News you may have missed #319

  • CIA asks Gulf countries to monitor terrorist funding. The CIA has reportedly asked Arab/Persian Gulf countries “to tighten surveillance and look for any suspicious movement of funds” in regional banks.
  • Questions remain in Headley terrorism case. The New York Times has aired an update on the court case of Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley, a former US Drug Enforcement Administration informant, who was arrested by the FBI in October for plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper. The paper points out that Headley “moved effortlessly between the United States, Pakistan and India for nearly seven years, training at a militant camp in Pakistan on five occasions”. There has been intense speculation in India and Pakistan that Headley is in fact a renegade CIA agent.

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Is Pakistani-American insurgent a rogue CIA agent?

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Earlier this month US authorities said they wouldn’t let an Indian intelligence team question Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley, who was arrested by the FBI in October for plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. The Indians said they wanted to talk to Headley, born Daood Gillani, about his reported association with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani militant group responsible for several high-profile attacks inside India. But US officials blamed “bureaucratic” and “procedural” hurdles for denying Indian investigators access to Headley. Considering the close security ties between Washington and New Delhi, intelligence observers were surprised by the US move. Why did the FBI bar Indian intelligence from questioning Headley? Some Indian commentators suggest an intriguing theory: that Headley may be “an undercover agent whom the [US] authorities are shielding from the media and the hapless Indian investigators who were told to take a hike when they came to [Washington to] interview [him]”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0170

  • US wants to set up spy base in Afghanistan, says Afghan lawmaker. Ataollah Loudin, who chairs the Afghan parliament’s Justice and Judiciary Committee, told journalists that Washington wants to establish a base in Afghanistan “to collect intelligence on and organize espionage operations against Iran, Russia, and China”.
  • CIA settles DEA agent’s lawsuit for $3 million. The US government has agreed to pay $3 million to a former US Drug Enforcement Administration agent who accused a CIA operative of illegally bugging his home.
  • UN to help Colombia sort through spy files. Colombia’s government and the UN have reached an agreement that will allow the UN to participate in the cleansing of intelligence files belonging to the soon-to-be-dismantled DAS spy agency. Interestingly, the project will be used as a pilot example for a wider process which may be extended to the Colombian Armed Forces and Police.

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News you may have missed #0129

  • Romanian communist spy boss dead at 80. General Nicolae Plesita, who directed Romania’s Securitate during the country’s communist period, has died. While heading the Securitate’s foreign intelligence service, from 1980 to 1984, Plesita hired the Venezuelan-born operative Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as Carlos the Jackal, to assassinate Romanian dissidents in France and bomb the US-owned Radio Free Europe offices in Munich, in 1981. In 1998, Plesita revealed that he had orders from the Romanian government to find temporary shelter for Carlos in Romania after the RFE bombing.
  • Settlement reached in DEA-CIA spying dispute. A tentative settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought 15 years ago by a former US Drug Enforcement Administration agent who accused a CIA operative of illegally bugging his home. In a court filing, lawyers for the government and the DEA agent said they “had reached an agreement in principle to settle the underlying litigation”. See here for previous intelNews coverage of this case.
  • Federal judge denies request for CIA secret documents. Hundreds of documents detailing the CIA’s defunct overseas secret detention program of suspected terrorists, including extreme interrogation methods have remained secret after U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein on Wednesday refused to release them “in order to protect intelligence methods and sources”. The ACLU argues that the CIA secret program was illegal under international and US law, that it involved the torture and deaths of some inmates, and therefore should not be shielded from public view.

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Lawsuit halted in 15-year-old CIA wiretap case

Judge Lamberth

Judge Lamberth

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A lawsuit against an alleged illegal wiretap operation by the CIA, which was initially filed 15 years ago, was put on hold late last week by a US federal appeals court. The court imposed the temporary hold in an apparent disagreement with US District Judge Royce Lamberth, who last July said CIA attorneys committed fraud in alleging that US national security would be threatened if details of the lawsuit were openly discussed. Judge Lamberth ruled that the CIA had kept the case secret for years in order to avoid embarrassment. But the appeals court appears to have accepted the CIA’s claim that discussing the case openly will reveal operational secrets and harm US national security. A simultaneous decision by the appeals court to order the government to grant security clearances to lawyers on both sides of the argument probably means that the case, which briefly surfaced last July after Judge Lamberth’s decision to reveal it to the public, will disappear once again under the “state secrets” clause. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0061

  • Finland police identify body of WWII Soviet spy. Police believe a body found near Kouvola, Finland, to be the World War II remnants of a Soviet spy. The man apparently parachuted to his death. The body will be offered to the Russian Embassy for repatriation –an offer that is expected to be refused.
  • Hacker conferences attract spies, thieves. Interesting account of Defcon conference anecdotes by CNET correspondent Elinor Mills, who has been attending Defcon since 1995.
  • Interesting interview with lawyer behind CIA lawsuit. McClatchy news agency has published a rare interview with Brian Leighton, the lawyer representing retired Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer Richard A. Horn, who in 1994 claimed that CIA agents illegally wiretapped his conversations while he was stationed in Burma.

