News you may have missed #799

Russell TiceBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Is NSA using UK spy base to guide predator drones? Surrounded by farmland and sheep, hundreds of National Security Agency staff go to work every day at RAF Menwith Hill, where they eavesdrop on communications intercepted by satellite dishes contained in about 30 huge golf ball-like domes. Menwith Hill has been used by the NSA since the 1960s; but lately there is growing disquiet in Britain over whether intelligence gathered at the base is being used to help with the CIA’s controversial clandestine drone strikes. And the British government is keeping mum.
►►Aussie envoy seduced by spy feared her phone was bugged. Former senior Austrade commissioner to Hanoi Elizabeth Masamune, who recently admitted before an Australian court that she had sexual relations with a Vietnamese intelligence officer, told police she feared her Hanoi offices were bugged. In her statement during the trial of eight former Reserve Bank company executives on bribery charges, she said that after receiving a call from a journalist she recalled “being concerned of the level of information which she had. I was also more concerned about whether my phone was being monitored”, she said.
►►NSA whistleblower describes beating polygraph test. Russell Tice, the National Security Agency whistleblower who helped blow the lid open on warrantless wiretapping conducted by the federal government on US citizens post-9/11, says that he took between 12 and 15 polygraph tests during his nearly 20-year-long government career. The tests mellowed over time, Tice says, and they may have also gotten easier to beat. Tice, who is no longer at the NSA, says he, along with those still in contact with at the agency, marvel at how easy it is to beat the lie detector.

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Court papers reveal Australian official’s affair with Vietnamese spy

Elizabeth MasamuneBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A statement filed with a federal court in Australia reveals that a Vietnamese intelligence officer, who is accused of having received millions of dollars in bribes to secure an international business contract, had an affair with an Australian government official involved in the deal. Australian federal authorities allege that the officer, Anh Ngoc Luong, a Colonel with Vietnam’s General Department of Military Intelligence, received AU$20 million (US$20.8 million) from Securency, a subsidiary of the government-owned Reserve Bank of Australia. According to Australian government prosecutors, who are suing eight Reserve Bank executives for bribing Anh, the Vietnamese intelligence officer was secretly paid to help secure a contract for the provision of banknote technology services between Securency and the State Bank of Vietnam. But it now appears that, while helping secure the lucrative deal, Anh had at least “two isolated sexual encounters” with Elizabeth Masamune, who at the time was a senior official with the Australian Trade Commission. Known informally as Austrade, the Commission operates under the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and has offices in most Australian embassies and consulates around the world. It is tasked with representing Australia’s business interests abroad and helping Australian companies secure international business contracts. In a statement filed in court on Monday, Masamune said Anh had asked her out to dinner in the spring of 2002, while she was stationed in Vietnam. At the end of the dinner, the Vietnamese intelligence officer suggested that Masamune “go upstairs with him to a room in the hotel”. According to her statement, the Australian trade official agreed to do so “on the spur of the moment”. She added that her decision was motivated by her attraction to Anh and problems she was having in her marriage at the time. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #726

Barbara Annette RobbinsBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Portrait of first female CIA officer to die in line of duty. In 1965, a 21-year-old American woman, Barbara Annette Robbins (photo), was among the victims of a car bombing at the US Embassy in Saigon, South Vietnam. Washington said she was a diplomat. But, at a ceremony last year, the CIA admitted she was an employee of the Agency. This makes her the first woman at the male-dominated CIA killed in the line of duty. She is also the youngest CIA employee ever killed. And she appears to be the first American woman to die in the Vietnam War. The Washington Post has an interesting article about her short life and career.
►►US Jewish leader says release of Israeli spy Pollard ‘inevitable’. The release of Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence in a US prison for spying on the US for Israel, is “inevitable” and could take place shortly on “technical grounds”, according to Jack Rosen, a prominent Jewish leader and supporter of US President Barack Obama. A New York City real estate executive who hosted Obama at his Upper East Side home for a Democratic Party fundraiser last November, Rosen said that “there are some technical reasons, I’m told, why [Pollard] will be released. I think there’s an inevitability to that happening”.
►►Senior reshuffle at South Korean spy agency. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak reshuffled two top posts at South Korea’s main intelligence agency Monday in a shake-up that also affected five other vice-ministerial posts. Nam Joo-hong, a former well-known security scholar who has so far served as ambassador to Canada, was named the first deputy chief of the National Intelligence Service, while Cha Moon-hee, a veteran intelligence official, was tapped as the agency’s second deputy chief. The spy agency’s first and second deputy chiefs are in charge of its overseas and domestic operations, respectively.

