News you may have missed #704: Caught-red-handed edition

Zbigniew SiemiątkowskiBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Would be CIA spy uses Tweeter to attack CIA. Lynnae Williams was on track to become a CIA agent. Today, the 35-year-old aspiring journalist and would-be CIA spy uses Twitter to expose what she feels are corrupt and unethical practices by the mysterious organization. In 2009, Williams spent more than three months training to become a CIA spy. She says she was sent to the CIA’s “psychological prison”, a public mental-health hospital in Virginia. There, she says, doctors pushed drugs for schizophrenia and manic depression in a white-walled environment with inedible food. Eventually, the CIA stopped paying her and suspended her security clearance. She’s now looking to sue the agency for wrongful termination. And in the meantime, she’s using BlogSpot and her @wlynnae account to post tweets.
►►US ambassador says Russia is spying on him. US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul suggested yesterday that the Russian government is spying on him. “Everywhere I go [Russian television station] NTV is there”, he tweeted. “Wonder who gives them my calendar? They wouldn’t tell me. Wonder what the laws are here for such things? I respect [the] press’ right to go anywhere and ask any question. But do they have a right to read my email and listen to my phone?”. McFaul also posted on his Twitter feed yesterday: “When I asked these ‘reporters’ how they knew my schedule, I got no answer”.
►►Poland ex-spy boss charged over CIA prison. Zbigniew Siemiątkowski, the former head of Poland’s foreign intelligence service faces charges of illegal detention and use of corporal punishment at an alleged secret CIA ‘black site’ used to house high-ranking terrorism suspects. Investigators allege the spy boss exceeded his powers and breached international law through the use of “unlawful deprivation of liberty” and “corporal punishment” against prisoners of war.

News you may have missed #655

DARPA logoBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►DARPA awards team that reassembled shredded documents. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a US government group that funds high-tech military research, has awarded $50,000 to a group of programmers that came up with a way to quickly and effectively piece together shredded documents.
►►Europeans refuse to disclose CIA flight data. A majority of 28 mostly-European countries have failed to comply with freedom of information requests about their involvement in secret CIA flights carrying suspected terrorists, two human rights groups say. London-based Reprieve and Madrid-based Access Info Europe accuse European nations of covering up their complicity in the so-called ‘extraordinary rendition’ program by failing to release flight-traffic data that could show the paths of the planes.
►►Final look at GCHQ’s Cheltenham site. The Oakley site of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain’s signals intelligence agency, is being decommissioned with the last few staff members leaving for the nearby Benhall site, nicknamed ‘the doughnut’. The BBC published an interesting tour of the site, which opened in 1951.

News you may have missed #654

Abdel Hakim Belhaj►►Libyan military commander sues British intelligence. Just as he said he would, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who commands the new Libyan military forces in Tripoli, has sued Britain for its role in his rendition into imprisonment and torture at the hands of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. He said he resorted to legal action after waiting in vain for the British government to offer an apology for his seven years spent in the jails of the secret police.
►►Argentine Admiral fired over espionage scandal. The head of the Argentine Navy, Admiral Jorge Godoy, has stepped down after being accused of illegal espionage. He has been indicted for alleged practices of “domestic intelligence” –which are prohibited by Argentina’s laws– against political leaders and of human rights activists, in the years between 2003 and 2006.
►►US intelligence warned of strive after US Iraq pullout. This is what Reuters news agency reports, citing anonymous sources inside the US government. Then again, US intelligence agencies warned in 2002 of increasing strife in case of a US invasion in Iraq, and nobody in government listened to them. So why would anyone listen to them now?

News you may have missed #623

Erkki Tuomioja,

Erkki Tuomioja,

►►Finnish FM washes hands of CIA flights. Erkki Tuomioja, the Finnish foreign minister, said last week that Finnish officials had no means to investigate allegations that a number of CIA prisoner flights touched down in Finland during the so-called war on terrorism. Tuomioja urged human rights groups to take action instead.
►►Australian defense documents stolen by foreign intelligence. A report has revealed that secret documents of Major-General John Cantwell, Australia’s most senior commander in the Middle East, were stolen by a foreign intelligence service last year. The documents were apparently in an encrypted drive stored in an aide’s backpack –contrary to protocol– and was thought lost when a large amount of luggage went missing for several days from Islamabad airport.
►►US soldier arrested by FBI counterintelligence. William Colton Millay, of Owensboro, Ky., was arrested last week at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage in an investigation conducted by the US Army and FBI. For now, both agencies are withholding information about the spy case. But an Army spokesman said that Millay did not leak or send information using the Internet and did not harm US security.

