Russian spies arrested by the FBI in 2010 had targeted Hillary Clinton

Hillary ClintonA major reason behind the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s decision to arrest ten Russian spies across the United States in 2010 was their increasing proximity to the then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it has been claimed. The spies had been specifically instructed by their handlers in Moscow to target Clinton, who was seen as the most likely successor to US President Barack Obama, according to recently released FBI files. Ten Russian deep-cover spies, who had no official cover and thus no diplomatic immunity, were arrested by the FBI in June 2010, following a ten-year counterintelligence investigation codenamed Operation GHOST STORIES.

The ten had entered the country from various destinations, including Canada, Latin America and Europe. Some were posing as citizens of third countries, while others had fraudulently assumed the names of dead Americans. They had been tasked by the SVR, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, with blending into American society and finding their way into senior policy circles in Washington, DC, and other major decision-making hubs of the US government. US Justice Department documents refer to the SVR spy ring as “the illegals program” or “the Russian illegals program”.

On Sunday, the Washington-based newspaper The Hill said that it was able to shed more light into the Russian illegals program, after accessing recently unsealed FBI documents and interviewing US government officials. The paper said that the SVR had specifically instructed some of the illegals to concentrate on penetrating the Department of State. Their primary goal was to uncover information about the Obama administration’s policy on Russia. A key target of the Russian illegals was US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was seen by Moscow as the leading voice on Washington’s Russia policy. Read more of this post

German intelligence spied on American, Turkish officials

BND headquarters in BerlinBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
German intelligence agencies have spied on two successive American secretaries of state and are actively engaged in espionage in Turkey, even though both countries are allied members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported last week that German spies intercepted at least one telephone call made by American politician Hillary Clinton, while she was serving as secretary of state. The Munich-based newspaper said the intercepted telephone call was made over an unencrypted line while Clinton was travelling on an airplane belonging to the United States government. On Sunday, German newsmagazine Der Spiegel added that the interception of Clinton’s telephone call occurred in 2012, when the American secretary of state telephoned the former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan to discuss his mediation efforts over the Syrian civil war. Der Spiegel said that Clinton had not been a direct target of a German intelligence operation and that her telephone conversation with Anan had been intercepted “by accident”, after it “quasi-randomly entered the listening network” of the BND, Germany’s federal intelligence agency. Spiegel added that the BND officers who conducted the interception passed the recording on to their superiors. The newsmagazine said that Clinton’s successor, John Kerry, also had a telephone conversation intercepted by the BND in 2013, again by accident. This time, however, the German intelligence officers immediately deleted the intercepted conversation, according to Spiegel. The article goes on to add that German intelligence circles insist the wiretapped conversations of the two US secretaries of state were accidentally recorded within the context of other intelligence-collection operations, and that the American politicians were not in and of themselves targets of the BND. The Spiegel article goes on to state, however, that the BND has been actively conducting espionage operations in NATO member-state Turkey since at least 2009. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #765

Hillary ClintonBy TIMOTHY W. COLEMAN | intelNews.org |
►►MI6 chief says Iran will get nukes in 2 years. Sir John Sawers, the head of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, has been quoted as publicly forecasting that Iranian nuclear weapons efforts will likely come to fruition by 2014. Sawers is quoted in The Daily Telegraph as saying: “The Iranians are determinedly going down a path to master all aspects of nuclear weapons; all the technologies they need”, adding “it’s equally clear that Israel and the United States would face huge dangers if Iran were to become a nuclear weapon state”. He went on to assert that Iran would have achieved nuclear statehood in 2008 had it not been for clandestine efforts to thwart such ends. He did not elaborate on what he meant by his comments, for which he was criticized in Parliament earlier this week.
►►MI6 chief claims US interrogators were ‘obsessed’. In the same Telegraph interview, Sir John claimed that British interrogators, following the attacks of September 11, 2001, came “close to the line” of illegality. He went on to say that US interrogators straddled the line between legal and illegal, insinuating that US personnel may have crossed the line during interrogations. Sir John is quoted as explaining: “They [US interrogators] got so obsessed with getting a right answer that they drifted into an area that kind of amounted to torture”. He went on to claim that British personnel involved in interrogations never crossed the line, observing: “We’ve never been there, we’ve never been involved in that, and I think our accountability, our disciplines, have helped us keep on the right side of these lines”.
►►Clinton says Israeli spy Pollard unlikely to be freed. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has reaffirmed Washington’s position that Jonathan Pollard was unlikely to receive clemency or see freedom anytime soon. During a press conference in Jerusalem on July 16, Secretary Clinton stated unequivocally: “He [Jonathan Pollard] was sentenced to life in prison, he is serving that sentence, and I do not have any expectations that that is going to change”. Pollard, a former US naval intelligence analyst, was suspected of trying to provide classified information to South Africa, Pakistan, and Australia. He was arrested and convicted of espionage for providing classified information to the State of Israel. He is serving a life sentence for his crimes.

