in a gunfight with the men, who escaped in a hijacked car and sped away from the office towards east Paris
‘100 LASHES IF YOU DON’T DIE OF LAUGHTER’: HOW CHARLIE HEBDO HAS BECOME A BYWORD FOR ANTI-ISLAMISM
Charlie Hebdo has become a byword for offensive statements in France after taking several highly provocative swipes at Islam.
The newspaper once named Prophet Mohammed as its guest editor, published cartoons of the holy figure in the nude, and once renamed itself Sharia Hebdo with the cover slogan ‘100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter’.
The controversy began in 2006 when the publication reprinted now-infamous cartoons of Prophet Mohammed by Danish artist Kurt Westergaard.
When the images originally appeared they lead to days of protests across the Middle East and in Western cities. The decision to reprint the images landed the then-editor in court under anti-terror laws, though he was later acquitted.
The Hebdo offices were burned to the ground in 2011 when attackers used Molotov cocktails to start a blaze early in the morning of November 2.
There was nobody in the building at the time, and the target was instead thought to be the newspaper’s computer system, which was completely destroyed.
Riot police were forced to stand guard outside the building for days following the attack, as the editors took a defiant stance, choosing to reprint the cartoon images multiple times.
In 2012 they again printed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed as a deliberately provocative gesture while violent protests were taking place across the Middle East.
The following year the newspaper’s office again had to be surrounded by riot officers after they published a cartoon booklet depicting the Prohpet naked as a baby and being pushed in a wheelchair.
On the final page of the booklet there was a note from the editor, Stephane Charbonnier, saying the images were ‘halal’ because Muslims had worked on them, and that they were factually accurate as they had been derived from descriptions in the Koran.
The satirical publication, widely seen as France’s answer to Private Eye, prides itself on a mixture of tongue-in-cheek reporting and investigative journalism.
Hebdo’s current office building has no notices on the door to prevent a repeat of the attacks that have occurred in the past.
In an interview with De Volkskrant in January 2013, Mr Charbonnier revealed he had been placed under constant police protection for four months after one of the cartoon issues was published.
He shrugged off criticism that he was only publishing the images to gain notoriety for Hebdo, and insisted that he was instead defending the right to free speech.
Mr Charbonnier pointed out that the newspaper had poked fun at feminism, nuclear energy and homeland security, but the Islam issues always attracted the most publicity.
Charlie Hebdo was previously attacked with a firebomb in 2011
The offices of the same newspaper were burnt down in a petrol attack in 2011 after running a magazine cover of the Prophet Mohammed as a cartoon character.
At the time, the editor-in-chief, Stephane Charbonnier, said Islam could not be excluded from freedom of the press.
He said: ‘If we can poke fun at everything in France, if we can talk about anything in France apart from Islam or the consequences of Islamism, that is annoying.’
Mr Charbonnier, also known as Charb, said he did not see the attack on the newspaper as the work of French Muslims, but of what he called ‘idiot extremists’.
‘We have to be stand strong with the international community’: A visibly shocked French President François Hollande arrives at the scene, where he promised to bring those responsible to justice
The cover showed Mohammed saying: ‘100 lashes if you are not dying of laughter’.
This week’s Charlie Hebdo also featured the author Houellebecq, whose new novel imagines Muslims taking over the French government in 2022.
Inside, there was an editorial, attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, and more cartoons – one showing the Prophet with a clown’s red nose.
Depiction of the Prophet is strictly prohibited in Islam, but the newspaper denied it was trying to be provocative.
A firebomb attack gutted the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in November 2011 after it put an image of the Prophet Mohammed on its cover.
PARIS — At least two masked gunmen on Wednesday burst into the Paris offices of a satirical newspaper that had drawn threats for lampooning Islam, killing 12 people in a methodical hail of gunfire, fleeing by car as they battled on the street with the police and setting off a wide manhunt for the killers.
There were unconfirmed news reports late Wednesday that the police had arrested three suspects, all French nationals, including two brothers.
The terrorist attack on the newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, was among the deadliest in postwar France, setting the nation on edge, sending shockwaves through Europe and threatening to deepen the distrust of France’s large Muslim population. The attack came at a time when Islamic radicalism has become a central concern of security officials across Europe.
The attack, carried out with automatic weapons, was carried out with an unusual degree of military-style precision. President François Hollande of France calledit a display of extraordinary “barbarism” that was “without a doubt” an act of terrorism. He declared Thursday a national day of mourning.
He also raised the nationwide terror alert to its highest status, saying several terrorist attacks had been thwarted in recent weeks as security officials here and elsewhere in Europe have grown increasingly wary of the return of young citizens from Syria and Iraq, where they went to wage jihad.
The French authorities put some schools on lockdown for the day, and added security at houses of worship, news media offices and transportation centers, and conducted random searches on the Paris Metro.
The Paris prosecutor, François Molins, said witnesses said the attackers had screamed “Allahu akbar!” or “God is great” during the attack, which the police characterized as a “slaughter.”
Corinne Rey, a cartoonist known as Coco, who was at the newspaper office during the attack, told Le Monde that the attackers spoke fluent French and had said they were part of Al Qaeda.
An amateur video of the assailants’ subsequent gunfight with the police, showed the men shouting, “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad. We have killed Charlie Hebdo!” The video, the source of which could not be verified, also showed the gunmen killing a police officer as he lay wounded on a nearby street.
The victims at Charlie Hebdo included some of the country’s most revered and iconoclastic cartoonists. The weekly’s editorial director, Stéphane Charbonnier, had already been received light police protection after earlier threats, the police and the prosecutor said. An officer assigned to guard the newspaper’s offices and its top editor was among the victims.
As news of the attack spread, an outpouring of grief mixed with expressions of dismay and demonstrations of solidarity for free speech. By the evening, not far from the site of the attack in the east of Paris, thousands gathered at Place de La République — young and old, and various classes — some chanting, “Charlie! Charlie!” or holding signs reading, “I am Charlie” — the message posted on the newspaper’s website.
Spontaneous vigils of hundreds and thousands formed in other cities around France and elsewhere in Europe.
Mr. Molin, thprosecutor, said that two men armed with AK-47 rifles and wearing black hoods, had forced their way into the weekly’s offices about 11:30 a.m., firing at people in the lobby, before making their way to the newsroom on the second floor, interrupting a news meeting and firing at the assembled journalists.
The attackers then fled outside, where they clashed three times with the police, shooting one officer as he lay on the ground on a nearby street. They then fled in a black Citroen, and headed north on the right bank of Paris. During their escape, prosecutors said, they crashed into another car and injured its female driver, before robbing and abducting a bystander.
The police said the precision with which the assailants handled their weapons suggested that they had received military training. During the attack, which the police said lasted a matter of minutes, several journalists hid under their desks or went to hide on the roof, witnesses said.
Meziani Zina, 32, who works at the reception of an employment center across from the building, said she heard several loud shots ringing from the weekly’s headquarters.
One journalist who was at the weekly during the attack and asked that her name not be used, texted a friend after the shooting: “I’m alive. There is death all around me. Yes, I am there. The jihadists spared me.”
Treasured by many, hated by some, and indiscriminate in its offensiveness, Charlie Hebdo has long reveled in provoking.
In 2011, the office of the weekly was badly damaged by a firebomb after it published a spoof issue “guest edited” by the Prophet Muhammad to salute the victory of an Islamist party in Tunisian elections. It had announced plans to publish a special issue renamed “Charia Hebdo,” a play on the word in French for Shariah law.
Clockwise from top left, the cartoonists Jean Cabut, known as Cabu; Bernard Verlhac, who used the name Tignous; Georges Wolinski; and Stéphane Charbonnier, known as Charb, who was also the editorial director of Charlie Hebdo.CreditStephane De Sakutin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Police said the dead included four celebrated cartoonists at the weekly, including its Mr. Charbonnier, known as Charb, Jean Cabut, Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac.
Mr. Charbonnier stoked controversy and earned the ire of the Muslim community in 2006, when he republished satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that had been published in a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten. His last cartoon for Charlie Hebdo featured an armed man who appeared to be a Muslim fighter with a headline that read: “Still no attacks in France. Wait! We have until the end of January to give our best wishes.”
The police said that an abandoned black Citroen with silvered wing-mirrors, used by the gunmen, was later discovered in the 19th arrondissement of Paris.
A senior United States counterterrorism official said on Wednesday that the American authorities were following the developments in Paris closely, but that they had not yet identified any individuals or groups who might be responsible for the attack.
Michael J. Morell, the former deputy director of the C.I.A. and now a consultant to CBS News, said it was unclear whether the attackers acted on their own or were directed by organized groups.
The cover of the current issue of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
“This is the worst terrorist attack in Europe since the attacks in London in July of 2005,” Mr. Morell said. “The motive here is absolutely clear: trying to shut down a media organization that lampooned the Prophet Muhammad. So, no doubt in my mind that this is terrorism.”
He added, “What we have to figure out here is the perpetrators and whether they were self-radicalized or whether they were individuals who fought in Syria and Iraq and came back, or whether they were actually directed by ISIS or Al Qaeda.”
Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Grand Mosque in Paris, one of France’s largest, expressed horror at the assault on Charlie Hebdo. “We are shocked and surprised that something like this could happen in the center of Paris. But where are we?” he was quoted as saying by Europe1, a radio broadcaster.
“We strongly condemn these kinds of acts and we expect the authorities to take the most appropriate measures.” He added: “This is a deafening declaration of war. Times have changed, and we are now entering a new era of confrontation.”
The attack comes as thousands of Europeans have gone to join jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria, further fueling concerns about Islamic radicalism and terrorism being imported. Those concerns have been particularly acute in France where fears have grown that militants are seeking to target French citizens in retaliation for the government’s support for the United States-led air campaign against jihadists with the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
In Dijon and Nantes, a total of 23 people were injured when men drove vehicles into crowds, with one of the drivers shouting an Islamic rallying cry. The authorities depicted both drivers as mentally unstable. The attacks came after violence attributed to lone-wolf attackers in London in 2013, inCanada in October and last month in Sydney, Australia.
