CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

2003

General

January - September

Materials presented in chronological order.

Tucker, Mike, and Charles Faddis. Operation Hotel California: The Clandestine War Inside Iraq. Guildford, CT: Lyons, 2008.

Clark comment: In terms of operational detail, this work cannot compete with Schroen's First In (2005) or Berntsen's Jawbreaker (2005) on the intital operations in Afghanistan immediately after 9/11. Whether this is the fault of the brave and dedicated Faddis, who led the CIA team into northern Iraq, or his journalist co-author Tucker is difficult to ascertain. In some ways, this book reads as though the journalist just turned on his pocket recorder and let Faddis take the lead in the conversation; and that Faddis too often simply vented his deeply felt frustration over the way things played out in his assignment. Were there no challenging questions? Was there no seeking for greater depth of understanding? Other than a few brief quotes from a handful of other opinionated individuals, there is no research to back up Faddis's arguments. That Faddis clearly believes Washington (he ultimately blames President Bush as the person in charge but both DCI Tenet and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld are heaped with scorn as well) dropped the ball in its failure to use the CIA assets in Iraqi Kurdistan to carry the war to Saddam's forces in the north. Washington's failure to deal with Turkey's intransigence on the movement of men and supplies through Turkish territory undoubtedly hampered the team's efforts (and ultimately the entire war effort) and placed its members and their Kurdish partners at even greater risk. Rumsfeld's refusal to allow the team to be the lead operational unit in the north when the war started reeks of CIA envy. Faddis may well be correct in his appraisal of these and other matters, but it is impossible to validate on the basis of this book alone. I would have preferred to read more first-hand information about the organization and conduct of operational activities than constant (and repetitive) rants about how this effort was screwed up by Washington.

Keiser, Proceedings 135.1 (Jan. 2009), calls this an "engaging account" of the activities of an eight-man, CIA-led counterterrorist team in Iraqi Kurdistan prior to and during the formal invasion of Iraq in March 2003. However, "the book's epilogue is disappointing because it detracts from impressive combat actions by lurching into a largely unrelated agenda."

For Matt P., Studies 54.2 (Jun. 2010), Faddis "provides a litany of alleged US strategic mistakes in the preamble to the war." He is also "crudely critical of the Scorpions, the CIA-trained Iraqi-Arab force charged with conducting sabotage inside regime-controlled Iraq.... This book has limitations. The interviews with Faddis reflect one point of view, sometimes leaving the book thin on context"; and Tucker "misses opportunities to put Faddis's insights into perspective." Although it "is little more than an edited interview with one former CIA officer," the book is still "a relevant addition to intelligence discourse."

Waller, Douglas. "The CIA's Secret Army." Time, 3 Feb. 2003, 22.

The war on terrorism has put the CIA back into the business of paramilitary operations. Among other activities, members of the CIA's Special Operations Group (SOG) "have been secretly prowling the Kurdish-controlled enclave in northern Iraq, trying to organize a guerrilla force that could guide American soldiers invading from the north, hunting for targets that U.S. warplanes might bomb, setting up networks to hide U.S. pilots who might be shot down and mapping out escape routes to get them out. And they are doing the same in southern Iraq with dissident Shi'ites."

National Law Journal. "Former Employee Sues CIA over Memoirs." 25, no. 74 (24 Mar. 2003).

Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA operations officer, "has sued the agency [Sterling v. Central Intelligence Agency, No. 03-CV-603 (D.D.C. March 4)], alleging violation of his First Amendment right to publish. Sterling charges that the CIA has improperly made rulings relating to his memoirs, which he was required to submit to the agency for approval.... Sterling's suit seeks only declaratory and injunctive relief, asking the court to establish that he has a First Amendment right to publish his memoirs and to prohibit the agency from bringing criminal or civil legal proceedings against him."

Bowers, Faye. "Secret Weapon in US War against Iraq: The CIA." Christian Science Monitor, 25 Mar. 2003. [http://www.csmonitor.com]

Less than a week into the war in Iraq, it is "clear that the campaign involves an unprecedented level of involvement by the CIA." Since DCI George J. Tenet "was the first to come up with a concrete plan for routing the Taliban and Al Qaeda from Afghanistan, he and his CIA operatives have been playing a much larger role in both shaping American war plans and working together with military Special Operations Forces to implement them than ever before.... Small numbers of CIA paramilitary teams have reportedly been inside Iraq since June 2002. They are said to have broken into the highly secretive phone lines leading into Hussein's headquarters. Moreover, they've collected the e-mail addresses and personal phone numbers for Iraq's top military generals."

Shane, Scott. "Some Worry U.S. May Bend Facts for Policy." Baltimore Sun, 4 Apr. 2003. [http://www.baltimoresun.com]

"The Bush administration's unswerving position that Saddam Hussein's regime poses a direct threat to the United States ... poses a dilemma for the nation's ... intelligence agencies: What happens when their findings clash with the assumptions behind U.S. policy? Some former intelligence officers and historians say they are seeing a worrisome pattern of Vietnam-style politicization of intelligence....

"After Sept. 11, 2001, the intelligence agencies came under fire for failing to put together the clues in time to thwart the terrorist attacks. Now some critics are saying the agencies have gathered relevant information about Iraq, but it has been overwhelmed by the strong convictions of the president and his top advisers....

