News you may have missed #724

Shakil AfridiBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Aid group denies link to US intelligence in Pakistan. Aid group Save the Children denied accusations it has ties to US intelligence agencies in Pakistan. The organization’s denial came shortly after Dr. Shakil Afridi, a doctor the CIA recruited to help in the search for Osama bin Laden, told Pakistani interrogators that Save the Children played a role in his becoming involved with the CIA. Following Afridi’s interrogation, the Pakistani government banned some Save the Children members from leaving the country and aid supplies –including medical supplies– have been blocked by customs.
►►Is MI6 double spy’s case linked with Gareth Williams’ death? In 2010, British authorities jailed for a year MI6 employee Daniel Houghton, after he was caught trying to sell classified documents to MI5 spooks posing as foreign agents. According to newspaper The Daily Mirror, British police are now “probing a possible link between the Houghton’s case and the death of MI6 employee Gareth Williams, who was found dead in his London apartment in 2010. According to the paper, police detectives “want assurances from MI6 that Williams’ details [and] identity were not compromised” by Houghton.
►►Fears of spying hinder US license for China Mobile. China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile provider, applied in October for a license from the Federal Communications Commission to provide service between China and the United States and to build facilities on American soil. But officials from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department’s National Security Division are concerned that the move would give the company access to physical infrastructure and Internet traffic that might allow China to spy more easily on the US government and steal intellectual property from American companies. This is according to The Los Angeles Times, which cites “people familiar with the process who declined to be identified because the deliberations are secret”. US officials and lawmakers have expressed similar concerns about a Chinese telecommunications hardware manufacturer Huawei Technologies, which is alleged to have contacts with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Ministry of State Security.

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Analysis: Biometric passports, iris scanners, worry undercover spooks

Biometric passportBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
False passports are to intelligence operatives what petrol is to automobiles. In the absence of forged travel documentation, intelligence officers working undercover are unable to operate internationally without revealing their identity. This is why, traditionally, intelligence operatives are known to “use and discard false passports like hand wipes”, in the words of one knowledgeable source. But according to a fascinating article by veteran intelligence correspondent Jeff Stein, authored for Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog, “the day of the trench-coated spy easily slipping in and out of countries on false papers multiple times [may be] coming to an end”. The reason is “the electronic curtain [that] is descending all over the world”, most notably the increasing deployment of iris recognition devices and biometric passports at airports and hotels around the world, says Stein. Over the coming decade, iris scanners, which employ mathematical pattern-recognition techniques to identify individuals by their irides, will become increasingly common at international airports. The same applies to biometric passports, namely travel documents with embedded microchips that store a massive amount of personal information. These technologies are ostensibly being introduced in international transport hubs in order to combat transnational terrorism and organized crime. But they are also expected to heavily interfere with the work of undercover intelligence operatives, says Stein, especially as they are being introduced in popular spy routes, in countries such as India, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, as well as in several European Union entry points. He quotes an unnamed “career spook” currently working for the Central Intelligence Agency as a consultant, who explains that an undercover officer’s biometric identity will be forever linked to the passport that he or she first uses to enter these countries. If the officer were to try to enter these countries again, using a different alias, alarm bells will ring: “you can’t show up again under a different name with the same data”, says the CIA consultant. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #604 (CIA edition)

Raymond Allen Davis

Raymond Davis

►►Aid agency leaves Pakistan following CIA vaccination scheme. Fears that a fake CIA vaccination scheme, created to hunt Osama bin Laden, has compromised the operations of aid agencies in Pakistan have intensified, after it emerged that Save the Children, a major NGO, was forced to evacuate its staff following warnings about their security.
►►CIA contractor arrested in car park brawl. A CIA contractor Raymond Davis, who was freed by Pakistani authorities after the families of two men he killed in a shootout agreed to accept more than $2.34 million in blood money, has been arrested after a brawl over a car parking space, according to police in the US state of Colorado.
►►Judge approves secret evidence for CIA leak trial. A federal judge has ruled that prosecutors pursuing a leak case against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling may use a controversial procedure known as the “silent witness rule” to present evidence to the jury that will not be seen by the public. Sterling is accused of leaking CIA secrets to New York Times journalist James Risen.

