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    Henry Kissinger, Top U.S. Diplomat Responsible for Millions of Deaths, Dies at 100 / TheIntercept · Thursday, 30 November - 02:49 · 12 minutes

Henry Kissinger, National Security Adviser and Secretary of State under two presidents and longtime éminence grise of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, died on November 29 at his home in Connecticut. He was 100 years old.

Kissinger helped to prolong the Vietnam War and expand that conflict into neutral Cambodia; facilitated genocides in Cambodia, East Timor, and Bangladesh; accelerated civil wars in southern Africa; and supported coups and death squads throughout Latin America. He had the blood of at least 3 million people on his hands, according to his biographer Greg Grandin.

There were “few people who have had a hand in as much death and destruction, as much human suffering, in so many places around the world as Henry Kissinger,” said veteran war crimes prosecutor Reed Brody.

A 2023 investigation by The Intercept found that Kissinger — perhaps the most powerful national security adviser in American history and the chief architect of U.S. war policy in Southeast Asia from 1969 to 1975 — was responsible for more civilian deaths in Cambodia than was previously known, according to an exclusive archive of U.S. military documents and interviews with Cambodian survivors and American witnesses.

The Intercept disclosed previously unpublished, unreported , and under-appreciated evidence of hundreds of civilian casualties that were kept secret during the war and remained almost entirely unknown to the American people. Kissinger bore significant responsibility for attacks in Cambodia that killed as many as 150,000 civilians — up to six times more noncombatants than the United States has killed in airstrikes since 9/11, according to experts.

Born Heinz Alfred Kissinger in Fürth, Germany, on May 27, 1923, he immigrated to the United States in 1938, among a wave of Jews fleeing Nazi oppression. Kissinger became a U.S. citizen in 1943 and served in the U.S. Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps during World War II. After graduating summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1950, he earned an M.A. in 1952 and a Ph.D. two years later. He then joined the Harvard faculty, with appointments in the Department of Government and at the Center for International Affairs. While teaching at Harvard, he was a consultant for the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson before serving as national security adviser from 1969 to 1975 and secretary of state from 1973 to 1977 under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. A proponent of realpolitik, Kissinger greatly influenced U.S. foreign policy while serving in government and, in the decades that followed, counseled U.S. presidents and sat on numerous corporate and government advisory boards while authoring a small library of bestselling books on history and diplomacy.

Kissinger married Ann Fleischer in 1949; the two were divorced in 1964. In 1974, he married Nancy Maginnes. He is survived by his wife, two children from his first marriage, Elizabeth and David , and five grandchildren .

As National Security Adviser , Kissinger played a key role in prolonging the U.S. wars in Southeast Asia , resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of American troops and hundreds of thousands of Cambodians, Laotians, and Vietnamese. During his tenure, the United States dropped 9 billion pounds of munitions on Indochina.

In 1973, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Kissinger and his North Vietnamese counterpart Le Duc Tho “for jointly having negotiated a cease fire in Vietnam in 1973.”

“There is no other comparable honor,” Kissinger would later write of the prize he received for an agreement to end a war he encouraged and extended, a pact that not only failed to stop that conflict but also was almost immediately violated by all parties. Documents released in 2023 show that the prize — among the most controversial in the award’s history — was given despite the understanding that the war was unlikely to end due to the truce.

Tho refused the award. He said that the U.S. had breached the agreement and aided and encouraged its South Vietnamese allies to do the same, while also casting the deal as an American capitulation. “During the last 18 years, the United States undertook a war of aggression against Vietnam,” he wrote. “American imperialism has been defeated.”

North Vietnam and its revolutionary allies in South Vietnam would topple the U.S.-backed government in Saigon two years later, in 1975. That same year, due in large part to Nixon and Kissinger’s expansion of the war into the tiny, neutral nation of Cambodia, the American-backed military regime there fell to the genocidal Khmer Rouge, whose campaign of overwork, torture, and murder then killed 2 million people, roughly 20 percent of the population. Kissinger almost immediately sought to make common cause with the génocidaires. “You should also tell the Cambodians that we will be friends with them. They are murderous thugs, but we won’t let that stand in our way. We are prepared to improve relations with them,” he told Thailand’s foreign minister .

As secretary of state and national security adviser, Kissinger spearheaded efforts to improve relations with the former Soviet Union and “opened” the People’s Republic of China to the West for the first time since Mao Zedong came to power in 1949. Kissinger also supported genocidal militaries in Pakistan and Indonesia. In the former, Nixon and his national security adviser backed a dictator who — according to CIA estimates — slaughtered hundreds of thousands of civilians ; in the latter, Ford and Kissinger gave President Suharto the go-ahead for an invasion of East Timor that resulted in about 200,000 deaths — around a quarter of the entire population .

In Latin America, Nixon and Kissinger plotted to overturn the democratic election of Chile’s socialist president Salvador Allende. This included Kissinger’s supervision of covert operations — such as the botched kidnapping of Chilean Gen. René Schneider that ended in Schneider’s murder — to destabilize Chile and prompt a military coup. “ You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende ,” Kissinger later told Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the leader of the military junta that went on to kill thousands of Chileans . In Argentina, Kissinger gave another green light, this time to a terror campaign of torture, forced disappearances, and murder by a military junta that overthrew President Isabel Perón. During a June 1976 meeting, Kissinger told the junta’s foreign minister, Cesar Augusto Guzzetti: “ If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly .” The so-called “Dirty War” that followed would claim the lives of an estimated 30,000 Argentine civilians.

Kissinger’s diplomacy also stoked a war in Angola and prolonged apartheid in South Africa . In the Middle East, he sold out the Kurds in Iraq and, wrote Grandin, “left that region in chaos, setting the stage for crises that continue to afflict humanity.”

Through a combination of raw ambition, media manipulation, and an uncanny ability to obscure the truth and avoid scandal, Kissinger transformed himself from a college professor and bureaucrat into the most celebrated American diplomat of the 20th century and a bona fide celebrity. Hailed as “ the playboy of the western wing ” and “ the sex symbol of the Nixon administration ,” he was photographed with starlets and became a fodder for the gossip columns. While dozens of his White House colleagues were laid low by myriad Watergate crimes, which cost Nixon his job in 1974, Kissinger skirted the scandal and emerged a media darling.

“We were half-convinced that nothing was beyond the capacity of this remarkable man,” ABC News’s Ted Koppel said in a 1974 documentary, describing Kissinger as “the most admired man in America.” There was, however, another side to the public figure often praised for his wit and geniality, according to Carolyn Eisenberg, author of “Never Lose: Nixon, Kissinger and the Illusion of National Security,” who spent a decade reading Kissinger’s White House telephone transcripts and listening to tapes of his unvarnished conversations. “He had a disturbed personality and was unbelievably adolescent. He admitted he was egotistical, but he was far beyond that,” she told The Intercept. “He was, in many respects, very much stuck at age 14. His opportunism was boundless. His need to be important, to be a celebrity, was gigantic.”

Kissinger was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom — America’s highest civilian award — in 1977. In 1982, he founded Kissinger Associates, an international consulting group that became a revolving door refuge for top national security officials looking to cash in on their government service. The firm leveraged their and Kissinger’s reputations and contacts to help huge multinational corporations, banks, and financial institutions , including American Express, Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Heinz, Fiat, Volvo, Ericsson, and Daewoo, broker deals with governments. “A big part of Henry Kissinger’s legacy is the corruption of American foreign policymaking,” Matt Duss, a former advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders, told Vox in 2023. “It is blurring the line, if not outright erasing the line, between the making of foreign policy and corporate interests.”

Kissinger counseled every U.S. president from Nixon through Donald Trump and served as a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 1984 to 1990 and the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board from 2001 to 2016. After being tapped to head the 9/11 Commission, families of victims raised questions about potential conflicts of interest due to Kissinger’s financial ties with governments that could be implicated in the commission’s work. Kissinger quit rather than hand over a list of his consultancy’s clients.

In his 2001 book-length indictment , “The Trial of Henry Kissinger,” Christopher Hitchens called for Kissinger’s prosecution “for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offenses against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture” from Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile and East Timor to Cambodia, Laos, Uruguay, and Vietnam.

Henry Kissinger ducked questions about the bombing of Cambodia, muddied the truth in public comments, and spent half his life lying about his role in the killings there. In the early 2000s, Kissinger was sought for questioning in connection with human rights abuses by former South American military dictatorships, but he evaded investigators, once declining to appear before a court in France and bolting from Paris after receiving a summons. He was never charged or prosecuted for deaths for which he bore responsibility.

“Much of the world considered Kissinger to be a war criminal, but who would have dared put the handcuffs on an American secretary of state?” asked Brody, who brought historic legal cases against Pinochet, Chadian dictator Hissène Habré, and others. “Kissinger was not once even questioned by a court about any of his alleged crimes, much less prosecuted.”

Kissinger continued to win coveted awards , and hobnobbed with the rich and famous at black-tie White House dinners , Hamptons galas, and other invitation-only events. By the 2010s, the Republican diplomat had become a darling of mainstream Democrats and remained so until his death. Hillary Clinton called Kissinger “a friend” and said she “ relied on his counsel ” while serving as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama. Samantha Power, who built her reputation and career on human rights advocacy and went on to serve as the Obama administration’s ambassador to the United Nations and the Biden administration’s head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, befriended Kissinger before receiving the American Academy of Berlin’s Henry A. Kissinger Prize from Kissinger himself. Biden’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken , also had a long , cordial relationship with his distant predecessor .