Germany releases Mongolian spy master wanted for abduction, torture

Bat Khurts

Bat Khurts

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On May 15, 2003, Mongolian refugee and political-asylum seeker Enkhbat Damiran was kidnapped outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Le Havre, France. According to Amnesty International, Damiran was apprehended by a team of officers of the General Intelligence Agency of Mongolia (GIAM), who kicked him, drugged him and beat him with electric batons, before ushering him to the Mongolian embassy. From there, Damiran was illegally smuggled into Germany, where he stayed for a few days, before being transported to Mongolia, through Belgium. Once back in his homeland, Damiran effectively ‘disappeared’ in the custody of GIAM, where he was allegedly subjected to systematic torture by his captors. The latter believe him to be connected with the 1998 assassination of Zorig Sanjaasürengiin, Mongolia’s former Minister of Infrastructure. Following complaints about the abduction from the European Union, the Mongolian government apologized to the governments of France, Germany and Belgium. But Damiran’s abduction has continued to be at the root of a diplomatic rift between Europe and Mongolia, which has widened in recent years. Things became even more heated in September 2010, when British intelligence, acting on a Europe-wide arrest warrant, captured Bat Khurts, former Director of GIAM, who is believed to be responsible for Damiran’s abduction and torture. Khurts was arrested in London, after being lured there in a carefully planned and executed intelligence operation. This past July, the British government decided to extradite Khurts to Germany, where was scheduled to be tried on abduction charges on October 24. So it was a bit of a surprise to say the least, when, yesterday, the Mongolian former spymaster was unexpectedly released by German authorities, after having all charges against him dropped. Read more of this post

Covert war in Somalia involves CIA, European mercenaries

Richard Rouget

Richard Rouget

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Regular readers of this blog will remember Jeremy Scahill’s report in The Nation last July, about the US Central Intelligence Agency’s expanding operations in Somalia. Since the 2006 US-led Ethiopian invasion, the Western-backed Somali government has been engaged in a brutal war with al-Shabaab, the youth wing of the Islamic Courts Union, which ruled most of the country in the years after 9/11. Scahill revealed that the CIA maintains a growing security complex in the country, located right behind Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport. The complex allegedly contains over a dozen buildings, as well as several metal hangars, which house CIA aircraft. Now a new report by United Press International claims that the clandestine American campaign in the horn of Africa “appears to be growing daily”, and that the CIA complex contains a prison for renditioned militant suspects. The latter are routinely interrogated by members of a Mogadishu-based CIA team consisting of approximately 30 case officers, analysts, linguists, and others. The UPI article suggests that the growing CIA presence in the Somali capital is part of a wider expansion of America’s counter-terrorist campaign in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Indonesia, and the Philippines. However, the instances when CIA personnel venture outside Mogadishu are few and far between. For this purpose, the Somali government is using American financial aid to hire European private security firms, including Bancroft Global Development, a combat consulting group with a growing presence in Mogadishu. Bancroft’s 40-member team consists of Scandinavian, South African, and French former special forces members, including Richard Rouget (also known as ‘Colonel Sanders’), a former officer in the French Army who has recent combat experience in several African countries. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #587 (Libya edition)

Abdel Hakim Belhaj

Abdel Belhaj

►►Inside Libyan spy overlord’s low-tech HQ. “Handwritten notes prepared for officials over the past months show that Libya’s spooks had a good grasp of who was sending weapons to the rebels. However, its contacts with MI6 and the CIA had clearly disintegrated, as a series of despairing pleadings reveal”.
►►UK government to investigate Libyan rendition claims. British Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday that an independent inquiry should investigate evidence that British intelligence agencies were complicit in the rendition of terrorist suspects to Libya, where they were tortured by the Gaddafi regime.
►►Libyan rebel says female MI6 spy ignored his pleas for help. Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who is commander of Libya’s rebel military, says a female MI6 spy was among the Britons who flew to Tripoli to interrogate him, after the CIA abducted him in Malaysia, and delivered him to the hands of the Libyan regime.