News you may have missed #584

Nicky Hager

Nicky Hager

►►Billing dispute reveals details of secret CIA flights. On August 12, 2003, a conracted Gulfstream IV aircraft carrying six passengers took off from Dulles International Airport for Bangkok. When it returned four days later, it carried Indonesian terrorist Riduan Isamuddin, who had been captured in Thailand and would spend the next three years in various secret CIA prisons. The Gulfstream IV’s itinerary, as well as the $339,228 price tag for the journey, are among the details of shadowy CIA flights that have emerged in a New York courthouse, in a billing dispute between contractors. Incidentally, even the airplanes’ owners didn’t always know that the CIA was using them.
►►French admit secret service spied on reporter. French interior minister Claude Guéant has admitted that the secret service spied on investigative reporter Gérard Davet, from the newspaper Le Monde, in order to trace the source of a leak about the so-called “Bettencourt party funding scandal“, which has been a source of embarrassment for President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party.
►►NZ let Israeli spies go free in return for passports. Another revelation from Nicky Hager’s book Other People’s Wars (see previous intelNews coverage here). The investigative reporter claims that New Zealand’s Security Intelligence Service released captured Mossad spies Eli Cara and Uriel Zoshe Kelman, in return for Read more of this post

New Zealand base in Afghanistan was secret CIA station, book claims

Nicky Hager

Nicky Hager

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A Kiwi “peacekeeping” and “civil reconstruction” base in Afghanistan was a secret station for the US Central Intelligence Agency, according to a new book by New Zealand’s preeminent investigative writer. Nicky Hager first made international headlines in 1996, with his groundbreaking book Secret Power: New Zealand’s Role in the International Spy Network. In it, he revealed the existence of the UK-USA Security Agreement and of ECHELON, a US-managed signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection and analysis platform that serves as an intelligence-sharing mechanism between UK-USA signatories. The publication of his latest book, entitled Other People’s Wars: New Zealand in Afghanistan, Iraq and the War on Terror, is scheduled to coincide with the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. The book focuses on —among other things— the Bamyan Province base in central Afghanistan, which serves as the center of operations for the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team in the Central Asian country. It serves as a symbol of New Zealand’s cautious contribution to the NATO-led war in Afghanistan, by allowing Kiwi forces to participate with boots on the ground, while performing strictly noncombatant functions, officially described as “peacekeeping” and “civil rebuilding”. But Hager’s book alleges that the “noncombatant” mission of the Bamyan base was simply a cover, devised by the New Zealand Defence Forces’ public relations apparatus, and aimed at pacifying the country’s population. The real mission of the Bamyan base, says Hager, was to “help the Americans” by essentially concealing a covert CIA station. The author further alleges that the Kiwi forces at Bamyan were instructed to keep the presence of the CIA team secret. This they did, even as they shared daily meals with American spies in civilian clothes, who refused to disclose even basic details of their mission to their New Zealand guardians. Hager alleges that New Zealand’s defense establishment took the decision to help the CIA as part of a broader strategy of rapprochement between Wellington and Washington. Why rapprochement? It was in 1984, when, under mounting popular pressure, New Zealand’s Labour government of David Lange voted to bar nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from entering New Zealand territorial waters. At the time, the nuclear ban imposed by New Zealand was heralded by the global nuclear disarmament movement as a major victory. But Washington did not see it this way. Read more of this post

Location of massive Israeli eavesdropping site uncovered

Nicky Hager

Nicky Hager

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An author and investigative journalist from New Zealand has uncovered one of the world’s biggest government-sponsored eavesdropping sites in a desert in Israel. Writing in French monthly review Le Monde Diplomatique, Nicky Hager reveals that the site acts as a base for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Central Collection Unit of the Intelligence Corps, also known as Unit 8200, which is responsible for collecting and decrypting signals intelligence. In his article, written in French, Hager describes the base as one of the world’s largest, and says it is located near the Urim kibbutz, about 30 kilometers west of Beersheba, in Israel’s Negev desert region. Read more of this post

Comment: Major changes in Australian, NZ spy agencies

Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
This website has been keeping tabs on the ongoing transformation of New Zealand and Australian intelligence agencies. Recent media reports from both countries indicate that the changes, many of which are still underway, will mark the broadest reorganization in New Zealand and Australian intelligence agencies’ operational focus and mission in over half a century. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0244

  • Former S. African spy chief dies. Mike Louw former head of South Africa’s apartheid-era National Intelligence Service (NIS) and later the South African Secret Service (SASS), has died. As deputy director general at NIS, Louw helped facilitate some of the very first meetings between the government of F.W. De Klerk and Nelson Mandela, the then imprisoned leader of the African National Congress.
  • Kiwi spies get augmented cyber-surveillance powers. Reports from New Zealand indicate that new “cyber-monitoring measures have been quietly introduced”, giving the country’s law enforcement and intelligence services increased online surveillance powers. Veteran intelligence observer Nicky Hager describes the changes as “the largest expansion of police and [intelligence] surveillance capabilities [in New Zealand] for decades”.

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Lost notebook reveals plans for New Zealand spy agency reshuffle

Nicky Hager

Nicky Hager

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Plans for a possible radical reshuffling of New Zealand’s intelligence infrastructure were revealed yesterday, with the discovery of a notebook belonging to a government official. The notebook was dropped on a busy Wellington street by an employee of New Zealand’s Treasury Department, who was returning from a classified presentation on the future of the country’s intelligence agencies. It was recovered by Julian Robins, a political correspondent for Radio New Zealand, who proceeded to reveal the notebook’s contents. According to Robins, the government appears to be seriously considering merging the three separate intelligence agencies, which currently operate on different missions, in order to improve synergy and save money. Read more of this post

Groundbreaking book on international spying now online

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Nicky Hager’s groundbreaking book Secret Power: New Zealand’s Role in the International Spy Network, is now freely available as an eBook on the writer’s personal website. The book, originally published in 1996, first revealed the existence of the UK-USA Security Agreement (reportedly also known as AUSCANZUKUS) a peculiar intelligence-sharing arrangement between the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, which has existed since World War II. Secret Power focused on New Zealand’s role in the agreement and also documented the US-managed ECHELON, a signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection and analysis network that serves as an intelligence-sharing platform between the UK-USA signatories. Hager, who is widely considered to be New Zealand’s leading investigative journalist, has written several books since Secret Power, including Secrets and Lies and The Hollow Men. His personal website is available here.