News you may have missed #845

Lianne PollakBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►Mideast envoy Blair’s adviser is former Israeli intel officer. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is an official Middle East envoy for the Quartet, the group that represents the US, Russia, the United Nations and Europe. In his role as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, he is supposed to be politically neutral. But it turns out that one of his principal advisors, Lianne Polak, is an Israeli former army intelligence officer who has led intelligence teams in the Israel Defense Forces.
►►Who is the New Egyptian Intelligence Minister? Last week, a presidential order saw the appointment of General Muhammad Farid as the new head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service. A profile of this unknown person reveals the close ties he had with those at the top of the Mubarak administration. His previous role was as the chairman of the Administrative Control Authority, which deals with investigating corruption in governmental agencies and public funds, as well as fighting organized crime. Farid was appointed to this role in 2004 by Hosni Mubarak.
►►Five unanswered questions about the NSA’s surveillance programs. Although the US government has disclosed some additional details about the programs in response to the leaks, important questions remain about the nature and scope of the surveillance programs. They include: 1. What other data is being collected under the USA PATRIOT Act? 2. How broad are the programs? 3. What’s the legal rationale? 4. Is the NSA still collecting email records? 5. Are there other programs that we don’t know about?

News you may have missed #797

Mohamed MorsiBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►Egypt names new intelligence chief. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi last week issued a decree naming Mohammed Raafat Shehata the country’s new head of intelligence, after the former spy chief was forced into retirement. Shehata had been acting director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Services Directorate since August 8, when his predecessor Murad Muwafi was sacked, after after gunmen killed 16 Egyptian border guards in Sinai.
►►Ex-Blackwater firm to teach US spies survival skills. The Defense Intelligence Agency announced on Thursday evening it would award six private security companies a share of a $20 million contract to provide “individual protective measures training courses” for its operatives. Among them is Academi, the 3.0 version of Blackwater, now under new ownership and management. The US military’s intelligence service is hiring the firm, along with five others, to train its operatives to defend themselves as they collect information in dangerous places.
►►Turkey court convicts 326 of coup plotting. A Turkish court on Friday convicted 326 military officers, including the former air force and navy chiefs, of plotting to overthrow the nation’s Islamic-based government in 2003, in a case that has helped curtail the military’s hold on politics. A panel of three judges at the court on Istanbul’s outskirts initially sentenced former air force chief Ibrahim Firtina, former navy chief Ozden Ornek, and former army commander Cetin Dogan, to life imprisonment but later reduced the sentence to a 20-year jail term because the plot had been unsuccessful. The trial of the high-ranking officers —inconceivable in Turkey a decade ago— has helped significantly to tip the balance of power in the country in favor of civilian authorities.

News you may have missed #593

Omar Suleiman

Omar Suleiman

►►Libyan woman spy guided NATO bombs to Gaddafi targets. The NATO bombing campaign which fatally weakened Muammar Gaddafi’s rule had a secret asset: a 24-year-old Libyan woman who spent months spying on military facilities and passing on the details to the alliance. The woman, operating under the codename Nomidia, used elaborate methods to evade capture –constantly changing her location, using multiple mobile telephone SIM cards and hiding her activities from all but the closest members of her family.
►►Canadian ex-spy wins court claim against CSIS. Marc-André Bergeron, who was fired four years ago by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) for alleged incompetence, has been vindicated by winning his claim of wrongful dismissal. In doing so, he has revealed a rather remarkable state of affairs at CSIS. Its bosses lament that they are held to impossible legal standards in court cases involving terrorism, but couldn’t muster sufficient proof to fire one of their own.
►►Mubarak’s spy chief testifies in Egypt trial. One of the most secretive figures of Hosni Mubarak’s inner circle testified Tuesday at the ousted leader’s trial under a complete media blackout. Omar Suleiman, who was Mubarak’s longtime intelligence chief and was named vice president during the last weeks of his rule, is the first in a string of members of the ousted leader’s senior leadership to appear in the court.

News you may have missed #481

  • Who brought down the CIA website last Thursday? US Federal officials as of Monday afternoon were still investigating the cause of a Thursday cyber incident that knocked offline the public website of the CIA and its unclassified e-mail system. The interference was isolated to CIA networks. Some cyber experts say the disruption may have been caused by a denial of service attack perpetrated by pranksters to show off their skills, rather than an act committed by a foreign government.
  • Israeli cabinet minister to visit jailed spy in US. Israel’s Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon is to make a visit next week to see Jonathan Pollard, an American serving a life term in a US jail for spying on the US for Israel. Israeli media claim that Kahlon will give Pollard a “verbal message” from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
  • Egypt’s spies dragged from shadows. New evidence of spying and torture by Egypt’s General Intelligence Services (GIS) has piled pressure on the country’s military rulers to abolish the agency. After breaking into the GIS Cairo headquarters and ransacking archives, activists posted videos showing a torture chamber with a bloodstained floor and equipped with chains.

News you may have missed #0228

  • Irish nationalists planting honey traps on British troops? The Belfast Telegraph reports that British Army personnel have been “warned about the recruitment by dissidents of attractive females to identify soldiers at popular nightspots and lure them into ambushes” in Northern Ireland. This is highly unnecessary. Usually British troops in the North are easily identifiable by their haircuts, accents, even by their choice of beer!
  • Egyptian spy chief meets Israeli defense minister. Ehud Barak and Omar Suleiman, director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Services, met in Jerusalem on Sunday. The meeting included a “private 30-minute session” between the two men (and the eavesdroppers on either side, presumably –ed.).
  • Terror suspect David Headley was ‘rogue US secret agent’. The London Times has woken up to the rumors circulating about David Headley, a full month after Indian media began reporting them, and nearly three weeks after intelNews alerted its readers. Nice of them to catch up.

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