Documents reveal Bill Clinton’s secret contact with Iran

Mohammad Khatami

M. Khatami

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Two newly declassified high-level documents reveal a short-lived overture between Washington and Tehran, initiated in 1999 by the Bill Clinton administration. The US President resorted to the secret communication with Iran in an attempt to preempt several hawkish policy planners in his administration. The latter pressed for strong American military retaliation against Iran, in response to the latter’s alleged involvement in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing. The bombing, which targeted a US Air Force base in the suburbs of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killed 19 and wounded 400 American servicemen and women. By 1999, US intelligence agencies were convinced that the bombing had been financed and orchestrated by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), an independent administrative and paramilitary institution tasked with –among other things– exporting the Iranian Revolution abroad. But the Clinton Administration decided to contact the then newly elected reformist Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, and sternly inform him of the evidence against the IRGC. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #344

  • CIA base in Afghanistan hit again. A suicide car bomber killed one civilian and wounded two security guards at the entrance to the CIA’s Forward Operating Base Chapman, in Afghanistan’s Khost province. It is the same base where Jordanian suicide bomber Humam Khalil al-Balawi killed seven CIA officers in December of 2009.
  • Fiji to set up new spy agency. The government of Fiji plans to re-establish its intelligence agency, ten years after it was disbanded by Labour Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry. The new organization will be called the National Intelligence Agency of Fiji.
  • MI5 and MI6 must release Guantánamo records, says judge. MI5 and MI6 have been told by a British judge that they cannot use secret evidence to defend themselves from civil damages claims brought by six former detainees in the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, including Binyam Mohamed.

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News you may have missed #321 (CIA edition)

  • Uruguay ex-president sent to prison for 1973 coup. Declassified documents show that, at the time of the coup, Juan María Bordaberry told the US ambassador that “Uruguay’s democratic traditions and institutions […] were themselves the real threat to democracy”.
  • FSB ‘dropped the ball’ in Moscow metro bombings. Two Russian intelligence observers argue that Russia’s new strategy has shifted toward preventing coordinated actions by large groups of militants, which has come at the expense of taking measures to prevent individual suicide attacks, such as those of last Monday in Moscow.
  • Calls for expanded DoJ probe of FBI killing of Detroit imam. The US Justice Department is probing the killing of Detroit-area Islamic cleric Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was shot dead during an FBI raid shortly after being indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit federal crimes. The FBI said Abdullah was shot after he opened fire, but critics say he may have been targeted for assassination.

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News you may have missed #316

  • News videos on UK expulsion of Israeli ‘diplomat’. Commendable video-based amalgamation by Newsy.com of worldwide media comments on the recent expulsion of an Israeli intelligence officer by the British government. The expulsion was in response to the forging of British passports, employed by the Mossad in the killing of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last January.
  • How Khost suicide bomber lured CIA agents to their deaths. According to the CIA’s internal investigation of the killing of seven CIA officers by Humam al-Balawi, in Khost, Afghanistan, last December, the fatal explosion happened as the CIA officers had gathered around Balawi to present him with a cake as a present for his birthday.

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News you may have missed #311

Al-Qaeda technical expert believed killed. Hussein Yemeni, an al-Qaeda bomb expert and trainer, is believed to have been among more than a dozen people killed in a CIA strike last week in Miram Shah, the largest town in Pakistan’s North Waziristan. Yemeni is thought to have had a major planning role in the December 30 suicide bombing in Khost, Afghanistan that killed seven CIA officers.

Al-Qaeda on the run, claims CIA director. CIA air attacks against al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal region have driven Osama bin Laden and his top deputies deeper into hiding and disrupted their ability to plan sophisticated operations, CIA Director Leon Panetta said Wednesday. Interesting; that’s not exactly what he said last week.

UK government defends use of foreign intel. The British Foreign Office has defended its use of intelligence obtained by foreign security agencies from terrorism suspects, even when it could not be sure how the informants had been treated. It’s not the first time this opinion has been expressed by a senior UK government source.