In September, fighters in Algeria aligned with the Islamic State beheaded Hervé Gourdel, a 55-year-old mountaineering guide from Nice, and released a video documenting the brutal killing. Mr. Gourdel was kidnapped after the Islamic State called on its supporters to target Europeans to avenge the airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
President Obama issued a statement condemning the attack. “Time and again, the French people have stood up for the universal values that generations of our people have defended,” he said. “France, and the great city of Paris where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers. We are in touch with French officials, and I have directed my administration to provide any assistance needed to help bring these terrorists to justice.”
The former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, called the assault a “direct and savage attack against one of our most revered republican ideals: the freedom of expression.”
In a condolence letter addressed to President Holland, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany expressed condolences on behalf of the German people.
“This horrible act is not only an attack on the lives of French citizens and the domestic security of France,” Ms. Merkel said. “It also stands as an attack on the freedom of expression and the press, a core element of our free, democratic culture that can in no way be justified.”
Correction: January 7, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated the location of the abandoned car believed to have been used by the gunmen, using information from the police. It was found in the 19th Arrondissement, not the 20th.
Charlie Hebdo (French pronunciation: [ʃaʁli ɛbdo]; French for Charlie Weekly) is a French satirical weekly newspaper, featuring cartoons, reports, polemics, and jokes. Irreverent and stridently non-conformist in tone, the publication is strongly antireligious and left-wing, publishing articles on the extreme right, Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, politics,culture, etc. According to its former editor, Charb (Stéphane Charbonnier), the magazine’s editorial viewpoint reflects “all components of left wing pluralism, and even abstainers”.
In 1969, the Hara-Kiri team decided to produce a weekly publication – on top of the existing monthly magazine – which would focus more on current affairs. This was launched in February as Hara-Kiri Hebdo and renamed L’Hebdo Hara-Kiri in May of the same year. (‘Hebdo’ is short for ‘hebdomadaire’ – ‘weekly’)
In November 1970, the former French president Charles de Gaulle died in his home village of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, eight days after a disaster in a nightclub, theClub Cinq-Sept fire caused the death of 146 people. The magazine released a cover spoofing the popular press’s coverage of this disaster, headlined “Tragic Ball at Colombey, one dead.” As a result, the journal was once more banned, this time by the Minister of the Interior.
In order to sidestep the ban, the team decided to change its title, and used Charlie Hebdo. The new name was derived from a monthly comics magazine calledCharlie Mensuel (Charlie Monthly), which had been started by Bernier and Delfeil de Ton in 1968. Charlie took its name from Charlie Brown, the lead character ofPeanuts – one of the comics originally published in Charlie Mensuel – and was also an inside joke about Charles de Gaulle. In December 1981, publication ceased.
In 1991, Gébé, Cabu and others were reunited to work for La Grosse Bertha, a new weekly magazine resembling Charlie created in reaction to the First Gulf War and edited by comic singer Philippe Val. However, the following year, Val clashed with the publisher, who wanted apolitical mischief, and was fired. Gébé and Cabu walked out with him and decided to launch their own paper again. The three called upon Cavanna, Delfeil de Ton and Wolinski, requesting their help and input. After much searching for a new name, the obvious idea of resurrecting Charlie-Hebdo was agreed on. The new magazine was owned by Val, Gébé, Cabu and singer Renaud Séchan. Val was editor, Gébé artistic director.
The publication of the new Charlie Hebdo began in July 1992 amidst much publicity. The first issue under the new publication sold 100,000 copies. Choron, who had fallen out with his former colleagues, tried to restart a weekly Hara-Kiri, but its publication was short-lived. Choron died in January 2005.
In 2000, journalist Mona Chollet was sacked after she had protested against a Philippe Val article which called Palestinians “non-civilized”. In 2004, following the death of Gébé, Val succeeded him as director of the publication, while still holding his position as editor.
Controversy arose over the publication’s edition of 9 February 2006. Under the title “Mahomet débordé par les intégristes” (“Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists”), the front page showed a cartoon of a weeping Prophet Muhammad saying “C’est dur d’être aimé par des cons” (“it’s hard being loved by jerks”). The newspaper reprinted the twelve cartoons of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy and added some of their own. Compared to a regular circulation of 100,000 sold copies, this edition enjoyed great commercial success. 160,000 copies were sold and another 150,000 were in print later that day.
The suit by the Grand Mosque and the UOIF reached the courts in February 2007. Publisher Philippe Val contended “It is racist to imagine that they can’t understand a joke” but Francis Szpiner, the lawyer for the Grand Mosque, explained the suit: “Two of those caricatures make a link between Muslims and Muslim terrorists. That has a name and it’s called racism.”
On 22 March 2007, executive editor Philippe Val was acquitted by the court. The court followed the state attorney’s reasoning that two of the three cartoons were not an attack on Islam, but on Muslim terrorists, and that the third cartoon with Mohammed with a bomb in his turban should be seen in the context of the magazine in question which attacked religious fundamentalism.
In 2008, controversy broke over a column by veteran cartoonist Siné which led to accusations of antisemitism and Siné’s sacking by Val. Siné sued the newspaper for unfair dismissal and Charlie Hebdo was sentenced to pay him €90,000 in damages. Siné launched a rival paper called Siné Hebdo which later became Siné Mensuel. Charlie Hebdo launched its Internet site, after years of reluctance from Val.
In 2009, Philippe Val resigned after being appointed director of France Inter, a public radio station to which he has contributed since the early 1990s. His functions were split between two cartoonists, Charb (Stéphane Charbonnier) and Riss (Laurent Sourisseau). Val gave away his shares in 2011.
The paper’s controversial 3 November 2011 issue, renamed “Charia Hebdo” (a reference to Sharia law) and “guest-edited” by Muhammad, depicted Muhammad saying: “100 lashes of the whip if you don’t die laughing.”
Debris outside the paper’s offices following the November 2011 attack
In the early hours of 2 November 2011, the newspaper’s office in the 20th arrondissement was fire-bombed and its websitehacked. The attacks were presumed linked to its decision to rename a special edition “Charia Hebdo”, with the Islamic Prophet Mohammed listed as the “editor-in-chief”. The cover, featuring a cartoon of Mohammed by Luz (Renald Luzier), had circulated on social media for a couple of days.
Charb was quoted by AP stating that the attack might have been carried out by “stupid people who don’t know what Islam is” and that they are “idiots who betray their own religion”. Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, said his organisation deplores “the very mocking tone of the paper toward Islam and its prophet but reaffirms with force its total opposition to all acts and all forms of violence.”François Fillon, the prime minister, and Claude Guéant, the interior minister, voiced support for Charlie Hebdo, as did feminist writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who criticised calls for self-censorship.
In September 2012, the newspaper published a series of satirical cartoons of Muhammed, some of which feature nude caricatures of him. Given that this came days after a series of attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East, purportedly in response to the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims, the French government decided to increase security at certain French embassies, as well as to close the French embassies, consulates, cultural centers, and international schools in about 20 Muslim countries. In addition, riot police surrounded the offices of the magazine to protect against possible attacks.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticised the magazine’s decision, saying, “In France, there is a principle of freedom of expression, which should not be undermined. In the present context, given this absurd video that has been aired, strong emotions have been awakened in many Muslim countries. Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire?” However, the newspaper’s editor defended publication of the cartoons, saying, “We do caricatures of everyone, and above all every week, and when we do it with the Prophet, it’s called provocation.”
^ Jump up to:abMcNab 2006, p. 26: “Georges Bernier, the real name of ‘Professor Choron’, [… was] cofounder and director of the satirical magazine Hara Kiri, whose title was changed (to circumvent a ban, it seems!) to Charlie Hebdo in 1970.”
“The term “covert action” means an activity or activities of the United States Government to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly, but does not include . . . (2) traditional . . . military activities or routine support to such activities.“
What roles Turkey play in Syria’s insurgency?
WW3 in ACTION: US LAUNCH covert OPERATION to ARM militants in Syria with HEAVY WEAPONS!
Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin suspects US Was Running Guns To Syrian Rebels Via Benghazi
Retired Army Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin—who is the former commander of the U.S. Special Forces Command, the former deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and who, in the 1990s, worked with the CIA—told CNSNews.com in a video interview last week that he believes it is a reasonable supposition that the U.S. was supporting or planning to support the Syrian rebels via Benghazi, Libya.
“The CIA Is Nothing More Than A Front For Global Gansters!” CIA’s Role In The Syrian Conflict
BREAKING! Pres Obama Authorizes COVERT Support To Syrian Rebels “Could Have Been Going On For Months
English News Today – CIA: from intelligence agency to killing machine
English News Today – ‘CIA-armed Syria militants will turn against US’
The United States government assists militants across the world, only to one day fight against them, a prominent political activist tells Press TV. In the background to this, Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011, with the Syrian government and experts saying an anti-Syria plot was hatched by the US, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Sara Flounders, co-director of the International Action Center, from New York, to further discuss the issue. Flounders is joined by Scott Rickard, a former US intelligence linguist from Florida, and George Lambraski, a former US diplomat, from London.
Ron Paul on Covert U.S. Support of Terrorist Insurrection in Syria
June 27, 2012 – Ron Paul warns of the ongoing U.S. government’s covert support of the terrorist insurrection against the Syrian government and offers a short history of the quagmires and blowback that U.S. interventions abroad have brought about.
Pul – Interview with Charlie Wilson, 2009
Charlie Wilson’s War – Trailer(HD) Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts
Charlie Wilson’s War (8/9) Movie CLIP – Anti-Helicopter Light Missile (2007) HD
Glenn Beck – Benghazi: Truth coming out
Soros, Obama & ‘Responsibility to Protect’
END WAR: Scheuer On CIA In Libya To Arm Islamist And May Be US Ground Invasion In Another Arab State
The truth about SYRIA by Westerns
Syrian Rebels Capture City Near Jordanian Border – Libya Vs Syria Where’s The Obama Admin?
