Western spies, security contractors, won Libyan war for rebels

Libya

Libya

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
As I write these lines, celebratory gunfire is being heard all across Tripoli and the rebel National Transitional Council is appointing civilians to replace the crumbling administration of longtime Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi. But a handful of news outlets discreetly remind us that the rebels’ claim to victory rests on vital covert assistance provided by several Western intelligence services. British daily The Independent notes that the victorious rebels were assisted on all levels by “an army of [British] diplomats, spooks, military advisers and former members of the special forces”, all of whom allowed “London to influence events in Libya beyond the activities of warplanes and naval vessels”. Early indications of Britain’s substantial covert involvement in the Libyan civil war emerged in March, when a secret operation involving a team of 20 Special Air Service (SAS) personnel was disrupted by a group of Libyan rebels, who thought the foreigners were employed by the Libyan government. Eight captured SAS members were soon released by the red-faced rebels, but not before the botched operation had made headlines all over the world. That experience prompted British intelligence planners to rethink their methodology. Eventually, notes The Independent, the British government decided to prompt the rebel National Transitional Council to use British funds to hire teams of former special forces operatives working for private security firms. This, according to the paper, accounts for the “small groups of […] Caucasian males, many with British accents [and] equipped with sunglasses, 4×4 vehicles and locally acquired weaponry, who [were] seen regularly by reporters in the vanguard of the rebels’ haphazard journey […] towards Tripoli”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #542

Sir John Chilcot

Sir John Chilcot

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Ex-spy says MI6 cut corners to back Blair’s Iraq war case. Britain’s ongoing Iraq Inquiry headed by Sir John Chilcot, heard last week from a former spy, identified in documents only as “SIS2”. The witness said that MI6 was “probably too eager to please” the government and was guilty of “flying a bit too close to the sun”. He was referring to the intelligence support provided by MI6 in support of the case for entering the Iraq War, made by the Labour government of Prime Minister Tony blair in 2003. He also told the committee that “the pressure to generate results, I fear, did lead to the cutting of corners”. ►►Medical group criticizes CIA’s vaccination scheme. A whimiscal tone prevails in most articles on the recent revelation that the CIA tried to collect DNA evidence on Osama bin Laden by running a phony vaccination program in Abbottabad, Pakistan. But medical groups engaged in organizing vaccination schemes are not amused. French-based international medical aid charity Médecins Sans Frontières has lashed out at the CIA because, it said, by using a medical cover for its assassination scheme, the Agency endangered those who conduct life-saving immunization work around the world. Read more of this post

Security minister, ex-spy directors arrested in Hungary

Gyorgy Szilvasy

Gyorgy Szilvasy

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
One former government minister and two former directors of Hungary’s domestic intelligence service have been arrested on suspicion on espionage, according to reports. On June 28, Hungarian police arrested Lajos Galambos, who was Director of Hungary’s National Security Office (NBH) from 2004 to 2007. Three days later, on July 1, police forces arrested Sandor Laborc, who succeeded Galambos as NBH director, and Gyorgy Szilvasy (pictured), who was minister in charge of overseeing the civilian security services from 2007 to 2009. All three served in key government positions during the socialist government of former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany. Despite repeated media request, government prosecutors have refused to disclose the precise nature of the charges against the three officials, except to say that they are suspected of having committed “crimes against the state”. One Hungarian daily, Tabloid Blikk, suggested that the arrests are linked to the Egymasert Public Foundation, headed by wanted fugitive Robert Jakubinyi.  Egymasert was found last year to have been used to facilitate money laundering and the illegal sale of shares. But other reports interpret the high-level arrests as a form of political payback for the so-called ‘UD Zrt affair’, also known as ‘the Hungarian Watergate’, which rocked Hungarian public opinion in 2008. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #516

  • UK government will continue to spy on Muslims says official. Britain’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, says she does not see “anything wrong with identifying people who are vulnerable to being taken down a certain route”.
  • UK government outed IRA double agent. Senior Irish Provisional Army volunteer Denis Donaldson, who spied for the British government, was deliberately outed by the government to send a message to the IRA that he was expendable, and that it had another, more valuable informant within the IRA leadership ranks. The revelation is contained in a leaked US diplomatic document published by whistleblower website WikiLeaks. Donaldson was shot dead shortly after his role as an MI5 informant was revealed.
  • Legendary CIA airline now in danger of crashing. There was a time, not so long ago, that CIA-linked contractor Evergreen International Aviation was doing quite well for itself. Today, the venerable intelligence-helpers have fallen on hard times. The other day, it had to unload its 200 million square foot maintenance facility in southern Arizona in order to help pay off its debts.

