Former CIA Director stripped of security clearance asked to join panel

John Deutch

John Deutch

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
John M. Deutch was Director of Central Intelligence (CIA) from 1995 to 1996, under US President Bill Clinton. In 1997, the CIA initiated an internal security investigation over Deutch’s handling of classified material and discovered that he routinely stored and worked on hundreds of CIA top-secret files on his unprotected home laptop computer. This was allegedly the same computer that Deutch’s wife and children used to view their email and browse the Internet. Following the results of the CIA investigation, Deutch was stripped of his top-secret security clearances by George Tenet, who in 1996 had succeeded him as DCI. In January 2001, shortly before leaving office, President Clinton pardoned Deutch, sparing him from prosecution by the Justice Department. It has now emerged, however, that the Obama Administration’s new National Intelligence Director, Admiral Dennis Blair, has asked the former DCI to join a National Reconnaissance Office advisory panel on surveillance satellites. President Barack Obama’s CIA Director nominee, Leon Panetta, was asked about this during his Congressional hearing earlier today, but refused to comment before having an opportunity to “sit down and talk with Admiral Blair about just exactly what he had in mind” when he asked Deutch to join the panel.

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Confirmed: CIA extraordinary renditions to continue under Panetta

Leon Panetta

Leon Panetta

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On January 22, I examined the possibility that Leon Panetta, Barack Obama’s nominee for CIA Director, may favor the controversial practice of extraordinary rendition. The Los Angeles Times has now confirmed that the new US President has authorized the CIA to continue its policy on renditions under Mr. Panetta –a Clinton-era administrator who has publicly come out against the use of torture in interrogations. Extraordinary rendition involves extrajudicial kidnappings of wanted terrorism suspects by CIA or FBI paramilitaries, often abroad, followed by extrajudicial transfers of same suspects to third countries, such as Egypt or Syria, where they are usually tortured. The extracted information is then utilized by US law enforcement and intelligence agencies in their pursuit of the “war on terrorism”. This notorious practice became widespread under the first George W. Bush Administration, but it was first implemented under former US President Bill Clinton. As White House aide to Mr. Clinton at the time, Leon Panetta was reportedly  “a consumer of intelligence at the highest level”. It follows that he must have known about the practice, though he apparently failed to speak out against it. Read more of this post

DNI nominee advocates major overhaul of US intelligence classification rules

Dennis Blair

Dennis Blair

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Confirmation hearings for retired US Navy Admiral Dennis Cutler Blair, who is expected to succeed Mike McConnel as Director of National Intelligence (DNI), have already begun on the Hill. Last week, Admiral Blair was questioned by several Senators about the classification system for intelligence records, which is frequently the subject of criticism by open government advocates. In responding, Mr. Blair conceded that “[t]here is a great deal of over-classification, some of [which] is done for the wrong reasons, to try to hide things from the light of day”. His remark prompted Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to relay his personal experience, which “is that over and over and over again, we have seen official secrecy used not for national security purposes, but to mislead the public”. Read more of this post

Analysis: Why Did Bush Not Pardon Israeli Spy?

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In his latest article for The Santa Barbara News Press, Robert Eringer, the former FBI counterintelligence agent who now works for Prince Albert II of Monaco, reminds intelligence observers of the case of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Jay Pollard. Pollard, who has so far served 24 years of a life sentence, was found guilty in 1987 of spying on the US on behalf of Israel, while working as a US Navy intelligence analyst. Since his arrest and conviction, Pollard has been considered something of a national hero in Israel, and an enormous effort has been launched to secure his release. Israeli newspapers, whose articles routinely liken Pollard to Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, who was captured by Hamas in 2006,  disclosed earlier this month that a “massive campaign was conducted behind the scenes in Washington to persuade US president George W. Bush to commute Pollard’s sentence”. The effort, which included “tens of thousands of phone calls” that “flooded the White House”, was so enormous that several Israeli insiders considered Pollard’s release almost certain. Pollard remained imprisoned after all, and the question is, why did George W. Bush not succumb to these lobbying pressures? Read article →

Comment: Is CIA Director Nominee a Hypocrite?

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On January 6, I wrote that the President’s nominee for CIA Director, Leon Panetta, draws many of his intellectual positions from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party –most notably in the case of torture, of which he is a strong opponent. It is for this reason that many in the CIA hesitate to embrace Panetta, who is seen as representing “the left flank of the Democratic Party”. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that what passes as “left” in the eyes of the CIA is not necessarily –and should not be– considered “left” in the real world of politics. Leon Panetta’s stance on the practice of extraordinary rendition might be a case in point. Read more of this post

Obama’s choice for DNI ignored Timor massacres

It has emerged that US President Elect Barack Obama intends to nominate retired US Navy Admiral Dennis Cutler Blair to succeed Mike McConnel as Director of National Intelligence (DNI). What most news outlets are not reporting is that in 2000 Blair led a group of Pentagon officials who were determined to maintain close relations with Indonesia’s military establishment, despite its documented involvement in horrendous massacres in East Timor. Read more of this post