By Mike M. Ahlers
Former CIA acting director John McLaughlin said the U.S. can engage Iran through diplomacy, sanctions or military action, but said military action "would be a very bad option."
Speaking during a panel discussion in Washington, McLaughlin, who served as acting director of the CIA in 2004, said direct military action with Iran could grow to involve Hezbollah, the militant group based in Lebanon.
By CNN's Charley Keyes
Note to American diplomats: An old Iranian saying may carry a message for a new year.
"There's on old Persian expression that when you have a wildcat trapped in a room, you need to leave a door open to let it out," Carnegie Endowment analyst Karim Sadjadpour said.
The New Year has dawned with new saber-rattling from Iranian leaders, new displays of its military hardware and new claims of progress in its nuclear program. All this comes amidst new frustration in the United States about how to tighten the screws on the Iranian economy.
With the U.S. and allies working to isolate Iran's Central Bank and to impose additional restrictions on various high-ranking individuals and institutions, exits are slamming shut.
"The question is: What is the way out for the Iranian regime?" Sadjadpour said. "Can the Obama administration allow the Iranian regime a diplomatic way out in order for it to save face?"
By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd
The militant group Hezbollah claims it has blown the cover of 10 alleged CIA officers working in Lebanon.
In the latest round of an escalating spy war, Hezbollah's media arm, al Manar, posted a video Friday accusing the CIA of running espionage operations from the diplomatic cover of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. It discloses the alleged names of the current CIA station chief (including his birthdate), the former station chief, and three other officers, as well as code names for five others.
If those are indeed the names of CIA officers, their covert abilities have been compromised, and they will likely leave the country, according to two former CIA agents.
"The truth is, almost everybody probably knows who the station chief in Beirut is - at least if you're the bad guy," said former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht. But if the identities of officers have been publicly revealed, he said, "they (agency officials) most definitely yank you." FULL POST
By Tim Lister
Ali Mussa Daqduq – a Lebanese militant accused of involvement in the murder of several U.S. soldiers in Iraq – has been in U.S. military detention in Iraq since 2007. But not for much longer. As the last U.S. forces depart Iraq, Daqduq may soon go free, without facing trial.
The Iraqis have given no indication that they will allow Daqduq to be taken out of the country and the case has become a tug-of-war between Iraq and the Obama Administration. The prospect that Daqduq – a veteran operative of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia – may escape U.S. justice altogether has infuriated members of Congress. And even if the Iraqis agree to let him leaves with his captors, just how and where he would face trial is another political minefield for the Justice Department.
Daqduq was accused of organizing a kidnapping in the Iraqi city of Karbala in January 2007 that left five U.S. soldiers dead. After he was captured some months later, according to U.S. intelligence officials, Daqduq pretended to be a deaf-mute. But officials identified him as a 24-year veteran of Hezbollah who had commanded a special operations unit and been sent to Iraq to develop “Special Groups” within Shi’ite militia. They said he admitted working with the Quds Force, a branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. U.S. military intelligence contended the Quds force was using Hezbollah as a surrogate in Iraq. FULL POST
By Senior National Security Producer Pam Benson
CIA informants in Lebanon were unmasked by Hezbollah and captured by the terror group, CNN has been told. One of the means used by Hezballah counter terrorism operatives to identify the foreign assets was to trace their cell phone calls.
A US official would not discuss the details of how many CIA informants might have been affected and the degree of impact on Central Intelligence Agency operations in Beirut. The official called spying a "perilous business."
“Collecting sensitive information on adversaries-who are aggressively trying to uncover spies in their midst-will always be fraught with risk. Good CI (counterintelligence) can mitigate risks, but won't eliminate them all," the source said.
The official says Hezballah has a very capable intelligence component and cannot be underestimated. FULL POST