News you may have missed #578

Syria

Syria

►►CIA agent who helped kill Che wants payout from Cuba. This is from the “news that isn’t” department: Gustavo Villoldo, a Cuban-born CIA operative, who helped track down and kill Che Guevara in Bolivia, has won $2.8 billion in damages from the Cuban government, for confiscating his family property after the 1959 revolution. But he is unlikely to ever collect the money because Cuba does not recognize US court rulings.
►►Cheney wanted Bush to destroy suspected Syrian nuke site. Former US Vice President Dick Cheney says in a new memoir that he urged President George W. Bush to bomb a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor site in June 2007. But, he wrote, Bush opted for a diplomatic approach expressed misgivings. Eventually Israeli jets bombed the site. Cheney’s account of the discussion appears in his autobiography, In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir, which is to be published by Simon & Schuster next week.
►►South Korea indicts five for spying for North. Five South Koreans, including a former parliamentary aide, have been indicted for allegedly spying for North Korea, in connection with the Wangjaesan spy ring.

News you may have missed #0260

Bookmark and Share

News you may have missed #0161

  • No new clues in released Cheney FBI interview. Early in October, a US federal judge ordered the FBI to release the transcript of an interview with former US vice-president Dick Cheney, conducted during an investigation into who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. There were rumors that the classified transcript pointed to George W. Bush as the source of the incriminating leak. But the released interview transcript contains nothing of the kind.
  • Sir Hollis not a Soviet agent, says MI5 historian. “Sir Roger Hollis was not merely not a Soviet agent, he was one of the people who would least likely to have been a Soviet agent in the whole of MI5″, according to Professor Christopher Andrew, author of the recently published In Defense of the Realm. Dr. Andrew’s comments were in response to the book Spycatcher, by former MI5 officer Peter Wright, which alleges that Sir Hollis, former head of MI5, had been a KGB agent.
  • New report says nuclear expert’s death was not suicide. A new autopsy into the death of British nuclear scientist Timothy Hampton has concluded that “he did not die by his own hands”, as previously suggested. The post-mortem examiner said Hampton “was carried to the 17th floor from his workplace on the sixth floor” of a United Nations building in Vienna, Austria, “and thrown to his death”.

Bookmark and Share

FBI ordered to release Cheney records in Valerie Plame probe

Valerie Plame

Valerie Plame

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A US federal judge has ordered the FBI to release the transcript of an interview with former US vice-president Dick Cheney, conducted during an investigation into who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Plame sought compensation after she was publicly named as a secret CIA operative. Along with her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, she has fought a legal campaign, arguing that several Bush administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, and even President George W. Bush himself, were behind the leak of her CIA role. Cheney had a lengthy interview with prosecutors pursuing the leak case, but the transcripts of the exchange have so far remained secret on national security grounds. But US district Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said yesterday that there is no justification to withhold the entire interview since the FBI investigation has now concluded. Read more of this post

Ex-CIA agent says Cheney “damaged the CIA more than anybody has”

Robert Baer

Robert Baer

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Robert Baer, the retired CIA field officer whose bestselling memoir, See No Evil, formed the basis of the 2005 motion picture Syriana, has said that former Vice President’ Dick Cheney “damaged the CIA more than anybody has, including the press or the Department of Justice”. Speaking on PBS’ The Tavis Smiley Show, Baer claimed that Cheney was the leading proponent of the CIA’s torture program, which the Bush Administration “invented as we went along”, and which never provided any critical intelligence. Baer said that in some cases FBI interrogators resorting to torture tactics extracted false leads from detainees. Read more of this post

CIA certified interrogators after two-week training

Dick Cheney

Dick Cheney

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Among numerous revelations in the CIA interrogations documents, released Monday, is information which suggests that the Agency haphazardly certified spies as “interrogators” after training them for only two weeks. Canadian newspaper The Toronto Star appears to be the only news source that has picked up on the revelation, noting that it takes twice that long to train an individual to drive a truck in the United States. It appears that the CIA resorted to the haphazard certification process shortly after 9/11; never prior to that time had the Agency been involved in the interrogation business on a large scale. The documents also show that, until 2003, Langley routinely supplied CIA interrogators with conduct rules that tended to change from case to case. Read more of this post

Obama administration opposes release of Cheney records in Valerie Plame case

Valerie Plame

Valerie Plame

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Obama administration officials are pressuring a US judge to stop the release of former US Vice President Dick Cheney’s records in the case of ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame. Plame sought compensation after she was publicly named as a secret CIA operative. Along with her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, she has fought a legal campaign, arguing that several Bush administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, and even President George W. Bush himself, were behind the leak of her CIA role. Cheney had a lengthy interview with prosecutors pursuing the leak case, but the transcripts of the exchange have so far remained secret, on national security grounds. Read more of this post

