News you may have missed #545

Robert Baer

Robert Baer

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Pakistan restores visas to CIA personnel. The government of Pakistan has reissued entry visas to nearly 90 CIA officers, which were withdrawn following the assassination of Osama bin Laden last May. Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reports that the visas were approved hours after ISI director Ahmed Shuja Pasha’s visit to the United States last week. It is interesting to note the speed of official authorization of the visas in Pakistan –a country where even basic government services routinely fall victim to endless bureaucratic delays. Does this mean that the ISI and the CIA are back in business? If Pakistani media reports are to be believed, the two agencies were back in business as early as last May. ►►German spy agency accused of playing down stolen blueprints. New reports in the German media say that the stolen blueprints of Germany’s intelligence agency BND may contain even more sensitive security information than previously believed. German newsmagazine Focus alleged earlier this month that the top-secret architectural plans for the BND’s state-of-the-art new building “mysteriously disappeared” a year ago, without anyone in government noticing their absence. Ernst Uhrlau, BND’s Director, responded by claiming that only the building’s car park, cafeteria and energy supply areas had been affected by the theft. But according to Focus and Der Spiegel, Germany’s other major newsmagazine, the stolen documents contain classified plans for the headquarters’ main building. There are now rumors in Berlin that the scandal may force Uhrlau to resign. ►►Ex-CIA operative says he never claimed Israel would attack Iran. Recently we reported on former CIA officer Robert Baer’s warning that Israel was planning an armed attack against Iran. Read more of this post

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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 #524 (analysis edition)

  • US intelligence shift shows change in Afghan war aims. American military intelligence officers were scrambling a year ago to collect and analyze the social, economic and tribal ins and outs of each valley and hamlet in Afghanistan. But the gradual scaling back of US operations (and ambitions) in Afghanistan is driving a shift away from that labor-intensive attention to detail. Now targeting insurgent leaders and their close support networks is seen as an important part of the US exit strategy (some would call this settling old scores before the US leaves the area).
  • Ex-CIA officer questions West’s motives in Syria. The European and American intervention in Syria is designed to harm Iran and to protect Israel and Lebanese Christians, not Syrian people, according to Robert Baer, a retired CIA officer with direct experience in the region.
  • Will new CIA director rein in the drone war? When General David Petraeus takes heads to the CIA, he’ll put “relentless pressure” against al-Qaida, he told senators last week. But in a rare public discussion of the CIA’s drone war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Petraeus suggested it may not be his first counterterrorism option.

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.

CIA active on the ground in Libya ‘for several weeks’

Libyan rebels

Libyan rebels

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Few intelligence observers have been surprised by revelations in The New York Times that several cells of Central Intelligence Agency officers have been active on the ground in Libya for the best part of March. The US newspaper published the disclosure after the Reuters news agency first broke the story early on Wednesday. According to Reuters, US President Barack Obama authorized a secret Presidential finding three weeks ago, in which he instructed the CIA to deploy teams of operatives in the North African country. In reality, as Reuters commented later on, US intelligence officers were active on the ground in Libya before President Obama’s authorization for covert action. But his authorization gave the green light for the intensification of CIA activities throughout Libya’s northern regions. The CIA operatives are not working alone; they are part of what The Times called “a shadow force of Westerners”, which include “dozens of British special forces” and officers of the Secret Intelligence Service, otherwise known as MI6 —the UK’s foremost external intelligence agency. Citing “American officials”, The Times speculates that Western intelligence agents are actively collecting tactical intelligence on the Libyan armed forces, thus helping guide aerial strikes by NATO jets. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #404 (Wikileaks Afghan War Diary edition II)

  • Wikileaks posts mysterious ‘insurance’ file. WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website that recently published hundreds of thousands of classified Afghan War documents, has posted a mysterious encrypted file labeled “insurance”, whose size dwarfs the size of all the other files on the page combined. Cryptome, a separate anti-secrecy site, speculates that the file may be insurance in case something happens to the WikiLeaks website or to its founder, Julian Assange. In either scenario, WikiLeaks volunteers, under a prearranged agreement with Assange, could send out a password to allow anyone who has downloaded the file to open it.
  • Ex-CIA officer Baer comments on Wikileaks files. Robert Baer, the retired CIA field officer whose bestselling memoir, See No Evil, formed the basis of the 2005 motion picture Syriana, has called the quality of intelligence revealed in the Wikileaks Afghan War files “just awful. Basically, we don’t know who the enemy is”, says Baer, adding that “much of the information looks to be the result of walk-in informers –intelligence peddlers looking for a cash payment or some other reward for passing on gossip”.
  • Wikileaks informant suspect had help, says informer. Hacker-turned government informant Adrian Lamo, who is assisting the US government investigate thousands of leaked secret war records to Wikileaks, says Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, who is the suspected culprit of the leak, had civilian help.

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News you may have missed #337

  • Another Iranian nuclear researcher reportedly defects. An academic linked with Iran’s nuclear program has defected to Israel, according to Ayoub Kara, Israel’s deputy minister for development in the Negev and Galilee. Kara said it “is too soon to provide further details”, adding that the defector is “now in a friendly country”.
  • Dutch spies to become more active abroad. The Dutch secret service, the AIVD, has announced a shift in strategy, deployed increasingly more officers abroad: “in Yemen, Somalia, and the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan”.
  • Why did the CIA destroy waterboarding evidence? It has been established that Porter J. Goss, the former director of the CIA, in 2005 approved the destruction of dozens of videotapes documenting the brutal interrogation of two terrorism detainees. But why did he do it? Former CIA officer Robert Baer examines the question.

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