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From left to right: Stephen Kappes, Barack Obama and Leon Panetta

The Deputy Director of the CIA decided to take early retirement and left amidst a chorus of praise, a definite sign of dishonor in an environment where secrecy is the absolute rule. The main achievement to his credit was to convince Libya to abandon its nuclear programme.

He will be replaced by the number 3 of the CIA, Michael J. Morell, thus becoming top contender to step into the shoes of Leon E. Panetta, who will reach retirement age in June 2013. Fran Moore moves to third place, while Stephanie O’Sullivan will be supervising day-to-day operations.

Director of the U.S. National Clandestine Service Michael J. Sulick, who had linked his fate to that of Kappes, could also be nudged into seeking early retirement.

In 2004, a tirade had emerged between the CIA and the Bush Administration after the White House disclosed the identity of secret agent Valerie Palme in retaliation against her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for having denied the concoction about Saddam Hussein’s enriched uranium from Niger. The situation quickly took on the appearance of a CIA hit against the neo-conservatives, rightly accused of fabricating false intelligence in the interest of party-politics and of putting CIA operations in jeopardy. Ultimately, President George W. Bush dismissed the Director of the Agency and replaced him by Porter J. Goss, a friend of his father’s.

Mr. Goss was also designated Director of National Intelligence, which gave him a free hand to purge the CIA and, in addition, to bring the other intelligence services into line. His first measure was to fire Stephen R. Kappes and Michael J. Sulick forthwith. The two men were escorted back to their offices to pick up their personal belongings and immediately shown the door. They plotted their revenge against Goss for months, precipitating his downfall and making their comeback with Goss’ successor, General Michael Hyden.

Looked upon as victims of the neo-conservatives, Kappes and Sulick were backed by the Democrats, notably by Diana Feisntein (currently Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee) for purely partisan reasons and without looking into their track record. They were, after all, the masterminds for disseminating secret prisons abroad and drone assassinations.

Thus, after Barack Obama’s election, the Democrats had hoped to put Kappes and Sulick back in the CIA saddle, respectively, as Director and Deputy-Director. But Obama had picked a member of the Baker-Hamilton Commission, Leon E. Panetta, who consented to incorporate Kappes and Sulick into his team.

It wasn’t until after this political hullabaloo had blown over that the methods of Kappes and Sulcik came to the fore. The two men attempted to globalize intelligence handling and staff management. They based their work on the collaboration of foreign agencies, reputed to be more savvy about their respective regions. In so doing, they were able to save precious time for mounting their operations, but lost control over the recruitement of agents in the field. Furthermore, inter-agency cooperation enabled them to kidnap opponents anywhere in the world, to sequester them in the secret prisons spread over 66 countries and subject them to torture. Learning about the scale of such practices had sparked Leon E. Panetta’s anger, a devout Catholic highly concerned about ethics.

This type of management produced excellent results on the surface, until things started to degenerate.

The fatal error came at the end of 2009. At that time, Stephen R. Kappes had personally informed President Obama about the recent recruitment, through the Jordanian secret services, of one of their agents infiltrating Al-Qaida’s top ranks, Abu-Mulal al-Balawi. Thanks to this mole, the CIA hoped to swiftly do away with Ossama Bin Laden, supposedly still ensconced among the Afghn-Pakistani tribes.

On 30 December 2009, a cocktail was organized on the U.S. base at Kosht (Afghanistan) to welcome the heaven-sent spy. Wearing an explosive belt, the man blew himself up in front of the guests, killing 7 people and blessing many others. All the local CIA agents were neutralized in just one sweep.

Meanwhile the U.S. media brought to light the case of Gul Rahman, a CIA prisoner in Afghanistan who died under torture in 2002, drawing attention to the fact that Kappes had the corpse burned in order to hush the matter up. His attitude was interpreted as a go-ahead for all types of abuses, which then became the norm.

Since misfortunes never come singly, a judicial investigation is under way in the United States, at the instigation of the John Adams Project (a joint ACLU and ACDL initiative) into the torture crimes perpetrated at Guantánamo. The group managed to obtain photos of several CIA torturers and are demanding they be brought to trial. If probed, the chain of command will inevitably lead to Kappes and Sulcik ... unless, of course, the lawyers will themselves be indicted for unveiling the photographs of CIA agents in service, which is tantamount to an act of treason.

Last but not least, the CIA’s new number 2 man, Michael J. Morell, was the Agency’s liaison officer assigned to George W. Bush. He was with him on the morning of September 11, 2001, providing the President with his daily briefing on their way to the grammar school in Longboat (Florida). He’s the one who informed the President that it was not a small plane, but a big carrier which struck the first tower of the World Trade Center. And also the one who was with him during his flight, immediately feeding him with the arguments serving to accuse Ossama Bin Laden.
On that account, he enjoys the total backing of the innermost wheels of State power and can aspire to quickly take over the reins of the CIA.

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- Porter Goss, le patron de la CIA, veut en découdre avec la France (Peter Goss, the boss of the CIA, wants to pick a fight with France), Voltaire Network, 28 September 2004.
- Political Purge in the CIA, Voltaire Network, 15 November 2004.