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CIA Training Intelligence Agents for “State Sponsor of Terrorism” Sudan

The government of Sudan has been miffed that it cannot get off of the U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism. It could be because of the history of arbitrary arrests, killings and torture by the administration of Sudan President Omar Al Bashir, as documented in a recent report by Amnesty International. Or it could be because the Sudanese government is widely reported to back the Jangaweed militia attacks against citizens of Darfur, a campaign that has killed over 300,000 people and displaced approximately three million more. Or perhaps it is Sudan’s political support (and possibly military aid) to Hamas, foe of the U.S., the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority? In any case, the Obama administration has not seen fit to take Sudan off their list of bad guy countries.

So what is one to make of Jeff Stein’s report today at his Spy Talk blog at the Washington Post that the CIA has been training and equipping Sudan’s notorious National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS)?

“The U.S. government is training the Sudanese intelligence services and conducting bilateral operations with them — all in the name of the long war,” said a former intelligence officer who served in Sudan….

Another knowledgeable former U.S. intelligence official said the CIA-NISS partnership began even earlier, in the Clinton administration, and called it "incredibly valuable."

While Erik Prince and his Blackwater Worldwide company is being fined for ignoring sanctions against Sudan and trying to "secure lucrative defense business in Southern Sudan," the central government in Khartoum is having its security forces — one the most brutal in the Arab world — trained by the CIA.

According to Stein, U.S. officials maintain the operations are limited to counterterrorism. But one wonders how the NISS separates out such training from its general operations of domestic oppression. Earlier this year, NISS arrested six doctors, members of the Doctors Strike Committee, and tortured at least two, before releasing them after being held without charges for almost a month. As recently as June 27, NISS agents were reported to be roaming "hospitals in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, ensuring that the doctors had returned to work."

According to a report by Amnesty International, referenced by Stein in his article, NISS seems to have it in for doctors.

Ahmed Ali Mohamed Osman, a doctor also known as Ahmed Sardop, was arrested by the NISS on March 20, 2009 in Khartoum after criticizing rapes in the Darfur region and the government’s decision to expel humanitarian organizations from Sudan….

"They leaned me over a chair and held me by my arms and feet while others hit me on the back, legs and arms with something similar to an electrical cable," he told Amnesty International. "They kicked me in the testicles repeatedly while they talked about the report on rape in Darfur."

Ahmed Sardop filed a complaint with the police and was examined by a doctor who confirmed his allegations of torture. A few days later, he started receiving telephone death threats: "We will soon find you and we will kill you." He now lives in exile.

But it isn’t only doctors, as NISS has targeted journalists, human rights activists, and students. The agents of the NISS operate in an atmosphere of near-impunity, as they "have immunity for all the violations they commit, under the 2010 National Security Act."

Anyone who believes the NISS agents trained by the CIA limit their indelicate actions to "take-downs" of "terrorists" in Sudan knows very little about the omnipresent operations of security forces such as NISS, or the Mukhabarat in Egypt and Jordan, in this part of the world. This kind of training and involvement with some of the world’s more notorious secret police is the real face of U.S. foreign policy, more so than the aid programs that other portions of the government may provide in various countries. (It’s worth noting here, too, that the Palestinian Authority has received training for its security forces from the CIA.) Whatever aid is provided, the U.S. ensures the rule of governments with domestic terror regimes. Along with U.S. support for the forceable suppression of Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, and its campaign of wide-spread assassination throughout the region, this is the actual cause for hatred and attacks against the United States.

Apropos of the U.S. policy of widespread assassinations, today the ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights have filed a lawsuit "challenging the government’s asserted authority to carry out ‘targeted killings’ of U.S. citizens located far from any armed conflict zone."

The groups charge that targeting individuals for execution who are suspected of terrorism but have not been convicted or even charged – without oversight, judicial process or disclosed standards for placement on kill lists – also poses the risk that the government will erroneously target the wrong people. In recent years, the U.S. government has detained many men as terrorists, only for courts or the government itself to discover later that the evidence was wrong or unreliable.

A major change in U.S. policy must involve a significant change in the world-view of the U.S. populace, and a wholesale transformation of its political representatives, who remain meekly subservient to whatever military or intelligence policy that the White House demands, no matter how seemingly contradictory or self-defeating, or how costly to those in other countries who suffer under the police rule of their respective states.

For more information on the ACLU/CCR joint lawsuit, visit visit: and

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Jeff Kaye

Jeff Kaye

Jeffrey Kaye is a retired psychologist who has worked professionally with torture victims and asylum applicants. Active in the anti-torture movement since 2006, he has his own blog, Invictus, previously wrote regularly for Firedoglake’s The Dissenter, as well as at The Guardian, Truthout, Alternet, and The Public Record. He is the author of Cover-Up at Guantanamo, a new book examining declassified files on treatment of prisoners at the Guantanamo detention camp.