Highlights of the Wonderful Criminal Background of CIA

from the online files of Ronald Thomas West

As selected by Eric Zuesse


Documents (information) developed in the CIA rendition case of Binyam Mohamed

Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)

SIS Message Containing Guidance

11 January 2002

Agency policy on liaison with overseas security and intelligence services in relation to detainees

“HMG’s [Her Majesty’s Government’s] stated commitment to human rights makes it important that the Americans understand that we cannot be party to such ill treatment nor can we bee seen to condone it. … As a Crown Servant, you are bound by Section 31 of the Criminal Justice Act 1948, which makes acts carried out overseas in the course of your official duties subject to UK criminal law. … The following techniques are forbidden: 

a. Hooding at any time;

b. Obscuring vision …;

c. Physical punishment …;

d. Use of stress positions;

e. Intentional sleep deprivation;

f. Withdrawal of food, water or medical help;

g. Degrading treatment …;

h. Use of ‘white noise’;

i. Torture methods such as thumb screws, etc.

The British Government, including SIS, is vehemently opposed as a matter of fundamental principle and never uses torture for any purpose.



“The Terrifying Background of the Man Who Ran a CIA Assassination Unit”


A federal investigation alleged Enrique Prado’s involvement in seven murders, yet he was in charge when America outsourced covert killing to a private company.

It was one of the biggest secrets of the post-9/11 era: soon after the attacks, President Bush gave the CIA permission to create a top secret assassination unit to find and kill Al Qaeda operatives. The program was kept from Congress for seven years. And when Leon Panetta told legislators about it in 2009, he revealed that the CIA had hired the private security firm Blackwater to help run it. “The move was historic,” says Evan Wright, the two-time National Magazine Award-winning journalist who wrote Generation Kill. “It seems to have marked the first time the U.S. government outsourced a covert assassination service to private enterprise.”

The quote is from his e-book How to Get Away With Murder in America, which goes on to note that “in the past, the CIA was subject to oversight, however tenuous, from the president and Congress,” but that “President Bush’s 2001 executive order severed this line by transferring to the CIA his unique authority to approve assassinations. By removing himself from the decision-making cycle, the president shielded himself — and all elected authority — from responsibility should a mission go wrong or be found illegal. When the CIA transferred the assassination unit to Blackwater, it continued the trend. CIA officers would no longer participate in the agency’s most violent operations, or witness them. If it practiced any oversight at all, the CIA would rely on Blackwater’s self-reporting about missions it conducted. Running operations through Blackwater gave the CIA the power to have people abducted, or killed, with no one in the government being exactly responsible.” None of this is new information, though I imagine that many people reading this item are hearing about it for the first time.

Isn’t that bizarre?

The bulk of Wright’s e-book (full disclosure: I help edit the website of Byliner, publisher of the e-book) tells the story of Enrique Prado, a high-ranking CIA-officer-turned-Blackwater-employee who oversaw assassination units for both the CIA and the contractor. To whom was this awesome responsibility entrusted? According to Wright’s investigation, a federal organized crime squad run out of the Miami-Dade Police Department produced an investigation allegedly tying Prado to seven murders carried out while he worked as a bodyguard for a narco crime boss. At the time, the CIA declared him unavailable for questioning; the investigation was shut down before he was arrested or tried.

There’s a lot more to the story — Wright’s e-book is almost 50 pages long — but this bit is of particular note:

The reporting on Prado’s activities at Blackwater produced no evidence that the firm’s employees had ever killed anyone on behalf of the CIA. But I spoke to Blackwater employees who insisted that they had. Two Blackwater contractors told me that their firm began conducting assassinations in Afghanistan as early as 2008. They claimed to have participated in such operations — one in a support role, the other as a “trigger puller.” The contractors, to whom I spoke in 2009 and 2010, were both ex-Special Forces soldiers who were not particularly bothered by assassination work, although they did question the legality of Blackwater’s involvement in it.

According to the “trigger puller,” he and a partner were selected for one such operation because they were Mexican Americans, whose darker skin enabled them to blend in as Afghan civilians. The first mission he described took place in 2008. He and his partner spent three weeks training outside Kabul, becoming accustomed to walking barefoot like Afghans while toting weapons underneath their jackets. Their mission centered on walking into a market and killing the occupant of a pickup truck, whose identity a CIA case worker had provided to them. They succeeded in their mission, he told me, and moved on to another. This contractor’s story didn’t completely fit with other accounts about Prado’s unit at Blackwater. The e-mail written by Prado and later obtained by the Times seemed to indicate that the unit wouldn’t use Americans to carry out actual assassinations. Moreover, two CIA sources insisted that the contractors I spoke to were lying. As one put it, “These guys are security guards who want to look like Rambo.”*

Says Wright:

While Blackwater’s covert unit began as a Bush administration story, President Obama now owns it. In 2010, his administration intervened on behalf of the Blackwater executives indicted for weapons trafficking, filing motions to suppress evidence on the grounds that it could compromise national security. The administration then awarded Blackwater (which is now called Academi) a $250 million contract to perform unspecified services for the CIA.


General Reinhard Gehlen was Hitler’s chief of intelligence and remained Germany’s chief of intelligence until retiring in 1968. As a general he had participated in Hitler’s 1939 invasion of Poland. At war’s-end he “surrendered to the Americans, and after his initial POW debriefings, he presented his plan for the continued collection of order of battle information of the Soviet Armies … a real threat to Western civilization [as if he weren’t]. … He was able to convince his captors of these views. He was then flown back to Washington in 1946. … He operated under G-2 sponsorship from 1946 until 1949 when CIA assumed responsibility. … He strove to develop his organization [in Munich] into a world-wide intelligence service. … General Gehlen was succeeded on 1 May 1968 by General Gerhard Wessel, … who was instrumental in assisting in the formation of the Gehlen organization. Wessel has served with the BND [German intelligence], … and the NATO Military Committee.”

[document, no clear source, sometime in 1961:]

In 1945, ”He and certain of his coworkers were sent to Camp Richey for a more detailed interrogation and a decision was made [passive voice] at the G-2 level to return General Gehlen to Germany and allow him to rebuild his organization under G-2 responsibility.”

[document, no clear source, perhaps MI6, no clear date,  but “27 August 19–“:]

“The Americans reportedly supply the funds. … The former General is said to be able to multiply this sum to many times its original value through clever business deals. It is believed that he has already succeeded in piling up a substantial reserve which would enable him to carry on independently should the Americans cease to support him.”

[4 February 1969 letter from Gehlen to “Dear Mr.[[CIA Director, Richard]] Helms” regarding “the death of the Honorable Mr. Allen Dulles, … this great man. … It is not accidental that in the past in order to avoid his name in written documents we used the cover name ‘The Gentleman.’”


Former military special operations intelligence professional Ronald Thomas West blogs at http://ronaldthomaswest.com/.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.