News you may have missed #793

Yasser ArafatBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►Britain recruits tech start-ups for spy gadgets. British security services seem to have decided to widen the net for suppliers of state-of-the-art spyware for “covert surveillance”. Traditionally, British intelligence organizations including MI5 and GCHQ, have relied on a network of trusted contractors. But the change in approach represents an opportunity for burgeoning technology companies. According to a senior Whitehall official, who spoke to The Financial Times, these agencies “are appealing to a wide range of innovators, small and large, and saying: ‘Here are some problems we encounter. Can you solve them?’”.
►►French investigators to exhume Arafat’s remains. Three French investigating magistrates will travel to Ramallah in the West Bank to exhume the remains of the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat so they can take tissue samples to determine what killed him. New evidence emerged from an investigation in July by the Al Jazeera television network when the Institut de Radiophysique, in Lausanne, Switzerland, said it had discovered significant traces of the rare radioactive element polonium-210 on the late leader’s clothing and toothbrush.
►►Panetta speaks out against book on bin Laden killing. As former US Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette continues to make headlines about his book, No Easy Day, about the killing of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has spoken out publicly on the subject for the first time. The former Director of the CIA said “the American people have a right to know about this operation”. But, he added, “people who are a part of that operation, who commit themselves to the promise that they will not reveal the sensitive operations and not public anything […] when they fail to do that, we have got to make sure that they stand by the promise that they made to this country”.

News you may have missed #0020

  • Social media is ruining spy industry, says IT security group. IT security consultancy NCC Group says that intelligence “agencies are concerned that Facebook and other social networking tools are ruining the spy industry”. The comments come just hours after British newspaper The Mail on Sunday revealed that personal details about the future head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, had been accessible to 200 million online users through his wife’s Facebook account.
  • Pakistan’s nukes face insider threat, says ex-CIA official. Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a 23-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency, argues in Arms Control Today that “[t]he greatest threat of a loose nuke scenario stems from insiders in the nuclear establishment working with outsiders, people seeking a bomb or material to make a bomb […]. Nowhere in the world is this threat greater than in Pakistan. Pakistani authorities have a dismal track record in thwarting insider threats”, claims the retired US intelligence agent.
  • Hamas says Israeli spy cell in Ramallah busted. Hamas says it has dismantled an Israeli spy network, which served through the West Bank-based administration of Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas. The group claims that the network “channeled […] false information to Ramallah [in the Fatah-dominated West Bank] and then to the Israeli occupation”, in order to create “target bank” in Gaza.

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