News you may have missed #672

Osama bin LadenBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►CIA claims bin Laden death photos would trigger violence. The Central Intelligence Agency says releasing images of a dead Osama bin Laden “could trigger violence, attacks, or acts of revenge against the United States”. Disclosing such images, including one showing the bullet wound to bin Laden’s head, the government said, “plausibly and logically pose a particularly grave threat of inflaming anti-American sentiment and resulting in retaliatory harm”. The agency made that argument Wednesday in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch, which claims the CIA should release the photos taken by US forces. The American public, Judicial Watch said, has a “right to these historical artifacts”.
►►Kuwait accused of tapping phones of prominent citizens. According to the report published in Kuwaiti media, the country’s State Security Department purchased an integrated intelligence system from a former Soviet country last year, and placed it in a restricted zone inside the headquarters’ building. But last July, everything in the isolated room, including staff members hired specifically to operate the devices, vanished without an explanation, said sources. An investigation is currently ongoing to unearth the mystery behind the devices’ disappearance, and also examine information which hint that the devices could have been used by a certain unnamed individual to spy on prominent Kuwaitis.
►►Did US FDA spy on whistleblowers? The US Food and Drug Administration electronically spied on whistleblowers who alerted the Obama administration and Congress of alleged misconduct in the agency, according to a complaint filed in a US federal court. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the FDA and several of its employees, the Surgeon General, the Health and Human Services Secretary, among others.

News you may have missed #676

Diego MurilloBy IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
►►US admits Pakistani doctor was CIA agent. The United States has confirmed publicly for the first time that a Pakistani doctor long suspected of collecting vital evidence before the assassination of Osama bin Laden was indeed working for the CIA. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has told 60 Minutes on CBS that Shakil Afridi helped provide proof that the compound in Abbottabad, to which they had tracked a Bin Laden courier, was indeed sheltering the al-Qaeda leader. Panetta also told 60 Minutes that he remains convinced that someone in the Pakistani government “must have had some sense” that a person of interest was in the compound. He added that he has no proof that Pakistan knew it was bin Laden.
►►Czech secret services accused of political spying. The Czech government “spies on” the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM), Miroslav Grebenicek, its former leader, said in a parliamentary question to Prime Minister Petr Necas. Grebenicek said he had recently received information that the Interior Ministry and some intelligence bodies were “tasked to spying on the KSCM or to incite for, organize and execute the shadowing of the KSCM”. Necas dismissed the allegation, saying that the government does not shadow any party.
►►Colombian paramilitaries protected by spy agency. Colombia’s rightwing paramilitary organization AUC received the support of the country’s now-defunct intelligence agency DAS. The group also helped the government of former President Alvaro Uribe in a conspiracy to discredit the country’s Supreme Court that was investigating ties between the paramilitaries and politicians, according to official testimony by senior AUC commander Diego Murillo, alias “Don Berna”.

News you may have missed #608 (analysis edition)

Anwar al-Aulaki

Anwar al-Aulaqi

►►Spying on the United Nations. “Here is one of the well-known but seldom spoken truths about the United Nations: The international organization, which was founded in the name of peace and security, is also a hotbed of spying and clandestine operations, where someone might very well be listening to your conversations and monitoring your emails —-or perhaps reading your speeches in advance […]. The CIA is prohibited from domestic intelligence-gathering but, since the United Nations is considered foreign soil, it is authorized to run covert actions there”.
►►Secret panel can put Americans on ‘kill list’. American militants like Anwar al-Aulaqi, who was killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen late last month, are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior US government officials, which then informs the President of its decisions, according to officials. There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council.
►►Blowback from CIA’s bin Laden vaccination ruse gets worse. If it wasn’t clear before, it is now: the fake vaccination program that the CIA set up before the Osama bin Laden raid really went awry. Not only did this plan not work –no bin Laden family DNA was obtained– but it also hobbled polio immunization drives and forced Save the Children to evacuate staffers from Pakistan out of fear of a backlash.

