News you may have missed #408

  • Russian military spy supervised Czech prisons. Robert Rakhardzho, a Russian spy whose relationship with a Czech female Army major prompted the resignation of three senior Czech military officials, worked as a psychologist at the Czech Prison Service headquarters until last September. Rakhardzho is now hiding in Russia.
  • US undercover feds able to easily obtain fraudulent passports. Gregory Kutz, an investigator for the US Government Accountability Office, testified last week to a Senate panel about how his team of undercover Federal agents was able to get the State Department to issue five of the seven e-Passports it requested using fraudulent information. The government apparently failed to detect such basic red flags as a fake driver’s license.
  • Russia widens powers of KGB successor agency. Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has signed a law widening (again) the powers of the Federal Security Service, the KGB’s main successor agency. The new law allows the FSB to issue warnings to people suspected of preparing to commit “crimes against Russia’s security”. Perpetrators face fines or up to 15 days detention.

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US agencies still lack basic language skills, says new report

GAO report

GAO report

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A major US government audit into the performance of national security departments and agencies has once again criticized the substantial absence of skilled foreign-language speakers. According to the Government Accountability Office’s latest assessment (.pdf) of the US Department of Defense and the Department of State, not only has the availability of foreign language fluency not improved, but has actually deteriorated during the past few years. The situation is especially desperate in the State Department, says the report, where the percentage of “generalists and specialists in language-designated positions” who fail to meet essential language criteria increased from 29 percent in 2005 to 31 percent last year. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #370

  • Ukrainians ‘not spying any more’ on Russian FSB. Ukrainian counterintelligence services have stopped monitoring Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officials stationed in Ukraine, according to a leading Ukrainian weekly. Ukrainian-Russian relations have dramatically improved since February, when Ukraine’s pro-Moscow leader Viktor Yanukovych was elected President.
  • US House votes to allow auditing of spy agencies. Despite several veto threats from the White House, the US House of Representatives has adopted an amendment to defense authorization bill HR 5136, which would give the Government Accountability Office the power to audit intelligence agencies.
  • Leading Turkish daily wiretapped. Turkish former deputy police chief Emin Aslan, who was arrested in 2009 in a drug trafficking investigation, says he was told in 2008 that the phone lines at Turkey’s leading daily Milliyet were wiretapped. The wiretapping appears to be connected to the notorious Ergenekon affair.

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News you may have missed #0212

  • Government investigator gets US passports using fake names. A GAO investigator managed to obtain four genuine US passports using fake names and fraudulent documents. He then used one of the fake passports to buy a plane ticket, obtain a boarding pass, and make it through a security checkpoint at a major US airport. The post-9/11 security environment in all its glory.
  • Documents on Argentina’s Operation MEXICO declassified. Operation MEXICO was the codename for a clandestine Argentine rendition program aimed at abducting and murdering leaders of the Montonero Peronist Movement, a leftwing militant group, living in exile in Mexico City in the late 1970s.
  • Mistrial declared in the trial of FBI informant Hal Turner. Turner will still face a single count of unlawfully threatening three Chicago-based federal appeals judges, by writing on his blog that they “deserve to be killed” for upholding a gun control ordinance.

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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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