US State Department silent on ‘massive’ China spy revelations

Hillary ClintonBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has declined to comment publicly on the arrest of a senior Chinese government aide, who is said to have conducted “massive” spying for Washington. According to Reuters news agency, who broke the story last week, the aide was arrested several months ago, but both the US and China have chosen to keep the issue under wraps in order “to prevent a fresh crisis in relations” between the two countries. Reuters cited “three sources [with] direct knowledge of the matter”, who said that the aide was employed at a critical post in the office of a vice minister in China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS). The MSS is China’s foremost intelligence agency, with responsibility for both domestic and international intelligence collection. According to the sources quoted by Reuters, the unnamed aide was arrested “sometime between January and March” of 2012 and stands accused of supplying his American handlers with classified information on Chinese espionage activities abroad. According to the report, the accused spy had been working for the US “for several years” and his case could represent the worst breach of China’s MSS in two decades; according to one source, the damage inflicted to the MSS’ operations by this case “has been massive”. Reuters said that the aide, who speaks English, was recruited by the US Central Intelligence Agency, and was paid “hundreds of thousands of US dollars” to provide “political, economic and strategic intelligence” to American intelligence officers. Read more of this post

Comment: US cybersecurity posture is not purely defensive

NSA headquartersBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In recent years, news coverage of cyberespionage and cybersecurity has increased several times over; both subjects have escaped the narrow confines of technical literature and have entered the broad expanses of popular news media. This blog is no exception; since 2008, we have covered both cybersecurity and cyberespionage at length. In looking back at our coverage, it takes but a cursory glance to conclude that most of our reports feature the names of two countries: China and –to a far lesser extent– Russia. Moreover, the vast majority of our cybersecurity and cyberespionage coverage portrays the United States as a defensive actor, trying desperately to protect the integrity of its networks from foreign hackers. But is this accurate? How realistic is it to assume that the US, the world’s leading military power, abstains from offensive cyberespionage as a matter of strategy? The most likely answer is: not very. The problem is that much of the reporting on cybersecurity is based on national allegiances. Many American media pundits thus tend to forget that Washington, too, conducts cyberespionage. Read more of this post

Leaked cable confirms end of US-NZ spy quarrel

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
To regular readers of this blog, this is not so much a revelation, as it is a confirmation. Back in October of 2009, we wrote about a peculiar comment made Hillary Clinton. The United States Secretary of State had told a press conference that “we [the US] are resuming our intelligence-sharing cooperation [with New Zealand], which we think is very significant”. Resuming? When had it been disrupted, and why? Most intelligence observers agree that the only glitch that could have caused the cooperation to end would have been New Zealand’s nuclear ban. It was in 1984 when, under mounting popular pressure, the Labour government of David Lange voted to bar nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from entering New Zealand territorial waters. At the time, the ban was heralded by the global nuclear disarmament movement as a major victory. But Washington did not see it that way. Successive US administrations pressured Wellington to repeal the nuclear-free legislation and allow US warships to make use of strategic New Zealand ports. Washington’s pressure increased in the years after 9/11, culminating in 2006, when it threatened to cancel a free-trade agreement between the two countries if New Zealand refused to repeal the ban. It appears that, at some point in time, possibly after 9/11, the US actually terminated intelligence sharing between the two countries in order to force New Zealand to comply. Read more of this post

Some underreported WikiLeaks revelations

WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
There is little point in recapping here the bulk of disclosures contained in the ongoing WikiLeaks revelations. The news sphere is jam-packed with them —and perhaps this is the real story in the WikiLeaks revelations, namely the fact that espionage and intelligence issues have near-monopolized the global news cycle for the first time since the post-Watergate Congressional investigations of the 1970s. But it is worth pointing out a handful of news stories on the WikiLeaks revelations that have arguably not received the media coverage that they deserve. Undoubtedly the most underreported disclosure concerns a 2007 meeting between US officials and Meir Dagan, the then Director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency. During the meeting, Dagan apparently “presented US with five-step program to perform a coup in Iran“.  But there are other underreported disclosures. Take for instance the revelation that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally authorized US diplomats to engage in all-out and indiscriminate spying on senior United Nations officials. Although there is nothing here that will surprise seasoned intelligence observers, the breadth of intelligence collection that US diplomats are instructed to engage in (which includes collecting credit card numbers and biometric data of UN officials) is astonishing and certainly unprecedented. Moreover, it should be noted that many senior UN officials are in fact American, which leads to the intriguing question of whether US diplomats are routinely required to engage in intelligence collection against American UN officials. Read more of this post

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

Comment: Are Clinton’s Cyberattack Protests Hypocritical?

