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.

News you may have missed #757

Jonathan Jay PollardBy TIMOTHY W. COLEMAN | intelNews.org |
►►US government Pollard video declassified. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request initiated by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, the Defense Intelligence Agency has released a 14-minute instructional video, which cites the Jonathan Pollard spy case. Pollard was a US Naval intelligence officer who for over 18 months provided thousands of classified documents to the Israelis government. He is serving a life sentence. The DIA’s Office of Security and Counterintelligence produced the instructional video in 1987 to urge employees to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior of fellow employees and to encourage them to report known security violations immediately. The video interviews an actor portraying the government employee who first reported Pollard’s espionage activities.
►►Senior CIA officer accused of being Mafia hitman. Enrique “Ricky” Prado’s resume reads like the ultimate CIA officer: a candidate for the CIA’s most senior post in South Korea, a top spy in America’s espionage programs against China, and deputy to Cofer Black, a chief strategist in America’s war on terror. But he is also alleged to have started out a career as a hitman for a notorious Miami mobster, and kept working for the mob even after joining the CIA. Finally, he went on to serve as the head of the CIA’s secret assassination squad against Al-Qaida. That’s according to journalist Evan Wright’s blockbuster story How to Get Away With Murder in America, distributed by Byliner. In it, Wright compiles lengthy, years-long investigations by state and federal police and tracks the history of Prado’s alleged Miami patron and notorious cocaine trafficker, Alberto San Pedro, and suspicions that Prado moved from a secret death squad from the CIA to notorious mercenary firm Blackwater.
►►Colombian pleads guilty to spy charges in Nicaragua. As previously reported on this blog, Luis Felipe Rios, a 34-year-old Colombian national, was arrested for espionage in Nicaragua on June 15. The Inside Costa Rica news agency says Rios admitted he was indeed committing espionage on behalf o foreign nation, and he is providing Nicaraguan authorities with all the details. Rios will likely be sentenced on July 9 and he faces up to 16 years in prison for violating Nicaragua’s state secrets and state intrusion laws.

News you may have missed #753

James ClapperBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►US spy agencies consider new polygraph questions. The US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is considering a proposal to force intelligence agency employees to answer a direct question in their polygraph examinations about whether they have disclosed information to reporters. The Los Angeles Times quotes “officials familiar with the matter”, who say that Clapper is preparing “changes to the counterintelligence polygraph policy”, though “no final decisions have been made”.
►►Ex-“New Republic” editor speaks out against Pollard release. Few American journals can claim to have stood more staunchly by Israel than The New Republic. So we should be paying attention when Martin Peretz, who edited the magazine from 1974 until 2011, comes out against the proposed release of Jonathan Jay Pollard. Pollard is a former US Navy analyst, who is serving a life sentence for spying on the US for Israel. Peretz calls Pollard “a scoundrel spy” and reminds his readers that “before he decided to deliver reams of sensitive [US] intelligence and defense documents to Israel’s security apparatus, [Pollard] was negotiating with Pakistan […] to do similar chores for it”.
►►UK leader considered using special forces to seize Russian ship. British Prime Minister David Cameron considered ordering British special forces to board and impound a Russian ship suspected of carrying arms to Russian ally Syria, it has emerged. The ship, MV Alaed, was sailing in British waters when the US placed pressure on Britain to halt it. But the Russian ship suddenly changed course about 50 miles off the north coast of Scotland and it is showing that its next port of call is Murmansk, in Russia.

