Monday, May 23, 2011

Truthout - Unasked Questions

It's a strange feeling to come across an article that mentions yourself.

Jeffrey Kaye of Truthout has written a detailed overview of the recent report from the Deputy Inspector General for Intelligence of the Department of Defense, Report: Intelligence Unit Told Before 9/11 to Stop Tracking Bin Laden. The report stems from a whistleblower complaint that alleged that "...the Joint Forces Intelligence Command had not disclosed all material to the 9/11 Commission." It is very fortunate that Jeffrey Kaye took an active interest in the report as my interest was not so much its findings rather I was much more interested in learning about the work of Capt. Kirk von Ackermann USAF at Joint Forces Intelligence Command (JFIC).

At the end of Kaye's article he quotes a statement I made here on this blog:

Dow noted the [Inspector General] report's conclusion: "The analysis completed by the Joint Forces Intelligence Command, specifically the Asymmetric Threat Division, was not applicable to the questions asked by the 9/11 Commission."

"Which leads me to believe the 9/11 Commission did not ask the correct questions," Dow said.

Now, I fully admit, I have a bias. I see things as they relate to what I have learned of Kirk von Ackermann. So, one 'correct question' that immediately jumps to my mind - a question that the 9/11 Commission apparently did not ask the Asymmetric Threat Division - is this:
Did the Asymmetric Threat Division at any time prepare readiness excercises that involved the use of commercial aircraft as weapons? If yes: a. what were the predicted targets and b. who was that information disseminated to?
Because 'readiness exercises' were one of the things that Kirk von Ackermann was doing while at the Joint Forces Intelligence Command. And yes. Commercial aircraft used as weapons by flying them fully fueled in to buildings - like the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the White House - was one of the scenarios that he predicted.

Cold Case File

For the past 7+ years, I've been researching and writing about the disappearance of Kirk von Ackermann as well as the murder of his colleague Ryan Manelick. I remain dis-satisfied with CID findings to date, first and foremost starting with the assumption that Kirk von Ackermann actually disappeared from where his vehicle was found. To arrive at such a conclusion - as tempting as it may be - requires suspending all logic. (See: The Bridge Theory and Missing Contractor: Military Mechanics May Hold the Keys)

I'd just like to see CID re-open the case and look at all of the evidence in chronological order with fresh eyes. Suspect everyone, spare no one from investigation - including the military personnel who first reported finding his abandoned vehicle.


Report: Intelligence Unit Told Before 9/11 to Stop Tracking Bin Laden
By Jeffrey Kaye, Truthout, May 23, 2011

DoD Inspector General: Intel Agency Ordered to Stop Pre-9/11 Tracking of Bin Laden - author discussion and commentary of the Truthout article
By Jeff Kaye, FireDogLake, May 24, 2011

Review of Joint Forces Intelligence Command Response to 9/11 Commission PDF
Deputy Inspector General for Intelligence
Department of Defense
September 23, 2008

Counter Terrorism and JFIC
By Susie Dow, Missing Man, May 6, 2011

Counter Terrorism and Kirk von Ackermann
By Susie Dow, Missing Man, October 8, 2006

Getting to Iraq part two: Counter Terrorism
By Megan von Ackermann, Missing in Iraq, March 24, 2006
After Y2K, Kirk became more and more consumed by the counter-terrorism world. He was read into higher and higher clearances, learned more and more about the largest threats to the US and her allies. Specifically he became deeply aware of Osama Bin Ladin and his organization.

Kirk was involved with designing readiness excercises - scenarios to be used by various units as they tested their skills. He proposed that a small boat filled with explosives be used as a weapon against a large warship - and was told it was an unrealistic idea. This was, of course, well prior to the USS Cole attack.

He also, along with his team, not only suggested that a commercial jet could be used as a terrorist weapon, but predicted the most likely targets that would be chosen. Again, he was ignored, and sometimes laughed at.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dead Contractors

For those who follow issues regarding overseas contractors, there's a new in-depth report on casualties and contingency contracting just published. A draft is available for reading. For the initiated, it's mostly familiar territory.

Dead Contractors (click the download link for PDF)
The Unexamined Effect of Surrogates on the Public's Casualty Sensitivity
By Steven L. Schooner & Colin D. Swan
Journal of National Security Law & Policy, forthcoming 2011
It's nice to see casualty data and a request for an honest debate on the role of contractors in US military operations all in one place. But given politics at home over the last ten years, an open and honest debate is unlikely to occur.

