Friday, March 4, 2011

Duane Clarridge: Pakistan/Afghanistan/US Relations

New York Times Photo

Those interested in longrange diplomacy,
peace-making and justice --

might want to ask urgently:

Why is the former CIA superviser who lied
about the Iran-Contra affair and who carries
(or has carried) a taser gun, Duane Clarridge,
involved at all in Afghanistan/Pakistani/US interactions?

Here are a few background items for starters:

Duane Clarridge Defends the Empire here

Paul Hosefros/THE NEW YORK TIMES January 23, 2011
After a lengthy CIA career in which he co-founded the Counterterrorism Center, Duane Clarridge was pushed out in the wake of his indictment in 1991 on charges of lying to Congress. Now 78, Clarridge runs a donor-financed spy network that mixes foreign intelligence with his schemes for undermining the Karzai government.

By Mark Mazzetti


WASHINGTON — Duane Clarridge parted company with the CIA more than two decades ago, but from poolside at his home near San Diego, he still runs a network of spies.

Over the past two years, he has fielded operatives in the mountains of Pakistan and the deserts of Afghanistan. Since the U.S. military cut off his funding in May, he has relied on private donors to pay his agents to keep gathering information on Taliban leaders and the secrets of Kabul’s ruling class.

Hatching schemes that are something of a cross between a Graham Greene novel and Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy,” Clarridge has sought to discredit Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Kandahar power broker who has long been on the CIA payroll, and planned to set spies on his half brother, President Hamid Karzai, in hopes of trying to prove — perhaps with beard clippings — Clarridge’s suspicions that the Afghan president was a heroin addict, associates say.

His dispatches — an amalgam of fact, rumor, analysis and uncorroborated reports — have been sent to military officials who, until last spring at least, found some credible enough to be used in planning strikes against militants in Afghanistan. They are also fed to conservative commentators, including Oliver North, a compatriot from the Iran-Contra scandal and now a Fox News analyst, and Brad Thor, an author of thrillers and a frequent guest of Fox’s Glenn Beck.

It shows how the outsourcing of military and intelligence operations has spawned legally murky clandestine efforts that can be at cross-purposes with America’s foreign policy goals. Despite Clarridge’s keen interest in undermining Afghanistan’s ruling family, President Barack Obama’s administration appears resigned to working with Hamid Karzai and his half brother, who is widely suspected of having ties to drug traffickers.

The Pentagon official who arranged a contract for Clarridge in 2009 is under investigation over allegations of violating Defense Department rules in awarding that contract. Because of the continuing inquiry, most of the dozen current and former government officials, private contractors and associates of Clarridge’s who were interviewed for this article would speak only on the condition of anonymity.

Clarridge, 78, declined to be interviewed but issued a statement saying that his operation, called the Eclipse Group, “may possibly be an effective model for the future, providing information to officers and officials of the United States government who have the sole responsibility of acting on it or not.”

From CIA chief to free agent

Clarridge joined the CIA during its freewheeling early years. He eventually became head of the spy agency’s Latin America division in 1981 and helped found the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center five years later. He was indicted in 1991 on charges of lying to Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal but was later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.

Now, more than two decades after Clarridge was forced to resign from the intelligence agency after the Iran-Contra scandal, he tries to run his group of spies as a CIA in miniature. Working from his house in a San Diego suburb, he uses e-mail to stay in contact with his agents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, writing up intelligence summaries based on their reports, according to associates.

In 2009, the security firm that Clarridge was affiliated with, the American International Security Corp., won a Pentagon contract ultimately worth about $6 million. U.S. officials said the contract was arranged by Michael Furlong, a senior Defense Department civilian with a military information warfare command at San Antonio’s Lackland Air Force Base.

To get around a military ban on hiring contractors as spies, a Pentagon report says that Furlong’s team called its activities atmospheric information rather than intelligence.

Furlong, now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general, was accused in the Pentagon report of carrying out unauthorized intelligence-gathering and misleading senior military officers about it.

It is difficult to assess the merits of Clarridge’s secret intelligence dispatches; a review of some of the documents by The Times shows that some appear to be based on rumors from talk at village bazaars or rehashes of news reports.

Others, though, contain specific details about militant plans to attack U.S. troops and about Taliban leadership meetings in Pakistan. Clarridge gave the military an in-depth report about the Haqqani militant group in August 2009, a document that officials said helped the military track Haqqani fighters.

When the military wouldn’t listen to him, Clarridge found other ways to peddle his information. For instance, his private spies in April and May were reporting that Mullah Muhammad Omar, leader of the Afghan Taliban, had been caught by Pakistani officials and put under house arrest. Both military and intelligence officials said the allegation couldn’t be corroborated, but Clarridge used back channels to pass it on to senior Obama administration officials. And associates said that Clarridge, determined to make the allegations public, arranged for it to get to Thor, a regular guest on Beck’s program on Fox News.

Taking aim in Afghanistan

Clarridge and his spy network also took sides in a battle over Ahmed Wali Karzai, head of the Kandahar Provincial Council. For years, the U.S. military has believed that Ahmed Wali Karzai plays a central role in Afghan corruption, though he denies any links to drug trafficking.

In early 2010, Clarridge helped produce a dossier for U.S. military commanders detailing allegations about the Afghan official’s drug connections, land grabs and even murders. The document speculates that Ahmed Wali Karzai’s ties to the CIA — which has paid him an undetermined amount of money since 2001 — might be the reason the agency “is the only member of the country team in Kabul not to advocate taking a more active stance against AWK.”

Ultimately, the military couldn’t amass enough proof to convince other U.S. officials of his reputed crimes and backed off efforts to remove him from power.

There have long been rumors that Hamid Karzai uses drugs, in part because of his often erratic behavior. U.S. officials have said publicly that there is no evidence to support the allegation.

Clarridge pushed a plan to prove that the president was a heroin addict and then confront him with the evidence to ensure that he became a more pliable ally. Clarridge proposed various ideas, according to several associates, such as trying to find a way to collect Hamid Karzai’s beard trimmings and test them. He dropped his ideas when the Obama administration signaled that it was committed to Karzai’s government.

But Clarridge, his associates say, continues to dream up operations against the Afghan leader and his inner circle.

When he was an official spy, Clarridge recalled in his 1997 memoir, he bristled at the CIA’s bureaucracy for thwarting his plans to do maximum harm to America’s enemies. “It’s not like I’m running my own private CIA,” he wrote, “and can do what I want.”

End article I found on this interesting source: There Are No Sunglasses here

Duane Clarridge Clarridge, Duane R. ("Dewey"), with Digby Diehl. A Spy for All Seasons: My Life in the CIA. New York: Scribner's, 1997. A fair review here

Duane R. Clarridge - SourceWatch here


New York Times, "he has fielded operatives in the mountains of Pakistan" and keeps in touch with his agents by way of email (He Never Left) Former CIA agent Duane Clarridge, who was indicted in 1991 in connection with the Iran-Contra affair, has reemerged in Pakistan here



  2. As an excellent researcher/journalist said a few days ago: "It is important to find out who those guys were killed by Davis but there are far more critical questions as I have written in the Tribune"