The Fragile Process for Engaging Iran


An enlargeable relief map of Syria

An enlargeable relief map of Syria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




The diplomatic fracas over inviting and disinviting Iran to the Syrian peace talks only makes sense if you factor in President Obama’s fragile consensus for engaging Iran over its nuclear program – while influential neocons keep pressing for confrontation. That mix has made for a messy process on Syria, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

The handling of the issue of Iranian participation in the next round of multilateral discussions on the civil war in Syria has been something of an embarrassment — certainly for the United States, the United Nations, and the conglomeration known as the Syrian opposition.

The United States has seemed to be more interested in words rather than in substance in the demands it has been placing on Iran.

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CIA arrests in Iran? Allegations point to smoldering covert war with US.

CIA arrests were perhaps Iranians working as informants for Western intelligence services. Iranian officials this week announced the arrests of a dozen spies.

By Howard LaFranchi, Staff writer / November 25, 2011


Masked members of the Iranian Basij militia parade on Friday.

Raheb Homavandi/Reuters Washington

A smoldering covert war pitting the United States against Iran took a new turn this week as Iranian officials announced the arrests of a dozen “CIA spies” they said were targeting the country’s nuclear program.

Iranian officials, including the country’s intelligence minister, did not release the identities or nationalities of the alleged spies, but intelligence analysts say they are probably Iranians working as informants for Western intelligence services.

“The main mission of this act of espionage was related to Iran’s progress in the fields of nuclear technology and also military and security activities,” said Parviz Sorouri, a member of Iran’s powerful parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, according to the official IRNA news agency. “The US and Zionist regime’s espionage apparatuses were trying to damage Iran both from inside and outside with a heavy blow, using regional intelligence services.”

The potential “CIA arrests” followed reports earlier in the week of other arrests in Iran. There were also reports that Hezbollah, the Iran-affiliated Shiite militia in Lebanon, has arrested alleged CIA informants.

The latest Iranian allegations could not be verified, and the Central Intelligence Agency declined to comment, as it does as a rule on “operational activities.” But the charges were the latest installment in a growing list of covert operations – or accusations claiming such operations. That list includes the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists, explosions at Iranian factories and military installations, cyberattacks targeting Iran’s nuclear facilities, and – on the other side – the alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

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The death of a CIA spy brings renewed hope for surviving families


Posted: 11/25/2011

His death was swift, and came at the hands of a Taliban prisoner who reneged on a pledge to surrender in Afghanistan 10 years ago this month.

Johnny Micheal “Mike” Spann was a member of the elite CIA team that spearheaded the U.S. invasion of the country as an answer to the 9/11 attacks. He also became the first U.S. combat casualty in those very early days of the operation.

Hank Crumpton led the CIA effort in the country. It was the beginning of a new era for an intelligence agency not yet fully understanding the profound change that lay ahead and what that change would require of its officers.

In some respects, it was pathfinding and pathbreaking, says Crumpton. Especially given that they were on their own.

Spann was part of a small elite group known as Team Alpha, which dropped into the country south of Mazar-e Sharif. There was no U.S. military presence, and the team of fewer than 10 men were completely dependent on their Afghan allies to keep them alive. They established contact with a larger group within the country and started building the relationships that would pave the way for U.S. special forces to enter a few weeks later.

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PCG convenes counter terrorism course

Philippine Coast Guard Special Operations Grou...

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April 16, 2011, 2:30am

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) convened last Friday (April ) its Counter Terrorism Course (CTC) in colorful ceremonies at the PCG headquarters in Manila, in cognizance and seeking to address modern-day threats of ‘‘piracy, terrorism and other maritime transitional crimes.’’ Continue reading

CIA plans language upgrade and technology improvements

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Associated Press

Posted: 04/27/2010 02:11:40 AM PDT

Updated: 04/27/2010 02:11:42 AM PDT

WASHINGTON — The CIA will spend millions of dollars over the next five years to improve intelligence gathering, upgrade technologies and enable analysts to work more closely with spies in the field, under a new plan laid out Monday.

