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Lost Among the Findings in Syria | emptywheel

The Neocons have been pressuring Obama to do something in Syria. So it’s thoroughly unsurprising that we’re officially learning what we’ve known for months: the CIA has been involved in Syria. According to Mark Hosenball the Finding Obama signed authorizing such actions permits us to collaborate at a “secret” command center on or close to our air base at Incirlik.

A U.S. government source acknowledged that under provisions of the presidential finding, the United States was collaborating with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies.

[snip]

This “nerve center” is in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 60 miles from the Syrian border, which is also home to Incirlik, a U.S. air base where U.S. military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence.

The Finding doesn’t authorize arming the rebels (though Hosenball’s sources seem unsure about the general scope of the Finding), but NBC has reported that the Saudis and Qataris have already armed them with shoulder-launched missiles.

Marcy Wheeler goes on to wonder why the secrecy-obsessed Senate Intelligence Committee hasn’t squawked about this “leak” (what used to be understood as information vital to the public interest). I think it’s enough to say that congress has a well documented history of selective oversight.

The interesting point is Wheeler’s reminder that the CIA operated in Syria under another secret Finding in the early years of the “war on terror”:

In his description of all the things included in the Gloves Come Off Memorandum of Notification authorizing the war on terror, Bob Woodward said cooperation with Syria (and Libya) were included.

[George Tenet] called for initiating intelligence contact with some rogue states such as Libya and Syria that he said might be helpful in trying to destroy al Qaeda. For the CIA to obtain helpful information against the terrorists, they might have to get their hands dirty. (Bush at War 77)

We know the [Memorandum of Notification] included [intelligence] cooperation with Libya because liberated documents have reflected cooperation on renditions. And Maher Arar, who was rendered to Syria and tortured, can tell you all about what our cooperation with Syria entailed.

So I guess Obama just updated the mission a little bit. But, rest assured, no matter who the United States “cooperates” with - no matter if that cooperation involves torture or an “intervention” - it’s all about freedom and democracy. For the Syrian people this time, of course.