News you may have missed #828

Abdullah ÖcalanBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Chinese researcher charged with stealing US drug. Chinese cancer researcher Huajun Zhao, 42, who has been working in the United States since 2006, has been charged with stealing data and an experimental compound from the Medical College of Wisconsin. The federal complaint accuses Zhao of stealing the compound, C-25, which could potentially assist in killing cancer cells without damaging normal cells. An FBI investigation turned up evidence that Zhao hoped to claim credit in China for discovering C-25. He had already claimed on a research website that he had discovered an unnamed compound he hoped to take to China.
Turkish intelligence to ‘oversee PKK retreat’. Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency, MİT, will oversee the withdrawal of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, according to Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Bülent Arınç. Last month, Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the armed Kurdish group that has battled Turkey for 30 years, proclaimed an immediate ceasefire in PKK’s conflict with the Turkish state, which has claimed about 35,000 lives. Speaking on Turkey’s state-run broadcaster, TRT, Arınç said no legislation would be introduced to facilitate the withdrawal, but “certainly MİT will oversee it; security forces will take part in it, too”, he added.
Analysis: Controversial Bush programs continue under Obama. During the George W. Bush years, two of the most controversial elements of what was then called the Global War on Terrorism were the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation (RDI) program and the creation of the prison camps at Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo Bay and the RDI program are both back in the news now, each for their own unsavory reasons. The Pentagon is requesting nearly $200 million for Guantanamo Bay infrastructure upgrades, including $49 million for a new unit for ‘special’ prisoners. Meanwhile, participation in the CIA’s controversial RDI program has resulted —for at least one person— not in prosecution or professional sanctions, but rather in a promotion.

News you may have missed #503

  • Dutch forces’ covert operations in Africa revealed. Dutch forces have for several years been training government soldiers in Mali, Senegal and Chad, without the Dutch parliament being informed, according to Dutch newspaper AD, which cites documents from the US Congress and the Pentagon.
  • Israel destroys spying devices found in Gaza. Hamas sources have told Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram that they discovered several “audio-visual spying devices” in the sand hills south of Gaza City. But, as soon as they started removing the devices, they “received a phone call from Israeli intelligence elements” telling them that the site would be bombed “within three minutes” —which is precisely what happened, according to al-Ahram. Regular readers of this blog will know this incident was not a first.
  • Leaked documents reveal Guantanamo secrets. A batch of leaked US government intelligence documents, not meant to surface for 20 years, shows that intelligence collection at Guantánamo often was much less effective than the George Bush administration has acknowledged. According to the documents, the US military used interrogation and detention practices that they largely made up as they went along.

CIA hid terrorism prisoners from US Supreme Court

CIA HQ

CIA HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The Central Intelligence Agency purposefully concealed at least four terrorism detainees from the US legal system, including the Supreme Court, according to an exclusive report by the Associated Press. The news agency has revealed that the CIA secretly transported the four to Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp on Cuba in 2003, two years before it publicly admitted their capture. It then secretly transferred them again to other sites in its black site prison network in various countries around the world, just three months before their prolonged stay at Guantánamo would entitle them to legal representation. While at Guantánamo, the four prisoners, Abd al-Nashiri, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, Ramzi Binalshibh and Abu Zubaydah, were kept at a facility known as ‘Strawberry Fields’, which is detached from the main prison site at the bay. By hiding the four, the Bush Administration managed to keep them under CIA custody while denying them legal representation for two years longer than allowed by US law. It also concealed their detention from national and international human rights monitoring bodies and from the US justice system, including the Supreme Court. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #344

  • CIA base in Afghanistan hit again. A suicide car bomber killed one civilian and wounded two security guards at the entrance to the CIA’s Forward Operating Base Chapman, in Afghanistan’s Khost province. It is the same base where Jordanian suicide bomber Humam Khalil al-Balawi killed seven CIA officers in December of 2009.
  • Fiji to set up new spy agency. The government of Fiji plans to re-establish its intelligence agency, ten years after it was disbanded by Labour Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry. The new organization will be called the National Intelligence Agency of Fiji.
  • MI5 and MI6 must release Guantánamo records, says judge. MI5 and MI6 have been told by a British judge that they cannot use secret evidence to defend themselves from civil damages claims brought by six former detainees in the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, including Binyam Mohamed.

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Analysis: Experts question legality of CIA drone strikes

Predator drone

Predator drone

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A number of prominent American legal scholars have voiced concerns about the legality of the targeted killings by the CIA of suspected Taliban leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Speaking last week before the National Security and Foreign Affairs subcommittee of the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, some of the experts warned that the killings may constitute war crimes. Among them was Loyola Law School Professor David Glazier, who reminded subcommittee members that the CIA remotely navigated drone pilots are not legally considered combatants, and thus employing them to carry out armed attacks “fall[s] outside the scope of permissible conduct”. He also warned that “under the legal theories adopted by our government in prosecuting Guantánamo detainees, these CIA officers as well as any higher-level government officials who have authorized or directed their attacks are committing war crimes”. Read more of this post

