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Tag Archives: Intelligence agencies

NSA documents show spy agency violated privacy rules

Al Ahed news

US intelligence officials declassified documents Tuesday revealing the National Security Agency violated privacy rules for three years when it sifted phone records of Americans with no suspected links to terrorists.

The revelations raised fresh questions about the NSA’s ability to manage the massive amount of data it collects and whether the US government is able to safeguard the privacy of its citizens.

The government was forced to disclose the documents by a judge’s order after a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit group promoting digital privacy rights and free speech.

The foundation called the release of the documents a “victory” for transparency but intelligence officials said the papers illustrated how the spy service had made unintentional “mistakes” that were rectified under strict judicial oversight.

The government “didn’t release these new NSA docs out of the goodness of their heart,” the foundation wrote in a tweet. “They were compelled to by @EFF’s lawsuit.”

The documents, including hundreds of pages of court orders, reveal privacy violations from 2006 to 2009 in NSA’s collection of phone records or “metadata,” as part of the agency’s effort to track potential terror plots.

The release came after the scale of NSA spying was exposed in a series of bombshell media leaks in recent months by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has sought asylum in Russia.

Earlier, the documents divulged by Snowden have shown the NSA conducts a massive electronic dragnet, including trawling through phone records and online traffic, that has sometimes flouted privacy laws.

According to papers released Tuesday, the NSA reported its privacy violations to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which found that the spy service was scooping up data “from United States persons not under investigation by the FBI,” according to one court ruling.

The NSA had been permitted by the court to only search phone numbers that had “reasonable articulable suspicion” of having links to terrorism.

But out of more than 17,000 numbers on a NSA list in 2009, the agency only had reasonable suspicion for about 1,800 of the numbers, two senior intelligence officials told reporters on Tuesday.

The declassified documents shed light on friction between the NSA and the court, with judges castigating the agency for failing to abide by their orders and misrepresenting the nature of their data collection.

The documents released “show that the NSA repeatedly violated court-imposed limits on its surveillance powers, and they confirm that the agency simply cannot be trusted with such sweeping authority,” said Alex Abdo, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The rights group has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the NSA’s collection of phone records.

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Jordan arrests officers over charges of misleading CIA

Press TV

Nearly a dozen officers have been arrested in Jordan on charges of misleading the United States Central Intelligence Agency, CIA.

According to sources in Jordan, the Americans had reportedly asked some high-ranking Jordanian officers to provide CIA with sensitive information on Syria, as the Jordanians were in good terms with their Syrian counterparts.

The officers, however, gave wrong and misleading information to the US intelligence service.

The incident made Jordan’s King Abdullah II order the arrest of at least six colonels and four officers.

The arrests have reportedly created jitters among army and people in Jordan…

Classified docs: US executes cyber and spy ops, fears intelligence breach

by Carlos Latuff

Al Ahed news

The US government suspects that roughly one out of every five individuals applying for jobs in the US intelligence community has connections with “hostile” groups, according to a classified budget document.

The US intelligence agencies reinvestigated thousands of employees in a bid to minimize the risk of disclosure of secrets, according to the document, which was provided to The Washington Post by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Last year, the NSA planned to launch around 4,000 investigations of potentially suspicious employees, who downloaded multiple documents or accessed classified databases they did not normally use for their work, the newspaper said citing two people familiar with the software used to monitor employee activity.

Despite their multimillion-dollar effort to hunt for potential insider threats, the spy agencies’ detection systems did not notice that Snowden was copying highly classified documents from different parts of the NSA’s networks, the Post pointed out.

Snowden, who in June revealed NSA’s spying activities on American citizens and foreign nationals, managed to flee to Hong Kong and then to Russia, where he remains after being granted temporary asylum.

Moreover, the newspaper revealed that United States has increased its spying operation on Pakistan, a US regional ally, according to top-secret budget documents. In a series of revelations that have put the US intelligence community under a spotlight, The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the CIA has expanded its effort to gather intelligence on Pakistan in a bid to address US concerns about “biological and chemical sites” in the Asian country.