News you may have missed #509 (Blackwater edition)

CIA losing scores of officers to private sector, report finds

CIA HQ

CIA HQ

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
An extensive report on intelligence outsourcing in the United States has revealed that dozens of senior CIA officials have migrated to the private sector in the years since 9/11, usually taking with them decades of experience and training, paid for by the US taxpayer. Most of these upper-level officials, which number nearly 100 since 2001, have assumed lucrative posts in private intelligence firms and security consultants, often making significantly more than they could ever make working at the CIA. According to The Washington Post, which compiled the report, the decision to leave the CIA for the private sector is usually based on strictly financial grounds. But private contractors view these officials as invaluable intermediaries in their effort to gain access to government contracts, which have increased exponentially in number and monetary value in recent times. As a result, three CIA Directors, four Deputy Directors for Operations, three Counterterrorism Center Directors, as well as all five of the CIA’s Division Heads have been lured by private sector intelligence contractors since 9/11. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #470

  • Blackwater still working for US despite denials. Reports that Blackwater is out of the US government’s private-security game appear to have been greatly exaggerated. A consigliore to the company’s new owners has said the firm still holds security contracts with the US State Department, and intends to seek more.
  • CIA gets spooky with new radio commercials. The CIA’s National Clandestine Service is continuing its recruitment drive with new radio commercials, complete with a spooky soundtrack of sawing violins and rising timpani –and something about “no one will ever know what you do”.
  • Iranian shah’s son found dead in Boston. Alireza Pahlavi, the youngest son of the late shah of Iran, has been found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Boston’s South End. In June 2001, Alireza’s sister Leila was found dead in a London hotel room from an overdose of barbiturates. The late siblings’ father was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic revolution. He died in Egypt in 1980.

News you may have missed #420

  • Nokia and Siemens deny helping Iranian spying. Isa Saharkhiz, a one-time reporter for the Islamic Republic News Agency, is suing Nokia Siemens Networks in US federal court, claiming the companies facilitated his capture and torture at the hands of the Iranian government. The European-based consortium denies the allegations.
  • New Aussie spy agency HQ ‘on time and on budget’. The new ASIO $606 million  (USD $540 million) headquarters in Parkes, Canberra, is progressing on time and on budget, with completion scheduled for mid-2012. Meanwhile, the 270 construction workers on site have been vetted for security clearance, must pass security checkpoints each day, and have signed papers not to discuss anything that happens on site.
  • US Pentagon spends big on outsourced spy imagery. The production and maintenance of US spy satellites used to be in government hands, but now this critical aspect of national security is routinely outsourced. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the Department of Defense’s operator of military spy satellites, recently awarded $7.3 billion in contracts for its EnhancedView commercial imagery program.

News you may have missed #418

  • US military pays for intel widely available online. Experts say that the vast majority of the ‘intelligence’ needed by the United States is freely available on the Internet. But that has not stopped a company called Military Periscope from selling its subscription services to the US government, on things such as updates on foreign militaries, peacekeeping missions, weapons databases and terrorist organizations “via monthly CD-ROM delivery”.
  • Son of Russian spies could return to US for school. Tim Foley, the elder son of Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley, the two deported US residents who were living a double life as Russian spies, may be trying to return to study in the United States, but his younger brother plans to stay in Moscow.
  • German spy chief notes cyberattack surge. Cyberattacks against German corporate and government computers have been on the rise since 2005, according to Heinz Fromm, Director of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. He said the attacks “come mainly from Asia, often from China”, and that often “state agencies are involved”.

News you may have missed #412

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News you may have missed #406

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Comment: Washington Post’s ‘Top Secret America’

Dana Priest

Dana Priest

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Like most intelligence observers, we at intelNews have monitored with interest The Washington Post’s recent investigation into the current state of the US intelligence complex. Authored by longtime investigative reporter Dana Priest and national security correspondent William Arkin, the three-part series offers a long-overdue examination of some of the most pressing issues in American intelligence. The articles are well written, detailed and informative, and intelNews recommends that they be read by all those interested in understanding broad trends in contemporary American intelligence. However, those readers interested in a sneak peak of some of the most important findings of the Post’s investigation, may wish to browse the helpful summary provided by Liz Goodwin, of Yahoo! News’ Upshot blog. In it, she delineates the main conclusions of the report, which –broadly speaking– focuses on three critical issues.

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News you may have missed #387

  • Blackwater to ‘abandon US government market’. Erik Prince, occasional CIA operative and CEO of Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, has said in an interview that he is tired of Congressional oversight regulations and plans to abandon US government business forever. Meanwhile, there are reports that Xe has just won a $100 million contract to guard CIA facilities in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
  • Congress won’t back down on CIA oversight battle. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is battling a veto threat by US President Barack Obama, as well as against the CIA and powerful House and Senate Democrats and Republicans, over Congressional oversight of US intelligence services.
  • Mossad chief to step down after eight years. Mossad Director Meir Dagan’s request to extend his term by another year has been denied, and he will step down in three months’ time, according to Israeli media reports. The chief of Dubai Police, which exposed a January 2010 Mossad assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, said Dagan’s ousting is related to the botched operation.

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Private US spy network still operating in Pakistan

US Pentagon

US Pentagon

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Senior US Pentagon officials continue to rely almost daily on reports from a network of contracted spies operating deep inside Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to The New York Times. Last March, when the paper revealed the existence of the network, several senior US military sources expressed serious concerns about the operation, which some say borders on illegality, and is currently under investigation by the US government. Although The Times is apparently “withholding some information about the contractor network, including some of the names of [its] agents”, it appears that the network is staffed by former CIA and Special Forces operatives. The entire operation appears to be an attempt to evade some of the stringent oversight rules under which the CIA and the US Pentagon are required to operate. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #352

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