Yesterday, BuzzFeed took a step away from posting cat videos and a step toward going full-Philip-Agee.
For you kids, Philip Agee was a rogue CIA operative who tried to defect to the Soviet Union but they rejected him as unstable. So Agee defected to Cuba. While in exile, he wrote a book call Inside the Company that exposed not only tactics, techniques, and procedures used by CIA case officers in recruiting and managing agents but it also listed some 250 covert CIA agents, people known to Agee, by location and cover. This, as you may imagine, had unfortunate consequences not only for the agents we’d recruited but for some of the 250 CIA operatives he outed. MI-6 lost a couple of highly placed agents in Poland. And the U.S. CIA Chief of Station in Athens, Richard Welch, was targeted by terrorists and assassinated. Eventually, Agee set up a newsletter dedicated to outing CIA agents and eventually exposed well over 1,000 of them.
It was because of Agee and Welch that Congress enacted the Intelligence Identities Protection Act which criminalizes revealing the identities of covert operatives. Unfortunately, we most often associate this law with the farcical hounding of Scooter Libby over the Valerie Plame affair.
Back to BuzzFeed:
The Central Intelligence Agency has been deploying small teams of commandos to kill selected suspected terrorists, according to two sources familiar with the program.
The program, which has not been previously disclosed, is coordinated by units from the CIA’s Special Activities Center, which oversees the agency’s paramilitary capability, the sources said.
Full disclosure: I don’t have a problem with killing terrorists and anyone who associates with them. I’d much rather that we do it up-close-and-personal, where we might have the chance of taking a prisoner or two or retrieving documents rather than obliterating the target and everything around it via a Hellfire missile launched from a drone.
Now we get to really crappy part of BuzzFeed’s sorry act:
The Special Activities Center is now led by a former commando at the agency. BuzzFeed News is withholding his name at the request of the CIA. Until this spring, he was a senior aide to Pompeo, and before that, he served under John Brennan, Pompeo’s predecessor. He was, according to a source who knows him, a vocal proponent of more aggressive and audacious operations, and he pushed for the use of the SAC to kill terrorists.
The SAC chief is an old friend of Louis W. Bremer, a top manager at powerful private equity fund Cerberus Capital Management. The two attended the Air Force Academy at the same time. Cerberus, which has invested heavily in military and intelligence contracting companies, is headed by Stephen Feinberg, a Trump ally who reportedly pushed to use contractors rather than uniformed armed forces in Afghanistan, and to “give the C.I.A. control over operations in Afghanistan,” according to a New York Times article last summer. Erik Prince, founder of the private security firm Blackwater and brother of Trump’s education secretary Betsy DeVos, has been pushing a similar plan.
In a photo seen by BuzzFeed News, Bremer poses with the undercover SAC chief.
It isn’t going to take very much ambition to figure out who the program head is. And after that, finding where he lives becomes child’s play. There is absolutely nothing in this section that adds to the story. It is strictly a gratuitous effort of out a covert operative and to increase the risk for him if he continues running this program.
The Special Activities Center, previously known as the Special Activities Division, houses the CIA’s Ground Branch, a group of commandos; the Air Branch, which has intelligence, attack, and transport aircraft; and the Maritime Branch. All three branches have been on a recruitment and hiring and acquisition binge, according to the two sources familiar with the program.
The Ground Branch, shortened to just “Branch” or “GB,” inside the agency, is made up of elite fighters, often taken from the ranks of SEALs, Delta Force, and Marine Special Operations Command. They are dubbed Paramilitary Operations Officers, or PMOO, which they pronounce “peemoo.” In the past, they were largely seen as support staff, helping case officers on projects, or for training foreign forces. Now they are used in direct actions and are operating on their own.
There are only about 100 or so of these fighters, but under Trump the numbers have been growing.
If you didn't object to the U.S. finding and killing Bin Laden extrajudicially when Obama was President — and be honest with yourself, unless your name is Rand Paul or Glenn Greenwald you probably didn't object — I'd be interested in hearing why you object to this. https://t.co/JiZIhmqBY9
— Jeff B, fightin' the COVID one bootleg at a time (@EsotericCD) March 16, 2018
This is just another example of how the left is perfectly willing to kill you in order to win a policy debate they have already lost inside the system. BuzzFeed has decided that its sensibilities are offended by the CIA expanding it use of paramilitary officers. Now, unable to change that decision, they have decided to up the ante by making the identity of the leader virtually public. This in turn places his family at risk and they might even hope that if the guy pushing the program gets scared that the program, itself, will die. If he happens to get killed, well First Amendment, right?
Arom Roston, the author of this piece, and Ben Smith deserve whatever fate should befall them. I don’t care whether it is prosecution or somebody kicking in their door at 3 a.m. to give them a taste of what they’ve wished on this CIA officer.