Covert Action 101

Focus_Octby J.V. Grady

It is quite possible, even probable, that many of the bombings against the Shi’ia and Sunni populations have been carried out by American, British, and even Israeli operatives.

Intelligence collection is the collection of intelligence information, secret or otherwise, through spying, interrogation, satellites and other similar methods. If the information is collected through spying or interrogation, it is known as HUMINT (human intelligence). If it is collected through technical means such as electronic eavesdropping or satellites, it is known as TECHINT (technical intelligence). Open-source Intelligence (OSINT) is information gathered from non-secret, public sources. Intelligence analysis is the assessment of collected raw intelligence and the processing of it into usable intelligence product that can be used to guide policy and operations. Counter-intelligence has as its mission the prevention of a foreign intelligence service from obtaining intelligence information from one’s own country. In a preventative role, it ensures the employment of security practices to safeguard information. In a more active role, it conducts operations against enemy intelligence services; in other words, it spies on the spies. Such action is often referred to as spy-catching.

Then There’s the Truly

Sinister Field: the Deniable

Perhaps the most interesting and sinister field in intelligence is “covert actionâ” (also referred to as “clandestine operations,” “black ops,” or “black operations”). Some do not consider covert action as being part of the traditional intelligence mission, and they therefore believe that it should be treated independently and even organized within a separate organization. Others feel that because it often interrelates with intelligence operations and counterintelligence operations, it should continue to remain within the same ruling organization or apparatus.

covertactionThere are many types of covert action operations, not all of them violent. For example, if a government wishes to influence the politics of another country’s government, the government may secretly fund an opposition party in that country in order to influence that country’s elections. Another method is to employ foreign newspaper reporters to write articles that give the version of events, the propaganda, that you want people to believe, even if it is the furthest thing from the truth. Or perhaps the owners or editors of a newspaper or media service can be bought or won over to allow articles or news stories created by the intelligence organization for propaganda purposes to be planted in the newspaper or media service.

A slant can then be given to influence public perceptions. For example, mercenaries can be referred to as “contractors,” thus making people believe that casualties among the mercenaries are innocent civilian construction workers who were unjustly victimized.

The main thing about covert action is that it must be deniable. There is a term called “plausible deniability.” When a government authorizes a covert action operation, the operation must be done in such a way that the government can claim that it knows nothing about it; in other words, the operation must not be attributable to the government that authorized it.

False Flags and Dirty Tricks

Covert action operations are often disinformation operations, which are conducted in such a way as to discredit the opposition or the enemy. This is done, for example, by doing a violent action, such as a bombing, but making it look like the forces of another country or group did it. Such operations are sometimes called “false-flag operations,” meaning that the operation is conducted to make it look like it was done by people serving under another flag, preferably the enemy’s flag. If the operation succeeds as designed, people will blame the action on the wrong party (the enemy). Thus, public opinion will be won over to the side that actually did the killing. Such false-flag, covert action operations are often referred to as “dirty tricks.”uncle-sam-as-puppeteer

The British regularly employed covert action operations in Ireland, with the result that it is likely that the IRA often took the blame for violent actions with which they had no involvement, although they were hardly innocent players in the general mayhem. Many people suspect that the Northern Irish bank robbery that occurred some time back was actually a British covert action operation designed to make the IRA take the blame, so that people would believe that the IRA was not honoring the Good Friday Agreement. Incidentally, most of the British Northern Irish bank notes taken were worthless old notes, so they were no skin off anyone’s teeth.

For the War in Iraq: Stop and Wonder

The policy in Iraq was to keep the country destabilized and on the verge of civil war to show that it cannot govern itself and that it therefore requires the continued presence of American and British forces. The man accused of being behind much of the bombing going on there is Al-Zarqawi, a man known to be dead for some time now. Also, because he is (or rather, was) a Sunni, bombings against the Shi’ia population, if blamed on him and the Sunni insurgents, could keep the pot of civil war simmering, thus giving further justification to keeping American and British forces there.

redcockAt one time, two British covert operations specialists were captured in Basra, in Southern Iraq. They were disguised as Arabs and were carrying bomb-making materials. When Iraqi police tried to apprehend them, the two covert action operatives resisted arrest and killed two policemen. They were eventually caught and held in jail.

After the British military learned that they had been captured, it sent tanks into Basra to forcibly free the two men. An enraged mob attacked the tanks with petrol bombs, and people around the world saw British soldiers jumping out of a flaming tank and being stoned. The reaction was one of sympathy for the British soldiers.

Few stopped to wonder what was behind the anger and the assault. Most were sympathetic towards the “poor” British soldiers, who were perceived as being unjustly victimized.

So, who is behind many of the bombings against the Shi’ia and Sunni populations?

It is quite possible, even probable, that many of them are being carried out by American, British, and even Israeli covert action operatives. So, when you watch the news, think more deeply about what you’re seeing; and when you read your newspapers, try reading between the lines or wonder about the source or the writer behind the article. Has the article been planted? Is the writer in the pay of an intelligence service?Φ

J.V. Grady is a former member of U.S. Military Intelligence.

Cartoon courtesy of Natalie Whitson.

Photo courtesy of:

Leave a Reply