Secret CIA program involved assassinations of suspects

CIA HQ

CIA HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Quoting “three former intelligence officials” The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that the secret CIA program, which recently alarmed Congress, involved summary killings and assassinations of al-Qaeda operatives. Although the plan’s details remain highly classified, it appears that the CIA sought to set up specialized assassination squads, staffed with US Special Forces personnel, in an attempt to copy the Israeli Mossad Operation Wrath of God (also known as Operation Bayonet) of the 1970s. Wrath of God, which involved targeted assassinations of individuals allegedly behind the 1972 Munich massacre, was described by Canadian journalist George Jonas in his 1984 book Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team, which also formed the basis for Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film Munich. The Wall Street Journal quotes an anonymous former US intelligence official who describes the CIA plan as coming “straight out of the movies […]. It was like: Let’s kill them all”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0025

  • BREAKING NEWS: Several news outlets are reporting this morning that it was former US vice-President Dick Cheney who ordered the CIA to conceal from Congress key information about a covert action intelligence program of an undisclosed nature. See here for more.
  • New book claims Ernest Hemingway was KGB agent. The new book Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (Yale University Press), co-written by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev, alleges that the Nobel prize-winning novelist was on the KGB’s list of agents in America from 1941, when he was given the codename “Argo” by the Soviets.
  • Thousands of former Stasi spies still working in German civil service. A report in the German edition of The Financial Times claims that over 17,000 former members of East Germany’s Stasi remain employed as civil servants in reunified Germany. Stasi is the name commonly used for the Ministry for State Security, communist East Germany’s secret police.
  • NSA director’s secret visit to New Zealand revealed. A reporter accidentally spotted Lieutenant-General Keith Alexander, director of the US National Security Agency, entering a Wellington building accompanied by security personnel. The revelation prompted a spokesperson at the US embassy in Wellington to admit that Alexander was indeed in New Zealand “for consultations with government officials”. The close signals intelligence relationship between the US and New Zealand have been known since 1996.
  • Chinese national caught trying to purchase crypto hardware. Chi Tong Kuok was arrested by the FBI at the Atlanta International Airport en route from Paris to Panama, where he allegedly planned to purchase US military radios. The US government claims Kuok has admitted he was “acting at the direction of officials for the People’s Republic of China”.
  • Taliban say cell phone SIM cards guide US drone strikes. A Taliban circular says SIM cards planted by informants in cell phones used by militants are used to signal American drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As IntelNews recently explained, there are suspicions that this and similar discoveries are gradually prompting the Taliban and al-Qaeda to stop using cell phones altogether.

Bookmark and Share

Larry Franklin, implicated in Israeli spy affair, breaks silence

Franklin

Franklin

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Lawrence Anthony Franklin, the former US Defense Department analyst whose 12-year prison sentence was suspended last month, has finally broken his silence. Franklin, who was accused by the US government of handing classified US military information to two American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobbyists, has told Jeff Stein of SpyTalk that he handed out the secret information “in hopes that it would be passed on to the White House”. He said he was “worried” the Bush administration pursued a schizophrenic policy on Iran and had not calculated the Iranian reaction to a possible US invasion of Iraq. He therefore decided to pass on the classified information, which included “the names and locations of Iran’s secret agents and safe houses in Iraq”, to AIPAC lobbyists Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, who claimed they had senior contacts in the Bush administration. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0003

  • CIA declassifies 1960 estimate report on Israeli nukes. The report, which is still heavily redacted, suggests a nuclear Israel would “be less inclined than ever to make concessions and would press its interests in the area more vigorously”. According to recent estimates, Israel has approximately 200 nuclear bombs and warheads.
  • Accused spies were planning to flee US, says Bureau. FBI prosecutors say the couple’s sailboat and maps of Cuban waters are evidence they planned to flee to Cuba. An entry on a personal calendar found at the couple’s home shows they planned to go sailing in the Caribbean in November, with no return date.
  • CIA defends Panetta’s remarks on Cheney. Director didn’t say that former US Vice-President Dick Cheney would like to see the US attacked, says Agency spokesperson Paul Gimigliano.
  • Senior al-Qaeda figure says he lied under CIA torture. Alleged al-Qaeda senior leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed says pain he suffered under torture forced him to “make up stories” and falsely admit he was behind “nearly 30 terror plots”. Meanwhile, the CIA has released more torture transcripts after a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

News you may have missed #0002

CIA, still bitter about Cheney, rejects application to release memos

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On April 20, former US Vice-President Dick Cheney urged the CIA to declassify several internal documents that “showed the success” of the Agency’s torture program against captured members of al-Qaeda. Several weeks earlier Cheney had actually applied to the US National Archives and Records Administration for the release of two internal documents pertaining to the torture controversy. But on Thursday, CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano issued an official letter rejecting Cheney’s application, because “the two memos […] were relevant to pending litigation” against the Agency. The CIA official assured reporters that the decision to reject Cheney’s application was made “[f]or that reason –and that reason only”. But insiders tell intelNews that Cheney’s clout with the CIA has been severely diminished, following his failure to come to the Agency’s rescue after a departing President Bush blamed the CIA for producing “false intelligence” on Iraq. Read more of this post