Kissinger was repeatedly feted for his 100th birthday in May 2023. A black-tie gala at the New York Public Library was attended by Blinken ; Power; Biden’s CIA director, William J. Burns; disgraced former CIA director and four-star general David Petraeus; fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg ; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft; former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg; former Google CEO Eric Schmidt; and the Catholic Archbishop of New York Timothy M. Dolan, among other luminaries.

To mark Kissinger’s centenary, Koppel — who became Kissinger’s friend following the 1974 documentary — conducted a sympathetic interview for CBS News that nonetheless broached the charges that dogged Kissinger for decades. “There are people at our broadcast who are questioning the legitimacy of even doing an interview with you. They feel that strongly about what they consider, I’ll put it in language they would use, your criminality,” said Koppel.

“That’s a reflection of their ignorance,” Kissinger replied .

When Koppel brought up the bombing of Cambodia, Kissinger got angry. “Come on. We have been bombing with drones and all kinds of weapons every guerilla unit that we were opposing,” he shot back. “It’s been the same in every administration that I’ve been part of.”

“The consequences in Cambodia were particularly – “

“Come on now.”

“No, no, no, were particularly – “

“This is a program you’re doing because I’m gonna be 100 years old,” Kissinger growled. “And you’re picking a topic of something that happened 60 years ago. You have to know that it was a necessary step. Now, the younger generation feels that if they can raise their emotions, they don’t have to think. If they think, they won’t ask that question.”

When The Intercept asked that question about Cambodia – in a more pointed manner – 13 years earlier, Kissinger offered the same dismissive retorts and flashed the same fury. “Oh, come on!” he exclaimed. “What are you trying to prove?” Pressed on the mass deaths of Cambodians resulting from his policies, the senior statesman long praised for his charm, intellect, and erudition told this reporter to “play with it.”

Kissinger’s legacy extends beyond the corpses, trauma, and suffering of the victims he left behind. His policies, Grandin told The Intercept, set the stage for the civilian carnage of the U.S. war on terror from Afghanistan to Iraq, Syria to Somalia, and beyond. “You can trace a line from the bombing of Cambodia to the present,” said Grandin, author of “ Kissinger’s Shadow .” “The covert justifications for illegally bombing Cambodia became the framework for the justifications of drone strikes and forever war. It’s a perfect expression of American militarism’s unbroken circle.”

Brody, the war crimes prosecutor, says that even with Kissinger’s death, some measure of justice is still possible.

“It’s too late, of course, to put Kissinger in the dock now, but we can still have a reckoning [with] his role in atrocities abroad,” Brody told The Intercept. “Indeed, his death ought to trigger a full airing of U.S. support for abuses around the world during the Cold War and since, maybe even a truth commission, to establish an historical record, promote a measure of accountability, and if the United States were ready to apologize or acknowledge our misdeeds – as we have done in places like Guatemala and Iran – to foster a kind of reconciliation with the countries whose people suffered the abuses.”

The post Henry Kissinger, Top U.S. Diplomat Responsible for Millions of Deaths, Dies at 100 appeared first on The Intercept .

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    India Accidentally Hired a DEA Agent to Kill Sikh American Activist, Federal Prosecutors Say / TheIntercept · Wednesday, 29 November - 18:34 · 5 minutes

On Wednesday , the Justice Department announced it had filed charges against a man allegedly working for the Indian government to orchestrate the assassination of a U.S. citizen earlier this year. An Indian government official allegedly instructed Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national, to coordinate the murder a Sikh separatist living in New York.

The indictment alleges that Gupta, after being recruited by the Indian government official to orchestrate the killing, hired a hitman and paid him a $15,000 advance to carry out the murder this past summer. The hitman was actually an undercover agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA. According to a report on the indictment in the Washington Post, the intended target of the killing was Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, general counsel for the New York-based Sikh activist group Sikhs for Justice. In the DEA’s press release, Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen said investigators had “foiled and exposed a dangerous plot to assassinate a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.”

“India showed a clear disregard for the rule of law when its government orchestrated the killing of an American activist on U.S. soil.”

The alleged assassination plot against Pannun was in the works around the same time as the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen who was also a leader in the Sikh separatist movement. Nijjar was murdered outside Vancouver in June; the Canadian government has alleged the involvement of Indian intelligence in his death.

The Indian government has come under scrutiny over an alleged transnational assassination program targeting its opponents in foreign countries. In addition to the murder of Nijjar, The Intercept has also reported on alleged FBI warnings to Sikhs in the U.S. as well as alleged plots by India to assassinate Sikh activists in Pakistan. Both the Nijjar killing and the Gupta plot came ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to the U.S. in June.

“India showed a clear disregard for the rule of law when its government orchestrated the killing of an American activist on U.S. soil, coinciding with Modi’s White House visit,” said Pritpal Singh, a coordinator for the American Sikh Caucus Committee who was among the Sikh American activists who were contacted by the FBI after Nijjar’s killing.

The details in the indictment reveal a murder-for-hire plot gone awry. Gupta, 52, described as being tied to the international weapons and narcotics trade, was alleged to have worked as a co-conspirator to an Indian government official with a background in security and intelligence. Along with others based in India and elsewhere, Gupta helped plan the murder of Pannun over his advocacy of an independent Sikh state and criticisms of the Indian government. In return, the government official indicated he would help secure the dismissal of criminal charges against Gupta in India, including during a meeting in New Delhi to discuss the plot. The Indian government official provided Gupta with details about Pannun, including his address, associated phone numbers, and his daily routine, which Gupta then gave to the DEA agent working undercover as a hitman.

According to the indictment, the Indian government official told Gupta that he was targeting multiple people in the U.S. In communications, the Indian official told Gupta that he had a “target in New York” as well as another target in California. Gupta replied: ”We will hit our all Targets.” The indictment also indicated that Pannun was surveilled in New York using a cellphone application that tracks GPS coordinates and enables the user to take photographs. The Indian official allegedly agreed to pay $100,000 for the murder of Pannun, with a $15,000 advance paid to the undercover agent around June 9, according to the indictment. Nijjar was fatally shot less than 10 days later outside a Sikh temple in the Vancouver suburbs.

According to the indictment, Gupta instructed the DEA hitman to kill Pannun “as soon as possible,” but not during a period when high-level meetings were expected to take place between U.S. and Indian officials. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to visit the U.S. on an official trip between June 21 and 23. On June 18, the day of Nijjar’s murder, the Indian government official sent Gupta a video of the Sikh leader slumped dead in his car. The next day, Gupta allegedly contacted the undercover DEA to tell them that Nijjar, like Pannun, had also been targeted for his opposition to the Indian government, telling the agent, “we have so many targets.”

Gupta also allegedly promised “more jobs, more jobs” to the hitman, referring to more assassinations that would be carried out in the future. In a video call with the undercover DEA agent, roughly a week before the killing of Nijjar, Gupta and a group of men dressed in business attire and seated in a conference room allegedly told the hitman on the other end of the call, “we are all counting on you.”

There is mounting evidence that India is running a transnational targeted killing program targeting dissidents. Documents previously reported by The Intercept alleged that India’s Research and Analysis Wing was coordinating the murder individuals in Pakistan, using local criminal networks and assets based in the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan. A slew of Sikh and Kashmiri separatists in Pakistan have been killed over the past few years, the pace of which has picked up in recent months. Such killings may be taking place in the West as well. In addition to Nijjar, in recent years a number of Sikh activists have died in mysterious circumstances in the United Kingdom and Canada, prompting accusations from family members and others of Indian government involvement.

According to the indictment, Gupta was arrested in the Czech Republic in late June. He is charged with murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire. Gupta is currently “in jail waiting to answer to these charges,” according to the U.S. Attorney Office press release.

The accusations against Gupta expand the scope of what is publicly known about India’s alleged assassination campaign in Western countries.

“These revelations are deeply unsettling and have shocked our community,” said Pritpal Singh of the American Sikh Caucus Committee “The Indian rogue regime must be held accountable, and the perpetrators must face justice.”

The post India Accidentally Hired a DEA Agent to Kill Sikh American Activist, Federal Prosecutors Say appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Missiles and Drones Among Weapons Stolen From U.S. in Iraq and Syria / TheIntercept · Saturday, 25 November - 11:00 · 6 minutes

U.S. military outposts in Iraq and Syria are plagued by thefts of weapons and equipment, according to exclusive documents obtained by The Intercept that show militias and criminal gangs are systematically targeting U.S. forces.

Military investigations launched earlier this year found that “multiple sensitive weapons and equipment” — including guided missile launch systems as well as drones — have been stolen in Iraq. This follows hundreds of thousands of dollars in military gear that were purloined from U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria between 2020 and 2022, as reported earlier this year by The Intercept .

America’s bases in Iraq and Syria ostensibly exist to conduct “ counter-ISIS missions ,” but experts say they are used primarily as a check against Iran. Since the October outbreak of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, these bases have come under regular rocket and drone attacks as part of an undeclared war between the U.S. and Iran and its surrogate militias.