News you may have missed #746

Jeffrey Paul DelisleBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Germany charges alleged Moroccan spy. German Federal prosecutors on Tuesday said the suspect, identified only as Moroccan-German dual national Mohammed B., was spying for Moroccan intelligence on supporters of the POLISARIO Front, which seeks independence for the Western Sahara region. They say he was paid €22,800 for the work in 2011, and then falsified invoices to claim he had done work for Morocco’s state airline to disguise where the money originated. He was arrested in February but released from custody on June 5 after prosecutors say he admitted to the charges.
►►Delisle spy case in Canada adjourned until July 4. The case of Canadian navy intelligence officer Jeffrey Paul Delisle, who is accused of espionage, has been adjourned until next month, because his lawyer, Mike Taylor, says he needs more time to review information about his client. According to Taylor, much of the information he has received so far from the Canadian government has been redacted because of security concerns. Moreover, he said that the “voluminous” amount of information has to be vetted by several justice and intelligence agencies before it can be handed over to him, slowing down the process of moving the case forward.
►►Obama to deny Israeli calls for Pollard’s release. The administration of US President Barack Obama has indicated that it will reject any appeal by senior Israeli political figures to commute the life sentence of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. “Our position has not changed and will not change today”, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing last week. “Mr. Pollard was convicted of extremely serious crimes”, he said.

Ex-diplomat: US thinks Israeli spy Pollard was not acting alone

Itamar RabinovichBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
One of Israel’s former ambassadors to Washington has told a radio program that United States officials suspect Jonathan Jay Pollard, an American who spied for Israel in the 1980s, was not acting alone. Itamar Rabinovich, who was Tel Aviv’s most senior diplomat on US soil from 1993 to 1996, told Israel Radio on Monday that this is probably the reason behind Washington’s refusal to release the imprisoned spy. Pollard was a US Navy intelligence analyst who spied for Israel, in exchange for money, from 1984 until his arrest in 1986. Many in US counterintelligence consider him one of the most damaging double spies in American history. But he is widely viewed as a hero in Israel, and Israelis, as well as many pro-Israel Americans, are actively pressuring the US administration of President Barack Obama to release him. According to Rabinovich, however, the main reason behind the US refusal to release Pollard is that officials in the US Intelligence Community think that Israel has concealed the full extent of his activities on US soil. Furthermore, Rabinovich said in his interview that Washington believes Israel has shielded other Americans who either collaborated with Pollard or worked alongside him at the time. “They suspect that he wasn’t the only one, that there were additional Pollards”, said Rabinovich, adding that “Israel, despite its promises, did not reveal all the cards in this case and in similar cases”. The former ambassador said that, to his knowledge, “Israel [still] hasn’t said everything” to the Americans about the extent of Pollard’s espionage activities on US soil. Expounding on this, he said that “the claim concerning the enormous damage done to the Americans” by Pollard’s activities is one thing, “but there is also a hidden [claim], which is not voiced openly, but is implied”. The Americans, said Rabinovich, are “punishing Israel at Jonathan Pollard’s expense. They are angry with Israel more than with Pollard”. Read more of this post

Interview with agent who caught US-Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan PollardBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Twenty-six years ago this month, a United States court convicted Jonathan Jay Pollard, a US Navy analyst who had been caught spying on his country for Israel. Pollard, who is still serving his life sentence, enjoys tremendous popularity in Israel as well as among pro-Israeli public figures in the US. His supporters in Israel and elsewhere view him as a hero who is serving an unfairly harsh sentence and they pressure the US government to release him. In light of that, it is worth paying attention to a recent radio interview with the man who caught him spying on America. The interview was conducted by Mike Lanchin, a reporter and producer for BBC radio’s Witness program. Lanchin managed to trace Ron Olive, a retired Assistant Special Agent at US Navy Counterintelligence, who in June 1986 cracked the Pollard case, leading to the spy’s arrest and eventual conviction. Olive, who now runs his own security consultancy firm in Arizona, told Witness that it took him and his fellow investigators over six months to piece together their case against Pollard. He added that, according to his investigation, “Pollard stole so many documents, so highly classified, more so than any other spy in the history of this country, in such a short period of time”. The case, said Olive, was the worst he had ever seen and it “devastated the entire [US] Intelligence Community”. The reason was not only the volume of stolen classified material, but also the fact that Pollard “could have been stopped from the very beginning”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #726