Gaffney on Benghazi » Not Just About Cover Up « About Administration Embracing Muslim Brotherhood
ADM Lyons, “Muslim Brotherhood has penetrated every government agency”
ADM “Ace” Lyons, Former Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the largest single military command in the world, states, “The Muslim Brotherhood has penetrated every level of the US government.”
End the Coverup: Rep. Frank Wolf Urges New Benghazi Investigation
Rep. Frank Wolf called a press conference outside the capitol to discuss his sponsorship of H. Res. 36, which would create a special congressional committee to investigate the failures that contributed to the deadly jihadist attack in Benghazi, Libya last year. He was joined by Family Research Council’s Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and former member of Delta Force. Boykin represented Special Operations Speaks, a group of ex-special forces operators who came together to write a letter to Members of Congress, urging them to commit to getting to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi, and to end the administration’s cover-up. Finally, the Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney spoke about the implications of the attack in Libya on America’s national security and foreign policy in the Middle East/North Africa region.
Gen. Jerry Boykin: “Get accountability and get the truth out” on Benghazi
Rand Paul: I Believe Part of Cause for Benghazi Attack Was Gun-Running Operation Going
Syrian rebel group Al-Nusra allies itself to al-Qaeda
Nusra Front and al-Qaeda in Iraq are joining forces to bring back the Caliphate.
A Caliphate Is Coming – GBTV
George Galloway In Syria Rebels are funded & operated by Americans & NATO Forces
Obama Hiding Arms Shipments To Syrian Jihadists
Lebanon seizes 150 tons of Libyan arms en route to Syrian rebels
Treason: Benghazi Revelations Could Sink Obama
Benghazi-Gate: Connection between CIA and al-Qaeda in Libya and Syria, with Turkey’s Help
Benghazi-Gate: Connection between CIA and al-Qaeda in Libya and Syria, with Turkey’s Help
Syrian Rebel Group Joins Branch Of Al Qaeda
West Intervenes to Stop Islamist Rebels in Mali but Supports Them to Destroy Syria
A presidential finding is an executive directive issued by the head of the executive branch of a government, similar to the more well-known executive order. The term is mostly used by the United States Government, and in other countries may be identified by different terms. Such findings and other executive decrees are usually protocols which have evolved through the course of government and not typically established by law.
Use and history in the United States
“US President Barack Obama has signed a secret order allowing the CIA and other American agencies to support rebels seeking to overthrow the Assad regime, a US government source told Reuters. Obama reportedly gave the order, known as an intelligence “finding”, earlier this year. The presidential finding also provides for US collaboration with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies. The full extent of the assistance the “finding” allows the CIA to give the Syrian rebels is unclear. It is also unknown precisely when Obama signed the order.” The report of Obama’s authorization for covert rebel support comes amidst continued fighting between Syrian government troops and rebels over control of Aleppo, the country’s economic capital. Thousands of people have fled the city, while the government and rebels continue to release conflicting reports on the extent of their control over the city. Asia Times Online correspondent Pepe Escobar told RT that the leak’s timing was intended to distort the true nature of Washington’s covert operations on the ground in Syria.
“This intelligence finding signed by Obama – that’s the code for a secret order – this was signed six months ago. So the fact that Reuters has only been allowed now to report about it proves that there have been high deliberations in Washington: ‘should we let people know about what they already know?’”
“In fact, the Washington Post two weeks ago had already reported about it, and when the CIA wants to leak something in the US, they usually go to the Washington Post. The CIA and Mossad, on the ground [in Syria], side by side working with the Qataris, the Turks, the Saudis and a swarm of jihadis coming from everywhere, but especially from across the border in Iraq,” he argues.
Escobar says the leak was intended to make it look as though Washington was leading the Syrian campaign from behind the scenes, when in fact the US is “leading from the front lines alongside al-Qaeda-style Jihadists, Qatari intelligence, and Turkish logistics.” 
The first specific use of presidential findings was precipitated by the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954, in which the findings indicated that certain conditions of that act had be satisfied and, therefore, sales of agricultural commodities could proceed. In their use under this act, such findings were published in the Federal Register and the CFR Title 3 compilations. In contrast, presidential findings in their modern use are not published in these or other governmental publications.
Current use of the presidential finding stems from the so-called Hughes-Ryan amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, which prohibited the expenditure of appropriated funds by or on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency for intelligence activities “unless and until the President finds that each such operation is important to the national security of the United States and reports, in a timely fashion, a description and scope of such operation to the appropriate committees of Congress” (section 662). This was intended to ensure that clear responsibility for such action was attributable to the President and that Congress was always made aware of such activities. Due to the sensitivity of their content, presidential findings are almost always classified.
The most recent change to exercise of findings occurred in the Intelligence Authorization Act of 1991, which introduced increased flexibility in the reporting requirement: findings are to be “reported to the intelligence committees as soon as possible” after being approved “and before the initiation of the covert action authorized by the finding.” As such, presidential findings are one of the primary means through which the intelligence committees exercise their oversight of the government’s intelligence operations.
Covert Action: Title 10, Title 50, and the Chain of Command
By Joseph B. Berger III
America champions the rule of law and must maintain that moral stance in its international dealings and retain the clarity of an unambiguous chain of command. The Abbottabad raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound highlighted the dangers and vagaries of departing from the traditional military chain of command. The Secretary of Defense was taken out of the chain and the CID Director was inserted. In contrast, the rescue of a U.S. citizen in Somalia was carried out secretively but not covertly by joint forces under military command, maintaining individual Servicemember protections that may be forfeit in the gray zone of questionable legality. National authorities should reconsider the rejection of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that DOD be responsible for paramilitary covert actions, and when DOD acts in that capacity, the operation should be carried out as a traditional military operation with a military chain of command.
Recent media reports have Pentagon officials considering “putting elite special operations troops under CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] control in Afghanistan after 2014, just as they were during last year’s raid on [Osama bin Laden’s] compound.”1 This shell game would allow Afghan and U.S. officials to deny the presence of American troops in Afghanistan because once “assigned to CIA control, even temporarily, they become spies.”2 Nearly simultaneously, Department of Defense (DOD) leaders were warned to “be vigilant in ensuring military personnel are not inappropriately utilized” in performing “new, expanding, or existing missions,” ensuring the force is aligned against strategic choices “supported by rigorous analysis.”3 Placing Servicemembers—uniformed members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force—under CIA control demands such rigorous analysis. The raid on bin Laden’s compound provides a framework.
n his May 1, 2011, televised address, President Barack Obama reported “to the American people and to the world that the United States ha[d] conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden.”4 President Obama initially detailed little beyond noting that he had directed “the[n] Director of the CIA [Leon Panetta], to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda” and that the operation, carried out by a “small team of Americans” was done “at [his] direction [as President].” In the following days, senior executive branch officials garrulously provided explicit details, from the now-iconic White House Situation Room photograph to intricate diagrams of the Abbottabad compound and the assault force’s composition. Most noteworthy was Panetta’s unequivocal assertion the raid was a covert action:
Since this was what’s called a “Title 50” operation, which is a covert operation, and it comes directly from the president of the United States who made the decision to conduct this operation in a covert way, that direction goes to me. And then, I am, you know, the person who then commands the mission. But having said that, I have to tell you that the real commander was Admiral [William] McRaven because he was on site, and he was actually in charge of the military operation that went in and got bin Laden.5
Despite his self-effacing trumpeting of Vice Admiral McRaven’s role, Panetta’s comment highlights that critical confusion exists among even the most senior U.S. leaders about the chain of command and the appropriate classification of such operations.
Openly describing the raid as both a “covert operation” and “military operation,” Panetta asserted he was the “commander,” describing a chain of “command” that went from the President to Panetta to McRaven. Panetta’s public comments are problematic, as is describing a chain of command that excludes the Secretary of Defense and purports to route command authority through the CIA director. Title 50 is clear:
The term “covert action” means an activity or activities of the United States Government to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly, but does not include . . . (2) traditional . . . military activities or routine support to such activities.6
The administration did the opposite, making patently clear the raid’s nature and, in exhaustive detail, the precise role of the United States. Instead of categorizing it as a covert action under the director’s “command,” the President could have conducted the raid as a covert action under the Secretary of Defense instead of the CIA director, or under his own constitutional authority as Commander in Chief and the Secretary’s statutory authorities, classifying it as a traditional military activity and excepting it from the statute’s coverage. As a traditional military activity, there would have been no legal limits on subsequent public discussion. Alternatively, conducting the raid as a covert action within a military chain of command removes the issues the director raised in asserting command authority over Servicemembers. The decisionmaking process remains shrouded, but conducting a raid into a sovereign country targeting a nonstate actor using military personnel and equipment under the “command” of the CIA director and classifying it as a covert action raises significant legal and policy questions. Such decisions threaten the legitimacy and moral authority of future U.S. actions and demand a rigorous examination of those associated risks.
The Abbottabad raid illustrates the post-9/11 security environment convergence of DOD military and CIA intelligence operations.7 While dead terrorists attest to this arrangement’s efficacy, many directly challenge the legal and policy framework behind current DOD-CIA cooperation. The discourse focuses largely on distinctions between Title 10 and Title 50 and the legal basis for conducting apparently overlapping military and intelligence operations beyond the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Notwithstanding the potentially misleadingly simple labels of Title 10 and Title 50, these complex issues lack clear answers. Many argue the legacy structure ill equips the President to effectively combat the threat. But tweaking that structure carries risk. Thus, correctly classifying and structuring our actions within that framework are critical. The law of war is designed to protect our nation’s military forces when they are engaged in traditional military activities under a military chain of command; spies conducting intelligence activities under executive authority have no such protections. This distinction rests on a constitutional, statutory, treaty, and doctrinal framework underpinning the military concept of command authority.
U.S. power relies on moral and legal legitimacy. Exclusive state control over the legitimate use of armed force remains viable domestically and internationally only where exercised within an accepted framework. Thus, employing DOD forces in a nontraditional manner entails significant risk. The policy implications of classification and structure are neither semantic nor inconsequential, and must be understood by senior decisionmakers; likewise, individual Servicemembers must understand the practical effects. A rigorous risk analysis should therefore inform any deviation, however permissible under domestic law.
