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December 21, 2011

The No Non-Sense Guide to the CIA - Part II

December 21, 2011

December 21, 2011

The Arab Digest reveals that the CIA has been using the Retiree Activities Office (RAO) position in Lebanon, and other similar staff positions at U.S. embassies as a platform for clandestine work that includes information gathering on Hezbollah and other "unfriendly" organisations. We have compiled new information on the activities of the CIA in the Middle East, from Wikileaks and other sources. (We had already published a long account based on the information revealed by Hezbollah on the agency's activity in Lebanon All - of which have been documented in part I of our series).

The Arab Digest has examined a large number of Embassy cables, and have found one, in which Louis Kahi, named by Hezbollah as the former CIA station chief in Beirut (till 2009), uses the acronym RAO as an official title (Michel Sasson, the ambassodor is the CDA, Charge D'Affaires. For an incomplete list of acronyms used by the embassies, click here).
According to its website, the Retiree Activities Office (RAO) "provides current information and assistance to military retirees, their dependents and survivors who reside in the local RAO area of responsibility and coordinates retiree volunteer assistance to many base organizations". I am not sure if they would be happy about that.

The Wikileaks cable has provided the following information on Kahi:

"Louis Kahi ---------- RAO Office 961-4-544-260 4204 Mobile 961-3-228-860" (I haven't tried the number yet, why don't you and let me know what happens:)

I am wondering how many U.S. military retirees live in Lebanon. Of course, none! Has the CIA run out of imagination to use a defunct title for its operatives?

Chuck Iisenbee

(Chuck is in his early 40s; he finished high school at T.C. Roberson at 1990, here is his cheesy re-union video)
A series of Wikileaks cables from the Khartoum embassy where Chuck Lisenbee worked under the title RSO (Regional Security Officer); he has been in this position since 1997. The U.S. embassy in India states that "the RSO office is comprised of a number of elements, including Special Agents of the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service, a team of investigators, a Residential Security Coordinator, an ID Unit, a uniformed guard force, the Marine Security Guard Detachment, and bodyguards".

According to a Khartoum diplomatic Cable, the U.S. embassy team that included Lisenbee, worked on establishing a U.S. platform in Darfur for Aid and "other purposes" including buying influence and "project USG policy and political influence into this conflict zone that threatens regional stability":

"During January 10-12, a USG team travelled to Nyala and El Fasher, Darfur. The team consisted of RSO Chuck Lisenbee, USAID's Chief of Overseas Management Services Beth Salamanca, USAID Sudan Construction Manager Bill Cherry, and USAID/OFDA Sudan Country Representative Sureka Khandagle. The primary purpose of this visit was to develop a plan that would immediately move forward the development/construction of a USG Darfur platform. The team assessed current USAID and Embassy facilities, identified an interim facility in El Fasher for further review and development, and identified land in El Fasher suitable for a more robust, long-term platform. Following this assessment, the country team received a briefing on next steps. ¶4. On January 14, the USAID Mission Director, OFDA Country Representative and USAID EXO met with the DCM, RSO and Management Officer to develop a 90-day plan for moving the Darfur platform forward. The immediate objective of the 90-day plan is to allow (a) consistent oversight and management of USAID's $500 million dollar humanitarian program in Darfur; (b) project USG policy and political influence into this conflict zone that threatens regional stability; and (c) establish a more secure base of operations for further platform development".

Another Lisenbee Cable showed Security Profile Questions on Sudan. Lots of information there, which tells you about the nature of his work, but I found this bit interesting:

"D. Are the intelligence services professional and capable of deterring terrorist actions? Yes, The Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Southern Sudan is made up of 90% Southerners and 10% Northerners. It is the only post-CPA institution in the South and coordinates border control efforts with other related security agencies in the South with NISS efforts in the North. Particular effort is exerted on following Somali extremists into Sudan and their activities in the South. E. Have the intelligence services been cooperative with U.S. Embassy requests for information and support? Yes, NISS has reached out to the USG for support in its efforts to monitor borders and has offered up information on extremist activities upon request. F. Assuming there have been significant terrorist threats in recent years, have host country security services been able to score any major anti-terrorism successes? Yes, but this information is sensitive and compartmented"
(Sensitive and compartmented? Now, we know what that means: "Check back with Langley. Best, Chuck").

Lisenbee's work on Hezbollah goes way before his Lebanon posting. In Khartoum, where he was giving assessments of local security capabilities and its cooperation, Lisenbee provided information on Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad activity in Sudan. Notice this bit: "Hizbollah: There may be Hizbollah fundraising and support activities in Sudan, but we have no knowledge of operational activities"

A similar Lisenbee Cable provides details about anti-American demonstrations in Sudan.

In this cable, he has an email address and phone numbers, I wonder whether they still work. In another cable, Lisenbee deals with a phone threat to the U.S. embassy in Khartoum. Very interesting read there.

Chuck Lisenbee was stationed in Tanzania, where there was no mention of him. Remember in 1998, the U.S. embassy was bombed, and I figure he served there in the aftermath. According to a Peace Corp Volunteer who lived in Tanzania during Chuck Lisenbee's service there, the latter had a "crazy American-style house" and that it contained "strange electronic gadgets". This friend of Chuck posted a gallery of photos about his trips to Tanzania, we do not have permission to publish them, but our favourites are him killing a chicken and his two friends messing with Lesenbee's equipment (remote controls, electronic gadgets).

Below is a photo of two American volunteers at Lisenbee's Tanzania's house, they're playing with his gadgets:

(This post will be constantly updated as soon as we have more information).

Here is a third episode of our CIA in Lebanon series:

And a Fourth one on Lisenbee:


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