Interview with US airman who spied for East Germany

Jeff CarneyBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
A former intelligence specialist in the United States Air Force, who became one of East Germany’s most lucrative spies in the West, has given a rare media interview. Jeff Carney was a linguist and intelligence specialist assigned to the US Electronic Security Command at Tempelhof Central Airport in West Berlin during the closing stages of the Cold War. In April of 1983, Carney, who was then aged just 19, walked across the dividing line between West and East Berlin and asked to speak to representatives of the East German government. He has since argued that his defection was prompted by his disagreement with the foreign policy of the administration of US President Ronald Reagan. But in an interview aired on Wednesday by the BBC, he claimed there was “nothing ideological about his decision to defect”, and that he, as a gay man, “felt unwanted” because of the US military’s stance on homosexuality. His plan, which he described in his interview as “an impulsive move” was to request to live in the German Democratic Republic. But instead of granting his wish, East German intelligence officials commanded him to return to his post at Tempelhof and become an agent-in-place. Carney claims that they threatened to reveal to his US Air Force superiors his attempt to defect if he refused to cooperate. The young airman returned to his base and began spying for East Germany’s Ministry for State Security (MfS), commonly known as Stasi. He was provided with a miniature camera, given the operational codename UWE, and was told supply his handler, codenamed RALPH, with classified documents, which he smuggled out of Tempelhof in his shoes and clothing. His West German tour came to an end in 1984, when he was transferred to the US state of Texas. While there, he continued to spy for the Stasi, traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Mexico City, Mexico, in order to meet with his East German handlers. However, in 1985, believing that his superiors in the Air Force were beginning to suspect him of espionage, he traveled to Mexico and walked in the East German embassy in Mexico City, demanding to be transferred to East Germany. The Stasi eventually smuggled him out of Mexico to Cuba, and from there to Czechoslovakia before resettling him to East Germany. Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #752

Charles SchumerBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►US companies ‘use military-style planes’ to make maps. Companies such as Apple and Google could push the limits of citizens’ privacy thanks to the use of “military-grade spy planes” when creating their next-generation mapping technologies, according to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). Schumer expressed his concerns in a letter to the two companies, arguing that hyper-detailed images of people’s backyards and other objects could pose a threat to both privacy and national security. The Senator also pointed out the potential for criminals and, yes, even terrorists to view detailed maps of “sensitive utilities”.
►►CIA wanted ‘torture cage’ for secret prison. Polish Senator Jozef Pinior claims prosecutors in Krakow have a document that shows a local contractor was asked to build a cage at Stare Kiekuty, a Polish army base used as a CIA prison for al-Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003. “In a state with rights”, Pinior told the Polish paper Gazeta Wyborcza, “people in prison are not kept in cages”. He said a cage was “non-standard equipment” for a prison, but standard “if torture was used there”. After Poland launched its official investigation of the Stare Kiekuty site, President Bronislaw Komorowski said the probe was needed because “the reputation of Poland is at stake”.
►►US Air Force spy planes facing postwar cut. The US Air Force plans to cut back on the number of Hawker Beechcraft’s MC-12 spy planes it wants to operate after the draw-down from Afghanistan and Iraq, official data indicates. With declining operations, the aircraft began to lose its priority role and recent comments indicated at least some of the aircraft would either be grounded or given to the National Guard or other services. Since the MC-12 was first deployed in Iraq, U. forces have acquired access to more sophisticated surveillance aircraft as well as drones that can perform roles previously assigned to manned aircraft.

News you may have missed #750 (US edition)

NROL-38 reconnaissance spacecraftBy TIMOTHY W. COLEMAN | intelNews.org |
►►US spy agency launches new satellite. The US National Reconnaissance Office, the agency tasked with overseeing America’s intelligence satellites, successfully placed a new spy satellite into orbit. The Christian Science Monitor reports that the NROL-38 reconnaissance spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The satellite launch, sitting atop an Atlas 5 rocket, was streamed live via Webcast for several minutes before being terminated due to national security restrictions and the classified nature of the mission. Particulars regarding the capabilities or specific purpose of the spy satellite were not provided. However, just a few days before, the US Air Force’s highly classified space plane known as the  AX-37B returned to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
►►FBI takes on larger domestic intelligence role. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation, under a newly devised action plan, will be afforded a greater role in domestic intelligence efforts in the US, according to a recent Washington Post article.  Senior level field agents at the bureau are expected to serve as representatives for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the agency created after 9/11 to oversee activities of all US intelligence efforts. The Post quotes CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood, who —remarkably, considering CIA/ODNI relations in recent years— said that the agency has not opposed the ODNI’s move to elevate FBI agents in the US, and that “the program is working well”.
►►CIA declassifies 9/11 documents. The CIA released this past week hundreds of pages of declassified documents related to the September 11, 2001, attacks, which detail the agency’s budgetary woes leading up to the deadly strikes and its attempts to track al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The National Security Archive at George Washington University says it obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request. The documents are heavily redacted and offer little new information about what the US knew about the al-Qaeda plot before 2001.

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.