The U.S. has increasingly responded to those attacks. In Syria, the U.S. launched “precision strikes” on a “training facility and a safe house” allegedly used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The U.S. has since employed an AC-130 gunship against an “Iranian-backed militia vehicle and a number of Iranian-backed militia personnel” at an undisclosed location, following a ballistic missile attack on Al Asad Air Base in Western Iraq. “The President has no higher priority than the safety of U.S. personnel,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, justifying U.S. strikes.

But the criminal investigation documents obtained by The Intercept demonstrate that the U.S. cannot even secure its equipment, much less protect its troops.

“We don’t tend to think nearly critically enough about the ripple effects of such an expansive U.S. military footprint,” Stephanie Savell, co-director of Brown University’s Costs of War Project, told The Intercept. “The so-called war on terror isn’t over — it’s just morphed. And we can understand these weapons thefts as just one of the many political costs of that ongoing campaign.”

Details about the thefts in Iraq, which were never made public by the military, are found in criminal investigations files obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.

In February, military investigators were notified that 13 commercial drones, valued at about $162,500, were stolen from a U.S. facility in Erbil, Iraq, sometime last year. The agents identified no suspects, and no leads are mentioned in the file.

In February, military investigators were notified that 13 commercial drones were stolen from a U.S. facility in Erbil, Iraq.

A separate investigation discovered that “multiple sensitive weapons and equipment” including targeting sight and launcher units for Javelin missiles — a shoulder-fired guided missile that locks on its targets — were stolen at or en route to Forward Operating Base Union III in Baghdad, Iraq. The loss to the U.S. government was estimated at almost $480,000.

Investigators did not believe the thefts were an inside job. “No known U.S. personnel were involved,” according to a criminal investigations file. The investigators instead refer to locals as the likely suspects. “Iraqi criminal organizations and militia groups target convoys and containers for weapons and equipment,” the document stated. “Further there have been systemic issues with U.S. containers being pilfered by these groups and local nationals outside of Union III, due to the lack of security.”

Earlier this year, The Intercept revealed at least four significant thefts and one loss of U.S. weapons and equipment in Iraq and Syria from 2020 to 2022, including 40mm high-explosive grenades, armor-piercing rounds, specialized field artillery tools and equipment, and unspecified “weapons systems.” Two of the incidents took place at bases in Syria, and three were in Iraq. None of those thefts occurred at Forward Operating Base Union III.

Just how many thefts have occurred is unknown — perhaps even to the Pentagon. After more than two months, both Combined Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve, which oversees America’s war in Iraq and Syria, and its parent organization, U.S. Central Command, failed to respond to any of The Intercept’s questions about weapons thefts in Iraq and Syria.

Earlier this year, the task force admitted that it does not know the extent of the problem: A spokesperson said the task force has no record of any thefts from U.S. forces. “[W]e do not have the requested information,” Capt. Kevin T. Livingston, then CJTF-OIR’s director of public affairs, told The Intercept when asked if any weapons, ammunition, or equipment were stolen in the last five years.

The thefts and losses uncovered by The Intercept are just the latest weapons accountability woes to afflict the U.S. military in Iraq and Syria. A 2017 investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general found $20 million of weapons in Kuwait and Iraq were “vulnerable to loss or theft.” A 2020 audit discovered that Special Operations Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve, the main unit that works with America’s Syrian allies, did not properly account for $715.8 million of equipment purchased for those local surrogates.

Groups like Amnesty International and Conflict Armament Research also found that a substantial portion of the Islamic State group’s arsenal was composed of U.S.-made or U.S.- purchased weapons and ammunition captured, stolen, or otherwise obtained from the Iraqi Army and Syrian fighters.

Losses of weapons and ammunition are significant — and the military has taken pains to prevent them in the past. When the U.S. withdrew forces from an outpost near Kobani, Syria, in 2019, it conducted airstrikes on ammunition that was left behind . The military also destroyed equipment and ammunition during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. Still, within weeks of the U.S. defeat, American-made pistols, rifles, grenades, binoculars, and night-vision goggles flooded weapons shops there. Others were exported to Pakistan.

Since the outbreak of Israel’s war on Gaza, it’s become ever more apparent that U.S. bases in the Middle East serve as magnets for attack, although far-flung outposts have been periodically targeted in other conflict zones. In 2019, for example, the terrorist group al-Shabab assaulted a U.S. base in Baledogle, Somalia . The next year, the same group raided a longtime American outpost in Kenya , killing three Americans and wounding two others.

In recent weeks, America’s bases in Iraq and Syria have sometimes come under persistent attack, including as many as four strikes by drones and rockets in a 24-hour period. U.S. forces have been attacked more than 70 times — 36 times in Iraq, 37 in Syria — since October 17. More than 60 U.S. personnel have been wounded, according to Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh.

The investigation files obtained by The Intercept offer evidence that U.S. military bases also provide tempting targets for criminals. Earlier this year, The Intercept reported on a daring daylight armed robbery of military contractors less than a mile from the entrance of Air Base 201, a large U.S. drone outpost in Niger. In 2013, a U.S. Special Operations compound in Libya was looted of hundreds of weapons along with armored vehicles. And a 2021 Associated Press investigation found that at least 1,900 military weapons were lost or stolen during the 2010s — from bases stretching from Afghanistan to North Carolina — and that some were then used in violent crimes.

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    Joe Biden Moves to Lift Nearly Every Restriction on Israel’s Access to U.S. Weapons Stockpile / TheIntercept · Saturday, 25 November - 10:00 · 4 minutes

The White House has requested the removal of restrictions on all categories of weapons and ammunition Israel is allowed to access from U.S. weapons stockpiles stored in Israel itself.

The move to lift restrictions was included in the White House’s supplemental budget request , sent to the Senate on October 20. “This request would,” the proposed budget says, “allow for the transfer of all categories of defense articles.”

The request pertains to little-known weapons stockpiles in Israel that the Pentagon established for use in regional conflicts, but which Israel has been permitted to access in limited circumstances — the very limits President Joe Biden is seeking to remove.

“If enacted, the amendments would create a two-step around restrictions on U.S. weapons transfers to Israel.”

“If enacted, the amendments would create a two-step around restrictions on U.S. weapons transfers to Israel,” said John Ramming Chappell, a legal fellow with the Center for Civilians in Conflict.

Created in the 1980s to supply the U.S. in case of a regional war, the War Reserve Stockpile Allies-Israel, or WRSA-I, is the largest node in a network of what are effectively foreign U.S. weapons caches. Highly regulated for security, the stockpiles are governed by a set of strict requirements. Under circumstances laid out in these requirements, Israel has been able to draw on the stockpile, purchasing the weapons at little cost if it uses the effective subsidy of U.S. military aid .

With the WRSA-I, Biden is looking to lift virtually all the meaningful restrictions on the stockpile and the transfer of its arms to Israel, with plans to remove limitations to obsolete or surplus weapons, waive an annual spending cap on replenishing the stockpile, remove weapon-specific restrictions, and curtail congressional oversight. All of the changes in the Biden budget plan would be permanent, except for lifting the spending cap, which is limited to the 2024 fiscal year.

The changes would come in an arms-trade relationship that is already shrouded in secrecy, as The Intercept recently reported . Whereas the administration has provided pages of detailed lists of weapons provided to Ukraine, for instance, its disclosure about arms provided to Israel could fit in a single, short sentence. Last week, Bloomberg obtained a leaked list of weapons provided to Israel, revealing that they include thousands of Hellfire missiles — the same kind being used extensively by Israel in Gaza.

The effect of lifting the restrictions on transfers to Israel — such as eliminating the requirement that the weapons be part of a surplus — could harm U.S. interests by diminishing American preparedness for its own conflicts in the region, said Josh Paul, a former official who served in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

Paul, who resigned over U.S. arms assistance to Israel , told The Intercept, “By dropping the requirement that such articles be declared excess, it would also increase the existing strain on U.S. military readiness in order to provide more arms to Israel.”

“Undermine Oversight and Accountability”

The U.S. government is only supposed to spend $200 million per fiscal year restocking the WRSA-I — about half the total cap for all U.S. stockpiles round the globe. The White House request, however, would waive the limit on U.S. contributions to the stockpile in Israel. That would allow the stockpile to be continuously replenished.

“The President’s emergency supplemental funding request,” Paul said, “would essentially create a free-flowing pipeline to provide any defense articles to Israel by the simple act of placing them in the WRSA-I stockpile, or other stockpiles intended for Israel.”

The U.S. currently requires that Israel grant certain concessions in exchange for certain types of arms assistance from the Pentagon, but the White House request would remove this condition as well.

Finally, the White House request would also reduce congressional oversight of U.S. arms transfers by reducing the length of advance notice made to Congress before a weapons transfers. Under current law, there must be 30 days prior notice, but the Biden budget request would allow this to be shortened in “extraordinary” circumstances.

“It will make it much harder for Congress or the public to monitor U.S. arms transfers to Israel.”

“The Biden administration’s supplemental budget request would further undermine oversight and accountability even as U.S. support enables an Israeli campaign that has killed thousands of children,” said Chappell, of Center for Civilians in Conflict.

The House has already passed legislation reflecting the White House’s request last month, and it now stands before the Senate.

