Israel offers settlement freeze in exchange for US spy’s release

Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan Pollard

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Israeli government officials are considering extending a settlement freeze in Israeli-occupied territories in exchange for the release of an American citizen serving a life sentence for spying on the US for Israel. Laura Rozen over at Politico reports that a representative of the embassy of Israel in Washington DC has denied knowledge of the rumored deal. But according to Israel Army Radio, an envoy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already “unofficially” passed the proposal along to US government officials. If accepted by the White House, the deal would involve the freezing of all new construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, in exchange for the release of Jonathan Jay Pollard, a US Navy intelligence analyst who in 1987 was sentenced to life imprisonment for spying on the US on behalf of Israel. Pollard, who has since been awarded honorary Israeli citizenship, and is considered a hero in Israel, has so far served 25 years in prison. Read more of this post

Documents reveal Bill Clinton’s secret contact with Iran

Mohammad Khatami

M. Khatami

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Two newly declassified high-level documents reveal a short-lived overture between Washington and Tehran, initiated in 1999 by the Bill Clinton administration. The US President resorted to the secret communication with Iran in an attempt to preempt several hawkish policy planners in his administration. The latter pressed for strong American military retaliation against Iran, in response to the latter’s alleged involvement in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing. The bombing, which targeted a US Air Force base in the suburbs of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killed 19 and wounded 400 American servicemen and women. By 1999, US intelligence agencies were convinced that the bombing had been financed and orchestrated by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), an independent administrative and paramilitary institution tasked with –among other things– exporting the Iranian Revolution abroad. But the Clinton Administration decided to contact the then newly elected reformist Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, and sternly inform him of the evidence against the IRGC. Read more of this post

Analysis: Bush focus on Daily Brief skewed policy decisions

Lieberthal

Lieberthal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A study by a Brookings Institution analyst says the “unprecedented” level of importance given to the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) by George W. Bush skewed his administration’s policy decisions after 9/11 and had negative consequences for the US intelligence community. The PDB arrives at the US President’s desk every morning with highly classified summaries of the latest findings from America’s intelligence community. The importance given to the PDB, whose contents are often highly speculative or unprocessed, varies with Presidents. But Kenneth Lieberthal, former National Security Council staffer in the Bill Clinton administration and senior fellow at Brookings, says the Bush cabinet overwhelmingly relied on the PDB to make policy decisions, which were often based on information that lacked substantial analysis. Read more of this post

US threatened Indonesia with war during 1999 East Timor crisis

William Cohen

William Cohen

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The Clinton Administration threatened to go to war with Indonesia in 1999, if Jakarta resisted an Australian-led plan to grant independence to what was then Indonesia’s province of East Timor. The revelations were made by former American and Australian military officials quoted in a new book titled The March of Patriots: The Struggle for Modern Australia. According to Pentagon official James Schear and Dr. Ashton Calvert, the late Director of the Australian Foreign Affairs Department, US Secretary of Defense William Cohen met with Indonesia’s President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie and Defense Minister General Wiranto, and told them that Washington would retaliate militarily if Jakarta contested the planned deployment of an Australian-led UN force in East Timor. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0047

  • Bin Laden still alive, says terrorism expert. Jere Van Dyk, who is CBS News’ consultant on terrorism, weighs rumors that Osama bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, or even Europe.
  • Sri Lanka authorities claim arrest of LTTE spy commander. Sri Lanka’s Terrorist Investigation Division says it arrested the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam intelligence chief on Monday. The LTTE appears to be in shambles, having lost its entire intelligence network.
  • CIA Director praises Bill Clinton during visit. CIA Director Panetta “complimented Mr. Clinton for his understanding of the CIA’s role in intelligence gathering in the post-Cold War era” and praised “the experience and perspective of a man who for eight years worked to defuse those dangers, protect our nation, and share the best of its ideals with the rest of the world”. Panetta was Clinton’s White House aide in the 1990s.

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Judge accuses CIA of fraud in 15-year court case

Judge Lamberth

Judge Lamberth

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A 15-year old lawsuit against the CIA unexpectedly resurfaced yesterday, after a US federal judge accused the CIA attorneys of fraud and warned the former and current CIA leadership of serious legal sanctions. US District Judge Royce Lamberth said the CIA misled him on several occasions by falsely claiming that the “state secrets” clause applied to the case, which three consecutive US administrations have tried to bury. The case was filed in 1994 by retired Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer Richard A. Horn, who claimed that CIA agents illegally wiretapped his conversations while he was stationed in Burma. It appears that, at the time, the US diplomatic representation in Burma and the CIA station in Rangoon were at loggerheads with the DEA. Read more of this post

Panetta uses Senate hearing to send message to CIA

Leon Panetta

Leon Panetta

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Reassuring CIA’s rank-and-file that he does not represent a coup d’état from the “left flank” of the Democratic Party appeared to be at the top of Leon Panetta’s agenda in yesterday’s Senate hearing. Barack Obama’s nominee for the post of CIA Director emphasized that he does not intend to replace officials currently at senior positions in the Agency, including Deputy Director Stephen Kappes, who was favored by CIA hawks to lead the Agency. He also confirmed earlier rumors, reported by intelNews on January 15, that the Obama Administration has no intention to punish CIA officers involved in torturing terrorism detainees. Read more of this post