Hidden Bases, Secret Raids: WikiLeaks Reveals CIA’s Iraq Ops
From the start, we all knew that Afghanistan was the CIA’s war. The spy agency spearheaded the initial push into the country after 9/11, and to this day it runs bases (and pays off strongmen) that keep the war effort running.
But in Iraq, the CIA’s role has never quite been that clear. Thanks to WikiLeaks’ release of nearly 392,000 documents from the war, we’ve now got a bit of better sense of how the Agency operated in Iraq. And it wasn’t just furtively meeting with informants, or secretively wooing enemies. The documents show an active “OGA” (an acronym for “Other Government Agency,” usually a reference to the CIA) acting as a paramilitary force — raiding insurgent hideouts, hunting for mysterious militants and getting caught up in roadside shootouts. The Agency even appeared to have its own base, near the town of Ramadi.
In early 2004, the WikiLeaked documents show, “OGA” also participated in Operation Strike Fury, a raid against a suspected safe-house in Mosul that detained “possible members of a terrorist group suspected of planning suicide-bombing attacks.” Northeast of Baghdad, the Agency participated in cordon and search operations against a suspected bomb-maker’s home, seizing cellphones and electrical equipment. In Husaybah, “OGA” agents joined a cordon in the Market Street area, looking for insurgents supporting mortar attacks.
“OGA” employees did just launch attacks — they came under attack, too. One report from 2004 recounts a platoon northeast of Tikrit encountering a car full of self-described OGA personnel carrying an individual shot in the thigh from recent small arms fire. Another document describes an “OGA” convoy which had its rear vehicle disabled by an insurgent ambush “while returning from a mission.”
“OGA” employees came under friendly fire, as well.
In one incident, a report details how “OGA improperly tried to enter FOB [Forward Operating Base] Freedom in Mosul” by approaching the base’s gate too fast in a vehicle and failing to respond to the guard’s requests. The hasty moves earned the driver a shot through the radiator.
Military officials seem to have used the “OGA” label to apply to CIA contractors, as well. One report from June 2007 suggests references an OGA next to the description “Aegis.” Aegis, a contracting firm, had the largest contract for private security and intelligence work in Iraq at the time.
Wikileaks garnered much criticism for placing Afghan intelligence sources at risk by publishing their names and other identifying information in its previous Afghanistan war logs. The documents, by contrast, are heavily redacted; no information about the specific identity of Iraqi intelligence sources is yet apparent.
However, the Iraq documents do disclose general information about the location of at least one potential intelligence facility where an “Other Government Agency” received Iraqi informants. The map data in a handful of documents as recently as August 2009 pinpoint “OGA” personnel entering and exiting a single U.S. military-guarded facility west of Ramadi. There, “OGA informants” were “directed to the vehicle search area [of the facility] to meet OGA.”
When asked about that base, a U.S. intelligence official e-mailed, “CIA does not comment, as a rule, on speculation about what may or may not be an Agency facility.”
There’s one last bit of minor intrigue about Other Government Agencies in the Wikileaks documents: the question of why the person with “blonde hair [and] green eyes” spotted by an “OGA” in a market and heading south towards Haditha in “blue or black car” aroused the Agency’s interest.
Photo: Special Operations Command
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