The CIA's Rebellion-Fomenters


Interesting article in the Washington Post:

Before the war in Iraq began, the CIA recruited and trained an Iraqi paramilitary group, code-named the Scorpions, to foment rebellion, conduct sabotage, and help CIA paramilitaries who entered Baghdad and other cities target buildings and individuals, according to three current and former intelligence officials with knowledge of the unit. […]

After Baghdad fell, the CIA used the Scorpions to try to infiltrate the insurgency, to help out in interrogations, and, from time to time, to do "the dirty work," as one intelligence official put it.

In one case, members of the unit, wearing masks and carrying clubs and pipes, beat up an Iraqi general in the presence of CIA and military personnel, according to investigative documents reviewed by The Washington Post and according to several defense and intelligence officials. […]

CIA control over the unit became weaker as chaos grew in Iraq. "Even though they were set up by us, they weren't well supervised," said an intelligence official.

Worth reading in full; link via Sploid.

NEXT: My Bad Ethics

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Will they ever learn? Arming the Taliban against the Soviets should have been educating enough. Then again, didn’t we arm Saddam against Iran?

  2. sage:

    Not so much. Mostly they got arms from the Russians.

  3. What went around’s coming around?

  4. Sounds like their case officer(s) wasn’t very good at running his/her agents.

  5. “the dirty work”

    So we’re setting up death squads eh? That will turn out well. Let’s call them freedom squads though.

  6. and, from time to time, to do “the dirty work,” as one intelligence official put it.

    In other words, our government is again planting the seeds of terror attacks against us.

    In one case, members of the unit, wearing masks and carrying clubs and pipes, beat up an Iraqi general in the presence of CIA and military personnel

    Unjust, inhumane, and barbarous behavior. And we’re paying for it!

    Bring the troops home now from this war based on fabrication before any more Americans die without good cause and the ethical fabric of our republic is torn beyond recognition.

  7. Rick Barton,

    Why do you hate America? 🙂

  8. See Rick Barton, here is the problem with your comment as I see it (and I’ve posted before on this same topic, so pardon me if I sound repetitive). I, and many other Americans who supported the war when it was a war to remove the threat of WMDs, would agree with you that now, with Saddam gone, no WMDs found, a new government in place, and so on, that it is time to withdraw in an orderly fashion. However, then people start spouting nonsense like “…this war based on fabrication…” and we start seeing the side of the discourse that insists that “Bush Lied, People Died.” When I see that, I lose respect for the speaker (here I’m not talking about you personally, Rick, but about segments of the American chattering and political class). I, and many other Americans, are now less willing to support a withdrawal because we don’t want to throw our support in with a bunch of people who are spouting nonsense.
    I know that this thinking might seem illogical on the face of it. After all, ends justify the means, no? So what if many people pushing for withdrawal are behaving illogically, we would still get our troops out faster. But that is just the thing- ends do not justify the means. Torture does not justify the information we glean, inappropriate police procedures do not justify the suspects apprehended, and so on. While achiveing the ends, the means are damaging society in a much more grivous fashion. So by all means, push for withdrawal. But please do so in a logical manner without resorting to hysterical invective.

  9. This is the more interesting statement in the article:

    The CIA spent millions of dollars on the Scorpions, whose existence has not been previously disclosed, even giving them former Soviet Hind helicopters. But most of the unit’s prewar missions — spray-painting graffiti on walls; cutting electricity; “sowing confusion,” as one said — were delayed or canceled because of poor training or planning, said officials briefed on the unit. The speed of the invasion negated the need for most of their missions, others said.

    In other words, they were already fucking up even before the invasion.

    And get this:

    Post inquiries about the case prompted the CIA to brief the House and Senate intelligence committees on the unit, said several members of Congress and two defense officials.

    Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), chairman of the House intelligence committee, asked if he was satisfied with the information he received on the unit, said, “Yes — if it existed.” But he added: “We’re not spending a lot of time going back and dissecting tactical programs.”

