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WASHINGTON – While the Pentagon has been doing it up until now, the Central Intelligence Agency soon will take over directing an Iraqi counter-terror effort, a shift that gives the work less exposure but raises confusion about roles of the Pentagon and CIA, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
CIA is charged with gathering intelligence and providing assessments to policymakers, but in going into training counter-terror groups, it raises conflicts with the Pentagon that has such a capability, making the CIA a paramilitary wanna-be while remiss in performing the basic functions for which it was created – intelligence collection and analysis.
This conflict first reared up publicly as the United States prepared to go into Afghanistan in October 2003. Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld butted heads with then-CIA Director George Tenet on using paramilitary forces to go against the Taliban. His argument was that the Defense Department had Special Forces for that purpose.
CIA, however, prevailed and again it has happened with the White House quietly shifting Iraqi’s Counter-Terrorism Service from the Defense Department to CIA oversight. The Iraqi CTS is commanded directly by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with the main enemy being al-Qaida in Iraq, or AQI.
AQI also has morphed into al-Nusra and is providing fighting forces for the Syrian opposition inside the country.
In November 2012, the White House apparently ordered CIA to take over command of the CTS from the Pentagon.
Some analysts, however, believe that the role of CTS is better managed by the Pentagon. The concern is that CIA doesn’t have the expertise or resources to devote to counter-terrorism and doesn’t have the contacts that the Pentagon developed over many years of occupation in Iraq.
Instead, it should be devoting its resources to intelligence collection and much-needed analysis, these experts say.
The CIA element in Iraq also appears to be involved in providing assistance to opposition forces fighting in Syria.
In what is a sign of a significant shift in U.S. Middle East strategy, CIA paramilitary units also are working in southern Turkey to send weapons to Syrian rebels.
These CIA paramilitary elements are supplying them through an arms network that is backed by the governments of Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, according to various reports.
These reports say that CIA has created a Special Activities Division within the National Clandestine Service that is staffed with paramilitary officers. Ironically, these officers often are former U.S. Special Operations Forces.
“While political leaders in Iraq, Turkey and Jordan may not want uniformed American military personnel operating overtly in their countries, they appear to be turning a blind eye to CIA covert operations,” according to a report of the open intelligence entity, Langley Intelligence Group Network, or Lignet.
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