The operation was also seeking “to assess the loyalties of counterterrorism sources recruited by the CIA,” the newspaper said citing the 178-page summary of the US intelligence community’s “black budget.”

“Pakistan appears at the top of charts listing critical US intelligence gaps. It is named as a target of newly formed analytic cells. And fears about the security of its nuclear program are so pervasive that a budget section on containing the spread of illicit weapons divides the world into two categories: Pakistan and everybody else,” the Post said.

Washington has given Islamabad $26 billion in aid over the past 12 years, seeking the Pakistani support in its war against the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.

“If the Americans are expanding their surveillance capabilities, it can only mean one thing,” the Post quoted Husain Haqqani, who until 2011 served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, as saying. “The mistrust now exceeds the trust.”

US spy services also carried out 231 “offensive cyber-operations” in 2011 alone, targeting Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, according to the documents.

Under an extensive effort code-named GENIE, US computer specialists break into foreign networks so that they can be put under surreptitious US control. Budget documents say the $652 million project has placed “covert implants,” sophisticated malware transmitted from far away, in computers, routers and firewalls on tens of thousands of machines every year, with plans to expand those numbers into the millions.

New Snowden revelation details vast US intelligence “Black Budget”

by Thomas Gaist, source

Friday saw yet another exposure of closely guarded US government secrets by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, as the Washington Post published an extensive budget report covering an array of US intelligence agencies. The $52.6 billion budget published by the Post, 178 pages in length, contains a wealth of documentation concerning the finances and activities of the US “intelligence community.” Some of the information in the leaked document is, however, being withheld “after consultation with US officials.”

As the budget document shows, since 9/11 the CIA has metastasized into a global paramilitary operation that kills and tortures people around the planet, carrying out a constant reign of terror and criminality behind the backs of the American people. Funds allocated since 9/11 have financed a massive growth of CIA activities, including the creation of enhanced interrogation programs, secret “black site” prisons, and the use of drones for strike missions by intelligence personnel. As the Post wrote, “The document describes a constellation of spy agencies that track millions of surveillance targets and carry out operations that include hundreds of lethal strikes.”

Billions of dollars are collectively allocated to fund this regime of global lawlessness, without any disclosure to the American people. The US has spent more than $500 billion on intelligence since the 2001 attacks, or over $100 million per day, and the CIA has seen a gigantic growth of its budget over this period. The CIA’s proposed budget for 2013 totaled $14.7 billion, for a 56 percent increase since 2004, while the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office were to receive over $10 billion each.

The budget contains massive outlays for information collection and processing by the CIA and NSA. The CIA spends $1.7 billion annually on data collection, and runs a joint signals intelligence collection effort with the NSA codenamed CLANSIG. The budget lists 35,000 employees as part of a “Consolidated Cryptologic Program” which brings together surveillance teams from the NSA and the four branches of the military. The NSA will also spend $48.6 million on problems related to “information overload,” that is, on efforts to manage the vast data streams being sucked in on a daily basis by the agency.

The budget also shows large allocations for military-style activities abroad run by the intelligence bureaucracies. US spy agencies will spend $4.9 billion for “overseas contingency operations” in 2013 alone. This will include $2.6 billion for covert operations carried out by the CIA, such as the secret wars the agency is waging in Pakistan and Yemen, and payments to proxy militias such as the Al Qaeda-linked proxy forces fighting against the Assad regime in Syria, including the al Nusra Front.

Staggering quantities of money are being spent to sustain America’s intelligence forces. The NSA itself will receive over $10 billion this year, all of which sustain NSA efforts to spy on the population of United States and of the entire world. Across the United States, schools are being gutted, jobs slashed, and medical facilities shuttered, yet well over $50 billion per a year is dedicated to unconstitutional spying, extra-judicial murder and systematic torturing in a global prison network.

The release of such detailed and comprehensive information about the intelligence budget to the public is unprecedented. As Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists told the Post, “a real grasp of the structure and operations of the intelligence bureaucracy has been totally beyond public reach. This kind of material, even on a historical basis, has simply not been available.”

