Cofer Black

Torture Connection: 
"The gloves come off."
  • Born 1950, Stamford, CT
  • High school at Canterbury prep school, college at University of Southern California
  • Master's of International Relations, USC, 1974.
  • Joined CIA clandestine service in 1974, served 6 foreign tours, mostly in Africa.
  • CIA station chief in Khartoum, Sudan, 1993-94, when bin Laden was there. Helped capture Carlos the Jackal.
  • Director of CIA's Counter-terrorism Center (CTC), 1999-2001
  • After 9/11, "led the hunt" for Osama bin Laden, including at Tora Bora.
  • State Department ambassador-at-large for Counterterrorism, 2002-04
  • Vice-chairman, Blackwater USA, 2005-present
  • Principal, 2006-present, Complete Intelligence Solutions, a Blackwater spin-off providing security data and services for the private sector
  • Advised Romney presidential campaign on national security issues, 2007-08.

Cofer Black's role in the United States torture regime was threefold: he ran well-funded secret operations throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan as a CIA warlord; he oversaw our country's early development and implementation of "enhanced interrogation" techniques, renditions, black sites, and disappearances around the world; and he privatized murderous violence with Blackwater USA and other corporate ventures.

Joseph Cofer Black fails at stopping Al Qaeda

Prior to assuming these top-level responsibilities, Black worked under James Pavitt as the CIA official in charge of countering terrorist threats, notably bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Obviously, he failed at this assignment, and was later recommended for possible disciplinary action for refusing to notify the FBI prior to 9/11 that several of bin Laden's henchmen were known to have entered the U.S. He defends his failure as stemming from underfunding and overbureaucratization, obstacles that melted away after 9/11, when, as he notoriously told the 9/11 commision, "the gloves come off."

Black wages secret CIA war "jointly" with public military war, fails again at nabbing bin Laden

Black's proposal for ungloving the CIA, which was approved by George Bush and CIA director George Tenet in a Memorandum of Understanding soon after 9/11, called for Black to lead a private, secret war in Afghanistan against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. He asked his agents to bring him the heads of al Qaida men "on sticks," and insisted publicly that they could only be stopped when "flies are walking on their eyeballs." Among Black's warlord-like responsibilities was "jointness"--cooperation with military officials to extend military operations into extralegal savagery, as when interrogating prisoners inside storage crates at Bagram Air Force Base near Kabul or hunting down bin Laden at Tora Bora. When Cofer Black later blamed the military for the Tora Bora fiasco--planting his accusations via a "deep background" story in the Washington Post--Donald Rumsfeld had him fired.

Black implements SERE tortures, disappearances, renditions, Black Sites

Cofer Black systematized torture by enlisting psychologists Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell in a program to adapt SERE techniques--tortures used by Cold War-era regimes to elicit false confessions for propaganda--for detainee interrogation. Techniques eventually perfected at Guantanamo were evident early on in Black's Afghanistan. He also used CIA resources around the world to conduct disappearances and torturous interrogations at secret Black Sites, and he made liberal use of the practice of rendition, turning prisoners over to foreign governments willing to torture them.

Black privatizes murder and torture and brings it into Republican politics

After being forced out of government, Black's adventures in torture and thuggery continued in the private sector. He helped lead Blackwater USA, a company accused of killing dozens of Iraqi civilians in association with taxpayer-funded security contracts. The company he founded with Blackwater money in 2006, Total Intelligence Solutions, extends his work beyond war zones to domestic venues, providing corporate security on the home front for American corporate leaders who seek information about and protection from enemies of all kinds. Republican presidentical candidate Mitt Romney sought out Black's services and counsel, naming him a national security adviser and attributing to him the notion that waterboarding should not publicly be labeled torture and doing so would hurt America.