News you may have missed #0235

  • How the CIA was conned by a compulsive gambler. In 2003, the CIA took seriously the fabricated claims of Dennis Montgomery, co-owner of a software gaming company in Nevada, who claimed he could read messages hidden in barcodes listing international flights to the US, their positions and airports to be targeted by al-Qaeda.
  • Obama names intel advisory board members. The US President has appointed members to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB), a critical oversight group tasked with alerting the White House about US intelligence activities that may be illegal or may go beyond Presidential authorization. The appointees are Roel Campos, Lee Hamilton, Rita Hauser, Paul Kaminski, Ellen Laipson, Les Lyles, and Jami Miscik. For more on PIAB, see here.
  • Turkey arrests three on espionage charges. Turkish media won’t say which country the arrestees allegedly spied for, but one of them is said to have “often visited Greece”. A tit-for-tat?

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Obama insiders already in secret talks with Iran, Syria

French news agency AFP is reporting that individuals associated with the Administration of US President Barack Obama have held several secret meetings with Iranian and Syrian officials during the past several months. The Agency describes the clandestine meetings as “high-level” and notes that the Obama team approved them “even before winning the November 4 election”. Some of the meetings appear to have been coordinated by the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, a Nobel Prize-winning anti-nuclear proliferation group. The Executive Director of the group’s US branch, Jeffrey Boutwell, describes the US-Iranian contacts, which took place in The Hague and in Vienna, as “”very, very high-level”, and notes that they covered issues beyond Iran’s nuclear program, including “the Middle East peace process [and] Persian Gulf issues”. Read more of this post

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