US court upholds NSA’s refusal to admit or deny wiretap data

Glomar Challenger

The Glomar

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A US federal appeals court has concluded that the National Security Agency can refuse to admit or deny it possesses information about the US government spying on lawyers representing Guantánamo prison detainees. The decision by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York relates to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request under a civil liberties lawsuit challenging post-9/11 warrantless surveillance operations by US agencies. The latter typically respond to most FOIA requests by confirming or denying possession of information relating to particular requests, and then by proceeding to either deny release, or release selected segments of the requested data. It is rare for an agency to refuse even to acknowledge the existence of information sought through FOIA. Read more of this post

UK spy agencies argue for torture trial behind closed doors

Binyam Mohamed

Binyam Mohamed

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The two primary intelligence agencies in the British Isles have argued that any evidence presented in a lawsuit accusing them of torture should remain secret. The request, which is unprecedented in British legal history, was made on Monday before Britain’s High Court by MI5, MI6, as well as by a number of government ministers. The court case in point centers on a lawsuit filed jointly by seven British citizens or residents, all of whom were held in the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp and claim they were tortured by the CIA with British complicity. The seven are Moazzam Begg, Bisher Al Rawi, Jamil El Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Martin Mubanga, and Binyam Mohamed, whose case is perhaps the most well known. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0151

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News you may have missed #0137

  • Colombian paramilitaries active in Honduras. United Nations human rights officials have voiced concern at reports that right-wing paramilitaries from the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia are active in Honduras following the military coup. Last September it was revealed that the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia also participated in the planning of the failed 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela.
  • Lawsuit probes US government spying on GTMO attorneys. In Wilner v. National Security Agency, the Washington DC-based Center for Constitutional Rights argued on Friday that the US government must disclose whether it has records related to wiretapping of Guantánamo attorney conversations without a warrant.
  • France arrests CERN worker with alleged al-Qaeda links. France has arrested a researcher at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) for suspected links with the al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (al-Qaeda’s North African wing). CERN, Europe’s particle physics lab, is known for a particle collider that aims to recreate conditions of the Big Bang.

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CIA furious over UK-Libyan bomber release deal

Al-Megrahi

Al-Megrahi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The CIA has threatened to stop sharing intelligence with UK spy services in protest over the recent release from a Scottish prison of a Libyan intelligence agent convicted for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, according to a British newspaper. Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who is now back home in Tripoli, was released by British authorities on August 19 on compassionate grounds, after medical tests allegedly showed he is suffering from terminal cancer. Many observers, including former CIA agent Robert Baer, voiced suspicion about the reasons behind al-Megrahi’s release, while several British newspapers, including The London Times, alleged that the release was part of a lucrative oil exploration deal between British Petroleum (BP) and the Libyan government. Now an article in British newspaper The News of the World claims that the CIA leadership has vowed to terminate intelligence cooperation with the UK over the Libyan’s release. Read more of this post

FBI investigates attorneys for trying to identify CIA torturers

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Washington Post and The New York Times are reporting three military attorneys at Guantánamo Bay have been questioned by the FBI for allegedly showing pictures of CIA operatives to prisoners accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks. In some cases, the pictures were taken surreptitiously outside the operatives’ homes. The lawyers were apparently trying to identify agents who may have been involved in torturing prisoners at US jails overseas. But US military officials say the lawyers could have broken laws shielding the identity of classified intelligence. The FBI investigation is reportedly headed by John Dion, head of the US Justice Department’s counterespionage section. Dion has worked on several high-profile national security cases, including the prosecution of Aldrich H. Ames, the CIA double agent who spied for the USSR. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0064

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Obama administration denies UN access to Guantánamo, CIA prisons

Guantánamo

Guantánamo

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The US government has turned down calls by United Nations human rights monitors for access to the US Pentagon’s Guantánamo Bay prison camp and to CIA prison sites around the world. It is the second time that Obama administration officials have declined this request by UN monitors, despite the administration’s rhetorical commitment to increasing its collaboration on human rights issues with the international agency. Commenting anonymously to The Washington Post, which is one of a handful of US news outlets that are running this story, US government officials said that the Obama administration “support[s] the work of the UN human rights researchers”, but is “constrained in releasing information on sensitive intelligence matters”. The news comes ten days after unconfirmed reports that the US Department of Justice is considering the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the use of torture by US intelligence agencies after September of 2001.

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News you may have missed #0024

  • Guantánamo prisoner asked to spy on homeland radicals. Umar Abdulayev, from Tajikistan, who has been held in Guantánamo for seven years, claims in court filings that he was visited by Tajik intelligence agents in Guantánamo, who asked him to spy on Tajik Muslim radicals in exchange for his release. Abdulayev has refused the offer and has asked for asylum at a third country.
  • We were not hacked, says NZ spy agency. A New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) spokesman has denied the agency’s website was hacked on July 9. Those visiting the GCSB website on that day were presented with an error message.
  • Saudi charity lawyers ask federal judge to outlaw NSA wiretap program. Saudi-based charity Al-Haramain was taken to court in September 2004 by the US government, which accused it of maintaining terrorist links. But its lawyers have managed to reverse the case, and may now be close to getting a US federal judge to rule against warrantless NSA wiretapping.
  • Cyber attacks came from 16 countries. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) officials have disclosed that the cyberattacks that paralyzed major South Korean websites last weekend were mounted from at least 16 different countries. Earlier this week, NIS said it believed North Korea or pro-Pyongyang forces were behind the attacks, which also affected US government websites.

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