News you may have missed #0028

  • Iran could have the bomb in six months, says German intelligence. Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) alleges that if the Iranians “wanted to they could test a nuclear bomb within half a year.”
  • Australian PM threatens China over Rio Tinto spy case. Kevin Rudd warned China it has “economic interests at stake”, less than a week after Beijing arrested the Australian chief of the Anglo-Australian mine company’s iron ore operations in China.
  • 12 Mexico intelligence officers mutilated and killed. The mutilated bodies of the one female and 11 male federal intelligence officer were left in a heap beside a road in rural Michoacan state. Drug gangsters launched a brutal offensive against the Mexican government last Saturday, after the capture of their senior leader, Arnaldo “La Minsa” Rueda. “We’re waiting for you,” read a taunting sign left with the bodies.
  • NRO releases unclassified portions of 2009 budget. The super-secretive US National Reconnaissance Office, which is in charge of US satellite spying, has released fragments of its FY2009 Congressional Budget Justification Book. Incidentally, a couple of weeks ago there were rumors circulating in Washington that NRO may be broken up into several smaller agencies.

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US rewarding Colombia despite knowledge of military abuses, declassified records show

Earlier this year, the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation nominated Colombia as a leading candidate for economic assistance under the Millennium Challenge Act. The Act provides financial rewards to US allies “that enter into compacts with the United States to support policies and programs that advance the progress of such countries [toward] demonstrated commitment to just and democratic governance”. However, internal US government documents published yesterday by researchers at The National Security Archive, show that Colombia’s favored treatment by the US comes despite knowledge of serious and systematic abuses by the Colombian military and security establishment. According to the declassified documents, the CIA and senior US diplomats in Bogotá have known since at least 1994 that the country’s security forces (largely trained and backed by the US) systematically engage in “death squad tactics”, and collaborate with drug running cartels. Read more of this post

US State Department accused on spying on interfaith group

The International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) is a faith-based organization, established in 1919, with offices in over 50 countries. Current or past members of IFOR include several Nobel Laureates, among them Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel. In a statement released on December 17, IFOR has accused the US State Department of routinely intercepting “for two full years” the electronic communications of the organization’s US branch. Specifically targeted were communications concerning FOR’s Latin America program, generated both in the US and Colombia, the statement said. It also alleged that the spying on FOR appears to be part of a wider operation targeting “more than 150 e-mail accounts of human rights organizations, journalists, academics, and labor organizations”. Read more of this post

Reporter who helped expose CIA drugs scandal remembered

In August 1996, Garry Webb, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The San Jose Mercury News, published a trilogy of articles under the title “Dark Alliance”. In it, he openly alleged that the Reagan Administration, along with the active support of the CIA’s leadership, had allowed the Nicaraguan Contras to fund some of their operations against the Sandinistas by illegally trafficking cocaine into the United States. What followed Webb’s allegations was a barrage of demonization by virtually the entire US media industry, which discredited his professionalism and effectively ended his career. Read more of this post

CIA agents lied about killing missionaries, report reveals

In 1994, then US President Bill Clinton authorized a covert CIA operation to assist the Peruvian Air Force in preventing planes carrying narcotics from flying over that country’s territory. Among the results of this operation was the shooting down of a Cessna 185 floatplane on April 20, 2001, which the CIA suspected of transporting drugs from Colombia to Peru. The only problem was that there were no drugs on the plane. It was actually carrying an American Christian missionary family, including two children, who were on their way to Lima, Peru. The attack on the plane resulted in the death of the mother and one of the children. A still-classified report by the Office of the US Inspector General has now revealed what many CIA critics suspected, namely that the murder of the two Americans resulted from routine violation of intercept procedures by CIA operatives. What is more, not only did the CIA refuse to acknowledge its mistake, but CIA employees actually “misled and even lied to Congress about what happened and did not supply accurate information to the Department of Justice or the Bush administration”. Furthermore, the Agency “obstructed inquiries into its role in the shooting down” of the aircraft by “cover[ing] up evidence of its failings”. Reportedly, the CIA has yet to discipline anyone about these murders. Meanwhile, the mother and grandmother of the murdered victims, Gloria Luttig, has expressed her disgust about the fact that “some of the members of the CIA [involved in the incident] have been promoted” since the murders. [IA]


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