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In November 1982, US Representative Charlie Wilson (D-TX) travels to Islamabad, Pakistan, and meets with President Muhammad Zia ul-Haq. He promises Zia to deliver a crucial weapons system that has so far been denied by the US—the latest radar systems for Pakistan’s F-16 fighter planes. Wilson also meets with CIA Station Chief Howard Hart, who is in charge of providing support for the Afghan resistance to the Soviets. He urges Hart to expand the program and stresses that vast amounts of money can be made available. (Crile 2003, pp. 106-129) The next month, President Zia comes to the US to meet with President Reagan. Zia first meets with Wilson in Houston and expresses his gratitude for helping Pakistan acquire F-16 radar systems (see November-December 1982). Wilson then broaches the subject of Pakistan secretly purchasing arms from Israel for the Afghan War. Zia agrees to this in principle. (Crile 2003, pp. 131-132)
President George Bush issues a presidential directive establishing an interagency group to consider whether it “would best serve the nation” to give the Pentagon complete control over the CIA’s elite paramilitary units. (Associated Press 11/22/2004; Jehl 11/23/2004; Hersh 1/24/2005 Sources: unnamed pentagon consultant) The units carry out the government’s most sensitive covert operations including “training rebel forces; destabilizing governments and organizations through violence; and directly attacking enemy targets and individuals.” (Associated Press 11/22/2004) CIA paramilitary activities are conducted under presidential directives called “findings.” (Jehl 11/23/2004) The panel will consist of representatives from the State and Justice Departments, the Pentagon, and the CIA. Critics of the proposal, including veteran members of special operations branches, note that CIA units operate “under a different set of findings and carry different legal protections than the military, in particular for cases in which they are ordered to conduct the most extreme clandestine operations,” the New York Times reports. Other critics say the move, which is based on a recommendation by the 911 Commission, is part of a Pentagon strategy to wrest control of covert operations from the CIA. Thomas W. O’Connell, the assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict, denies this, telling the New York Times, “I have heard it said that there is a conspiracy within the Department of Defense to go and rip off the agency’s capabilities, and I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.” (Jehl 11/23/2004) Apparently in February 2005 the decision is made not to give control of the CIA’s units to the Pentagon (see February 4, 2005).
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