This article focuses on the risks associated with both using military personnel to conduct kinetic covert action and using them without a military chain of command. Those risks inform the recommendation to change practice, but not the law. Specifically, the author rejects melding distinct operational military (Title 10) and intelligence (Title 50) authorities into the often mentioned Title 60. Properly classifying actions—either under the statute as a covert action or exempted from the statute as a traditional military activity—ensures the correct command structure is in place.8 Ultimately, the analysis argues for revisiting the previously rejected 9/11 Commission recommendation to place paramilitary covert action under DOD control.9
This article first outlines current and likely future threats and then explains the critical terms of art related to covert action and, against that lingua franca, examines why kinetic military operations should be either classified as traditional military activities or kept under a military chain of command. Analyzing the relevant constitutional, statutory, treaty, and doctrinal elements of command, this article illustrates that a raid conducted like the Abbottabad raid, while legally permissible, is best conducted as a traditional military activity.
Changed Character of the Battlefield and Enemy
In the decade since 9/11, DOD and CIA elements have become “operationally synthesi[zed].”10 A senior intelligence official recently noted that “the two proud groups of American secret warriors had been ‘deconflicted and basically integrated’—finally—10 years after 9/11.”11 The direct outgrowth is the increased reliance on special operations forces (SOF) to achieve national objectives against a “nimble and determined” enemy who “cannot be underestimated.”12 While the United States fought wars on geographically defined battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan and beyond, the underlying legal structure remained constant. In the wars’ background, leaders, advisors, academics, and others argued about the structure of the appropriate legal and policy framework. Post-Iraq and post-Afghanistan, the United States must still address other threats, including those that al Qaeda and their associated forces present.
The threats have migrated beyond a battlefield defined by sovereign nations’ borders. When asked recently in “how many countries we are currently engaged in a shooting war,” Secretary of Defense Panetta laughed, responding, “That’s a good question. I have to stop and think about that . . . we’re going after al Qaeda wherever they’re at. . . clearly, we’re confronting al Qaeda in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, [and] North Africa.”13 The unresolved legal and policy challenges will likely increase in complexity on this geographically unconstrained battlefield. Remaining rooted in enduring principles is critical. DOD conduct of kinetic operations beyond traditionally recognized battlefields raises significant legal and policy concerns, especially where the U.S. Government conducts them without knowledge or consent of the host nation, as apparently happened with the Abbottabad operation.14 Properly categorizing and structuring these operations, while vexing for policymakers and their lawyers, carries much greater stakes for the Servicemembers executing them.
The Need for a Lingua Franca
Colloquial usage refers to DOD authorities as Title 10, and the CIA’s as Title 50. That is technically inaccurate and misleading since DOD routinely operates under both Titles 10 and 50.15 Instead of Title 10, this article uses the term military operations; instead of Title 50, it uses CIA operations or the more specific covert action. All three terms require clarification.
CIA operations are all CIA activities except covert action. Covert action is the narrow, statutory subset of Presidentially approved, CIA-led activities.16 Unfortunately, colloquially, covert action “is frequently used to describe any activity the government wants concealed from the public.”17 That common usage ignores the fact that a traditional military activity, notwithstanding how “secretly” it is executed, is by statute not a covert action. DOD defines a covert operation as one “planned and executed as to conceal the identity of or permit plausible denial by the sponsor,” where “emphasis is placed on concealment of the identity of the sponsor rather than on concealment of the operation.”18 While not in conflict with the statutory definition, the DOD definition is incomplete; it fails to recognize the President’s role and ignores the exception of traditional military activities.19 Practitioners should use the statutory definition.
The concept of clandestine operations further blurs colloquial and doctrinal imprecision.20 DOD activities “may be both covert and clandestine . . . focus[ing] equally on operational considerations and intelligencerelated activities.”21 Appropriately, DOD officials assert that, absent a Presidential covert action finding, they “conduct only ‘clandestine activities.’” 22 They characterize clandestine activities as those “conducted in secret but which constitute ‘passive’ intelligence information gathering.”23 Interchanging the terms and mixing them with intelligence functions is inaccurate and dangerous; practitioners must draw clear distinctions. The sponsorship of a covert action is hidden, not the act itself. The specific acts of the U.S. Government in influencing a foreign election (for example, posters, marches, election results, and so forth) would be visible, but not the covert sponsorship of those acts. For clandestine acts, the act itself (for example, intercepting a phone call) must remain hidden. The CIA and DOD can conduct clandestine operations without Presidential approval, whereas covert action triggers statutory requirements for a Presidential finding and congressional notification. Some have argued DOD’s “activities should be limited to clandestine” activities, as this would ensure military personnel are protected by the law of war,24 a critical point examined in detail later.
Military operations are DOD activities conducted under Title 10, including activities intended or likely to involve kinetic action. Pursuant to an order issued by the Secretary of Defense, they are conducted by military personnel under DOD command and in accordance with the law of war. They specifically exclude DOD’s intelligence activities (for example, the Joint Military Intelligence Program); like the CIA’s, those intelligence activities are conducted pursuant to Title 50.
Statutorily assigned responsibility helps distinguish between CIA operations and military operations. Although the President can designate which department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government will participate in the covert action, the statute implicitly tasks the CIA as the default lead agency: “Any employee . . . of the [U.S.] Government other than the [CIA] directed to participate in any way in a covert action shall be subject either to the policies and regulations of the [CIA], or to written policies or regulations adopted . . . to govern such participation.25
Executive order 12333 (EO 12333) makes that default tasking explicit:
The Director of the [CIA] shall . . . conduct covert action activities approved by the President. No agency except the [CIA] (or the Armed Forces of the United States in time of war declared by the Congress or during any period covered by a report from the President to the Congress consistent with the War Powers Resolution. . . .) may conduct any covert action activity unless the President determines that another agency is more likely to achieve a particular objective.26
The statute, coupled with EO 12333, unequivocally places all covert action squarely under the CIA’s control; the narrow exception for DOD is currently inapplicable. While the Executive order expressly tasks
the director with conducting covert action, it does not task the Secretary of Defense.27
Default CIA primacy and the absence of statutory specificity in defining traditional military activities create risk when DOD conducts kinetic covert action.
The Unique Nature of Traditional Military Activities
One practitioner described traditional military activities’ exclusion from covert action’s definition as “the exception that swallows the rule.”28 But while DOD-CIA operational convergence blurs the issue, the exception need not swallow the rule. Functionally, anything done by a uniformed member of a nation’s armed forces is a “military” activity; the nuanced requirement is to understand which are traditional military activities. That definition can be consequential, functional, or historical—or a combination of some or all three approaches. The statute’s legislative history provides the best clarification, noting the conferees intended that:
“Traditional military activities” include activities by military personnel under the direction and control of a United States military commander (whether or not the U.S. sponsorship of such activities is apparent or later to be acknowledged) . . . where the fact of the U.S. role in the overall operation is apparent or to be acknowledged publicly.
In this regard, the conferees intend to draw a line between activities that are and are not under the direction and control of the military commander. Activities that are not under the direction and control of a military commander should not be considered as “traditional military activities.”29
That nonstatutory definition frames the follow-on analysis. That functional and historical definition turns on who is in charge.
Activities under the “direction and control of a military commander” meet the requirement to be excepted from the statute; those with a different command and control arrangement are not traditional military activities. “Command” is unique to the military and the definition appears to draw a bright line rule; but the CIA director blurred the line by asserting “command” over a DOD element.30 The confusion questions the necessary nature and scope of leadership by a “military commander.” What level or rank of command is required? Must the chain of command from that military commander run directly back to the Commander in Chief solely through military channels? Must it run through the Secretary of Defense? Can it run through the director if there is a military commander below him? Given Goldwater-Nichols,31 what about the geographic combatant commander? In short, what does the wiring diagram look like? These questions highlight three baseline possibilities as depicted in the figure below.
Chain of Command Possibilities
Part 1A of the figure reflects DOD’s Title 10 chain of command, illustrating the broadest historical, functional, and consequential definition of traditional military activity. The clear chain is rooted in the uniquely military concept of command and the President’s constitutionally defined role as Commander in Chief. It clarifies congressional oversight responsibility, results in unquestioned jurisdiction, and forms the basis of the strongest legal argument for combatant immunity. Part 1B represents the President as chief executive, exercising oversight and control of the CIA under Title 50. This hierarchy lacks the legal command authority exercised over military personnel in 1A. Finally, part 1C represents the paradox created by the covert action statute’s attempts to overlap the parallel structures of 1A and 1B; it is often described as Title 60.
The current Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force allows the President to “use all necessary and appropriate force” to prevent “future acts of international terrorism against the United States.”32 This statutory grant of power creates the paradox: here, where the Senate vote was 98 to 0 and the House vote was 420 to 1, the President’s executive authority (as Commander in Chief and chief executive) is greatest,33 the exercise of those powers blurs the clear lines of parts 1A and 1B of the illustration. Merging the two, although permissible under the covert action statute, creates risk.
Consequently, questions about the nature and structure of the chain of command demand rigorous scrutiny and cannot be left to ad hoc arrangements. Defining military command determines whether or not the activity is a traditional military activity and therefore not under the ambit of the statute. The criticality of this categorization is twofold: it is the core of the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force and cloaks Servicemembers in the legal armor of combatant immunity.
Chain of Command, or Control?