“Taken as a package,” said William Hartung, an arms expert at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, “it is extraordinary, and it will make it much harder for Congress or the public to monitor U.S. arms transfers to Israel, even as the Israeli government has engaged in massive attacks on civilians, some of which constitute war crimes.”

The post Joe Biden Moves to Lift Nearly Every Restriction on Israel’s Access to U.S. Weapons Stockpile appeared first on The Intercept .

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    U.S. Helped Pakistan Get IMF Bailout With Secret Arms Deal for Ukraine, Leaked Documents Reveal / TheIntercept · Monday, 18 September - 00:00 · 13 minutes

Secret Pakistani arms sales to the U.S. helped to facilitate a controversial bailout from the International Monetary Fund earlier this year, according to two sources with knowledge of the arrangement, with confirmation from internal Pakistani and American government documents. The arms sales were made for the purpose of supplying the Ukrainian military — marking Pakistani involvement in a conflict it had faced U.S. pressure to take sides on.

The revelation is a window into the kind of behind-the-scenes maneuvering between financial and political elites that rarely is exposed to the public, even as the public pays the price. Harsh structural policy reforms demanded by the IMF as terms for its recent bailout kicked off an ongoing round of protests in the country. Major strikes have taken place throughout Pakistan in recent weeks in response to the measures.

The protests are the latest chapter in a year-and-a-half-long political crisis roiling the country. In April 2022, the Pakistani military, with the encouragement of the U.S., helped organize a no-confidence vote to remove Prime Minister Imran Khan. Ahead of the ouster, State Department diplomats privately expressed anger to their Pakistani counterparts over what they called Pakistan’s “aggressively neutral” stance on the Ukraine war under Khan. They warned of dire consequences if Khan remained in power and promised “all would be forgiven” if he were removed.

“Pakistani democracy may ultimately be a casualty of Ukraine’s counteroffensive.”

Since Khan’s ouster, Pakistan has emerged as a useful supporter of the U.S. and its allies in the war, assistance that has now been repaid with an IMF loan. The emergency loan allowed the new Pakistani government to put off a looming economic catastrophe and indefinitely postpone elections — time it used to launch a nationwide crackdown on civil society and jail Khan .

“Pakistani democracy may ultimately be a casualty of Ukraine’s counteroffensive,” Arif Rafiq, a nonresident scholar at the Middle East Institute and specialist on Pakistan, told The Intercept.

Pakistan is known as a production hub for the types of basic munitions needed for grinding warfare. As Ukraine grappled with chronic shortages of munitions and hardware, the presence of Pakistani-produced shells and other ordinances by the Ukrainian military has surfaced in open-source news reports about the conflict, though neither the U.S. nor the Pakistanis have acknowledged the arrangement.

Records detailing the arms transactions were leaked to The Intercept earlier this year by a source within the Pakistani military. The documents describe munitions sales agreed to between the U.S. and Pakistan from the summer of 2022 to the spring of 2023. Some of the documents were authenticated by matching the signature of an American brigadier general with his signature on publicly available mortgage records in the United States; by matching the Pakistani documents with corresponding American documents; and by reviewing publicly available but previously unreported Pakistani disclosures of arms sales to the U.S. posted by the State Bank of Pakistan.

The weapons deals were brokered, according to the documents, by Global Military Products, a subsidiary of Global Ordnance, a controversial arms dealer whose entanglements with less-than-reputable figures in Ukraine were the subject of a recent New York Times article.

Documents outlining the money trail and talks with U.S. officials include American and Pakistani contracts, licensing, and requisition documents related to U.S.-brokered deals to buy Pakistani military weapons for Ukraine.

The economic capital and political goodwill from the arms sales played a key role in helping secure the bailout from the IMF, with the State Department agreeing to take the IMF into confidence regarding the undisclosed weapons deal, according to sources with knowledge of the arrangement, and confirmed by a related document.

To win the loan, Pakistan had been told by the IMF it had to meet certain financing and refinancing targets related to its debt and foreign investment — targets that the country was struggling to meet. The weapons sales came to the rescue, with the funds garnered from the sale of munitions for Ukraine going a long way to cover the gap.

Securing the loan eased economic pressure, enabling the military government to delay elections — a potential reckoning in the long aftermath of Khan’s removal — and deepen the crackdown against Khan’s supporters and other dissenters. The U.S. remained largely silent about the extraordinary scale of the human rights violations that pushed the future of Pakistan’s embattled democracy into doubt.

“The premise is that we have to save Ukraine, we have to save this frontier of democracy on the eastern perimeter of Europe,” said Rafiq. “And then this brown Asian country has to pay the price. So they can be a dictatorship, their people can be denied the freedoms that every other celebrity in this country is saying we need to support Ukraine for — the ability to choose our leaders, ability to have civic freedoms, the rule of law, all these sorts of things that may differentiate many European countries and consolidated democracies from Russia.”

KARACHI, PAKISTAN - FEBRUARY 13: President of Azad Jammu And Kashmir, Sardar Masood Khan attends the 9th International Maritime Conference with the theme "Development of Blue Economy under a Secure and Sustainable Environment - A Shared Future for Western Indian Ocean Region" organized by National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA) in Karachi, Pakistan on February 13, 2021. (Photo by Muhammed Semih Ugurlu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Masood Khan attends the 9th International Maritime Conference in Karachi, Pakistan on Feb. 13, 2021.

Photo: Muhammed Semih Ugurlu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Bombs for Bailouts

On May 23, 2023, according to The Intercept’s investigation, Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Masood Khan sat down with Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu at the State Department in Washington, D.C., for a meeting about how Pakistani arms sales to Ukraine could shore up its financial position in the eyes of the IMF. The goal of the sit-down, held on a Tuesday, was to hash out details of the arrangement ahead of an upcoming meeting in Islamabad the following Friday between U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome and then-Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

Lu told Khan at the May 23 meeting that the U.S. had cleared payment for the Pakistani munitions production and would tell the IMF confidentially about the program. Lu acknowledged the Pakistanis believed the arms contributions to be worth $900 million, which would help to cover a remaining gap in the financing required by the IMF, pegged at roughly $2 billion. What precise figure the U.S. would relay to the IMF remained to be negotiated, he told Khan.

At the meeting on Friday, Dar brought up the IMF question with Blome, according to a report in Pakistan Today , which said that “the meeting highlighted the significance of addressing the stalled IMF deal and finding effective solutions to Pakistan’s economic challenges.”

A spokesperson at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington declined to comment, referring questions to the State Department. A spokesperson for the State Department denied the U.S. played any role in helping procure the loan. “Negotiations over the IMF review were a matter for discussion between Pakistan and IMF officials,” the spokesperson said. “The United States was not party to those discussions, though we continue to encourage Pakistan to engage constructively with the IMF on its reform program.”

An IMF spokesperson denied the institution was pressured but did not comment on whether it was taken into confidence about the weapons program. “We categorically deny the allegation that there was any external pressure on the IMF in one way or another while discussing support to Pakistan,” said IMF spokesperson Randa Elnagar. (Global Ordnance, the firm involved in the arms deal, did not respond to a request for comment.)

“My understanding, based on conversations with folks in the administration, has been that we supported the IMF loan package given the desperate economic situation in Pakistan.”

The State Department’s denial was contradicted by Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a leading voice in Washington on foreign affairs. Earlier this month, Van Hollen told a group of Pakistani journalists, “The United States has been very instrumental in making sure that the IMF came forward with its emergency economic relief.” Van Hollen, whose parents were both stationed in Pakistan as State Department officials, was born in Karachi and is known to be the closest observer of Pakistan in Congress.

In an interview with The Intercept at the Capitol on Tuesday, Van Hollen said that his knowledge of the U.S. role in facilitating the IMF loan came directly from the Biden administration. “My understanding, based on conversations with folks in the administration, has been that we supported the IMF loan package given the desperate economic situation in Pakistan,” he said.

Eleventh-Hour IMF Deal

The diplomatic discussion about the loan came a month before a June 30 deadline for the IMF’s review of a planned billion-dollar payment, part of a $6 billion agreement made in 2019. A failed review would mean no cash infusion, but, in the months and weeks ahead of the deadline, Pakistani officials publicly denied that they faced serious challenges in financing the new loan.

In early 2023, Dar, the finance minister, said that external financing assurance — in other words, financial commitments from places like China, the Gulf states, or the U.S. — were not a condition the IMF was insisting Pakistan meet. In March 2023, however, the IMF representative in charge of dealing with Pakistan publicly contradicted Dar’s rosy assessment. IMF’s Esther Perez Ruiz said in an email to Reuters that all borrowers need to be able to demonstrate that they can finance repayments. “Pakistan is no exception,” Perez said.

The IMF statement sent Pakistani officials scrambling for a solution. The required financing, according to public reporting and confirmed by sources with knowledge of the arrangement, was set at $6 billion. To reach that goal, the Pakistani government claimed it had secured roughly $4 billion in commitments from Gulf countries. The secret arms deal for Ukraine would allow Pakistan to add nearly another billion dollars to its balance sheet — if the U.S. would let the IMF in on the secret.

“It was at an impasse because of the remaining $2 billion,” said Rafiq, the Middle East Institute scholar. “So if that figure is accurate, the $900 million, that’s almost half of that. That’s pretty substantial in terms of that gap that had to be bridged.”

