Monday, July 24, 2017

Thomas Powers on Bob Baer's Assassination Plot

Robert "Bob" Baer, the former CIA operations officer who presented the multi-part TV documentary "JFK Declassified," apparently knows something about political assassinations, having been involved in plotting a coup and attempt on the life of Saddam Hussein. Baer's TV show ran the first two of six episodes on the History Channel before someone pulled the plug on it, though it did run in Canada.

From Thomas Powers' "Intelligence Wars" (p. 386-387)

"The criticisms (of the CIA) come not from think tanks or bureaucratic rivals of the CIA like the FBI but from a vocal group of former intelligence officers - mostly young, mostly field officers from the Directorate of Operations (DO), mostly well-respected and destined for solid careers until they chose to leave - who believe that the CIA is in deep decline."

"The most vocal of these critics is Robert Baer, a twenty-year veteran of numerous assignments in Central Asia and the Middle East whose last major job for the agency was an attempt to organize Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein in the early 1990s - shuttling between a desk in Langley and contacts on the ground in Jordan, Turkey, and even northern Iraq."

"This assignment came to an abrupt end in March 1995 when Baer, once seen as a rising star of the DO, suddenly found himself 'the subject of an accusatory process.' An agent of the FBI told him he was under investigation for the crime of plotting the assassination of Saddam Hussein. The investigation was ordered by President Clinton's national security adviser, Anthony Lake, who would be nominated to run the agency two years later. The Baer investigation was only one of the many reasons that the intelligence organizations resisted Lake, forcing him to withdraw his name in 1997, and clearing the way for George Tenet."

"Eventually the case against Baer was dismissed with the help of the Washington lawyer Jeffrey Smith, who served as the agency's general counsel under John Deutch. But for Baer the espisode was decisive. 'When your own outfit is trying to put you in jail,' he told me, 'it's time to go.'"

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