There's only a passing mention to missing personnel in some footnotes.

Defense Base Act Case Summary - page 48

My cynicism says nothing will change until the oxes are gored of those who wage war from behind their desk chairs .

Friday, May 06, 2011

Counter Terrorism and JFIC

I stumbled upon a fascinating report today, Review of Joint Forces Intelligence Command Response to 9/11 Commission.

According to Secrecy News Volume 2010 Issue No. 18 of March 9, 2010, the review was only recently declassified. Also see this March 5, 2010 cover letter to the original November 4, 2008 FOIA request from the Department of Defense Inspector General.

Page 9 - Objective

(U) The objective was to determine whether the JFIC [Joint Forces Intelligence Command]  misled Congress by willfully withholding operational information in response to the 9/11 Commission.
The review notes and confirms that JFIC was never identified in the 9/11 Commission Report.

At first glance, it might seem that this review has little relationship to this blog. But there, smack dab in the middle of the review, are members of the Joint Forces Intelligence Command that former USAF Capt. Kirk von Ackermann once associated with.

So with all of the news coverage about the death of Osama bin Laden, I thought now would be a good time to look at what is known about von Ackermann's previous work in counter terrorism while serving in the US Air Force.  While a general overview of anecdotes can be found here: Counter Terrorism and Kirk von Ackermann, what I'm after are the specifics - who, what, when.

So let's start with the photos and try to peel this apart.

Capt. Kirk von Ackermann received a Joint Forces Intelligence Command (JFIC) Commendation Medal from CAPT Santez on April 26, 2000. Two personnel, the Head and Deputy Head of the Asymmetric Threat Division at JFIC during this same time period (Spring 2000), are identified on page 18 of the review. Additional personnel are also identified within the review, but it's not clear they were with JFIC during the specified time period.

Capt. Kirk von Ackermann also received a Certificate of Appreciation from CAPT J. M. Dundas, US Navy of the JFIC on March 20, 2000. 'CAPT Janice Dundas USN' is identified by name as the commander of the JFIC on page 20 of the review.

Excerpts from the Review of Joint Force Intelligence Command Response to 9/11 Commission are quoted below. I've highlighted additional details of interest. It's not much, but it gives just a little more insight into the world of counter terrorism that Kirk von Ackermann was once working within.

Review of Joint Forces Intelligence Command Response to 9/11 Commission
Report No. 2008-INTEL-15
Inspector General United States Department of Defense
September 23, 2008

Page 5 - Executive Summary - Background

(U) The Joint Forces Intelligence Command was established in 1999 and was subordinate to the United States Joint Forces Command. The mission of the Joint Forces Intelligence Command was "to provide general and direct intelligence support to United States Joint Forces Command, United States Joint Forces Command staff directorates, subordinate unified commands, joint task forces, Service component commands and subordinate joint forces commands tasked with executing United States Forces Command geographic or functional missions." In 1999, the Joint Forces Intelligence Command created the Asymmetric Threat Division to take a non-traditional approach to analysis. The Asymmetric Threat Division provided current intelligence briefings and produced Worlwide Terrorist Threat Summary in support of the Intelligence Director for the United States Joint Forces Command. The Asymmetric Threat Division also provided support to the Joint Task Force-Civil Support. The Joint Task Force-Civil Support assisted civil authorities with disaster assistance.
According to his wife's blog, Capt. von Ackermann headed up the Y2K task force - which places him at JFIC prior to January 2000 - as well as attended some White House intelligence briefings. She was under the impression he had analyzed the threat of the weaponization of small pox as well as proposed unorthodox methods of attacking United States interests. Small pox - a biological weapon - is an important detail.

Page 6
The analysis completed by the Joint Forces Intelligence Command, specifically the Asymmetric Threat Division, was not applicable to the questions asked by the 9/11 Commission.
Which leads me to believe the 9/11 Commission did not ask the correct questions. Anyway...back to the review.

Appendix B. (U) Scanned JFIC Response:

Page 17 - Request
Please provide a list of the officers within your agency that are principally responsible for counter-terrorism activities on a day-to-day basis and identify the heads and deputy heads of these offices and their dates of service from 1995 to present. (Note: we are not asking for everyone in supervisory chain of such officials). If the individuals occupying these positions are current employees of your agency, please indicate this.
Page 18 - Response
Nov 1999-Summer 2001: Asymmetric Threat Division, Division Head MAJ Oliver Wright III (USA) still at JFIC, Deputy John Rodriguez (NCIS) now at DIA.
Von Ackermann was receiving accolades from the JFIC in the Spring of 2000. His participation on the Y2K task force makes clear he was already serving at JFIC at the very latest by December of 1999.

