US court upholds NSA’s refusal to admit or deny wiretap data

Glomar Challenger

The Glomar

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A US federal appeals court has concluded that the National Security Agency can refuse to admit or deny it possesses information about the US government spying on lawyers representing Guantánamo prison detainees. The decision by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York relates to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request under a civil liberties lawsuit challenging post-9/11 warrantless surveillance operations by US agencies. The latter typically respond to most FOIA requests by confirming or denying possession of information relating to particular requests, and then by proceeding to either deny release, or release selected segments of the requested data. It is rare for an agency to refuse even to acknowledge the existence of information sought through FOIA. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0177

  • TV footage shows Afghan insurgents with US ammo. Television footage broadcast Tuesday in Kabul showed Afghan insurgents handling what appears to be US ammunition, in a remote area of eastern Afghanistan that American forces left last month following a deadly firefight that killed eight US troops.
  • US formally accuses Iran of weapons sales to Hezbollah. The US has accused Iran of illicit arms deliveries to Lebanese Hezbollah during a session of the UN Security Council, endorsing charges by Israel following its seizure of a German ship in the Mediterranean last week.
  • Finnish union spokesman was Stasi informant, says paper. Riitta Juntunen, spokeswoman at the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), worked for the Stasi, the former East German ministry of state security, Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet reported on Monday.

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US prevented Israel from bombing arms ship, says paper

The Francop

The Francop

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Israel wanted to bomb a German cargo ship, which allegedly carried tons of weapons from Syria and Iran to Lebanon, but the plan was “rejected” by US intelligence, according to a London-based Arabic-language newspaper. An article in last Friday’s Asharq Alawsat appears to confirm earlier speculation that the ship, which was seized by Israeli commandos in a predawn raid on Wednesday off the coast of Cyprus, was first brought to the Israelis’ attention by US intelligence agencies on October 18. The newspaper alleges that the raid by Israeli commandos took place only after the US rejected an Israeli suggestion to bomb the ship while it was sailing through the Red Sea. An air attack on the cargo ship, named Francop, would have undoubtedly caused a multinational diplomatic episode. The vessel is reportedly German, leased by Greek-Cypriot charter company UFS Shipping International, and was sailing under the flag of Antigua & Barbuda, with an Egyptian crew and a Polish captain. Read more of this post

Israeli commandos seize ship allegedly carrying tons of weapons

Israeli commandos

Israeli commandos

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A ship apprehended off the coast of Cyprus by Israeli commandos in a predawn raid on Wednesday was carrying hundreds of tons of weapons, according to the Israeli Navy. Israeli military officials told a press conference in Tel Aviv that the ship was loaded with “40 containers filled with 300 tons of weapons each”, hidden under several rows of civilian goods. Israel insisted that the weapons, which include missiles and rockets, originated from Iran and Syria and were bound for Hezbollah, the Shiite Islamic political and paramilitary organization that controls large parts of Lebanon. But the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, called the Israeli commandos “pirates” and said the seized ship was heading from Syria to Iran, carrying only civilian goods. Israel has yet to release evidence of the ship’s contents, or even name. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0140

  • CIA Intellipedia gurus get Homeland Security Medal. Don Burke and Sean Dennehy, the CIA agents behind Intellipedia, have been awarded a medal for “promoting and expanding information-sharing in the Intelligence Community”. As intelNews noted last August, Intellipedia, the intelligence community’s version of Wikipedia, has grown markedly since its formal launch in 2006. It now averages more than 15,000 edits per day and is home to 900,000 pages and 100,000 user accounts.
  • Cuban Five resentencing delayed. A US federal judge has accepted requests from the lawyers of Antonio Guerrero, a member of the Cuban Five spy ring, to delay their resentencing, after the US government refused to turn over any national security damage assessments in the case. Washington accuses the Five of spying on the US for Cuba. But an appeals court ruled earlier this year that the sentences they received (ranging from 19 years to life) were too long. It appears that Guerrero’s sentence will be reduced from life to 20 years behind bars.
  • Was Christopher Columbus a spy? An independent researcher is raising eyebrows by suggesting that Columbus was a Portuguese spy who knew exactly what he was doing when he supposedly “got lost” in the Atlantic in 1492.

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News you may have missed #0110

  • So, was it pirates or Israeli spies that intercepted a ship carrying Russian missiles? Several observers are beginning to think that Israeli intelligence intercepted or was otherwise involved in the interception of the Arctic Sea, a Russian ship that reportedly carried Russian missiles destined for either Iran or Hezbollah.
  • Trial of accused Palestinian spy begins in Israel. Rawi Sultani is accused of having informed Hezbollah of his membership in the same fitness club as the head of Israel’s military forces, Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, in the town of Kfar Saba, as well methods of access into the club. Sultani says that the whole case is nonsense and that he doesn’t even know what Ashkenazi looks like.
  • Czech spies see Russians behind antiwar group’s actions. The Czech Security Information Service (BIS) is monitoring a billboard agency, which has given free advertising space to an antiwar group opposing the country’s participation in US missile defense shield plans. The US announced on Thursday that it plans to abandon the plans. Newspaper Aktuálně reported that BIS suspects Russian involvement. People in the Czech Republic are incapable of opposing US missile shield plans without Russian prompting, it appears.

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News you may have missed #0109

  • Somali pirates have spies in London shipbroking. A report compiled by European military intelligence agencies says that Somali pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden and more recently the Indian Ocean have well-placed informers in London, a world center for shipbroking and maritime insurance. They also regularly use satellite phones and GPS tracking systems to zero in on their targets.
  • Canada denies entry visa to Russian official due to KGB ties. Mikhail Margelov, who heads the foreign affairs committee of the Russian parliament, was invited to participate in the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas (FIPA) in Ottawa. But upon applying for an entry visa he was warned it could be denied because of his KGB ties. Observers say this episode may be indicative of a shift in Russo-Canadian relations.

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