News you may have missed #840

John KiriakouBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►S. Korea prosecutors might seek ex-spy chief’s arrest. Prosecutors said Monday they will decide sometime this week whether to seek an arrest warrant against Won Sei-hoon, who headed South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) for about four years until early this year. He is suspected of ordering agents to post a slew of politically sensitive comments on the Internet in order to sway public opinion in favor of the ruling party candidate prior to the December 19 national election. Won, who headed the NIS under former President Lee Myung-bak, has been barred from leaving the country pending investigation.
►►CIA self-described whistleblower writes about life in prison. In 2012, former CIA officer John Kiriakou pleaded guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. In January of this year, he was sentenced to 30 months in a low security prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania. In a letter released by his lawyer, Kiriakou describes his day-to-day life behind bars, from his own tiny cell to an almost anthropological study of the lunchroom and the relatively rare prison fights.
►►Comment: End the spy budget secrecy in Israel. Since the establishment of the Israeli state, the security establishment has enjoyed confidentiality with regard to the details of its budget, justified by the need to keep secrets from enemy intelligence services. This lack of transparency has impaired public scrutiny of security expenditure, which represents a large chunk of the Israeli economy. When the watchful eye is distant, the temptation is great to inflate job slots, exaggerate salary increments and hike up pension conditions.

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News you may have missed #674

John KiriakouBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Ex-CIA officers blast Kiriakou. Two former CIA intelligence officials, who spoke to The Washington Times, have rejected the image of John Kiriakou as a high-minded whistleblower who sought to expose official wrongdoing or a botched intelligence operation. Bruce Klingner, who worked as an analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA, called Mr. Kiriakou’s alleged actions “a betrayal of the trust the US government placed in him”. Bart Bechtel, a former CIA clandestine officer, said he considered Kiriakou’s actions “egregious”.
►►US air strikes in Yemen go largely unreported. Last Tuesday’s attacks in southern Yemen were among the biggest carried out by the United States in Yemen since airstrikes began there in November 2002. These strikes underline how the Americans are escalating covert operations against two Islamist groups in the region –al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia’s al-Shabaab.
►►West explores prospects for Assad’s exile. The United States, European governments and Arab states have begun discussing the possibility of exile for Bashar al-Assad despite skepticism the defiant Syrian president is ready to consider such an offer, Western officials said on Wednesday. While talks have not progressed far and there is no real sense that Assad’s fall is imminent, one official said as many as three countries were willing to take him as a way to bring an end to Syria’s bloody 10-month-old crisis.

News you may have missed #673

John KiriakouBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Canada arrest shows spy times have changed in Russia. There are aspects of the spy case of Canadian Sub-Lt. Jeffery Delisle that differ substantially from spy cases dating back to Cold War espionage waged by the now-defunct Soviet system. As a sign of changing times, the Russian media has acknowledged Delisle was allegedly spying for them —something that would never be admitted in Soviet times when the KGB and GRU were in ascendency.
►►US court upholds S. Korean ex-spy’s asylum ruling. Kim Ki-sam, who left South Korea’s state spy agency in 2000, applied for asylum in the US in 2003, saying he would face persecution and prosecution if he was forced to return to South Korea because he had revealed information about secret operations to help then-President Kim Dae-jung win the Nobel Peace Prize. A US court has now upheld a 2008 ruling to grant him political asylum.
►►Kiriakou’s wife resigns from CIA. Heather Kiriakou, who has served as a top analyst at the Agency, resigned Tuesday amid accounts that she had been pressured to step down after her husband —John Kiriakou, a former agency employee— was charged with leaking classified information to the press. Two sources in direct contact with the Kiriakous told The Washington Post that Heather had submitted her resignation under pressure from superiors at the CIA.

Ex-CIA officer John Kiriakou’s indictment made simple

John KiriakouBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On Monday, the United States Department of Justice charged former Central Intelligence Agency officer John Kiriakou with leaking classified government information to reporters and deceiving a CIA review board. An FBI press release accused Kiriakou of repeatedly providing secrets to journalists between 2007 and 2009, and said the former CIA officer would be tried under the Espionage and the Intelligence Identities Protection Acts. The latter forbids the disclosure of the identities of undercover intelligence personnel, which is precisely what Kiriakou is accused of having done. An American of Greek descent, Kiriakou joined the CIA in 1990 and did tours in Greece, Pakistan, and elsewhere, before retiring in 2004. While in Pakistan he commanded the CIA team that helped capture senior al-Qaeda logistician Abu Zubaydah. In 2010 he published a memoir titled The Reluctant Spy.  Two years earlier, Kiriakou had made international headlines by becoming the first US intelligence official to publicly acknowledge that a terrorism suspect —in this case Zubaydah— had indeed been waterboarded while in CIA custody. Speaking on ABC News, the former CIA officer recognized that waterboarding was torture, but said it was “necessary” in the “war on terrorism”. In subsequent interviews, however, he questioned whether any actionable intelligence had been extracted from waterboarding, and opined that torturing terrorism detainees “caused more damage to [America’s] national prestige than was worth it”. Kiriakou’s skepticism, at a time when the incoming President, Barack Obama, publicly condemned waterboarding as torture, worried the CIA. Eventually, the Obama Administration backed down on its public proclamations about torture, and ruled out criminal prosecutions of CIA personnel. But he Agency didn’t forget Kiriakou’s role. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #351

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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.

Comment: Blackwater’s role in CIA ops runs deep

Blackwater/Xe HQ

Blackwater/Xe

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
North Carolina-based military and intelligence contractor Xe had a major role in the CIA’s rumored post-9/11 assassination program and is active today in the Agency’s Predator drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The New York Times and The Washington Post cited “government officials and current and former [Xe] employees” in revealing that the CIA worked briefly with Xe –formerly known as Blackwater– in the context of a top-secret program to locate and murder senior al-Qaeda leaders. According to The Washington Post, Blackwater’s role in the operation was far from consultative, and included “operational responsibility for targeting terrorist commanders [and awards worth] millions of dollars for training and weaponry”.  The New York Times alleges that Blackwater’s central role in the operation was “a major reason” in CIA director Leon Panetta’s decision last June to inform Congress about the program, which CIA had kept hidden from Congressional oversight for seven years. Read more of this post

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