News you may have missed #673

Jeffrey Paul DelisleBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Israel outsources intelligence-gathering to rightwing groups. The government and military of Israel have unofficially outsourced some of their intelligence work to private organizations that monitor anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian media and are associated with right-wing politics, according to several high-ranking government and military sources.
►►NATO report finds Pakistan spies help Taliban. The BBC says it has seen a NATO report stating that the Taliban in Afghanistan are being directly assisted by Pakistani security services. The leaked report, derived from material from 27,000 interrogations with more than 4,000 captured Taliban, al-Qaeda and other foreign fighters and civilians, also claims Pakistan knows the locations of senior Taliban leaders. The US said exactly the same thing last September.
►►Another Russian diplomat ‘leaves’ Canada. Another Russian diplomat has left Canada. Dmitry Gerasimov, a consular officer with the Russian government’s office in Toronto, left in January. He is the second diplomat that the Russian embassy in Canada acknowledges has quit this country in January. The other was Colonel Sergey Zhukov, the defense attaché for the Russian government in Ottawa. All totaled, six Russian diplomats that have been dropped from Ottawa’s list of recognized foreign representatives in the last 11 days. It’s not clear which, if any, of recent these exits can be tied to the Jeffrey Paul Delisle spy controversy.

News you may have missed #667

Bob RaeBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Canadian authorities spied on political leader. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police spied on Bob Rae, current leader of Canada’s Liberal Party, when he was a student, and likely amassed a personal dossier on him, newly declassified documents reveal. Really, is there anyone in Canada who has not been spied on by the RCMP?
►►US intel community says Taliban want Afghanistan back. The Associated Press cites “two current and one former US official” who said anonymously that the classified Afghan National Intelligence Estimate declares the Afghanistan War “at a stalemate“, and says NATO security gains are “far outweighed by corruption at all levels of Afghan government”.
►►Canadian naval officer charged with espionage. A member of the Royal Canadian Navy has become the first person charged under the country’s post-9/11 secrets law for allegedly passing protected government information to an unknown foreign body. Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle, 40, was charged Monday under the Security of Information Act, which came into effect in 2001.

News you may have missed #658

Carlos SoriaBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Britain reveals names of officers killed in covert mission. Captain Tom Jennings, of the Special Boat Service, and Squadron Leader Anthony Downing, died when their vehicle was targeted by the Taliban near the Afghan capital Kabul. The UK Ministry of Defence has not released further details “due to the covert nature of the mission”. However, special forces are known to be used to escort MI6 officers and other British intelligence officials for meetings with sources or to persuade Taliban commanders to change sides.
►►New Turkish satellite to ‘zoom in’ on Israel. Until now, only the United States had the technology capable of taking satellite images greater than two meters per pixel resolution in the Middle East, and American law stopped US companies from distributing the pictures to non-US clients. But that is about to change, as Turkey is putting the finishing touches to its Gokturk military satellite, which is scheduled to launch within the next two years.
►►Argentine ex-spy chief shot dead. Carlos Soria (pictured), Argentina‘s former spy chief, was killed in a New Year’s Day shooting at his country house in Patagonia. He was just weeks into his job in the key oil-producing southern province of Rio Negro, when he was shot “after a family argument” at his farmhouse near the town of General Roca. Soria was a member of the ruling Peronist party and a former head of the Argentine intelligence services, under ex-president Eduardo Duhalde in 2002.

US openly accuses Pakistan of waging ‘proxy war’ in Afghanistan

Mike Mullen

Mike Mullen

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
For the first time a senior American official has openly accused the intelligence services of Pakistan of using Taliban-linked groups to wage a “proxy war” in neighboring Afghanistan. United States Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has described the Haqqani Network, an insurgent group closely allied with the Taliban, as Pakistan’s proxy-army in Afghanistan. The Haqqani Network, which is considered by US military commanders as “the most resilient insurgent force in Afghanistan”, is widely seen as responsible for the massive attack on the US embassy and several other targets in Kabul, earlier this month. Some military observers have compared the attacks to the 1968 Tet Offensive by the Viet Cong. Speaking on Tuesday at an event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Admiral Mullen said he had pressed the government and intelligence agencies of Pakistan to break their links with the Haqqani Network. He did so during a recent meeting with the chief of Pakistan’s armed forces, which reportedly lasted over four hours. By “intelligence services”, Mullen means the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), Pakistan’s most powerful spy agency. According to Admiral Mullen, the meeting centered on “the need for the […] ISI to disconnect from [the] Haqqani [Network] and from this proxy war that they’re fighting” in Afghanistan. He also said that “the ISI has been […] supporting proxies for an extended period of time” and described the ISI-Haqqani collaboration as “a strategy in the country”, rather than simply a series of isolated incidents by shadowy groups operating within the Pakistani intelligence services. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #546

