News you may have missed #468

News you may have missed #0247

  • US government lowers threshold for inclusion on no-fly lists. According to senior US State Department officials, the government has already lowered the threshold for information deemed important enough to put suspicious individuals on a watch list or no-fly list. CNN reports that suspects will now include citizens of the notorious Islamist country of Cuba….
  • CIA starts sharing data with climate scientists. This blog has kept an eye on the CIA’s Climate Change Center, which was established late last year. It now turns out the Agency had started monitoring climate change in 1992, under project MEDEA (Measurements of Earth Data for Environmental Analysis), but the program was shut down in 2001 by the Bush Administration. The Climate Change Center, therefore, represents the re-establishment of an earlier effort.
  • How the KGB tried to recruit an NBC News reporter. FBI files show that the Soviet KGB tried to recruit the late NBC News reporter Irving R. Levine, while he was stationed in Moscow in the 1950s.

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Spy agencies closely monitoring climate change talks

Defence Signals Directorate logo

DSD logo

I have written before about the increasing involvement of intelligence agencies in ongoing climate change negotiations between the world’s governments. In October, the CIA announced the establishment of its Center on Climate Change and National Security, despite fierce opposition by Republican lawmakers. Earlier this month, it was alleged that the hackers who stole and leaked onto the Internet hundreds of University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit emails were operating via a Russian military and security network, a claim that has been disputed by the Russian FSB (Federal Security Service). However, a recent article in Australian daily The Canberra Times provides the first mainstream indication that a Western intelligence agency is “giving top priority” to the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference currently taking place in Denmark. Read more of this post

Comment: Did Russian Intelligence Hack Climate-Change Emails?

Tomsk, Siberia

Tomsk, Siberia

For over a fortnight, the world’s news services have focused on the so-called ‘Climategate’, the hundreds of University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit emails that were hacked from the university’s server and leaked onto the Internet. The stolen emails, some of which date back to 1996, have reignited conspiracy theories about the role of human activity in climate change. But there is surprisingly little discussion about who hacked into the university’s server and stole the personal emails.

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News you may have missed #0138

  • US intelligence turf wars plague email system. US intelligence officials have decided to shut down a Web-based, unclassified e-mail system, which had been heralded as an important step in the US intelligence community’s drive for better information sharing after 9/11. A Directorate of National Intelligence representative said “security concerns” led to the decision to shut down the e-mail system.
  • CIA Climate Change Center survives funding opposition. Republican lawmakers criticized the CIA’s plan to open the Center on Climate Change and National Security as a “misguided defense funding priority” and even tried to prevent appropriate funding last week. But they failed and so it appears that the Center will be established after all.
  • Colombia to rename spy agency to “CIA”. The restructuring of Colombia’s scandal-prone domestic spy agency, Administrative Department of Security (DAS), continues, as the government has announced that DAS will now be known as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a new entity which will take over state and immigration intelligence and counterintelligence duties.

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News you may have missed #0119

  • CIA opens center on climate change. The CIA Center on Climate Change and National Security is a small unit led by senior specialists from the Directorate of Intelligence and the Directorate of Science and Technology. It focuses on “the national security impact of phenomena such as desertification, rising sea levels, population shifts, and heightened competition for natural resources”. Methinks the emphasis will probably be on the latter.
  • Brazilian political figures spied on after dictatorship. Senior Brazilian politicians, religious leaders and activists were spied on illegally for 16 years after the 1964-1985 military regime, according to recent allegations in the country’s press. Major surveillance targets included Brazil’s current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, opposition leader and Sao Paulo Governor Jose Serra, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, and others.
  • New book examines life of Franco-sympathizer British spy. Jimmy Burns has written a biography of his father, Tom Burns, an anti-communist sympathizer of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, who organized the British intelligence network in Spain during and after World War II.

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