CIA bankrolling Afghan government officials ‘on a vast scale’

AfghanistanBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has delivered “tens of millions of dollars [in] off-the-books cash” to Afghanistan’s governing elite, but there is little evidence that such bribes have helped promote Washington’s interests in the country, according to a new exposé published over the weekend in The New York Times. The paper cites “current and former advisers to the Afghan leader” Hamid Karzai, who allege that, for over a decade, the CIA has secretly delivered to the presidential palace in Afghan capital Kabul monthly payments ranging “from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars”. According to Khalil Roman, who was President Karzai’s Chief of Staff for four years until 2005, Afghan officials called the CIA funds “ghost money” because “it came in secret [and] left in secret”. The article suggests that the cash given to the Afghan government appears to be handled outside the CIA’s standard financial assistance programs, which are typically subject to restrictions and oversight from administrators both inside and outside the Agency. Some American officials, who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity, said the CIA’s goal in funding the inner circle of the Afghan government is to maintain access to its members and to “guarantee the Agency’s influence at the presidential palace”. But there is little evidence that the funds, which are handled exclusively by a “small clique at [Afghanistan’s] National Security Council” have bought the CIA the political influence it seeks. Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #550

Sukhoi-27 jets

Sukhoi-27 jets

►►Chinese fighters chased US spy plane into Taiwan. It has been revealed that, late last June, The Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense sent two F-16 fighters to intercept a two Chinese Sukhoi-27 jets that crossed into its airspace, while pursuing an American U-2 reconnaissance plane. It was the first time that Chinese jets breached Taiwan’s airspace since 1999. The Pentagon declined to confirm the report, but some in Washington must have had flashbacks of the 2001 Hainan Island incident.
►►Israel arrests four of its soldiers for sabotaging spy gear. This story is interesting on numerous levels: according to a statement by the IDF’s Northern Command, Israeli military authorities plan to prosecute four Israeli female soldiers for repeatedly shutting off unspecified surveillance equipment designed to collect intelligence from neighboring Lebanon. When faced with the accusations, the soldiers apparently told their commanders that “they worked under very difficult conditions and couldn’t bear the pressure”.
►►Turkish national convicted for spying in Ukraine. Ukrainian prosecutors say Read more of this post

News you may have missed #421 (‘not news’ edition)

  • Not news: Senior Afghan officials on CIA payroll. The New York Times‘ Mark Mazzetti and Dexter Filkins are right to air this story, but the real news here is the media industry’s collective gasp of fake shock and horror. Really?
  • Not news: Pentagon breached by foreign hacker. US Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn has disclosed that an undisclosed foreign spy agency carried out a serious cyberattack on US military networks with the help of a tainted flash drive that was inserted into a laptop in the Middle East. Ah, the old memory-stick gift trick
  • Not news: Sex-obsessed coverage of Russian espionage continues. Russian and US media keep avoiding serious analysis of post-Cold-War Russian intelligence operations by focusing on Anna Chapman. This is no surprise, since pursuing the real story behind Russian deep-cover espionage in the United States takes hard work.>response to Le Carre’s comments.

Did Blackwater bribe Iraqi officials after 2007 shooting?

Blackwater logo

Blackwater logo

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The US-based private security company Blackwater is under investigation by the US State Department, which suspects the corporation of having bribed Iraqi officials, in order to gain permission to continue to operate in Iraq, after the 2007 Nisour Square massacre. The company’s license to operate in Iraq was revoked by the Iraqi government on September 17, 2007, a day after trigger-happy Blackwater guards indiscriminately opened fire in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, killing 17 civilians, including women and children. But information obtained by The New York Times shows that the company hired well-connected Iraqi lawyers, and may have tried to buy off Iraqi lawmakers, in order to regain the right to operate on Iraqi soil. Read more of this post

Leaked MI5 report sees China as ‘most significant’ spy threat

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A restricted MI5 report describes China as Britain’s most serious espionage threat, and says British business executives are increasingly targeted by Chinese intelligence operatives. The 14-page document was authored by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, a unit of MI5, Britain’s primary counterintelligence and security agency. In it, the intelligence agencies of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, as well as the Ministry of State Security, are identified as leaders in a massive targeting of British corporate executives who regularly make business trips to China. The report warns that most of the hotel rooms where they stay are “likely to be bugged”, that they are regularly “searched while the occupants are out of the[ir] room[s]”, and that hotels are frequented by Chinese female intelligence agents, looking “to exploit vulnerabilities such as sexual relationships and illegal activities”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0160

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Venezuela announces arrest of Colombian “spies”

Francisco Arias Cardenas

Cardenas

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The government of Venezuela announced yesterday the arrest of an undisclosed number of Colombian intelligence agents, who were allegedly “captured carrying out actions of espionage”. The announcement was made by the Venezuelan deputy foreign minister, Francisco Arias Cardenas, who claimed that the detainees were all members of Colombia’s scandal-prone and soon-to-be-dismantled DAS intelligence agency. Cardenas gave no further details yesterday, but said that the Venezuelan government would “soon produce evidence” to back up its claims. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0057

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News you may have missed #0055

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Comment: Spreading Democracy Involves Routine Bribing

Online pundits appear immensely amused by a recent article in The Washington Post, which reveals that Viagra is among numerous “novel incentives” handed out by CIA officers to Afghan warlords in efforts to “win [them] over” to the American side. The article cites an unnamed CIA agent who confirms that pharmaceutical treatments for erectile dysfunction are occasionally dispensed by the Agency to “aging [Afghan] patriarchs with [several young wives and] slumping libidos”. Unlike most, I find the article’s revelations to be neither novel nor amusing. Read more of this post

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