News you may have missed #642

Predator drone

Predator drone

►►Australia concerned China using civilian satellites to spy. Concerns that China may use civilian satellite tracking stations to monitor Australian military operations have been dismissed by the Swedish Space Corporation. The company owns and operates two satellite tracking stations 400 km north of the West Australian capital, Perth. One was used by the China Satellite Launch Company last month in China’s first space docking operation.
►►Did Iran capture US stealth drone intact? For the second time this year, the Iranian government is claiming it forced down a stealthy US Air Force spy drone. Only this time, it says it bagged the RQ-170 “with little damage” by jamming its control signal —a potentially worrying development for American forces heavily reliant on remote-controlled aircraft. A US official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters that “there is absolutely no indication up to this point that Iranians shot down this drone”.
►►Canadian Mounties spied on native protest groups. Canada’s federal government created a vast surveillance network in early 2007 to monitor protests by First Nations, including those that would attract national attention or target “critical infrastructure” like highways, railways and pipelines, according to RCMP documents. The RCMP intelligence unit reported weekly to approximately 450 recipients in law enforcement, government, and unnamed “industry partners” in the energy and private sector. The news follows revelations last month of the RCMP’s largest-ever domestic intelligence operation, aimed against G8 and G20 protesters.

News you may have missed #636

Lebanon

Lebanon

►►Careless codeword may have cost CIA its Lebanon network. Hezbollah have reportedly just rolled up the CIA’s network of spies in Lebanon. If so, it’s because of one of the stupidest, least secure code words in history. According to ABC News, Hezbollah operatives figured out that CIA informants, who had infiltrated the Iranian proxy group, were meeting with their agency handlers at a Beirut Pizza Hut. How could Hezbollah deduce that location? “The CIA used the codeword ‘PIZZA’ when discussing where to meet with the agents,” ABC reports.
►►UK spy chiefs to be publicly questioned for first time. The heads of British intelligence agencies are set to be questioned for the first time in public, under plans to make spies more accountable. The directors of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ will face Parliamentarians on the Intelligence and Security Committee. Although, they have recently begun to make rare public appearances, and deliver speeches, it will be the first time the intelligence agency heads will face public cross-examination over their activities.
►►Documents reveal largest domestic spy operation in Canadian history. Police organizations across Canada co-operated to spy on community organizations and activists in what the Royal Canadian Mounted Police called one of the largest domestic intelligence operations in Canadian history, documents reveal. Information about the extensive police surveillance in advance of last year’s G8 and G20 meetings in southern Ontario comes from evidence presented in the case of 17 people accused of orchestrating street turmoil during the summits.

News you may have missed #631

Tommy Douglas

Tommy Douglas

►►Some spy files on Canadian prominent politician released. Newly declassified records from the early 1960s show that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police spied on Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas (pictured), suspecting him of communist sympathies. Douglas, a popular leftwing politician, led the first social democratic government in North America.
►►Aussie diplomats urged to welcome defectors in 1980s. The Australian government urged its spies and diplomats to encourage foreign officials to defect to Australia and welcome intelligence they might bring with them, according to internal documents from the 1980s, released this week. The directives noted that applications from defectors were not expected to be numerous “but failure on our part to handle them deftly could result in the loss of intelligence relevant to Australia’s security and other interests”. One observer notes that the 1980s policy towards defectors still applies today in Australia’s diplomatic community.
►►Iran arrests two Kuwaitis on suspicion of espionage. Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency says Iranian security has detained two Kuwaiti citizens in southwestern Iran for suspected espionage activities. Fars quoted Bahram Ilkhaszadeh, governor of Abadan, a town close to Kuwait, as saying that Iran’s security agents detained the two on possession of “spying equipment”. Kuwait has denied the charges.

News you may have missed #553 (Canada edition)

Northrop Frye

Northrop Frye

►►Analysis: Are Chinese spies getting an easy ride in Canada? Carl Meyer, of Embassy magazine, asks why Canada’s counterintelligence agencies are unwilling or unable to bring Chinese spies to court in recent years. Readers of this blog may recall controversial comments made last year by the director of CSIS, Richard Fadden, who claimed that some Canadian politicians work for foreign powers.
►►Canadian agency ‘illegally spying on Canadians’. Canada’s ultra-secret Communications Security Establishment, which engages in electronic communications interception, is prohibited from spying on Canadian citizens. But a new Canadian government report appears to instruct it to engage in mining ‘metadata’ from digital communications of Canadians. Readers of this blog may remember that, in 2009, a court permitted for the first time the CSE and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to eavesdrop on Canadian nationals traveling overseas.
►►RCMP spied on Canadian academic Northrop Frye. Speaking on spying on Canadians… Read more of this post

New book on Canada’s mysterious Agent 235

Johann Heinrich Amadeus de Graaf

De Graaf

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A new book published by the Pennsylvania State University Press sheds new light into the life and work of mysterious Agent 235, Canada’s mysterious mid-20th-century spy known as ‘Johnny’. In Johnny: A Spy’s Life, R.S. Rose and Gordon Scott present the outcome of 14 years of research on ‘Johnny’, whose real name was Johann Heinrich Amadeus de Graaf. De Graaf was born in Germany in 1894, but later moved to Britain, and at the start of World War II worked as an informant for MI6. Although he conducted some of his operations in Germany, most of them took place in the UK, where he unmasked a number of native pro-Nazi sympathizers and agents of the Gestapo. Read more of this post