Monday, March 26, 2012

A Very Important Article...for Every American

Good Morning! I very rarely post articles written by others however this piece by Gregg Miller of the Washington Post should be read by all. It is amazing what we are doing in the war against terror and the folks who spearhead that campaign deserve some recognition…even if they don’t want it! The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has led this effort and the attached piece discusses one of the most controversial programs that our Nation uses to protect itself; the armed UAV Program. The lethality of this platform coupled with its psychological effects has kept our Nation and the world safer since that ill fated day in 2001. Fast forward to 2012 and the program is the cornerstone of the efforts by senior leaders at keeping terrorism from gaining a foothold within the free world. I laud the efforts of those in the public service who give of themselves so that we can all enjoy the freedoms that many take for granted.  

I have attached the article as well as the links...please take a look!

At CIA, a convert to Islam leads the terrorism hunt By , Published: March 25

For every cloud of smoke that follows a CIA drone strike in Pakistan, dozens of smaller plumes can be traced to a gaunt figure standing in a courtyard near the center of the agency’s Langley campus in Virginia. The man with the nicotine habit is in his late 50s, with stubble on his face and the dark-suited wardrobe of an undertaker. As chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center for the past six years, he has functioned in a funereal capacity for al-Qaeda.

Roger, which is the first name of his cover identity, may be the most consequential but least visible national security official in Washington — the principal architect of the CIA’s drone campaign and the leader of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. In many ways, he has also been the driving force of the Obama administration’s embrace of targeted killing as a centerpiece of its counterterrorism efforts.
Colleagues describe Roger as a collection of contradictions. A chain-smoker who spends countless hours on a treadmill. Notoriously surly yet able to win over enough support from subordinates and bosses to hold on to his job. He presides over a campaign that has killed thousands of Islamist militants and angered millions of Muslims, but he is himself a convert to Islam. His defenders don’t even try to make him sound likable. Instead, they emphasize his operational talents, encyclopedic understanding of the enemy and tireless work ethic.

“Irascible is the nicest way I would describe him,” said a former high-ranking CIA official who supervised the counterterrorism chief. “But his range of experience and relationships have made him about as close to indispensable as you could think. Critics are less equivocal. “He’s sandpaper” and “not at all a team player,” said a former senior U.S. military official who worked closely with the CIA. Like others, the official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the director of CTC — as the center is known — remains undercover.
Remarkable endurance
Regardless of Roger’s management style, there is consensus on at least two adjectives that apply to his tenure: eventful and long. Since becoming chief, Roger has worked for two presidents, four CIA directors and four directors of national intelligence. In the top echelons of national security, only Robert S. Mueller III, who became FBI director shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has been in place longer. Roger’s longevity is all the more remarkable, current and former CIA officials said, because the CTC job is one of the agency’s most stressful and grueling. It involves managing thousands of employees, monitoring dozens of operations abroad and making decisions on who the agency should target in lethal strikes — all while knowing that the CTC director will be among the first to face blame if there is another attack on U.S. soil.

Most of Roger’s predecessors, including Cofer Black and Robert Grenier, lasted less than three years. There have been rumors in recent weeks that Roger will soon depart as well, perhaps to retire, although similar speculation has surfaced nearly every year since he took the job. The CIA declined to comment on Roger’s status or provide any information on him for this article. Roger declined repeated requests for an interview. The Post agreed to withhold some details, including Roger’s real name, his full cover identity and his age, at the request of agency officials, who cited concerns for his safety. Although CIA officials often have their cover identities removed when they join the agency’s senior ranks, Roger has maintained his.

A native of suburban Virginia, Roger grew up in a family where several members, across two generations, have worked at the agency. When his own career began in 1979, at the CIA’s southern Virginia training facility, known as The Farm, Roger showed little of what he would become. A training classmate recalled him as an underperformer who was pulled aside by instructors and admonished to improve. “Folks on the staff tended to be a little down on him,” the former classmate said. He was “kind of a pudgy guy. He was getting very middling grades on his written work. If anything, he seemed to be almost a little beaten down.”

His first overseas assignments were in Africa, where the combination of dysfunctional governments, bloody tribal warfare and minimal interference from headquarters provided experience that would prove particularly useful in the post-Sept. 11 world. Many of the agency’s most accomplished counterterrorism operatives, including Black and Richard Blee, cut their teeth in Africa as well.

“It’s chaotic, and it requires you to understand that and deal with it psychologically,” said a former Africa colleague. Roger developed an “enormous amount of expertise in insurgencies, tribal politics, warfare — writing hundreds of intelligence reports.”

