WASHINGTON - The much-feared Central Intelligence Agency is planning to maintain a large and secretive presence inside both Iraq and Afghanistan long after American troops leave those nations, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
In Iraq, where most US troops have already left, the massive CIA presence in Baghdad has been re-purposed. Once focused chiefly on tackling Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgents, the American spies are now “monitoring developments in the increasingly antagonistic government.”
In many ways thing have come full circle for the CIA, which had a presence on the ground spying on the Saddam Hussein regime before the 2003 US invasion. Now, having spent the last eight years helping the military prop up the Nurul Maliki government, the agency again finds itself there spying.
In Afghanistan, the expectation is much the same as with Iraq, only more so. The deployment will be even bigger, characterised by more aggressive operations and constant drone strikes. The Post, citing US officials, said that the CIA’s stations in Kabul and Baghdad will probably remain the agency’s largest overseas outposts for years, even if they shrink from record staffing levels set at the height of American involvement in those nations. As a result, the CIA station in Kabul - which at one point had responsibility for as many as 1,000 agency employees in Afghanistan - is expected to expand its collaboration with Special Operations forces.