US Senate blocks Pentagon plan to launch new CIA-style agency

The US Department of DefenseBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Last week the United States Department of Defense flooded media outlets with press releases announcing the planned establishment of a new military intelligence organization that would rival the Central Intelligence Agency in both size and scope. Not so fast. The US Senate has just blocked the plan citing gross mismanagement of the Pentagon’s existing intelligence operations. The proposed Defense Clandestine Service centers on plans to build an extensive overseas intelligence network, run by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency and based on the CIA model of stations located in large metropolitan centers. The DoD said that the new intelligence organization will help the US armed forces broaden their intelligence collection from the current concentration in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the Senate, which was asked to review and approve the plan’s financial requirements, submitted under the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, has refused to do so. Moreover, it issued a written rationale, drafted by the Senate Armed Services Committee, in which it explicitly forbids the Pentagon using US taxpayers’ money to expand its overseas intelligence operations. According to The Washington Post, the reason for the plan’s rejection is two-fold. First, the Senate appears unhappy with the financial management of the DoD’s existing intelligence collection efforts. The Senate report cites serious concerns about the excessive financial cost and management failures associated with the Pentagon’s ongoing intelligence operations. It specifically mentions “poor or non-existent career management” for DoD intelligence operatives who are often transferred back to regular military units after undertaking “unproductive” assignments overseas, despite extensive intelligence training. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s report stipulates that, before it asks for more money to build the proposed new agency, the Pentagon must “demonstrate that it can improve the management of clandestine [human intelligence] before undertaking any further expansion”. Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #751

Leonid ShebarshinBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Ex-CIA officer remembers his KGB rival. In April, Leonid Shebarshin, a retired General of the KGB, who was often referred to as “the last Soviet spy”, was found dead in his downtown Moscow apartment. Apparently, he had committed suicide. Now Milt Bearden, who was the CIA’s Chief of the Soviet/East European Division during the final years of the USSR, has written a piece in which he remembers Shebarshin. He says that, even though Shebarshin was “the closest thing [he] had to a main adversary” in the USSR, the two became friends in the late 1990s, despite the fact that Shebarshin remained a true believer in the USSR until the very end of his life.
►►NSA won’t reveal how many Americans it spied on. Last month, US Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall –both members of the US Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence– asked the NSA how many persons inside the US it had spied upon since 2008. But Charles McCullough, the Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, has told the two Senators that giving such a figure of how many Americans were spied on was “beyond the capacity” of NSA’s oversight mechanisms, and that –ironically– looking into this matter would violate the privacy of American citizens.
►►Russian scientist who ‘spied for China’ freed. Igor Reshetin, the former director of Russian rocket technology firm TsNIIMASH-Export, who was jailed in 2007 for selling state secrets to China, has been released on parole. Reshetin had been initially sentenced to nearly 12 years, for illegally selling state-controlled technology secrets to a Chinese firm, and with stealing 30 million rubles (US$925,000) through a scheme involving bogus companies. His initial sentence was later reduced on appeal.

News you may have missed #748 (US edition)

Michael HaydenBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►US lawmakers probe China companies over spy concerns. In letters sent last week to Chinese communications hardware firms Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corporation, a group of senior members of the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee have outlined concerns about the companies’ ties with the Chinese government, including the role of a “party committee” at Huawei. The lawmakers have also asked about Huawei’s relationships with five US consulting firms and requested an expansive collection of documents, including the contracts between the firms and Huawei.
►►Lone Senator resists Bush/Obama NSA wiretapping plan. The Obama administration wanted a quick, no-questions-asked-or-answered renewal of broad electronic eavesdropping powers that largely legalized the Bush administration’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program. That’s despite President Barack Obama’s campaign promise to revisit and revise the rules to protect Americans’ rights. Everything seemed to be going to plan after a Senate committee approved the re-authorization in secret last month. But Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) has stepped in to stop the bill because the government refuses to say how often the spy powers are being used.
►►What did Hayden tell Obama in January 2009? In December of 2008, a meeting took place between the incoming US Presiden Barack Obama and the departing CIA Director Michael Hayden. Several days later, on January 15, Hayden told journalists that Obama had privately assured him that “no plans to launch a legal inquiry” into the CIA’s use of controversial interrogation methods during the Bush administration. Now, several years later, Salon has published an insider’s account of what was said in that meeting between Obama and Hayden, as well as during the days that followed.