"On occasion, aware of the dangers of spin, presidents have gone out of their way to be sure intelligence officers are indeed telling it like it is, says J. Ransom Clark, a retired CIA officer. "John Kennedy used to pick up the phone and call the desk officers in the CIA or state department," Clark says. "It drove the supervisors crazy, but Kennedy was trying to reduce the number of times the information he got went through a strainer."

Pincus, Walter. "Tenet Defends Iraq Intelligence: CIA Chief Rebuts Allegations of Pressure From Administration Before the War." Washington Post, 31 May 2003, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

In a statement released on 30 May 2003, DCI George J. Tenet "publicly defend[ed] the agency's intelligence on Iraq's possession of chemical and biological weapons.... Tenet's statement came in response to the release on [29 May 2003] of a 'memorandum' to President Bush posted on several Internet sites by a group of retired CIA and State Department intelligence analysts [Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity]. The analysts said there is 'growing mistrust and cynicism' among intelligence professionals over 'intelligence cited by you and your chief advisers to justify the war against Iraq.'"

Gertz, Bill. "Lack of Spies in Baghdad Spurs CIA to Bolster Ranks." Washington Times, 18 Jun. 2003. [http://www.washingtontimes.com]

According to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, "[t]he CIA lacked spies on the ground in Iraq who could detail Baghdad's weapons programs and is working to build up its ranks after years of neglect." The officials say that the CIA "is too dependent on former officials, defectors and foreign intelligence services that lack the kind of detailed knowledge that human intelligence can provide.... CIA sources on Iraq is one of the issues being examined by Congress as part of its probe into whether the CIA provided bad intelligence on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, or whether policy-makers skewed reports to fit their goals."

Pincus, Walter. "[House] Panel Faults CIA's Use of Case Officers in Crisis Support." Washington Post, 20 Jun. 2003, A5. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

In a report on the fiscal 2004 budget for the intelligence agencies, the House intelligence committee has "criticized the CIA for moving many of its case officers who run spies in their assigned countries to crisis spots in the global war on terrorism, at times leaving regions and many other important issues uncovered.... [T]he committee said 'limited numbers' of experienced officers are being sent 'time and again from their home areas to provide crisis support' and that 'gaps in intelligence collection and production are the immediate, noticeable result.'"

Hammer, Joshua, et al. "A Job For The Agency." Newsweek, 23 Jun. 2003.

The Central Intelligence Agency "can help stop the bloodletting between Israelis and Palestinians. But CIA aid could also backfire. The CIA has quietly solved some hopeless-looking Mideast messes before. It was the [CIA] that came to the rescue last year during the siege at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity after talks broke down between the Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian Authority negotiators. Bypassing official channels, the CIA's Tel Aviv station chief, Jeff O'Connell, secretly shuttled between Israel's domestic security agency, the Shin Bet, and Yasir Arafat's Kurdish-born chief financial adviser, Mohammed Rashid."

Taylor, Jay. "When Intelligence Reports Become Political Tools . . ." Washington Post, 29 Jun. 2003, B2. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

The deputy assistant secretary of State for intelligence and research under President Ronald Reagan offers a harsh judgment of DCI George J. Tenet's performance over the past year: "[I]t appears that he has not served Congress and the American people well on the question of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and alleged Iraqi ties to al Qaeda. He seems to have engaged in over- and under-statement; highly selective release of facts and assessments, including the clever use of 'key judgments' and executive summaries; failure to correct exaggerated statements by the president and others; and failure to stop a maverick Pentagon operation producing intelligence as art."

Pincus, Walter. "CIA Asked Britain To Drop Iraq Claim; Advice on Alleged Uranium Buy Was Refused." Washington Post, 11 Jul. 2003, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to "senior Bush administration officials" on 10 July 2003, the CIA tried "in early September 2002 to persuade the British government to drop from an official intelligence paper a reference to Iraqi attempts to buy uranium in Africa that President Bush included in his State of the Union address four months later.... The British government rejected the U.S. suggestion, saying it had separate intelligence unavailable to the United States."

Johnston, David, and Raymond Bonner. "Suspect in Indonesia Bombings Is Captured in Asia." New York Times, 15 Aug. 2003. [http://www.nytimes.com]

According to Indonesian and U.S. officials, Riduan Isamuddin, an Indonesian believed to be the mastermind behind the Bali bombings, was captured on 19 August 2003 "in Thailand in an operation" by the CIA. Isamuddin, also known as Hambali, was taken by U.S. authorities "to an undisclosed location in another country where he is being questioned." See also, Ellen Nakashima and Alan Sipress, "Al Qaeda Figure Seized in Thailand: Local Units, CIA Cooperated to Nab Top Asian Terror Suspect," Washington Post, 15 Aug. 2003, A1.

Judis, John B., and Spencer Ackerman. "The Operator." The New Republic, 22 Sep. 2003. [http://www.tnr.com]

"At a moment when many in the CIA, probably including [DCI George J.] Tenet, had their doubts about the factual premises of the Iraqi war, Tenet compromised his agency's mandate to 'deliver intelligence that is clear and objective.'"

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