This information about the intelligence bureaucracies and their activities has become available only as a result of Snowden’s actions. The danger that its secrets could be revealed by principled opponents of spying such as Snowden has not been lost on the NSA, however, and the documents show repeated investigations of thousands of analysts this year as part of an attempt to avoid “potential insider compromise of sensitive information.”

That an attack on Syria is going ahead anyway despite massive popular opposition is an expression of the domination of the American state by Wall Street and the vast military-intelligence apparatus exhibited in Snowden’s latest release. These forces are determined to attack Syria, and from all appearances they will carry out their bloody plans. Responsibility for launching another neocolonial catastrophe lies with the reactionary social interests that control the US economy and state, the capitalist class and the upper-middle class layers that defend capitalist rule.

These are the same forces that have poured weaponry into Syria to fund opposition militias dominated by Al Qaeda. Today, in the face of overwhelming opposition, they are pressing for a war in which US planes will ride to the rescue of US-backed Al Qaeda fighters on the ground, in the name of upholding “international norms.” And, as the budget document’s assertion makes clear—that operations are “strategically focused against the priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel”—operations in Syria are only a prelude to confrontation with the other major powers. Pakistan is also referred to as an “intractable target.”

According to the authoritarian legal doctrines that have gained influence with the growth of the national security state and the financial oligarchy, which derive from the theories of Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt, the existence of exceptional circumstances, such as a terrorist threat, authorizes the state to override all legal protections, such as those guaranteed by the US Bill of Rights. The prevalence of such conceptions only points to the underlying reality: the intelligence bureaucracy and the social forces that control it are effectively above the law, and will tolerate no limits on their power.

It is only a matter of time before these instruments of repression are turned against mass struggles within the United States itself. Faced with the deep crisis of world capitalism, the ruling elites will increasingly seek to rely on war abroad and military-police repression at home in defense of their privileges.

Panama arrests Ex-CIA chief of station wanted by INTERPOL for abduction of Muslim cleric

by Joseph Fitsanakis, source

A retired 21-year veteran of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, who is wanted by INTERPOL for participating in the abduction of a Muslim cleric in Italy, has been detained by police in Panama. Robert Seldon Lady was the CIA’s station chief in Milan in 2003, when a team of 23 Americans, most of them CIA officers, abducted Mustafa Osama Nasr. The CIA suspected the Egyptian-born Nasr, known also as Abu Omar, of working as a recruiter for a host of radical Islamist groups, including al-Qaeda.

On February 17, 2003, Nasr was seized in dramatic fashion by a group of CIA operatives in broad daylight in Milan. He was stuffed into an unmarked white van and eventually ended up in Egypt, where he was tortured before being released. Nasr’s case helped raise awareness of the US government’s extraordinary rendition program. Under the controversial program, suspected terrorist operatives were secretly taken to third-party countries where they were subjected to aggressive interrogation techniques. Italian authorities were irritated by Nasr’s kidnapping, which they claimed took place without the consent of the Italian government. There are also reports that the Italian intelligence services were monitoring Nasr at the time and were trying to recruit him as a source, which might explain why they were incensed when the Egyptian was snatched by the CIA without their authorization.

Lady and several other CIA operatives involved in Nasr’s abduction were subsequently identified in a judicial investigation by Italian authorities, which also exposed the American team’s careless spy tradecraft. The latter included unsecured cell phone calls to each other in the days before the abduction, and extravagant bills incurred while staying in luxury Italian hotels. The US government refused to acknowledge that most of the 23 identified Americans were CIA operatives and pressured the Italian authorities to drop all charges. But Washington’s efforts failed and the Americans were convicted in absentia in 2005.

According to the Italian media, Lady was arrested by police near Panama’s border with Costa Rica on Wednesday, soon after he entered the country. There is no mention in the Italian press of the reasons why Lady, who is wanted by INTERPOL in pursuance of a formal request issued by Rome, was traveling outside the United States. It is also unclear whether the Panamanian authorities were acting at the behest of the Italian government. Italy now has two months to file a formal extradition request for Lady, who has been convicted to nine years in prison for his role in Nasr’s kidnapping. The CIA has declined to comment on Lady’s reported arrest and possible extradition.

