US employed ex-Nazis to develop interrogation methods

Allen DullesBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
The United States relied on the assistance of dozens of German scientists to develop invasive interrogation techniques targeting the Soviet Union in the early years of the Cold War, according to a new book on the subject. The book, entitled Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America, by American journalist Annie Jacobsen, is to be published this week. Operation PAPERCLIP was initially set up during World War II by the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Its aim was to recruit scientists that had previously been employed by the German Third Reich, with the primary goal of denying German scientific expertise to the USSR. Hundreds of former Nazi scientists were brought to the US under secret military research contracts during the second half of the 1940s. Eventually, the recruited scientists were used to augment an entire array of American government-sponsored endeavors, including the space program and several intelligence collection techniques. Jacobsen’s book details Operation BLUEBIRD, a program run by the CIA under PAPERCLIP, which employed former Nazi biological weapons experts, chemists and medical doctors. The latter were tasked with employing lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known as LSD, in order to involuntary extort confessions from Soviet intelligence targets. In several cases, the hallucination-inducing chemical substance was dispensed on Soviet captives, who were also subjected to hypnosis and other methods of psychological manipulation. According to the book, the techniques were developed under the primary supervision of Dr. Walter Schreiber, Germany’s Surgeon General during the Third Reich. Schreiber helped the OSS set up an experimentation facility at Camp King, a CIA site located near Frankfurt in the American sector of Allied-occupied Germany. Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #711 (ex-spy edition)

Glenn L. CarleBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Egypt ex-spy chief to run for President. Omar Suleiman, 74, announced his candidacy on Friday and collected around 72,000 signatures of eligible voters in one day, more than twice the 30,000 required. Hosni Mubarak’s former intelligence chief insisted that his bid for the presidency does not have the support of Egypt’s military rulers and accused Islamists of sending him death threats. Mr Suleiman, made vice-president by Mubarak in the last days of his three-decade rule, symbolizes that era’s tough security regime and poses a threat to Islamists, who were routinely harassed and arrested during Mubarak’s era, and to liberals, who spearheaded Mubarak’s ouster. But his candidacy might appeal to some Egyptians hoping for an end to political instability.
►►Ex-CIA officer says evidence in alleged case was flawed. Information from the US Central Intelligence Agency used by Canada to link accused Ottawa terrorist Mohamed Harkat to al-Qaeda was untrue, according to Glenn Carle, a retired CIA case officer who interrogated Harkat at secret CIA black site prisons in 2002. Speaking to promote his blistering memoir about the case, The Interrogator: An Education, Carle said that Harkat, who was thought to be Osama bin Laden’s main financial administrator, “wasn’t the senior member of al-Qaeda that we had assessed. He wasn’t even a member of al-Qaeda”. Yet as recently as 2010, Canadian Security Intelligence Service evidence and testimony before the Federal Court of Canada continued to point to Harkat’s relationship with Haji Pacha Wazir as evidence of Harkat’s ties to the bin Laden terror network.
►►Ex-KGB agent wins South Ossetia vote. Former senior KGB agent Leonid Tibilov has won a tense run-off to lead Georgia’s rebel pro-Russian region of South Ossetia, after two earlier polls ended in turmoil. Tibilov won 54.12 percent of the vote with all ballots counted against human rights commissioner David Sanakoyev’s 42.65 percent. The peaceful end to the election contrasts sharply with the angry protests that followed a November 27 ballot in which Alla Dzhioyeva, a female candidate who opposed the local administration was disqualified after coming out ahead in the poll. Dzhioyeva was then hospitalized in February after being interrogated and allegedly beaten by police following allegations that she planned to seize power.