Thomas Drake

Thomas Drake

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Whistleblower says NSA mismanagement continues. Former US National Security Agency employee Thomas Drake was recently sentenced to a year’s probation for leaking secrets about the agency to a journalist. The presiding judge did not sentence him to prison, recognizing that his genuine intention was to expose mismanagement. Soon after his sentencing, Drake told The Washington Times that mismanagement continues at the NSA, which he compared to “the Enron of the intelligence world”. He also told the paper that NSA’s accounts were “unauditable”, like those of most of the other agencies operating under the Pentagon. ►►Taliban claim phones hacked by NATO. The Afghan Taliban have accused NATO and the CIA of hacking pro-Taliban websites, as well as personal email accounts and cell phones belonging to Taliban leaders, in order to send out a false message saying that their leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, had died. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the Reuters news agency that the hacking was “the work of American intelligence” and that the Taliban would “take revenge on the telephone network providers”. ►►Rumsfeld memo says ‘US can’t keep a secret’. “The United States Government is incapable of keeping a secret”. This was opined in a November 2, 2005 memo authored by Donald Rumsfeld. The memo by the then-Defense Secretary continues: Read more of this post

Chinese telecoms manufacturer denies spying claims (again)

Huawei HQ

Huawei HQ

By IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
Huawei Technologies is one of China’s fastest-rising corporations. Founded in 1988 to import Western office telephone systems to China, the company today has become one of the country’s leading exporters, producing all kinds of hi-tech communications hardware equipment, ranging from routers to cell towers and undersea cables. But, as intelNews has indicated on several instances, Huawei’s export growth has been hampered in recent years by widely circulated suspicions that the company maintains close ties to the Chinese military and intelligence establishments. In 2009, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) investigated one of Huawei’s Australian-based subsidiaries for links to Chinese intelligence operations. In the following year, the Indian government barred the company from operating in India, citing its allegedly “strong links with the Chinese military”. In August of 2010, several American senators called for an investigation into a proposed collaboration between Huawei and US-based Sprint-Nextel, arguing that the Chinese hardware manufacturer is “effectively controlled by China’s civilian and military intelligence establishment”. Further controversy erupted in the United States in February of this year, when another group of American Congress members accused Huawei of having supplied telecommunications equipment to Iran and the Afghan Taliban. The controversy around Huawei, which currently employs over 110,000 people in China and beyond, centers partly on its founder and chief executive owner, Ren Zhengfei. A former Director of the People’s Liberation Army’s Engineering Corps, Zhengfei founded Huawei a few years after retiring from his government job. His critics claim that he never truly retired from the PLA, and that he maintains routine links with the Communist Party of China, of which he is a member, as well as Chinese military intelligence. Read more of this post

Comment: Five Surprising Truths About the Killing of Bin Laden

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS* | intelNews.org |
For intelligence and terrorism experts, the frustrating part of Osama bin Laden’s assassination is not the lack of details on the operation, nor the diplomatic ping-pong currently taking place between America and Pakistan. Rather it is the media spectacle that has unfolded around the story ever since it first made headlines. The cacophony of conjecture that has hijacked the global news agenda is maintained by an army of talking heads, who rely on rumor and speculation to satisfy sensationalist media editors. The outcome is a sterile media circus, devoid of substance, which leaves news consumers confused and uninformed. To counter this trend, intelNews lists here five truths of critical importance about Osama bin Laden’s assassination. In summary: One, America does not have to prove it killed bin Laden. Two, bin Laden’s assassination is not a victory against terrorism. Three, it likely will not reduce —and may even increase— terrorism. Four, it will not have the slightest effect on the Taliban or the war in Afghanistan. Five, even if the Pakistani government consciously shielded bin Laden, there is not much the US can do about it. More specifically:

Read more of this post

Taliban operate ‘very extensive’ spy network in British Afghan bases

Richard Kemp

Richard Kemp

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The former head of British troops in Afghanistan has warned that the Taliban are gathering intelligence from a “very, very extensive network of intelligence” operating inside British military bases in the Central Asian country. Colonel Richard J. Kemp, who was Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan in 2003, said the spy network includes “sources in many places” throughout the country, such as NATO military bases and Afghan security forces outposts. He also told Britain’s Daily Telegraph that the network is so effective that it tends to possess more information about the itineraries of foreign officials visiting Afghanistan than Western diplomats, NATO or Afghan military commanders realize. Read more of this post

