News you may have missed #696

NSA's Utah Data CenterBy IAN ALLEN| |
►►French spies to stage labor protest. The main union representing French domestic intelligence officers, those charged with counter-espionage and anti-terror investigations, called Wednesday on its members to stage a protest. The head of the SNOP union, which represents senior police officers and is the main labor body for members of the DCRI security agency, said his members planned a “gathering” at their Paris headquarters. A smaller union said it wanted no part in the protest, and it was not clear how many of the agency’s 4,000 intelligence officers planned to take part.
►►James Bamford on the NSA’s new spy center in Utah. Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built in Bluffdale for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013.
►►Author of unauthorized CIA book gave proceeds to charity. After former CIA officer Ishmael Jones wrote a book about the CIA without gaining prior approval from the Agency, the government sought and won a judicial ruling that Jones had acted in violation of his CIA secrecy agreement, and that he could be held liable for the breach. But the government’s current efforts to seize the financial proceeds from Jones’ 2010 book, The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture, have been frustrated by the fact that the author has already given the proceeds away to charity.

News you may have missed #467

  • Ex-Mossad chief says Iran nuke program behind schedule. Meir Dagan, Israel’s recently retired spy chief, thinks Iran will not be able to build a nuclear bomb before 2015, further pushing back Israeli intelligence estimates on the subject. Time for critics of the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate to reconsider their views?
  • NSA breaks ground on Utah cybersecurity center. Ground was broken last Thursday on the Utah Data Center, a $1.2 billion, 1 million-square-foot cybersecurity center being built for the US National Security Agency at Camp Williams, near Salt Lake City. Secrecy is expected to shroud the center, with the groundbreaking being one of the public’s last chances to take an open look at the project.
  • Colombian judge orders arrest of ex-spy chief. Colombia’s Prosecutor General has ordered the arrest of Jorge Noguera, a former director of the country’s DAS intelligence agency, for his alleged involvement in the spying on government opponents. This is not the first time Noguera, who was director of the DAS between 2002 and 2006, has been sent to jail. He was imprisoned and released twice for his alleged involvement in allowing members of paramilitary organization United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia to infiltrate the intelligence agency.

News you may have missed #335

  • Leading al-Qaeda expert to leave FBI. J. Philip Mudd, one of the US intelligence community’s leading al-Qaeda analysts, has quietly retired from the FBI, where he was the National Security Branch’s associate executive director. He will be replaced by 23-year FBI veteran Sean Joyce.
  • Three more domestic spying programs revealed. The US Department of Homeland Security has acknowledged the existence of three more government programs charged with spying on American citizens in the aftermath of 9/11. The programs, Pantheon, Pathfinder and Organizational Shared Space, used a variety of software tools to gather and analyze information about Americans.
  • NSA Utah facility contractors shortlisted. We have mentioned before that for contractors in northern Utah, where the NSA is preparing to build a million-square-foot facility, at Camp Williams, it’s party time. Five of them, including three from Utah, have now been shortlisted by the government.

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Cash register ringing for NSA’s corporate suitors

NSA Headquarters


The decision by the US National Security Agency to build 5.8 million square feet of data-storage and office space by 2029 has drawn mixed reactions by intelligence observers. But for businesses in northern Utah, where the NSA is preparing to build a million-square-foot facility, at Camp Williams, it’s party time, in the middle of a crippling word-wide economic recession. The gigantic government Agency, which is tasked with worldwide communications surveillance, as well as communications security, will build the billion-dollar facility within the next two years, and is already consulting with building contractors. But how does one do business with the notoriously secretive NSA? Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0231

  • Chinese honey trap methods net another victim. This time it was M.M. Sharma, an Indian diplomat posted with India’s mission in China, who reportedly had an affair with “a Chinese female spy”. She managed to gain access to his personal computer and “peruse [classified] documents without any restraint”. London’s ex-deputy mayor, Ian Clement, must feel better knowing he is not alone.
  • NSA’s $1.9 billion cyber spy center a power grab. Extensive –if a little ‘light’– analysis of the US National Security Agency’s planned new data storage center in Utah, by Chuck Gates of Deseret News.
  • Connecticut police spying on Democratic Party activists? Kenneth Krayeske, a political activist and free-lance journalist is suing the Connecticut State Police, claiming that officers engaged in “political spying [by using] cloaked Connecticut State Police addresses [to] subscribe to e-mail bulletin boards and lists […] that contain political information relating to the Green Party, the Democratic Party” and independent political activists.

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News you may have missed #0172

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News you may have missed #0155

  • NSA confirms rumors of new Utah data center. IntelNews readers have known about this since last July. Despite the new center, NSA still cannot process all the information it intercepts. But officials told a press conference on Friday that the Agency “has no choice but to continue enhancing its data processing efforts”.
  • UK intel agents to train West Bank security forces. Britain is sending intelligence officers from MI5 and MI6 to the West Bank, to train the Palestinian Authority’s Mukhabarat intelligence agency. According to The Daily Mail, the move is aimed to “stop a wave of brutal torture by Palestinian security forces”. How ironic is it, then, that both MI5 and MI6 are currently under investigation by British police for complicity to torture?

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Analysis: NSA emerging as the world’s most powerful spy agency

James Bamford

James Bamford

Regular readers of this blog know that the US National Security Agency is in the process of renovating its soon-to-be-unveiled Texas Cryptology Center, a 470,000-square-foot facility that will cost “upwards of $130 million” and be used primarily to store intercepted communications data. They also know that the gigantic Agency, which is tasked with worldwide communications surveillance, as well as communications security, is also building a 1 million square foot data center at Utah’s Camp Williams. Finally, as we reported last August, the NSA is currently laying out a 20-year plan to construct 5.8 million square feet of new working and storage space on its Fort George G. Meade headquarters in Maryland, and staff it with 11,000 people. What does all this mean? Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0057

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News you may have missed #0016

  • Wife of cleric kidnapped by CIA seeks European Court trial. Nabila Ghali, the second wife of Hassan Mustafa Omar Nasr, who was kidnapped by the CIA from a street in Milan, Italy, in 2003, announced plans to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against the Italian government’s state secrecy clauses that are hampering the Italian trial on Nasr’s abduction. 
  • NSA to build huge facility in Utah. The National Security Agency, which is tasked with worldwide communications surveillance, as well as communications security, is in the process of renovating its soon-to-be-unveiled 470,000-square-foot Texas Cryptology Center, which will cost upwards of $130 million and be used primarily to store intercepted communications data. This is now to be coupled with another, 1-million-square-foot data center, to be built at Utah’s Camp Williams. 
  • US government to keep CIA black sites open, for now. A government prosecutor has disclosed during the ongoing trial of former Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Galani that the CIA does not plan to close down its black sites “for now”.
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