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News you may have missed #305

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Analysis: Taliban knew about US Special Forces presence in Pakistan

Bombed site in Shahi Koto, Pakistan

Bombed site

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
There has been remarkably little coverage in the US media of the deaths earlier this month of three US Special Forces operatives in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, who were killed in a bomb attack in the city of Shahi Koto. Most of the few analyses that have commented on the importance of this event have focused on the inevitable revelation that US troops are indeed active in Pakistan. But what about the intelligence angle? It appears that the bombing, which took place outside a newly built girls’ school in the town, was in fact aimed at the US troops, and that the attackers were aware of their supposedly secret presence in the area. The operation was therefore carefully targeted, and the suicide bomber appears to have patiently waited for the arrival of the Pakistani Frontier Corps five-vehicle convoy to arrive at the school. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0261

  • Analysis: CIA has long struggled with ensuring safe interrogations. The debate within the CIA about how to handle agents in war zones surfaced in Iraq in 2003. There was a dispute about how to balance the safety of CIA personnel with the needs of intelligence gathering. The controversy went on for more than a year, but in the end, by 2005, CIA officers had generally stopped meeting agents in the “red zones” of Iraq, that is, outside secured areas.
  • Germany to probe CIA murder and rendition plots on its soil. German legislators will probably launch an investigation into claims that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plotted to murder an alleged al-Qaeda fundraiser in Hamburg, and that it placed agents in Germany to sweep up terrorist suspects without informing German authorities.

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News you may have missed #0259

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Analysis: Should US spy agencies learn from France?

Jean-Louis Bruguiere

J.L. Bruguiere

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
What precisely is wrong with the US intelligence system? I have read several good analyses lately, all sparked by the disastrous Christmas holiday week, which included the Christmas Day bomber fiasco and the killing of seven CIA personnel in Afghanistan. One is written by ex-CIA operations officer Charles Faddis, who argues that the Agency’s central deficiency is that it places emphasis on process, rather than on mission accomplishment. Another, broader, analysis is authored by Ron Capps, the US Pentagon’s former director of human intelligence/counterintelligence operations in Afghanistan, who suggests that the way to break down bureaucratic walls between US intelligence agencies is to publish more unclassified reports. The most interesting commentary, however, is written by Paris-based Jean-Louis Bruguière, a French former Magistrate who led counterterrorism investigations from 1981 to 2007. Read more of this post

Jordanian opposition seeks to end Jordan’s CIA links

Khalil al-Balawi

Khalil al-Balawi

By IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
Earlier this month we reported on the excellent analysis by Jordanian blogger Naseem Tarawnah about the view from Jordan on the December 30 suicide bombing in Afghanistan. He suggested that the immediate impact of the bombing, which killed at least seven CIA agents and a senior Jordanian intelligence official, was the revelation of Jordan’s covert CIA connection. The latter, “while relatively well-known before, has now been put out in the public sphere for all to see –especially the Arab street”, he wrote. This is precisely what appears to be happening. The Jordanian government is coming under pressure by opposition groups to end its cooperation with American military and intelligence services operating in Arab and Muslim lands. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0251 (analysis edition)

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CIA to continue working with Jordanians, despite suicide attack

GID logo

GID logo

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The vast majority of intelligence insiders, as well as intelligence observers, seem to agree that the CIA is determined to maintain its close links with Jordanian intelligence services, despite the December 30 suicide bombing that killed and injured 13 CIA personnel. Jordanian doctor Humam Khalil al-Balawi, who detonated a concealed bomb shortly after he was allowed into the US Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, had been recruited as a high-level informant by Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID). The Jordanian agency, which is known for its brutal interrogation tactics, is widely considered America’s most valuable intelligence partner in the Arab world. But the December 30 blunder, which resulted in the CIA’s second highest casualty disaster in its 63-year history, prompted some to question GID’s overall value. Read more of this post

Comment: CIA Deaths a Failure of Intelligence, Not Security

Khalil al-Balawi

Khalil al-Balawi

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Early on Thursday, rumors began spreading among intelligence observers that the December 30 suicide blast in Khost, Afghanistan, which killed seven and seriously injured six CIA personnel, went off in the open air, and not inside a gym on the base, as had previously been reported. Soon afterwards, an article written by CIA director Leon Panetta for the Sunday edition of The Washington Post, dated January 10, was published by the paper two days early. The op-ed is an apparent attempt by the CIA leadership to officially get the word out that suicide bomber Humam Khalil al-Balawi “was about to be searched by our security officers –a distance away from other intelligence personnel– when he set off his explosives”, according to Panetta. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0246

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