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U.S. Needs Hit Squads, ‘Manhunting Agency’: Spec Ops Report

Noah Shachtman   November 3, 2009

CIA director Leon Panetta got into hot water with Congress, after he revealed an agency program to hunt down and kill terrorists. A recent report from the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations University argues that the CIA didn’t go far enough (.pdf). Instead, it suggests the American government should set up something like a “National Manhunting Agency” to go after jihadists, drug dealers, pirates and other enemies of the state.   . . . . . . .

Such a group wouldn’t just go after terrorists. “Human networks are behind narcotics trafficking, arms proliferation, piracy, hiding war criminals from authorities, human trafficking, or other smuggling activities,” Crawford writes. “Human networks also lie at the core of national governments, offering an increased potential to nonlethally influence state actors with precision. A robust manhunting capability would allow the United States to interdict these human networks.”

Phi Beta Iota: We’ve been saying this for close to a decade now.  The PROBLEM is that a) neither the CIA nor Special Forces know how to do this–there is a huge difference between a 1,000 meter sniper kill in the bush and an up close and personal kill in the middle of someone else’s neighborhood; and b) the U.S. Government, and the U.S. National Security Community specifically, are so utterly hosed and out of control that absent an extraordinary leader of impecable integrity and very high multinational standing, this initiative is dead on arrival.  CIA cannot work effectively in the gutter or outside official cover; it has too many young people inside and too many contractors outside; and it stinks at finding single individuals in the haystack, see for example, Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw.  And then of course there is Bin Laden.  Meanwhile, the Special Operations definition of “clandestine training” is–we are not making this up–“push-ups done silently.”  The ship of state is sinking fast–putting a sniper in the smokestack is not going to fix anything.  Think terrorist watchlist and kids playing with matches….

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