News you may have missed #607

Shakil Afridi

Shakil Afridi

►►Ex-worker sues US spy agency for anti-Islamic bias. Mahmoud Hegab, a former employee of the super-secretive US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, says he lost his security clearance because his wife attended an Islamic school and worked for a Muslim charity, Alexandria-based Islamic Relief USA.
►►Russia says China still spies the old-fashioned way. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), issued a rare statement last week, claiming it had arrested Tong Shengyong, a Chinese citizen who, posing as a translator for official delegations, was working under the direction of the Chinese government in an attempt to buy state secrets from Russians about Russia’s S-300 missile system. It now says that the Tong case shows that China continues to employ an old standby in the tradecraft playbook: outright bribery.
►►Pakistan panel says doctor who aided CIA should face charges. Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, who ran a vaccination program for the CIA to help track down Osama bin Laden, should be put on trial for high treason, a Paksitani government commission said Thursday.

News you may have missed #604 (CIA edition)

Raymond Allen Davis

Raymond Davis

►►Aid agency leaves Pakistan following CIA vaccination scheme. Fears that a fake CIA vaccination scheme, created to hunt Osama bin Laden, has compromised the operations of aid agencies in Pakistan have intensified, after it emerged that Save the Children, a major NGO, was forced to evacuate its staff following warnings about their security.
►►CIA contractor arrested in car park brawl. A CIA contractor Raymond Davis, who was freed by Pakistani authorities after the families of two men he killed in a shootout agreed to accept more than $2.34 million in blood money, has been arrested after a brawl over a car parking space, according to police in the US state of Colorado.
►►Judge approves secret evidence for CIA leak trial. A federal judge has ruled that prosecutors pursuing a leak case against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling may use a controversial procedure known as the “silent witness rule” to present evidence to the jury that will not be seen by the public. Sterling is accused of leaking CIA secrets to New York Times journalist James Risen.

News you may have missed #601 (CIA edition)

Tony Mendez

Tony Mendez in 1990

►►CIA invests in information technology. In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s technology investment group, is backing NetBase, which develops semantic search technology, as well as Connectify, which develops VPN software. In-Q-Tel’s role is to back commercial technologies that have the potential to aid intelligence and national security operations if developed further.
►►Interview with CIA disguise experts. The Washington Times has an interesting, lengthy interview with Tony and Joanna Mendez, both retired CIA disguise specialists. The two worked in the CIA’s Office of Technical Services, helping develop and deploy espionage gadgets –including a low-light camera that was used during the first moon landing and miniature lithium batteries that were the predecessors of the batteries used in modern portable electronics.
►►US government fights to keep Osama bin Laden death photos secret. Photographs and videos of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden after he was killed in May in a US military/Central Intelligence Agency raid in Pakistan should not be released publicly. The reason, according ot the Obama administration, is because they would reveal military and intelligence secrets and could lead to violence against US personnel. This was argued by the administration’s lawyers in federal court in Washington on Monday.

News you may have missed #590

Baroness Manningham-Buller

Manningham-Buller

►►Saudi ex-spy chief on US war on terrorism. The longtime head of Saudi Arabia’s foreign intelligence service, Prince Turki al-Faisal, who resigned shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings, says that the US should be using Osama bin Laden’s demise as a pretext for declaring victory in the war in Afghanistan and withdrawing US troops. Not by the end of 2014, which is the current timetable, but immediately.
►►Ex-MI5 chief says ‘9/11 made us stronger’. Britain’s foremost domestic intelligence agency, MI5, felt almost swamped after 9/11, inundated with leads to plots and fragmentary intelligence, according to Lady Eliza Manningham-Buller, former head of Britain’s Security Service. But in the decade since the attacks, its budget doubled and its headcount has almost tripled, while intelligence operations have increased fivefold, she said.
►►Captured Libyan spy chief defiant. Defiant and angry, captured Libyan spy chief Bouzaid Dorda, who directed the country’s External Security Organization (ESO), denied any wrongdoing when he was presented to reporters on Sunday by former insurgents who tracked him down in the capital Tripoli. He is believed to have taken on his job in 2009 when his predecessor Moussa Koussa, who defected earlier this year, became foreign minister.

