Patterico's Pontifications

8/21/2009

The CIA, Blackwater, and the Media

Filed under: Media Bias — DRJ @ 2:50 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

The CIA reportedly contracted with Blackwater USA for a covert assassination program:

“U.S. officials familiar with the targeted-killing program said that Blackwater’s involvement was limited in scope and duration, and that the arrangement ended several years before CIA Director Leon E. Panetta killed the program two months ago.

The program was kept secret from Congress for nearly eight years before Panetta told lawmakers about it in June. CIA officials have emphasized that the program was never operational and that it did not lead to the capture or killing of a single terrorism suspect.

“It was never successful, so he ended it,” CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said. Panetta “never suggested to Congress that anyone at the CIA misled the intelligence committees or otherwise broke the law.”

As the article notes, the program may be legal and Panetta did suggest the CIA misled Congress … but those are stories for another day.

What I’m interested in is how the media is responding to the Blackwater report. Are they interested in gathering more facts, or in questioning why the CIA might enter into such contracts? Judge for yourself based on today’s press briefing with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:

“Yes, Helen.

Q Has the President ordered any end of the contracts we have with the assassination mercenaries?

MR. GIBBS: Do you mean Blackwater?

Q Or anybody else.

MR. GIBBS: I have — I asked for an update, which I have not yet gotten, on where we are in different contracts. I would — as it relates to CIA’s use of contracting, I would point you specifically to them for responses on that.

Q I don’t think they would tell us.

MR. GIBBS: They may tell you, Helen. If you use that sweet voice on the phone, you never know what you could get. (Laughter.)

Savannah.

Q I want them to stop killing people.

MR. GIBBS: You should let them know.

Q You should, too. (Laughter.) You have the orders — you have the power.

MR. GIBBS: Yes, ma’am.”

I believe the initial questioning is by Helen Thomas and the final comments are by Savannah Guthrie of NBC News.

NOTE: This video suggests the last comments were made by Helen Thomas and not Savannah Guthrie.

— DRJ

63 Responses to “The CIA, Blackwater, and the Media”

  1. Savannah.

    Q I want them to stop killing people.

    Savannah, I want sunshine, lollipops, rainbows, and cupcakes, but if I were in your shoes I would be too professional to blurt that out. More than anything, though, I would like NBC to get a grown-up White House correspondent in there.

    JVW (111cb0)

  2. “Enchanted.”
    “What can we do?”
    “I want them to stop killing people.”

    Are these press conferences or community organizing rallies?

    Patricia (29a01d)

  3. Check out this blurb from Savannah’s biography on NBC’s website (DRJ’s link above):

    She graduated cum laude from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism in 1993. She received the top score on the Arizona Bar Exam in 2002.

    OK, I know the joke is that the last thing the world needs is another lawyer, but I would think the next-to-last thing the world needs is another self-important journalist. The picture of her on the biography page is pretty cute, however. I’ll bet she was hell on wheels at the U of A.

    JVW (111cb0)

  4. So now, the MSM accuses people of murder that never even got the chance to murder anyone?

    Gibbs is embarassingly incompetent.

    JD (e68c1a)

  5. Wait a minute. I heard that Panetta floated this CIA assassination story, which he should have known was wildly exaggerated and very old news, only to cover Nancy Pelosi’s posterior when she claimed that the CIA was concealing things from her.

    Allahpundit explained it two days ago, as he linked to The Daily Beast.

    Official Internet Data Office (0a0b35)

  6. wouldn’t they have had to kill someone before you order them to stop killing people? what evidence has been presented that Blackwater contractors have killed anyone as part of a contractual assignment as it pertains to the program above?

    thegreatsatan (3b1f6b)

  7. far more egregious is the use of “I” by a reporter. Now she is part of the story instead of a reporter of the story.

    thegreatsatan (3b1f6b)

  8. A serious subject, reported by idiots. No, we don’t want our government hiring mercenaries to kill people covertly. For moral reasons if you wish, and because the psychotic sickos will fuck it up, kill the wrong people, miss the right people, and make America look bad. We have a military, with military discipline and training, and they’re damn good at killing America’s enemies, and we don’t need their rejects (which Blackwater’s people are) trying to do their job for them.

    nk (4ee048)

  9. The problem (according to the CIA) is soldiers don’t take orders from CIA and won’t assassinate people. CIA finds this unacceptable and wants their “extreme prejudice” option without getting their own hands dirty.

    In case it’s not clear, I’m agreeing with you nk. If CIA wants someone dead, make the case to the Commander-in-Chief who can issue an Executive Finding that this action is necessary in the interests of national security and issue the orders to Delta Force or the SEALs. Screw the cloak-and-dagger stuff because you’re right, they generally screw it up anyway. When they don’t, it gets leaked by someone trying to damage an administration and ends up damaging the entire country. Not worth it.