Appendix C. (U) Scanned USJFCOM Response:

Page 20
Subject: Congressional Inquiry into 11 September 2001 Terrorist Attack (U)

(U) JFIC did not track in-CONUS foreign threat or terrorist information prior to 11 Sep 01, so its answers to Mr. Snider's questions are mostly negative. The answers are attached to this email; they have been reviewed by CAPT Janice Dundas USN, JFIC Commander.

Maj. John A. Robinson, USAF
As mentioned, CAPT J. M. Dundas signed a letter on JFIC letterhead dated March 20, 2000, attached to a Certificate of Appreciation issued to Capt. von Ackermann.

Page 30
Appended below are the Joint Force Intelligence Command's replies to the Congressional Inquiry questions tasked by VADM Wilson. JFIC POC is CDR Mike Villareal. JFIC ADJ. DSN 836-7168 JFCOM/J2 POC is Maj. John Robinson. JFCOM/J237, DSN 836-6006
It's unclear if any of the above three men served at JFIC during the same time as Capt. von Ackermann.

Page 31 - Question
What does your agency consider its marching orders both past (since 1985) and present, in terms of its responsibilities in the counter-terrorism arena, ie. what documents establish your requirements and priorities? Please identify these by title and set them aside for review by the staff of the joint inquiry.
Page 32 - Response
b. Fall 1999-Sep 11, 2001: Focus on Asymmetric Threats OCONUS to include terrorism and CBRN [Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear threats] issues. As Joint Force Provider, emphasis was on force protection for JFCOM Components and support to JTF-CS (Joint Task Force-Civil Support). JFCOM J2 and JTF-CS PIRs set the requirements.
And that's where it becomes crystal clear that Capt. von Ackermann - the counter terrorism officer - was assigned to the Asymmetric Threat Division cited earlier in the review. As 'Asymmetric Threats' included terrorism and biological threats - there's the link to the weaponization of small pox mentioned above.

Some statements from the JFCOM website from the Spring of 2000:

US Joint Forces Command
11: New Name, Future Focus
In October 1999, the name of Atlantic Command changed to United States Joint Forces Command to emphasize the command's role leading transformation of U.S. military forces

Still one of five geographic combatant unified commands, U.S. Joint Forces Command formally took on a more functional role with the new name. It is the only unified command with both a geographic area and functional responsibilities.

Joint Forces Command gained a functional mandate to lead transformation of U.S. military joint warfighting into the 21st Century. The command's geographical responsibility was modified to more closely align with existing NATO Allied Command Atlantic's (ACLANT) area of responsibility -- both a long history of cooperation with European Allies and recent history in Central Europe indicate future military operations will not only be joint, but also combined national efforts.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Vision 2020 [Ed note: this document was released May 20, 2000] projects that conflicts of the future will go to the side with the right technology, applied at the right time with the right warrior. Re-designation reflected the command's commitment to experimentation with new warfighting concepts and technologies that answer the call in the Joint Chiefs vision.

Concurrently the command was charged to answer another national call to support terrorist response operations in the continental U.S. Joint Forces Command created the first domestic Joint Task Force, JTF-Civil Support, to provide military assistance to civil authorities, like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and FBI, for consequence management of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) incidents in the United States.
A news article from the time period describes the Joint Vision 2020 report mentioned above. Two paragraphs stand out.

Joint Vision 2020 Emphasizes Full-spectrum Dominance
By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service, June 2, 2000
Adversaries will probably not challenge U.S. strengths, but seek to attack the United States and its interests through "asymmetric means." They could identify vulnerable areas and devise means to attack them.

"The potential of such asymmetric approaches is perhaps the most serious danger the United States faces in the immediate future - - and this danger includes long-range ballistic missiles and other direct threats to U.S. citizens and territory," the report says. 
Prior to going to Iraq, counter terrorism was the world in which Kirk von Ackermann was immersed. How can anyone honestly think he then forgot all of his training and experience, jumped into an unfamiliar SUV in Iraq, drove 180 miles - much of it on an isolated road - alone - with a bad tire.

Such reasoning defies logic.


Review of Joint Forces Intelligence Command Response to 9/11 Commission PDF
Deputy Inspector General for Intelligence
Department of Defense
September 23, 2008