Barbara Annette RobbinsBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Portrait of first female CIA officer to die in line of duty. In 1965, a 21-year-old American woman, Barbara Annette Robbins (photo), was among the victims of a car bombing at the US Embassy in Saigon, South Vietnam. Washington said she was a diplomat. But, at a ceremony last year, the CIA admitted she was an employee of the Agency. This makes her the first woman at the male-dominated CIA killed in the line of duty. She is also the youngest CIA employee ever killed. And she appears to be the first American woman to die in the Vietnam War. The Washington Post has an interesting article about her short life and career.
►►US Jewish leader says release of Israeli spy Pollard ‘inevitable’. The release of Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence in a US prison for spying on the US for Israel, is “inevitable” and could take place shortly on “technical grounds”, according to Jack Rosen, a prominent Jewish leader and supporter of US President Barack Obama. A New York City real estate executive who hosted Obama at his Upper East Side home for a Democratic Party fundraiser last November, Rosen said that “there are some technical reasons, I’m told, why [Pollard] will be released. I think there’s an inevitability to that happening”.
►►Senior reshuffle at South Korean spy agency. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak reshuffled two top posts at South Korea’s main intelligence agency Monday in a shake-up that also affected five other vice-ministerial posts. Nam Joo-hong, a former well-known security scholar who has so far served as ambassador to Canada, was named the first deputy chief of the National Intelligence Service, while Cha Moon-hee, a veteran intelligence official, was tapped as the agency’s second deputy chief. The spy agency’s first and second deputy chiefs are in charge of its overseas and domestic operations, respectively.

News you may have missed #715 (Israel edition)

Dan MeridorBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Israeli Deputy PM says “attack on Iran won’t help us”. In this interview conducted at Israel’s embassy in London, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy, Dan Meridor, says that “an attack on Iran wouldn’t add anything to [Israel’s] security”. He adds that “it’s possible that we have to use force”. But, he notes, “I don’t think Israel should use the military option. I don’t agree with some of my colleagues who support a military strike”. Compare that with the last time he spoke about this issue.
►►Analysis: Beware of faulty intelligence on Iran. The experienced Israeli intelligence correspondent Ronen Bergman argues that the decision to attack Israeli militarily “will be driven to an extraordinary extent by intelligence reports” produced by Washington and Tel Aviv. For this reason, he argues, “even a slight intelligence gaffe could have an outcome of historic proportions”. Furthermore, he calls on America and Israel not to rely on “scraps of information […] as the basis for action against Iran”, insisting that “a miscalculation could be the worst possible outcome”.
►►Israeli spy Pollard back in prison after hospitalization. Israeli President Shimon Peres sent a letter to United States President Barack Obama last week urging him to consider granting clemency to convicted spy Jonathan Pollard based on his ill health. The White House rejected the appeal and now Pollard, who was convicted in 1987 for selling classified US government information to Israel, is back in prison.

US rejects calls to free Navy analyst who spied for Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack ObamaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The White House has rejected persistent calls by Israeli politicians and lobbyists to free a United States Navy intelligence analyst serving a life sentence for giving classified US government documents to Israel. Jonathan Jay Pollard was convicted in 1987 for selling classified information to the Israeli government. Ronald Olive, a former counterintelligence officer for the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service, who led the US Navy’s prosecution of Jonathan Pollard, has described Pollard’s spying activity as “one of the most devastating cases of espionage in US history”, involving the theft of over “one million classified documents”. Recently it emerged that, before spying for Israel, Pollard had attempted to spy on the US for the government of Australia. However, in Israel, Pollard, who is now an Israeli subject after renouncing his American citizenship, is widely considered a national hero. Last week, senior Israeli political figures renewed persistent calls to the administration of US President Barack Obama to free Pollard. According to the Israelis’ reasoning, the life sentence imposed on Pollard is too harsh considering that he spied for a US ally. Last week’s calls were led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged the White House to free the convicted spy “in the spirit of the Jewish Passover. Netanyahu said that “the Festival of Freedom of all the Jews should be turned into Pollard’s private one”. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plea was echoed in a personal letter addressed to President Obama by Israeli President Shimon Peres, along with a petition signed by over 80 members of the Israeli Knesset. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #710