The plan renews the agency’s year-old goal to increase the number of analysts and overseas operatives fluent in another language — a problem that has plagued military and civilian intelligence officers throughout much of the last decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq Continue reading

Bruce Tefft, fost agent CIA: Niciun strain nu are “dreptul” sa zboare in SUA. Cui nu-i convin masurile de securitate, sa nu mearga

de Adrian Novac

Luni, 11 ianuarie 2010, 12:05 Actualitate | Internaţional

Bruce Tefft

Foto: Arhiva personala

In ziua de Craciun a anului trecut, un nigerian a incercat sa detoneze o incarcatura exploziva intr-un avion aflat deasupra orasului Detroit. Pe 30 decembrie, un atacator sinucigas se arunca in aer in interiorul unei baze CIA din Afganistan, omorand sapte americani. In prima zi din 2010, un artist danez care a publicat mai multe caricaturi cu profetul Mohammed este atacat in propria casa de un musulman somalez. De ce s-au intamplat toate aceste incidente? Cine se afla in spatele lor si ce semnificatie au masurile de securitate draconice luate in Statele Unite? Ne-a raspuns la toate aceste intrebari expertul in probleme de contraterorism Bruce Tefft, fost agent CIA.

Adrian Novac: Un tanar nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a incercat sa arunce in aer un avion al companiei Northwest Airlines folosind exploziv ascuns in chiloti; sapte ofiteri CIA au fost ucisi intr-un atac sinucigas in Afganistan; un somalez a incercat sa-l ucida pe caricaturistul danez Kurt Westergaard la inceputul acestui an. De ce crezi ca s-au intamplat aceste incidente teroriste in ultima perioada? Putem sa vedem o caracteristica comuna in toate aceste atacuri?
Bruce Tefft: Nu exista o caracteristica comuna in aceste atacuri, caci acestea ar insemna ca ele sunt similare.

Ceea ce vedem este manifestarea comuna a razboiului pe care musulmanii il poarta de 1400 de ani impotriva non-musulmanilor, asa cum le cere Mohammed si Coranul.

In toate operatiile militare – si terorismul este o activitate militara, nu criminala – tipul si executarea la timp depind de obiectivul si de pregatirile necesare indeplinirii acelor obiective. In timp ce unele incidente teroriste au tinte multiple, aceste atacuri pe care le-ai mentionat nu sunt nici simultane si nici nu reprezinta aspecte multiple ale aceleiasi operatiuni. Ele sunt, mai degraba, atacuri diferite, in locuri diferite, ale aceluiasi razboi. Continue reading

An Interview with Dr Bruce Tefft:Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Lybia, Syria and Saudi Arabia

For those of us who do NOT speak Romanian:

de Adrian Novac

Luni, 7 septembrie 2009, 8:38 Actualitate | Internaţional


Bruce Tefft

Foto: Arhiva personala

Background: Dr. Bruce Tefft served 21 years in the CIA, including 17 years abroad, many as a CIA Chief of Station; and was a founding member of the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center in 1985.

Dr. Tefft has traveled more than 350,000 miles, training more than 17,000 thousand law enforcement officers and first responders in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Mexico. After 9/11 he served as the New York Police Department’s Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence advisor.

Dr. Tefft is vice-president of the Western Defense Studies Institute in Rome and is Director of CRA’s Terrorism Assessment Center in the USA, providing world-wide terrorism prevention and emergency response training to first responders, law enforcement and security agencies and civil servants.

He has a Master’s degree in History and Doctorate in International Law from the University of Denver.

How does someone get a job at the CIA? Should you have special skills, it’s about luck or it’s a job for the Average Joe?

There is a lot of information on the internet about applying for employment with the CIA…many questions are answered, for example, at this site:

Within the CIA there are thousands of people with many different skill sets and capabilities.  I met “Average Joe’s” and geniuses.

Some skills are more useful than others:  language abilities are highly prized as well as adaptability, flexibility, intelligence, common-sense (not so common) etc.

Chances of being accepted depend more on whether your skills match the needs of a particular job vacancy than on what skills you actually have.  One year the CIA may have no need for someone with your skills or educational background and experiences and the next year an opening may appear.  I applied 3 separate times in 5 years before being accepted for the intial interview.

Did you consider your career to be adventurous? What aspects made it adventurous?

Of course.  ANY career involving travel and living overseas in dangerous parts of the world is adventurous.  I was fortunate to spend 17 of my 21 years abroad; mostly 3rd  or 4th world countries and war zones.

The challenge is in dealing with or adapting to unknown and potentially dangerous circumstances of a culture or country not your own.  Travellers and tourists do this all of the time…most are not also engaged in other risky activities at the same time. Continue reading