News you may have missed #751

Leonid ShebarshinBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►Ex-CIA officer remembers his KGB rival. In April, Leonid Shebarshin, a retired General of the KGB, who was often referred to as “the last Soviet spy”, was found dead in his downtown Moscow apartment. Apparently, he had committed suicide. Now Milt Bearden, who was the CIA’s Chief of the Soviet/East European Division during the final years of the USSR, has written a piece in which he remembers Shebarshin. He says that, even though Shebarshin was “the closest thing [he] had to a main adversary” in the USSR, the two became friends in the late 1990s, despite the fact that Shebarshin remained a true believer in the USSR until the very end of his life.
►►NSA won’t reveal how many Americans it spied on. Last month, US Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall –both members of the US Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence– asked the NSA how many persons inside the US it had spied upon since 2008. But Charles McCullough, the Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, has told the two Senators that giving such a figure of how many Americans were spied on was “beyond the capacity” of NSA’s oversight mechanisms, and that –ironically– looking into this matter would violate the privacy of American citizens.
►►Russian scientist who ‘spied for China’ freed. Igor Reshetin, the former director of Russian rocket technology firm TsNIIMASH-Export, who was jailed in 2007 for selling state secrets to China, has been released on parole. Reshetin had been initially sentenced to nearly 12 years, for illegally selling state-controlled technology secrets to a Chinese firm, and with stealing 30 million rubles (US$925,000) through a scheme involving bogus companies. His initial sentence was later reduced on appeal.

News you may have missed #539

Milt Bearden

Milt Bearden

►►Former CIA officer urges US-Pakistan reconciliation. During the 1980s, CIA officer Milt Bearden managed the CIA’s covert assistance to the Mujahedeen, who were fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan. This means Bearden was dealing with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) on an almost daily basis. He has now written an article for Foreign Policy journal, in which he advises CIA and ISI officials to “cut through the shrillness, the schoolyard taunts that characterize […] the current feud between their services; decide on what is worth fixing; agree on important common goals; and get to work”. He also reminds policymakers in Washington that America’s “influence in the Indian Ocean is slipping as China and India flex their growing economic muscle”, and that the US needs Pakistan’s assistance to remain relevant in that part of the world. ►►Pakistan spy director comes to US following aid cut. Meanwhile, Washington’s decision to withhold nearly a billion dollars in annual military aid to Pakistan has shaken up Islamabad. The Associated Press reports that high-level US-Pakistan meetings are quickly “unfolding”. One such meeting involves ISI’s fiery Director, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who just made an emergency visit to Washington, reportedly “for talks”. Pakistani officials insist, however, that “the trip was planned for some time”. Sure. In case you are wondering, Pasha’s visit went “very well“, according to both US and Pakistani officials. ►►Secret CIA site in Somalia revealed. While most intelligence observers are concerned with the latest US-Pakistan spat, Jeremy Scahill, one of America’s most tireless investigative reporters, has revealed that the CIA maintains a large secret site in Somalia. Read more of this post

CIA chief has ‘confrontational’ meeting with Pakistani spymaster

Ahmed Shuja Pasha

A.S. Pasha

There is almost no coverage in the US media of CIA director Leon Panetta’s trip to Pakistan —in sharp contrast to the Pakistani and Indian press, where his visit made national headlines over the weekend. A scheduled meeting with Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was undoubtedly among Panetta’s most important engagements in Islamabad. According to Pakistani media accounts, the meeting between the two men —the second in less than two months— was confrontational and marred by serious differences between the ISI and the CIA —two agencies that rarely see eye-to-eye lately. Citing “well-placed sources”, Pakistani daily The Nation said that the ISI spymaster “expressed his disappointment” to Panetta about the CIA’s “dismal role in countering terrorism” in Pakistan and its “failure to provide concrete actionable information” to the Pakistani secret services. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0130

  • One in three votes for Karzai was fraudulent, says US diplomat. Hamid Karzai was fraudulently re-elected to Afghanistan’s presidency, according to Peter Galbraith, a US diplomat who was sacked last week from the UN mission in Afghanistan. Galbraith also warned that Karzai, who was handpicked by the US to lead Afghanistan following the US invasion, and whose brother is probably a CIA informant, is not credible with many Afghans following the election fiasco.
  • US lobbyist for Rep. of Georgia says Russian agents tried to kill him. Paul Joyal, former director of security for the US Senate Intelligence Committee, and a paid lobbyist in the US for the country of Georgia, insists that agents of the Russian government tried to kill him two years ago outside his Washington, DC, home.
  • Ex-CIA agent says Indian spies operating in Afghanistan. Milt Bearden, former CIA station chief in Pakistan, has told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Indian intelligence operatives were active in Afghanistan, and that “the concerns of Pakistan’s Army are legitimate in this regard”. His words appear to echo complaints expressed last June by Pakistani security officials that Indian intelligence services are helping pro-Taliban warlords fight the Pakistani army in the Afghan borderlands. However, the Pakistanis also said that Israel supplies tribal warlords “with modern technology”, including radio equipment.

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News you may have missed #0049

  • Return to court for ex-CIA station chief accused of rape. Andrew M. Warren has been free on bail since February of 2009, when he was unceremoniously recalled to the US from the CIA’s Algiers station. He is accused of having drugged and raped two Algerian women at his official residence. On Tuesday he was back at a federal courtroom in Washington for a status hearing.
  • Swedish spy threat at Cold War levels, claims report. A study by the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service (MUST), says spying on Sweden by “several countries, including those in our immediate surroundings” is “at the same level […] as during the Cold War”.
  • Former CIA station chief doubts Daniel Boyd story. Milt Bearden, former CIA station chief in Pakistan, doubts that Boyd, who was arrested along with seven others in North Carolina on domestic terrorism charges, ever saw action in Afghanistan, as stated by his prosecutors.

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