Operation Greystone

Shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, President Bush called an emergency meeting in his cabinet Room, calling together the major defense and CIA officials.

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Not much earlier, CIA Director J. Cofer Black and top officials had prepared a plan to take down Al-Qaeda. Black approached President Bush with this plan immediately afterwards. Bush had just given the CIA a very broad approval to enter Afghanistan and carry out operations against the terror group Al-Qaeda in any way it pleased.

CIA Operatives entered at least a dozen different countries, including Afghanistan, and began training locals and government security forces to track down insurgents and terrorists.

Elite CIA Operatives trained northern Alliance soldiers in Afghanistan; the Taliban fell from power within a matter of months.

We now know that Operation Greystone involved, in large part, inaccurate drone strikes and secret prison-based interrogations of high-risk terrorists who simply disappeared during the course of the operation.

Realizing a greater potential threat facing America post 9/11, intelligence agencies became more secretive and cautious. They took on a greater role by phone tapping and tracking emails and created Operation Greystone enacted by President Bush which it sent CIA in front of the military for the first time, in order to go after Al Qaeda in Afghanistan which was the first start of a new covert was style.

Realizing we were facing a far greater potential terrorist threat and whereas most wars are a show of power, Operation Greystone began as an infiltration for information.

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CIA operatives entered at least a dozen different countries, including Afghanistan who joined up with the Northern alliance, a resistance force made up of rebels and from the shadows effectively began tracking down insurgents and terrorists who were paid to hunt down, fight and kill.  These operations operated in the shadows effectively dismantling the Taliban which led to numerous victories and dubbed as the “War on Terror”.

Elite CIA operatives trained Northern Alliance soldiers in Afghanistan; the Taliban fell from power within a matter of months.

We now know that Operative Greystone involved, in large part, inaccurate drone strikes and secret prison-based interrogations of high-risk terrorists who simply disappeared during the course of the operation.

One event that raised concerns of the scope of government power was a drone missile that blew up a vehicle occupied by an Al Qaeda leader. Although the government called it a success and celebrated, many were unaware of the power of the government weapons and the ability of the government to kill easily.

The major problem is that because everything is now done in secret, no one truly knows the extent to which the government is performing.

A second occurrence was the enhanced interrogation techniques that ensured, such as water boarding which is considered torture but was labeled as an enhanced technique and approved by the Justice Department.

In addition, the CIA had created a series of “black sites” throughout the world, which are prison camps for people to be tortured in. Again, in complete secrecy.

Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld began a program called Joint Special Operations Command, which singles out terrorist leaders and kills them one by one. They don’t call themselves a covert operation but instead military operation to avoid needing approval of president and effectively doing as they please. JSOC operates with CIA special activities division.

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Rumsfeld also created the Office of Special Plans, which created links that the CIA would not release. It was used to create the link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. It has “all source clearance,” the ability to access all information.

The OSP uses unapproved troops, acting independently and with mainly political intent in Iraq such as in summer of 2004 when the CIA led troops to Pakistan with attacks to defeat Al Qaeda and terrorists.

They then attacked Iraq to prevent damage from weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein, and eventually led to the destruction of the NSA at home. It intercepts phone calls and emails without warrant, in all effort of preventing another 9/11.

This was allowed by the Terrorist Surveillance Program, enacted by Bush.

At this time, these new anti-terrorist groups have far more power than they should, being not regulated and also closed off to public knowledge.

In fact, after 8 months, it turned out there was not any “weapons of mass destruction” at all in Iraq, and the CIA took blame for all intelligence failure. It begs the question of just how much they know, and the lack of reason behind their activity.

A few years later, Obama was sworn in and swore to end invading privacy. Yet it turns out he reauthorized many programs including Greystone to find Osama bin Laden. JSOC raids, drone strikes, and essentially every program was kept or increased in order to continue fighting a “War on Terror”.

About 1.5 trillion dollars has been spent so far, and yet the only notable achievement is the death of Osama bin Laden. Perhaps instead of all this need to keep all actions secret, the government updates the public so it can realize if a search such as for WMD’s is hopeless and stop activity on it, and then try to refocus on other good leads on terrorist groups.

Drones are “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” capable of delivering guided missiles to targets up to 1800 miles away. They are relatively small, equipped with a camera and controlled remotely from an operator on the ground. Since they are unmanned, drones greatly reduce the risk and cost of requiring a pilot and can effectively target key enemy positions.

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The CIA uses drones to conduct targeted killings of Taliban members and other militant groups.  In effect, it targets and eliminates insurgents on the ground without the implementation of need of excessive boots on the ground and unnecessary loss of ground troops. In turn, it also saves the lives of thousands of victims at the hands of the very growing numbers of extremists looking to dominate the world.

When it comes to drone strikes, the UN Human Rights Council fears that the United States has not taken proper accountability and precautionary and precautionary measures in conducting these targeted killings. According to Philip Alston, “the UN special Rappaorteurs on extrajudicial summary on arbitrary executions stated, “the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is running a programme that is killing a significant number of people, and there is absolutely no accountability in terms of the relevant international law.” My query to Mr. Alston is has he been to Iraq, Syria Kobane to see firsthand the thousands of beheading at the hands of ISIS the crimes against humanity of ISIS/ISIL killing hundreds of children and infants and the raping of women as young as 6 years old? Boys given automatic weapons and grenades and sent to suicide school instead of elementary school to kill all “non-believers”.

Since 2004, the Special Activities Division of the CIA had conducted hundreds of drone strikes in northern Pakistan. By the end of Obama’s first term in office, the CIA had conducted 44 drone strikes in Pakistan, killing approximately 400 people. In the years following, the number of strikes increased dramatically, and by 2011, the CIA had conducted over 240 drone strikes in Pakistan. The Obama administration maintains that the drone program is classified, and thus they are unable to reveal specific information about the targeted killings. Consequently, when such a program is classified, serious accountability and human rights dilemmas emerge.

A 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment Soldier provides overwatch on an Afghan valley during Operation Verendrye near the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Going into the 21st century, posturing and humane reasoning would dictate that the CIA must recognize the potential dangers of wielding such a powerful network of drones. With such a network, the CIA could hypothetically kill anyone on its “target list” from a remote location halfway across the world, effectively dehumanizing the entire process of assassination. The CIA must be sure to follow UN guidelines, while simultaneously maintaining a level of secrecy that gives it an advantage over terrorist organizations. The CIA must also be cautious of overusing drones also one would posture. The purpose of employing drones in Pakistan is to defeat terrorist organizations operating in the area but excessive use of drones may increase the already growing anti-American sentiment in the region. Will drones make America too powerful for its own good?

If drones are extremely effective is waging the war on terror, we cannot ignore it. We must not only continue the effective campaign but escalate it without mercy and conduct a “search and destroy” ground attack with “boots on the ground” giving us maximum exposure to eliminate any threat.

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