Jonathan PollardBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►MI6 officer murder inquest to be held in secret. Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague has ordered that key evidence in the inquest into the death of MI6 officer Gareth Williams is to be heard in secret. Williams, who was found dead in a padlocked sports bag in the bath of his London apartment 20 months ago, was on secondment to MI6 from GCHQ, the British government’s signals intelligence agency, and had worked closely with the American security services.
►►GCHQ warns it is losing terrorists on the internet. Speaking of the GCHQ, the organization says that modern internet technology has left them unable to intercept calls which use new technology instead of traditional phone systems. Britain’s Daily Telegraph quotes “senior intelligence sources with detail knowledge of the problem”, who say that GCHQ technical experts have seen their access to telephone intercept information “eroded” by the use of the technologies such as Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, which route telephone calls over the world wide web.
►►Israel pressures Obama to release Jewish spy. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has again called on the United States to release convicted spy Jonathan Pollard after the former US Navy intelligence analyst was hospitalized this week. Pollard, an American of Jewish descent, was sentenced to life in prison 25 years ago for leaking classified documents to Israel. Many Israelis believe the sentence was too harsh and officials often demand his release. But Democratic and Republican administrations in the US have repeatedly refused Israeli appeals to release the convicted spy.

Biden stopped Obama from granting clemency to Israel spy

Joe Biden

Joe Biden

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The President of the United States considered clemency for an American Navy analyst who spied on the US for Israel, but was stopped by his Vice President, Joe Biden, according to a report in The New York Times. The report claims that Barack Obama gave in to concerted pressure from the Israeli government and members of the pro-Israel lobby in the US, and proposed that Jonathan Pollard, who was jailed for life in 1986 for handing over classified US government documents to Israeli spies, be released. But Joe Biden rejected Obama’s proposal, reportedly telling the President that “over my dead body are we going to let [Pollard] out before his time”. The information appears to have come from Joe Biden himself, who revealed it during a recent meeting with rabbis in Boca Raton, Florida. The Times reports that, “according to several people at the meeting”, Biden was asked by one of the rabbis why it was that Pollard remained in prison, despite a lengthy campaign in Israel to have him released, or transferred to an Israeli jail. Biden responded that Obama had proposed releasing Pollard, but his suggestion never reached the heads of America’s intelligence community, because it was blocked by Biden himself. The Vice President said he told Obama that, if it were up to him, Pollard “would stay in jail for life”. The Times article does not relay the reaction to Biden’s forceful answer at the meeting; but the paper states that Biden appears to be on a mission to improve Obama’s image with Jewish voters in the United States. Although Jewish Americans traditionally tend to vote for the Democratic Party, they are currently being aggressively courted by the Republicans, worrying some Democratic electoral strategists. By answering the way he did in response to the question about Pollard, Biden “took a punch meant for his boss”, argues the paper. Read more of this post

