News you may have missed #0003

  • CIA declassifies 1960 estimate report on Israeli nukes. The report, which is still heavily redacted, suggests a nuclear Israel would “be less inclined than ever to make concessions and would press its interests in the area more vigorously”. According to recent estimates, Israel has approximately 200 nuclear bombs and warheads.
  • Accused spies were planning to flee US, says Bureau. FBI prosecutors say the couple’s sailboat and maps of Cuban waters are evidence they planned to flee to Cuba. An entry on a personal calendar found at the couple’s home shows they planned to go sailing in the Caribbean in November, with no return date.
  • CIA defends Panetta’s remarks on Cheney. Director didn’t say that former US Vice-President Dick Cheney would like to see the US attacked, says Agency spokesperson Paul Gimigliano.
  • Senior al-Qaeda figure says he lied under CIA torture. Alleged al-Qaeda senior leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed says pain he suffered under torture forced him to “make up stories” and falsely admit he was behind “nearly 30 terror plots”. Meanwhile, the CIA has released more torture transcripts after a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Obama officials toe Bush Administration secrecy line in rendition lawsuit

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Last Monday it emerged that the new US Attorney General, Eric H. Holder, ordered “a review of all claims of state secrets used to block lawsuits into warrantless spying on Americans and the treatment of foreign terrorism suspects”. US Justice Department spokesperson, Matt Miller, said the directive “will ensure the [state secrets] privilege is not invoked to hide from the American people information about their government’s actions that they have a right to know”. Despite Mr. Holder’s review order, however, the Obama Administration has chosen to retain the previous government’s “state secrets” clause to block a lawsuit filed by victims of CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. The case is Binyam Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan, a Colorado-based Boeing Corporation subcontractor that provided logistical support to the CIA’s prisoner transfer scheme. Read more of this post

US federal appeals court upholds National Security Letters

National Security Letters (NSLs) are types of warrantless subpoenas issued by US government agencies. They are typically used to force organizations or companies to surrender information pertaining to individuals or groups. In the late 1970s, NSLs were used in rare instances by the FBI during investigations. The 2001 USA PATRIOT Act marked an unparalleled expansion of the power of NSLs, allowing their use against American citizens even in cases when they are not targets of criminal investigations. The USA PATRIOT Act also ratified a gag order provision preventing NSL recipients from disclosing the letter’s existence. The CIA, FBI and the US Department of Defense are all known to have issued several NSLs in recent years. Read more of this post