News you may have missed #663

X-37B spaceplaneBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Indian spy agency seeks more wiretap powers. As intelNews reported in December, India’s primary intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was granted unfettered access to intercept electronic communications inside India. According to reports from India, the country’s Department of Telecommunications has now asked Interpol to help it gain access to encrypted electronic communications exchanged over Skype, BlackBerry telephones, etc. But doesn’t the Indian government already have access to BlackBerry communications?
►►US spaceplane spying on China. America’s classified X-37B spaceplane is probably spying on China, according to a report in Spaceflight magazine. The unpiloted vehicle was launched into orbit by the US Air Force in March last year and has yet to return to Earth. The Pentagon has steadfastly refused to discuss its mission but amateur space trackers have noted how its path around the globe is nearly identical to China’s spacelab, Tiangong-1.
►►Mossad seeks Chinese speakers. Do you speak Chinese? If so, Israel’s Mossad needs you. Recently, the spy agency put up a job posting on its website for a strategic researcher. The ad notes that preference will be given to Chinese, Arabic and Persian speakers. Experience in intelligence work is also a plus. Notably, China maintains close relations with Iran and with Arab states, possibly prompting the Mossad to seek Chinese speakers for its current and future intelligence work.

US considered covert mission to recover drone captured by Iran

Iran

Iran

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
What a difference two days can make! On Monday we speculated that Iran may have captured intact a United States Air Force RQ-170 Sentinel surveillance drone. At that time, most American officials questioned or flatly denied Iran’s capture claims. It now appears almost certain that Iran is indeed in possession of the aircraft; what is more, it seems increasingly likely that the captured drone was conducting a Central Intelligence Agency reconnaissance mission when it crashed in the desert along the country’s 1,000 km-long border with Afghanistan. The significance of the drone’s capture by Iranian authorities can be discerned from the fact that US officials are said to have considered last weekend several options for retrieving it from Iranian territory. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, the US Department of Defense, in association with the CIA, discussed at least three separate plans for recovering or destroying the aircraft wreckage. One of the options discussed involved sending an airborne team of US covert operatives into northeast Iran to locate the crashed drone, disassemble it, and carry its top-secret mechanical and electronic components back to a US base in Afghanistan. The US also considered deploying Special Forces stationed in Afghanistan, or tasking US intelligence assets inside Iran, with locating and blowing up the crashed drone. A third option involved destroying the downed aircraft with a remote airstrike from Afghanistan. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #642

Predator drone

Predator drone

►►Australia concerned China using civilian satellites to spy. Concerns that China may use civilian satellite tracking stations to monitor Australian military operations have been dismissed by the Swedish Space Corporation. The company owns and operates two satellite tracking stations 400 km north of the West Australian capital, Perth. One was used by the China Satellite Launch Company last month in China’s first space docking operation.
►►Did Iran capture US stealth drone intact? For the second time this year, the Iranian government is claiming it forced down a stealthy US Air Force spy drone. Only this time, it says it bagged the RQ-170 “with little damage” by jamming its control signal —a potentially worrying development for American forces heavily reliant on remote-controlled aircraft. A US official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters that “there is absolutely no indication up to this point that Iranians shot down this drone”.
►►Canadian Mounties spied on native protest groups. Canada’s federal government created a vast surveillance network in early 2007 to monitor protests by First Nations, including those that would attract national attention or target “critical infrastructure” like highways, railways and pipelines, according to RCMP documents. The RCMP intelligence unit reported weekly to approximately 450 recipients in law enforcement, government, and unnamed “industry partners” in the energy and private sector. The news follows revelations last month of the RCMP’s largest-ever domestic intelligence operation, aimed against G8 and G20 protesters.

News you may have missed #556

David Irvine

David Irvine

►►Australian computer networks spied ‘massively’. Cyberespionage is being used against Australia on a “massive scale” and some foreign spies are using Australian government networks to penetrate the cyberdefenses of allies such as the United States. This according to the Director of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) David Irvine. Speaking at a business forum, Mr. Irvine said that “it seems the more rocks we turn over in cyberspace, the more [cyberespionage] we find”.
►►US to give Iraq wiretapping system. The US will give the government of Iraq a wiretapping system that will allow it to monitor and store voice calls, data transmissions and text messages from up to 5,000 devices simultaneously. The system is to be installed with the acquiescence of the three current cellular communications providers in Iraq, according to the US Air Force. A similar system was set up by a US contractor three years ago in Afghanistan.
►►Judge says NSA whistleblower faced ‘tyrannical’ US government. This blog has kept an eye on the case of Thoma Drake, a former US National Security Agency employee  who was taken to court for leaking secrets about the agency to a journalist. But the judge in his case, Richard D. Bennett, refused Read more of this post

