Sunday, December 21, 2008

CIA: the Chain of Command

The CIA has a mania for titles and a rather complicated chain of command. Figuring out accountability in the CIA means figuring out who reports to who, and what responsibilities those positions have. This info is taken from

[Zoom on up to my other post ("The Broader CIA Critique") to learn more about the chain of command - complete with official CIA charts! This post has been trimmed in light of the more comprehensive recent post.]

The DCI/DDCI are accountable for three separate chains of command. (NB - this info predates the Sept 11 commission/intelligence reorganization. I think it is still of value considering it helps us evaluate candidates for Obama's administration and potential future criminal investigation).

The third chain is the largest and of most interest for this article.

This chain runs through the Executive Director (EXDIR) and Deputy Executive Director (D/EXDIR). [During important periods in the Bush Administration, formerly Buzzy Krongard EXDIR and John Brennan D/EXDIR] To quote espionageinfo:
The EXDIR oversees five centers that collectively enable the CIA to carry out
its mission: the Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer,
Global Support, Human Resources, and Security
, each of which have
numerous subordinate offices and bureaus...Finally, the Executive
Director's office is in the line of authority between DCI/DDCI and the four directorates
So John Brennan's line - "I was not involved in the decisionmaking process for any of these controversial policies and actions" - is a little difficult to understand. His office was in the line of authority between Operations and the DCI.

Here is a glimpse of the kind of trouble you can get into as Executive Director of the CIA. From Laura Rozen:
As court documents laid out in 28 charges, the man known to
colleagues as "Dusty," a former logistics officer, served as the CIA's number
three official and effectively day to day manager when he badgered the Agency to
hire one of his mistresses, identified in the indictment as "E.R.": "On or about
March 19, 2005," the indictment reads, "Foggo sent the CIA Acting General
Counsel an email stating, in part, that his staff would tag E.R.'s conditional
offer of employment as 'ExDir Interest' in order to 'zip her to the top of the
pile.'" (E.R. was indeed hired, to a position in the CIA general counsel's
office. "ExDir" refers to Foggo's position as CIA Executive Director.)
But former Executive Director Kyle Dustin Foggo is involved in more ominous affairs than that:
No, what truly worried Agency brass were the darker secrets their former top logistics officer was threatening to spill had his case gone to trial as scheduled on November 3. They included the massive contracts Foggo was discussing with Wilkes, estimated by one source at over $300 million dollars. "Wilkes was working on several other huge deals when the hammer fell," a source familiar with Foggo's discussions with Wilkes told me. What kinds of deals? According to the source, they included creating and running a secret plane network, for whatever needs the CIA has for secret planes now that the network it used for extraordinary rendition flights has been outed. "In or about December 2004," the Foggo indictment says, "Foggo discussed with Wilkes and J.C. the idea that Foggo might be able to get Wilkes a classified government contract to supply air support services to the CIA…. In or about January 2005, Wilkes directed various ADCS employees to begin developing an air support proposal that would be designed to answer the CIA's classified needs as outlined by Foggo." The indictment continues: "On or about February 3, 2005, an employee of Wilkes' corporation emailed J.C. with an offer to update him on their work developing the air support proposal. …" (J.C.,
the indictment explains, is Wilkes' nephew, whom I've identified as Joel G.
, the nominal head of a Wilkes' front company, Archer Logistics.) The
"classified air support contract" and its implied purposes for renditions are
among the truly damaging national security secrets, along with the methods the
CIA uses to create front companies and dole out black contracts, that the CIA
and Bush White House would have been anxious not to have exposed, especially in
a trial set to take place the day before the election in a suburban DC courtroom
within a ten-minute drive of the entire national security press corps.
And here is a glimpse of the tricky legal manuveurs a senior official can make if they do not get their way:

"Greymail" is the term of art for an old legal defense technique employed by
those in possession of classified information: The accused and his lawyers will
demand the revelation of so many government secrets in order to get a fair trial
that prosecutors come under pressure to make the case go away. And in
Foggo, the official responsible for the logistics of much of the
administration's war on terror, federal prosecutors met their greymail match. Foggo threatened "to expose the cover of virtually every CIA employee with whom he interacted and to divulge to the world some of our country's most sensitive programs—even though this information has absolutely nothing to do with the charges he faces,"
prosecutors howled in an early September court filing, before they were evidently compelled to extend Foggo the lenient plea deal; Foggo's lawyers, the filing continued, were attempting to "portray Foggo as a hero engaged in actions necessary to protect the public from terrorist acts."
Now Brennan did not have any record of such wildly irresponsible abuse of power. But it is really remarkable/galling, again, that he was no doubt involved in the logistics of rendition and interrogation and yet he claims to have clean hands.

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