News you may have missed #504

  • Israel spy pleads to Obama for release. United States Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel, has pleaded for his release in a personal letter to President Barack Obama. The letter was apparently handed to Obama by Israeli President Shimon Peres when he visited the White House on April 5.
  • US-Pakistan spy feud boils over CIA drone strikes. The Pakistani government has voiced strong criticism of a fresh CIA drone attack, which has killed 26 people. But an anonymous US counterterrorism official, who spoke to the McClatchy news agency, said that “the Pakistanis should spend less time complaining to the press [about the drone strikes] and more time trying to root out terrorists within their country”.
  • Colombia to issue international warrant for ex-spy chief. Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office will issue an international arrest warrant for Maria Pilar Hurtado, former director of the country’s disgraced DAS intelligence agency, who was granted political asylum in Panama.

CIA active on the ground in Libya ‘for several weeks’

Libyan rebels

Libyan rebels

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Few intelligence observers have been surprised by revelations in The New York Times that several cells of Central Intelligence Agency officers have been active on the ground in Libya for the best part of March. The US newspaper published the disclosure after the Reuters news agency first broke the story early on Wednesday. According to Reuters, US President Barack Obama authorized a secret Presidential finding three weeks ago, in which he instructed the CIA to deploy teams of operatives in the North African country. In reality, as Reuters commented later on, US intelligence officers were active on the ground in Libya before President Obama’s authorization for covert action. But his authorization gave the green light for the intensification of CIA activities throughout Libya’s northern regions. The CIA operatives are not working alone; they are part of what The Times called “a shadow force of Westerners”, which include “dozens of British special forces” and officers of the Secret Intelligence Service, otherwise known as MI6 —the UK’s foremost external intelligence agency. Citing “American officials”, The Times speculates that Western intelligence agents are actively collecting tactical intelligence on the Libyan armed forces, thus helping guide aerial strikes by NATO jets. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #475 (Arab revolution edition)

  • Obama ‘disappointed’ with US intelligence on Tunisia. US President Barack Obama sent word to National Intelligence Director James Clapper that he was “disappointed with the intelligence community” over its failure to predict that the outbreak of demonstrations would lead to the ouster of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunis.
  • An Intelligence Failure in Egypt? The US intelligence community is like the offensive line of the government. They protect the quarterback all day long, and no one notices until they give up a sack. Which raises the question: was US President Barack Obama blindsided by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt?
  • Did US intelligence fail in North Africa? “One former official said US president Barack Obama recently urged the CIA to put as much effort into analysis of the situation in North Africa as into covert operations, including those targeting al-Qaida”.

Analysis: Spy Agencies Failed to Predict Egypt Uprising

Egypt uprising

Egypt uprising

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
It is becoming increasingly clear that the ongoing popular uprising in Egypt represents the most important geopolitical development in the Middle East since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. In light of this, it is remarkable how unprepared foreign intelligence agencies have proven in forecasting the crisis. Even the Israelis were caught completely unaware: on January 25, the day when massive protests first erupted across Egypt, Major General Aviv Kochavi, newly appointed head of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate, told a Knesset committee that “there are no doubts about the stability of the regime in Egypt” and that “the Muslim Brotherhood is not organized enough to take over”. Instead, Kochavi focused on political volatility in Lebanon; ironically, the latter now seems like an oasis of tranquility compared to the explosive state of Egyptian politics. If the Israelis, whose very concept of national security is inextricably linked with developments in Cairo, were so unsuspecting of the popular wave of anger against the thirty-year dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak, one can only imagine Washington’s surprise at the protests. Click here to read my article in Intelligent-Intelligence.com, a specialist publication edited by Kyle Cunliffe. Continue reading →

News you may have missed #412

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News you may have missed #406

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News you may have missed #393

  • US warns Turkey against Gaza flotilla probe. London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat claimed on Saturday that US President Barack Obama told Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan that an independent inquiry into the Free Gaza Flotilla massacre “could turn into a double-edged sword” against Ankara.
  • US experts doubt North Korea sunk South Korean ship. A new study by US researchers raises questions about the investigation into the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean navy ship, which went down last March, killing 46 sailors. International investigators have blamed a North Korean torpedo, raising tensions on the Korean peninsula.
  • Nixon-Kissinger dialogue raises CIA assassination suspicions. A loaded dialogue between President Richard M. Nixon and his trusted national security adviser, Henry A. Kissinger, dating from 1971, appears to confirm that the CIA had a role in the 1970 assassination of Chilean army commander-in-chief Rene Schneider.

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News you may have missed #387

  • Blackwater to ‘abandon US government market’. Erik Prince, occasional CIA operative and CEO of Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, has said in an interview that he is tired of Congressional oversight regulations and plans to abandon US government business forever. Meanwhile, there are reports that Xe has just won a $100 million contract to guard CIA facilities in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
  • Congress won’t back down on CIA oversight battle. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is battling a veto threat by US President Barack Obama, as well as against the CIA and powerful House and Senate Democrats and Republicans, over Congressional oversight of US intelligence services.
  • Mossad chief to step down after eight years. Mossad Director Meir Dagan’s request to extend his term by another year has been denied, and he will step down in three months’ time, according to Israeli media reports. The chief of Dubai Police, which exposed a January 2010 Mossad assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, said Dagan’s ousting is related to the botched operation.

