News you may have missed #0199

  • Author insists Sir Hollis was Soviet agent. Last month, Professor Christopher Andrew, author of the recently published In Defense of the Realm, an authorized history of MI5, dismissed allegations that Sir Roger Hollis, former head of MI5, had been a KGB agent. But intelligence author Chapman Pincher insists that “Hollis ha[d] been so deeply suspected of being a Soviet spy […] that he had been recalled from retirement for interrogation” in London.
  • ACLU supports lawsuit against FBI by alleged informant. The American Civil Liberties Union has joined Craig Monteilh, who says he was an undercover FBI informant, in a lawsuit demanding sealed court records identifying him as a spy be made public.

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News you may have missed #0147

  • Major purge in Gambian intelligence services. The Gambian government gave no official reasons for the dismissal of 27 officers from the country’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA). But local media said the dismissals were aimed to end bitter internal turf wars that have affected NIA’s performance.
  • US Congress bars release of more torture photos. US House and Senate members have approved legislation that would permit the Pentagon to withhold photographs if it determines that their disclosure “would endanger citizens of the US, members of the US Armed Forces, or employees of the US government deployed outside the US”. The ACLU said that “the suppression of these photos will ultimately be far more damaging to our national security than their disclosure would be”.
  • Russia jails alleged Georgian spy. A Russian military court has jailed Russian Army sergeant Jemal Nakaidze for nine years, for passing secrets to Georgia during a war between the two countries last year. See here for more on the recent tug-of-war between Russia and Georgia.

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News you may have missed #0129

  • Romanian communist spy boss dead at 80. General Nicolae Plesita, who directed Romania’s Securitate during the country’s communist period, has died. While heading the Securitate’s foreign intelligence service, from 1980 to 1984, Plesita hired the Venezuelan-born operative Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as Carlos the Jackal, to assassinate Romanian dissidents in France and bomb the US-owned Radio Free Europe offices in Munich, in 1981. In 1998, Plesita revealed that he had orders from the Romanian government to find temporary shelter for Carlos in Romania after the RFE bombing.
  • Settlement reached in DEA-CIA spying dispute. A tentative settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought 15 years ago by a former US Drug Enforcement Administration agent who accused a CIA operative of illegally bugging his home. In a court filing, lawyers for the government and the DEA agent said they “had reached an agreement in principle to settle the underlying litigation”. See here for previous intelNews coverage of this case.
  • Federal judge denies request for CIA secret documents. Hundreds of documents detailing the CIA’s defunct overseas secret detention program of suspected terrorists, including extreme interrogation methods have remained secret after U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein on Wednesday refused to release them “in order to protect intelligence methods and sources”. The ACLU argues that the CIA secret program was illegal under international and US law, that it involved the torture and deaths of some inmates, and therefore should not be shielded from public view.

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News you may have missed #0091

  • McCain denies private agreement with CIA torture tactic. A recently released memo suggests that Republican US Senator John McCain, famous for his stance against torture, privately agreed with a CIA six-day sleep-deprivation technique.
  • CIA rejects further declassifications on torture-related material. The CIA said on Monday that it would release no more documents related to the Bush administration’s torture and detention policies, because disclosing the information “will threaten national security”. The ACLU called this an affront to the Obama Administration’s policies.
  • Taliban kill Afghan intelligence chief. Abdullah Laghmani, who headed the National Directorate for Security (NDS) was among at least 23 people, including a number of senior officials, killed in the suicide attack. This was one of the few times that the Taliban specifically targeted intelligence officials.

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News you may have missed #0085

  • How the ACLU got the CIA agents’ photos. As intelNews reported earlier this week, the ACLU has been trying to identify CIA agents who participated in torture of detainees, by taking surreptitious pictures outside the operatives’ homes. It is worth noting that uncovering the identities of CIA officers is legal, so long as it is based on publicly available records.
  • Russian espionage case is bigger than initially thought, say Czech officials. Intelligence authorities in the Czech Republic say the two Russian agents who were recently expelled from the country last week were not primarily interested in the US missile defense shield.
  • US spy community builds Wikipedia-style database. Intellipedia, the intelligence community’s version of Wikipedia has grown markedly since its formal launch in 2006. It now averages more than 15,000 edits per day and is home to 900,000 pages and 100,000 user accounts.

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News you may have missed #0084

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FBI investigates attorneys for trying to identify CIA torturers

The Washington Post and The New York Times are reporting three military attorneys at Guantánamo Bay have been questioned by the FBI for allegedly showing pictures of CIA operatives to prisoners accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks. In some cases, the pictures were taken surreptitiously outside the operatives’ homes. The lawyers were apparently trying to identify agents who may have been involved in torturing prisoners at US jails overseas. But US military officials say the lawyers could have broken laws shielding the identity of classified intelligence. The FBI investigation is reportedly headed by John Dion, head of the US Justice Department’s counterespionage section. Dion has worked on several high-profile national security cases, including the prosecution of Aldrich H. Ames, the CIA double agent who spied for the USSR. Read more of this post