Thatcher was warned about CIA activities in Britain, files show

Margaret ThatcherBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was warned in 1984 that American intelligence carried out operations in the United Kingdom without London’s consent. Although she dismissed the warnings, she authorized British counterintelligence to investigate the matter. A secret file from the British Foreign Office, which was declassified last month, shows that concerns about alleged American spy activity in the UK were communicated to the Tory Prime Minister by Paddy Ashdown —now Lord Ashdown— a Member of Parliament for Britain’s Liberal Party. In November of 1984, Ashdown notified Thatcher that he was concerned about a series of “clandestine activities” carried out by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) aimed at preventing communist countries from acquiring advanced computer technology developed by companies based in Britain. The written warning stated that CIA operatives had made “clandestine approaches” targetting individuals employed by leading British computer firms, inquiring about technology transfers to the Soviet Bloc. Ashdown added that the American intelligence agency had failed to provide the British government with advance notice of these activities, as was customary between the two allies. In his letter to Thatcher, the Liberal Party MP concluded that, based on his personal investigation into the matter, he was convinced the CIA operation was “still continuing”. The Prime Minister responded to Ashdown with an official letter explaining that there was “no evidence of improper activity by the CIA” or that British espionage laws had been violated by American intelligence personnel. She added that there was “close cooperation” between London and Washington on enforcing multilaterally agreed export controls, which included computer technology, and concluded that saw no need for an inquiry at that time. But London-based newspaper The Guardian, which accessed the declassified files on the case, said that Whitehall ordered the Foreign Office to investigate Ashdown’s allegations. The Foreign Office then tasked the Security Service (MI5) to find out whether the US had broken an agreement between the two countries to refrain from clandestine operations on each other’s territory unless the latter were authorized by both nations. Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #828

Abdullah ÖcalanBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Chinese researcher charged with stealing US drug. Chinese cancer researcher Huajun Zhao, 42, who has been working in the United States since 2006, has been charged with stealing data and an experimental compound from the Medical College of Wisconsin. The federal complaint accuses Zhao of stealing the compound, C-25, which could potentially assist in killing cancer cells without damaging normal cells. An FBI investigation turned up evidence that Zhao hoped to claim credit in China for discovering C-25. He had already claimed on a research website that he had discovered an unnamed compound he hoped to take to China.
Turkish intelligence to ‘oversee PKK retreat’. Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency, MİT, will oversee the withdrawal of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, according to Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Bülent Arınç. Last month, Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the armed Kurdish group that has battled Turkey for 30 years, proclaimed an immediate ceasefire in PKK’s conflict with the Turkish state, which has claimed about 35,000 lives. Speaking on Turkey’s state-run broadcaster, TRT, Arınç said no legislation would be introduced to facilitate the withdrawal, but “certainly MİT will oversee it; security forces will take part in it, too”, he added.
Analysis: Controversial Bush programs continue under Obama. During the George W. Bush years, two of the most controversial elements of what was then called the Global War on Terrorism were the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation (RDI) program and the creation of the prison camps at Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo Bay and the RDI program are both back in the news now, each for their own unsavory reasons. The Pentagon is requesting nearly $200 million for Guantanamo Bay infrastructure upgrades, including $49 million for a new unit for ‘special’ prisoners. Meanwhile, participation in the CIA’s controversial RDI program has resulted —for at least one person— not in prosecution or professional sanctions, but rather in a promotion.

Are Kremlin’s spies targeting Russian scientists with foreign links?

Igor SutyaginBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Back in November, we reported on the case of Valentin Danilov, a Russian physicist who spent nearly a decade in prison, allegedly for spying on his country on behalf of China. What is interesting about Danilov is that, even after his release from prison, following a pardon issued by the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin, he fervently maintains his innocence. He is not alone; many Russian scientists and human rights campaigners have argued for years that Danilov should never have been convicted. In some cases, activists accuse the Kremlin of persecuting Danilov for political reasons, namely to reinforce Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “attempts to intimidate academics with ties to other countries”. A well-written analysis by Time magazine’s Simon Shuster argues that Danilov’s story is not unique in Russia. There have been at least a handful of similar cases in the last decade, all involving Russian scientists with links to foreign countries or organizations. Shuster mentions the example of nuclear expert Igor Sutyagin, former division head in the Russian Academy of Sciences’ USA and Canada Institute, who served 11 years of a 15-year sentence for allegedly passing state secrets to a CIA front company. Sutyagin, who now lives in London, United Kingdom, was one of four jailed Russians expelled to the West in exchange for the repatriation of ten Russian illegals captured by the FBI in the summer of 2010. But he maintains he was never a spy, and claims that all of the information he gave to the two Americans who employed him, in return for money, came from open sources. Undoubtedly, observers are free to draw different conclusions about either Danilov or Sutyagin. But the question that Shuster poses is, at a time when virtually no field of scientific research can develop without international collaboration, is Moscow being overly suspicious of its academics, and is this hampering Russian science as a whole? Read more of this post