    Stashiu3 (ed6467)

  10. rejects is a little harsh I think

    You can make a lot of monkey at Blackwater to where after a few years you could pay cash for a french-sounding condo in downtown Des Moines.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  11. monkey? That was opposed to be money I think. Whichever works for you.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  12. Savannah.

    Q I want them to stop killing people.

    Oh for Christ’s sake…

    Cupcake, I want you to stop acting like a tool. Maybe we can work something out.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  13. feets – Monkeys ain’t cheap from what I hear, especially in Des Moines.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  14. Savannah needs her press credentials pulled for that – wow.

    Criminy. Crackerjack Journalism degree you got there.

    Em (7139fe)

  15. Monkeys! Here is a story about monkeys! It’s a story what is Extraneous to the conversation here today. Also if you read to the end there’s a buzz-kill about how you might could accidentally get Monkey AIDS.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  16. issue the orders to Delta Force or the SEALs

    Thank you, Stashiu. I know who got the Medal of Honor for giving their lives to protect fellow American servicemen in Mogadishu and they for sure did not work for the CIA or Blackwater.

    nk (4ee048)


  17. Thank you, Stashiu. I know who got the Medal of Honor for giving their lives to protect fellow American servicemen in Mogadishu and they for sure did not work for the CIA or Blackwater.

    They served in silence. Those who know, know.

    hortense (aka horace) (235454)

  18. I’ve got no problem with Blackwater doing security under contract. If they conduct offensive operations or targeted killings, they become mercenaries and the United States government has no business using mercenaries. If the job is worth doing, it’s worth doing legitimately. If the CIC is not willing to make a Finding and give the order, we shouldn’t do it because it’s not national security at that point, it’s convenience.

    The administration should have immediately come out against this instead of passing the buck. CIA answers to the Executive Branch, or should.

    Stashiu3 (ed6467)

  19. nk – Though there are no doubt some “rejects”, that is a pretty broad and unfair characterization as a whole. They are pretty much also not psychotic sickos. But, to each his own, I guess.

    JD (aeb697)

  20. Suffice it to say that the clowns in the media, and their fellow travelers again show their aggressive ignorance and partisan hackery on issues like this. I am not sure there is enough contempt for them.

    JD (aeb697)

  21. They are pretty much also not psychotic sickos. But, to each his own, I guess.

    Comment by JD — 8/21/2009 @ 4:40 pm

    Keeping in mind that this post is about hiring Blackwater people for covert assassinations …

    Who’d you draw a bead on, on orders and for money, JD?

    nk (4ee048)

  22. Suffice it to say that the clowns in the media, and their fellow travelers again show their aggressive ignorance and partisan hackery on issues like this. I am not sure there is enough contempt for them.

    Comment by JD — 8/21/2009 @ 4:50 pm

    There, we agree.

    nk (4ee048)

  23. They served in silence. Those who know, know.
    Comment by hortense (aka horace) — 8/21/2009 @ 4:37 pm

    Says the guy who likes to call people “chickenhawk“. We remember you horace, we remember.

    Stashiu3 (ed6467)

  24. Serving in silence would suck I think.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  25. “Keeping in mind that this post is about hiring Blackwater people for covert assassinations”

    nk – Allegedly. Remember the left is promoting that angle, while the Daily Beast article above totally exploded that meme. It’s completely unclear if and what Blackwater folks were hired for, whether for training, surveillance or what. The concept that they were hired for actual assassination is purely a loony left wet dream IMHO.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  26. Horace the joooooo-hatin’ racist never fails to entertain.

    nk – Who did I draw a bead on, for money? I do not follow.

    JD (aeb697)

  27. If Mark Bowden reported correctly, the operators in Mogadishu were on the base in the U.S. in civilian clothes pretending to be civilian computer programmers. I don’t know how they were in Mogadishu, but the official U.S. Army website, which puts up Medal of Honor recipients, had them just as Army Rangers the last time I looked.

    Hortense might not be wrong, whatever his motives.

    nk (4ee048)

  28. HALLIBURTON!!!!!

    Thread Over.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  29. Didn’t say he was wrong nk. It’s just any time horace brings up anything military he should be reminded of his slur. Still waiting to see if he wants to compare credentials in any area since that apparently gives authority to stifle others.

    Stashiu3 (ed6467)

  30. nk – Who did I draw a bead on, for money? I do not follow.

