News you may have missed #708

Bertil StrobergBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Swedish Cold War spy dies at 79. Bertil Stroberg, a former Swedish air force officer, who was convicted of spying for Poland during the Cold War, but always maintained his innocence, has died, following a yearlong battle against cancer. He was sentenced to six years in prison for spying in 1983, but released on parole after serving three years. The key evidence in his case was a letter the prosecution said he had written to the Polish embassy offering to sell military secrets. The letter was signed Sven-Roland Larsson and asked that money be sent in that name to the Central Post Office. Stroberg was arrested when he went to the post office to collect Larsson’s mail.
►►US keeping Britain in the dark on intel issues. American intelligence agencies are increasingly keeping their British counterparts in the dark on key information, for fear those secrets could end up on full display in UK courts. “The Americans have got nervous that we are going to start revealing some of the information and they have started cutting back, I’m sure, on what they disclose”, Ken Clarke, the United Kingdom’s justice secretary, said in a Wednesday interview with the BBC. The American intelligence community has become wary about sharing sensitive intelligence with the UK ever since a 2008 court case forced the British government to disclose specific details on terror detainee operations.
►►Bush official says CIA ‘committed war crimes’. Philip Zelikow, who was a top adviser to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, warned the Bush administration that its use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading” interrogation techniques like waterboarding were “a felony war crime”. What is more, newly obtained documents reveal that State Department counselor Zelikow told the Bush team in 2006 that using the controversial interrogation techniques were “prohibited” under US law —“even if there is a compelling state interest asserted to justify them”. Zelikow’s memo was an internal bureaucratic push against an attempt by the Justice Department to flout long-standing legal restrictions against torture.

News you may have missed #662: UK edition

Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson with Adolf HitlerBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Hacked StratFor info exposes thousands of intel officials. Customer user data obtained from StratFor by Anonymous last month includes the private details of 221 British military officials and 242 NATO staff. Civil servants working at the heart of the UK government —including several in the Cabinet Office as well as advisers to the Joint Intelligence Organisation, which acts as the British Prime Minister’s eyes and ears on sensitive information— have also been exposed.
►►Book claims MI5 tapped phones of King Edward. According to a new biography of Tommy Robertson, who pioneered Britain’s wartime counterintelligence operations, MI5 agents tapped the phones of King Edward VIII and his brother the Duke of York, at the height of the ‘abdication crisis’. Edward VIII was infatuated with –and, in 1936, gave up his throne to marry– American divorcee and socialite Wallis Simpson, who was suspected by many in the British government of having Nazi sympathies.
►►UK spy watchdog wants to stop court disclosure of state secrets. The parliamentary watchdog for Britain’s spies, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), is lobbying the government to introduce sweeping curbs that could prevent UK courts from examining intelligence material. The committee claims that its proposed new powers would ensure that intelligence obtained from foreign agencies, such as the CIA, is never publicly disclosed. This proposal clearly goes back the case of Binyam Mohamed; he was detained in Pakistan, where he was questioned by MI5, and eventually ended up in Guantánamo Bay, where he says he was tortured. In late 2009, British courts clashed with David Miliband, the then foreign secretary, over the publication of a summary of US intelligence material relating to Mohamed.

News you may have missed #344

  • CIA base in Afghanistan hit again. A suicide car bomber killed one civilian and wounded two security guards at the entrance to the CIA’s Forward Operating Base Chapman, in Afghanistan’s Khost province. It is the same base where Jordanian suicide bomber Humam Khalil al-Balawi killed seven CIA officers in December of 2009.
  • Fiji to set up new spy agency. The government of Fiji plans to re-establish its intelligence agency, ten years after it was disbanded by Labour Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry. The new organization will be called the National Intelligence Agency of Fiji.
  • MI5 and MI6 must release Guantánamo records, says judge. MI5 and MI6 have been told by a British judge that they cannot use secret evidence to defend themselves from civil damages claims brought by six former detainees in the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, including Binyam Mohamed.

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News you may have missed #0288

News you may have missed #0284

  • Real IRA faction killed MI5 informant, says Irish police. The Gardai have concluded that a Real IRA faction executed Denis Donaldson, a former Sinn Fein official who turned informer for MI5 and the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Last year, the Real IRA took responsibility for the 2007 killing.
  • NATO spy station up for sale. A Canadian NATO spy station in Nova Scotia that operated between 1983 and 2006 is for sale for US$1.4 million. It appears that the site’s current owner, who doesn’t want to be identified, bought it from the Canadian Defense Department after the base was closed down.
  • Analysis on the Binyam Mohamed disclosures and UK-US spy cooperation. This analysis, by Michael Clarke, director of Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, is probably the best synopsis of the meaning of the recent court order to disclose Binyam Mohamed’s torture records, which has complicated US-UK spy relations.

