Analysis: Is an obscure US military unit replacing the CIA?

An obscure US military unit established in 1980 is gaining prominence in America’s “war on terrorism” and may be slowly replacing the Central Intelligence Agency’s functions, according to a well-researched piece in The Atlantic magazine.  The US Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) was created soon after the fiasco of the attempted rescue of the hostages held at the US embassy in Tehran.

Since 9/11, the unit has emerged from its relative obscurity to join the forefront of America’s so-called “global war on terrorism”. Gathering evidence from a variety of sources investigating the use of paramilitary operations in America’s post-9/11 wars, Max Fisher argues that, even under the Obama Administration, JSOC may in fact be “taking on greater responsibility, especially in areas traditionally covered by the CIA”

He quotes Spencer Ackerman, who argues that JSOC’s current leadership is “playing a large […] role in shaping the Obama administration’s Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy”.

Apparently nobody is quite sure who JSOC currently reports to, and there are rumors that the unit operates on a more-or-less “carte blanche” basis (“[if] you need to do it, do it”). Perhaps more importantly, there are reports that, unlike most CIA operations, JSOC activities are not subjected to Congressional oversight.


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