    Comment by JD — 8/21/2009 @ 5:03 pm

    I don’t know, and admit nothing. 😉

    It was a metaphorical question about the difference between people in uniforms who kill people in other uniforms beacause they have taken a soldier’s oath, and other people who kill people because they are paid to do so.

    nk (4ee048)

  31. I think there is a need for covert operations, including possible assassinations, in cases where the U.S. government needs to take action against dangerous nations and military force isn’t the best or a viable option.

    DRJ (d8773e)

  32. #31 DRJ:

    I think there is a need for covert operations, including possible assassinations, in cases where the U.S. government needs to take action against dangerous nations and military force isn’t the best or a viable option.

    And I don’t have a problem with that.

    But as Stash points out at #9, that’s the CIA’s bailiwick~and its not to be handed over to a mercenary to carry that out. Either way, they need the Executive Finding, and then it should be carried out either organically by the CIA, or turned over to the military’s secret squirrels.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  33. Covert operations, yes. Assassinations, I disagree. Unless we’re willing to condone attempts at assassinating our leaders as acceptable by other governments. That’s a rule (an Executive Order by President Ford IIRC) that we shouldn’t be breaking. Make them a legitimate military target, then use covert means if necessary, but CIA (or their contractors) should not be in the killing business.

    Stashiu3 (ed6467)

  34. Good point.

    [note: fished from spam filter]

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  35. EW1(SG),

    You must have more faith in the CIA’s organic abilities, including keeping it from leaking, than I do. Unfortunately, I think they’ve become too large and hidebound to effectively conduct those types of operations. Not that there’s a whole lot of evidence they were ever any good at it besides novels.

    The current Director can’t even tell the difference between a secret program withheld from Congressional oversight and a PowerPoint presentation that just spitballs options.

    Stashiu3 (ed6467)

  36. Kind of tangentially related, but apparently MadCow, MSNBC, and Isikoff are tired of talking about the failing Obamacare, and are now ranting, raving, and venting spleens over torture reports from 2004.

    JD (d3806e)

  37. Blackwater, now XE is a tool, they serve the same function, recruit from the same sources (CIA, Special Forces)It used to be we could just
    intercept and detain terrorists, but this is increasingly less likely, so more active measures
    need to be followed

    narciso (996c34)

  38. The Left’s juvenile reactions are causing great harm to our country.

    SPQR (b95f0f)

  39. Unfortunately, I think they’ve become too large and hidebound to effectively conduct those types of operations.

    Not only have they really lost the ability to conduct those types of operations, they have lost the taste for those types of operations which it was basically founded for.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  40. Stashiu3 – That was a nice comment pull on hortense. It’s nice to keep things honest.

    Well played, sir.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  41. “they have lost the taste for those types of operations which it was basically founded for”

    Scott – Sure, because they wind up getting second guessed and prosecuted down the road by Congress just for political theater rather than actual or imagined violations of the law. It really makes people want to come to work every day!

    daleyrocks (718861)

  42. SPQR – That was insulting to juveniles.

    JD (e208be)

  43. “Gentlemen do not read other other gentlemen’s mail.” Then came WWII and OSS. The CIA has always been confused.

    [note: fished from spam filter]

    nk (4ee048)

  44. Thank you, DRJ. Not that it was all that big of a point. I don’t know that any American has disagreed with the CIA being information people, and I imagine that a lot of Americans have disagreed with the CIA being action people.

    I blame the James Bond movies. (Like those British (word Patterico does not like)s could ever produce a James Bond.

    nk (4ee048)

  45. Which is ironic, since Ian Fleming, was primarily Naval Intelligence, assigned to train what would become the OSS, specially the Jedburgh teams,not a few of which would join the CIA, and train the Special Forces

    narciso (996c34)

  46. Comment by nk — 8/21/2009 @ 7:08 pm

    Actually, they used to be able to do just that, and a lot of it was self-defense due to the inordinate number of Brit swells that went over to the Red Side during the Thirties (Kim Philby and others).
    When we become unable to engage in “wet work”, we will lose the struggle also.

    “Some people just deserve to be killed!”

    AD - RtR/OS! (d00388)

  47. The SOE, to which Commander Ian Fleming was
    attached, from Naval Intelligence, trained the OSS, which in turn formed the Jedburgh units that
    would evolve into the CIA and the Special Forces

    narciso (996c34)

  48. Savannah.

    Q I want them to stop killing people.

    MR. GIBBS: You should let them know.

    The ideal response to that sort of stupidity would have been:

    “Ma’am, what you want is irrelevant. Since you’re a reporter, just stick to reporting news. By the way, did you actually have a question?”

    Blacque Jacques Shellacque (1641e7)

  49. Sorry that I repeated the post, I didn’t know the first had gone through

    narciso (996c34)

  50. Sure, because they wind up getting second guessed and prosecuted down the road by Congress just for political theater rather than actual or imagined violations of the law.