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US, UK spy agencies on alert after unprecedented court decision

Binyam Mohamed

Binyam Mohamed

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
British and American intelligence agencies have been placed on alert following an unprecedented ruling by a British court, which forces the British government to disclose CIA documents in its possession. The documents relate to the case of Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian resident of Britain, who says he was severely tortured with the collaboration of the CIA and British domestic intelligence agency MI5, after he was renditioned to Morocco. Last February, two British judges overseeing Mr. Mohamed’s case revealed that the British government kept “powerful evidence” secret after being threatened by the US that it would “stop sharing intelligence about terrorism with the UK”. In July, it emerged that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally threatened the British government that Washington would stop collaborating with London on intelligence matters if evidence in Mr. Mohamed’s case was publicly released. Read more of this post

UK spy agencies argue for torture trial behind closed doors

Binyam Mohamed

Binyam Mohamed

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The two primary intelligence agencies in the British Isles have argued that any evidence presented in a lawsuit accusing them of torture should remain secret. The request, which is unprecedented in British legal history, was made on Monday before Britain’s High Court by MI5, MI6, as well as by a number of government ministers. The court case in point centers on a lawsuit filed jointly by seven British citizens or residents, all of whom were held in the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp and claim they were tortured by the CIA with British complicity. The seven are Moazzam Begg, Bisher Al Rawi, Jamil El Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Martin Mubanga, and Binyam Mohamed, whose case is perhaps the most well known. Read more of this post

MI5 chief defends use of intelligence extracted through torture

Jonathan Evans

Jonathan Evans

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
In an unprecedented public speech, the director of MI5, Britain’s national counterintelligence agency, said the intelligence extracted by torturing suspects after 9/11 had stopped “many attacks” on Western and other targets. Last January, Jonathan Evans, who was named director of MI5 in April 2007, gave the first-ever media interview by an MI5 director in history. Last Thursday, he made history once again by giving the first-ever public speech by an MI5 chief. Speaking at the University of Bristol, England, Evans said MI5 was right to cooperate after 9/11 with US and other intelligence agencies, even if those agencies were known to routinely extract information from detainees through torture. In doing so, he revealed that MI5’s own knowledge of al-Qaeda was “inadequate” at the time of 9/11, and that the agency “had to get overseas help at the time”. Read more of this post

British police investigating secret services in torture cases

MI6 HQ

MI6 HQ

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Britain’s attorney general has asked London’s Metropolitan police to investigate the role of the country’s external intelligence agency in the torture of a foreign detainee. MI6, also known as the Secret Intelligence Service, is the second British intelligence organization to be investigated by police, since MI5, the country’s main domestic intelligence service, is already under investigation for its alleged role in the torture of Binyam Mohamed. An Ethiopian resident of Britain, Mohamed said he was severely tortured with MI5’s collaboration, after he was renditioned to Morocco. According to MI6 sources, the police investigation into SIS activities is not related to the Binyam Mohamed case, but rather to a yet unnamed foreign detainee of an unnamed country. The MI6 investigation marks the first time in British history that the two main arms of the country’s intelligence establishment, MI5 and MI6 are the subject of simultaneous police investigations.

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CIA furious over UK-Libyan bomber release deal

Al-Megrahi

Al-Megrahi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The CIA has threatened to stop sharing intelligence with UK spy services in protest over the recent release from a Scottish prison of a Libyan intelligence agent convicted for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, according to a British newspaper. Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who is now back home in Tripoli, was released by British authorities on August 19 on compassionate grounds, after medical tests allegedly showed he is suffering from terminal cancer. Many observers, including former CIA agent Robert Baer, voiced suspicion about the reasons behind al-Megrahi’s release, while several British newspapers, including The London Times, alleged that the release was part of a lucrative oil exploration deal between British Petroleum (BP) and the Libyan government. Now an article in British newspaper The News of the World claims that the CIA leadership has vowed to terminate intelligence cooperation with the UK over the Libyan’s release. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0064

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News you may have missed #0058

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Hillary Clinton pressured UK government to conceal torture information

Binyam Mohamed

B. Mohamed

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally threatened the British government that Washington would stop collaborating with London on intelligence matters if the latter allowed the release of evidence on an alleged torture case. This has been revealed in London’s high court during the ongoing trial of Binyam Mohamed, a resident of Britain, who is was until recently imprisoned by US authorities at the Guantánamo Bay camp. Mr. Mohamed was abducted in 2002 by Pakistani authorities, who delivered him to US intelligence agents. The latter employed the controversial practice of extraordinary rendition and had Mr. Mohamed secretly imprisoned in Morocco and Afghanistan before taking him to Guantánamo. Read more of this post

Did CIA censor lawyer’s letter to President Obama?

Mohamed

Mohamed

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
A prominent British lawyer representing a Guantánamo detainee has said a letter he sent to Barack Obama was censored by US intelligence officials. The lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, represents Binyam Mohamed, a resident of Britain, who is currently imprisoned by US authorities at the Guantánamo Bay camp. Mr. Mohamed was abducted in 2002 by Pakistani agents, who delivered him to US intelligence. US officials employed the controversial practice of extraordinary rendition and had Mr. Mohamed secretly imprisoned in Morocco and Afghanistan before taking him to Guantánamo. The Ethiopian-born Mohamed says he was brutally tortured while in Moroccan and US custody. Earlier this month, two British judges overseeing Mr. Mohamed court challenge in the UK, accused the British government of keeping “powerful evidence” about Mr. Mohamed’s torture secret, after being threatened by Washington that it would “stop sharing intelligence about terrorism with the UK”. Read more of this post

Obama officials toe Bush Administration secrecy line in rendition lawsuit

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Last Monday it emerged that the new US Attorney General, Eric H. Holder, ordered “a review of all claims of state secrets used to block lawsuits into warrantless spying on Americans and the treatment of foreign terrorism suspects”. US Justice Department spokesperson, Matt Miller, said the directive “will ensure the [state secrets] privilege is not invoked to hide from the American people information about their government’s actions that they have a right to know”. Despite Mr. Holder’s review order, however, the Obama Administration has chosen to retain the previous government’s “state secrets” clause to block a lawsuit filed by victims of CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. The case is Binyam Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan, a Colorado-based Boeing Corporation subcontractor that provided logistical support to the CIA’s prisoner transfer scheme. Read more of this post