He also married a Muslim woman he met abroad, prompting his conversion to Islam. Colleagues said he doesn’t shy away from mentioning his religion but is not demonstrably observant. There is no prayer rug in his office, officials said, although he is known to clutch a strand of prayer beads.

Roger was not part of the first wave of CIA operatives deployed after the Sept. 11 attacks, and he never served in any of the agency’s “black sites,” where al-Qaeda prisoners were held and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques.

But in subsequent years, he was given a series of high-profile assignments, including chief of operations for the CTC, chief of station in Cairo, and the top agency post in Baghdad at the height of the Iraq war.

Along the way, he has clashed with high-ranking figures, including David H. Petraeus, the U.S. military commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, who at times objected to the CIA’s more pessimistic assessments of those wars. Former CIA officials said the two had to patch over their differences when Petraeus became CIA director.

“No officer in the agency has been more relentless, focused, or committed to the fight against al-Qaeda than has the chief of the Counterterrorism Center,” Petraeus said in a statement provided to The Post.

Harsh, profane demeanor

By 2006, the campaign against al-Qaeda was foundering. Military and intelligence resources had been diverted to Iraq. The CIA’s black sites had been exposed, and allegations of torture would force the agency to shut down its detention and interrogation programs. Meanwhile, the Pakistani government was arranging truces with tribal leaders that were allowing al-Qaeda to regroup.

Inside agency headquarters, a bitter battle between then-CTC chief Robert Grenier and the head of the clandestine service, Jose Rodriguez, was playing out. Rodriguez regarded Grenier as too focused on interagency politics, while Grenier felt forced to deal with issues such as the fate of the interrogation program and the CIA prisoners at the black sites. Resources in Pakistan were relatively scarce: At times, the agency had only three working Predator drones.

In February that year, Grenier was forced out. Rodriguez “wanted somebody who would be more ‘hands on the throttle,’ ” said a former CIA official familiar with the decision. Roger was given the job and, over time, the resources, to give the throttle a crank. Grenier declined to comment.

Stylistically, Grenier and Roger were opposites. Grenier gave plaques and photos with dignitaries prominent placement in his office, while Roger eschewed any evidence that he had a life outside the agency. Once, when someone gave him a cartoon sketch of himself — the kind you can buy from sidewalk vendors — he crumpled it up and threw it away, according to a former colleague, saying, “I don’t like depictions of myself.” His main addition to the office was a hideaway bed.

From the outset, Roger seemed completely absorbed by the job — arriving for work before dawn to read operational cables from overseas and staying well into the night, if he left at all. His once-pudgy physique became almost cadaverous. Although he had quit smoking a decade or so earlier, his habit returned full strength.

He could be profane and brutal toward subordinates, micromanaging operations, second-guessing even the smallest details of plans, berating young analysts for shoddy work. “This is the worst cable I’ve ever seen,” was a common refrain. Given his attention to operational detail, Roger is seen by some as culpable for one of the agency’s most tragic events — the deaths of seven CIA employees at the hands of a suicide bomber who was invited to a meeting at a CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan, in December 2009. An internal review concluded that the assailant, a Jordanian double-agent who promised breakthrough intelligence on al-Qaeda leaders, had not been fully vetted, and it cited failures of “management oversight.” But neither Roger nor other senior officers were mentioned by name.

One of those killed, Jennifer Matthews, was a highly regarded analyst and protege of Roger’s who had been installed as chief of the base despite a lack of operational experience overseas. A person familiar with the inquiry said that “the CTC chief’s selection of [Matthews] was one of a great number of things one could point to that were weaknesses in the way the system operated.”

Khost represented the downside of the agency’s desperation for new ways to penetrate al-Qaeda, an effort that was intensified under President Obama.

Roger’s connection to Khost and his abrasive manner may have cost him — he has been passed over for promotions several times, including for the job he is thought to have wanted most: director of the National Clandestine Service, which is responsible for all CIA operations overseas.

‘A new flavor of activity’

But current and former senior U.S. intelligence officials said it is no accident that Roger’s tenure has coincided with a remarkably rapid disintegration of al-Qaeda — and the killing of bin Laden last year.

When Michael V. Hayden became CIA director in May 2006, Roger began laying the groundwork for an escalation of the drone campaign. Over a period of months, the CTC chief used regular meetings with the director to make the case that intermittent strikes were allowing al-Qaeda to recover and would never destroy the threat.

