News you may have missed #635

Vitaly Shlykov

Vitaly Shlykov

►►UK to support Colombia’s new intelligence agency. The UK has announced that it will provide help and advice on the implementation of Colombia’s new national intelligence agency. Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, along with National Security Adviser, Sergio Jaramillo, met with the director of Britain’s secret service MI6 to exchange experiences in intelligence to implement the new National Intelligence Agency of Colombia (ANIC). ANIC is supposed to replace the DAS, Colombia’s disgraced intelligence agency, which has been stigmatized by colluding with paramilitary groups and spying on union leaders, journalists and opposition politicians.
►►US intelligence to train analysts with videogames. The US intelligence community’s research group, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA), has handed over $10.5 million to Raytheon BBN Technologies to start work on the Sirius program. The initiative aims to create a series of so-called “serious games” that would help intelligence analysts improve their objectivity and reasoned judgment when confronted with complex or culturally foreign scenarios.
►►Soviet spy who spent years in Swiss prison dies at 77. Vitaly Shlykov served for 30 years in the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff, known as GRU. During his career, he made frequent trips to the West on a false American passport. One of his duties was to maintain contacts with Dieter Felix Gerhardt, a senior officer of the South African Navy who was working as a Soviet spy. In 1983, Shlykov was arrested in Zurich while carrying about $100,000 in cash to hand over to Gerhardt’s wife. Soviet intelligence was unaware that Gerhardt and his wife had been arrested a few weeks earlier and had told interrogators about the meeting in Switzerland.

News you may have missed #575

IARPA logo

IARPA logo

►►Inquest into death of MI6 spy to go ahead. The inquest into the bizarre death of MI6 and GCHQ officer Gareth Williams will go ahead before Christmas without a jury, according to London-based newspaper The Express. The paper says that “12 spy chiefs will attend [the inquest] to explain the background to the case”.
►►Colombia’s ex-president denies role in spy scandal. Alvaro Uribe has denied, during a 3½-hour appearance before a Colombian congressional committee, that he ordered the country’s domestic intelligence agency to spy on judges, journalists and political foes. More than 20 agents of the DAS intelligence agency have been imprisoned for alleged roles in the spying. Two more have pleaded guilty in exchange for reduced sentences.
►►US spy research firm eyes stock market. IARPA, the US intelligence community’s research arm, plans to introduce a new program to develop tools to help analysts “quickly and accurately assess petabytes of complex anonymized financial data”. According to a conference presentation, the program would help spies “analyze massive amounts of data to spot indicators of market behavior, find relationships between seemingly unrelated transactions across hundreds of global markets, and provide insight into specific events and general financial trends”.

News you may have missed #555

IARPA logo

IARPA logo

►►US spy agencies want to use photos to trace people. In announcement for its new Finder research program, IARPA, the US intelligence community’s research arm, says that it is looking for ways to “geolocate images” by extracting data and metadata from the images themselves and using this to make guesses about where they were taken.
►►Norway to reassess domestic intelligence gathering. Norway’s main domestic intelligence agency, the Police Security Service (PST), is facing questions over whether its focus on Islamic radicalism caused it to miss a rising threat from far-right extremists, such as Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people on July 22. But PST Director Janne Kristiansen says it would have been hard to stop Breivik even if more attention had been focused on far-right groups.
►►CIA pulls second station chief from Pakistan. For the second time in seven months, the CIA is replacing its station chief in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, citing “medical reasons” for the move. Last time this happened, Read more of this post

News you may have missed #536 (US edition)

James Risen

James Risen

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►US federal agencies sitting on decade-old FOIA requests. In the United States, as Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are growing, a new study has found that eight government agencies are sitting on requests filed over ten years ago. According to the Knight Open Government Survey, conducted by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, the single oldest request is now 20 years old. FOIA requires agencies to process and respond to a request within 20 business days. ►►US journalist seeks to avoid testifying at CIA agent’s trial. A sizeable percentage of FOIA requests are filed by journalists, who are also on the receiving ends of most intelligence-related ‘leaks’ in the United States. One of those journalists, James Risen, of The New York Times, has been subpoenaed by the Obama administration to testify at the trial of Jeffrey Sterling. Sterling is a former CIA employee, who has been arrested under the Espionage Act for allegedly revealing details about Operation MERLIN to Risen. MERLIN was a botched US effort to provide Iran with a flawed design for building a nuclear weapon, in order to delay the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program. Times lawyers argue that the First Amendment should shield Risen from having to testify at Sterling’s trial. ►►US intel research agency works on 3-D holographs. Also in the United States, IARPA, the US intelligence community’s technical research wing, has announced that it is working on a system that lets intelligence analysts collaborate with each other using “interactive 3-D holographic displays”. Through this system, IARPA hopes that intelligence personnel could take simultaneous virtual strolls through real-life target locations, help plan raids, etc.

US intel wants to automate analysis of online videos

IARPA logo

IARPA logo

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A new project funded by the US intelligence community’s research unit aims to automate the collection and analysis of videos from YouTube and other popular online platforms, with the intent of unearthing “valuable intelligence”. The program is called Automated Low-Level Analysis and Description of Diverse Intelligence Video (ALADDIN). It is directed by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), whose mission is to work under the Director of National Intelligence to create hi-tech applications for America’s intelligence agencies. Few people are aware of the existence of IARPA, which was quietly established in 2007, is based at the University of Maryland, and is staffed mostly by CIA personnel. The research body’s latest project apparently aims to equip the US intelligence community with the ability to scan “for the occurrence of specific events of interest” embedded in online video files, and then “rapidly and automatically produce a textual English-language recounting [and] describing the particular scene, actors, objects and activities involved”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #336

  • CIA tech arm invests in camera lens start-up. The CIA’s venture-capital investment arm, In-Q-Tel, has struck again. This time it has funded LensVector, a hi-tech start-up that specializes in micro-camera technology for cell phones.
  • NSA cyberdefense exercise underway. Detailed status report on the National Security Agency’s 10th annual Cyber Defense Exercise, a competition that pits students from a series of US military academies against each other –and against the competition’s leaders at NSA– in a bid to see who has the best cyberdefense skills.
  • US spy researchers working on computational intel. IARPA, the US intelligence community’s research arm, is apparently working on a new program, called Aggregative Contingent Estimation, which aims to create a computational model that can enhance human hypotheses and predictions, by catching inevitable biases and accounting for selective memory and stress in intelligence analysis.

Bookmark and Share

News you may have missed #295

  • US spies want super-sensitive human lie detectors. IARPA, the research unit of the US intelligence community is soliciting proposals for a five-year, three-phased overhaul of current deception-detection technology, which will include research on what is called “pre-conscious human assessment of trustworthiness”.
  • UK may purchase IP monitoring system from CIA-linked company. A security startup with close links to the CIA is touting a system to the UK government that monitors every IP address on the internet for malware, as part of its declared aim of improving cyber war capabilities. The firm has built a massive database of security breaches across the globe and is currently monitoring about 250 million compromised machines.
  • No Americans on CIA’s assassination list. The Washington Post has corrected an earlier report, flagged by intelNews earlier this month, which claimed that the US President has authorized the CIA to kill Americans abroad. According to new information, there are no Americans currently on the CIA hit list, but there are four on the list of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). It is worth noting that JSOC, which some say is gradually taking over the CIA’s paramilitary mission, lacks the CIA’s mandatory Congressional oversight and has a history of being run directly out of the White House.

Bookmark and Share