On June 29, a day before the original program was set to expire, the IMF made a surprise announcement that instead of extending the previous series of loans and releasing the next $1.1 billion installment, the bank would instead be entering an agreement — “called a Stand-By Arrangement” — with fewer strings attached, more favorable terms, and valued at $3 billion.

“Had that not happened, there would have been a full-blown economic meltdown in the country. So it was a make-or-break moment.”

The agreement included the conditions that the currency would be allowed to float freely and energy subsidies would be withdrawn. The deal was finalized in July after Parliament approved the conditions, including a nearly 50 percent increase in the cost of energy.

Uzair Younus, director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, said that the IMF deal was critical to Pakistan’s short-term economic survival. “Had that not happened, there would have been a full-blown economic meltdown in the country,” Younus said. “So it was a make-or-break moment.”

The question of how Pakistan overcame its financing obstacles, has remained a mystery even to those following the situation professionally. The IMF issues public accounting of its reviews, Rafiq noted, but doing so if the financing relates to secret military projects presents an unusual challenge. “Pakistan is very strange, in many ways,” he said, “but I don’t know how a secret, covert, clandestine military program would figure into their calculations, because everything’s supposed to be open and by the books and all that.”

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN, MAY, 09: Police fire tear gas to disperse supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan protesting against the arrest of their leader, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, May 9, 2023. Khan was arrested and dragged from court as he appeared there to face charges in multiple graft cases, a dramatic escalation of political tensions that sparked violent demonstrations by his supporters in major cities. (Photo by Hussain Ali/Pacific Press/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Police fire tear gas to disperse supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan protesting against the arrest of their leader in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023.

Photo: Hussain Ali/Pacific Press/Sipa via AP

Imran Khan, Ukraine, and Pakistan’s Future

At the start of the Ukraine war, Pakistan was in a markedly different geopolitical and economic position. When the conflict began, Khan, at the time the prime minister, was in the air on the way to Moscow for a long-planned bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The visit outraged American officials.

As The Intercept previously reported , Lu, the senior State Department official, said in a meeting with then-Pakistani Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan two weeks after the invasion that it was the belief of the U.S. that Pakistan had taken a neutral position solely at Khan’s direction, adding that “all would be forgiven” if Khan was removed in the no-confidence vote. Since his ouster, Pakistan has firmly taken the side of the U.S. and Ukraine in the war.

The U.S., meanwhile, continues to deny that it put its thumbs on the scale of Pakistani democracy — for Ukraine or any other reason. At an off-the-record, virtual town hall with members of the Pakistani diaspora at the end of August, Lu’s deputy, Elizabeth Horst, responded to questions about The Intercept’s reporting on Lu’s meeting with the Pakistani ambassador.

“I want to take a moment to address disinformation about the United States’s role in Pakistani politics,” Horst said at the top of the call, audio of which was provided to The Intercept by an attendee. “We do not let propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation get in the way of any bilateral relationship, including our valued relationship with Pakistan. The United States does not have a position on one political candidate or one party versus another. Any claims to the contrary, including reports on the alleged cypher are false, and senior Pakistani officials themselves have acknowledged this isn’t true.”

Senior Pakistani officials, including former Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, have confirmed the authenticity of the cable, known internally as a cypher, published by The Intercept.

Van Hollen, in his press briefing with Pakistani journalists, took the same line as the State Department, saying that he had been assured by the administration that the U.S. did not interfere in Pakistani politics. In his interview with The Intercept, he clarified that he meant the U.S. did not engineer Khan’s ouster. “I’m not disputing the accuracy of the cable,” Van Hollen said. “Look, I have no idea where the administration is on what their view is on the final result, but I do not read that [cable] to mean that the United States engineered his removal.”

After orchestrating Khan’s removal, the military embarked on a campaign to eradicate his political party through a wave of killings and mass detentions. Khan himself is currently imprisoned on charges of mishandling a classified document and facing some 150 additional charges — allegations widely viewed as a pretext to stop him from contesting future elections.

Horst, at the town hall, was also pressed as to why the U.S. has been so muted in response to the crackdown. She argued the U.S. had, in fact, spoken up on behalf of democracy. “Look, I know many of you feel strongly and are very concerned about the situation in Pakistan. I’ve heard from you. Trust me when I say I see you, I hear from you. And I want to be responsive,” she said. “We do continue to speak up publicly and privately for Pakistan’s democracy.”

While Pakistan reels from the impact of IMF-directed austerity policies and the political dysfunction that followed Khan’s removal, its new military leaders have made lofty promises that foreign economic support will rescue the country. According to reports in the Pakistani publication Dawn, Army Chief Gen. Asim Munir recently told a gathering of Pakistani businessmen that the country could expect as much as $100 billion in new investment from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, hinting that there would be no more appeals to the IMF.

There is little evidence, however, that the Gulf nations are willing to come to Pakistan’s rescue. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, recently announced major investments and economic partnerships with India during a visit there for the G20 summit. Despite reports in the Pakistani press expressing hope that MBS would pay Pakistan a visit, none materialized, let alone any major new investment announcements.

The absence of other foreign support left Pakistan’s embattled military regime further dependent on the IMF, the U.S., and the production of munitions for the war in Ukraine to sustain itself through a crisis that shows no sign of resolution.

The post U.S. Helped Pakistan Get IMF Bailout With Secret Arms Deal for Ukraine, Leaked Documents Reveal appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Pentagon Misled Congress About U.S. Bases in Africa / TheIntercept · Friday, 8 September - 14:53 · 10 minutes

Since a cadre of U.S.-trained officers joined a junta that overthrew Niger’s democratically elected president in late July, more than 1,000 U.S. troops have been largely confined to their Nigerien outposts, including America’s largest drone base in the region, Air Base 201 in Agadez.

The base, which has cost the U.S. a total of $250 million since construction began in 2016, is the key U.S. surveillance hub in West Africa. But in testimony before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in March, the chief of U.S. Africa Command described Air Base 201 as “minimal” and “low cost.”

Gen. Michael Langley, the AFRICOM chief, told Congress about just two “enduring” U.S. forward operating sites in Africa: Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti and a longtime logistics hub on Ascension Island in the south Atlantic Ocean. “The Command also operates out of 12 other posture locations throughout Africa,” he said in his prepared testimony. “These locations have minimal permanent U.S. presence and have low-cost facilities and limited supplies for these dedicated Americans to perform critical missions and quickly respond to emergencies.”

Experts say that Langley misled Congress, downplaying the size and scope of the U.S. footprint in Africa. AFRICOM’s “posture” on the continent actually consists of no fewer than 18 outposts, in addition to Camp Lemonnier and Ascension Island, according to information from AFRICOM’s secret 2022 theater posture plan, which was seen by The Intercept. A U.S. official with knowledge of AFRICOM’s current footprint on the continent confirmed that the same 20 bases are still in operation. Another two locations in Somalia and Ghana were also, according to the 2022 document, “under evaluation.”

Of the 20, Langley apparently failed to mention six so-called contingency locations in Africa, including a longtime drone base in Tunisia and other outposts used to wage U.S. shadow wars in Niger and Somalia . The U.S. military has often claimed that contingency locations are little more than spartan staging areas, but according to the joint chiefs of staff, such bases are critical to sustaining operations and may even be “ semi-permanent .”

“This is a case of the U.S. military showing a marked lack of transparency by using technicalities to avoid conveying an accurate understanding of the extent of U.S. bases in Africa.”

“This is a case of the U.S. military showing a marked lack of transparency by using technicalities to avoid conveying an accurate understanding of the extent of U.S. bases in Africa,” Stephanie Savell, co-director of the Costs of War project at Brown University, told The Intercept. “I’ve done field research near the sites of some of the ‘contingency locations’ that don’t seem to be part of the general’s official count, and in practice, if not in name, they serve as significant hubs of U.S. military operations. To not include them in an official count is to pull wool over the eyes of Congress and the U.S. public.”

Last week, a coalition of 20 progressive, humanitarian, and antiwar organizations called on the leadership of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to keep New York Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s cost of war amendment, which would require “more transparency around the price of our military presence overseas and public information about our military footprint” in the final version of the 2024 defense spending bill.

Annee Lorentzen of the Washington-based Just Foreign Policy, who helped lead advocacy efforts around the amendment, sees it as critical for Pentagon accountability. “It is nearly impossible for U.S. taxpayers and even members of Congress to keep track of the vast U.S. military presence in the world. Without basic transparency about the location and costs of U.S. military engagement abroad, including information on the cost of our hundreds of bases and countless partnerships with foreign militaries, legislators cannot have an informed debate about national security priorities,” she told The Intercept. “In a democratic system, voters and their elected representatives should not be in the dark about where their money and military are sent.”

AFRICOM refused to clarify Langley’s testimony. “AFRICOM has no statement in response to your questions,” Timothy Pietrack, the deputy chief of AFRICOM Public Affairs, told The Intercept.

Staff Sgt. Annabell Ryan , 768th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron logistics readiness flight fuels supervisor fuels a plane, June 30, 2021 at Air Base 101, Niger.   Ryan is responsible for handling jet fuel, operating the vehicles, equipment and storage facilities that are essential to the refueling operation while also ensuring the compliance of all safety regulations while handling these volatile liquids. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jan K. Valle)

A staff sergeant fuels a plane at Air Base 101 in Niamey, Niger, on June, 30, 2021.