News you may have missed #588

Thomas Hammarberg

Hammarberg

►►Thai court convicts three of spying. A Thai court on Tuesday jailed three men, a Cambodian, a Vietnamese and a local, for two years each for espionage. The trio were arrested in June in Kantharalak District, near the disputed border with Cambodia, amid a territorial row between Thailand and its neighbor. Police said that the three were carrying maps with military facilities marked on them.
►►Council of Europe wants truth on CIA black sites. Thomas Hammarberg, the human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, urged countries that have hosted secret CIA prisons to come clean Monday, as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches. Well, that would be…let’s see…pretty much all of them.
►►Doctor who helped CIA find bin Laden barred from leaving Pakistan. Before bin Laden’s death in May, Shakil Afridi helped the CIA set up a fake vaccination programm in Abbottabad, in the hope of obtaining DNA samples from the house where the al-Qaida chief was suspected of living. But now he has been detained by Pakistani security and cannot go abroad without permission.

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.

Saudis paid Pakistan to shelter bin Laden, claims security expert

R.J. Hillhouse

R.J. Hillhouse

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An American academic and security expert with deep links in the intelligence community claims that, at the time of his killing by US Special Forces, Osama bin Laden was living under house arrest, following a secret arrangement between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Former professor and Fulbright Fellow R.J. Hillhouse has cited “sources in the intelligence community” in alleging that the CIA discovered bin Laden’s whereabouts through a Pakistani intelligence officer. The officer, who was privy to the alleged deal between the Saudis and the Pakistanis, appeared as ‘a walk-in’, a term meaning someone who voluntarily contacts an intelligence outpost, usually by simply walking into an embassy or consulate and asking to speak to the intelligence officer on duty. According to Hillhouse, the ‘walk-in’ provided CIA officers with detailed information as to the al-Qaeda leader’s whereabouts, in exchange for US citizenship for him and his family and the $25 million reward offered by the US Department of State for bin Laden’s head. According to Hillhouse’s story, which was picked up yesterday by The Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald, the Pakistani informant also told the Americans that elements in the government of Saudi Arabia had entered into a complex monetary agreement with senior members of Pakistan’s main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI). Under the arrangement, the ISI was paid to keep bin Laden under house arrest in Abbottabad —a military community in Pakistan, selected precisely in order to keep bin Laden under constant and close supervision. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #543 (CIA edition)

John Rizzo

John Rizzo

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Ex-CIA officer warns of Israeli attack on Iran. Few in the CIA are more knowledgeable about Shiite politics than Robert Baer, a veteran of the Agency’s National Clandestine Service, who spent over 20 years in the Middle East, notably in Lebanon. Last weekend, Baer spoke to Los Angeles radio station KPFK, and said that “[t]here is almost near certainty [in Israel] that Netanyahu is planning an attack [on Iran] and it will probably be in September before the vote on a Palestinian state. And he’s also hoping to draw the United States into the conflict”. Baer is not alone in issuing such warnings in recent months. Former Mossad director Meir Dagan has been echoing Baer’s concerns. ►►Campaigners seek arrest of ex-CIA legal chief. We have written before about John A. Rizzo, the CIA’s former Acting General Counsel, who has been termed “the most influential career lawyer in CIA history”. Some readers may remember that Rizzo retired hurriedly from his post in 2009, amidst fears that he could get in trouble for acting as what some observers termed “a legal enabler” of the CIA torture practices under the George W. Bush administration. Now a group of human rights campaigners in Britain and Pakistan are seeking Rizzo’s arrest for his role in justifying the CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, the legality of which is often questioned by experts. The CIA has refused to comment on the campaign to indict Rizzo. ►►Analysis: The fallout from the CIA’s vaccination ploy in Pakistan. We wrote on Monday that not everyone is amused by news that the CIA tried to collect DNA evidence on Osama bin Laden by running a phony vaccination program in Pakistan. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #542

