US Congressional probe finds DoD intelligence on Islamic State was altered

ISISAn investigation by Republican lawmakers in the United States House of Representatives has reportedly found that military intelligence analysts were pressured into changing reports on the Islamic State by their superiors. The investigation follows allegations made a year ago by analysts at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Pentagon’s primary human-intelligence agency. As many as 50 analysts claimed that their reports about the Islamic State were being deliberately tweaked by officials at the US Central Command (CENTCOM), the Pentagon body that directs and coordinates American military operations in Egypt, the Middle East and Central Asia. Some of the reports related to al-Qaeda activity in Iraq and Syria, but most were about the Islamic State, the militant Sunni organization that controls large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

The allegations prompted two separate investigations, one by the Department of Defense and one by a task force consisting of Republican members of three committees in the US House of Representatives —namely the Committee on Armed Services, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Defense Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations. According to The Daily Beast, the committees have now concluded their five-month investigation and are preparing to release a 10-page report before the end of August. Citing three unnamed US officials, the website claims that the soon-to-be-released report will corroborate claims by DIA analysts that their intelligence reports were deliberately doctored in order to make American efforts against ISIS seem more successful than they have been.

According to the three officials, who are reportedly “familiar with the task force’s findings”, the 10-page document will not corroborate claims that the pressure on the intelligence analysts was exercised by senior sources inside the White House. But they told the website that the Congressional investigation could continue after the release of the report. The Daily Beast said it contacted CENTCOM for a comment on the story, but was told that the Pentagon body has yet to receive the task force report. Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s own investigation into the analysts’ allegations continues and expected to release its findings by the end of 2016.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 11 August 2016 | Permalink


Israel reacts angrily to claims it spies on the United States

Embassy of Israel in Washington, DCBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS |
The government of Israel has reacted angrily to claims in the press that its spies are aggressively trying to steal American secrets. Tel Aviv instructed its embassy in Washington, DC, to “strongly protest” allegations, made by American newsmagazine Newsweek on Tuesday, that Israel’s spies “have gone too far” in targeting American interests. In an article published in Newsweek Tuesday, veteran intelligence correspondent Jeff Stein quoted Congressional staffers as saying that America’s Jewish allies had “crossed red lines” in their efforts to steal secrets from the United States. That was reportedly relayed to US lawmakers in classified briefings on Capitol Hill by officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, as well as the National Counterintelligence Directorate. At the closed-door briefings, members of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs and Judiciary committees were told that Israel’s espionage operations against US interests were both “unrivaled and unseemly” and had reached levels far higher than similar activities by other allied countries, such as Britain or Japan. One Congressional staffer told Stein that “no other country continues to cross the line on espionage like the Israelis do”. Another staffer, who was present during one of the classified briefings, described the information given to lawmakers as “very sobering […], alarming, even terrifying”. The Newsweek article reported that Tel Aviv’s main intelligence goal in America is to acquire inside information on US technical projects and industrial secrets. It added that this is done through Israel’s trade missions or through Israeli companies that work in collaboration with American firms. In other cases, Israeli intelligence operatives work directly out of the Israeli embassy in Washington. However, Aaron Sagui, a spokesman at the Israeli embassy in Washington, reacted angrily to Newsweek’s revelations, condemning what he called “outrageous, false allegations [that] are being directed against Israel”. He added that “Israel doesn’t conduct espionage operations in the United States, period”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #841 (Snowden leak analysis)

Edward SnowdenBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►US officials defend spy programs as safeguards against terror. Intelligence officials sought to convince US House lawmakers in an unusual briefing that the government’s years-long collection of phone records and Internet usage is necessary for protecting Americans —and does not trample on their privacy rights. The parade of FBI and intelligence officials who briefed the entire House on Tuesday was the latest attempt to soothe outrage over NSA programs which collect billions of Americans’ phone and Internet records.
►►Some in US intelligence see Chinese behind Snowden leak. Former CIA officer Bob Baer told CNN that some US intelligence officials “are seriously looking at [the revelations made by Edward Snowden] as a potential Chinese covert action. Hong Kong is controlled by Chinese intelligence”, Baer told CNN Sunday evening. “It’s not an independent part of China at all. I’ve talked to a bunch of people in Washington today, in official positions, and they are looking at this as a potential Chinese espionage case”.
►►Leak highlights risk of outsourcing US spy work. The explosive leak uncovering America’s vast surveillance program highlights the risks Washington takes by entrusting so much of its defense and spy work to private firms, experts say. Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old man whose leak uncovered how spy agencies sift through phone records and Internet traffic, is among a legion of private contractors who make up nearly 30 percent of the workforce in intelligence agencies. From analyzing intelligence to training new spies, jobs that were once performed by government employees are now carried out by paid contractors, in a dramatic shift that began in the 1990s amid budget pressures.

