News you may have missed #641 (US edition)

Dennis Blair

Dennis Blair

►► US Navy memo had warned Roosevelt of 1941 attack. Three days before the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, US President F.D. Roosevelt was warned in a memo from US naval intelligence that Tokyo’s military and spy network was focused on Hawaii. The 20-page memo has been published in the new book December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World, by Craig Shirley.
►►US spy agencies cut their holiday parties. Holiday gatherings have provided rare opportunities for US congressional staff, embassy aides, government officials, and the media to mix it up —off the record— with the spy set. But this year, agency budget Scrooges have taken aim at high-priced holiday merriment. The Director of National Intelligence has canceled holiday parties altogether, and the Central Intelligence Agency has drastically downsized its guest list and lavish spread by more than 50%.
►►Ex-DNI Blair wants Pentagon in charge of drone strikes. The United States’ former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, who previously proposed scaling back the armed drone operation run in Pakistan by the CIA, is now urging that the program be publicly acknowledged and placed in the hands of the US military.

News you may have missed #627

Omar Suleiman

Omar Suleiman

►►Egyptian ex-spy chief appointed security adviser to Saudi Crown Prince. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz has appointed Egypt’s former Director of General Intelligence, Omar Suleiman, as his security advisor. From 1986 until his forced resignation in spring this year, Suleiman had been the main conduit between Washington, Tel Aviv and the government of Hosni Mubarak.
►►Russia’s spy chief in rare interview. It is very rare that the men that run Russia’s powerful intelligence services give detailed interviews. But that’s just what Alexander Shlyakhturov, the head of military intelligence service, known as the GRU, did earlier this month with the Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
►►US intel agencies brace for budget cuts. After seeing spending double over a decade, US intelligence agencies are bracing for about $25 billion in budget cuts over the next 10 years. “We’re going to have less capability in 10 years than we have today”, said Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who sits atop the 16 departments, agencies and offices that comprise the US intelligence community and spend a combined $80 billion a year.

News you may have missed #614

James Clapper

James Clapper

►►US spy chief proposes double-digit budget cuts. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Monday said he has proposed double-digit budget cuts in intelligence programs to the White House because “we’re all going to have to give at the office”. Clapper, in a speech at the GEOINT conference in Texas, said his office had “handed in our homework assignment” to the Office of Management and Budget, “and it calls for cuts in the double-digit range, with a B (for billion), over 10 years”.
►►French spy chief charged with snooping on reporter. France’s opposition on Tuesday called for the resignation of Bernard Squarcini, head of the country’s domestic intelligence agency, the DCRI, after he was charged over spying on a journalist with the daily Le Monde.
►►Researcher forecasts new virus similar to Stuxnet. The discovery of an espionage computer virus in Europe similar to the virus that attacked Iran’s nuclear plants last year suggests that a new, similar cyberattack is about to launch, computer virus researcher Mikko Hypponen says. The new virus, Duqu, was first reported by security company Symantec on its blog Tuesday. Its code is very similar to that of Stuxnet, the virus detected last year that was designed to sabotage equipment at Iranian nuclear plants.

News you may have missed #0280

  • Interview with Canadian ambassador who worked for the CIA. Iran’s Press TV has published an extensive interview with Ken Taylor, Canada’s former ambassador to Iran, who recently admitted that he secretly worked for the CIA in the late 1970s, after the US embassy in Iran was taken over by students during the Islamic Revolution. Part one of the interview is here. Parts two and three here, and parts four, five and six here.
  • US Pentagon’s black budget tops $56 billion. About $56 billion of the US Defense Department’s publicized 2010 budget goes simply to “classified programs” or to projects known only by their code names, like “Chalk Eagle” and “Link Plumeria”. That’s the Pentagon’s black budget, an it’s about $6 billion more than last year.
  • CIA agents working for private companies on the side. In the midst of two US wars and the fight against al-Qaeda, the CIA is offering operatives a chance to peddle their expertise to private companies on the side –a policy that gives financial firms and hedge funds access to the nation’s top-level intelligence talent.

News you may have missed #0165

  • UK demands Russians deliver spy assassin. David Miliband, Britain’s foreign secretary pressed Russia during a visit to Moscow on Monday to turn over Andrey Lugovoi, the main suspect in the 2006 killing in London of Russian former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. But, as before, Russia rejected the demand on legal grounds.
  • Analysis: Confusion in US intelligence secrecy policy. The decision last week by the Director of National Intelligence to declassify the FY2009 budget for the National Intelligence Program is inconsistent with other ODNI classification actions and highlights the confusion over the proper scope of national security secrecy that prevails in the US intelligence community today.
  • Equatorial Guinea pardons Western coup plotters. Four whites jailed for leading an alleged 2004 coup attempt in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea have been unexpectedly pardoned. They include Simon Mann, a British former Special Forces officer, and Nick du Toit, a South African mercenary. The Guinean government cited…”Jesus Christ” in making the decision to pardon the coup plotters.

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News you may have missed #0160

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FBI still lacks translators, eight years after 9/11, says report

Report cover

Report cover

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
An internal audit by the US Justice Department’s inspector general has found that the FBI faces a critical shortage of foreign-language specialists, eight years after 9/11. The audit report (redacted version available in .pdf here) issued last Monday by inspector general Glenn Fine, reveals that the lack of translators prevented the FBI from accessing 31 per cent of the foreign-language material it collected in counter-terrorism operations from 2006 to 2008. This means the Bureau, which serves as America’s primary counterintelligence and counterterrorism force, has been unable to read tens of thousands of pages and listen to or review 1.2 million hours of audio intercepts in the last two years alone. Remarkably, despite the well-understood need for foreign-language specialists in the post-9/11 security environment, the audit found that the total number of FBI translators dropped from 1,338 in March 2005 to 1,298 in September last year. Read more of this post