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News you may have missed #0044

  • Attorney behind CIA lawsuit gives interview. Brian C. Leighton, the attorney representing former Drug Enforcement Agency officer Richard A. Horn, who claims that CIA agents illegally wiretapped his conversations, has given an interview to The Merced Sun-Star.
  • Germany accuses China of industrial espionage. A senior German counterintelligence official has said Germany is under attack from an increasing number of state-backed Chinese spying operations that are costing the German economy tens of billions of euros a year. Similar claims were made in May.

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Judge accuses CIA of fraud in 15-year court case

Judge Lamberth

Judge Lamberth

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A 15-year old lawsuit against the CIA unexpectedly resurfaced yesterday, after a US federal judge accused the CIA attorneys of fraud and warned the former and current CIA leadership of serious legal sanctions. US District Judge Royce Lamberth said the CIA misled him on several occasions by falsely claiming that the “state secrets” clause applied to the case, which three consecutive US administrations have tried to bury. The case was filed in 1994 by retired Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer Richard A. Horn, who claimed that CIA agents illegally wiretapped his conversations while he was stationed in Burma. It appears that, at the time, the US diplomatic representation in Burma and the CIA station in Rangoon were at loggerheads with the DEA. Read more of this post

US intensifies attack on Bolivia

George W. Bush has been dismissed as a “lame duck” President, but his aggressive policy on Bolivia points otherwise. Although at the last stages of his presidency, Bush appears to be intensifying its vindictive war on the South American nation. Specifically, on Wednesday the White House announced that the US will be suspending “special trade benefits with Bolivia because of its failure to cooperate in drug-fighting efforts”. The “failure to cooperate in drug-fighting efforts” refers to the recent decision of the Bolivian government to halt the operations of the US Drug Enforcement Agency in the country, after it discovered that the agency tried to tap the telephone conversations of Bolivian President, Evo Morales, and actively funded and supported anti-government secessionist movements in selected oil-rich provinces. Using standard blackmail terminology, White House spokesperson Dana Perino stated that “the benefits can be restored if Bolivia were to improve its performance under the criteria of both programs and at the president’s discretion”. [IA]

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Morales accuses DEA of tapping his telephone conversations

Thursday’s Washington Post article on Evo Morales’ trip to Washington was typical of the mainstream media’s coverage of the Bolivian President’s first-ever visit to the US capital. Specifically, the paper mentioned the Bolivian leader’s stated opposition to the policies of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in his country. The article mentioned Morales’ allegation that the DEA had “been used for ‘political vengeance’ against him”, but gave no details. Yet Pamela Constable, the Post’s reporter writing the article, surely must know what Morales means by “political vengeance”. The Bolivian President mentioned during his address to the Organization of American States earlier this week that the DEA tried to “tap his telephone conversations instead of going after cocaine traffickers”. Earlier, Morales had stated in a radio interview that “lately, when I was already in the government, but when the communications were in hands of the telecom company from Italy, a team of the DEA were listening [to] phone calls to be able to spy on me. This is a political thing”. These serious allegations were picked up by Reuters, but not a word of it was printed by the Washington Post, which obviously considers them an irrelevant detail influencing the Bolivian President’s recent decision to expel the DEA from his country. For more on the role of the DEA in the US government’s covert operations against the Morales Administration see here. [IA]

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US covert operations in Bolivia detailed

Counterpunch has published today a well-researched analysis piece by Roger Burbach (Director of the California-based Center for the Study of the Americas) detailing some of the recent covert operations by Washington in Bolivia. These operations do not appear to veer significantly from CIA’s (more or less standard) approach in Chile in the early 1970s, and include “direct and covert assistance to the opposition movement” in Bolivia’s energy-rich eastern provinces. USAID and the DEA are mentioned as core institutional elements in the US effort to destabilize the democratically elected Morales government. The article is available here. [IA]

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