News you may have missed #868

Jonathan PollardBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
►►Honduras suspends eight consuls in US. Honduras has suspended eight of its 10 consuls in the US, days after local media alleged that the consuls had issued illegal papers in exchange of payments of up to $50. The consulates affected are in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans and New York. The case came to light after a group representing Hondurans living in the US said a number of consulates were issuing “consular IDs” —documents that bear the crest and flag of Honduras, but which are not officially recognized forms of identification.
►►Al-Qaeda’s expulsion of Syrian group prompts US debate. The Obama administration is engaged in a debate on whether a law giving the president authority to attack al-Qaeda affiliates still applies to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), after al-Qaeda’s recent decision to sever ties with the group. Current and former US intelligence officials said last week’s expulsion marked the first time al-Qaeda had ejected a group that had formally joined its fold, a potentially risky move at a time when the terrorist network’s affiliates have largely eclipsed the core group in strength and relevance.
►►Ex CIA head says anti-Semitism likely in Pollard case. Former CIA Director James Woolsey says anti-Semitism could be a factor in the US refusal to release Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish American jailed for spying for Israel. Wolsey has long advocated for releasing Pollard who was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 for spying on the United States. “I certainly don’t think that it is universally true, but in the case of some American individuals, I think there is anti-Semitism at work here”, Woolsey said.

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White House reinstalls visas for 2009 Honduran coup plotters

Manuel Zelaya

Manuel Zelaya

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On June 26, 2009, a clandestine meeting of the Honduran Supreme Court issued a secret warrant for the arrest of the country’s democratically elected President, Manuel Zelaya. Less than 48 hours later, in the early hours of June 28, uniformed officers of the Honduran Army stormed the Presidential Palace in Tegucigalpa and arrested Zelaya. Shortly afterwards, the deposed President was placed on a plane and sent into enforced exile. It was the first coup d’état in the Central American country since 1978, and the first in Latin America in several years. The US administration of President Barack Obama almost immediately condemned the coup and halted American military aid to Honduras; but it failed to officially designate Zelaya’s ouster as a ‘military coup’, which would have required Washington to outlaw and terminate nearly all forms of government —and some private— aid to Honduras. In August, after several weeks of heavy criticism from Latin American governments, the Obama White House proceeded to “temporarily suspend” non-immigrant visas for over 1,000 Honduran military and civilian leaders, who had endorsed President Zelaya’s unconstitutional ouster. Many of whom had participated in the first post-coup government of former Speaker of the Honduran Congress, Roberto Micheletti. But a news report by the Associated Press suggests that Washington may now be quietly reinstating visas to Micheletti government officials, and that some of them are already travelling to and from the United States. The article quotes a “US embassy spokesperson”, who “spoke on condition of anonymity”, as saying that “the Department of State has determined that some of the Hondurans whose eligibility for visas was restricted following the June 2009 coup d’etat are again eligible to be considered for visas”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0232

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Russia claims discovery of secret US-Georgia armaments channel

The PAC-3

The PAC-3

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Several Russian newspapers carried lead articles yesterday, describing the alleged discovery of a secret Washington-led project of supplying the Republic of Georgia with $100 million-worth of US weapons supplies. The articles cited “anonymous Russian intelligence sources” in claiming that the US is in the process of secretly providing Georgia with, among other things, a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) advanced surface-to-air guided missile air defense system. If true, the allegations could raise eyebrows in Congress, as the PAC-3 cannot legally be exported by the US government without explicit Congressional authorization. But Russian media report that, according to secret documents acquired by Russian military intelligence, the US government plans to circumvent Congressional scrutiny by delivering the weapons to Georgia through a private exporter, Barrington Alliance Inc., headquartered in Chicago, of which little is known. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0137

  • Colombian paramilitaries active in Honduras. United Nations human rights officials have voiced concern at reports that right-wing paramilitaries from the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia are active in Honduras following the military coup. Last September it was revealed that the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia also participated in the planning of the failed 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela.
  • Lawsuit probes US government spying on GTMO attorneys. In Wilner v. National Security Agency, the Washington DC-based Center for Constitutional Rights argued on Friday that the US government must disclose whether it has records related to wiretapping of Guantánamo attorney conversations without a warrant.
  • France arrests CERN worker with alleged al-Qaeda links. France has arrested a researcher at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) for suspected links with the al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (al-Qaeda’s North African wing). CERN, Europe’s particle physics lab, is known for a particle collider that aims to recreate conditions of the Big Bang.

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News you may have missed #0011

  • Honduran coup a blow for Latin American leftist alliance. The Honduran coup is seen as a “regional test” for Washington’s post-Bush influence in Latin America, as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appears to be losing a political ally with the military ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. Interestingly, Zelaya took control of foreign-owned oil storage terminals in Honduras in 2007, thus effectively sidelining the traditional control of Honduran oil imports by Exxon Mobil and Chevron. 
  • Bulgaria chief spy’s car raided by thieves. The thieves apparently knew the car belonged to Petko Sertov, director of Bulgaria’s State National Security Agency (DANS), “since they managed to unlock it with a special key”. Note that the car was equipped with specially authorized fake license plates designed to prevent identification of the car’s owner. 
  • FBI refuses to reveal contents of wiretap gag order. The FBI had been ordered by a US federal court to justify the gag order it had placed on the telecommunication service provider (TSP) of “John Doe” in the Doe v. Holder. The FBI has now cooperated by justifying the gag order, but it’s done so in secret, because it maintains that revealing the TSP’s identity would result in various harms.

Comment: Negroponte Carries US Message to India, Pakistan

In early December, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited India and Pakistan to spearhead Washington’s handling of the two countries’ response to the Mumbai attacks. Now the State Department has appointed Deputy Secretary John Negroponte to oversee the situation. The US government-affiliated Voice of America network reports that Negroponte’s main mission during his trip to India and Pakistan is “to advise [...] political leaders on improving the[ir] intelligence agencies”. Now, Negroponte does many things, but “advising” is not one of them. Read more of this post

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