US spy agencies still lack foreign language experts

Urdu script

Urdu script

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A US media outlet has finally followed up on the warnings, made by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last July, about the lack of trained foreign-language speakers in the US intelligence community. Following similar warnings by the US House intelligence panel in June, the Senate Intelligence Committee used the opportunity of its authorization (.pdf) of the 2010 intelligence budget to draw attention to “the continuing lack of critical language-capable personnel in the Intelligence Community, and the need to address this shortage”. According to The Washington Times, which noticed the Senate Committee’s brief but critical alert, US intelligence agencies remain “woefully short” of foreign-language speakers, let alone experts. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0045

  • Ex-CIA, -NSA director defends warrantless wiretapping. Michael Hayden, who was director of the CIA from 2006 to 2009 and of the NSA from 1999 to 2005, has penned an article in The New York Times, in which he says that the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program helped the US intelligence community “connecting the dots, something for which we were roundly criticized after Sept[ember] 11 as not sufficiently doing”.
  • US House intelligence panel member calls for new Church Committee. Rush Holt (D-NJ) a senior member of the US House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has called for a resuscitation of the Church and Pike investigations into intelligence practices of the 1970s.
  • BBC radio launches series on MI6. The BBC’s Radio 4 has launched today a new three-part series examining the 100-year history and operations of MI6, Britain’s foremost external intelligence agency. The programs, which can also be listened to online, include interviews with senior intelligence officers, agents and diplomats.

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News you may have missed #0043

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Comment: Not So Fast, Cyberwarriors! [updated]

Hoekstra

Hoekstra

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Rep. Peter Hoekstra wants to launch a cyberwar against North Korea. The Republican from Michigan, who heads his party’s delegation on the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, urged the US government last Thursday to “launch a cyber attack” or at least increase international sanctions on Pyongyang. Hoekstra urged this in response to a series of mysterious cyber-attacks that paralyzed major South Korean and US government websites for three days earlier this month. And he’s not alone. Last Friday, ABC News technology pundit Michael Malone effectively echoed Hoekstra and warned that “enemies of freedom everywhere” could use cyberterrorism to kill untold numbers of Americans by remotely controlling “fetal monitoring systems, surgical equipment, robotic bomb demolition equipment and ICBMs”. But South Korean cybersecurity specialists, who intensely monitor North Korean information systems, and were the ones who actually informed their US counterparts of the unfolding cyber-attacks on July 4, are not so sure that Pyongyang was behind the attacks. Read more of this post

Secret CIA program involved assassinations of suspects

CIA HQ

CIA HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Quoting “three former intelligence officials” The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that the secret CIA program, which recently alarmed Congress, involved summary killings and assassinations of al-Qaeda operatives. Although the plan’s details remain highly classified, it appears that the CIA sought to set up specialized assassination squads, staffed with US Special Forces personnel, in an attempt to copy the Israeli Mossad Operation Wrath of God (also known as Operation Bayonet) of the 1970s. Wrath of God, which involved targeted assassinations of individuals allegedly behind the 1972 Munich massacre, was described by Canadian journalist George Jonas in his 1984 book Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team, which also formed the basis for Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film Munich. The Wall Street Journal quotes an anonymous former US intelligence official who describes the CIA plan as coming “straight out of the movies […]. It was like: Let’s kill them all”. Read more of this post

Revelation of secret program prompted CIA spat with Congress [updated]

Leon Panetta

Leon Panetta

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
More information has emerged about the background to an ongoing dispute between the US House Intelligence Committee and the CIA, which intelNews has been covering since late last month. The Washington Post has now revealed that on June 24, CIA director Leon Panetta informed the US House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of his decision to terminate a CIA project, which the Agency had kept hidden from Congress since 2001. Nobody will publicly state what the secret project involved, except to say that it “was planned and never executed” and that it “never quite achieved its original concept” (whatever this means). Read more of this post

US House Intelligence Committee says routinely misled by CIA

Reyes

Reyes

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On June 23, intelNews reported on the endorsement by key lawmakers in Washington of a proposed bill that would force US intelligence agencies to make full disclosure of covert spy programs to all members of Congress’ intelligence oversight panels. Yesterday, US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), came out once again in support of the proposed legislation, saying that he has evidence that the Committee he chairs has been routinely “misled […] and […] affirmatively lied to” by the CIA. Reyes’ allegations were included in a letter to the committee’s Republican members, in which he urged them to support the proposed bill. According to the National Security Act of 1947, Congressional intelligence committees must be “fully and currently” informed about the activities of US intelligence agencies. In recent years, however, military and intelligence officials routinely make use of a classification label called Operational Preparation of the Environment (OPE), which allows them to shield certain activities from Congressional oversight. Read more of this post