Shhhhhh! JSOC is Hiring Interrogators and Covert Operatives for 'Special Access Programs'

Published on
by
The Nation

Shhhhhh! JSOC is Hiring Interrogators and Covert Operatives for 'Special Access Programs'

by
Jeremy Scahill

The US military's most elite counter-terrorism force, the Joint
Special Operations Command (JSOC), prides itself on the secrecy of its
operations. JSOC runs classified, compartmentalized task forces in
Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa and elsewhere around the
world. It has operated secret prisons and detention sites globally and
is the premiere organization tasked with killing or capturing
individuals deemed by the president to be threats to the national
security of the United States. It maintains a "hit list" of people
targeted for kill or capture, including Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen living in Yemen. While there has been an uptick in media focus
on the possibility of a widening CIA role in Yemen, JSOC has been
operating in Yemen for years, where its operatives have carried out a
variety of operations, including unilateral direct actions—in other
words, they have bumped people off.

That has become abundantly clear is that the Obama administration has
taken the Bush-era doctrine of the world as a battlefield and run with
it. US special forces are now operating in seventy-five countries
across the globe—up from sixty under Bush—and special operations
sources say Obama is a major fan of the work of JSOC and other special
operations forces.

Over the past few days, the ultra-secretive JSOC has publicly posted
several jobs listings that open a small window into the type of work
JSOC is performing under the Obama administration. Perhaps the most
interesting revelations are those that confirm JSOC's ongoing
interrogation program and its own counterintelligence operations in
Washington, DC. The jobs also indicate that the individuals will be
working on Special Access Programs (SAPs), which are black-budget black
operations, which in some cases involve what are essentially
assassinations. Former CIA operative Bob Baer said
recently that SAPs allow "for the military, under Title 10…to
assassinate. So, essentially, the military in what is called battlefield
preparation can go into a country like Yemen we‘re not at war with, and
assassinate leaders in al Qaeda or related groups. And this is
Pandora‘s box. Once you open it, where else do you go?  I mean, do you
it in Thailand? Do you do it in Morocco?"

Seeing highly sensitive job descriptions on public job sites has
stunned some special operations forces veterans. "This kind of
advertising is new under the Obama administration," says a US military
source who has worked on SAPs and with JSOC. "Under the Bush
administration, we certainly were not advertising at USAJobs for these
types of positions. It blows my mind to see 'help wanted' ads for SAPs
and special reconaisance programs."

A job listing posted on USAJobs August 12
for an "Intelligence Specialist (Operations)" requires a Top Secret
security clearance and is based out of JSOC headquarters at Fort Bragg,
North Carolina. It says that the job entails "planning, coordinating,
and executing highly specialized, mission critical Interrogation,
Exploitation, and Detainee related requirements for JCS-directed
operations and contingency plans. Employee develops plans and strategies
in support of complex tactical mission requirements. Coordinates and
conducts mission essential training, as well as evaluating the execution
of detention, interrogation, and exploitation operations. Responsible
for all aspects of Interrogation, Exploitation and Detainee support
during exercises, training, and operational deployments. Serves as a DOD
certified interrogator, conducting interrogations and debriefings in
support of military operations."

The job "Requires extensive travel (30% of the time), both CONUS
[Continental United States] and OCONUS [Outside the Continental United
States], on very short notice. Anthrax vaccination will be required.
Frequent extended duty with long hours under high pressure with
generally high-risk job responsibilities." It says that the job will be
"performed under austere and potentially hazardous conditions during
exercise and deployment operations. May be required to deploy into areas
in which hostile action may occur." The job requires a "TOP
SECRET/Single Scope Background Investigation (TS/SSBI), with access to
Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) and selected Special Access
Programs."

Another job listing,
posted August 24 has the awesome title of "Future Operations
Specialist." The job is described as a "staff action officer and advisor
on plans, policies and operations related to sensitive activities (SA)
and special access programs."

A third job listing,
posted August 25, is for a JSOC counter-intelligence specialist in
Washington, DC. The job entails responsibility "for highly specialized
HUMINT, Area Intelligence and Signature Reduction (SR)requirements for
compartmented projects/plans. Conducts specialized, multi-disciplined
threat assessments." The individual will perform "CI duties as necessary
and utilizes Counterintelligence badge and Credentials to validate
status."

In June, sources working with US special operations forces told The Nation
that the Obama administration's expansion of special forces activities
globally has been authorized under a classified order dating back to the
Bush administration. Originally signed in early 2004 by then–Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, it is known as the “AQN ExOrd," or Al Qaeda
Network Execute Order. The AQN ExOrd was intended to cut through
bureaucratic and legal processes, allowing US special forces to move
into denied areas or countries beyond the official battle zones of Iraq
and Afghanistan.

"The ExOrd spells out that we reserve the right to unilaterally act
against Al Qaeda and its affiliates anywhere in the world that they
operate," said one special forces source. The current mindset in the
White House, he said, is that "the Pentagon is already empowered to do
these things, so let JSOC off the leash. And that's what this White
House has done." He added: "JSOC has been more empowered more under this
administration than any other in recent history. No question."

The AQN ExOrd was drafted in 2003, primarily by the Special
Operations Command and the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense
for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict and was promoted by
neoconservative officials such as former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone
as a justification for special forces operating covertly—and
lethally—across the globe. Part of the order provides for what a source
called "hot pursuit," similar to how some state police are permitted to
cross borders into another state to pursue a suspect. "That's
essentially what they have where they're chasing someone in Somalia and
he moves over into Ethiopia or Eritrea, you can go after him," says the
source.

"The Obama administration took the 2003 order and went above and
beyond," said the special forces source. "The world is the battlefield,
we've returned to that," he adds, referring to the Obama
administration's strategy. "We were moving away from it for a little
bit, but Cambone's 'preparing the battlefield' is still alive and well.
It's embraced by this administration."

Perhaps the public ads for highly-sensitive positions are just part of Preparing the Battlefield 2.0.

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