Two years ago, Donald Rumsfeld reorganized the military intelligence services and created a special branch of espionage and covert actions [1] that recruits high-level international personalities, revealed the Washington Post in its edition of January 23rd, 2005 [2] .

Then, Republican senator John McCain faced the Pentagon in a big controversy. During a program aired by the CBS television network, Face the Nation, the member of the Armed Forces Senate Commission was surprised after he knew by the press of the existence of this service when, constitutionally, the executive branch has to report to the legislative branch and he announced his decision to organize Congress hearings with those involved.

In response, the spokesman of the Pentagon acknowledged that, effectively, Donald Rumsfeld had proceeded to reform military intelligence as the Congress had asked after September 11 but he added that in no case had the constitutional rules been infringed. In other words, that the secret service was not financed with money diverted from other budgets.

Three years ago, we spoke in these columns about the reactivation of the stay-behind network, created by the United States in the allied countries after World War II. Currently, it seems that things are more complex: a network of similar nature was also reorganized but, in this case, within the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Historically, the CIA, a civil organization, is a continuation of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a secret military service of World War II. The «stay-behind» was an action service that was mainly made up of ustachis (a), Fascists, and Nazis, who remained behind the front line and began to serve the Allies in their struggle against Communism.

At first, it developed closely linked to the Army as the latter was in charge of the occupation of the countries freed from the Nazi oppression. But later, it joined the CIA Operations Department. In addition to its original recruitment, the «stay-behind» network also included military men and political figures that were secretly trained for military action [3] .

With the Iraqi crisis, the rivalry between the CIA and the Pentagon became a public clash. The CIA personnel rebelled when the White House manipulated their work to justify the invasion of Iraq. They did not hesitate to organize leakings in order to put the president in an awkward situation amid his presidential campaign and the director of the Agency even filed a complaint against the presidential office that, at the same time, had organized leakings about the identity of an agent. On the contrary, those in charge at the Pentagon, too happy to be able to fight against them, participated in several manipulations organized by an ad hoc group linked to Vice-President Richard Cheney [4] .

All in all, Donald Rumsfeld, after considering that the CIA was no longer reliable, gave up addressing its Operations Department and created, on April 25, 2002, a rival service within the DIA: the Strategic Support Branch (SSB) - also called "Icon Project" or "Secret Army of North Virginia". However, today, CIA’s control is again in the hands of its new director, Peter Gross [5] , who has doubled the material and human resources of the Direction of Operations (DoO).

But, the general reform of information provided that all agencies, civil and military, would be supervised by a sole Information Central Director. Rumsfeld refused to reveal the existence of his new service and to lose the absolute control and so he fought for a long time to obstruct the creation of the Central Director post. However, he later accepted it after he was guaranteed the independence of his SSB.

Senator McCain, who becomes indignant because the existence of this service was hidden, is at the same time the president of the International Republican Institute, one of the four branches of the NED/CIA, which aims at corrupting and infiltrating right-wing political parties around the world; an agency that resorts to the members of the “stay-behind” network of the CIA and, consequently, is in direct competition with the SSB [6] .

Donald Rumsfeld

The Strategic Support Branch (SSB), like the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), has its base in Tampa. In effect, the Special Forces have become a real army (like the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Marines) but they also keep on working for the others, whenever necessary, under the command of a joint chiefs of staff [7] .

The DIA is headed by vice admiral Lowell E. Jacoby. It has seven central directions, including a direction of human information [8] , which is also the venue of this SSB headed by Colonel George Waldroup. According to the Washington Post, this military man has a limited experience in espionage-related matters and made a career in the Immigration Service. Also according to the news daily, in 1995, he underwent a disciplinary investigation after he tried to hide information from Congress [9] .

In the political level, the DIA depends on Defense Deputy Secretary Stephan Cambone and his undersecretary, famous General William G. Boykin. This general, who has a controversial personality, is an evangelical fanatic known for his statements against Islam and for saying that he personally met Satan in Mogadishu, Somalia.

He headed the so-called hunt of Bin Laden in the Afghan mountains with the US Task Force and later conducted the first operations against the Iraqi resistance [10] . He also played a role in the alleged capture of Saddam Hussein (in fact, his buying of a Kurdish group) [11] and in different hostage-related issues.

All these officials of the Defense Secretary’s office and the DIA support the theory according to which "pre-emptive wars" are no longer enough as it is difficult to obtain information accurate enough to assess the dangers that justify them. Consequently, according to them, "information wars" have to be developed: aiming at gathering the information about the threats against which "pre-emptive wars" have to be launched. It is not clear if "tactical wars" will be necessary to prepare the "information wars" but the worst can be expected from this theoretical mechanism.

Anyway, two years after its creation, the Strategic Support Branch has expanded to almost a dozen countries, including Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia, Philippines and Georgia. According to the Belgium specialized magazine "De Defensa", its budget raises to around five billion dollars [12] and it could be partially included in the Black Programs, that is, the secret budget sums of the Pentagon, of which only a few Congress people know. This lack of control by State officials and the public organizations could be its Achilles’ heel. The SSB could be alienated by mafia groups and could see itself involved in different kinds of trafficking, mainly that of poppy in Afghanistan [13] .

The main goal of the “stay-behind” in the 1950s was to deceive the Western democracies avoiding, by all possible means, that the electorate made the "wrong choice" of giving power to the communist parties. However, in the current decade, the SSB tries to favor the "changes of regime" that constitute the main axis of the Bush doctrine.

[1Secret activities include simple clandestine actions (that is, those whose existence is hidden as long as it is possible) and covert actions (any knowledge of them is always denied even if they become public)

[2« Secret Uni expands Rumsfeld’s domain », by Barton Gellman, The Washington Post, January 23, 2005, p. A01

[3See « Stay-behind: las redes de injerencia norteamericanas », (Stay-behind: the US networks of interference) by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire, August 20, 2001

[4«El dispositivo Cheney», (The Cheney Device) by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire, February 6, 2004

[5« Purge politique à la CIA », Voltaire, November 15, 2004

[6«NED : la nébuleuse de l’ingérence démocratique», by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire, January 22, 2004

[7« Les milices de l’Empire », by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire, January 9, 2003

[8That is, information gathered by infiltrated agents and not through technical devices

[9« Somes Question Background of Unit’s leader », by Barton Gellman, The Washington Post, January 23, 2005, p. A10

[10« Opération marteau de fer », by Paul Labarique, Voltaire, December 11, 2003

[11« Pentagon Secret Unit Helped Find Saddam », by Robert Burns, Seattle Post Intelligencer, January 24, 2005

[12« La SSB, une structure clandestine globale », De Defensa, January 24, 2005

[13Afghanistan became the first world poppy producer under the protection of the US forces. In addition, General Boykin played an important role in the cocaine market. It was him who organized the killing of Colombian "independent" drug-trafficker Pablo Escobar