News you may have missed #550

Sukhoi-27 jets

Sukhoi-27 jets

►►Chinese fighters chased US spy plane into Taiwan. It has been revealed that, late last June, The Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense sent two F-16 fighters to intercept a two Chinese Sukhoi-27 jets that crossed into its airspace, while pursuing an American U-2 reconnaissance plane. It was the first time that Chinese jets breached Taiwan’s airspace since 1999. The Pentagon declined to confirm the report, but some in Washington must have had flashbacks of the 2001 Hainan Island incident.
►►Israel arrests four of its soldiers for sabotaging spy gear. This story is interesting on numerous levels: according to a statement by the IDF’s Northern Command, Israeli military authorities plan to prosecute four Israeli female soldiers for repeatedly shutting off unspecified surveillance equipment designed to collect intelligence from neighboring Lebanon. When faced with the accusations, the soldiers apparently told their commanders that “they worked under very difficult conditions and couldn’t bear the pressure”.
►►Turkish national convicted for spying in Ukraine. Ukrainian prosecutors say Read more of this post

News you may have missed #469

  • Vulture not a Zionist spy after all, declare Saudis. After more than a week of febrile rumor and speculation, the King of Saudi Arabia has declared that a vulture found on the country’s territory, carrying a GPS tracker labeled “Tel Aviv University”, is not part of an Israeli reconnaissance plot.
  • Germany jails two Libyans for spying. Two Libyans have been sentenced in a Berlin court for spying on members of the Libyan opposition living in Europe. ‘Adel Ab.’, an officer for the Libyan intelligence service, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison while his accomplice, ‘Adel Al.’ was sentenced to one year and 10 months.
  • Russian aide accused of spying to remain in UK until October. Britain’s MI5 accuses Katia Zatuliveter, former assistant to Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock, of spying for Russia. But she will remain in the UK until next October, when she will be able to challenge her pending deportation at an immigration hearing.

News you may have missed #449

  • Damning report on CIA attack on missionary plane. US Central Intelligence Agency officers involved with a secret counternarcotics mission in the Peruvian jungle routinely violated agency procedures, tried to cover up their mistakes, and misled Congress immediately after a missionary plane was accidentally shot down in 2001, according to a blistering CIA internal report released on Monday.
  • Israeli legislators call on US to release Jewish spy. Members of the Israeli Knesset are calling on US President Barack Obama to pardon American-born spy Jonathan Pollard, having been jailed in a maximum-security facility since 1985. George Bush refused to pardon Pollard in the last days of his presidency.
  • Analysis: Britain’s MI6 operates a bit differently than CIA. “Like the CIA, MI6 has a website, but while the U.S. agency site is only in English, MI6’s is also in Arabic, Russian, French, Spanish and Chinese. Another sign of British sophistication: while the CIA site has games and quizzes for kids, the MI6 site gives short tests to allow potential recruits to assess their analytical and administrative skills”. Interesting comparative assessment by Walter Pincus.

News you may have missed #446

  • American pleads guilty to spying for China. Glenn D. Shriver acknowledged on Friday that he accepted $70,000 from Chinese spies as he attempted to secure jobs with the CIA and US Foreign Service that would have allowed him to expose US government secrets. He apparently spent two years going through the CIA hiring process and reached the final security screenings. But US intelligence sources say Shriver was discovered very early in the hiring process.
  • Obama widens CIA operations in Pakistan. The US is pushing to expand secret CIA operations in Pakistan. But Islamabad is so far rebuffing US requests to allow additional CIA officers and special operations military trainers to enter the country.
  • US spy balloons blew towards Iran. The latest WikiLeaks revelations show that on two occasions in 2006 American JLens spy balloons broke from their moorings in Iraq and drifted toward the Iranian airspace. No information on the balloons’ fate is reported in the war logs. Did Iran get hold of them?

News you may have missed #437

  • Huge demand for spy balloons in Afghan war. The hottest US weapon in Afghanistan lacks a lethal capability, floats thousands of feet in the air and doesn’t carry troops. It’s a spy balloon. Similar contraptions have been making appearances at the Lebanese-Israeli border.
  • One, two, many WikiLeaks. Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a defector from the WikiLeaks website has said he has decided to jump ship and is thinking of creating a competitor site to Julian Assange’s whistleblower platform.
  • Is publication of classified info a criminal act? When WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of classified US military records concerning the war in Afghanistan last July, did it commit a criminal act under US law? A US Congressional Research Service report argues that it did not.

News you may have missed #423

US use of stealth spy drones in Afghanistan raises questions

RQ-170 Sentinel

RQ-170 Sentinel

On December 6, we posted a link to a photo of what appeared to be a classified US drone aircraft, which was published on a blog belonging to French newspaper Libération. Then, unexpectedly, on December 8, the US Air Force admitted that the mystery aircraft, dubbed ‘the Beast of Kandahar’ by aviation spotters, is the RQ-170 Sentinel, an unmanned, unarmed surveillance and reconnaissance drone with stealth capabilities, that is officially still in production by US defense contractor Lockheed Martin. That’s all well and fine. But the question is: why would the US be using a stealth drone against the Taliban in Afghanistan, who have no known antiaircraft radar systems, and are therefore unable to track enemy surveillance planes? Read more of this post