News you may have missed #826 (suspicious deaths edition)

Pablo Neruda (right) and Salvador AllendeBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Key suspect in Russian spy murder refuses to cooperate. Andrey Lugovoi, who is now an elected official in Russia, says he will not talk even by video to British investigators about the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in London just over six years ago. The murder of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006, has never been solved and remains the subject of conflicting narratives and still-deepening intrigue over who may have killed him and why.
►►Exhumation of Neruda’s remains set for April. A court in Chile has set April 8 as the date for the exhumation of the remains of the Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, as part of an inquest into his death. The poet and leftwing activist died 12 days after a military coup replaced the socialist President Salvador Allende with General Augusto Pinochet. The poet’s family maintains that he died at 69 of advanced prostate cancer. But in 2011, Chile started investigating allegations by his former driver, Manuel Araya Osorio, that the poet had been poisoned.
►►Venezuela to investigate Chavez murder allegations. Venezuelan officials have said they will set up an inquiry to investigate suspicions that President Hugo Chavez was “murdered by foreign agencies”. Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told the BBC the United States and Israel were to blame for Chavez’s death, and that he had no doubt that Chavez’s death was an act “similar to Yasser Arafat’s“. Earlier this week, the US expelled two Venezuelan diplomats following the expulsion of two American officials from Caracas.

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Venezuela expels US diplomats as Hugo Chávez is pronounced dead

Hugo ChavezBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The government of Venezuela moved yesterday to expel two American diplomats from the country, shortly before officially pronouncing the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. The expulsions are seen by some as attempts to curtail communication between United States officials and the Venezuelan opposition in the aftermath of Chávez’s death. In a speech televised live on Venezuelan television on Tuesday, Vice President Nicolás Maduro said US Air Force attaché Colonel David Delmonaco, who was stationed at the American embassy in Venezuelan capital Caracas, would be expelled. “Mr. David Delmonaco has 24 hours to pick up his belongings and leave this country”, said Maduro, who is widely reputed to succeed Chávez. He added that the American attaché had been engaged in efforts “to destabilize the country”, but did not elaborate on the allegation. Shortly afterwards, Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Elias Jaua told a press conference that a second US Air Force attaché, who remains unnamed, had been declared persona non grata and would be expelled from the country along with Delmonaco. Later on the same day, US government spokesman Colonel Todd Breasseale confirmed the diplomatic expulsions. He told journalists that the US was “aware of the allegations made by Venezuelan Vice President Maduro over state-run television in Caracas”, adding that he was in a position to confirm that “our Air Attache Colonel David Delmonaco, is en route back to the United States”. But the US Department of State said it “completely reject[ed] the Venezuelan government’s claim that the United States is involved in any type of conspiracy to destabilize the Venezuelan government”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #729 (intel blunder edition)

Alleged Venezuelan 'spy crossword'By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►US drones ‘incidentally’ spy on Americans. A leaked US Air Force document stipulates that a drone that happens to capture surveillance images of Americans may store them for a period of 90 days. The paper appears to justify spying on citizens, as long as it is “incidental”. The document accepts that the Air Force may not record information non-consensually; however it does state: “collected imagery may incidentally include US persons or private property without consent”. The report, dated April 23 was discovered by Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists and has been put online.
►►Indian intel blunder sparks anger in Pakistan. India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) intelligence agency sparked outrage in Pakistan and self-deprecatory jokes in India itself last week, after it listed ordinary Pakistani shopkeepers as terrorists on a mission to attack some of India’s landmark institutions. RAW, which is considered India’s premier intelligence agency, issued an advisory to state governments in which it said that five trained militants from Pakistan’s banned Lashkar-e-Taiba group had sneaked into India with fake identities to attack a nuclear facility, oil refinery, seaport and defense academy. Within hours after photographs of the five men were released, a Pakistani television channel reported that two of the three men on the list were shopkeepers and one was a guard, all living in Lahore, and that none of them had ever left Pakistan.
►►Venezuelan spies face criticism over ‘crossword puzzle’ plot. Venezuelan government critics, and even some supporters, are ridiculing a Venezuelan state TV host’s allegation that a newspaper crossword puzzle may have had a hidden call for a plot to kill President Hugo Chavez’s elder brother. Intelligence agents questioned Neptali Segovia, the author of the puzzle, after state TV presenter Miguel Perez Pirela pointed out that Wednesday’s crossword contained the word “ASESINEN”, or kill, intersecting with the name of Chavez’s brother, “ADAN”. He noted they were below the word “RAFAGAS”, meaning either gusts of wind or bursts of gunfire.

More underreported WikiLeaks revelations

Julian Assange

Julian Assange

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
As the world’s media shift their attention to the consequences of the WikiLeaks revelations for its founder Julian Assange, as well as the reactions of American officials, the leaked diplomatic cables keep coming in, almost on an hourly basis. Some of the least noticed revelations include a 2009 dispatch from a US diplomat in Tel Aviv, which appears to confirm the close secret relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, despite the fact that these two countries have no official diplomatic connections. Another diplomatic cable reveals that Iranian intelligence officials approached their Canadian counterparts in 2008 and offered to share with them “information on potential attacks in Afghanistan”. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Canadians reacted guardedly, with Canadian Security Intelligence Service Director Jim Judd stating that his agency had “not figured out what they [the Iranians] are up to”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #328 (breaking)

  • Breaking: Real IRA admits NI MI5 base bomb. The Real IRA has admitted it was behind a car bomb which exploded shortly after midnight local hour, outside the Palace Barracks army base, in Holywood, County Down, which houses MI5′s Northern Ireland headquarters. Police said no warning was given.
  • Venezuela releases 4 of 8 alleged spies. Four of the eight Colombians arrested by Venezuela on espionage charges last week have been released, after a judge found there was not enough evidence to take them to trial. Meanwhile Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez has said that the alleged spy ring used “secret or semi-secret codes”.
  • Analysis: Security services will determine fate of Kyrgyz uprising. Unlike the 2005 so-called Tulip Revolution, this time the anti-government protesters in Kyrgyzstan are armed. But the real question may be whether they have the support of (and control over) the Internal Security Services and the military.