Since George Washington’s Presidency, the Secretary of War (later Defense) has served without interruption as a Cabinet member. The President’s role, enshrined in the Constitution, is clear: “The President shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.”34 With the Secretary of Defense, this embodies the Founders’ vision of civilian control of the military. The Secretary of Defense’s appointment requires the “Advice and Consent of the Senate.”35 While the President can relieve him and replace him with an inferior officer (that is, the Deputy Secretary of Defense), Senateconfirmed executive branch officials are not fungible. He cannot interchange officials individually confirmed to fulfill separate and unique duties—something James Madison warned about in Federalist 51.36
Longstanding U.S. practice is an unbroken chain of command from the President, through his Secretary of Defense, to a subordinate uniformed commander. Even GoldwaterNichols’s37 streamlining the military warfighting chain of command to run from the President through the Secretary and directly to the unified combatant commanders did not alter that fundamental practice.38 Combatant commanders simply replace Service chiefs. The civilian leader between the Commander in Chief and his senior uniformed commander remains unchanged—a specific individual confirmed by the Senate to execute statutory duties. The inviolate concept of civilian control of the military and the Senate’s Advice and Consent requirement make assertion of any executive authority to “trade out” duties between Cabinet officials implausible. The President can place military personnel under CIA control, but control is not command.
Command is the inherently military “privilege” that is “exercised by virtue of office and the special assignment of members of the US Armed Forces holding military grade.”39 In fact, under the Army regulation, “A civilian, other than the President as Commander-in-Chief . . . may not exercise command.”40 Goldwater-Nichols allows the President to exercise command through his Secretary of Defense. Command rests on constitutional and statutory authority (including the Uniform Code of Military Justice) and the customs and practices of the Service. Removing military personnel from that hierarchy— illustrated in part 1C of the figure—changes their fundamental nature. This is Panetta’s assertion: he was in “command” 41 of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.
itles 10 and 50 define the specific duties of the Secretary of Defense42 and Title 50 the CIA director’s.43 The duties are neither identical nor interchangeable. In Title 50, Congress explicitly states that DOD shall function “under the direction, authority, and control of the Secretary of Defense” in order to “provide for their unified direction under civilian control.”44 Placing the Services under the Secretary of Defense is necessary to “provide for the establishment of [a] clear and direct line of command.”45 Congress is equally clear in Title 10, granting the Secretary complete authority over DOD: “there shall be a Secretary of Defense, who is the head of the [Department], appointed . . . by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.”46 The statute allows the Secretary to “perform any of his functions or duties, or [to] exercise any of his powers through” other persons, but only persons from within DOD.47
Two caveats exist to the Secretary of Defense’s “authority, direction, and control”: the Secretary’s authority is “subject to the direction of the President” and the 1947 National Security Act.48 The latter covers DOD personnel within the National Foreign Intelligence Program (NFIP). The former appears to be an exception that swallows the rule. But even in empowering the President to limit his Secretary’s authority, Congress did not specifically authorize any change to the fundamental command of military forces. Likewise, in defining the director’s limited authorities over military personnel, Congress maintained the military command structure over military operations.
Congress neither allows the director command nor control of DOD operational assets, nor did it grant the President a caveat like that with the Secretary of Defense’s authority.49 Although the director’s duties include the transfer of “personnel within the NFIP,” which includes DOD personnel, such transfers are limited to personnel within DOD’s Joint Military Intelligence Program (JMIP).50 SOF are not part of the JMIP. When DOD does transfer any JMIP personnel to the CIA, the director must “promptly” report that transfer to both the intelligence oversight and Armed Services Committees of both houses.51 Transfers between other executive branch elements trigger no such requirements. Congress only intended CIA control over DOD intelligence assets and was clearly concerned about even that. Goldwater-Nichols reinforces this analysis.
Goldwater-Nichols codifies geographic combatant commanders’ nearly inviolable command authority: “all forces operating within the geographic area assigned to a unified combatant command shall be assigned to, and under” his command.52 Two exceptions supplant that authority. Servicemembers assigned to U.S. Embassies (for example, the Defense Attaché) are under the Ambassador’s control and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s command. For those Servicemembers, diplomatic protections have replaced law of war protections, but the Secretary of Defense remains in the chain of command. The second exception, carved from GoldwaterNichols’s “unless otherwise directed by the President” language, covers DOD participation in covert action.53 Goldwater-Nichols’s silence on the Secretary of Defense remaining in the chain of command indicates Congress did not intend to change the default hierarchy. DOD recognized that point by defining combatant command as being “under a single commander” and running “through the Secretary of Defense.”54 All these say nothing about covert action.
The statute and EO 12333 put the director “in charge” of the conduct of covert actions.55 CIA “ownership” means any non-CIA employee supporting a covert action “belongs” to the CIA. However, the CIA lacks DOD’s legal command structure and no CIA official possesses the command authority inherent in an officer’s commission.56 The CIA can only be in charge, not in command. The director cannot give a lawful order that would be legally binding on Servicemembers. The Constitution unequivocally grants Congress the authority to “make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.”57 Those rules, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, never contemplated CIA personnel exercising command authority over Servicemembers. The CIA’s ownership of covert action is limited. Exclusive CIA control fails elsewhere; the statute authorizes the President to task “departments, agencies, or entities”58 to conduct covert action. The implication is that DOD can conduct a covert action exclusively. EO 12333 specifically envisions that.59 Placing DOD elements under CIA control to conduct a kinetic operation is arguably unnecessary.
This chain of command is constitutionally enshrined, codified, and ratified through longstanding practice; even if Congress had explicitly authorized the President to reroute it, doing so creates risk. First, it removes the law of war’s protections upon which Servicemembers conducting kinetic operations rely. In such an event, Servicemembers must be made aware they are no longer protected. Second, as a state practice, realigning military personnel under a nonmilitary framework to conduct kinetic activities creates precedential risk for U.S. allies. Such a decision must be fully informed at all levels.
Chain of Command: International Law Context
National armies engaged against each other have, throughout modern history, been cloaked in the law of war’s combatant
immunity. Absent that immunity, a captured individual is subject to criminal prosecution for his wartime conduct. His deliberately targeting and killing others become nonmilitary and therefore criminal. In World War II’s aftermath, widespread acceptance of what constituted an “army” rendered a definition unnecessary: “Individuals composing the national forces” automatically enjoyed combatant immunity.60 However, for those outside their nation’s military hierarchy, specificity was necessary. The Third Geneva Convention grants prisoner of war status—which confers combatant immunity—to those who are subordinate to a responsible commander, wear a fixed, distinctive insignia recognizable at a distance, carry their arms openly, and conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.61
The command requirement stems from the “dual principle of responsible command and its corollary command responsibility.”62 The Hague Convention required that a commander be “responsible for his subordinates.”63 The Geneva Convention recognized “no part of [an] army . . . is not subordinated to a military commander,” applying this “from the Commander-in-Chief down to the common soldier.”64 The later protocols “could not conceive” of a hierarchy “without the persons who make up the command structure being familiar with the law applicable in armed conflict.”65 This is DOD’s unchallenged area of expertise.66 Like Congress’s definition of traditional military activity,67 the commentary’s definition, when coupled with the requirements for those not considered part of the Nation’s army, is the parallel to Servicemembers conducting kinetic covert action under CIA control. Combatant immunity necessitates prisoner of war status; for those not acting as part of the army, that status requires a military chain of command. Replacing the Secretary of Defense with the CIA director eviscerates this.
U.S. history records a fundamental belief in the rules for combatant immunity.68 First, to codify these requirements, the 1863 Lieber Code defined prisoner of war as including “all soldiers.”69 The code noted noncompliance with the rules meant no combatant immunity: spies were “punishable with death by hanging by the neck.”70 “Armed prowlers . . . who steal within the lines of the hostile army for the purpose of . . . killing . . . are not entitled to the privileges of the prisoner of war.”71 The code’s noteworthy purpose was not to regulate conduct between nations, but for application in a non-international armed conflict and maintaining the moral high ground necessary to facilitate reconciliation with and reintegration of the confederate states.
The law of war’s efficacy rests on the principle of reciprocity. One party provides the protections to its prisoners believing and hoping its enemies will respond in kind. Commendable German and U.S. treatment of each other’s prisoners during World War II exemplifies this principle; Japanese treatment of U.S prisoners at Bataan proves its imperfections. Regardless, maintaining the moral high ground is critical. Had Abbottabad gone poorly, the United States would have asserted that U.S. personnel in Pakistani custody were entitled to the high standards of prisoner of war treatment. That would have required those Soldiers and Sailors to be in compliance with the law of war. The nonmilitary chain of command may have been problematic in making that assertion.
“From its inception . . . America has venerated the rule of law.”72 Traditional military activities occur against a rich fabric of domestic and international law. Covert action, while uniquely codified, presents multiple dilemmas. Although permissible under U.S. domestic law, covert action is generally illegal in the target country.73 Again, maintaining the moral high ground is critical.
Although inimical to covert action’s fundamental premise, overt executive branch commentary following the Abbottabad raid highlighted the legal risk associated with policy decisions. Placing Servicemembers under CIA command threatens to undermine the protections they rely on when conducting kinetic military operations, especially where the activity is more accurately classified as a traditional military activity.
The risk can—and should—be mitigated by first properly classifying the activity. Classifying a traditional military activity as anything else undermines the very categorization and its inherent law of war protections. DOD can undoubtedly conduct secretive (that is, clandestine and/or unacknowledged) actions as traditional military activities and enjoy the full body of the law of war’s protections. The current framework neither envisions nor facilitates placing Servicemembers under CIA control and preserving the command relationships necessary to cloak them in combatant immunity. The Abbottabad raid utilized this risk-laden approach.
This is not to assert that conducting the raid as a covert action was illegal. There were three likely outcomes: success, failure,
or something in between (that is, aborting the mission). Neither success nor failure required covert action’s plausible deniability. The United States immediately publicly acknowledged killing of “public enemy number one”; regardless, the crashed helicopter disclosed the U.S. role. A noncatastrophic driven decision to abort (for example, Pakistani detection of violation of their sovereign airspace) provides the sole outcome where the United States would likely have hidden behind the statute’s shield, disavowing all. The covert action classification provided an insurance policy, yet the cost of allowing that policy to “lapse” through post-success disclosures undermines the plausibility of such “insurance” in the future.