    So much for Congressional oversight. 🙂

    On, and this:

    All former and current government officials interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the classified nature of the Scorpions.

    Why is it classified? Could it be because its politically embarressing to have funded such a boondoggle?

    Finally, get a load of this:

    Many of the paramilitaries did not speak English. When they entered Iraq after the invasion, because they wore civilian clothes and traveled in civilian vehicles, the Scorpion teams were often mistaken for insurgents. On a couple of occasions, U.S. soldiers unknowingly tracked the teams as insurgents and focused on their official safe houses as possible targets until they were discovered to be working with U.S. officials.

    Wow, the Iraqi version of the Keystone Cops.

  10. Shelby-Iraq got more than a few weapons from us, especially the more unconventional stuff like biological and chemical agents. We were supplying to both sides, albeit at a much slower pace than the Russians were.

  11. Apparently we wanted to Iraq them like a hurricane, but now we’re just caught in the winds of change…

  12. Arming paramilitary groups in the Middle East? What could possibly go wrong with that?

  13. Swede, this newfound reasonableness from those who supported the Iraq fiasco is quite touching. The prewar rallies, the imperial rhetoric, the executive pomp and circumstance, the moving of the goalposts from one end of the field to the other… nothing illogical about that! Those 51% who supported invading a country they knew absolutely nothing about were probably acting on a rational examination of the situation.

    After all, no one who did could have foreseen any problems. The plan was foolproof! (Historical context was erased on 9/11/01, right?) Anyway, I’m sure we can slowly withdraw in a few years and forget this silly Iraq thing ever happened. For god’s sake, let’s not point any fingers.

  14. The Scorpions? Are they serious? Man.. what is it with the military and bad heavy metal? Wish i had a nickel for every time I heard “Rock You Like a Hurricane” blasting out of some teenage squid’s Mustang when i lived in San Diego…. ten years after that song stopped being cool (to the extent it ever was).

    Anyway, back on topic…. why am i just not surprised? About any of it? That we armed Iraqis…? that they fucked up…? that we lost control over them…..? All too familiar. We’ll never know how many of our boys have been killed by the very people we’ve trained and armed.

    Swede — if something’s right, then its right, regardless of who agrees with you. Why should it matter to you if people you think are nuts just happen to agree with you about withdrawal for different reasons than you do? You are certainly articulate enough to distinguish yourself from those you find distasteful, and if there are some fire breathing neanderthals in your neighborhood who can’t tell the difference between you and Michael Moore, is that any reason NOT to support a withdrawal if you believe its the right thing?

  15. Swede,

    I, too, dislike the rhymes chanted at demonstrations and the mindsets behind them. But it’s a documented fact that the Bush Administration repeatedly told the public that there was “no doubt” regarding WMD’s, when there were many experts working for the government who had expressed doubt regarding WMD’s. If they had said, “There is some disagreement, but we believe…” that would be a different matter.

    There were many valid arguments for invading Iraq, but to suggest that the administration was honest in making its case for war is to be no less partisan or illogical than the kind of people who tend to chant rhymes at demonstrations.

  16. Bush and his bunch are planning a major troop reduction in ’06 just in time for the Congressional election. The key question is whether they’ll be civil war by the time this happens. If so, Bush will pull out and look like a total loser. If not, he’ll declare victory, pull out, and have Fox News and talk radio declare the US safer and the winner. The US public’s attention span is so short it won’t matter that Iraq plunges into civil war by the time the elections are held.

  17. Mostly they got arms from the Russians.

    I seem to remember the French made a few bucks there too.

    Just remember, John Kerry said Saddam had WMD’s before he said he didn’t.

  18. Just remember, John Kerry said Saddam had WMD’s before he said he didn’t.

    Since the dishonest, wormy Democrat didn’t win last November and the dishonest, wormy Republican did, why does it matter what the dishonest, wormy Democrat said? I mean, shouldn’t we be focusing on the dishonest worm in charge?