News you may have missed #551

Salva Kiir Mayardit

Salva Kiir

►►Analysis: The fallout from the CIA’s vaccination ploy in Pakistan. We wrote earlier this month that not everyone is amused by news that the CIA tried to collect DNA evidence on Osama bin Laden by running a phony vaccination program in Pakistan. In an editorial published in The Washington Post on July 15, two American public health professionals argued that the CIA’s DNA-collection operation “destroyed credibility that wasn’t its to erode” and “burned bridges that took years for health workers to build”. The issue is developing into a very interesting case study in intelligence ethics, as two new articles on the subject were published this week. One is by Jack C. Chow formerly US ambassador on global HIV/AIDS and ex-assistant director-general of the World Health Organization on HIV/AIDS. The other, by Slate magazine columnist Tom Scocca, argues that the the CIA vaccination scheme “reveals the moral bankruptcy of American spooks”.
►►South Sudan dissolves intelligence and security bodies. The president of the newly established Republic of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, has issued an order dissolving the country’s national security and intelligence organs. There are at least two intelligence agencies in existence in the new nation, both of which were illegally formed in 2006, before South Sudan’s independence.
►►China warns US to halt spy plane flights. China has demanded that the United States stops spy plane flights near the Chinese coast, saying they have “severely harmed” trust between the two countries, state-run media reported Wednesday. The warning comes a month after two Chinese fighter jets chased an American U-2 reconnaissance plane into Taiwanese airspace.

News you may have missed #543 (CIA edition)

John Rizzo

John Rizzo

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Ex-CIA officer warns of Israeli attack on Iran. Few in the CIA are more knowledgeable about Shiite politics than Robert Baer, a veteran of the Agency’s National Clandestine Service, who spent over 20 years in the Middle East, notably in Lebanon. Last weekend, Baer spoke to Los Angeles radio station KPFK, and said that “[t]here is almost near certainty [in Israel] that Netanyahu is planning an attack [on Iran] and it will probably be in September before the vote on a Palestinian state. And he’s also hoping to draw the United States into the conflict”. Baer is not alone in issuing such warnings in recent months. Former Mossad director Meir Dagan has been echoing Baer’s concerns. ►►Campaigners seek arrest of ex-CIA legal chief. We have written before about John A. Rizzo, the CIA’s former Acting General Counsel, who has been termed “the most influential career lawyer in CIA history”. Some readers may remember that Rizzo retired hurriedly from his post in 2009, amidst fears that he could get in trouble for acting as what some observers termed “a legal enabler” of the CIA torture practices under the George W. Bush administration. Now a group of human rights campaigners in Britain and Pakistan are seeking Rizzo’s arrest for his role in justifying the CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, the legality of which is often questioned by experts. The CIA has refused to comment on the campaign to indict Rizzo. ►►Analysis: The fallout from the CIA’s vaccination ploy in Pakistan. We wrote on Monday that not everyone is amused by news that the CIA tried to collect DNA evidence on Osama bin Laden by running a phony vaccination program in Pakistan. Read more of this post

Some underreported WikiLeaks revelations

WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
There is little point in recapping here the bulk of disclosures contained in the ongoing WikiLeaks revelations. The news sphere is jam-packed with them —and perhaps this is the real story in the WikiLeaks revelations, namely the fact that espionage and intelligence issues have near-monopolized the global news cycle for the first time since the post-Watergate Congressional investigations of the 1970s. But it is worth pointing out a handful of news stories on the WikiLeaks revelations that have arguably not received the media coverage that they deserve. Undoubtedly the most underreported disclosure concerns a 2007 meeting between US officials and Meir Dagan, the then Director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency. During the meeting, Dagan apparently “presented US with five-step program to perform a coup in Iran“.  But there are other underreported disclosures. Take for instance the revelation that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally authorized US diplomats to engage in all-out and indiscriminate spying on senior United Nations officials. Although there is nothing here that will surprise seasoned intelligence observers, the breadth of intelligence collection that US diplomats are instructed to engage in (which includes collecting credit card numbers and biometric data of UN officials) is astonishing and certainly unprecedented. Moreover, it should be noted that many senior UN officials are in fact American, which leads to the intriguing question of whether US diplomats are routinely required to engage in intelligence collection against American UN officials. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0291 (al-Mabhouh assassination edition #2)

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New spy tech agency developing advanced biometrics systems

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which was developed by the US Pentagon in 1958, following the shock caused by the successful launch of Soviet satellite Sputnik, is well known. What is much less well known is the corresponding agency for the US intelligence community: IARPA. Its initials stand for Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, and its mission is to work under the Director of National Intelligence to create hi-tech applications for America’s intelligence agencies. Established quietly in 2007, IARPA is currently located at the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL), but is projected to move to a new facility at the University’s College Park before the end of 2009. Read more of this post

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