News you may have missed #494

  • David Petraeus tipped to be new CIA director. The Obama administration may tap CIA Director Leon Panetta to succeed Bob Gates as Secretary of Defense. If this happens, then General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan, may take over Panetta’s job at the CIA.
  • Reuters denies bureau chief had CIA contacts. The Reuters news agency has denied an accusation made on Cuban state television that its bureau chief Anthony Boadle helped arrange a meeting between an undercover Cuban agent and a US diplomat described as a CIA operative.
  • UK court grants Russian ‘spy’ aid to fight deportation. Katia Zatuliveter, who is accused by Britain’s MI5 of spying for Russia, has won legal aid to help fight her case against deportation, according to news reports.

News you may have missed #0133

  • Book examines Central Asian espionage in WWI. On Secret Service East of Constantinople, by Peter Hopkirk (John Murray Publishers), examines the role of German intelligence services in Kaiser Wilhelm’s attempt to gain influence in the Ottoman Empire, the Caucasus, Persia, Afghanistan and India. A very interesting, under-researched aspect of World War I.
  • CIA intercepted communication between Zazi and al-Qaeda. A local TV station in Denver, Colorado, quotes “intelligence officials familiar with the investigation” of Najibullah Zazi, as saying that the CIA alerted US federal agencies after intercepting a conversation between Zazi and a senior al-Qaida operative. No word yet about this from the FBI, which is supposed to handle domestic terrorism cases.
  • US defense secretary hints at more secret nuke sites in Iran. Speaking alongside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last night at a CNN/George Washington University forum, Robert Gates dropped what seemed to be a big hint that the United States knows much more about the Iranian nuclear program than the Iranians might think.

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US Looks Away from Worsening Philippines Rights Record



Just days after Filipino prizewinning poet and dramatist Bienvenido Lumbera caught a Naval Intelligence Security Force agent spying on him outside his home, another Filipino intellectual has come forward with allegations of government spying. Pedro “Jun” Cruz Reyes, professor of creative writing at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, said he has been the subject of surveillance investigations by government agents since 2006. Such incidents are not a new phenomenon in the Philippines. In 2005, the US State Department noted in its annual human rights report that the Philippines National Police was the country’s “worst abuser of human rights” and that government security elements often “sanction extrajudicial killings and vigilantism”. However, the report adds that these practices are utilized “as expedient means of fighting crime and terrorism”, which may explain why no discernable action has been taken by US authorities to prevent them. In an article published today in The Foreign Policy Journal we examine the recent record of US-Philippine relations. Continue reading at The Foreign Policy Journal

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News you may have missed #0113

  • US intelligence caused change in missile shield plans, says Gates. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the Obama administration’s decision to abandon the previous administration’s plans for a land-based missile defense system in Eastern Europe came about because of a change of the alleged threat posed by Iran in US intelligence reports. But he also said that the Bush administration plans will not be scrapped. The land-based missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic will be replaced by missile interceptors aboard US naval ships.
  • Canada preparing big balloon (?) to spy on Taliban. The Canadian armed forces are testing a large white balloon equipped with an on-board spy camera, which will be used in Afghanistan to detect improvised explosive devices. Depending on the exact camera used, the system could have a surveillance range of five to twenty kilometers.
  • Portugal’s secret services deny spying on president. Portugal’s SIS secret service agency was forced to issue a rare public statement last week, denying having spied on the country’s president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, of the Social Democratic Party, just 10 days before a closely-fought parliamentary election. Silva is Portugal’s first right-wing head of state since the end of the dictatorship in April 1974.

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Feinstein causes furor as CIA assassinations continue

Thirty more people were killed this past weekend in Pakistan by US missiles fired from unmanned CIA drone planes, in the second such strike on Barack Obama’s watch. In late January, two more missiles killed at least 20 people, according to international news agencies. That these drone attacks by the CIA are authorized by the US and Pakistani governments has been well known and well reported for some time. IntelNews is among several news outlets that have reported on a high-level US-Pakistani agreement by which “the US government refuses to publicly acknowledge the [US missile] attacks [on Pakistani soil] while Pakistan’s government continues to complain noisily about the politically sensitive strikes”. This website has repeatedly questioned the legality of these extrajudicial assassinations, which apparently is an issue that does not concern the Obama administration or most US intelligence experts. The more important question in the minds of intelligence observers appears to be why the US is unable to hold its side of their bargain. Read more of this post

Gates confirms CIA deal with Pakistan on missile strikes

On November 16, 2008, intelNews cited a report in The Washington Post, which revealed that the CIA unmanned drone airstrikes and military incursions in Pakistan are part of a secret US-Pakistani high-level deal. According to the agreement, “the US government refuses to publicly acknowledge the attacks while Pakistan’s government continues to complain noisily about the politically sensitive strikes”. Last Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeared to break Washington’s part of the deal, by publicly admitting that Islamabad was indeed aware of the missile strikes. Mr. Gates was asked by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) during an open-door hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, whether the CIA decisions to fire missile missiles on Pakistani territory were “conveyed to the Pakistani government”. The Defense Secretary replied “[y]es, sir”. It is unclear whether he intended to acknowledge Islamabad’s cooperation. The Pakistani government responded on Wednesday through Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Sadiq, who denied the existence of a deal on the CIA missile strikes. The US Pentagon has so far refused to comment on Secretary Gates’ admission.

Comment: Was Poland’s Lech Walesa an Intelligence Operative?

The Warsaw-based Polish Institute of National Remembrance (INP) is a government-affiliated organization, whose main mission is to investigate, expose and indict participants in criminal actions during the Nazi occupation of Poland, as well as during the country’s communist period. It also aims to expose clandestine agents and collaborators of Służba Bezpieczeństwa (SB), Poland’s Security Service during the communist era. Earlier this year the INP published a book by historians Sławomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk, titled Secret services and Lech Walesa: A Contribution to the Biography (SB a Lech Wałęsa: Przyczynek do Biografii). Read more of this post

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