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

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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

Proposed US-Chinese telecom deal worries US legislators

Huawei HQ

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Three US Congress members have raised security concerns about a proposed deal between American and Chinese telecommunications companies, claiming that it could facilitate Chinese espionage in the United States. The proposed collaboration is between US-based Sprint-Nextel and Cricket Wireless, and Chinese hardware manufacturers ZTE Corporation and Huawei Technologies. But three US Senators, Jon Kyl (R-AR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), have written to US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski, claiming that the ZTE and Huawei are effectively controlled by China’s civilian and military intelligence establishment. According to the legislators, if the proposed deal goes through the Chinese government may be able to use ZTE and Huawei to “manipulate switches, routers, or software embedded in American telecommunications networks so that communications can be disrupted, intercepted, tampered with, or purposely misrouted”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #411

  • Third Lebanese telecom worker charged with spying for Israel. A Lebanese prosecutor has charged a third state telecommunications employee with spying for Israel. Milad Eid, who worked at the state-owned fixed-line operator Ogero, is accused of “dealing with the Israeli enemy [and] giving them technical information in his position as head of international communications at the Telecommunications Ministry”.
  • Author Roald Dahl was British spy, new book claims. A new book by Donald Sturrock, entitled Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl, claims that children’s author worked for British Security Coordination (BSC), a 1940s secret service network based in the United States, and was ‘run’ from New York by Canadian industrialist William Stephenson.
  • Israeli nuclear whistleblower wants to leave country. Nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu has been released from prison after serving a 10-week sentence for violating the terms of his parole by speaking to a foreign journalist. Upon his release, he asked that he be allowed to leave the country.

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News you may have missed #399

  • Alleged Lebanese spy for Israel flees to Germany, says Lebanon. Lebanese media claim that Rasan al-Jud, who Lebanese authorities accuse of having aided Israel with the help of employees at Alfa, Lebanon’s state-owned cellular telecommunications provider, has fled Lebanon and is currently in Frankfurt, Germany. But a German Foreign Ministry spokesman has said that “the Foreign Ministry does not have any particular knowledge about the news item”.
  • Japan defends costly visit by Korean spy. Japan’s government has defended a costly four-day visit by Kim Hyun-Hee,  a former North Korean spy, who blew up a South Korean jet in 1987, killing 115 people. Despite the high expectations, the former spy produced little news about Japanese nationals kidnapped decades ago by Pyongyang.
  • Analysis: Slaying the US intelligence behemoth. Commenting on the recent Washington Post investigative series on the US intelligence complex, author Philip Smucker comments that there is an essential disconnect at work. Namely, Islamic perceptions are not understood to be ‘hard intelligence’. The US is still trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, or to apply conventional intelligence to an asymmetrical world.

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News you may have missed #0286

  • More on CIA spies working for corporations. Author Eamon Javers provides more information about his new book, in which he examines the increasing phenomenon of CIA agents working for private corporations on the side.
  • Rio Tinto spy controversy thickens. Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto says it is “extremely worried” about four of its staff, who were arrested last July by Chinese authorities and have now been formally charged with espionage.
  • Court keeps White House spy emails secret. Two weeks ago, US President Barack Obama declared in his State of the Union address that “it’s time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or Congress”. This does not appear to apply to telecommunication industry lobbyists, who campaigned in favor of facilitating warrantless communications interception through the National Security Agency’s STELLAR WIND program.

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FBI wiretaps broke the law thousands of times from 2002 to 2006

FBI memos

FBI memos

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Considering the extent of illegal domestic telephone surveillance practiced by US intelligence agencies after 9/11, the disclosure of yet another wiretap scandal can hardly surprise anyone. But the latest revelation by The Washington Post points to an alarming collusion between FBI agents, their supervisors, as well as telephone industry employees, all of whom consciously disregarded even the severely lax standards of the USA PATRIOT Act. The paper says it acquired several internal FBI memos (.pdf), through “a government employee outside the FBI, who gained access to them”. These memos appear to show widespread abuse of more than 2,000 US telephone call records (but not content, it appears), which FBI agents obtained between 2002 and 2006, by presenting telephone companies with fake National Security Letters (NSLs). The NSLs claimed the records were required for emergency counterterrorism investigations. But in reality these investigations bore no connection to terrorism, and the NSLs were never followed up with actual subpoenas, as they were supposed to. Read more of this post