News you may have missed #581

Jin Yinan

Jin Yinan

►►CIA wants to censor book by ex-FBI agent. The agent, Ali H. Soufan, argues in the book that the CIA missed a chance to derail the 9/11 plot by withholding from the FBI information about two future 9/11 hijackers living in San Diego. He also says that torture interrogation methods against terrorism detainees were unnecessary and, ultimately, counterproductive. Both these things are known and have been publicly discussed. As The Independent correctly notes, the CIA’s objections are “less for national security reasons than out of a desire to avoid re-airing incidents that show the Agency in an unflattering light”.
►►New scandal at India’s SIGINT agency. The Indian government founded the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) in 2004, as a potential communications nerve center for all of India’s intelligence agencies. But the SIGINT agency has been involved in one financial scandal after the other, most recently relating to an elaborate procurement scam.
►►China silent about spy lecture leak. China has remained quiet as a recently leaked video of a Chinese general’s candid remarks on sensitive spying cases continued to draw international attention. The ministries of defense and foreign affairs have not responded to media inquiries, and numerous phone calls to National Defense University, where the general, Jin Yinan (pictured), teaches, went unanswered. State media made no mention of the story.

News you may have missed #557 (‘CIA getting away with stuff’ edition)

CIA HQ

CIA HQ

►►Judge dismisses CIA mind-control lawsuit. A court has dismissed a federal lawsuit against the CIA by the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) for allegedly subjecting US military personnel to chemical, biological and mind control experiments from 1953 until 1976. According to the presiding judge, the veterans can’t sue the CIA because they can’t prove they took “secrecy oaths” administered by the Agency. But the lawsuit continues to apply against the US Department of Defense and other government entities and individuals.
►►Judge absolves CIA for destroying torture tapes. In 2007, the US Justice Department began an investigation into the destruction by the CIA of videotapes, which reportedly showed acts of torture committed during interrogations of terrorism detainees. It concluded that the CIA destroyed the tapes on purpose, after it was instructed to deliver them to the DoJ for examination. But, in a move that hardly surprised observers, a judge on Monday ruled that the CIA did not act in contempt when it destroyed videotapes.
►►Norway quietly drops US spy activities investigation. Back in November of 2010, Norway, Sweden and Denmark launched official investigations into media reports that accused US embassies in their countries of operating illegal intelligence-gathering networks. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #533

María del Pilar Hurtado

María Hurtado

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The government of Colombia will –finally– officially request from Panama the extradition of Maria Pilar Hurtado, former director of Colombia’s disgraced DAS intelligence agency, who was granted political asylum in the Central American country last year. The Colombian government has been contemplating this move for some time, as the investigation into illegal activities by the DAS is progressing extremely slowly. In Iran, the government says that it plans to try dozens of American intelligence officials in absentia. The announcement has raised the possibility that Tehran may out US spies which the Iranians claim attempted to recruit locals as part of a sophisticated intelligence-gathering operation. One former CIA operative, Glenn Carle, voluntarily came out a few years ago, following retirement, and made news headlines last month, in connection with alleged CIA spying on American academic Juan Cole. Carle, who worked for the CIA for 23 years, in Africa, the Balkans and Latin America, among other locales, has written a book. It focuses on a several-month period he spent questioning a suspected leader of al-Qaeda. The interrogations took place in two countries, which he says he is not permitted to name.

News you may have missed #510 (bin Laden edition)

  • Europe says US slow in sharing bin Laden intel. European security officials have lots of questions about the intelligence being analyzed from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, but so far they have seen very little of it, they say.
  • Did Pakistani official lead US to bin Laden? There are rumors in Pakistan that the CIA was tipped off about the location of bin Laden’s hideout from a walk-in informant at the US Embassy in Islamabad.
  • CIA interrogates bin Laden’s wives. US intelligence officials have interrogated the three wives of Osama Bin Laden who were left behind in his compound after Navy Seals shot dead the al-Qaeda leader. The women, Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada, of Yemen, and Khairiah Sabar and Siham Sabar, both of Saudi Arabia, were apparently “hostile” and uncooperative during the interrogations

News you may have missed #324 (CIA edition)

  • Intelligence not hampered by waterboarding ban, says CIA’s top spy. Michael Sulick, head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, told a student audience last week that the spy agency has seen no fall-off in intelligence since waterboarding was banned by the Obama administration.
  • CIA given details of British Muslim students. Personal information concerning the private lives of almost 1,000 British Muslim university students is to be shared with US intelligence agencies. IntelNews has frequently reported on the CIA’s increased activities in the UK.
  • CIA death at Salt Pit gets fresh attention. Jeff Stein revisits the case of Gul Rahman, who died in 2002 after weeks of interrogations at the Salt Pit secret CIA facility in Afghanistan. His death was kept off the CIA books, and his body, which was secretly buried, has never been found.