US Senate hearing accidentally reveals Mossad director’s secret visit

Tamir PardoBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The chairwoman of a public hearing at the United States Senate, which was televised live across America, accidentally revealed that the Director of Israeli intelligence service Mossad secretly visited the US for talks last week. The revelation took place on Tuesday at a high-profile hearing conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, with the participation of the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus. While addressing the latter, Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein mentioned in passing that “the vice chairman [of the Committee] and I have just met this past week with the director of Mossad”, and that the meeting was classified. She was referring to Tamir Pardo, the newly installed head of Israel’s foremost external intelligence agency. Without blinking an eye, Petraeus responded saying: “Like you, obviously, I met with the head of Mossad when he was here”. Subsequent discussion during the hearing appeared to establish that Pardo visited the United States specifically to discuss the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran’s known nuclear installations. In responding to Senator Feinstein’s comment, the CIA Director said that Pardo’s secret visit was “part of an ongoing dialogue that has also included conversations that I’ve had with [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and with [Defense] Minister [Ehud] Barak”. No further information was shard on the Mossad official’s visit, and US government representatives refused to elaborate, when asked about it later. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #417

  • US Senators question Chinese telecom hardware bid. Senior Republican senators have called for an investigation on whether US national security will be compromised by the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei seeking to sell equipment to Sprint Nextel, which provides services to the US military and law enforcement agencies.
  • Pakistan environmental chaos causes security concerns. The catastrophic floods in Pakistan, which have displaced millions of persons over the last several weeks, when combined with the other socioeconomic and political stresses on Pakistan, have the potential to further weaken an already weak Pakistani state, according to a new US Congressional Research Service report.
  • Russian base in Armenia to stay through 2044. Russia has secured a long-term foothold in the energy-rich and unstable Caucasus region by signing a deal with Armenia that allows a Russian military base to operate until 2044 in exchange for a promise of new weaponry and fresh security guarantees.

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News you may have missed #410

  • Clapper confirmed as US DNI in Senate-White House deal. Retired general James Clapper has been unanimously confirmed by the Senate as US National Intelligence Director, after a series of last-minute deals between objecting Republican Senators and the White House, which nominated Clapper several months ago.
  • Canada rejects residency request by Pakistani ex-ISI spy. The Canadian government has refused a permanent residency application by Haroon Peer, a Danish citizen, who worked for three Pakistani intelligence agencies, including the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate. Haroon is married to a Canadian-born woman and has three Canadian-born children.
  • Lebanon in shock after ex-general’s arrest on spy charges. Last week’s arrest of Fayez Karam, a well-respected retired general and politician with the Hezbollah-allied Christian Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), on suspicion of spying for Israel, has sent shock waves through Lebanon and left many wondering how deep the Jewish state has infiltrated the country.

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News you may have missed #0224

  • Parts 6 and 7 of CIA defector’s writings now available. Former FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Eringer has published the sixth and seventh installments (chapters 2 and 3 of “The Spy’s Cookbook”) of the writings of Edward Lee Howard, a CIA officer who defected to the USSR in 1985 (see here for previous intelNews coverage). In part six, Howard writes about the methodology of visiting (among other places) the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC. In part seven, he advises that the only time a double agent’s handlers should call the agent’s home is to tell him or her to “get out and leave the country!”.
  • Congressional vote on US PATRIOT Act delayed. The US House of Representatives tabled on Wednesday legislation to reform US domestic surveillance law. The Senate is likewise expected to delay the matter. The delays will automatically extend provisions of the PATRIOT Act that would otherwise expire at year’s end.

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