News you may have missed #824 (India edition)

Tony MendezBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►CIA honed ARGO exfiltration skills in India. The Oscar-winning movie Argo has popularized the 1980 exfiltration by the CIA of a group of American diplomats from Tehran. But few know that Tony Mendez, the CIA officer in charge of the Iran operation, cut his teeth exfiltrating CIA targets in India. In his book, titled Argo, Mendez mentions the 1970 exfiltration of a Soviet defector in India codenamed Nestor. He claims that Nestor was a “huge catch” for the CIA, as he provided the Agency with “invaluable intelligence on the KGB’s operations in Central and Southeast Asia”.
►►Ex-CIA officer says al-Qaeda wanted India-Pakistan nuclear war. In his latest book, Avoiding Armageddon: America, India, and Pakistan to the Brink and Back, former CIA officer Bruce Riedel says al-Qaeda helped plan the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Its goal was to “spark a nuclear war between India and Pakistan in order to polarize the world between Islam and the ‘Crusader-Zionist-Hindu’ conspiracy”. But the group’s plan was hampered by India’s restraint and refusal to strike back using force, he argues.
►►Man passing defense info to Pakistan held in India. Reports suggest that Sumer Khan, 34, from Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district, has been arrested for sending strategic information to Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency via emails and mobile calls for the past three years. A source said that Khan was caught after his calls to Pakistan were intercepted by Indian military intelligence and Intelligence Bureau. The arrest comes just two days after the conclusion of India’s biggest-ever air exercise, ‘Iron Fist’, in Jaisalmer.

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News you may have missed #601 (CIA edition)

Tony Mendez

Tony Mendez in 1990

►►CIA invests in information technology. In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s technology investment group, is backing NetBase, which develops semantic search technology, as well as Connectify, which develops VPN software. In-Q-Tel’s role is to back commercial technologies that have the potential to aid intelligence and national security operations if developed further.
►►Interview with CIA disguise experts. The Washington Times has an interesting, lengthy interview with Tony and Joanna Mendez, both retired CIA disguise specialists. The two worked in the CIA’s Office of Technical Services, helping develop and deploy espionage gadgets –including a low-light camera that was used during the first moon landing and miniature lithium batteries that were the predecessors of the batteries used in modern portable electronics.
►►US government fights to keep Osama bin Laden death photos secret. Photographs and videos of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden after he was killed in May in a US military/Central Intelligence Agency raid in Pakistan should not be released publicly. The reason, according ot the Obama administration, is because they would reveal military and intelligence secrets and could lead to violence against US personnel. This was argued by the administration’s lawyers in federal court in Washington on Monday.

Former CIA couple in effort to ‘un-demonize’ agency

Tony Mendez

Mendez in 1990

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A husband-and-wife CIA team, who married after retiring from the agency, after a collective career spanning over half a century, are speaking around the country in an effort to “humanize [and] un-demonize the CIA”. Antonio (Tony) and Jonna Mendez joined the agency in the 1960s, and spent the next 25 years at the CIA’s Office of Technical Services. Tony was eventually promoted to Chief of Disguise, and later Chief of the Graphics and Authentication Division, whose mission is –among other tasks– transforming the identities of CIA field operatives, by supplying them with high-quality forged documentation for use in their various missions. In 1997, he was honored by the CIA as one of the “50 trailblazers” in the agency’s history. Jonna Mendez worked for 27 years as a spy camera expert, and was tasked with training CIA officers in the use of covert technologies. Read more of this post