Photo: U.S. Air Force

AFRICOM claims that Air Base 201 in Agadez is not an “enduring” forward operating site but, according to the command’s 2022 posture plan, a “cooperative security location,” presumably one of the 12 “minimal permanent U.S. presence” and “low-cost” facilities mentioned by Langley.

Observations by this reporter, who scrutinized Air Base 201 from its perimeter and overhead earlier this year, put the lie to Langley’s characterizations. The linchpin of the U.S. military’s archipelago of bases in North and West Africa, Air Base 201 consists of a 6,200-foot runway (composed of 1.1 million square feet of asphalt ), aprons, taxiways, massive aircraft hangars , multistory living quarters , roads, utilities, munitions storage, and an aircraft rescue and firefighting station, all within a 25-kilometer “ base security zone .” U.S. troops eat in a 13,000-square-foot dining facility , work out in a gym , play on basketball and volleyball courts , and spend leisure time at a recreation center with “bookcases full of movies and games, Wi-Fi, snacks ,” according to the Air Force, all of it protected by fences, barriers, and upgraded air-conditioned guard towers with custom-made firing ports . Only the Pentagon could call Air Base 201, the largest “ airman-built ” project in Air Force history, a “low-cost” facility, since it cost $110 million to build and is maintained to the tune of $20 to $30 million U.S. taxpayer dollars each year.

“When I went to Agadez on a research trip, I saw a large U.S. drone base that was the opposite of transitory,” said Savell, who has mapped U.S. counterterrorism efforts around the world, noting large-scale infrastructure like drone hangars and conspicuous operations that included a burn pit belching black smoke into the air. “None of the base’s neighbors — who see drones flying above their houses every day, and who have seen foreign contracting companies, rather than themselves, reap the profits of servicing a multimillion-dollar facility — would even remotely consider this a minor outpost.”

Officially, so-called cooperative security locations, known as CSLs, have “ little or no permanent U.S. presence ,” but Air Base 201 can currently accommodate about 1,000 U.S. military personnel, according to a spokesperson for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa. The access agreement governing the base has been in effect for nearly a decade, cannot be terminated with less than a year’s notice, and has no end date. “The agreement continues in force automatically after its initial ten-year term,” AFRICOM spokesperson Kelly Cahalan told The Intercept.

In the wake of the July coup, the Pentagon looks to be doing everything it can to hold on to that access. On Thursday, the Pentagon announced that “out of an abundance of caution,” a small number of “non-essential personnel” would depart Niger and other troops would be repositioned but that the overall effects were minor. “This does not change our overall force posture in Niger,” a Defense Department spokesperson told The Intercept.

“[T]he goal is to stay,” said Air Force Gen. James Hecker , the commander of U.S. air forces in Europe and Africa, when asked last month if the U.S. was planning to evacuate troops from Niger. “Preparing to stay might be a better way to say it because that’s what we’re hoping we’re going to do.”

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh voiced similar sentiments. “Niger is a partner, and we don’t want to see that partnership go,” she said . “We’ve invested, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars into bases there, trained with the military there.”

In addition to Air Base 201, the U.S. military operates another CSL — a second drone facility known as Air Base 101 — at the main commercial airport in Niger’s capital, Niamey. A Pentagon spokesperson told The Intercept that they were now “repositioning some U.S. personnel and equipment in Niger from Air Base 101 in Niamey to Air Base 201 in Agadez” but did not respond to questions about how many personnel would be moved. The CIA also operates a drone base in the far north of the country near the town of Dirkou.

Niger's servicement stand guard as supporters of Niger's National Concil of Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) gather ouside the Nigerien and French airbase in Niamey on September 3, 2023, as protesters gather to demand the departure of the French army from Niger. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

Niger’s servicemembers stand guard as supporters of Niger’s National Council for the Safeguarding of the Fatherland gather outside the Nigerien and French airbase in Niamey, Niger, on Sept. 3, 2023.

Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Camp Lemonnier, a former French Foreign Legion outpost in sun-bleached Djibouti, is the crown jewel of U.S. bases on the east side of the African continent. A longtime home for Special Operations forces and counterterrorism operations in Yemen and Somalia, it hosts around 4,000 U.S. and allied personnel . Since 2002, the base has expanded from 88 acres to nearly 600 and spun off a satellite outpost 10 kilometers to the southwest, where drone operations in the country were relocated in 2013. Chabelley Airfield has gone on to serve as an integral base for missions in Somalia and Yemen , as well as the drone war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria .

In 2020, a CSL at Manda Bay , Kenya, was attacked by members of the terrorist group al-Shabab, killing three Americans, wounding two others, and damaging or destroying six aircraft. In neighboring Somalia, a similar base at Baledogle Airfield is a key node in the U.S. drone war that has seen 30 declared strikes under President Joe Biden. The U.S. also has a CSL in the capital, Mogadishu. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., recently scoffed at Langley’s characterizations of these as “minimal” outposts. “Look at Somalia. We’re pretty enduring there,” he told The Intercept during a recent interview. “We’ve become the block captain of Mogadishu.”

Among the contingency locations listed in the 2022 posture plan that Langley failed to mention is a drone base located at Sidi Ahmed Air Base in Bizerte, Tunisia. As early as 2016, almost 70 Air Force personnel and more than 20 civilian contractors were deployed to “Camp Sidi,” according to documents obtained by The Intercept via the Freedom of Information Act. “You know, flying intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance drones out of Tunisia has been taking place for quite some time,” said Gen. Thomas Waldhauser , the then-chief of AFRICOM, in 2017. “[W]e fly there, it’s not a secret, but we are very respectful to the Tunisians’ desires in terms of, you know, how we support them and the fact that we have [a] low profile.”

The other contingency locations that Langley apparently failed to mention to members of Congress this spring include facilities located in Misrata, Libya; Thebephatshwa, Botswana; Kismayo, Somalia ; as well as in Ouallam and Diffa, Niger.

While AFRICOM prefers to gloss over the existence of these officially “ non-enduring ” outposts, contingency locations play a long-term and consequential role in U.S. operations. The Intercept first reported on a contingency location in Ouallam six years ago . After an October 2017 ambush in which ISIS fighters near the village of Tongo Tongo killed four U.S. soldiers and wounded two, AFRICOM announced that the ambushed troops — based in Ouallam — were providing “ advice and assistance ” to Nigerien forces. In truth, “Team Ouallam” was conducting operations with a larger Nigerien force under Operation Juniper Shield, a wide-ranging regional counterterrorism effort . Until bad weather intervened, that group was slated to support another team of American and Nigerien commandos based at a then-contingency location near the town of Arlit who were trying to kill or capture an ISIS leader as part of Obsidian Nomad II, a so-called 127e program that allows U.S. forces to use local troops as proxies.

“The framers of our Constitution didn’t intend for Congress and the American people to learn about U.S. military missions once servicemembers had already lost their lives,” said Lorentzen of Just Foreign Policy. “We need transparency both for our troops’ sake and to permit debate about this military-first approach that scatters hundreds of U.S. military outposts across Africa and the world.”

The post Pentagon Misled Congress About U.S. Bases in Africa appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Top Biden Cyber Official Accused of Workplace Misconduct at NSA in 2014 — and Again at White House Last Year / TheIntercept · Wednesday, 6 September - 15:23 · 15 minutes

Anne Neuberger’s ascent to national security eminence has been a steady, impressive climb. Her eight-year tour through the National Security Agency has culminated in a powerful position in President Joe Biden’s National Security Council, where she helps guide national cybersecurity policy.

Since 2007, Neuberger’s rapid rise through some of the most secretive and consequential components of the U.S. global surveillance machinery earned her a reputation as a hyper-capable operator where the government most needs one. While her work has earned public plaudits, The Intercept learned Neuberger’s tenure at the NSA triggered a 2014 internal investigation by the agency’s inspector general following allegations that she created a hostile workplace by inappropriately berating, undermining, and alienating her colleagues. In 2015, the inspector general’s report found that there was not enough evidence to sustain allegations that Neuberger fostered a hostile work environment, but it did conclude that she violated NSA policy by disrespecting colleagues.

In the first of a series of letters to the inspector general in advance of the 2015 report, Neuberger denied the allegations against her. “I strongly disagree with the tentative conclusions of the OIG inquiry (that I sometimes failed to exercise courtesy and respect in dealing with fellow workers),” she wrote. “I firmly believe that I treated everyone with the respect and courtesy they deserved.” Neuberger argued the complaints and the investigation reflected gender bias in a department with employees resentful of being led by a woman — especially one, agency officials pointed out in the report, tasked with curbing politically risky programs in the wake of scandals sparked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Almost a decade later, a new allegation of misconduct against Neuberger emerged from the White House, The Intercept’s investigation found. The allegation fit a pattern of behavior established in the inspector general’s findings, this time involving an incident that took place in full view of a visiting delegation from a foreign ally.

The 2015 NSA inspector general’s report and details of the recent complaint — neither of which have been previously reported — not only complicate Neuberger’s public national security star persona, but also offer further evidence of serious discord at the top of American cybersecurity policy. Beyond revealing Neuberger’s alleged interpersonal and managerial shortcomings, the inspector general’s report provides a rare, unflattering self-examination of the post-Snowden NSA as an HR nightmare filled with competing egos, long-standing rivalries, mutual distrust, and ample pettiness.