Compare the Abbottabad covert action with the recent rescue of a U.S. citizen in Somalia, conducted secretively, but not covertly, by “a small number of joint combatequipped U.S. forces.”74 This comparison illustrates that such activities can be conducted as traditional military activities, maintaining secrecy and preserving individual Servicemember protections. The need for continued distinction between covert action and traditional military activities and, where covert, the need for DOD-conducted operations to maintain a military chain of command, drive these recommendations. The United States should revisit the rejection of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that DOD assume responsibility for paramilitary covert operations.75
Where DOD participation is necessary and primary, the operation should be conducted as an unacknowledged traditional military activity. If the risk analysis drives a decision to conduct the operation as a covert action, the President should maintain the military chain of command. This ensures Servicemembers going in harm’s way have every protection the Nation they serve can provide them—or a clearer understanding of the additional risks they are assuming on behalf
of their Nation. JFQ
The Largest Covert Operation in CIA History
By Chalmers Johnson
The History News Network
Monday 09 June 2003
The Central Intelligence Agency has an almost unblemished record of screwing up every “secret” armed intervention it ever undertook. From the overthrow of the Iranian government in 1953 through the Bay of Pigs, the failed attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro of Cuba and Patrice Lumumba of the Republic of Congo, the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, the “secret war” in Laos, aid to the Greek colonels who seized power in 1967, the 1973 killing of Salvador Allende in Chile and Ronald Reagan’s Iran-contra war against Nicaragua, there is not a single instance in which the agency’s activities did not prove acutely embarrassing to the United States. The CIA continues to get away with this primarily because its budget and operations have always been secret and Congress is normally too indifferent to its constitutional functions to rein in a rogue bureaucracy. Therefore the tale of a purported CIA success story should be of some interest.
According to the author of the newly released Charlie Wilson’s War, the exception to CIA incompetence was the arming between 1979 and 1988 of thousands of Afghan moujahedeen (“freedom fighters”). The agency flooded Afghanistan with an astonishing array of extremely dangerous weapons and “unapologetically mov[ed] to equip and train cadres of high tech holy warriors in the art of waging a war of urban terror against a modern superpower,” in this case, the USSR.
The author of this glowing account, George Crile, is a veteran producer for the CBS television news show “60 Minutes” and an exuberant Tom Clancy-type enthusiast for the Afghan caper. He argues that the U.S. clandestine involvement in Afghanistan was “the largest and most successful CIA operation in history” and “the one morally unambiguous crusade of our time.” He adds that “there was nothing so romantic and exciting as this war against the Evil Empire.” Crile’s sole measure of success is the number of Soviet soldiers killed (about 15,000), which undermined Soviet morale and contributed to the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the period from 1989 to 1991. That’s the successful part.
However, he never mentions that the “tens of thousands of fanatical Muslim fundamentalists” the CIA armed are some of the same people who in 1996 killed 19 American airmen at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; blew a hole in the side of the U.S. destroyer Cole in Aden harbor in 2000; and on Sept. 11, 2001, flew hijacked airliners into New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Today, the world awaits what is almost certain to happen soon at some airport — a terrorist firing a U.S. Stinger low-level surface-to-air missile (manufactured at one time by General Dynamics in Rancho Cucamonga) into an American jumbo jet. The CIA supplied thousands of them to the moujahedeen and trained them to be experts in their use. If the CIA’s activities in Afghanistan are a “success story,” then Enron should be considered a model of corporate behavior.
Nonetheless, Crile’s account is important, if appalling, precisely because it details how a ruthless ignoramus congressman and a high-ranking CIA thug managed to hijack American foreign policy. From 1973 to 1996, Charlie Wilson represented the 2nd District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. His constituency was in the heart of the East Texas Bible Belt and was the long-held fiefdom of his fellow Democrat, Martin Dies, the first chairman of the House Un-American Affairs Committee. Wilson is 6 feet, 4 inches tall and “handsome, with one of those classic outdoor faces that tobacco companies bet millions on.” He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1956, eighth from the bottom of his class and with more demerits than any other cadet in Annapolis history.
After serving in the Texas Legislature, he arrived in Washington in 1973 and quickly became known as “Good Time Charlie,” “the biggest playboy in Congress.” He hired only good-looking women for his staff and escorted “a parade of beauty queens to White House parties.” Even Crile, who featured Wilson many times on “60 Minutes” and obviously admires him, describes him as “a seemingly corrupt, cocaine snorting, scandal prone womanizer who the CIA was convinced could only get the Agency into terrible trouble if it permitted him to become involved in any way in its operations.”
Wilson’s partner in getting the CIA to arm the moujahedeen was Gust Avrakotos, the son of working-class Greek immigrants from the steel workers’ town of Aliquippa, Pa. Only in 1960 did the CIA begin to recruit officers for the Directorate of Operations from among what it called “new Americans,” meaning such ethnic groups as Chinese, Japanese, Latinos and Greek Americans. Until then, it had followed its British model and taken only Ivy League sons of the Eastern Establishment. Avrakotos joined the CIA in 1961 and came to nurture a hatred of the bluebloods, or “cake eaters,” as he called them, who discriminated against him. After “spook school” at Camp Peary, next door to Jamestown, Va., he was posted to Athens, where, as a Greek speaker, he remained until 1978.
During Avrakotos’s time in Greece, the CIA was instrumental in destroying Greek freedom and helping to turn the country into probably the single most anti-American democracy on Earth today. Incredibly, Crile describes this as follows: “On April 21, 1967, he [Avrakotos] got one of those breaks that can make a career. A military junta seized power in Athens that day and suspended democratic and constitutional government.” Avrakotos became the CIA’s chief liaison with the Greek colonels. After the fall of the colonels’ brutally fascist regime, the 17 November terrorist organization assassinated the CIA’s Athens station chief, Richard Welch, on Dec. 23, 1975, and “Gust came to be vilified in the Greek radical press as the sinister force responsible for most of the country’s many ills.” He left the country in 1978 but could not get another decent assignment — he tried for Helsinki — because the head of the European Division regarded him as simply too uncouth to send to any of its capitals. He sat around Langley for several years without work until he was recruited by John McGaffin, head of the Afghan program. “If it’s really true that you have nothing to do,” McGaffin said, “why not come upstairs? We’re killing Russians.”
Wilson was the moneybags and sparkplug of this pair; Avrakotos was a street fighter who relished giving Kalashnikovs and Stingers to the tribesmen in Afghanistan. Wilson was the more complex of the two, and Crile argues that his “Good Time Charlie” image was actually a cover for a Barry Goldwater kind of hyper-patriotism. But Wilson was also a liberal on the proposed Equal Rights Amendment and a close friend of the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (D-Texas), and his sister Sharon became chairwoman of the board of Planned Parenthood.
As a boy, Wilson was fascinated by World War II and developed an almost childlike belief that he possessed a “special destiny” to “kill bad guys” and help underdogs prevail over their enemies. When he entered Congress, just at the time of the Yom Kippur War, he became a passionate supporter of Israel. After he traveled to Israel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee began to steer large amounts of money from all over the country to him and to cultivate him as “one of Israel’s most important Congressional champions: a non-Jew with no Jewish constituents.” Jewish members of Congress also rallied to put Wilson on the all-powerful Appropriations Committee in order to guarantee Israel’s annual $3-billion subsidy. His own Texas delegation opposed his appointment.
Wilson was not discriminating in his largess. He also became a supporter of Anastasio “Tacho” Somoza, the West Point graduate and dictator of Nicaragua who in 1979 was swept away by popular fury. Before that happened, President Carter tried to cut the $3.1-million annual U.S. aid package to Nicaragua, but Wilson, declaring Somoza to be “America’s oldest anti-Communist ally in Central America,” opposed the president and prevailed.
During Wilson’s long tenure on the House Appropriations Committee, one of its subcommittee chairmen, Clarence D. “Doc” Long, used to have a sign mounted over his desk: “Them that has the gold makes the rules.” Wilson advanced rapidly on this most powerful of congressional committees. He was first appointed to the foreign operations subcommittee, which doles out foreign aid. He then did a big favor for then-Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr. (D-Mass.). The chairman of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee at the time, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), had been caught in the FBI’s ABSCAM sting operation in which an agent disguised as a Saudi sheik offered members of Congress large cash bribes. O’Neill put Wilson on the Ethics Committee to save Murtha, which he did. In return, O’Neill assigned Wilson to the defense appropriations subcommittee and made him a life member of the governing board of the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center, where he delighted in taking his young dates. Wilson soon discovered that all of the CIA’s budget and 40 percent of the Pentagon’s budget is “black,” hidden from the public and even from Congress. As a member of the defense subcommittee, he could arrange to have virtually any amount of money added to whatever black project he supported. So long as Wilson did favors for other members on the subcommittee, such as supporting defense projects in their districts, they would never object to his private obsessions.
About this time, Wilson came under the influence of a remarkable, rabidly conservative Houston woman in her mid-40s, Joanne Herring. They later fell in love, although they never married. She had a reputation among the rich of the River Oaks section of Houston as a collector of powerful men, a social lioness and hostess to her fellow members of the John Birch Society. She counted among her friends Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, dictator and first lady of the Philippines, and Yaqub Khan, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, D.C., who got Herring named as Pakistan’s honorary consul for Houston.
In July 1977, the head of Pakistan’s army, Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, seized power and declared martial law, and in 1979, he hanged Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the president who had promoted him. In retaliation, Carter cut off U.S. aid to Pakistan. In 1980, Herring went to Islamabad and was so entranced by Zia and his support for the Afghan freedom fighters that on her return to the United States, she encouraged Wilson to go to Pakistan. There he met Zia, learned about the Afghan moujahedeen and became a convert to the cause. Once Reagan replaced Carter, Wilson was able to restore Zia’s aid money and added several millions to the CIA’s funds for secretly arming the Afghan guerrillas, each dollar of which the Saudi government secretly matched.
Although Wilson romanticized the mountain warriors of Afghanistan, the struggle was never as uneven as it seemed. Pakistan provided the fighters with sanctuary, training and arms and even sent its own officers into Afghanistan as advisors on military operations. Saudi Arabia served as the fighters’ banker, providing hundred of millions with no strings attached. Several governments, including those of Egypt, China and Israel, secretly supplied arms. And the insurgency enjoyed the backing of the United States through the CIA.