    I don’t think that’s it, really. The old guard, the people that ran operations in East Berlin and elsewhere, are gone. Everyone now has some pansy political science degree from some ivy league school.

    The mindset and such are completely different.

    I don’t know if it can ever be brought back.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  51. The old guard, the people that ran operations in East Berlin and elsewhere, are gone. Everyone now has some pansy political science degree from some ivy league school.

    Err, no. The old guard was the pansy political science degree from some ivy league school with a trust fund on top and a social network that included the lady the President in office lost his virginity with. I don’t know what we have now after the Church Commissions, and Carter, and some ex-admiral whose name I cannot remember, and affirmative action.

    nk (4ee048)

  52. Scott:

    Not only have they really lost the ability to conduct those types of operations, they have lost the taste for those types of operations which it was basically founded for.

    Actually, some believe that, after 9/11, covert assassinations/executive actions that were once farmed out to contractors were returned to the CIA and MI6 so they could be more effectively pursued.

    DRJ (d8773e)

  53. “The old guard, the people that ran operations in East Berlin and elsewhere, are gone.”

    Scott – You might be right. After all, Scary Larry Johnson is no longer there.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  54. Scary Larry was briefly on the Central American desk, under future IG Mary McCarthy; later suspected of leaking the secret prisons to the Washington Posts. Sulick and Kappes, No 2 & 3, did have background behind the Iron curtain, but many of the top people, left in the 90s

    narciso (996c34)

  55. “No, we don’t want our government hiring mercenaries to kill people covertly.”

    This certainly fits in with Church Commission idealism.

    Maybe the CIA should also stop using foreign nationals as primary gatherers of intelligence.

    davod (bce08f)

  56. #35 Stashiu3:

    You must have more faith in the CIA’s organic abilities, including keeping it from leaking, than I do.

    Nope.

    I think the key is “hidebound.” I think that they have lost a sense of purpose, and I think that they don’t have a firm grasp on what their central mission is. Leaving them rudderless, ineffectual, and subject to being a political football more often than not.

    And as leaky as a sieve.

    But in contrast to davod’s comment about fitting in with the “idealism” of the Church Comission, I do think that if the government needs to get its hands dirty, then it should…and not pass it off to some thug as if it were a gangland slaying or something. Which to me means that if a covert mission is required then it should be passed to the appropriate military operations group to be carried out.

    Although I have to admit that I am mystified by davod’s follow up that the CIA should stop using foreign nationals as sources? WTH?

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  57. Feet,

    Why would anyone want a condo in DesMoines? I sure as hell don’t. Next thing you’ll be begging for is a Professional Football team in Chicago.

    PCD (02f8c1)

  58. “I want them to stop killing people.”

    Oh – she means the Taliban, right? Or is it the Al Queda in Iraq, sawing off captives heads? What? You mean such a request of those groups would be naive and sorta stupid in light of the “real world” we live in? So who was the comment directed at? Us? You mean you and I and the USA et al? Probably because we are better than those ignorant Ay-rab types or other non-white, non-westerners who we really cannot expect to behave in a civilized (i.e. not cutting off captive’s heads off) manner. Hmm. What a racist bitch. Strike that : What a naive racist bitch.

    Californio (ea00ee)

  59. Blackwater is not “rejects” by and large. Many of its operators are former SEALs and other specops types. And one could make the argument that we’d be much better off with more covert assassinations, not fewer. I certainly hope we’re still doing this, no matter what official blather comes out.

    Peg C. (48175e)

  60. MR. GIBBS: They may tell you, Helen. If you use that sweet voice on the phone, you never know what you could get. (Laughter.)

    Savannah.

    Q I want them to stop killing people.

    MR. GIBBS: You should let them know.

    Q You should, too. (Laughter.) You have the orders — you have the power.

    MR. GIBBS: Yes, ma’am.”

    See, I’m reading that as Gibbs calling on Savannah but getting interrupted by Helen, as is her wont. The “ma’am” especially.

    Anyone got video?

    Uncle Pinky (e4d7c2)

  61. Helen Thomas wants the CIA to stop killing terrorists because she is a terrorist symp and long has been.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  62. Uncle Pinky,

    I hadn’t thought of that but you may be right. Hopefully someone will find a video that can clarify this.

    DRJ (3f5471)

  63. Yah, DRJ:

    According to Raw Story it was Thomas interrupting. Might want to let the Savannah bashers upthread in on it.

    Though I don’t much care for her either, so I wouldn’t lose any sleep if you left it.

    Uncle Pinky (e4d7c2)


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