News you may have missed #682

Lieutenant General Ronald BurgessBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Is there a Mossad base near Iran? The London-based Sunday Times has published an interview with a man claiming to be an Azerbaijan-based agent of Israeli intelligence agency, who confirmed the existence of such a base. The man, identified in the article as “Shimon,” told the paper that there were dozens of Israeli Mossad agents working out of the base. The meeting between the agent and the London Times‘ reporter took place in Baku, near the Israeli Embassy, the report said.
►►Analysis: CIA report on Soviet bioweapons still secret. It has been three decades since the Reagan administration accused the Soviet Union and Vietnam of using chemical weapons known as yellow rain. We still do not know how the US came to this conclusion, but have good reason to believe that it was based on flawed or distorted intelligence. A classified critique of the intelligence behind those charges, written several years ago for the Central Intelligence Agency, could shed light on what happened. Last year, Matthew Meselson, a Harvard expert on chemical and biological weapons, filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get the report released. He was turned down.
►►US official says Iran unlikely to strike first. Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, said the Iranian military is unlikely to intentionally provoke a conflict with the West. He said Iran probably has the ability to “temporarily close the Strait of Hormuz with its naval forces”, as some Iranian officials have threatened to do if attacked or in response to sanctions on its oil exports by the US and European Union. But, he added, “Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict or launch a preemptive attack”.

News you may have missed #592

Nguyen Van Tau

Nguyen Van Tau

►►Tripoli Internet spy room packed with Western technology. Excellent technical analysis of how several Western –and some Chinese– Internet software and hardware suppliers provided the Gaddafi regime with the tools to exercise mass online surveillance against the country’s citizens. Where have we seen this before?
►►Interview with Vietnamese ex-master spy. Interesting interview with Nguyen Van Tau, who led the Vietnamese H63 clandestine intelligence group during the war with the United States. H63 maintained extensive spy cells in South Vietnam, playing a major role in the 1968 Tet Offensive.
►►MI5 seeks ‘telephone spies’ for London 2012 security. MI5 is recruiting ‘telephone spies’ to listen in on plots against the 2012 Olympics. The Security Service hopes to find candidates able to eavesdrop on potential terrorists by getting foreign language speakers to play an interactive “game” online. By logging on to the official MI5 website, wannabe spooks can tune into an audio tape of a conversation in a foreign language and are later quizzed about it.

News you may have missed #0219

  • Kennedy considered supporting 1963 coup in S. Vietnam, documents show. New audio recordings and documentation unearthed by George Washington University’s National Security Archive, show that US President John F. Kennedy supported a military coup against the US-backed South Vietnamese regime of Ngo Dinh Diem, even though he recognized the planned coup had no chance of a political success. See previous intelNews coverage for more Vietnam War-related declassified items.
  • Speak Farsi? Israel’s Shin Bet is interested. Israel’s Shin Bet internal intelligence agency is advertising jobs for speakers of the Iranian language Farsi. Israeli intelligence agencies appear to have similar problems with those faced by their US counterparts.

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CIA documents reveal secret aspects of Vietnam War

CIA report cover

CIA report cover

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The CIA has released a six-volume internal history of its involvement in Vietnam prior to and during the Second Indochina War (usually referred to in the US as the Vietnam War). The release of the documents’ is the long-awaited result of a Freedom of Information Act request by intelligence historian and National Security Archive research fellow John Prados. The documents, which are available online in the National Security Archive’s Electronic Briefing Book No. 283, detail the CIA’s activities in Vietnam from the early 1950s, and provide what appears to be the most complete account to-date of the Agency’s operations during the US war in South and North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Read more of this post

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