News you may have missed #702

James BamfordBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►NSA chief denies domestic spying allegations. In a rare break from the NSA’s tradition of listening but not speaking, National Security Agency chief General Keith Alexander was grilled last week on the topic of eavesdropping on Americans in front of a House subcommittee. The questioning from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) was prompted by Wired magazine’s cover story earlier this month on the NSA’s growing reach and capabilities. But author James Bamford (photo) and NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake insist that the NSA is quietly building America’s the largest spy center in Utah, as part of a secret domestic surveillance program codenamed STELLAR WIND.
►►NY police says it monitored Iran operatives taking photos. Speaking before the US House Homeland Security Committee, Michael Silber, director of New York Police Department Intelligence Analysis, said New York City Police have observed Iranian operatives photographing key transportation sites at least six times since September 11, 2001. He gave an example of six men on an East River sightseeing cruise in 2005, who paired off with maps and cell phones while taking photographs and videos of the bridges over the river. The NYPD determined each was on the payroll of Iranian government, one employed at Iran’s mission to the United Nations.
►►Major Canadian Cold War era mole hunt operation revealed. Newly released archival records show that even the cream of Canada’s foreign service was not immune from scrutiny in a top secret RCMP investigation known as Operation FEATHER BED. The probe, which stretched from the late 1950s into the 1970s, saw RCMP security branch investigators pore over the backgrounds of possible Communist sympathizers in the public service and political sphere —including a future Mountie spy chief. There is no evidence the highly confidential investigation ever identified a Soviet agent.

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News you may have missed #654

Aleksandr ShlyakhturovBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Anonymous hacks intel analysis firm StratFor. The loose-knit hacking movement Anonymous claimed Sunday via Twitter that it had stolen thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to clients of intelligence analysis firm Stratfor. The company had apparently failed to encrypt its customers’ credit card account information. The hackers announced their intention to use the credit cards for charitable donations.
►►CIA Inspector General clears assistance with NYPD. Back in August, The CIA denied allegations by the Associated Press that it helped the New York Police Department conduct covert surveillance on New York Muslims. The agency said the report “mischaracterized the nature and scope” of the CIA’s support for the NYPD. Now a report by the office of the CIA Inspector General, the CIA’s internal watchdog, has concluded that there was “no evidence that any part of the agency’s support to the NYPD constituted ‘domestic spying’”. The Associated Press notes that it is not clear if this report opens the door for other municipal police departments nationwide to work closely with the CIA in the war on terrorism.
►►Russia replaces head of military spy agency. After denying initial rumors, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Monday that “Major General Igor Sergun has been appointed head of the GRU [Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate] through a Kremlin decree”. Sergun replaces Aleksandr Shlyakhturov, who had spearheaded a shake-up of the service since his appointment in 2009. The state RIA Novosti news agency quoted a ministry spokesman suggesting that Shlyakhturov had reached retirement age. No other reason was given for the move. Incidentally, if you are wondering how spies are faring in Dmitri Medvedev’s and Vladimir Putin’s administration, read this enlightening analysis by Mark Galeotti, Professor of Global Affairs at New York University.

News you may have missed #612 (analysis edition)

Cevat Ones

Cevat Ones

►►What is a senior CIA clandestine officer doing at NYPD? Three months ago, one of the CIA’s most experienced clandestine operatives started work inside the New York Police Department. His title is special assistant to the deputy commissioner of intelligence. On that much, everyone agrees. Exactly what he’s doing there, however, is much less clear.
►►Iranian plot shows even super spies have bad days. The alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States may have revealed the biggest secret of all –intelligence agencies mess up and do not always live up to the James Bond ideal.
►►Former spy makes plea for peace in Turkey. Cevat Ones, former deputy chief of MİT, Turkey’s leading spy agency, speaks candidly to Canada’s Globe & Mail newspaper about the state of Turkey’s internal security and foreign policy.

News you may have missed #577

Waihopai base

Waihopai base

►►Interview with Michael Hayden. The former director of the CIA and the NSA gave a lengthy interview in preparation for his keynote speech at the Raleigh Spy Conference. Among other things, he says that he does “not immediately conclude that senior levels of the Pakistani government knew about” Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts.
►►CIA denies helping police spy on NY Muslims. The Central Intelligence Agency is denying a news report that it helped the New York Police Department conduct covert surveillance on Muslims. The agency said suggestions that it engaged in domestic spying were “simply wrong” and that the report “mischaracterized the nature and scope” of the CIA’s support for the New York police.
►►Spy base reservoir not a pool after all... A journalist at New Zealand’s Marlborough Express newspaper noticed what looked suspiciously like a swimming pool on a satellite photo (pictured) of the super-secret Waihopai listening base near Blenheim. Do spies go swimming on the base, he asked? It turns out they don’t. According to Government Communications Security Bureau Waihopai station chief Chris Farrow, the landmark is in fact a water reservoir, to be used in case of fire.

News you may have missed #501 (United States edition)

  • Ex-double agent Hanssen’s house goes on sale. The five-bedroom home on Talisman Drive in Vienna, Va., offered by Llewellyn Realtors for $725,000 as “perfect for a growing family”, is the former lair of ex-FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Hanssen, who is regarded as one of the most damaging spies ever to betray the US government.
  • Ex-CIA officer critical of US activities in Pakistan. Speaking on Pakistan’s TV show Express 24/7, former CIA officer Robert Baer said there were no less than 16 US intelligence agencies working in Pakistan and none of them talked to each other, with even officials from the New York police department at one point in time conducting investigations in Pakistan.
  • US agents descending on Mexico According to Mexican daily El Diario, the country’s Attorney General’s Office estimates that there are currently over 500 US intelligence operatives working in Mexico, up from just 60 in 2005.