US and Israeli intelligence: The practice of torture

by Ron Jacobs, source

Uncovering documented instances of torture is a challenge. That challenge grows even greater when the torture one is investigating is undertaken by agencies whose definition demands secrecy and cover up. Therefore, when I began this article by looking for instances of torture committed by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Israel’s Shin Bet, I met nothing but dead ends and cul de sacs. It was only after I discovered documents unearthed by Wikileaks and various Israeli human rights agencies that I was able to proceed. The process involved is comparable to going back in time. A certain instance of torture is presented in the human rights report and traced back from there. While this piece is primarily discussing torture by US and Israeli intelligence agencies in a general manner, it is the specific cases that validate that discussion.

One does not need to be reminded that torture is an accepted method when it comes to interrogating prisoners today. This is true no matter whether the torturer is working for an acknowledged authoritarian regime like Mubarak’s Egypt or a supposedly democratic, liberal regime like the United States or Israel. Despite the desire of those agencies and governments involved with these interrogations to hide their methods from the public, the facts do come out. After all, unless the victims of torture are killed or permanently and completely removed from any human contact, sooner or later someone will hear their story. This became clear most recently when prisoners held in various US/CIA prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq were able to detail what had happened to them during interrogation. Furthermore, it was the leaks to the media by military members and the arrogant acknowledgement of torture by the US administration under George Bush that made it clear how widespread torture actually was. Official announcements of “enhanced interrogation methods” still being used are no longer broadcast, so if they are still in use, the public is not being told.

Most of the methods publicly acknowledged by the Central Intelligence Agency, the US military and the contractors in the Agency’s employ are methods also known to be used by the Israeli agency Shin Bet. Indeed, a report by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem published on January 1, 2011 discusses a 1999 Israeli high court ruling that ruled “that Israeli law does not empower ISA interrogators to use physical means in interrogation, and that the specific methods discussed in the petition filed were illegal.” In the article (and elsewhere on their website) the methods discussed include sleep deprivation, beatings, painful cuffing, sudden pulling of the body, sudden twisting of the head, the “frog” crouch, and bending the back (the “banana” position), among other physical manipulations. These methods are not applied singularly, but in combination and over an extended period of time. After the court ruling and the report of the Landau Commission (which found instances similar to the court but was not as certain as to their illegality), the number of instances of torture by Shin Bet and other Israeli agencies supposedly diminished. However, they have not ended… in fact, whenever a so-called “ticking bomb” scenario appears, harsher interrogation methods are usually applied.

As anyone who has even followed the discussion around the recently released US film Zero Dark Thirty knows, it is the ticking bomb scenario that provides supporters of torture with their rationale for defending it. This discussion usually leads to more and more exceptions to the unacceptance of torture by its adherents and, one assumes, those who actually administer the interrogations.

In 2007 B’thslem and HaMoked issued another report regarding Shin Bet practices six years after the high court ruling that was supposed to have forbidden torture by Israeli Security agencies, The report, wrote “…the ISA routinely operates an interrogation system involving the psychological and physical ill-treatment of interrogees. This system includes several key aspects: The isolation of the interrogee from the outside world; the use of conditions of incarceration as a means to apply psychological pressure and to debilitate the interrogee physically; the shackling of the interrogee in painful positions; the humiliation of the interrogee; and the use of threats. In a minority of cases, probably those defined as “ticking bombs,” the ISA also uses violent interrogation methods that constitute full-scale torture (beating, the tightening of handcuffs, the sudden pulling of the body, the bending of the back, and so on).”

There are literally thousands of accounts by Palestinian detainees describing the torture dealt to them while in Israeli custody. Indeed, as the B’Tselem/HoMoked report made clear: “It should be emphasized that, far from being used only in special circumstances, torture methods are used against a large number of Palestinian detainees. According to the last official estimate, some 23,000 Palestinians were interrogated by the GSS between 1987 and 1994. According to the experience of B’Tselem and other human rights organizations, it is very rare indeed that the GSS interrogates Palestinians without using at least some of the methods described below. In 1995, following the death of a Palestinian detainee as a result of “shaking”, the then Prime Minister, the late Yitzhak Rabin, said that this method had been used against 8,000 detainees.”

