News you may have missed #607

Shakil Afridi

Shakil Afridi

►►Ex-worker sues US spy agency for anti-Islamic bias. Mahmoud Hegab, a former employee of the super-secretive US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, says he lost his security clearance because his wife attended an Islamic school and worked for a Muslim charity, Alexandria-based Islamic Relief USA.
►►Russia says China still spies the old-fashioned way. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), issued a rare statement last week, claiming it had arrested Tong Shengyong, a Chinese citizen who, posing as a translator for official delegations, was working under the direction of the Chinese government in an attempt to buy state secrets from Russians about Russia’s S-300 missile system. It now says that the Tong case shows that China continues to employ an old standby in the tradecraft playbook: outright bribery.
►►Pakistan panel says doctor who aided CIA should face charges. Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, who ran a vaccination program for the CIA to help track down Osama bin Laden, should be put on trial for high treason, a Paksitani government commission said Thursday.

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News you may have missed #473

  • Cyprus recognizes Palestine as independent nation. The Israeli assessment is that other European Union countries, including Britain, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Denmark, Malta, Luxembourg, Austria and perhaps others are considering a similar move.
  • Top NZ intel scientist had falsified CV. British-born Stephen Wilce was hired as chief of New Zealand’s Defence Technology Agency in 2005, having got top level security clearance. Last year, he had to resign after it emerged that he had made a series of false claims about his past. But the question is how he passed security checks when he applied for the post in 2005.
  • Report uncovers widespread FBI intelligence violations. A new report by the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation has found widespread violations in FBI intelligence investigations from 2001 to 2008. The EFF report suggests that FBI intelligence investigations have compromised the civil liberties of Americans to a greater extent than was previously assumed.

Killer submerged British spy’s body in ‘chemical substance’

Gareth Williams

Gareth Williams

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Investigators are still in the dark about vital clues behind last month’s killing of a British intelligence employee in his London apartment. Detectives say they are still unsure about the exact cause of death of Dr. Gareth Williams, a 31-year-old mathematician employed by General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British government’s communications security and surveillance agency. It has been determined that Williams, who for the past year had been temporarily transferred to MI6, Britain’s external intelligence agency, was not stabbed or shot, and is unlikely to have been strangled by his murderer(s). There are, however, increasing signs that the GCHQ scientist’s murder was carried out in a professional manner, possibly by a member of a rival intelligence agency. Read more of this post

Senate bill proposes closer links between US spies, private sector

Olympia Snowe

Olympia Snowe

By IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
A bipartisan bill, unveiled yesterday in the US Senate, proposes closer links between US intelligence agencies and private sector companies active in areas of “critical infrastructure”. Drafted and proposed by Republican senator Olympia Snowe and Democrat Jay Rockefeller, the legislation builds on concerns by government officials that US energy and telecommunications systems may not be able to sustain a concentrated cyber-attack by a foreign government agency or organized cybercriminal group. The major practical problem in terms of the government protecting these systems is that most have been deregulated since the Reagan era, and are now almost entirely under the control of private corporations. According to the bill, the US government would have to define the term “critical infrastructure”, and then designate the companies in control of such infrastructure networks as “critical partners” in protecting strategic national interests. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0052

  • Expert says US Army’s spying on activists was illegal. Eugene R. Fidell, a military law expert at Yale Law School, says the spying by the US Army against two activist groups in Washington state, which was revealed earlier this week, appears to violate the Posse Comitatus Act, a federal law that prohibits the use of the US Army for conventional law enforcement activities against civilians.
  • German court rules spy services withheld information –again. Germany’s highest court has concluded that the government illegally withheld information from investigators probing into alleged spying on parliamentarians by Germany’s intelligence services (BND). Last week the BND was found to have withheld information from a parliamentary inquiry into the BND’s role in the detention of two Muslims from Germany at a US prison in Afghanistan.
  • Nearly 2.5 million have US government security clearances. The US Government Accountability Office estimates that 2.4 persons currently hold security clearances for authorized access to classified information. This number does not include those “with clearances who work in areas of national intelligence”.

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Former CIA Director stripped of security clearance asked to join panel

John Deutch

John Deutch

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
John M. Deutch was Director of Central Intelligence (CIA) from 1995 to 1996, under US President Bill Clinton. In 1997, the CIA initiated an internal security investigation over Deutch’s handling of classified material and discovered that he routinely stored and worked on hundreds of CIA top-secret files on his unprotected home laptop computer. This was allegedly the same computer that Deutch’s wife and children used to view their email and browse the Internet. Following the results of the CIA investigation, Deutch was stripped of his top-secret security clearances by George Tenet, who in 1996 had succeeded him as DCI. In January 2001, shortly before leaving office, President Clinton pardoned Deutch, sparing him from prosecution by the Justice Department. It has now emerged, however, that the Obama Administration’s new National Intelligence Director, Admiral Dennis Blair, has asked the former DCI to join a National Reconnaissance Office advisory panel on surveillance satellites. President Barack Obama’s CIA Director nominee, Leon Panetta, was asked about this during his Congressional hearing earlier today, but refused to comment before having an opportunity to “sit down and talk with Admiral Blair about just exactly what he had in mind” when he asked Deutch to join the panel.

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