British spies considered giving Hitler female hormones

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Thanks to the tireless effort of intelligence historians, we now have a brand new revelation from spy archives that can proudly stand alongside the CIA’s acoustic kitty, and the plan to poison Cuban leader Fidel Castro with a chemical that would make his beard fall out. This latest disclosure, however, surely tops the list of lunatic covert-operation schemes. According to newly discovered documents, British intelligence planners seriously considered secretly administering small doses of estrogen into the food of Adolf Hitler, in order “to make his character less aggressive”. According to the documents, British intelligence had managed to recruit a number of agents who were close enough to the German Chancellor to have physical access to his daily meals. It would have been possible, therefore, to tamper with the Nazi leader’s food intake on a routine basis, in an effort to alter his brain chemistry, which, it was hoped, would “soften his character”. The obvious question to ask, of course, is: if British intelligence had access to the Führer’s food, and if his military policies were considered a clear and present strategic threat to Britain’s security, then why not lethally poison him altogether? According to Cardiff University Professor Brian Ford, who discovered the cunning estrogen plan, British intelligence planners knew that Hitler systematically employed food tasters; it would therefore have been close to impossible to employ food poisoning as a method of assassination. Estrogen, on the other hand, is tasteless, odorless, and —if properly dispensed— could have a subtle and gradual effect on Hitler’s brain chemistry and personality. Read more of this post

Iran admits some of its nuclear scientists spied for the West

Ali Akbar Salehi

Ali Akbar Salehi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A top-level Iranian government official has admitted that some scientists and technicians in Iran’s nuclear energy program were successfully lured into spying for Israeli and Western intelligence agencies in the past. The disclosure, which was characterized as “stunning” by the Associated Press, marked the first-ever open admission by the Iranian government that the country’s nuclear energy program has been penetrated by foreign spies. It was made last weekend by Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s Vice President and Director of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization. According to the Iranian government-controlled Fars News Agency, Vice President Salehi told an audience that individual scientists and technicians working in Iran’s nuclear program had used their access to classified relevant information to benefit from “foreign purchases and commercial affairs”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #345

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News you may have missed #341

  • Russian court rejects ‘spy’ scientist’s appeal. A Russian court has rejected an appeal for the release of academic Igor Sutyagin, former division head in the Russian Academy of Sciences’ USA and Canada Institute, who is serving a 15-year sentence for allegedly passing state secrets to foreign officials.
  • Ex-CIA agent’s arrest in VA was eventful, say sources. We reported earlier this week that Andrew M. Warren, the CIA’s Algiers station chief, who is accused of having drugged and raped two Algerian women at his official residence, was arrested at a Norfolk, Virginia motel, after he failed to show up for a court hearing. It now appears that Warren “had a gun in his waistband [...] and officers used a taser to subdue him”.
  • Documents show CIA thought Gary Powers had defected. Declassified documents show the CIA did not believe that Gary Powers, who piloted the U2 spy plane shot down over Russia in 1960, causing the U2 incident, had been shot down. Instead, the agency spread the rumor that Powers “baled out and spent his first night as a defector in a Sverdlovsk nightclub”!

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News you may have missed #307

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Uproar as UK government classifies details of weapon expert’s death

Dr. David Kelly

Dr. David Kelly

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Public speculation over the alleged suicide of UK biological weapons expert Dr. David Kelly is bound to increase, after a senior state official secretly ordered that details of his death be kept secret for 70 years. Dr. Kelly, a British Ministry of Defense scientist, who had been employed by the United Nations as a weapons inspector, caused a major stir by becoming one of the sources of a 2003 BBC report disputing the British government’s claim that Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons at 45 minutes’ notice. He was later called to appear before a Parliamentary committee investigating the government’s claims about Iraq’s purported ‘weapons of mass destruction’. But on July 18, 2003, four days after appearing before the committee, Dr. Kelly’s was found dead at a wooded area near his home. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0246

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News you may have missed #0153

  • More on Nozette’s 2009 mystery trip abroad. The affidavit of Stewart David Nozette, who was arrested last Monday for attempting to sell classified US government information to an undercover FBI agent, reveals that “[o]n or about January 6, 2009, [the scientist] traveled to a different foreign country”, carrying with him two thumb drives, which he failed to bring back with him. Where did he go, and why?
  • Armenia charges former army officer with spying for Azerbaijan. Armenian Army officer Gevorg Airapetian and a “foreign national” were arrested in a “special operation” by Armenian authorities earlier this week, and charged with spying for Azerbaijan. Some suspect Russian involvement, believing the Azerbaijanis to have acted as intermediaries between Airapetian and Moscow.
  • US spy chief Blair calls for spy cooperation. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dennis Blair called Wednesday for a better-coordinated effort within the US intelligence community. But he said nothing about recent reports that intelligence officials shut down a Web-based unclassified e-mail system, which had been heralded as an important step in information sharing between members of the US intelligence community.

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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

News you may have missed #0150

  • Israel’s inside intelligence. If only Israeli security services were as open as the CIA and other US spy agencies, lament Israelis.
  • Nozette and nuclear rocketry. Here are some of the reasons why the case of scientist Stewart D. Nozette, who was arrested and charged earlier this week under the US Espionage Act, is distressing on several levels.
  • Perle calls DoD spying whistleblower “a nutcase”. Richard Perle, chairperson of the US Defense Advisory Board under the Bush administration, has called Sibel Edmonds “a nutcase; certifiable”. Last August, Edmonds, a former FBI translator, alleged that Turkish spies had bugged, blackmailed and bribed US politicians, her FBI unit, the State Department, the Pentagon and Congress.

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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 #0136

  • US Senate panel votes to extend PATRIOT surveillance powers. The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a measure that would leave the controversial surveillance powers of the USA Patriot Act mostly intact.
  • So who was behind GhostNet cyberespionage? Cyber hawks in the West are eager to blame the Chinese government for the huge cyberespionage ring, managed to infiltrate nearly 1,300 mainly government and corporate computers in at least 103 countries, before it was detected last March. This is in contrast to the actual cybersecurity experts themselves, who insist that they still have no idea who was behind it.
  • US Pentagon creates website for access to secret science. The Pentagon’s Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) has announced the creation of a new password-protected portal where authorized users can gain access to restricted scientific and engineering publications.

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