Wilson’s and the CIA’s greatest preoccupation was supplying the Afghans with something effective against the Soviets’ most feared weapon, the Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunship. The Red Army used it to slaughter innumerable moujahedeen as well as to shoot up Afghan villages. Wilson favored the Oerlikon antiaircraft gun made in Switzerland (it was later charged that he was on the take from the Zurich-based arms manufacturer). Avrakotos opposed it because it was too heavy for guerrillas to move easily, but he could not openly stand in Wilson’s way. After months of controversy, the Joint Chiefs of Staff finally dropped their objections to supplying the American Stinger, President Reagan signed off on it, and the “silver bullet” was on its way. The Stinger had never before been used in combat. It proved to be murderous against the Hinds, and Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev decided to cut his losses and get out altogether. In Wilson’s postwar tour of Afghanistan, moujahedeen fighters surrounded him and triumphantly fired their missiles for his benefit. They also gave him as a souvenir the stock from the first Stinger to shoot down a Hind gunship.
The CIA “bluebloods” fired Avrakotos in the summer of 1986, and he retired to Rome. Wilson became chairman of the Intelligence Oversight Committee, at which time he wrote to his CIA friends, “Well, gentlemen, the fox is in the hen house. Do whatever you like.” After retiring from Congress in 1996, he became a lobbyist for Pakistan under a contract that paid him $30,000 a month. Meanwhile, the United States lost interest in Afghanistan, which descended into a civil war that the Taliban ultimately won. In the autumn of 2001, the United States returned in force after Al Qaeda retaliated against its former weapon supplier by attacking New York and Washington. The president of the United States went around asking, “Why do they hate us?”
Crile knows a lot about these matters and presents them in a dramatic manner. There are, however, one or two items that he appears unaware of or is suppressing. For the CIA legally to carry out a covert action, the president must authorize a document called a finding. Crile repeatedly says that Carter signed such a finding ordering the CIA to provide covert backing to the moujahedeen after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on Dec. 24, 1979. The truth of the matter is that Carter signed the finding on July 3, 1979, six months before the Soviet invasion, and he did so on the advice of his national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in order to try to provoke a Russian incursion. Brzezinski has confirmed this sequence of events in an interview with a French newspaper, and former CIA Director Robert M. Gates says so explicitly in his 1996 memoirs. It may surprise Charlie Wilson to learn that his heroic moujahedeen were manipulated by Washington like so much cannon fodder in order to give the USSR its own Vietnam. The moujahedeen did the job, but as subsequent events have made clear, they may not be grateful to the United States.
Mr. Johnson is the author of Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire and The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic, to be published in January by Metropolitan Books.
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C.I.A. Agents in Libya Aid Airstrikes and Meet Rebels
By MARK MAZZETTI and ERIC SCHMITT
WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency has inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and to contact and vet the beleaguered rebels battling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, according to American officials.
While President Obama has insisted that no American military ground troops participate in the Libyan campaign, small groups of C.I.A. operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks as part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help bleed Colonel Qaddafi’s military, the officials said.
In addition to the C.I.A. presence, composed of an unknown number of Americans who had worked at the spy agency’s station in Tripoli and others who arrived more recently, current and former British officials said that dozens of British special forces and MI6 intelligence officers are working inside Libya. The British operatives have been directing airstrikes from British jets and gathering intelligence about the whereabouts of Libyan government tank columns, artillery pieces and missile installations, the officials said.
American officials hope that similar information gathered by American intelligence officers — including the location of Colonel Qaddafi’s munitions depots and the clusters of government troops inside towns — might help weaken Libya’s military enough to encourage defections within its ranks.
In addition, the American spies are meeting with rebels to try to fill in gaps in understanding who their leaders are and the allegiances of the groups opposed to Colonel Qaddafi, said United States government officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the activities. American officials cautioned, though, that the Western operatives were not directing the actions of rebel forces.
A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment.
The United States and its allies have been scrambling to gather detailed information on the location and abilities of Libyan infantry and armored forces that normally takes months of painstaking analysis.
“We didn’t have great data,” Gen. Carter F. Ham, who handed over control of the Libya mission to NATO on Wednesday, said in an e-mail last week. “Libya hasn’t been a country we focused on a lot over past few years.”
Several weeks ago, President Obama signed a secret finding authorizing the C.I.A. to provide arms and other support to Libyan rebels, American officials said Wednesday. But weapons have not yet been shipped into Libya, as Obama administration officials debate the effects of giving them to the rebel groups. The presidential finding was first reported by Reuters.
In a statement released Wednesday evening, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, declined to comment “on intelligence matters,” but he said that no decision had yet been made to provide arms to the rebels.
Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who leads the House Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday that he opposed arming the rebels. “We need to understand more about the opposition before I would support passing out guns and advanced weapons to them,” Mr. Rogers said in a statement.
Because the publicly stated goal of the Libyan campaign is not explicitly to overthrow Colonel Qaddafi’s government, the clandestine war now going on is significantly different from the Afghan campaign to drive the Taliban from power in 2001. Back then, American C.I.A. and Special Forces troops worked alongside Afghan militias, armed them and called in airstrikes that paved the rebel advances on strategically important cities like Kabul and Kandahar.
In recent weeks, the American military has been monitoring Libyan troops with U-2 spy planes and a high-altitude Global Hawk drone, as well as a special aircraft, JSTARS, that tracks the movements of large groups of troops. Military officials said that the Air Force also has Predator drones, similar to those now operating in Afghanistan, in reserve.
Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint eavesdropping planes intercept communications from Libyan commanders and troops and relay that information to the Global Hawk, which zooms in on the location of armored forces and determines rough coordinates. The Global Hawk sends the coordinates to analysts at a ground station, who pass the information to command centers for targeting. The command center beams the coordinates to an E-3 Sentry Awacs command-and-control plane, which in turn directs warplanes to their targets.
Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, who recently retired as the Air Force’s top intelligence official, said that Libya’s flat desert terrain and clear weather have allowed warplanes with advanced sensors to hunt Libyan armored columns with relative ease, day or night, without the need for extensive direction from American troops on the ground.
But if government troops advance into or near cities in along the country’s eastern coast, which so far have been off-limits to coalition aircraft for fear of causing civilian casualties, General Deptula said that ground operatives would be particularly helpful in providing target coordinates or pointing them out to pilots with hand-held laser designators.
The C.I.A. and British intelligence services were intensely focused on Libya eight years ago, before and during the successful effort to get Colonel Qaddafi to give up his nuclear weapons program. He agreed to do so in the fall of 2003, and allowed C.I.A. and other American nuclear experts into the country to assess Libya’s equipment and bomb designs and to arrange for their transfer out of the country.
Once the weapons program was eliminated, a former American official said, intelligence agencies shifted their focus away from Libya. But as Colonel Qaddafi began his recent crackdown on the rebel groups, the American spy agencies have worked to rekindle ties to Libyan informants and to learn more about the country’s military leaders.
A former British government official who is briefed on current operations confirmed media reports that dozens of British Special Forces soldiers, from the elite Special Air Service and Special Boat Service units, are on the ground across Libya. The British soldiers have been particularly focused on finding the locations of Colonel Qaddafi’s Russian-made surface-to-air missiles.
A spokesman for Britain’s Ministry of Defense declined to comment, citing a policy not to discuss the operations of British Special Forces.
Military, CIA shun 9/11 panel on covert operations
Special-ops lead urged in report
By Bill Gertz The Washington Times
The U.S. military and the CIA failed to agree on implementing a key recommendation of the commission that investigated the 9/11 terrorist attacks: Give special-operations commandos the lead for all covert military action.
The 9/11 Commission ordered the shift in response to concerns that CIA covert action — a mainstay of the agency’s World War II predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services — had “atrophied.” The agency also had a “risk averse” approach to spying and semisecret military activities.
The military has expanded special operations forces in recent years. But critics complain that the Pentagon official in charge of the policies for their use is Michael G. Vickers, a former CIA official who comes from the agency’s risk-averse, anti-covert-action culture.
Military covert action involves training and equipping foreign military or paramilitary forces in semisecret activities where the U.S. role is hidden. Past programs included arming Cuban rebels for the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion, deploying direct-action hit teams in Vietnam, and the arming and training of anti-communist rebels in Latin America and anti-Soviet rebels in Afghanistan.
Since 2004, the CIA’s most successful covert military operation was the hunt for bin Laden and the raid to kill him in Pakistan on May 2 with Navy SEALs.
The CIA’s other successful covert military action is the war against al Qaeda and other terrorist groups using drone missile strikes in the Middle East and South Asia.
One setback was the suicide bombing by a double agent in December 2009 at a CIA covert base in Khost, Afghanistan, that killed seven agency officers.
“Our capabilities are complementary, not duplicative, and the success of those capabilities should speak for itself,” she said.
Gen. Boykin said a task force was set up to study the 9/11 recommendation, but it failed to define paramilitary covert action. “This was a fundamental question that no one could answer,” Gen. Boykin said.
If the commission meant training, SoCom already had the mission of working with surrogates. But “paramilitary” operations — activities that are militarylike but carried out by groups other than the military — automatically would become military if the function is passed to the Pentagon.
Gen. Boykin said that if the commission wanted to give responsibility for covert action to the Pentagon, the CIA was opposed, arguing that the change would hinder intelligence collection. The agency said its facilities and equipment were “dual-use” — for spying and paramilitary — and could not be transferred.
Gen. Boykin said the command was against duplicating the CIA’s training facilities, methods and equipment, because of high costs needed to “age” equipment and weapons for operations.
“Working from the assumption that the commission was not really sure what they were recommending, the study group determined that the capabilities already in SoCom were competent to train indigenous forces including using clandestine methodology,” he said.
“The agreement was that the CIA would support [special operations] as needed with facilities and other resources.”
Bureaucratic turf also played a role.
“CIA did not want to lose anything since that would result in a reduction of resources as well as a loss of authority,” Gen. Boykin said.