US spy Pollard tried to spy for Australia before spying for Israel

Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan Pollard

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Lobbyists campaigning for the release of jailed spy Jonathan Pollard portray him as a genuine Jewish patriot, who risked his freedom to spy on the United States for Israel. But in her first-ever public interview, Pollard’s FBI interrogator has revealed that he also spied for South Africa and tried to spy for Australia, before working as an agent for Israel. Lydia Jechorek was the FBI agent assigned to the case of Jonathan Pollard, after the United States Navy analyst was arrested for spying against his country, by handing countless classified documents over to his Israeli handlers. She spent countless hours with Pollard, interrogating him in jails in Washington, DC, and Lewisburg, PA. On Monday, Jechorek, who has never publicly commented about her role in the Pollard case, spoke to Newsmax, after having received clearance from the FBI to do so. She told the website that, during his FBI interrogation sessions, Pollard said that, before spying for Israel, he had attempted to spy on the United States for a “friendly country”. Jechorek did not mention the “friendly country” by name. But John L. Martin, who supervised the Pollard case on behalf of the Counterespionage Division of the United States Department of Justice, told Newsmax that the “friendly country” was Australia. It appears that Pollard approached Australian officials in the United States and offered to provide them with classified US government documents. It was only after they rejected his offer that Pollard accosted Israeli intelligence officers and began spying for Tel Aviv. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #560 (new books edition)

Khalil al-Balawi

Khalil al-Balawi

►►New book on CIA’s Khost bomb disaster. Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick has authored a new book, examining the December 31, 2009, killing of seven CIA operatives by Jordanian doctor Humam Khalil al-Balawi in Khost, Afghanistan. In the book, entitled The Triple Agent, Warrick quotes several “anonymous” sources from within CIA and Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID), which was involved in running al-Balawi. Aside from blaming GID, Warrick says the CIA’s Amman station chief was partly responsible for the botched operation.
►►Hollywood producer was Mossad spy, says new book. The book Confidential: The Life of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon Arnon Milchan, says that Milchan was a full-fledged operative for Israel’s now-defunct intelligence agency, Lakam. The agency, which was also known as Israel’s Bureau of Scientific Relations, collected scientific and technical intelligence abroad. It was disbanded in 1986 following the arrest of US Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard for engaging in espionage on behalf of Israel. The book’s authors, Meir Doron and Joseph Gelman, argue that Milchan, who produced such movies as Love and Other Drugs and Knight and Day, worked for Israeli intelligence by supervising government-backed accounts and front companies that financed “the special needs of the entirety of Israel’s intelligence operations outside the country”.
►►Book alleges US-Russian spy swap deal. In 2010 the CIA considered a swap deal that would have delivered to Moscow two Americans currently imprisoned in the US for spying for Russia. This information is included Read more of this post

News you may have missed #521 (Israel edition)

  • Lebanese officer gets 20 years for spying for Israel. Mansour Diab’s sentence marks the first time a Lebanese officer was convicted of spying for Israel. Meanwhile, Lebanon’s militant Shiite group Hezbollah has arrested several of its own members on suspicion of spying for Israel. Last weekend the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai al-Aam reported that the group “was dumbfounded over the Israeli infiltration”, which appears to have been substantial.
  • Israel pressures US to temporarily release jailed spy. Several Israeli leaders on Sunday urged the United States to allow jailed Jewish-American spy Jonathan Pollard to attend his father’s funeral, after he was not granted permission to join him at his bedside before he died.
  • Israel seeks prisoner exchange for Ilan Grapel. Israel is pursuing a prisoner exchange for Ilan Grapel, a 27-year-old American-Israeli dual citizen, who was arrested by Egyptian state security officers at his downtown Cairo hotel last Sunday on charges of spying for Israeli intelligence. Meanwhile, both the US and Israel insist Grapel is no spy.

News you may have missed #504

  • Israel spy pleads to Obama for release. United States Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel, has pleaded for his release in a personal letter to President Barack Obama. The letter was apparently handed to Obama by Israeli President Shimon Peres when he visited the White House on April 5.
  • US-Pakistan spy feud boils over CIA drone strikes. The Pakistani government has voiced strong criticism of a fresh CIA drone attack, which has killed 26 people. But an anonymous US counterterrorism official, who spoke to the McClatchy news agency, said that “the Pakistanis should spend less time complaining to the press [about the drone strikes] and more time trying to root out terrorists within their country”.
  • Colombia to issue international warrant for ex-spy chief. Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office will issue an international arrest warrant for Maria Pilar Hurtado, former director of the country’s disgraced DAS intelligence agency, who was granted political asylum in Panama.