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS* | intelNews.org |
The Chinese have accused the US government of hypocrisy in criticizing Beijing for its alleged role in organized hacking attacks, which recently drove Google to abandon its operations in China. Speaking last Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton argued that “[c]ountries or individuals that engage in cyberattacks should face consequences and international condemnation”. But a subsequent editorial in government-owned The People’s Daily essentially said that China is not the only country that engages in cyberwarfare; the US does it too. Is this true? Most likely, yes. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0167

  • DAS official confirms Colombia spying on Ecuador. An official of Colombia’s DAS intelligence service has admitted Colombia “had an informant in the Ecuadorean security forces”. The revelation comes days after Venezuelan officials claimed they had uncovered Operation SALOMON, a joint Colombian-US espionage operation against Ecuador.
  • Clinton meets Libyan ex-intelligence chief. While attending a regional-development conference in Morocco, US secretary of state Hilary Clinton met briefly with Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa. Kusa, who served as Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi’s intelligence chief during the 1990s, was expelled from Britain in 1980 for his alleged involvement in assassinating a Gaddafi opponent in London. Clinton has a talent for meeting with controversial foreign spies.
  • Ex-Yugoslav secret agent arrested in Germany. German authorities have arrested a man with Croatian and Swedish citizenships, identified only as “Luka S.”, who allegedly participated in the 1983 murder of Stjepan Durekovic, an exiled Yugoslav dissident living in Germany. Another accomplice in Durekovic’s assassination, identified only as “Kronoslav P.”, was jailed in 2008.

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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

Clinton’s mysterious comment raises eyebrows in New Zealand

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A comment by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton following a meeting with a senior New Zealand government official has raised questions by intelligence observers in the pacific nation. Speaking last Friday after an official meeting in Washington with her New Zealand counterpart, minister of foreign affairs Murray McCully, Clinton said the US “very much” values its diplomatic partnership with New Zealand. She then proceeded to say “[w]e are resuming our intelligence-sharing cooperation, which we think is very significant”. This latter comment struck many intelligence observers in Wellington as odd, and for a good reason: nobody was under the impression that the US-NZ intelligence cooperation had been disrupted. The mystery deepened when New Zealand prime minister John Key refused to explain Hillary Clinton’s remark when asked, saying simply “I just don’t comment on issues of national security”. Read more of this post

Hillary Clinton pressured UK government to conceal torture information

Binyam Mohamed

B. Mohamed

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally threatened the British government that Washington would stop collaborating with London on intelligence matters if the latter allowed the release of evidence on an alleged torture case. This has been revealed in London’s high court during the ongoing trial of Binyam Mohamed, a resident of Britain, who is was until recently imprisoned by US authorities at the Guantánamo Bay camp. Mr. Mohamed was abducted in 2002 by Pakistani authorities, who delivered him to US intelligence agents. The latter employed the controversial practice of extraordinary rendition and had Mr. Mohamed secretly imprisoned in Morocco and Afghanistan before taking him to Guantánamo. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0026

  • US Attorney General considers torture probe. The Associated Press is among several news outlets reporting that Eric Holder is considering the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the use of torture by US intelligence agencies after September of 2001.
  • Iran’s invisible Nicaraguan embassy. The US State Department has been raising alarm bells about the Iranians supposedly “building a huge embassy in Managua”. But nobody in Nicaragua can find any super-embassy, The Washington Post reports.
  • Kim Jonh Il likely to die soon, CIA tells S. Korean spy agency. According to South Korean sources, the CIA now believes that Kim Jong-Il’s chances of surviving the next five years are less than 30%. Last June, intelNews relayed reports that Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il’s third son, appears to be his father’s most likely successor.

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Comment: AIPAC agents accused of spying may walk scot-free

Jane Harman

Jane Harman

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The controversy over Democratic Representative Jane Harman’s alleged telephone deal with a suspected agent of Israel is still raging. One of its unfortunate side effects has been to shift media attention away from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) involvement in the Lawrence Franklin spy case, and focus instead on Washington micro-politicking. But what about the two former AIPAC lobbyists who are technically at the center of the Harman imbroglio? Read more of this post