News you may have missed #299

  • US lawmaker wants to stop CIA agents working second jobs. Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA) says she will offer an amendment to the Intelligence Reauthorization bill later this week that would put new rules into place on the practice of intelligence officers who take second jobs in the private sector.
  • Poland admits to aiding CIA. After human rights groups revealed evidence that showed CIA rendition planes landing in Poland in 2003, the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency has admitted for the first time that Poland played a role in the controversial US program.
  • Former Romanian-German spy fired for secret past. German author Peter Grosz was fired on Thursday from his role as director of the theater festival in the German city of Oppenheim, following revelations that he had spied on fellow authors for Romania’s Securitate communist secret police during the 1970s. Large numbers of Romanian former intelligence agents now reside in Germany.

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News you may have missed #0284

  • Real IRA faction killed MI5 informant, says Irish police. The Gardai have concluded that a Real IRA faction executed Denis Donaldson, a former Sinn Fein official who turned informer for MI5 and the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Last year, the Real IRA took responsibility for the 2007 killing.
  • NATO spy station up for sale. A Canadian NATO spy station in Nova Scotia that operated between 1983 and 2006 is for sale for US$1.4 million. It appears that the site’s current owner, who doesn’t want to be identified, bought it from the Canadian Defense Department after the base was closed down.
  • Analysis on the Binyam Mohamed disclosures and UK-US spy cooperation. This analysis, by Michael Clarke, director of Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, is probably the best synopsis of the meaning of the recent court order to disclose Binyam Mohamed’s torture records, which has complicated US-UK spy relations.

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US, UK spy agencies on alert after unprecedented court decision

Binyam Mohamed

Binyam Mohamed

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
British and American intelligence agencies have been placed on alert following an unprecedented ruling by a British court, which forces the British government to disclose CIA documents in its possession. The documents relate to the case of Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian resident of Britain, who says he was severely tortured with the collaboration of the CIA and British domestic intelligence agency MI5, after he was renditioned to Morocco. Last February, two British judges overseeing Mr. Mohamed’s case revealed that the British government kept “powerful evidence” secret after being threatened by the US that it would “stop sharing intelligence about terrorism with the UK”. In July, it emerged that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally threatened the British government that Washington would stop collaborating with London on intelligence matters if evidence in Mr. Mohamed’s case was publicly released. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0261

  • Analysis: CIA has long struggled with ensuring safe interrogations. The debate within the CIA about how to handle agents in war zones surfaced in Iraq in 2003. There was a dispute about how to balance the safety of CIA personnel with the needs of intelligence gathering. The controversy went on for more than a year, but in the end, by 2005, CIA officers had generally stopped meeting agents in the “red zones” of Iraq, that is, outside secured areas.
  • Germany to probe CIA murder and rendition plots on its soil. German legislators will probably launch an investigation into claims that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plotted to murder an alleged al-Qaeda fundraiser in Hamburg, and that it placed agents in Germany to sweep up terrorist suspects without informing German authorities.

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News you may have missed #0249

  • Analysis: Making Sense of the New CIA Battlefield in Afghanistan. “The military backgrounds of the fallen CIA operatives cast a light on the way the world of intelligence is increasingly muscling up and becoming militarized […]. This is no longer intelligence as anyone imagines it, nor is it military as military was once defined […]. And worse yet, from all available evidence, despite claims […] it seems remarkably ineffective”.
  • CIA planned to ‘rendition’ suspects in Germany in 2001. The CIA had 25 agents in Germany after the September 11 attacks and planned to illegally rendition al-Qaeda suspects without informing the German government. In the end, the plan was scrapped because of objections by the Agency’s German section.
  • French president appoints woman in charge of spy school. Nicolas Sarkozy is to create a ‘school for spies’, whose principal job will be to discourage French intelligence chiefs from spying on, and fighting against, one another. There are rumors that the school’s first director will be woman academic with no previous experience of espionage.

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News you may have missed #0233

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News you may have missed #0227

  • British politicians sue CIA over rendition flights. A group of British members of parliament, led by Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie, has filed a complaint in a district court in Washington, DC, asking for a judicial review of secret agreements between the US and UK on renditioning terrorism suspects.
  • US DHS broke domestic spying rules. The US Department of Homeland Security gathered intelligence on the Nation of Islam for eight months in 2007, and broke the law by taking longer than 180 days to determine whether the US-based group or its American members posed a terrorist threat.
  • Expert says UK ex-spy chief misled Iraq War probe. Sir John Scarlett, Britain’s former spy chief has misled the Iraq inquiry by exaggerating the reliability of crucial claims about Saddam Hussein’s ability to launch weapons of mass destruction, according to Dr. Brian Jones, the leading UK Ministry of Defense expert who assessed the intelligence behind London’s decision to go to war in 2003.