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News you may have missed #310

  • Analysis: Outsourcing Intelligence. David Ignatius points out that the latest rogue operation of the US Defense Department, revealed last weekend by The New York Times, points to the increasing irrelevance of the CIA in the so-called “global war on terrorism”: “by using contractors who operate ‘outside the wire’ in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the [US] military has gotten information that is sometimes better than what the CIA is offering”, says Ignatius.
  • White House threatens veto on intelligence bill. The White House has renewed its threat to veto the fiscal 2010 intelligence authorization bill over a provision that would force the administration to widen the circle of US lawmakers who are informed about covert operations and other sensitive activities.
  • CIA’s Kiriakou authors new book. John Kiriakou, who spent 14 years working for the CIA, and has made headlines in the past for defending the practice of waterboarding in interrogations, while recognizing it is torture, has a new book out, entitled The Reluctant Spy.

News you may have missed #0279

  • Pakistani spy agencies drug political activists. Intelligence agencies in Pakistan are using drugs to extract information from political activists, with the cooperation of doctors on the payroll of the state, according to one of Pakistan’s leading newspapers.
  • Georgia jails alleged Russian spy. Vakhtang Maisaia, a military expert who advised Georgia’s mission to NATO, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for spying for Russia during the 2008 South Ossetia War. Last week, Tsotne Gamsakhurdia, son of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Georgia’s first post-communist president, was formally charged with “collaborating with Russian intelligence services”.

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Released cable reveals CIA decision to destroy torture tapes

CIA HQ

CIA HQ

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The US Justice Department’s investigation into the destruction of videotapes by the CIA, which reportedly showed acts of torture committed during interrogations of terrorism detainees, began in 2007, but has stalled. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is spearheading what appears to be the only organized attempt to discover when and why those tapes were destroyed. Last year the ACLU uncovered that the CIA destroyed the videotapes in question after –not before, as the Agency had originally claimed– a spring 2004 report by the Agency’s inspector general, which described the interrogation methods employed on CIA prisoners as “constitut[ing] cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment”. Thanks to the ACLU, we have also known for quite some time that the decision to destroy the incriminating tapes was taken sometime in November of 2005. But now, with the release of a new batch of documents in response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, we have the exact date that decision was taken: Read more of this post

Is CIA collaborating with Palestinian spy agencies?

West Bank

West Bank

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A British newspaper has alleged that Palestinian security agencies in the West Bank are working with the CIA so closely that CIA officials “consider them as their property”. London-based quality broadsheet The Guardian said that CIA agents routinely advise and supervise the work of the two main security agencies of the Fatah-aligned Palestinian National Authority, namely the General Intelligence service and the Preventive Security Organization. The trouble with this arrangement is that both services have been documented to resort to severe torture of West Bank members of rival Palestinian group Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2006. And the CIA has had more than a little trouble with torture in recent times. So is the CIA guiding overzealous Palestinian National Authority security agents in extracting intelligence by torturing Hamas sympathizers? Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0117

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Did CIA engage in non-consensual human experimentation?

CIA HQ

CIA HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Late last month, I warned that it would take several weeks before journalists, academics, historians, lawyers, and other interested parties comb through the recently declassified report on torture by the CIA inspector general, as well as several other newly available documents pertaining to the CIA’s interrogation program. The search continues. Meanwhile, several observers are focusing on the CIA’s Office of Medical Services, as well as on Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) a secretive US Army unit, whose work appears to have informed the CIA’s torture program. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0084

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CIA loses turf war as new US interrogation unit is unveiled

CIA HQ

CIA HQ

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The CIA appears to have been stripped of its senior role in America’s post-9/11 interrogation program, as the Obama Administration announced this week the creation of a new interrogation unit. The new High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) will be an elite interagency squad, which will report to the National Security Council and answer directly to the White House. But, according to several insiders, the unit will be housed at the FBI, and not the CIA. The two agencies have been fighting a bitter turf war after 9/11. Officials at Langley view this development as a severe blow to the Agency, which the Bush Administration had tasked with overseeing America’s post 9/11 interrogation program. Read more of this post

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