FBI investigates attorneys for trying to identify CIA torturers

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Washington Post and The New York Times are reporting three military attorneys at Guantánamo Bay have been questioned by the FBI for allegedly showing pictures of CIA operatives to prisoners accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks. In some cases, the pictures were taken surreptitiously outside the operatives’ homes. The lawyers were apparently trying to identify agents who may have been involved in torturing prisoners at US jails overseas. But US military officials say the lawyers could have broken laws shielding the identity of classified intelligence. The FBI investigation is reportedly headed by John Dion, head of the US Justice Department’s counterespionage section. Dion has worked on several high-profile national security cases, including the prosecution of Aldrich H. Ames, the CIA double agent who spied for the USSR. Read more of this post

Ex-DoD analyst accused of spying says he was FBI double spy

Larry Franklin

Larry Franklin

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Lawrence Anthony Franklin, the former US Defense Department analyst whose 12-year prison sentence was suspended last month, now claims he was an FBI informant in a case of alleged spying by the pro-Israeli lobby in Washington. Franklin was accused by the US government of handing classified military information to Uzi Arad, Naor Gilon, an Israeli Embassy official in Washington, as well as to Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, both lobbyists with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Besides Franklin, Rosen and Weissman were also taken to court by the FBI. Last May, however, US Justice Department prosecutors dropped all charges against the two former AIPAC members. It was just a matter of time before Franklin’s sentence was also suspended. Read more of this post

Obama administration opposes release of Cheney records in Valerie Plame case

Valerie Plame

Valerie Plame

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Obama administration officials are pressuring a US judge to stop the release of former US Vice President Dick Cheney’s records in the case of ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame. Plame sought compensation after she was publicly named as a secret CIA operative. Along with her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, she has fought a legal campaign, arguing that several Bush administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, and even President George W. Bush himself, were behind the leak of her CIA role. Cheney had a lengthy interview with prosecutors pursuing the leak case, but the transcripts of the exchange have so far remained secret, on national security grounds. Read more of this post

Wiretap whistleblower shunned by US Congress, media

Mark Klein

Mark Klein

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Those of you who have been following the ongoing revelations about STELLAR WIND, the National Security Agency (NSA) warrantless wiretapping scheme authorized by the Bush Administration in the wake of 9/11, will know about Thomas M. Tamm. Tamm was the Justice Department official who in 2005 first notified The New York Times about the existence of the project. But Tamm was not the only whistleblower in the case. He was joined soon afterwards by another insider, Mark Klein. Klein had just retired from AT&T as a communications technician when he read The New York Times revelations about STELLAR WIND. As soon as he read the paper’s vague description of the NSA project, Klein realized he had in his possession AT&T documents describing exactly how the company shared its customers’ telephone communications with the NSA, through a secret room at the AT&T Folsom Street facility in San Francisco. To this day, Klein remains the only AT&T employee to have come forward with information on STELLAR WIND. But, apparently, nobody cares. Read more of this post

Attorney behind NSA domestic wiretapping defends his views

John Yoo

John Yoo

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The former US Justice Department lawyer who authored legal memos sanctioning the legality of the Bush administration’s secret wiretapping program has defended his views. John Yoo, who on 9/11 was a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, has penned an article in The Wall Street Journal, in which he voices disagreement over a recently published US government report that criticizes the wiretap program’s secrecy and dubious legal basis. The report was authored by the Offices of Inspectors General of the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, CIA, NSA, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It says that the Bush administration’s decision to keep NSA’s domestic wiretap program secret even from senior Department of Justice and intelligence officials hampered the broader intelligence community’s ability to use the program’s output, and subverted the government’s ethical standing in the so-called “war on terrorism”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0026

  • US Attorney General considers torture probe. The Associated Press is among several news outlets reporting that Eric Holder is considering the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the use of torture by US intelligence agencies after September of 2001.
  • Iran’s invisible Nicaraguan embassy. The US State Department has been raising alarm bells about the Iranians supposedly “building a huge embassy in Managua”. But nobody in Nicaragua can find any super-embassy, The Washington Post reports.
  • Kim Jonh Il likely to die soon, CIA tells S. Korean spy agency. According to South Korean sources, the CIA now believes that Kim Jong-Il’s chances of surviving the next five years are less than 30%. Last June, intelNews relayed reports that Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il’s third son, appears to be his father’s most likely successor.

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News you may have missed #0018

  • Retired Romanian football star now admits being a spy. Earlier this week, Gheorghe Popescu, whose international career included playing for British teams, denied reports that he was an informer for Romania’s Securitate, the secret service of communist Romania. But on Thursday morning, the former Tottenham Hotspurs defender admitted that he did inform on teammates and other colleagues while playing for Universitatea Craiova. 
  • Grand jury hears from top CIA officers on destruction of tapes. A federal courtroom in Virginia has become the latest frontline in the Justice Department’s effort to uncover who at the CIA ordered in November of 2005 the incineration of 92 videotapes containing footage of torture applied on several “war on terrorism” detainees. Apparently, the tapes were kept for a long time in a safe at the CIA station in Thailand, where the interrogations took place. 
  • NSA to help defend civilian agency networks. The Obama administration is said to have decided to proceed with a Bush-era plan to use National Security Agency assistance in screening government computer traffic on private-sector networks. The decision, which had been rumored since last spring, was one of the reasons behind the March 2009 resignation of Rod Beckstrom, who headed the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cyber Security Center.

