News you may have missed #795

Shakil AfridiBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►US ‘cannot verify authenticity’ of Afridi interview. The US says it cannot verify an alleged interview by Shakeel Afridi, a Pakistani medical doctor who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden. In May, a Pakistani court sentenced Afridi to 33 years in jail after he was arrested following the killing by US troops of bin Laden in May 2011 at his compound in the town of Abbottabad. US television channel Fox News said Tuesday it had obtained an exclusive phone interview with Afridi from behind bars, in which he detailed months of torture by Pakistan’s shadowy Inter-Services Intelligence.
►►Evidence suggests US covered up Soviet massacre in Poland. New evidence appears to back the idea that the US administration of President F.D. Roosevelt helped cover up Soviet guilt for the 1940 Katyn massacre, in which more than 22,000 Poles were killed by the Soviets on Stalin’s orders. Historians said documents, released by the US National Archives, supported the suspicion that the US did not want to anger its wartime ally, Joseph Stalin. The documents show that American prisoners of war sent coded messages to Washington in 1943 saying that the killings must have been carried out by the Soviets, rather than the Nazis. Information about the massacre was suppressed at the highest levels in Washington, say historians.
►►Yemen President sacks intel agency heads. Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has sacked the heads of the National Security Agency and  Military Intelligence, just a few hours after two suicide car bombs targeted the country’s Defense Minister in the capital Sana’a killing at least 12 people. The National Security Agency’s Ali Mohammed al-Anisi has been replaced with Ali Hassan al-Ahmadi, while the head of Military Intelligence, Mujahid Ali Ghuthaim, has been replaced with Ahmed Muhsin al-Yafiee. Hadi took office in February this year after year-long street protests forced former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down as part of an UN-backed power transfer deal in return for immunity from prosecution.

US judge denies release of CIA report on Bay of Pigs invasion

Court documentsBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
On April 17, 1961, a brigade of 1,300 CIA-funded and -trained anticommunist Cubans mounted a surprise assault on the Caribbean island. But prior intelligence collected by  spies working for Havana, and stiff resistance by pro-Castro troops, resulted in the CIA’s biggest known covert action failure. Approximately 1,200 surviving members of the CIA’s army were captured by pro-Castro forces, many of whom were severely interrogated or executed in subsequent years. The intelligence fiasco led to a five-volume CIA report, whose final volume was authored in the early 1980s by CIA resident historian Jack Pfeiffer. It essentially contains the CIA’s counterargument to a previous report, authored by the Agency’s Inspector General, which placed the blame for the failure on the invasion squarely on the shoulders of the CIA. Volume III of the report was voluntarily released by the CIA in 1998, but was not discovered by researchers until 2005, when an academic found it among the Kennedy Assassination Records Collection at the US National Archives. Following an unsuccessful Freedom of Information Act request, George Washington University’s National Security Archive sued the CIA in 2011, eventually forcing the Agency to declassify Volumes I, II and IV last April. This left Volume V, which is the subject of an ongoing dispute between historians and the CIA. But in a decision aired late last week, US District Court judge Gladys Kessler agreed with the Agency that the volume was not subject to US declassification rules because it had been “rejected for inclusion in the final publication” of the report. According to judge Kessler, the volume written by Dr. Pfeiffer, the CIA historian, was not a finished product, but rather a draft manuscript, and was therefore exempt from public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #520

  • CIA director returns from Pakistan empty-handed. CIA Director Leon Panetta’s surprise visit to Pakistan last week yielded little, according to US officials. Panetta bypassed the protocol of first meeting with the president and prime minister, and instead met with Pakistan’s military and intelligence directors.
  • Chinese spying devices found in Hong Kong cars. A Hong Kong newspaper has alleged that the Chinese authorities have been secretly installing spy devices on all dual-plate Chinese-Hong Kong vehicles since July of 2007. Photographic evidence is here.
  • NSA releases over 50000 pages of documents. The US National Security Agency has announced that it has declassified and released to the US National Archives and Records Administration over 50,000 pages of historic records, covering a time-frame from before World War I through the 1960s.

Documents show Japan government aide was CIA mole

Shigeru Yoshida

Shigeru Yoshida

A senior military aide to Japanese Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida in the 1950s was an informant for the CIA, according to documents unearthed at the US National Archives. A CIA memorandum dated November 26, 1956, describes Lt. Gen. Eiichi Tatsumi (ret.), who advised the Japanese Prime Minister on defense matters, as “one of the best, safest, most qualified persons in Japan today for CIA use”. Waseda University professor Tetsuo Arima, who unearthed the documents, said the CIA codenamed Tatsumi POLESTAR-5. Bearing fresh memories from Japan’s destructive participation in World War II, the government of Prime Minister Yoshida refused calls to remilitarize Japan. But a hardcore group of senior military officials, including Tatsumi, who had fought in the war, wished to see Japan rearm. Washington, which interpreted Yoshida’s refusal to rearm as a friendly gesture to Russia, also wanted to see Japan remilitarize. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0126

  • Cyber spying increasing in the US, says new report. The Office of the US National Counterintelligence Executive’s annual report says that cyber attacks against US government and business targets “proliferated in fiscal year 2008”. The report also states that Blackberries and iPhones belonging to government and business personnel are becoming major targets by foreign cyber spies.
  • Analysis: The case for a US National Declassification Center. There is no argument about the fact that the US government’s declassification system simply doesn’t work. The way around the problem is to establish a centralized National Declassification Center, according to a National Archives and Records Administration white paper.
  • New Colombian spy agency forbidden from conducting wiretaps. Technically, the scandal-prone Administrative Department of Security (DAS) is no more in Colombia. The new agency, which is expected to replace DAS, will not be allowed to tap telephones, a function that will be solely entrusted to the police force. We’ll have to wait and see about that.

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CIA, still bitter about Cheney, rejects application to release memos

On April 20, former US Vice-President Dick Cheney urged the CIA to declassify several internal documents that “showed the success” of the Agency’s torture program against captured members of al-Qaeda. Several weeks earlier Cheney had actually applied to the US National Archives and Records Administration for the release of two internal documents pertaining to the torture controversy. But on Thursday, CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano issued an official letter rejecting Cheney’s application, because “the two memos […] were relevant to pending litigation” against the Agency. The CIA official assured reporters that the decision to reject Cheney’s application was made “[f]or that reason –and that reason only”. But insiders tell intelNews that Cheney’s clout with the CIA has been severely diminished, following his failure to come to the Agency’s rescue after a departing President Bush blamed the CIA for producing “false intelligence” on Iraq. Read more of this post

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