Sir John Chilcot

Sir John Chilcot

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Ex-spy says MI6 cut corners to back Blair’s Iraq war case. Britain’s ongoing Iraq Inquiry headed by Sir John Chilcot, heard last week from a former spy, identified in documents only as “SIS2”. The witness said that MI6 was “probably too eager to please” the government and was guilty of “flying a bit too close to the sun”. He was referring to the intelligence support provided by MI6 in support of the case for entering the Iraq War, made by the Labour government of Prime Minister Tony blair in 2003. He also told the committee that “the pressure to generate results, I fear, did lead to the cutting of corners”. ►►Medical group criticizes CIA’s vaccination scheme. A whimiscal tone prevails in most articles on the recent revelation that the CIA tried to collect DNA evidence on Osama bin Laden by running a phony vaccination program in Abbottabad, Pakistan. But medical groups engaged in organizing vaccination schemes are not amused. French-based international medical aid charity Médecins Sans Frontières has lashed out at the CIA because, it said, by using a medical cover for its assassination scheme, the Agency endangered those who conduct life-saving immunization work around the world. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #537 (bin Laden edition)

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Ex-CIA chief speaks on al-Qaida after Osama. The killing of Osama bin Laden will force al-Qaeda to limit its ambitions and scope of its operations, according to former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden. General Hayden’s comments on numerous issues tend to make the news almost every other week. In his latest interview, with The Associated Press, Hayden expressed the opinion that al-Qaeda’s “future attacks are going to be more numerous but less complex, less well organized, less likely to succeed, and less lethal if they do succeed”. ►►CIA organized fake vaccination drive to get bin Laden family DNA. Speaking of Osama bin Laden, British newspaper The Guardian reported earlier this week that the CIA tried to collect DNA evidence on the late al-Qaeda founder by running a phony vaccination program in Abbottabad, the quiet Pakistani town where bin Laden was believed to be hiding along with his family. But Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who administered the vaccination program, failed to get access to bin Laden’s family DNA, even though he managed to enter the family’s compound, said the paper. It is worth noting that, as soon as Pakistani authorities learned of the fake vaccination program, they arrested Dr Afridi for collaborating with a foreign intelligence agency. ►►CIA moves to protect key analyst in bin Laden raid. Bin Laden may be dead, but it seems that he still haunts the CIA. The Agency had to move one of its senior analysts undercover this week, after he was identified in a photograph that was published by US media, following the Obama administrator’s celebratory announcement of the al-Qaeda leader’s assassination. The photo showed President Obama and other national security officials gathered in the White House situation room on the night of the bin Laden raid. Most media outlets have been referring to the analyst by his middle name, John.

News you may have missed #528

News you may have missed #523

  • Archbishop of Canterbury branded ‘subversive’ by MI5. A senior officer of MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, labeled Rowan Williams ‘a subversive’ in the 1980s, over his involvement with a group of leftwing campaigners.
  • Pakistan ambassador defends arrest of bin Laden informants. Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani has defended his country’s decision to round up more than 30 people, some of whom may have helped US intelligence track down Osama bin Laden. Meanwhile, the US government is still bankrolling the Pakistani intelligence services. No changes there.
  • US weighs harsher penalties in wake of CIA/FBI hacker attacks. Under a new White House proposal, the 10-year maximum sentence for potentially endangering national security would double, and so would the five-year sentence for computer thefts up to $5,000. Also, the one year maximum for accessing a government computer —either to deface it or download an unimportant file— could become a three-year sentence.