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Lithuania’s spy chief resigns over secret CIA prison probe

Malakauskas

Malakauskas

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The director of Lithuania’s intelligence service unexpectedly resigned on Monday, reportedly in connection with a parliamentary investigation into a reputed CIA secret prison site in the country. IntelNews regulars will remember that last November ABC News cited CIA officials in alleging that the Lithuanian government provided the CIA with an unmarked building located in Lithuanian capital Vilnius, with the understanding that it would be used as a so-called black site for secretly detaining high-value al-Qaeda suspects. Lithuanian government officials denied the allegation, but promised to set up a high-level probe into the matter. But the members of the parliamentary committee that was established to examine the ABC News revelations soon found themselves shunned by Lithuanian intelligence officials. According to the committee head, Arvydas Anusauskas, the parliamentarians were offered ambiguous answers or no answers at all by Lithuanian secret service agencies. Read more of this post

Analysis: Interim report on Obama’s intelligence reforms

Melvin A. Goodman

M.A. Goodman

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
It has been nearly a year since US President Barack Obama initiated his plan to reform the CIA and its tattered relations with the rest of the US intelligence community. How is he doing so far? Not great, says Melvin Goodman, a former CIA analyst, in a well-argued article on the subject. On the one hand, Obama has been successful and “deserves high grades” for addressing the CIA’s renditions, detentions and interrogations programs, argues Goodman. On the other hand, the President has avoided taking a strong leadership role in addressing the major problems of the CIA, including “appoint[ing] leaders willing to address the culture of cover-up that exists at the CIA and to make the necessary strategic changes”. Read more of this post

Comment: Why the Italian Convictions of CIA Officers Matter

Sabrina DeSousa

Sabrina De Sousa

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An Italian court has convicted 22 CIA officers and a US Air Force officer involved in the abduction of a Muslim cleric from Milan in 2003. All but three Americans tried in the case received jail sentences ranging from five to eight years, for kidnapping Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr in broad daylight and for illegally renditioning him to Egypt, where he says he was brutally tortured before being released without charge. As intelNews has previously reported, it is extremely unlikely that the US will agree to extradite the convicted abductors to Italy. Washington has formally invoked the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, arguing that the offenders were operating “in the course of official duty” and fall therefore under US, not Italian, jurisdiction. But the convictions are important nonetheless, for three reasons.

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News you may have missed #0134

  • S. Korean government tries to silence anti-surveillance activist. Park Won-sun, the executive director of the Hope Institute, a civic think tank, says he will continue to criticize the country’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) for spying on civilians, despite charges filed against him by the government.
  • Cleric in CIA kidnap trial seeks millions. Hassan Moustafa Osama Nasr, an Egyptian cleric kidnapped by the CIA from a Milan street in 2003, has asked for €10 million ($15 million) in damages from the American and Italian defendants charged in his abduction.
  • Three US-based Chinese nationals accused of selling arms to China. Chinese nationals Zhen Zhou Wu, Yufeng Wei, Bo Li and Chitron Electronics and Shenzhen Chitron Electronics Co. Ltd., face a 38-count indictment for conspiring to violate the US Arms Export Control Act for allegedly exporting defense weapons and electronics, money laundering and filing false documents with the US Department of Commerce.

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US moves to shield operatives in CIA abduction case

Hassan Nasr

Hassan Nasr

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The US government has moved to officially prevent Italian authorities from prosecuting an American Colonel who in 2003 was involved in the illegal kidnapping of a Muslim cleric in Milan. If the Reuters report is accurate, it will be the first time that Washington moves officially to shield its covert operatives from prosecution in the Italian court system. Colonel Joseph Romano is one of 26 Americans, many of them CIA agents, believed to have been involved in the daylight abduction of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr from a Milan street. Nasr, who is also known as Abu Omar, says he was brutally tortured and held illegally for years without charge in Egypt, where he was renditioned by his American abductors. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0102

  • NSA helped UK arrest convicted bomb plotters. Email correspondence intercepted by the US National Security Agency in 2006 helped lead to the arrest and conviction of three Muslim militants, who were planning attacks in Britain. IntelNews learns that this case was brought up by American intelligence officials who recently threatened to terminate all intelligence cooperation with the UK, in reaction to the release from a Scottish prison of convicted Libyan bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.
  • Bush Administration tried to alter “enforced disappearances” international treaty standards. The aim of the global treaty, long supported by the United States, was to end official kidnappings, detentions and killings like those that plagued Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s, and that allegedly still occur in Russia, China, Iran, Colombia, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. But the documents suggest that initial US support for the negotiations collided head-on with the then-undisclosed goal of seizing suspected terrorists anywhere in the world for questioning by CIA interrogators or indefinite detention by the US military at foreign sites. So the Bush Administration tried to alter the language of the treaty from 2003 to 2006, reveals The Washington Post.

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Lithuania also hosted CIA black sites, says ABC News

Dick Marty

Dick Marty

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
After Poland and Romania, the former Soviet republic of Lithuania has been identified by US information outlet ABC News as another European nation that secretly hosted CIA prisons after 9/11. ABC News reporter Matthew Cole says former CIA officials told him that the Lithuanian government provided the CIA with a building located in suburban Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, with the understanding that it would be used as a so-called black site for secretly detaining high-value al-Qaeda suspects. The CIA reportedly used the building to detain up to eight suspects for over a year each, until December of 2005, when public rumors about the existence of the prison forced the CIA to abandon it. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0064

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