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