  19. Swede,

    We know that the Bush administration lied about WMD. Among the lies which would have landed them in prison had they been corporate CEO’s instead of government officials was the duplicity in the presentation of the report that Powell presented at the UN and described as; “valuable intelligence” but turned out to be an altered, plagiarized and dated grad student thesis.

    The only possible pretext for Bush, himself is that if he actually believed the wild neo-con fabrications:

    This is indeed plausible but I’m not going sweat it as I can think of better uses for my time than coming to the defense of big spending, big regulating liberals such as Bush.

    You know of course, this whole sickening affair just makes clear the truth of what conservatives and libertarians have been telling us for years; You can’t, and should not trust government!

  20. The folks that really have blood on their hands are the neocons, both in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans, aka, The Lie Factory and outside government as well. These guys had long advocated taking out Saddom as something good for the Israeli government. They exploited the post 9/11 climate and succeeded in foisting an invasion on us as something consistent with the interests of America.

  21. Doug, that was brilliant!

  22. Rick,

    Just to be clear, do you consider Bush to be one of the neocons? I’m convinced that he wanted to invade Iraq before 9/11. He just needed the right excuse and framework to do it. I’m not convinced that he felt it would be good for Isreal as opposed to personal vitriol and just plain better for the world in general.

  23. Israel is way too smart to think that Iraq could be made democratic, freedom loving, and at least neutral towards themselves by a US invasion. I don’t believe they thought this war was a good idea.

    Iraq is rapidly becoming a Shia dominated Islamic republic with close ties to Tehran. This is Israel’s worst nightmare.

  24. “Just remember, John Kerry said Saddam had WMD’s before he said he didn’t.” And where did he hear that? A United States Senator should be able to give the President of the United States the benefit of the doubt when he announces that our nation’s security is threatended.

    Swede, I’m sorry is makes you feel bad to hear that you were fooled by deliberately cooked intelligence. Don’t sweat it – a lot of very smart people were fooled. Look at the New Republic staff. Look at Juan Cole. But we can’t just sweep the deliberate dishonesty of Cheney, Bush, Perle, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, et al under the rug for the sake of comity. The people who pulled this con on the American people need to have their noses rubbed in it, so that future politicians will be afraid to ever try anything similar.

    As for the “Scorpions,” why does all of our “democracy promotion” have to be carried out in a such a sleazy manner? How are you supposed to foster a culture of democratic governance, and empower the man in the street to take on the responsibility of a citizen in a democratic republic, by leading him around like sheep? The People need to be involved in democratization from the beginning. They should have pulled down their own statues.

  25. “why does all of our ‘democracy promotion’ have to be carried out in a such a sleazy manner?”

    Because since 1947 or so, US policy has been that every government on the planet must be unconditionally pro-American first and democratic second?

  26. You know what, SR, I think this would be a pretty good time to give some props to Bush and Rice. They seem to have gotten us kicked out of Uzbekistan for being rude to Islam Karimov about his, er, crowd control methods.

    They’ve been shooting their mouths off about how deeply committed they are to global democracy for years now, but there has never before been a single example of them putting their money where their mouth is, and actually choosing the promotion of democracy and human rights over the expansion of our power and wealth when the two interests came into conflict.

    If we actually have to pack our stuff up and leave that country, if they manage to stand firm and not cut some sleazy deal, it will be a major turning point in the history of American conservatism. Here’s hoping.

  27. When I see that, I lose respect for the speaker (here I’m not talking about you personally, Rick, but about segments of the American chattering and political class). I, and many other Americans, are now less willing to support a withdrawal because we don’t want to throw our support in with a bunch of people who are spouting nonsense.

    this is because, mr swede, your opinions are weakly held and poorly reasoned — and you yourself deeply insecure. that’s why you can change opinion so easily, not having them be refuted but simply by “feeling” someone is saying something “bad”.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.