Earlier this month we learned that the Obama administration is significantly expanding the number of covert Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) agents overseas. From just a few hundred DIA agents overseas today, the administration intends to eventually deploy some 1,600 covert agents. The nature of their work will also shift, away from intelligence collection and more toward covert actions. This move signals a major change in how the administration intends to conduct military and paramilitary operations overseas. Unfortunately, it is not a shift toward peace, but rather to an even more deadly and disturbing phase in the “war on terror.”
Surely attacks on foreign countries will increase as a result of this move, but more and more the strikes will take place under cover of darkness and outside the knowledge of Congress or the American people. The move also represents a further blurring of the lines between the military and intelligence services, with the CIA becoming more like a secret military unto itself. This is a very troubling development.
In 2010, I said in a speech that there had been a CIA coup in this country. The CIA runs the military and the drone program, and they are in drug trafficking. The CIA is a secretive government all on its own. With this new expanded Defense Intelligence Agency presence overseas it will be even worse. Because the DIA is operationally under control of the Pentagon, direct congressional oversight of the program will be more difficult. Perhaps this is as intended. The CIA will be training the DIA in its facilities to conduct operations overseas. Much of this will include developing targeting data for the president’s expanding drone warfare program.
Already the president has demonstrated his preference for ever more drone attacks overseas. In Pakistan, for example, President Obama has in his first four years authorized six times more drone strikes than under all eight years of the Bush administration. Nearly three thousand individuals have been killed by these drones, many of those non-combatants.
President Obama said recently of Israel’s strikes against the Palestinians in Gaza, “No country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.” This announcement by the administration amounts to precisely that: the U.S. intends to rain down ever more missiles on citizens overseas. I believe what the president says about Israel is true everywhere, so what about those overseas who live in fear of our raining missiles? How will they feel about the United States? Is it not possible that we may be inviting more blowback by expanding the covert war overseas? Does that make us safer?
An exhaustive study earlier this year by Stanford and New York University law schools found that U.S. drone strikes on Pakistan are “damaging and counterproductive,” potentially creating more terrorists than they kill. Its recommendations of a radical re-appraisal of the program obviously fell on deaf ears in the administration.
Thousands of new DIA spies are to be hired and placed undercover alongside their CIA counterparts to help foment ever more covert wars and coups in foreign lands. Congress is silent. Where will it all end?