“We need an absolutely efficient, agile, and well integrated leadership team at the White House and in the major federal agencies, and we don’t have that.”

Attempts to form a cohesive cyberdefense policy at a national scale in the U.S. have long been undermined by turf wars, with multiple agencies, offices, and even branches of government laying claim to overlapping responsibilities. With the National Security Council’s privileged proximity to the president himself, discord within the NSC could particularly jeopardize the country’s ability to nimbly recognize and counter emerging and existing digital threats — a concern echoed by multiple sources with whom The Intercept spoke.

“We recognize that we’re extremely vulnerable; our adversaries are increasing their capabilities month over month,” a former senior U.S. cybersecurity official told The Intercept, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter. The former official cited the intertwined work of offices like the national cyber director and agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. “We need an absolutely efficient, agile, and well integrated leadership team at the White House and in the major federal agencies, and we don’t have that. NSC, NCD, NSA, and CISA need to operate in a well-integrated manner, and this kind of friction introduces risk and consequences for national security of our critical infrastructure systems. This matters.”

The allegations uncovered by The Intercept dovetail with a recent Bloomberg article indicating Neuberger’s management style was largely to blame for the February resignation of Chris Inglis, the first U.S. national cyber director and a former NSA deputy director broadly liked by his peers. According to Bloomberg, Inglis said Neuberger withheld information and undermined him as he tried to set the direction of the country’s cybersecurity strategy.

“Chris is deeply thoughtful and smart. He and I disagreed on encryption and surveillance issues, but he always argued with integrity,” Tufts University professor Susan Landau, a scholar of cybersecurity policy, told The Intercept. “I was really sorry to see him leave the national cybersecurity director position.”

Almost eight years after the NSA investigation into Neuberger, in the autumn of 2022, a senior official with CISA filed a complaint about Neuberger, according to three sources familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The employee alleged Neuberger, by then on detail to the National Security Council, pointed at the door and ordered her out like a child during a meeting with U.S. cybersecurity colleagues and a delegation of visiting Indian government officials. The sources conveyed dismay about the encounter, particularly because of the strategic partnership between the U.S. and India on cybersecurity issues. (CISA declined to comment on the record for this story. Neuberger and the White House did not respond to inquiries.)

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 16: White House National Cyber Director Chris Inglis is sworn in before testifying during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on "Cracking Down on Ransomware: Strategies for Disrupting Criminal Hackers and Building Resilience Against Cyber Threats" on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 202. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

National Cyber Director Chris Inglis is sworn in before testifying at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Nov. 16, 2021.

Photo: Bill Clark/AP

The Inspector General Report

Before Neuberger became a Biden-era staple of the think tank and media conference circuit, she was a senior official at the NSA, where she ran an office collaborating with the American private sector. Several years into her career, in 2014, the NSA investigated Neuberger, by then its chief risk officer, to determine whether she had fostered a hostile work environment.

The allegations are detailed in a 54-page report, released internally in June 2015 by the agency’s Office of the Inspector General. The report outlines numerous complaints that Neuberger verbally abused and undermined her colleagues, according to a partially redacted copy provided to The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request. The report had previously been released by the NSA following a FOIA lawsuit by the journalist Jason Leopold. Complainants made repeated allegations ranging from Neuberger berating co-workers to blocking colleagues from accessing important information. Though her name is redacted throughout, a source familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed Neuberger was the subject of the report. (The NSA declined to comment.)

The NSA inspector general’s office did not find a “preponderance of evidence” to support the hostile workplace claims, but the report noted that Neuberger violated NSA policy because she “failed to exercise courtesy and respect in dealings with fellow workers.” The report said her “conduct had a negative impact on the work environment and individuals (e.g. people were sometimes left feeling ‘savaged’ and ‘practically in tears,’ shaking and afraid, skittish and scared).”

Many of the testimonies in the report describe the post-Snowden NSA of 2014 in a state of disarray. In 2013, after Snowden blew the whistle on the reach and power of the NSA’s secret surveillance , the agency was embarrassed by outrage from foreign allies and Americans alike; calls for reforms grew in Washington. In the report the following year, Neuberger is criticized for “risk aversion” — what her superiors told the inspector general were moves to protect the NSA from “political risk.”

Testimony from Richard Ledgett, NSA deputy director at the time, suggests that Neuberger’s caution arose from his and other top officials’ orders. “NSA must ensure that anything that is questioned by the public is able to be fully explained,” the inspector general’s report on Ledgett’s testimony says. There were “cowboys” at the agency, Ledgett said, and the orders would have rankled some NSA veterans. (Ledgett did not respond to a request for comment.)

Whatever Neuberger’s contribution to the dysfunction, the report sheds light on painfully low morale and general aimlessness among agency staff in the wake of Snowden’s disclosures. “I don’t know what our mission is anymore to be honest,” one employee complained in the report. For Neuberger’s defenders cited in the report, this generally dismal post-Snowden mood was exculpatory evidence concerning her conduct. One NSA employee’s sworn testimony described a redacted office within the agency as a “cesspool of misery and losers, a dead weight environment,” and argued those who accused Neuberger of abusive behavior “lack marketable skills and would have a hard time being gainfully employed elsewhere.”

Far from being a managerial menace, Neuberger’s defenders argue, she was the victim of a gendered “mutiny” by a cadre of bitter NSA men who resented her meteoric rise and efforts to balance the agency’s risk. According to one anonymous account reported by the inspector general, Neuberger was told by a co-worker that “there was a ‘cabal,’ a group of white men that were resistant to [Neuberger] and did not like the changes she was making.”

A separate high-ranking official who also used the word “cabal” described it as a “‘secret society’ that went to the [deputy director] to get [Neuberger] fired.” The cabal’s efforts culminated in what would come to be known inside the NSA as the “mutiny letter.” The emailed catalog of grievances against Neuberger was sent to Teresa Shea, who at the time ran the agency’s much-vaunted Signals Intelligence Directorate, the office that oversees the agency’s global spying efforts, and later forwarded to Ledgett, then NSA deputy director.

In her letter responding to the inspector general’s findings, Neuberger defended her conduct by claiming she’d been warned in disparaging terms about her office and told to whip them into shape. “Prior to taking my job as the chief of [redacted],” Neuberger wrote, “I was told by multiple people that [redacted] was a ‘pit of snakes’ where ‘seniors who can’t get along with anyone else go to spend the rest of their careers.’” Shea and her deputy had criticized Neuberger’s new team as being of “little value” and “useless to mission,” Neuberger added: “They told me they wanted to see change and significant change.” (Shea did not respond to a request for comment.)

FILE - This Sept. 19, 2007 file photo shows the National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md. The National Security Agency has been extensively involved in the U.S. government's targeted killing program, collaborating closely with the CIA in the use of drone strikes against terrorists abroad, The Washington Post reported Wednesday Oct. 16, 2013 after a review of documents provided by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

The National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md., on Sept. 19, 2007.

Photo: Charles Dharapak/AP

“Some People Didn’t Like That”

After serving for three years as a special assistant to Gen. Keith Alexander, who ran the NSA from 2005 to 2014, Neuberger worked at the Commercial Solutions Center, a highly sensitive office that overtly works with and covertly sabotages private-sector technology companies. Following that stint, Neuberger was named the NSA’s first chief risk officer: essentially a post-Snowden damage-control position manned by a loyal lieutenant to Alexander. The NSA needed its corporate partners, but those corporations had been embarrassed when their hand-in-hand work with the cyberspooks was made public in Snowden’s disclosures. Neuberger, who had experience both directly in the private sector and dealing with outside companies from inside the NSA’s Commercial Solutions Center, would seem on paper to be a perfect person to repair those relationships.

The relationships that seem to have never been mended were Neuberger’s with her colleagues. Following her flat-out denial of the inspector general’s findings, Neuberger seemed to have moved on — and eventually upward, to the White House. Neuberger had said in her letter to the inspector general that her work ethic had rubbed colleagues the wrong way.

“I worked at all times to be respectful and to listen to folks’ views,” she wrote. “However, I also held folks accountable. Some people didn’t like that.”

“When [Neuberger] was announced as [redacted] Chief there was immediate angst due to her ‘horrible reputation.’”

Neuberger’s formal response to the findings, the letters included in the report itself, argued the allegations about her management were caused by a mix of garden-variety sexism and resistance to her attempts to change workplace culture: “I believe the complaints on style were reflective to a great extent on both that change in approach and, to some extent, perhaps, a gender bias, where a woman (and younger one to boot) who holds people accountable and is direct may be viewed as a challenge.”

Though Neuberger may have butted heads with a contingent of stubborn, ossified men at the agency, women made up some of her fiercest critics in the report.

“She is not surprised by concerns about the work environment and morale in [redacted],” the inspector general reported of an anonymous woman’s testimony. “When [Neuberger] was announced as [redacted] Chief there was immediate angst due to her ‘horrible reputation.’”

This female employee added that Neuberger “alienated people,” “lacks understanding of how government and the Agency work,” and that “her delivery can be off putting, as she tends to say ‘me, me, me’ rather than ‘us.’” The CISA official who leveled the 2022 allegation of misconduct against Neuberger is also a woman.

