News you may have missed #503

  • Dutch forces’ covert operations in Africa revealed. Dutch forces have for several years been training government soldiers in Mali, Senegal and Chad, without the Dutch parliament being informed, according to Dutch newspaper AD, which cites documents from the US Congress and the Pentagon.
  • Israel destroys spying devices found in Gaza. Hamas sources have told Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram that they discovered several “audio-visual spying devices” in the sand hills south of Gaza City. But, as soon as they started removing the devices, they “received a phone call from Israeli intelligence elements” telling them that the site would be bombed “within three minutes” —which is precisely what happened, according to al-Ahram. Regular readers of this blog will know this incident was not a first.
  • Leaked documents reveal Guantanamo secrets. A batch of leaked US government intelligence documents, not meant to surface for 20 years, shows that intelligence collection at Guantánamo often was much less effective than the George Bush administration has acknowledged. According to the documents, the US military used interrogation and detention practices that they largely made up as they went along.

Why is Germany protecting Iraqi informant who lied about WMDs?

Rafid Ahmed Alwan

Alwan al-Janabi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
German politicians in the state of Baden-Württemberg are questioning the protection given by German intelligence services to a notorious Iraqi informant, who lied about Iraq’s weapons program. Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, known in intelligence circles as “Curveball”, arrived in Germany in 1999, where he applied for political asylum, saying he had been employed as a senior scientist in Iraq’s biological weapons program. Despite serious doubts expressed at the time by officials in Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service, the BND, and by some of their CIA colleagues, al-Janabi was given asylum in Germany. Moreover, information gathered from his testimony became a major source of the Bush Administration’s argument in favor of going to war in Iraq in 2003. Less than a year later, both the BND and the CIA concluded that al-Janabi had been lying about his alleged biological weapons role, and that he was in reality a taxi driver from Baghdad, who had used his undergraduate knowledge of engineering to fool Western intelligence. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #443

  • First budget cuts in a decade for UK spy agencies. Spending on Britain’s intelligence agencies is set to fall by 7%, for the first time in more than a decade. This is be expected to force MI5, MI6 and GCHQ to cap staff numbers, merge some of their operations, and scrap plans to modernize some of their buildings. Looks like even more British spies will be moving to Australia.
  • South Koreans arrested for trying to defect to North. Three South Koreans, including a medical doctor, are being investigated after allegedly trying to defect to North Korea from China. It is extremely unusual for South Koreans or other nationals to attempt to defect to the North.
  • Plame calls Fair Game movie ‘accurate portrayal’. CIA agent Valerie Plame has said the movie Fair Game, based on her book, is a “really good, accurate portrayal of what we went through, both personally and in the political maelstrom that we live through”. The Bush administration was accused of blowing Plame’s cover as retaliation after her diplomat husband openly challenged the reasoning behind the Iraq War.

CIA hid terrorism prisoners from US Supreme Court

CIA HQ

CIA HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The Central Intelligence Agency purposefully concealed at least four terrorism detainees from the US legal system, including the Supreme Court, according to an exclusive report by the Associated Press. The news agency has revealed that the CIA secretly transported the four to Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp on Cuba in 2003, two years before it publicly admitted their capture. It then secretly transferred them again to other sites in its black site prison network in various countries around the world, just three months before their prolonged stay at Guantánamo would entitle them to legal representation. While at Guantánamo, the four prisoners, Abd al-Nashiri, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, Ramzi Binalshibh and Abu Zubaydah, were kept at a facility known as ‘Strawberry Fields’, which is detached from the main prison site at the bay. By hiding the four, the Bush Administration managed to keep them under CIA custody while denying them legal representation for two years longer than allowed by US law. It also concealed their detention from national and international human rights monitoring bodies and from the US justice system, including the Supreme Court. Read more of this post

Author gets subpoenaed to reveal CIA sources

James Risen

James Risen

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The US government has issued a subpoena against a journalist who authored a book on the CIA’s operations during the years of the Bush administration. The move has surprised many, because the book in question, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, by New York Times journalist James Risen, has been out since 2006. The subpoena, which Risen received last Monday, requests him to testify before a grand jury about his confidential sources for chapter 9 of his book (pages 193-218), entitled “A Rogue Operation”, in which he describes in relative detail an attempt by the CIA to sabotage the Iranian nuclear weapons program. In the chapter, Risen writes of a thwarted CIA operation to pass to the Iranians a series of faulty nuclear bomb design documents. To do this, the Agency apparently recruited a Russian former nuclear scientist, who had defected to the United States. The unnamed scientist was told to travel to Vienna, Austria, in early 2000, and offer to sell the documents to the Iranians. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #332

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News you may have missed #0281

  • US intel director confirms CIA can kill US citizens abroad. It’s official; speaking before the House Intelligence Committee, US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair acknowledged that President Obama is continuing a Bush-era policy authorizing the killing of US citizens if they are considered “a terrorist threat to the United States”.
  • Funny sign at CIA gift shop. Actual notice displayed at a CIA gift store inside the Agency’s Langley, VA, headquarters: “Don’t forget! If you are undercover, you cannot charge! It will blow your cover”. Good point.
  • Gordon Thomas’ Secret Wars out in paperback. IntelNews has received the new paperback edition of Gordon Thomas’ Secret Wars: 100 Years of British Intelligence. Joseph Fitsanakis reviewed the hardback edition last May.

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