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Entries in CIA (15)

Wednesday
Apr272011

President Obama’s National Security Staffing Shuffles

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will announce Thursday some major staff shuffling in his national security team.

As ABC News has reported:

    * CIA director Leon Panetta will be nominated for Secretary of Defense;
    * International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Commander Gen. David Petreaus will be nominated to be CIA director;
    * Marine General John Allen will be nominated to replace Petraeus at ISAF in Kabul, Afghanistan; and
    * former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker will be nominated to be U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan.

These moves were several months in the making, the “culmination by a multi-month process of careful consideration by the president,” administration officials said, prompted by the decisions of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Gen. Karl Eikenberry (ret.) to exit the jobs they’ve held since 2007 and 2009, respectively.

Panetta was offered the job on Monday; he called President Obama back Monday evening and accepted the offer. Administration officials acknowledge that Panetta did so reluctantly, given his fondness for his current job at the CIA.

Administration officials referenced Panetta’s tenure at the CIA as evidence of the experience needed for his new role.

“Strong leadership, reinvigoration of institutional morale tremendously effective, very solid manager, obviously deep experience in budget and management of the government, has become over the last two plus years a close advisor to the president,” an administration official said, “Seen by the president as a very effective member of the team.”

President Obama met with Petreaus to discuss his potential new role on March 14 and 18. White House officials hope Petraeus, who will retire from the military to become CIA director, can take over at Langley in September, though he will stay in his current role until Allen has been confirmed and is prepared to assume command. 

Deputy CIA director Michael Morrell will serve as interim director.

Allen will serve as a special assistant to Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen in order to prepare for his new assignment, which they hope he will be able to assume in September as well.

President Obama met with Crocker on March 30 and offered him the position. Administration officials say they are seeking an early confirmation.

“We have laid this out in a way that we believe will provide for a seamless transition in each of these positions,” administration officials said. “That is no gap, no disruption in continuity in execution of policy.”

Copy 2011 ABC News Radio 

Wednesday
Apr272011

Former Top Intelligence Official Makes Case Against Petraeus

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A former top intelligence official -- a high-profile and respected figure in the intelligence world -- told ABC’s Jonathan Karl on Wednesday why he thinks -- and says others like him think -- that David Petraeus is an “awful” choice for director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

This former official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, served under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and offers several reasons why he believes this is a bad choice.

He makes several points:

  • The decision was made, he says, by the White House with no serious input from the Director of National Intelligence, who oversees the CIA.

  • Leaving the DNI -- which has responsibility over the CIA and other intelligence agencies -- out of the process is “corrosive of the whole DNI concept,” he says.

  • This source insists Petraeus would not have been the choice of the DNI. “I don’t know of anybody in my former world [the intelligence community] who thinks this is a good idea,” he notes.

  • He says that Petraeus is not known as a team player, which a good CIA director needs to be.

  • The appointment, he says, looks like a consolation prize given to Petraeus because he wasn’t going to be nominated to be Joint Chiefs chairman.

  • One of the most important questions the CIA will be looking at in the coming year is, “How is it going in Pakistan?” he says, so Petraeus will essentially be giving himself a grade.

  • “The best directors arrive with a certain sense of humility….” Not a Petraeus trait, he says.

  • Petraeus is a brilliant policy guy, this source says, but not an analyst.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb162011

CIA Director speculates about capture of OBL and Zawahiri

Photo Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- CIA Director Leon Panetta testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday that if Osama Bin laden or Aymen al-Zawahiri were captured they would likely be transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The comment by the CIA Director shows the United States has few viable options for securely holding and detaining high value terrorists over 2 years after President Obama ordered the detention facility to be closed.

Asked the hypothetical question by vice-chairman of the committee Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) what would happen if the al Qaeda leaders were captured Panetta said,  “We would probably move them quickly to military jurisdiction and to Bagram and um for questioning and eventually then probably to Guantanamo.”

“We havent move anybody to Guantanmo for years now.” Chambliss said. “I agree that would probably be the best place to move anyone right now…it may be the best place…the safest place from a national security standpoint politically it may not be very popular. I appreciate your honesty.”

Panetta appeared before the Senate Committee at it’s annual worldwide threat assessment hearing along with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and other top US Security chiefs.   Clapper told the committee, “If we were to capture any of those luminaries, if I can use that term, it would be a matter of some interagency discussion…and whether they would be tried…it would be the matter of some discussion.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb032011

CIA Official: White House Was Warned About Danger in Egypt

Photo Courtesy - cia.gov(WASHINGTON) -- A CIA official testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said Thursday that President Barack Obama and his top aides had been warned that instability in Egypt could lead to larger issues for the country of over 80 million.

Stephanie O'Sullivan, the CIA's associate deputy director, said, "We have warned of instability. We didn't know what the triggering mechanism would be for that. And that happened at the end of the last year," referring to the uprisings in Tunisia.

However, the White House refuted those statements. An official told ABC News, “Did we think after the protests in Tunisia started in December that, analytically, there was the potential for unrest in other countries, that it could spread to other regions? Absolutely.” But the official added that almost no one could have predicted protests involving over 100,000 people in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

President Obama has not directly asked Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to resign, but he has asked him to discourage violence amidst the protests. Wednesday and Thursday, there were multiple reports of not just citizen protesters being injured, but journalists being threatened and detained, as well.

Mubarak said in a global exclusive Thursday with ABC News correspondent Christiane Amanpour that he intends to remain in office, saying, "If I resign today there will be chaos."

"I was very unhappy about yesterday. I do not want to see Egyptians fighting each other," Mubarak said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep222010

U.S. Official Confirms CIA's 3,000-Man Army in Afghanistan

Courtesy ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Newspaper stories advancing Bob Woodward’s latest book, “Obama’s Wars,” have focused on the administration’s internal battles in the lead-up to last year’s strategy for Afghanistan.  But one of the more explosive claims in the book is that the CIA maintains a paramilitary army of 3,000 local Afghans, known as Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams (CTPTs), that targets al Qaeda and the Taliban operatives in the border region with Pakistan.

A U.S. official confirms to ABC News the existence of the previously undisclosed CTPT force saying, "This is one of the best Afghan fighting forces and it's made major contributions to stability and security."

The Washington Post says Woodward characterizes this previously undisclosed Afghan force as “elite, well-trained units that conduct highly sensitive covert operations into Pakistan as part of a stepped-up campaign against al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban havens there.”  The New York Times advancer of the book says the “covert army” captures and kills Taliban fighters and seeks support in tribal areas.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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