Anne Neuberger, Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology, center, speaks with reporters in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, in Washington. White House press secretary Jen Psaki, left, and Daleep Singh, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics, right, look on. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, center, speaks with reporters at the White House on Feb. 18, 2022.

Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

“Please God, Just Get Another Leader in Here”

The role of inspectors general is to audit and investigate the federal agencies to ensure their smooth functioning and prevent fraud and abuse. While the findings of inspectors general at other federal agencies are typically freely accessible to the public, the NSA, like the rest of the intelligence community, eschews such routine transparency. Though the Neuberger report was never classified, it was originally marked “For Official Use Only.”

“At NSA, OIG investigations rarely see the light of day because so much of what the agency does is secret,” said James Bamford, a journalist and bestselling author of multiple histories of the agency. “So it’s good that the agency may be opening up a bit to show they are actually taking action against bad senior officials like Neuberger.”

The NSA investigation into Neuberger’s conduct was initiated by an August 5, 2014, complaint filed to the Office of the Inspector General alleging she “created and perpetuated an atmosphere of workplace intimidation within the [redacted],” according to the report. Neuberger at the time led the agency’s Commercial Solutions Center.

“The complainant relayed concerns about allegedly unprofessional behavior, including screaming at work, harassing phone calls to employees at home, and an inability to lead effectively,” according to the report. “The employee further alleged that there was widespread fear of retribution among the [redacted] workforce for speaking out about these concerns.”

“At NSA, OIG investigations rarely see the light of day because so much of what the agency does is secret.”

The ensuing probe produced sworn testimony from 21 NSA employees, some of whom corroborated the allegations, some who defended Neuberger’s conduct, and others who offered mixed appraisals. The Office of the Inspector General was able to confirm one of the more incendiary allegations: yelling at an “extraordinarily high volume” and calling the employee “fucking crazy,” according to witness testimony — a phrase she later told the inspector general she used about a project she considered too risky, not a person. “She admitted to the OIG that, in this instance, she crossed a professional line when she yelled and that she later apologized to the employee,” the report said.

In her first letter to the inspector general in advance of the report, Neuberger admitted she crossed a professional line. In a subsequent letter, she denied ever yelling. “I categorically disagree with the characterization of ‘extraordinarily high volume,’” she wrote. “I did not yell at a high volume. As a rule, I don’t yell. I was raised with parents who yelled and I, as a matter of practice, don’t yell.”

While the allegations generally pertain to her post running the Commercial Solutions Center, some complaints refer back to her time assisting Alexander as a confounding factor.

“At times, her expectations of the workforce were simply too lofty,” one employee testified. “She was used to seeing NSA at its best, sitting on the 8th floor with the DIRNSA” — a reference to the director, Alexander. “We did not accomplish all we could have. … It was a miserable time,” the employee said, noting a “‘well-attended’ happy hour when her departure was announced.”

One senior program manager, who said group meetings with Neuberger were so tense that participants avoided making eye contact with her, told the inspector general: “please God, just get another leader in here. … it’s an uncomfortable place to work.”

Some of the allegations are of mere rudeness: snapping her fingers at underlings, pounding on tables, and the like. (In her letters to the inspector general, Neuberger denied the table-pounding incident: “I didn’t ‘bang the table.’”) Other co-workers, however, alleged Neuberger also deliberately shut them out from important information, thwarted their ability to work, and created a workplace climate of fear and distrust.

Neuberger “told [redacted] she learned not to trust anyone with information, because people would undercut her,” claimed one NSA employee. “At some point, [Neuberger] started compartmenting information excluding certain individuals from leadership team emails.” Neuberger was “very secretive and compartmented,” alleged another. “She would not even let her [redacted] leadership team see the overview of their mission that she sent to the DIRNSA.” Some claimed Neuberger’s distrust of her colleagues was mutual: “People avoid informing her of certain things because they are afraid of what might happen.”

The charges in the inspector general’s report jibe with Bloomberg’s story about Inglis, the former NSA deputy director who recently resigned as the first national cyber director: Inglis, according to Bloomberg, had also alleged that Neuberger withheld important information.

Some at the NSA attributed this behavior and certain incidents to Neuberger’s many years of mentorship under Alexander, the inspector general’s report said. “People are afraid to confront [Neuberger] because she is ‘connected,’” one colleague alleged. “She was tightly tied to former DIRNSA, General Keith Alexander, who hired her. … The perception is she has been moved along too quickly.”

Neuberger leaned on this apparent favoritism, a high-ranking official alleged.

“She is very prone to say, even to this day, that she has the support of some named senior person,” according to a former NSA official who spoke to The Intercept on the condition of anonymity. “It’s often her excuse for doing something that people find surprising or difficult. … Keith gave her that sponsorship.”

The post Top Biden Cyber Official Accused of Workplace Misconduct at NSA in 2014 — and Again at White House Last Year appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Imran Khan Booked Under Pakistan State Secrets Law for Allegedly Mishandling Secret Cable in 2022 / TheIntercept · Monday, 21 August - 22:29 · 4 minutes

The political crisis roiling Pakistan has morphed into a constitutional crisis. The dual crises were kicked into motion when former Prime Minister Imran Khan was removed from power last year and deepened with his recent imprisonment on corruption charges.

Last week, the Pakistani authorities moved to charge Khan under Pakistan’s Official Secrets Act for his alleged mishandling of a classified diplomatic cable, known internally as a cipher. The March 7, 2022, cable had been at the center of a controversy in Pakistan, with Khan and his supporters claiming for a year and a half that it showed U.S. pressure to remove the prime minister. Khan publicly revealed the existence of the document in a late March 2022 rally. In April, Khan was removed by a parliamentary vote of no confidence.

In the latest blow to the former prime minister, Pakistani authorities filed a First Information Report — an official allegation — charging that Khan and his associates were “involved in communication of information contained in secret classified document … to the unauthorized persons (i.e. public at large) by twisting the facts to achieve their ulterior motives and personal gains in a manner prejudicial to the interests of state security.”

The official report, the first step to a formal indictment, alleged that Khan and members of his government held a “clandestine meeting” in mid-March 2022, shortly after the cable was sent, in a conspiracy to use the classified document to their advantage.


How a Leaked Cable Upended Pakistani Politics — And Exposed U.S. Meddling

Earlier this month, The Intercept reported on the contents of the secret cable , which confirmed U.S. diplomatic pressure to remove Khan. The document was provided to The Intercept by a source in the Pakistani military. The formal allegation against Khan makes no mention of The Intercept’s publication of the diplomatic cable.

After the allegations about the cable were formally lodged against Khan this weekend, a wrinkle quickly appeared in the case. Pakistan’s legislature, widely believed to be acting as a rubber stamp for the military, recently approved changes to the state secrets law that Khan was being charged under. Pakistan’s sitting President Arif Alvi, though, denied on social media that he had authorized the signing of the amendments into law.

“As God is my witness, I did not sign Official Secrets Amendment Bill 2023 & Pakistan Army Amendment Bill 2023 as I disagreed with these laws,” Alvi tweeted, referring to another controversial new piece of legislation granting the Pakistani military sweeping powers over civil liberties. “However I have found out today that my staff undermined my will and command.”

The additions to the Official Secrets Act specifically target leakers and whistleblowers, outlining new offenses for the disclosure of information to the public related to national security and effectively criminalizing any news reporting that the military deems to be against its interests. Khan is expected to be indicted soon under the new law.

Alvi’s statement — that he had opposed the laws, but that his staff had apparently signed off on them without his consent — throws Pakistan into uncharted constitutional territory. Under normal circumstances, the country’s president is required to give final affirmation to any laws passed by Parliament.

Imran Khan’s Imprisonment

Khan is reportedly under pressure while in government custody. According to media accounts, he lodged complaints about surveillance in prison, as well as the inability to meet with lawyers and family members. And Khan’s wife has expressed fears that the former prime minister could be “poisoned” in jail.

The former prime minister is currently serving a three-year sentence on corruption charges that his supporters say are politically motivated. As part of his punishment in that case, he has also received a five-year ban from politics, which is believed to be aimed at preventing Khan — the most popular politician in the country — from contesting elections slated for later this year.

Meanwhile, the crackdown on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or PTI, Khan’s political party, continued. On Sunday, shortly after Khan was booked under the state secrets law, his former foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, was arrested under the same statute.


Pakistan Confirms Secret Diplomatic Cable Showing U.S. Pressure to Remove Imran Khan

In an interview with Voice of America last week, former Trump administration national security adviser John Bolton called for Congress to look into potential U.S. involvement in Khan’s removal. Bolton said that despite his differences with many of Khan’s policies, which included strident criticism of U.S. involvement in Pakistani domestic affairs, he opposed the crackdown by the military, saying “terrorists, China and Russia” could use the discord to their advantage.

“I would be stunned if that’s exactly what they said,” Bolton said of the cable text published by The Intercept. “It would be remarkable for the State Department, under any administration, but particularly under the Biden administration, to be calling for Imran Khan’s overthrow.”

The post Imran Khan Booked Under Pakistan State Secrets Law for Allegedly Mishandling Secret Cable in 2022 appeared first on The Intercept .