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News you may have missed #377

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Israel becoming a burden to the US, says Mossad chief

Meir Dagan

Meir Dagan

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The director of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has publicly stated the agency’s concerns that Israel is gradually turning from an asset to a burden for American foreign policy. Speaking before the Israeli Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Meir Dagan said it was obvious to him that “Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden”. The former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commander, who has led the Mossad since 2002, remarked that every year since the end of the Cold War there are progressively “fewer Israeli assets in the US”. The importance of Israel in US foreign policy was “greater when there was conflict between the blocs”, said the Mossad chief, “while this year there has [again] been a decrease” in Israel’s significance. He went on to lament the 2008 election success of US President Barack Obama, which was “a declaration that [the US] was adopting a softer approach and did not want to use force to solve conflicts”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #360

  • New book hints at covert US-French spy war. A forthcoming book, Diplomats: Behind the Façade of France’s Embassies, by Franck Renaud, claims that in 2008 French security agents discovered hidden bugs placed by the CIA in the Paris apartment of Pierre Brochand, head of the  DGSE, France’s primary intelligence agency. A CIA spokesperson refused to speculate on the accuracy of the allegations.
  • Obama rethinking his lead pick for DNI. Following skepticism expressed by intelligence insiders, President Obama is reportedly reevaluating his initial choice of James R. Clapper as the leading contender for the post of the Director of National Intelligence.

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News you may have missed #0286

  • More on CIA spies working for corporations. Author Eamon Javers provides more information about his new book, in which he examines the increasing phenomenon of CIA agents working for private corporations on the side.
  • Rio Tinto spy controversy thickens. Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto says it is “extremely worried” about four of its staff, who were arrested last July by Chinese authorities and have now been formally charged with espionage.
  • Court keeps White House spy emails secret. Two weeks ago, US President Barack Obama declared in his State of the Union address that “it’s time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or Congress”. This does not appear to apply to telecommunication industry lobbyists, who campaigned in favor of facilitating warrantless communications interception through the National Security Agency’s STELLAR WIND program.

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Obama extends ‘war on terrorism’ theater to Yemen

Sa’dah insurgents

Sa’dah rebels

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Think what you like about Barack Obama. The fact is, his administration is currently overseeing the most rapid expansion in the nine-year history of Washington’s so-called ‘war on terrorism’. The operations theater of this ever-expanding war now includes territories deep inside Pakistan (not just near the Afghan borderlands), as well as parts of Saudi Arabia and Yemen. With respect to the latter, intelNews is one of a handful of specialized outlets that began paying attention to US involvement there before the US airstrikes of last December, which in the eyes of the Arab world, formalized America’s military presence in the country. As predicted at the time, the strikes, which were accompanied by a Saudi military invasion of Yemen, became a rallying cry for both Sunni and Shiite Islamists in the Yemen-Saudi border, and have caused increased activity by both Shiite (Sa’dah insurgency) and Sunni (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP) militants. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0256

  • Descendant of Richard Sorge’s accomplice receives Soviet-era award. The 81-year-old niece of Yotoku Miyagi, a Japanese accomplice of famous German-born Comintern spy Richard Sorge, has been awarded the Soviet Order of the Patriotic War medal in a ceremony at the Russian embassy in Tokyo, Japan. The medal was originally granted in 1965, but Miyagi was unable to collect it, as he had been executed, along with Sorge, by the Japanese in 1944.
  • Analysis: Alleged US spy’s arrest in Cuba affects bilateral relations. Cuban officials say that a US citizen working for Maryland-based aid group Development Alternatives Inc., who was arrested in Havana last month, was actually recruiting local Cubans to spy on the government. This development means that initial hopes for better US-Cuban relations after Barack Obama’s election success may be fading.
  • CIA, DoD drone attacks in Afghanistan intensify under McChrystal. Under the command of US and NATO forces by US Army general Stanley McChrystal, unmanned drone strikes in Afghanistan have been steadily increasing. A good question to ask is who is in charge of similar strikes in Pakistan, which are also on the increase.

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News you may have missed #0248

  • Cuba insists jailed US contractor is secret service agent. Cuban officials say that a US citizen working for Maryland-based international aid group Development Alternatives Inc., who was arrested in Havana last month, was actually recruiting local Cubans to spy on the government.
  • Analysis: Spying in Eastern Europe heats up again. The Cold War may be 20 years dead and buried, but it seems that the old East-West spying game is not only alive and kicking, but gaining vigor in places like Warsaw, Prague and Tallinn.
  • Obama designates new list of secrecy gatekeepers. The US president has designated over two dozen officials as “original classification authorities” (OCAs), who have the power to classify government information as Top Secret or Secret, and (in most cases) to delegate such authority to their subordinates. Importantly, the directive says that OCAs will lose their job if they fail to “receive training in proper classification […] at least once a calendar year”.

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