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News you may have missed #0265

  • Plans for motion picture on life of famous Israeli spy. A US production company plans to make a feature motion picture about the life of Israeli spy Eli Cohen, who operated in Damascus in the 1960s until he was executed in 1965. Cohen is known as the greatest Israeli spy of all time. He penetrated Syria’s power hubs and rose through the ranks to become part of the country’s ruling establishment.
  • CIA report ‘a declaration of war’, says Venezuela. President Hugo Chávez said on Wednesday that the latest entry for Venezuela in the CIA World Factbook represents a declaration of war on his country. The CIA publication describes Chávez’s government as an administration that “purports to alleviate social ills while at the same time attacking globalization and undermining regional stability”.

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Venezuelan-Dutch spat over Caribbean islands spying

Antilles

Antilles

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A diplomatic rift between Venezuela and Holland that began three years ago has flared up again, after Caracas accused the Dutch government of helping the US spy on Venezuela. Speaking last week at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez said the US had been granted use of Holland’s Caribbean possessions to spy on Venezuelan communications and to “prepare a possible military attack against his country”. He was referring to Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire, the three Netherlands Antilles islands closest to the Venezuelan coast. The Dutch government has authorized the US military to use civilian airports on the islands, which form a self-governing overseas possession of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Read more of this post

US government agent detained in Cuba for ‘aiding opposition groups’

Development Alternatives Inc. logo

DAI logo

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
American authorities have revealed the arrest in Cuba of a US government worker, who was allegedly supplying telecommunications equipment to opposition groups. The unidentified man, who was reportedly detained in Havana on December 5, is said to work for a Maryland-based international aid group called Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI). This little-known organization works closely with the government-owned United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and last year was awarded a major government contract in “support [of] the rule of law and human rights, political competition and consensus building” in Cuba. There are reports, however, that the contract involved the clandestine supply of laptop computers and cell phones to Cuban groups antagonistic to the government in Havana. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0193

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News you may have missed #0186

  • UN shares intel with Rwandan rebels, says paper. Rwandan daily The New Times has aired allegations that the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) has an intelligence-sharing relationship with Hutu FDLR rebels, which runs “even deeper than earlier thought”.
  • Pakistan militants target spy agency. Militants have stepped up their fight against the Pakistani government in western Pakistan, by ramming a truck bomb into the Peshawar regional office of the Inter-Services Intelligence, the country’s main spy agency. This is the first large-scale specific targeting of intelligence agents in the region, outside of Afghanistan.
  • US bases in Colombia to be used for spying, says Chávez. Venezuela’s President says he does not think that the new US bases will be used for counternarcotics efforts, but rather for “electronic spying”.

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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

FBI targets US nuclear scientist who contacted Venezuelan official

P.L. Mascheroni

P.L. Mascheroni

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A team of FBI agents has raided the house of a former Los Alamos nuclear scientist who has spent two decades criticizing Washington’s nuclear weapons and energy agenda. The agents seized several computers, cameras, cell phones and paper files from the home of Dr. P. Leonardo Mascheroni, a 74-year-old Argentinean-born nuclear scientist who became a US citizen while working at the US Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. After leaving Los Alamos, in 1988, Dr. Mascheroni has campaigned in favor of inertial confinement fusion (commonly known as laser fusion) as a means of producing low-cost energy and of testing nuclear weapons without resorting to underground explosions. Following the FBI raid at his house, Dr. Mascheroni held a press conference where he claimed he was told by the FBI that he was suspected of possible involvement in “nuclear espionage”. Read more of this post

Ex-President Carter says US knew about 2002 Venezuela coup

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Former US President Jimmy Carter has said that the US was aware of plans for a 2002 military-civilian coup against the government of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, and that it may have even provided assistance to the coup plotters. In an interview to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, published yesterday, Carter said there was “no doubt that in 2002 the United States had at the very least full knowledge about the coup, and could even have been directly involved”. The coup attempt took place on April 11, 2002, when President Chávez was illegally detained by the coup plotters, who also dissolved the Venezuelan National Assembly and the Supreme Court, and voided the country’s Constitution. But the move ended in failure 47 hours later, after key sectors of the military and parts of the anti-government opposition refused to side with the coup leaders. Read more of this post

Colombian ex-spy details coup plot against Venezuela

Rafael García

Rafael García

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The former director of information technology at Colombia’s Administrative Department of Security (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad, or DAS) has revealed details of what he claims was a Colombian-assisted coup against the Venezuelan government. Speaking on Colombia’s Noticias Uno television station, former DAS official Rafael García said the Colombian government of Álvaro Uribe was the main supporter of a 2004 attempt to topple the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chávez. García, who was fired from DAS three years ago, after being caught taking bribes from right wing paramilitaries and drug barons, said Colombia recruited 120 Colombian paramilitary members of Northern Bloc, a militia unit of the right-wing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, which operates mostly along the Venezuelan-Colombian border. Read more of this post

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.
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