Report: The CIA Increasing Operations in Iraq

Official agency portrait.<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?lang=en&search_source=search_form&search_tracking_id=&version=llv1&anyorall=all&safesearch=1&searchterm=cia&search_group=&orient=&search_cat=&searchtermx=&photographer_name=&people_gender=&people_age=&people_ethnicity=&people_number=&commercial_ok=&color=&show_color_wheel=1#id=105917963&src=4293C048-8B34-11E2-8D79-4BBFACE6966E-1-25">Richard Peterson</a>/Shutterstock

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With the US military pretty much out, and with spillover from the conflict in Syria coming in, CIA operatives in Iraq are doing exactly what you’d expect them to do.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Central Intelligence Agency is ramping up support to elite Iraqi antiterrorism units to better fight al Qaeda affiliates, amid alarm in Washington about spillover from the civil war in neighboring Syria, according to U.S. officials.

The stepped-up mission expands a covert U.S. presence on the edges of the two-year-old Syrian conflict, at a time of American concerns about the growing power of extremists in the Syrian rebellion. Al Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist network’s affiliate in the country, has close ties to Syria-based Jabhat al Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, an opposition militant group that has attacked government installations and controls territory in northern Syria…In a series of secret decisions from 2011 to late 2012, the White House directed the CIA to provide support to Iraq’s Counterterrorism Service, or CTS, a force that reports directly to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, officials said.

[…]

This shift to the CIA [from the U.S. military] in Iraq also is in line with the Obama administration’s goal of limiting the U.S. role in the Syrian conflict. The administration is providing nonlethal assistance to the [Syrian] opposition, but refuses to send weapons, in part to avoid aiding extremist elements among rebel forces.

There are roughly 220 American military personnel in Iraq currently working for the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq—and after several military sites get shut down, the number is expected to drop to about 130.

The CIA’s ramped-up role comes nine months after officials signaled that the agency planned to cut its presence in Iraq to fewer than half that of wartime levels, when their station in Baghdad included over 700 agency personnel and ranked as the biggest CIA station on the planet. (“Right-sizing,” as Obama aides called the CIA drawdown.) Still, as senior US officials made clear last year, Baghdad will of course remain one of the agency’s largest stations in the world.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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