News you may have missed #742

'Spy rock' used in AfghanistanBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►Obama warns Congress of overspending on intelligence. The administration of US President Barack Obama is warning that it has “serious concerns” about a 2013 intelligence authorization bill that the House of Representatives passed on Thursday, because it authorizes spending on intelligence activities that go well beyond President Obama’s request. Despite this concern, the administration said that it “does not oppose” the Intelligence Authorization Act, HR 5743, instead supporting language that would repeal some reporting obligations that the government now has to Congress.
►►US forces use fake rocks to spy on Afghans. Palm-sized sensors, disguised as rocks, developed for the American military, will remain littered across the Afghan countryside –detecting anyone who moves nearby and reporting their locations back to a remote headquarters. Some of these surveillance tools could be buried in the ground, all-but-unnoticeable by passersby. These rocks contain wafer-sized, solar-rechargeable batteries that could enable the sensors’ operation for perhaps as long as two decades. Hmm…where have we seen this before?
►►Pakistan spy chief postpones US trip. Pakistan’s spymaster, Lieutenant-General Zahir ul-Islam, has postponed a trip to the United States in the latest sign of the dire state of relations between two supposed allies in the war against Islamist extremists. America has stepped up drone strikes on Pakistani territory in the week since the two countries failed to reach an agreement on NATO supply convoys at a summit in Chicago. Last week, officials in Washington also condemned Pakistan’s decision to jail a doctor who helped the CIA hunt Osama bin Laden.

News you may have missed #370

  • Ukrainians ‘not spying any more’ on Russian FSB. Ukrainian counterintelligence services have stopped monitoring Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officials stationed in Ukraine, according to a leading Ukrainian weekly. Ukrainian-Russian relations have dramatically improved since February, when Ukraine’s pro-Moscow leader Viktor Yanukovych was elected President.
  • US House votes to allow auditing of spy agencies. Despite several veto threats from the White House, the US House of Representatives has adopted an amendment to defense authorization bill HR 5136, which would give the Government Accountability Office the power to audit intelligence agencies.
  • Leading Turkish daily wiretapped. Turkish former deputy police chief Emin Aslan, who was arrested in 2009 in a drug trafficking investigation, says he was told in 2008 that the phone lines at Turkey’s leading daily Milliyet were wiretapped. The wiretapping appears to be connected to the notorious Ergenekon affair.

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Protestant alleges links between N. Ireland loyalists and British state

Raymond McCord

Ray McCord, Sr.

On November 9, 1997, Royal Air Force officer Raymond McCord Jr. was beaten to death in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by members of the Mount Vernon branch of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). McCord’s beating was one of many instances in which Northern Ireland’s most violent loyalist gang targeted members of its own Protestant community. The difference in McCord’s case was that his father, Raymond McCord Sr., decided to come forward and speak out about the decades-old collusion between Northern Irish loyalist paramilitaries and Britain’s security services. Despite repeated death threats and intimidation, McCord’s campaign prompted an official investigation into the matter by Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan. Her 2007 report confirmed that the leader of the Mount Vernon UVF, Mark Haddock, had been repeatedly protected by police authorities, despite being routinely implicated in extortion, blackmail, drug dealing and arson, as well as in dozens of paramilitary-style attacks that resulted in 16 murders and 10 attempted murders. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0224

  • Parts 6 and 7 of CIA defector’s writings now available. Former FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Eringer has published the sixth and seventh installments (chapters 2 and 3 of “The Spy’s Cookbook”) of the writings of Edward Lee Howard, a CIA officer who defected to the USSR in 1985 (see here for previous intelNews coverage). In part six, Howard writes about the methodology of visiting (among other places) the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC. In part seven, he advises that the only time a double agent’s handlers should call the agent’s home is to tell him or her to “get out and leave the country!”.
  • Congressional vote on US PATRIOT Act delayed. The US House of Representatives tabled on Wednesday legislation to reform US domestic surveillance law. The Senate is likewise expected to delay the matter. The delays will automatically extend provisions of the PATRIOT Act that would otherwise expire at year’s end.

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