According to reports, the US secret army is killing America's enemies especially in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Press TV has interviewed with Michael Malouf, former Pentagon official, to share his opinion on this issue.
PressTV: This report comes out around the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. How do you think it will be perceived by the American public?
Maloof: Thanks for having me. I think it just reinforces the reality of what Washington now feels in terms of the threat of terrorism but it has not, they feel it has not diminished. The Joint Special Operations Command or JSOC, is a very clandestine operation that goes in on very, very special occasions.
It is a highly elite group and I think that this is an outgrowth of the fact that the current military structure that we have in United States was not capable of dealing with the kinds of asymmetric threats that were seen not only from Afghanistan but Iraq before it. And it is a wholly owned, wholly independent command. It is comprised of some of the most elite special operations forces that the United States has at its disposal.
PressTV: Right now, do these revelations such as the secret prisons, kill commands, elite task force that has been structured to be above the law and etc. surprise you at all or considering the path the war on terror has taken, this was to be expected?
Maloof: It does not personally surprise me because I was aware of it when I was at Pentagon. It is said that it operates independently. It was actually set up out of frustration by Donald Rumsfeld when he was the secretary of defense because of the inability of the CIA to be able to go in, get information that it needed and then be able to carry out the task of trying to eliminate but they regarded this as a threat.
There was an open season in fact between CIA and in the defense department and right after 9/11 or September 11 of 2001 when United States was attacked but it just manifested itself in which this command was created, it developed its own intelligence entities and it actually operates independently of any of the other agencies. It is a wholly owned group that can function by itself and carry out its tasks in terms of renditions and what we have here is not surprising because they would interrogate, they would develop their own intelligence and this meant having to capture and carry on the extent of the renditions that they will undertake, I think it is a little surprising in terms of alleged tortures but torture was not surprising to the American people as we saw in Abu Ghraib and a few other incenses. In fact that Rumsfeld himself felt, actually submitted his resignation right after the Abu Ghraib episode but president Bush refused to accept that.
PressTV: JSOC has been as you pointed out, has been designed as a multi facetted agency. It has its own intelligence division, drones, dedicated satellites and even cyber warriors according to the Washington post. Looking at the way this agency has been structured what does this spell out for international norms and regulations then?
Maloof: Well it assumes that you are at war. It is not supposed to operate under normal circumstances. They are operating allegedly in war zones. For example, that going after Osama Bin Laden. They were called upon actually as a very special element within the JSOC that they were then specially trained to take him out once they had enough intelligence. But they are not a substitute for modern day arm forces at all. And they are meant to be used only under very extraordinary conditions and it does require a finding by the president and I think the article suggest they do not, but any operations like that requires a sign up by the president.
PressTV: But this article also says that JSOC does not need to refer its missions to the Congress. Isn't that an erosion of the American democratic process right there?
Maloof Well that has become a political issue because they did not from the operational stand point because of tremendous leaks that have occurred out of the Congress. I think they have taken care of somewhat by appointing certain senior members of the senate and the house intelligence committees to be advised, to be informed and to be briefed so that to minimize any chance of leakage . And that has always been a very major problem when something is delicate as special operations are concerned. But it continues to be a problem in which CIA also undertakes special operations. And they have had a running feud with the congress on being informed. And I think they have come around to setting up a similar relationship of advising on very special operations. They go on all the time.