News you may have missed #483

  • Ex-CIA chief criticizes ‘too much cybersecurity secrecy’. In an article published in the new issue of the US Air Force’s Strategic Studies Quarterly, former CIA and NSA Director, General Michael “I-want-to-shut-down-the-Internet” Hayden, argues that the US government classifies too much information on cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
  • Renault arrests security chief over spy hoax. Dominique Gevrey, a ex-military intelligence agent, who is French car maker Renault’s chief of security, has been arrested in Paris, just before boarding a flight to Guinea in West Africa. He is accused of concocting the spying allegations which shook the French car giant –-and the entire motoring world-– last January. Meanwhile, Renault has apologized to the three senior executives who were fired after being accused of selling secrets about the company’s electric car strategy to “foreign interests”.
  • Analysis: Gadhafi’s spies keep watch in Libyan rebel capital. “Pro-Gaddafi spies are blamed for assassinations, grenade attacks, and sending rebels threatening text messages. Rebels believe that Gaddafi’s forces are all around them. They lurk outside the Benghazi courthouse that serves as the Capitol for the liberated east, sometimes armed with cameras. They sit in vans outside hotels that house journalists and aid workers, and silently watch who comes and goes”.

US denies smuggling spy equipment into Argentina [updated]

Argentina

Argentina

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The United States has denied charges by Argentine officials that it tried to smuggle espionage equipment into the South American country under the pretext of transporting training supplies for Argentine Federal Police. The charges were leveled on Thursday, after Argentine customs officials conducted what the US Department of State called an “unusual and unannounced” inspection of a US Air Force C-17 cargo plane that landed in the country. According to the Argentine government, the inspection turned up communications interception equipment, “powerful GPS” hardware, as well as “technological elements containing codes labeled secret”, among other items. The material, which had apparently not been listed in the plane’s manifest, was confiscated, while the C-17, along with its American passengers, most of whom were members of the US Special Forces, flew back to the US. Authorities in Argentina are now accusing the US Pentagon and the Department of State of trying to smuggle in the equipment without declaring it to customs officials, as is prescribed under international air cargo transportation laws. Read more of this post

Retired US colonel charged with smuggling weapons to Somalia

Somalia

Somalia

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A retired US Air Force colonel, who was charged with weapons smuggling during the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s, has been indicted again, this time for trying to smuggle automatic weapons into Somalia. US federal authorities accuse Joseph O’Toole, now 79, of conspiring with Israeli citizen Chanoch Miller, formerly an aeronautics engineer with Israeli defense firm Radom Aviation, to transport nearly 2,000  AK-47s from Bosnia to Banderal, Somalia. The smuggling operation, which employed forged end-user certificates issued in Chad, violated US weapons export control regulations, which are in compliance with a United Nations weapons embargo to war-ravaged Somalia. This is the second time O’Toole has been indicted with conspiring to smuggle weapons. In 1989, he was charged of working with fellow-American Richard St. Francis and Israeli alleged ex-Mossad operative Ari Ben-Menashe, to sell several US C-130 cargo airplanes to the Iranian government. Read more of this post

Has US Pentagon revived Bush-era domestic spy program?

US Pentagon

US Pentagon

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A little-known US Department of Defense counterintelligence is suspected to have resuscitated a notorious Bush-era domestic surveillance program, which was banned by Congress for being too obtrusive. In 2002, the then Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz authorized the Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON), a US Air Force intelligence collection program aimed to gather data on potential threats to American armed forces personnel in the US and abroad. But the initiative was allegedly shelved by the Bush administration, after it emerged that TALON intelligence collection focused largely on political policing against lawful antiwar groups. But now new reports suggest that an obscure unit under the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), called the Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC), is creating a new system of consolidated databases whose focus closely resembles that of TALON. Read more of this post

Documents reveal Bill Clinton’s secret contact with Iran

Mohammad Khatami

M. Khatami

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Two newly declassified high-level documents reveal a short-lived overture between Washington and Tehran, initiated in 1999 by the Bill Clinton administration. The US President resorted to the secret communication with Iran in an attempt to preempt several hawkish policy planners in his administration. The latter pressed for strong American military retaliation against Iran, in response to the latter’s alleged involvement in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing. The bombing, which targeted a US Air Force base in the suburbs of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killed 19 and wounded 400 American servicemen and women. By 1999, US intelligence agencies were convinced that the bombing had been financed and orchestrated by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), an independent administrative and paramilitary institution tasked with –among other things– exporting the Iranian Revolution abroad. But the Clinton Administration decided to contact the then newly elected reformist Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, and sternly inform him of the evidence against the IRGC. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0266

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Too much intelligence collection overwhelms US agencies

Predator drone

USAF drone

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The broad debate about America’s recent intelligence setbacks has centered on the view that US spy agencies do not share enough information with each other. Several days ago, however, Politico’s Laura Rozen noticed an important remark by an anonymous former intelligence official, buried in a longer piece in The Washington Post about the Christmas Day bomber. The official told the Post that “[t]he real story line internally [in the Christmas Day bomber affair] is not information-sharing or connecting dots [...]. Information was shared. It was separating noise from chaff. It’s not that information wasn’t passed around, it’s that so much information is being passed. There’s an inherent problem of dealing with all the data that is sloshing around” (emphasis added). This view may in fact be closer to reality than the more dominant ‘turf war’ argument. Read more of this post

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