News you may have missed #586

Stewart David Nozette

David Nozette

►►Top CIA official says Obama ‘changed virtually nothing’. An examination of Top Secret America, which aired on PBS’s Frontline yesterday, includes a rare and lengthy interview with 34-year-CIA-veteran John Rizzo, who is described as “the most influential lawyer in CIA history”. Among other things, Rizzo told Frontline that “with a notable exception of the enhanced interrogation program, the incoming Obama administration changed virtually nothing with respect to existing CIA programs and operations. Things continued. Authorities were continued that were originally granted by President Bush beginning shortly after 9/11. Those were all picked up, reviewed and endorsed by the Obama administration”.
►►Turkish military intel chief arrested in coup plot. Lt. General Ismail Hakki Pekin, the head of the Intelligence Department of the Turkish General Staff, has been arrested pending trial over an alleged plot to overthrow the government. Around 200 members of the military are thought to have planned attacks on mosques and worked to create tension in neighboring Greece to pave the way for a coup to topple the government, as part of the Ergenekon operation.
►►US scientist accused of spying reaches plea deal. US government space scientist Stewart David Nozette, who is accused of trying to sell secrets to Israel, has reached a plea deal with prosecutors. US District Judge Paul Friedman scheduled a hearing Wednesday morning to take Nozette’s plea.

News you may have missed #543 (CIA edition)

John Rizzo

John Rizzo

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Ex-CIA officer warns of Israeli attack on Iran. Few in the CIA are more knowledgeable about Shiite politics than Robert Baer, a veteran of the Agency’s National Clandestine Service, who spent over 20 years in the Middle East, notably in Lebanon. Last weekend, Baer spoke to Los Angeles radio station KPFK, and said that “[t]here is almost near certainty [in Israel] that Netanyahu is planning an attack [on Iran] and it will probably be in September before the vote on a Palestinian state. And he’s also hoping to draw the United States into the conflict”. Baer is not alone in issuing such warnings in recent months. Former Mossad director Meir Dagan has been echoing Baer’s concerns. ►►Campaigners seek arrest of ex-CIA legal chief. We have written before about John A. Rizzo, the CIA’s former Acting General Counsel, who has been termed “the most influential career lawyer in CIA history”. Some readers may remember that Rizzo retired hurriedly from his post in 2009, amidst fears that he could get in trouble for acting as what some observers termed “a legal enabler” of the CIA torture practices under the George W. Bush administration. Now a group of human rights campaigners in Britain and Pakistan are seeking Rizzo’s arrest for his role in justifying the CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, the legality of which is often questioned by experts. The CIA has refused to comment on the campaign to indict Rizzo. ►►Analysis: The fallout from the CIA’s vaccination ploy in Pakistan. We wrote on Monday that not everyone is amused by news that the CIA tried to collect DNA evidence on Osama bin Laden by running a phony vaccination program in Pakistan. Read more of this post

Judge accuses CIA of fraud in 15-year court case

Judge Lamberth

Judge Lamberth

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A 15-year old lawsuit against the CIA unexpectedly resurfaced yesterday, after a US federal judge accused the CIA attorneys of fraud and warned the former and current CIA leadership of serious legal sanctions. US District Judge Royce Lamberth said the CIA misled him on several occasions by falsely claiming that the “state secrets” clause applied to the case, which three consecutive US administrations have tried to bury. The case was filed in 1994 by retired Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer Richard A. Horn, who claimed that CIA agents illegally wiretapped his conversations while he was stationed in Burma. It appears that, at the time, the US diplomatic representation in Burma and the CIA station in Rangoon were at loggerheads with the DEA. Read more of this post

Coalition requests disbarment of government lawyers behind CIA torture

John Rizzo

John Rizzo

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Yesterday I wrote about John A. Rizzo, the CIA Acting General Counsel who is preparing to step down from his post despite being termed “the most influential career lawyer in CIA history”, according to The Los Angeles Times. The reason behind his sudden early retirement is the discovery earlier this month by several anti-torture critics in Congress that he gave the CIA legal advice in support of the Agency’s “enhanced interrogation” program. But the controversy over Rizzo’s role in the torture scheme is likely to stay with him even after he leaves Langley. Yesterday, the Velvet Revolution, an activist network of over 120 groups, issued formal requests with the New York and DC bar associations to disbar Rizzo and two other government lawyers behind the CIA torture program. Read more of this post

Most influential CIA lawyer in history “retires” over torture

John Rizzo

John Rizzo

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Finally, someone’s paying attention to John A. Rizzo, the CIA Acting General Counsel who is preparing to step down from his post despite being termed “the most influential career lawyer in CIA history”. In a well-researched article for The Los Angeles Times, Greg Miller explains the reasons behind Rizzo’s sudden departure from the Agency. Remember those internal CIA memos the US Justice Department released last April? Among other interesting facts, the memos revealed the names of government lawyers behind the Agency’s secret detention and torture program. Along other, more publicly known names, such as those of “aggressive interrogation” advocates John Yoo and Jay Bybee, several of the memos contained legal advice by Rizzo, who acted as what one CIA official described the Agency’s “legal enabler”. Read more of this post