‘Lord of War’ weapons smuggler enjoys Russian protection

Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The case of notorious arms smuggler Viktor Bout is well known. Born in Dushanbe, Soviet Tajikistan, in 1967, Bout served in the GRU (Soviet military intelligence) until the collapse of the USSR, at which point he began supplying weapons to shady groups, ranging from Congolese rebels and Angolan paramilitaries to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In March of 2008, Bout, known as ‘Lord of War’, was finally arrested by the Royal Thai Police, after a tip by US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officers. The latter had managed to lure Bout to Thailand by pretending to be Colombian FARC arms procurers. Recently, Washington scored a second victory by convincing Thai authorities to extradite Bout to the United States on terrorism charges. Presumably, Bout will be tried as an arms smuggler acting on his own accord. But is this right? Read more of this post

Pakistanis question validity, timing, of Wikileaks files

Hamid Gul

Hamid Gul

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Senior Pakistani government and intelligence officials have reacted angrily to leaked reports, which suggest that Pakistani spy agencies are secretly working with the Taliban to oppose US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. The accusations have emerged as part of the largest document leak in US military history, which was made public on Sunday by anti-secrecy activist website Wikileaks. Among the nearly 92,000 intelligence and military files disclosed by Wikileaks are several reports suggesting that General Hamid Gul, who headed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate in the late 1980s, is among a number of high-profile Pakistanis who regularly help the Taliban organize strikes against US-led coalition troops and their supporters in Afghanistan. But on Monday General Gul, who is a well-known critic of the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, vehemently rejected the leaked reports, calling them “a pack of lies” and “utterly wrong”. Read more of this post

Private US spy network still operating in Pakistan

US Pentagon

US Pentagon

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Senior US Pentagon officials continue to rely almost daily on reports from a network of contracted spies operating deep inside Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to The New York Times. Last March, when the paper revealed the existence of the network, several senior US military sources expressed serious concerns about the operation, which some say borders on illegality, and is currently under investigation by the US government. Although The Times is apparently “withholding some information about the contractor network, including some of the names of [its] agents”, it appears that the network is staffed by former CIA and Special Forces operatives. The entire operation appears to be an attempt to evade some of the stringent oversight rules under which the CIA and the US Pentagon are required to operate. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #347

  • CIA drones now target non-listed targets in Pakistan. It used to be the case that the CIA unmanned drone attacks in Pakistan were directed at confirmed Taliban senior operatives. But an American official has said that the CIA does “not always have their names”. Instead, the Agency targets them based on their “actions over time” that make it “obvious that they are a threat”.
  • Democrat Senator presses Obama for more NSA powers. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) is pressing the Obama Administration to give the National Security Agency more power to oversee privately owned portions of the Internet. Speaking on Thursday, Mikulski complained that “we don’t know who the hell is in charge” over the security of private networks.
  • Lebanese officer charged as Israel spy may get death. A Lebanese prosecutor has requested the death penalty for Gazwan Shahin, an army colonel charged with having provided Israel’s spy agency with pictures, information and coordinates of Lebanese civil and military posts during and after the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

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News you may have missed #343

  • Taliban leader H. Mehsud reportedly not dead. Last February US and Pakistani officials claimed a CIA airstrike had killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the largest faction of the Pakistani Taliban. But it now appears that Mehsud is alive and well.
  • Analysis: Operation MINCEMEAT and the ethics of spying. The New Yorker‘s Malcolm Gladwell on operation MINCEMEAT, a World War II British deception plan, which helped convince the German high command that the Allies planned to invade Greece and Sardinia in 1943, instead of Sicily.
  • US DoJ announces FISA court appointment. Judge Martin L.C. Feldman, of the Eastern District of Louisiana, has been appointed to a seven-year term on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court, which reviews (and invariably approves) government applications for counterintelligence surveillance and physical search under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

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News you may have missed #342

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News you may have missed #340

  • West Bank urged to drop Israeli cell phone companies. The Palestinian Authority (PA) is urging Palestinians to stop using the Israeli cellular companies Pelephone, Orange, Cellcom and Mirs. The official reasons are economic (Israeli companies don’t pay taxes to the PA), but the real reasons are probably related to communications security.
  • US police wiretaps up 26 percent in one year. The number of wiretaps authorized by US state and federal judges in criminal investigations jumped 26 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to a report released Friday by the Administrative Office of the US Courts.
  • Taliban group executes high-profile ex-ISI spy. Khalid Khawaja, one of two Pakistani former Inter-Services Intelligence directorate officers captured by a Taliban splinter group, named Asian Tigers, has been found dead. The other ex-ISI official, Sultan Amir Tarar, a.k.a. Colonel Imam, who was Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar’s former handler, remains in captivity.

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