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Pierce writes: "On Thursday, we discussed why it would be a terrible idea for whoever's president next to install Tom Cotton at the head of the CIA."

CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. (photo: Guardian UK)
CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. (photo: Guardian UK)


A CIA-Related Plan That Should Terrify All of Us

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

05 December 17

 

n Thursday, we discussed why it would be a terrible idea for whoever’s president* next to install Tom Cotton at the head of the CIA. On Friday, we got a look at the writhing ball of snakes that exists at the highest level of this administration*. Given all we know about both these phenomenon, what could be a better idea than giving this national security apparatus a system of private mercenary armies to carry out whatever Cotton or the White House think needs doing, including reviving the inhumane practice of “renditioning” people into torture chambers in Poland and Thailand? Buzzfeed has the story.

One of the proposals would involve hiring a private company, Amyntor Group, for millions of dollars to set up a large intelligence network and run counterterrorist propaganda efforts, according to the sources. Amyntor’s officials and employees include veterans of a variety of US covert operations, ranging from the Reagan-era Iran–Contra affair to more recent actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Amyntor declined to discuss the proposals, but a lawyer for the company said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that the type of contract being contemplated would be legal “with direction and control by the proper government authority.” Another proposal presented to US officials would allow individuals affiliated with the company to help capture wanted terrorists on behalf of the United States. In keeping with that proposal, people close to the company are tracking two specific suspects in a Middle Eastern country, the sources said, for possible “rendition” to the United States. A source speaking on behalf of the company stressed that while Amyntor officials are aware of and involved in the rendition plan, the company itself would not be involved.

So the government wouldn’t be involved, except that the company would be acting with “the direction and control from the proper government authority,” except that the company wouldn’t be involved either. You can almost hear the fcks clustering themselves already. And they’re clustering under an administration* that is as paranoid as it is feckless.

Those familiar with the proposals say one of the driving impulses for privatizing some missions is a fear by some supporters of President Donald Trump, outside government, that the CIA bureaucracy has an anti-Trump bias that would thwart efforts to fulfill the president’s objectives. “The system does not work,” one source who is sympathetic to the Amyntor efforts told BuzzFeed News. “The people leaking this to you just want to destroy the president.”

Dark as the prospect of this notion is, there nevertheless is a punchline to it, and it involves the company that would run this system if it ever is constructed.

Amyntor Group is a reclusive company headquartered in Whitefish, Montana, a town of 6,500 residents that recently gained notoriety after a company based there won, then lost, a $300 million contract to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electrical grid. There is no known relationship between the two companies. Amyntor’s website describes its mission as “providing extraordinary security solutions.” It claims to “maintain an experienced cadre of cleared professionals that possess Subject Matter Expertise (SME) in the areas of intelligence training, collections and analysis, risk assessment, and counterintelligence to support U.S. and friendly foreign government activities around the globe.”

What the hell goes on in Whitefish?

Is it to strange and shady public-private partnership what Delaware is to incorporation and South Dakota is to credit cards? Are aliases listed alphabetically in the voting rolls or just under the individual’s name? And, once again, we Iran-Contra obsessives are justified in believing that there is always another rock under which to look.

Sources say Maguire and others who run Amyntor previously worked with the late Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, a CIA officer known for his colorful personality. Indicted and then pardoned for his role in the so-called Iran–Contra affair during the administration of President Ronald Reagan, Clarridge also tried in 2008, while in his seventies, to set up his own private intelligence agency to collect information about terrorists in Afghanistan. Clarridge ran the business under the name “The Eclipse Group.” Reportedly, his operation was, for a time, funded by the Department of Defense. Clarridge died in 2016. Among Amyntor’s unusual cast of characters is a cosmetic surgeon, Keith Rose, who lists himself on his Linkedin page as the “medical director” of Amyntor. He was involved in Clarridge’s Eclipse Group, according to two people who are familiar with both Clarridge and Rose.

The odds are that this never will be carried off. Cooler—and less insane—heads are expected to prevail. But, then again, it’s possible that Tom Cotton will be our next head spook. I try very hard these days to avoid saying something can’t happen. Anything can.


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