“He was relentless,” said a participant in the meetings. Roger argued that the CIA needed to mount an air campaign against al-Qaeda “at a pace they could not absorb” and warned that “after the next attack, there would be no explaining our inaction.”

Under Hayden, the agency abandoned the practice of notifying the Pakistanis before launching strikes, and the trajectory began to change: from three strikes in 2006 to 35 in 2008.

A second proposal from the CTC chief, a year or so later, had even greater impact.

“He came in with a big idea on a cold, rainy Friday afternoon,” said a former high-ranking CIA official involved in drone operations. “It was a new flavor of activity, and had to do with taking senior terrorists off the battlefield.”

The former official declined to describe the activity. But others said the CTC chief proposed launching what came to be known as “signature strikes,” meaning attacks on militants based solely on their patterns of behavior.

Previously, the agency had needed confirmation of the presence of an approved al-Qaeda target before it could shoot. With permission from the White House, it would begin hitting militant gatherings even when it wasn’t clear that a specific operative was in the drone’s crosshairs.

Roger’s relentless approach meshed with the Obama mind-set. Shortly after taking office, Obama met with his first CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, and ordered a redoubled effort in the fight against al-Qaeda and the search for the terrorist group’s elusive leader.

From 53 strikes in 2009, the number soared to 117 in 2010, before tapering off last year.

The cumulative toll helped to crumple al-Qaeda even as CTC analysts finally found a courier trail that led them to bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Roger does not appear in any of the pictures taken inside the White House situation room when bin Laden was killed last May. Officials said he stayed in place at CIA headquarters and barely allowed himself to exult.

For all the focus on “kinetic” operations during Roger’s tenure, “he believes this is not a war you’re going to be able to kill your way out of,” said a former colleague. To him, “There is no end in sight.”

When the bin Laden operation concluded, he stepped outside to smoke.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Church...Special Operations and Human Trafficking

                                  Good Morning - for those of you that are not following us on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin, we have been engaged in several operations outside of Burma that address human trafficking and the sex industry. I want to set the stage for you on what has transpired in the last 96 hours...and what we are doing to fight this emerging and dangerous threat. In Europe, the United States and Asia….the figures are overwhelming...the flesh trade generates an estimated $32 billion dollars annually making human trafficking the fastest-growing criminal activity in the world today. It is also the most lucrative. According to a 2010 International Labor Office (ILO) report, just a single female held for sexual exploitation yields an average of $67,200 annually in Western Europe and North America. The United Nations estimates that between 800,000 and 4 million men, women and children are deceived, recruited, transported from their homes and sold into slavery around the world each year. Eighty percent are women; girls and young boys trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation. Of these, more than 300,000 women and children from Russia and Eastern Europe who are forced into prostitution each year. Western demand for Eastern European prostitute’s fuels today’s sex-slave industry. Currently, the market for Slavic woman and children in brothels and in pornography in "developed" countries — particularly the EU and the U.S. — is the hottest compared to other parts of the world, and is drawing on an endless supply of impoverished and vulnerable women.
A multitude of recent studies try to explain why women get snared into the trade in flesh. Researchers point to poverty, chronic unemployment, domestic violence and drug addiction as the primary “push factors.” As we continue to work within this field, sadly, we realize there isn’t enough discussion of the real root of the problem — the men. Human trafficking is basically international sexual terrorism perpetrated against women and children on a mass scale by men. It is their demand for illicit or predatory sex that generates huge profits for the slavers and leaves behind the tortured minds and broken bodies of those women and children they violate. I have seen this firsthand in Asia (Burma/Thailand) but now we are addressing it throughout US and Europe.
Fast Forward…The Life On Point Group...Just a few weeks ago, I was contacted late one night and asked if I could assist…a young girl had been taken from her home in the former Soviet Union and was now working in Ireland…yes…I said…Ireland. She had been on the streets and was being abused and sold for sex. She was heavily abused; dependent on drugs and yet…smart enough to get a note to someone associated with the church…and the church contacted me…same group who just one year ago had spent time in the jungles in an effort to stem the tide of Asian women and children being shipped across the border to Thailand and beyond. I took the call and put into place mechanisms to ensure she received the medical care, finances and hope that soon she would be back home with her family…suffice to say that on 14 March 2012…we succeeded.
A  Holy Collaboration...Based on what we were able to accomplish…the “Father” stated it was a “collaboration...made in heaven”…and yet…the story does not end there. Europe and the US are ripe with stories of women and children being violently exploited.  After a trafficking journey that typically involves deception, rape, beatings, and constant threats, victims are often forced to live in confining and unsanitary conditions. Once formally put to work, human trafficking victims can be forced to service up to 100 customers a day. Malnutrition, forced sleep deprivation, as well as emotional and physical abuse become part of the day-to-day routine. 
This is what our victim endured before we were able to intervene. In addition to the abuse, forced abortions and the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS are an ever looming probability. Life for a victim of sex trafficking is hell on earth! Some sobering facts for all of us to ponder...and ask why Life On Point is actively engaged in this arena:
       -        Human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime today, generating approximately 31.6 billion USD each year 
       -        There are 1.50 million victims of commercial sexual servitude worldwide
       -     Over 25 percent of sex trafficked victims are trafficked from Southern and Eastern Europe; many more emanate from Asia
       -        90% of victims trafficked into the European Union member states will end up in the sex industry in either Europe of the US
       -        Less than 2 percent of victims of trafficking are rescued, and only 1 in 100,000 persons  involved in trafficking are ever convicted      
       At the end of the day....The odds are against us...but still we will fight and press the issue...on behalf of those who can’t do this on their own...and for those that being held against their own will...that is what makes the “holy collaboration” so worthwhile! For additional information on sex trafficking in Europe please take a look at the following is a real “eye opener”
Thank You