News you may have missed #0001

Unlike AIPAC lobbyists, retired DoD official to face charges

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
In a development that one observer described as “the tip of the iceberg with insider threats” at the US Pentagon, a retired official with the US Department of Defense has been charged with conspiracy to communicate classified information to a foreign agent. The US Department of Justice alleges that James Wilbur Fondren, Jr., 62, was part of a spy ring that operated on US soil under the supervision of Chinese government officials, whom Fondren supplied with several classified documents for over three years, beginning in 2004. According to US government prosecutors, six years after retiring from his high-level post at the US Pacific Command’s Washington Liaison Office, Lieutenant Colonel Fondren offered his private consulting services to Tai Shen Kuo, a Taiwanese-American handled by an intelligence agent of the People’s Republic of China. Read more of this post

Comment: AIPAC agents accused of spying may walk scot-free

Jane Harman

Jane Harman

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The controversy over Democratic Representative Jane Harman’s alleged telephone deal with a suspected agent of Israel is still raging. One of its unfortunate side effects has been to shift media attention away from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) involvement in the Lawrence Franklin spy case, and focus instead on Washington micro-politicking. But what about the two former AIPAC lobbyists who are technically at the center of the Harman imbroglio? Read more of this post

Comment: NSA listened in on Rep. Harman secret phone deal

Jane Harman

Jane Harman

By IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
Representative Jane Harman (D-CA) has been in the limelight since Sunday evening, when veteran national security correspondent Jeff Stein published an article alleging that the Democratic politician struck a quid pro quo deal with a suspected Israeli spy. In the article, Stein cites several unnamed “former national security officials” who say Harman’s incriminating telephone conversation with the suspected Israeli agent was picked up in 2005 by a FISA-authorized NSA wiretap. During the call, the agent asked Harman to pressure US Justice Department officials to show leniency toward two American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobbyists, who were arrested in 2005 for receiving classified information by convicted Israeli spy Lawrence Anthony Franklin. The two lobbyists, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, are still awaiting trial.

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NSA tried to spy on US Congress member

Thomas Tamm

Thomas Tamm

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An anonymous intelligence official has told The New York Times that the National Security Agency (NSA) attempted to wiretap the personal communications of a US Congressman without court approval. The gigantic US government agency, which is tasked with worldwide communications surveillance, as well as communications security, believed that the Congressman “was in contact […] with an extremist who had possible terrorist ties and was already under surveillance”, said the paper. NSA agents tried therefore to set in motion a warrantless communications interception operation against the Congressman, while he participated in a “Congressional delegation to the Middle East”, either in 2005 or 2006. Read more of this post

Secretive US court to relocate in symbolic move

Judge Lamberth

Judge Lamberth

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In 1978, in the wake of the Watergate scandal, US legislators attempted to curtail the government’s spying powers by instituting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). The court is supposed to handle requests by US counterintelligence agencies for surveillance of suspects operating inside the US. In reality, however, the court, which operates in total secrecy, has effectively become a rubber-stamp for the government, rarely turning down a request for a surveillance warrant. It usually rejects less than 1% of all requests each year; in 2007, the court denied only three of the 2,370 applications submitted to it by government agencies wishing to conduct surveillance operations. Even in rare instances when FISC does reject a warrant or two, another body, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR) re-examines the rejected cases and usually ends up granting them to the counterintelligence agencies that have requested them. Now, however, the secretive court has reportedly decided to take a symbolic step toward self-determination, by moving its headquarters from the US Department of Justice building to a newly built wing of Washington DC’s federal courthouse. Read more of this post

Obama officials toe Bush Administration secrecy line in rendition lawsuit

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Last Monday it emerged that the new US Attorney General, Eric H. Holder, ordered “a review of all claims of state secrets used to block lawsuits into warrantless spying on Americans and the treatment of foreign terrorism suspects”. US Justice Department spokesperson, Matt Miller, said the directive “will ensure the [state secrets] privilege is not invoked to hide from the American people information about their government’s actions that they have a right to know”. Despite Mr. Holder’s review order, however, the Obama Administration has chosen to retain the previous government’s “state secrets” clause to block a lawsuit filed by victims of CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. The case is Binyam Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan, a Colorado-based Boeing Corporation subcontractor that provided logistical support to the CIA’s prisoner transfer scheme. Read more of this post

MI6 agents accused of assisting corrupt Kazakh oil propaganda effort

Rakhat Aliyev

Rakhat Aliyev

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Until recently, Rakhat Aliyev was deeply embedded in Kazakhstan’s corrupt governing establishment. Having served for years as the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister and Director of Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee (the intelligence service, also known as KNB) he is uniquely aware of the annals of sleaze and fraud that dominate Kazakh political culture. In 2007, following his divorce with Dariga Nazarbayeva, eldest daughter of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Aliyev became estranged from the Kazakh leadership. He was stripped of his government positions, issued with an arrest warrant, and now lives in exile in Vienna, Austria. Soon after his estrangement from the Kazakh leadership, Aliyev began accusing President Nazarbayev of regularly receiving secret commissions from foreign oil companies operating in Kazakhstan, and of illegally expropriating state assets worth billions of US dollars. Read more of this post

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