News you may have missed #785 (interview edition)

Stella RimingtonBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Interview with first-ever NSA Compliance Director. John DeLong, the first-ever compliance director at the US National Security Agency, has given an interview to NextGov. In it, he says that “we’re nothing if we lose the confidence of the American people”. He is referring to frequent allegations, by whistleblowers and others, that the Agency is increasingly spying on Americans’ communications. As Compliance Director, DeLong is responsible for ensuring that the NSA abides by US law, which forbids it from intercepting electronic messages exchanged between US citizens or persons.
►►Ex-MI5 boss offers comment on WikiLeaks. Former MI5 Director-General Dame Stella Rimington has criticized “the indiscriminate pouring out into the public domain of streams of leaked documents by Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks organization”. But she also said that the US government should have taken better steps to prevent WikiLeaks from acquiring the information in the first place. Speaking at an international archiving conference in Brisbane, Australia, Dame Stella said that while the WikiLeaks saga could prompt the US government to come up with better databases, it would more likely encourage it to be even more secretive. This, she added, “must be absolutely the opposite effect of what WikiLeaks was seeking”.
►►Interview with NSA whistleblower. Filmmaker Laura Poitras interviews William Binney, a 32-year veteran of the US National Security Agency, who helped set up STELLAR WIND, the NSA’s top-secret domestic spying program, which was put in place after 9/11. The program was so controversial that it nearly caused top Justice Department officials to resign in protest in 2004. Binney, who resigned over STELLAR WIND in 2001, and began speaking out publicly in the last year, explains how the program he created for foreign intelligence gathering was turned inward on America.

Interview with NSA whistleblower

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News you may have missed #733

Stella RimingtonBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Women in US intelligence seek balance in life. Nada Bakos (photo) was one of many women serving as CIA analysts before 9/11, who then moved to the operations side after the terrorist attacks. She didn’t yet have a family when she accepted her assignment as a targeting officer in Iraq. After a couple of years, as Bakos was deep into her career on the operations side, she decided she wanted to start a family. That was a problem. At least 160 other women feel her pain. Women from the CIA, the National Security Agency, Naval Office of Intelligence and dozens of other agencies met last week at the Women in National Security conference in McLean, Virginia, to try and find a better way.
►►Interview with ex-MI5 Director Stella Rimington. Australian Radio hosts an interesting audio interview with Dame Stella Rimington, who headed MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, from 1992 to 1995. She speaks about the experience of being the first director of MI5 to be publicly identified and the sometimes sinister invasions to her privacy as a result. Moreover, she says the only thing that surprised her about the Leveson inquiry into phone hacking and the conduct of the British media is that nobody recognized it was going on before.
►►US government think-tank warns against strikes on Iran. The RAND Corporation, a think tank which advises the United States Department of Defense, warned last week Tuesday against an Israeli or American attack on Iran’s nuclear reactors, and recommended that the administration of Barack Obama try to “quietly influence the internal Israeli discussion over the use of  military force”. In 2009, before Stuxnet, a RAND report had argued that the US may be better off focusing on cyber-defense instead of resorting to cyberattacks.

Exclusive: intelNews readers get 20% off espionage conference online video pass

Bruce Riedel

Bruce Riedel

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
It is not every day that $19.95 can get you direct video access to a five-day intelligence and espionage conference. Plus, intelNews has worked out a deal with conference organizers for a further 20% discount off the final price of the event. The conference, which will take place in New York from July 18-22, is entitled Spies, Technology and Espionage. It is an ambitious collaboration between the New York-based Chautauqua Institution, the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, and online conference channel Fora TV, which will broadcast the five-day event in its entirety. It features lectures by big-name speakers, including Washington Post associate editor David Ignatius, CIA veteran officers Peter Earnest and Bruce Riedel, former CIA Director James Wolsey, as well as former MI5 Director Dame Stella Rimington. The timing of the conference has been carefully arranged to coincide with the run-up to the 10-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 events, which eventually sparked Washington’s so-called “war on terrorism”. The principal question leading the conference is what has America’s intelligence community learned in these ten years? Speakers will address several core themes, including the ways in which basic principles and practices of the intelligence profession have evolved in these 10 years. Another prominent theme for discussion will be the interface between intelligence operations and democratic accountability, and the resulting conflicts between espionage, covert operations, and America’s justice system. To learn more about the five-day conference, and to get your $19.95 video pass, which gets you a 60-day access, click here. IntelNews readers can get 20% off by entering ‘INTELNEWS’ (without the quotations) at the special coupon code field during checkout.

News you may have missed #535

Stella Rimington

Stella Rimington

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Last Monday’s Daily Telegraph carried a lengthy interview with Dame Stella Rimintgon, who headed MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, from 1992 to 1995. The interviewer notes that Rimington’s answers are often “so long you forget what you asked in the first place”, and when it comes to questions on MI5, she appears “practiced in the use of abstract generalities. I suspect is intentional”, she adds. No kidding. On July 10, the same newspaper revealed that, in the 1980s, an internationally renowned cancer researcher used his post at Britain’s Imperial Cancer Research Fund laboratories to steal samples and equipment on behalf of Eastern Bloc intelligence services. Jiri Bartek was working for the StB, Czechoslovakia’s secret intelligence service, says the paper. The paper notes that the revelation, which is based on declassified documents from the time, shows that Bartek (codename ‘Raki’), was probably “only one of dozens of Czech spies who used scientific positions in the West as cover for espionage”. Meanwhile, in South Africa, the country’s troubled National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has been hit an embarrassing revelation. It appears that Andre Vorster, a NIA specialist technical adviser at the agency’s Pretoria headquarters, claimed to have two doctorate degrees, both of which are fake. He also tried to swindle a leading British charity foundation by claiming to be acting on behalf of South African President Jacob Zuma. Vorster’s duties at the NIA included countersurveillance and the safeguarding of South African embassies and key installations around the world.

Former MI5 head warns UK turning into a police state

Rimington

Rimington

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
It is one thing for the British government to be accused of exploiting anxiety over terrorism to restrict civil liberties. It is quite another for these accusations to be made by the former Director-General of MI5, Britain’s foremost counterintelligence organization. Dame Stella Rimington, who headed the secretive agency between 1992 and 1996, recently gave an interview to Spanish daily La Vanguardia, in which she accused the British government of “scaring people to pass laws restricting freedoms”. She criticized the government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown of failing to strike the proper balance between civil liberties and security, thus gradually giving in to “one of the goals of terrorism”, namely living “in fear and under a police state”. She also criticized the US for going “too far with Guantánamo and torture, [which] has the opposite effect [to security]: there are more and more suicide bombers who find greater justification”, she said. Read more of this post