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Sad State of Affairs for Children and Society

Hello and Good Morning to everyone! It has been almost a month since I have put pen to paper and discussed the issues that are making headlines today. It is a sad state of affairs when children who have been placed into the cyclical process known as foster care are forced into prostitution and made to endure what others would never speak about…sexual abuse.

From the Press - I woke two days ago to read a Huffington Post article of a man in Ohio who was arrested after “pimping” his adopted 10 year old son out to several friends. To say this story is revolting is an understatement…to think that it is an isolated event is both ignorant and dangerous...for it happens with a greater relevance then we can even imagine or comprehend.  
“A 10-year-old boy shook when asked about being prostituted to two other men by an adoptive father who regularly had sex with him…as the boy was fearful of talking because he didn’t want to be taken from his home or separated from his new siblings.”
I am sure that the “parent” in this case set the conditions so that he could initially exploit this child for his own use by leveraging the child’s need to belong…and then using that for a greater perversion…by allowing others to participate. I can only imagine the psychological pain these kids had to endure as I have known and worked with others who have gone through the same…it is something that never leaves you. This story – in and of itself - would be bad enough however, as you read through it and you see the words “Craigslist” and “Internet” you come to realize that it is no longer something confined to the backstreets or back-woods of America but that it has now entered the domain of the computers that sit in our own homes. You can "peddle flesh" and find like minded deviants to participate in your perversion in your own town or while on vacation…if you only know where to look.
“He had been led to the adoptive father by another man who had posted a Craigslist ad wanting “taboo” sex”

I have always been an advocate of 21st century technology to better the lives of all of us…what happened here was a systematic collapse of a series of checks and balances that are part of any good system…especially one that places children into foster care. The local Dayton, Ohio news circuit is stating that the accused was a single “gay man” – sexual orientation aside the question that begs to be asked is how was this missed….a gay man adopting 3 male children? In an age of cutbacks and decreased budgets this seems to have been a major lapse in common sense. I am sure there will be a series of follow-on stories that address this so I will stop here…other than to say…outrageous!

When I look at this story, I can’t help but recall the iceberg analogy…”it’s not what you see above the water…its what’s below the water that will sink the ship” – how many others suffer in silence at the hands of those who wield some measure of “power” over them? How many other kids out there suffer…or have suffered over the years at the hands of those who were supposed to protect them? The numbers would surprise us…and therefore many of us do not even ask the question…until it is too late.
How to protect those that can’t help themselves
Our company - Life On Point Consultants - has taken a proactive approach in the prevention of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. As many of you know we are now active across the globe and as such can speak about much of what happens out there…from the “flesh markets” in Thailand to the child abuse issues in the Middle East…it is horrific and affects even those that don’t realize it is happening. The outcry for what has happened to those children in Ohio has been huge…the problem is that for every single incident that makes the Huffington Post or New York Times  the question becomes how many more are out there and how many more women and children are being subjected to this and other like abuses across the globe. The figures are shocking!
We should always remember...and take note;
“The world is a dangerous place to live not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don’t do anything about it”
More to follow…and many…many hold accountable…thanks for following!