However, special operations forces also “did not want the covert action mission because they saw it as something that would absorb huge amounts of time and resources and would be a distraction,” he said.
Former CIA officer Robert Baer, who was investigated by the Clinton administration during a covert action in northern Iraq, said he favors giving the mission to the military. “No matter what the bosses say, the CIA hates covert and paramilitary operations,” he said.
“The place is managed by liberal-arts majors who do a lot better operating on intuition and big-horizon stuff — like whether we’re winning or losing in Afghanistan,” Mr. Baer said. “But never ask it to run a bunch of Hmong tribesmen or disaffected Pashtuns and ever hope to win a war with them.”
Mr. Baer said the Pentagon is better tactically at making things work and has a larger pool of recruits with foreign-language skills.
“The problem is that presidents always reach for the CIA when they think they need a ‘silver bullet,’ like the Bay of Pigs,” he said. “The CIA inevitably fails, and then it gets blamed for the mess.”
Every covert action requires a presidential directive stating that the proposed action is in the country’s national interest. The procedure is often cumbersome and prone to public disclosure. Supporters of the change say military-led covert action would be more flexible and easier to approve.
Hiring former special operations forces at the CIA will not help the agency’s covert military capabilities, Mr. Baer said. “Outside military discipline, they just don’t perform up to their capabilities,” he said.
Mr. Baer said the covert program to supply Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Afghan rebels in the 1980s was less a covert action success than a “logistics” plan to ship arms to the fighters in the field. “It was not a proper paramilitary campaign,” he said.
A Harvard University study several years ago quoted anti-covert-action officials at the CIA as opposing the Stinger operation because of fears it would trigger a war with the Soviet Union.
The 9/11 Commission report describes the CIA in 2001 as “institutionally averse to risk, with its capacity for covert action atrophied.”
It also says the CIA did not invest in developing “robust” paramilitary operations with U.S. personnel but instead relied on proxies trained and organized by CIA officers without military experience. “The results were unsatisfactory,” it says.
The 9/11 Commission said the CIA could continue clandestine and nonmilitary covert action, including propaganda and nonmilitary disruption.
“We believe, however, that one important area of responsibility should change,” the commission’s report says. “Lead responsibility for directing and executing paramilitary operations, whether clandestine or covert, should shift to the Defense Department.”
“Whether the price is measured in either money or people, the United States cannot afford to build two separate capabilities for carrying out secret military operations, secretly operating standoff missiles, and secretly training foreign military or paramilitary forces,” the report says.
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Senators challenge military leaders on Benghazi attack response
“…The top two Defense Department officials were sharply challenged by lawmakers Thursday on their insistent claims that nothing more could have been done to save the four Americans who were killed in the Sept. 11 terror attack in Benghazi.
Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey were peppered with questions from Republican senators during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The officials claimed military aircraft and other assets were too far away to get to the scene in time, and suggested armed aircraft like F16s could have done more harm than good in a chaotic situation. The senators, though, pressed the officials for a fuller explanation on why military assets were not deployed to rescue Americans under attack that night — in what will likely be their last chance to question the outgoing Defense secretary.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., disputed testimony that the difficulty in dispatching assets to the scene was “a problem of distance and time.” He suggested the “light footprint” in the region and a failure to respond to threats left the military ill-prepared.
“For you to testify that our posture would not allow a rapid response — our posture was not there because we didn’t take into account the threats to that consulate, and that’s why four Americans died,” he said. “We could have placed forces there. We could have had aircraft and other capacity a short distance away.”
He continued: “No forces arrived there until well after these murders took place.”
Dempsey acknowledged having gotten word of a warning from the U.S. consulate about being unable to withstand a sustained attack, but said the military never got a request for support from the State Department.
“So it’s the State Department’s fault?” McCain asked, curtly.
“I’m not blaming the State Department,” Dempsey said.
McCain responded: “Who would you blame?”
Dempsey went on to claim that several U.S. posts were facing significant threats, though McCain said none so much as Benghazi.
Shortly afterward, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., pressed Panetta again on why no forces were deployed until after the attack was over. Dempsey and Panetta said they talked to President Obama one time that night, but Graham questioned why there weren’t subsequent follow-up conversations.
“It lasted almost eight hours … did the president show any curiosity?” Graham asked.
Panetta said there was “no question” Obama “was concerned about American lives.”
“With all due respect,” Graham responded, “I don’t believe that’s a credible statement if he never called and asked you, ‘are we helping these people?'”
The secretary’s testimony on Benghazi was long-sought by Republican lawmakers. After then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified last month, Graham had demanded that Panetta be brought before the Senate — threatening to hold up the nomination of his prospective replacement Chuck Hagel over the issue.
Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., announced last week that Panetta would testify.
Responding to long-running questions about whether more military assets could have been dispatched to protect those under fire in Libya on Sept. 11, Panetta in his opening statement claimed there simply wasn’t enough time to do more.
“There was not enough time given the speed of the attack for armed military assets to respond,” he said before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We were not dealing with a prolonged or continuous assault which could have been brought to an end by a U.S. military response. … Time, distance, the lack of an adequate warning, events that moved very quickly on the ground prevented a more immediate response.”
Still, he said the Pentagon “spared no effort … to save American lives.”
Panetta was testifying in what may be his final public appearance on Capitol Hill as he prepares to leave the department.
Panetta, in his testimony, detailed the military response on the day and night of the attack.
As Fox News has previously reported, he said an unarmed, unmanned drone was positioned overhead the Benghazi compound.
But he said armed aircraft like AC-130 gunships would have taken too long to get there — “at least nine to 12 hours if not more to deploy.”
“This was, pure and simple … a problem of distance and time,” he said.
Panetta said he also directed that a Marine Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team stationed in Spain prepare to deploy in addition to a second FAST platoon; a special operations force in Central Europe prepare to deploy to a staging base in Southern Europe; and a special ops force in the U.S. similarly prepare to deploy to Southern Europe.
As for what was happening in Libya, he claimed the “quickest response” was the Tripoli-based team of six people which was sent to Benghazi.
“Members of this team, along with others at the annex facility, provided emergency medical assistance and supported the evacuation of all personnel. Only 12 hours after the attacks had begun, all remaining U.S. government personnel had been safely evacuated from Benghazi,” he said.
Since the September assault, some have questioned whether enough was done to protect those at the consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi. Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed that night.
There have been questions about the perceived delays CIA officials — stationed in Benghazi — encountered that night and their frustration that air support was not sent from nearby Sigonella air base. In recent weeks, Fox News has learned that the rescue unit that left Tripoli was told that air support would be above when they landed in Benghazi, but it wasn’t. …”
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Clinton Grilled on Benghazi Attacks in Congressional Inquiry
By Paul Stanley
“…An emotional and frustrated Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traded barbs with legislators on Capitol Hill in her appearances Wednesday before Senate and House committees searching for answers in the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, that killed a U.S. ambassador and three security personnel.
Clinton’s day began first thing on Wednesday morning when she appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and will end later in the day before the House committee.
“I take responsibility,” Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger and more secure.”
But soon after making her statement claiming responsibility, Sen. Rob Johnson (R-Wis.) seemed to back Clinton in a corner when he suggested “a simple phone call” to sources in Benghazi might have determined there was no protest at the American Embassy. “Why wasn’t that known?” asked Johnson.
Clinton initially said it was not policy to make inquiries before the FBI investigation was completed, but fired back at the GOP senator when she was pressed on the issue. “With all due respect, what difference at this point does it make?” she said. “We have four dead Americans. It’s our job to figure out what happened and make sure it never happens again. People were tying in real time to get to the information.”
She also said the deaths were extremely “personal” to her.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) also pressed the secretary on why additional security was not in place. He also revealed that he had met with Ambassador Chris Stevens approximately two months before his death and that he expressed “his deep and grave concerns about security in Benghazi.”
Clinton said those concerns never reached her desk.
“I did not see these requests. They did not come to me. I did not approve them. I did not deny,” she said.
However, a review by an independent board concluded that “systemic failures” resulted in the consulate being at risk to attacks and that no organized protest were planned or were in place at the time of the attacks.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the son of former presidential candidate and House member Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), further pressed Clinton by criticizing her for not reading the cables requesting more security. “Had I been president and found out you did not read the cables from Benghazi and from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post,” said Paul. “I think it’s inexcusable.”
However, neither members of the House or Senate asked Clinton why the initial attacks were blamed on an amateur video that insulted Islam.
Clinton’s appearance was postponed for several weeks due to her health. She is expected to step down from her post in the coming days and will most likely be replaced by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), and who, like Clinton, ran unsuccessfully for the White House.
Prior to her being appointed as Secretary of State during President Obama’s first term, Clinton served as the first lady when her husband, former President Bill Clinton, served two terms in the White House. She went on to be elected as a U.S. Senator from New York prior to serving as the nation’s top diplomat.
She is also mentioned as a potential 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. …”
Angry Clinton Explodes at Questioning on Libya Protest: ‘We Have Four Dead Americans…What Difference at This Point Does It Make?’
“…Secretary of State Hillary Clinton erupted at Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) during his questioning Wednesday over whether there were protests in Benghazi, Libya before the deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission.
Johnson was insisting that the American people were “misled” about protests that supposedly occurred over an anti-Islam video, similar to those that had taken place at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo hours earlier on Sept. 11, 2012. It was later determined there had been no protests in Benghazi and the assault was labeled a terrorist attack.
“Do you disagree with me that a simple phone call to those evacuees to determine what happened would have ascertained immediately that there was no protest?” Johnson asked Clinton during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. “That was a piece of information that could have been easily, easily obtained, within hours if not days.”
“Senator, when you’re in these positions, the last thing you want to do is interfere with any other process going on — ” Clinton started to answer.
” — I realize that’s a good excuse,” Johnson cut in.
“Well, no, it’s the fact,” Clinton said sharply, adding that there are questions being raised “even today” about what precisely happened in Benghazi.
She continued, “Now, we have no doubt they were terrorists, they were militants, they attacked us, they killed our people. But what was going on and why they were doing what they were doing, is still — ”