Sunday, December 28, 2008

Who is Jack Devine?

Former CIA Jack Devine has been widely reported as a possible candidate to head Obama's CIA. He is seen as one of the "clean" guys, with no attachment to the agency in the post 9/11 years.

Dana Priest from the Washington Post describes him thusly:

"...Jack Devine, the former head of the Directorate of Operations who left the
agency back in the 1990s. He gets lots of respect from agency insiders and
Congress, and did some work with the transition team."

A bio from "Future Intel":

"Jack Devine is a founding member and President of The Arkin Group LLC,
which specializes in international crisis management, strategic intelligence,
investigative research and business problem solving.

A 32 year veteran of the CIA, Mr. Devine served as both Acting Director and
Associate Director of CIA's operations abroad (1993-1995). Between 1990 and
1992, he headed the CIA's Counternarcotics Center (CNC) establishing close ties
to key foreign officials, especially in the security and intelligence fields.
From 1985-1987, Mr. Devine headed the CIA's Afghan Task Force, which
successfully countered Soviet aggression in the region.

Mr. Devine's international experience with the U.S. government included
postings to the United Kingdom, Italy, Argentina, Venezuela, The Dominican
Republic, Mexico and Chile. During his more than 30 years with the CIA, Mr.
Devine was involved in organizing, planning and executing countless sensitive
projects in virtually all areas of intelligence, including analysis, operations,
technology and management. He is the recipient of the Agency's Distinguished
Intelligence Medal and several meritorious awards."

Finding quotes from Jack Devine on current interrogation and rendition issues has been a little difficult. But here is a quote from Stephen Grey's book, Ghost Plane, that give us some insights into Jack Devine:

"When President Carter took office in 1977, the CIA was ordered to become a
global advocate of human rights. CIA officers deployed in Central and
South America, and at training schools in the United States, were now advised to
start teaching their police and intelligence liaisons that illegal arrests and
torture were unacceptable. Many in the agency agreed with the switch of
tactics. As Jack Devine, a former acting head of the agency's worldwide
operations, told me: 'It caused a bit of surprise with some of those we were
dealing with; but it was a real and important turning point not just for the
agency but for U.S. policy in general.' President Carter promoted human
rights out of a genuine belief in their merits, said Devine, but the switch of
policy also gave the United States a new ideological advantage. 'Communism
could be beaten because our ideas and our society were better. We didn't need to
descend to their level.' That ultimately, both then and after 9/11, became
one of the strongest arguments against methods like torture." Ghost Plane,
p. 13

Unless Jack Devine is completely lacking in self-awareness, one suspects he understands that today's conflicts must be handled the same way.

Stephen Lendman in "Obama's War Cabinet":

Jack Devine, a 32-year CIA veteran, now retired, and former head of clandestine
service; he describes himself as "a covert action person (who believes) we
should be out there pushing US policy wherever we can, covertly and overtly."

Covert ops can include a variety of things; one hopes that Devine does not mean rendition - secret kidnappings and a ticket to a state that tortures. He seems to be very focused on the CIA penetrating terrorist organizations - he asks whether we're there yet (the answer is no) in a Washington Post column of his own here, and according to a 2001 transcript Devine believes the only way to get bin Laden "is to penetrate his cells with agents willing to pass his loyalty tests."

Devine also believes in a North American security perimeter.

Update: From CNN May 1 2003.

ENSOR: As retired General Jay Garner, the American coordinator, draws together Iraqi notables to plan the future, analysts warn against holding elections soon. Putting Iraq on the right stable, ultimately democratic path will require patience, they say, and many years.

Take intelligence. It's a dangerous neighborhood. Iraq will need a strong intelligence agency purged of the likes of Farouk Hijazi, once operations chief in Saddam's brutal Mukhabarat. Former senior CIA official Jack Devine says the U.S. needs to train an entirely new group of spies to respect human rights.

JACK DEVINE, PRESIDENT, THE ARKIN GROUP: We cannot use the same techniques or draw on the same people that were used during Saddam Hussein. It would be a cancerous thing, which would make it -- rather than a source of strength for the new government, it would go a long way to undermining it if it became an instrument of fear.

If Iraq hadn't led to such wholesale hypocrisy amongst the babblers, I would say that we could extrapolate from this statement that Devine is anti-torture. Unfortunately things are not so clear.

Update 2: Jack Devine at Colby College:

"The conference’s panel discussion, "Counterterrorism Tactics: Balancing Effective Policy and Human Rights,” delved deeper into the policy dilemmas surrounding national security. The discussion featured four experts, all of whom agreed that coercive interrogation should never be the first resort. “The best way to get intelligence [regarding] terrorism is not to use torture but to find a source that provides continuing information,” said Jack Devine, a 32-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Rand Beers, who worked as a counterterrorism advisor to President George W. Bush before quitting in protest of White House policies, was pessimistic. “Today, guidance as to intelligence has become more muddy, and we don’t have an oversight organization to rectify that,” he said.

Another little tidbit.

No comments: