Civil war continues in South African spy agency

Arthur Fraser

Arthur Fraser

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In July of last year, South Africa’s ministerial Review Commission on Intelligence warned that a steadily declining culture of accountability in South Africa’s spy services threatened the country’s constitutional order. In October, the government’s minster for state security, Siyabonga Cwele, cited the Commission’s findings and policy suggestions in announcing a “major restructuring” of South Africa’s security services. Several months later, the “restructuring” process resembles a major civil war between rival political factions of the African National Congress. An entire generation of pro-ANC intelligence officials, who staffed the post-apartheid South African intelligence apparatus, has already been purged. The wave of purges was completed with the resignation this past week of Arthur Fraser, until recently director of the South African National Intelligence Agency’s Operations Division. Read more of this post

Analysis: US spy turf-war flares up on Capitol Hill

Dennis Blair

Dennis Blair

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Wednesday’s testimony by US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, received plenty of media coverage. But few have examined the ongoing public hearings by three separate Senate committees on the Christmas Day bomb plot in light of the turf battles taking place between US intelligence agencies. An excellent article by Politico’s Kassie Hunt does just that, by pointing out that the hearing proceedings should be viewed in light of the “three-way turf war among Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, CIA Director Leon Panetta, and National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter”. Capitol Hill lawmakers appear to be aware of this: Hunt’s article quotes Peter King, the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s senior Republican member, who warns that US intelligence agencies will use the public hearings to place blame about the Christmas Day bomber fiasco on each other. Read more of this post

Too much intelligence collection overwhelms US agencies

Predator drone

USAF drone

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The broad debate about America’s recent intelligence setbacks has centered on the view that US spy agencies do not share enough information with each other. Several days ago, however, Politico’s Laura Rozen noticed an important remark by an anonymous former intelligence official, buried in a longer piece in The Washington Post about the Christmas Day bomber. The official told the Post that “[t]he real story line internally [in the Christmas Day bomber affair] is not information-sharing or connecting dots […]. Information was shared. It was separating noise from chaff. It’s not that information wasn’t passed around, it’s that so much information is being passed. There’s an inherent problem of dealing with all the data that is sloshing around” (emphasis added). This view may in fact be closer to reality than the more dominant ‘turf war’ argument. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0237

  • Christmas Day bomb plot exposes fissures in US spy community. As intelNews regulars know, turf wars between US intelligence agencies are nothing new. But lapses that allowed Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab to board a Detroit-bound plane with a bomb on Christmas Day, and the finger-pointing that followed, have raised questions about supposedly sweeping changes made to improve intelligence-sharing after the 9/11.
  • Mysterious life of Soviet spy couple unveiled. Soviet agents Mikhail and Yelizaveta Mukasey were legends among illegals –i.e. international spies operating without diplomatic credentials. Now the Russian government is carefully releasing information on their activities and missions, which ranged from the US to Israel, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere.

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White House memo sides with CIA in inter-agency turf war

Dennis Blair

Dennis Blair

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
For several months now, I have been keeping tabs on a bitter inter-agency turf war between the CIA and the Office of the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Now a Los Angeles Times article by Greg Miller confirms what intelNews reported on November 18, namely that the White House has come down in favor of the CIA position in the dispute. The turf war began last July, when DNI Dennis Blair argued in a still-classified directive that his office, and not the CIA, as has been the case for over 60 years, should have a say in certain cases over the appointment of senior US intelligence representatives in foreign cities. But the White House refused to validate Blair’s request. So, in November, the Office of the DNI hit back by announcing it would be evaluating all “[s]ensitive CIA operations overseas” including all of the CIA’s active paramilitary and espionage operations abroad. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0191

  • Peru-Chile spy dispute deepens. Not only was senior Peruvian Air Force officer Victor Ariza Mendoza, who was arrested in Lima last Saturday, a spy for Chile, but there were six other individuals involved in the ring, according to Peruvian authorities. Peru has even asked Interpol to get involved in the affair.
  • UN-Iran in secret nuclear negotiations, says paper. The London Times has alleged that the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency is secretly negotiating a deal to persuade world powers to lift sanctions against Iran and allow Tehran to retain the bulk of its nuclear energy program, in return for co-operation with UN inspectors.
  • Analysis: The real spy war between CIA and DNI. For months, the CIA and the office of the Director of National Intelligence fought an intense and acrimonious turf battle over covert action oversight and access to White House officials. Now new details are emerging about deeper and more sensitive conflicts between the two agencies, including which agency is responsible for oversight of the CIA’s controversial and classified Predator drone program.

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CIA-DNI turf war enters new phase

Dennis Blair

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The CIA may have won a lengthy turf battle against the office of the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI), but the war between the two agencies continues. As intelNews reported last July, the dispute started when DNI Dennis Blair argued in a still-classified directive that his office, and not the CIA, as has been the case for over 60 years, should have a say in certain cases over the appointment of senior US intelligence representatives in foreign cities. A few days ago, when the White House finally came down in favor of the CIA, the imbroglio appeared to be ending. But now the DNI has hit back by announcing it will be evaluating all “[s]ensitive CIA operations overseas” including all of the CIA’s active paramilitary and espionage operations abroad. Read more of this post

CIA reportedly wins turf battle with DNI office

Leon Panetta

Leon Panetta

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The CIA has reportedly won a turf battle with the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), after the White House came down in support of the CIA position on Thursday. This blog has kept tabs on the dispute, which started last May, when DNI Dennis Blair argued in a still-classified directive that his office should have a say in certain cases over the appointment of senior US intelligence representatives in foreign cities. Former CIA officials publicly denounced the directive, which would allow the appointment of non-CIA personnel to these positions for the first time in 60 years, as “simple insanity”. Since then, various actors have sided with the two antagonists, with the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence committee supporting the DNI and Vice President Joe Biden backing the CIA’s position. But the stalemate reportedly ended on Thursday, after the White House ruled that the CIA, not the DNI, should appoint senior US intelligence representatives abroad. Read more of this post

Lawsuit exposes rumored CIA-NRO turf war

NRO logo

NRO logo

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
After the CIA’s ongoing turf wars with the FBI and the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DCI), a new federal lawsuit appears to substantiate rumors of another turf war, this time between the CIA and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Eric Feldman was recently removed from his position as inspector general of the super-secretive NRO, the agency that builds and operates the US government’s spy satellites, after he was found to have filed for the same travel expenses on two separate reimbursement accounts. But he now claims that his removal was part of a conspiracy by “senior officials in the CIA” to get rid of him. In his lawsuit, Feldman names former CIA inspector general John Helgerson and CIA agent Anthony Cipparone, who Feldman says “had a personal vendetta against him [because he] had passed him over for his deputy assistant position”. The former NRO inspector general claims Cipparone and Helgerson, along with other CIA officials, managed to terminate his position by illegally leaking information from the internal investigation into his reimbursement filings, in an attempt “to hurt his reputation”. Read more of this post

CIA-DNI turf war over embassy posts continues

Joe Biden

Joe Biden

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
This blog has kept tabs on the latest US bureaucratic turf war between the CIA and the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). It started last May, when when DNI Dennis Blair argued in a still-classified directive that his office should have a say in certain cases over the appointment of senior US intelligence representatives in foreign cities. Former CIA officials publicly denounced the directive, which would allow the appointment of non-CIA personnel to these positions for the first time in 60 years, as “simple insanity”. The turf war appeared to be close to an end in July, when the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence came out in support of the DNI, arguing that “some locations may give rise to circumstances where th[e CIA station chief’s] responsibility is best met by an official with expertise derived from another I[ntelligence] C[ommunity] element”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0162

  • South Korean 1967 spy case was “trumped up”, report finds. A national truth commission set up by South Korea’s primary intelligence organization, the National Intelligence Service, has concluded that the so-called Tongbaengnim spy ring case was “grossly trumped up”. The case culminated in a public show-trial of 194 South Korean academics, artists and students, accused of spying for North Korea.
  • CIA torture sparked rift with FBI. The Associated Press is reporting what intelNews readers have known since July 20; namely that the CIA’s use of “harsh interrogation techniques” against captured terror suspects made FBI interrogators wary of the legality of the methods. As a result, FBI agents were barred from the interrogations.
  • Analysis: Friendship is no bar to espionage. As relations between Taiwan and China improve, would it be reasonable to expect that China will temper espionage activity against Taiwan, and vice-versa?

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News you may have missed #0147

  • Major purge in Gambian intelligence services. The Gambian government gave no official reasons for the dismissal of 27 officers from the country’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA). But local media said the dismissals were aimed to end bitter internal turf wars that have affected NIA’s performance.
  • US Congress bars release of more torture photos. US House and Senate members have approved legislation that would permit the Pentagon to withhold photographs if it determines that their disclosure “would endanger citizens of the US, members of the US Armed Forces, or employees of the US government deployed outside the US”. The ACLU said that “the suppression of these photos will ultimately be far more damaging to our national security than their disclosure would be”.
  • Russia jails alleged Georgian spy. A Russian military court has jailed Russian Army sergeant Jemal Nakaidze for nine years, for passing secrets to Georgia during a war between the two countries last year. See here for more on the recent tug-of-war between Russia and Georgia.

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News you may have missed #0138

  • US intelligence turf wars plague email system. US intelligence officials have decided to shut down a Web-based, unclassified e-mail system, which had been heralded as an important step in the US intelligence community’s drive for better information sharing after 9/11. A Directorate of National Intelligence representative said “security concerns” led to the decision to shut down the e-mail system.
  • CIA Climate Change Center survives funding opposition. Republican lawmakers criticized the CIA’s plan to open the Center on Climate Change and National Security as a “misguided defense funding priority” and even tried to prevent appropriate funding last week. But they failed and so it appears that the Center will be established after all.
  • Colombia to rename spy agency to “CIA”. The restructuring of Colombia’s scandal-prone domestic spy agency, Administrative Department of Security (DAS), continues, as the government has announced that DAS will now be known as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a new entity which will take over state and immigration intelligence and counterintelligence duties.

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News you may have missed #0121

  • DHS intelligence official speaks on cross-department collaboration. Since its establishment, the US Department of Homeland Security has been involved in almost every major turf battle within the US security and intelligence community. Bart Johnson, the department’s Acting Undersecretary of Intelligence and Analysis, speaks about collaborating with non-DHS actors.
  • Somali group executes two for spying for CIA. Somalia’s al-Shabaab on Monday publicly executed two people accused of spying for the US Central Intelligence Agency and the country’s embattled government. Before the US-assisted Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, al-Shabaab (The Party of Youth) used to be the youth organization of the Somali Islamic Courts Union (ICU). Al-Shabaab shares the ICU’s mission of turning Somalia into an Islamic khalifat.
  • US intelligence veterans group backs CIA torture probe. The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) have authored a memorandum addressed to US President Barack Obama, in which they “voice strong support for Attorney General Eric Holder’s authorization of a wider investigation into CIA interrogation”.

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News you may have missed #0108

  • Fatah dismisses spy chief in West Bank. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has dismissed Palestinian General Intelligence Chief Mohammad Abu Assam. The dismissal appears to be part of a broader plan to unify the Palestinian Preventive Security Service and the General Intelligence Service, who have been fighting a notorious turf war for several years.
  • Indian Intelligence Bureau wants to block all VOIP Services. India’s Intelligence Bureau has instructed the country’s communications ministry to block all VOIP (internet-based) calls in the country until it figures out a mechanism to track them. It has also said it wants access to the content of all mobile phone calls in the country. Indian security agencies have been struggling with this issue since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, after it emerged that the attackers used VOIP software to communicate with the their handlers.
  • Is Afghan President’s brother a US informant? There is speculation that Ahmed Wali Karzai, notorious drug lord and younger brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, is in fact an informant for US intelligence agencies. It true, this would explain why he has been allowed by US agencies to operate freely in the country.

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