The CIA is well known for its practice of torture, too. In a moment of unusual candor, General Barry McCaffrey once stated while discussing the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001: ‘We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the CIA.’”(Cohn, Marjorie. NLG Review) Rarely has there been such a bold admission by a top military or intelligence official regarding overt violations of US and international laws. The normal procedure is to violate the laws and hope the violations go unnoticed. A prime example of this in recent years has been the CIA program of rendition. Under this program, US intelligence agents (or contractors working for the agency) have kidnapped individuals, hooded and bound them, and sent them to be tortured and interrogated in countries throughout the world. Recent revelations about this program since the so-called global war on terror was initiated listed at least fifty-four countries throughout the world that participated at the CIA’s behest.

On November 5, 2009, the London Times reported that twenty-three Americans, including Robert Seldon Lady, a former CIA base chief in Milan, were tried and convicted by an Italian court in 2009. These convictions were in regards to the rendition and torture of Abu Omar, an Egyptian cleric who was kidnapped in Milan, Italy and transferred to Germany, then to Egypt where he was tortured. All but one of those convicted were CIA agents. The Italian government has not sought extradition although all of the convicted were sentenced to at least five years in prison. Germany would also have prosecuted except that the US refused to provide relevant information to prosecutors.

In 2005, hundreds of photographs were released to the media around the world. These photos showed individuals in US military uniforms torturing and sexually abusing Iraqi prisoners in Abu Gharaib prison. The release of the photographs provoked an outcry around the world. They also caused the Washington denial machine to go into high gear. Administrators in the Pentagon, Defense Department and the White House issued statements disavowing any knowledge of the torture and abuse. Instead, these officials and other spokespeople told the media and public that the torturers were acting on their own and that the United States did not condone torture. Simultaneously, the US Congress worked in concert with the military and White House to block the publication of more pictures, some which reportedly provided even more graphic detail of the torture administered in the US-run prisons of Iraq.

When all was said and done, the public knew very little about the actual chain of command regarding this torture. Legal justifications written up by White House legal counsel were shown to have been written before the torture was alleged to have taken place. These documents are little more than rationales redefining torture in order to justify what were now termed “enhanced interrogation methods.” The methods included many of the stress positions also used by Shin Bet against Palestinians and others, along with various forms of psychological torture and even the practice of waterboarding. All of the techniques utilized are considered torture under UN conventions, yet by merely renaming them, the White House and Pentagon convinced themselves, their underlings, and enough of the US public that they did not torture. While these practices certainly continue (albeit most likely on a smaller scale), any outcry has been limited to a few antiwar, human rights and religious organizations.

As Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights makes clear in his book The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld, the legal rationalization for the US torture of its prisoners is based on a false premise. In addition, the argument used to legitimize the premise is poorly made and ultimately wrong and illegal. Yet, dozens, if not hundreds, of human beings have been tortured using this false and illegal premise. The case presented in the The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld is straightforward and reasoned and based on decades of accepted universal practices and understanding of the definition of war crimes. It is also the basis for the case made by Ratner and others in the German courts in 2006. Unfortunately, in what most assuredly was a political decision, the German government prosecutor refused to pursue the case.

What did become clear from the uproar around the leaked Abu Ghraib photos was the following. The CIA hired so-called contractors to extricate information from Iraqi (and one assumes Afghan) prisoners. These individuals were trained by CIA operatives and others. They were given leeway in utilizing their training and, if they went beyond accepted methods, their status as contractors provided the US government and its agencies with a legal deniability. Some of the corporations involved in this web of torture included Blackwater (now Academi), Engility, (formerly known as L-3 Services and Titan Corporation), and CACI International. Of these, only Engility was forced to pay any type of compensation. None of the corporations and their employees faced any criminal charges.

According to the Center of Constitutional Rights (CCR):

The reason is because the private military contractors have raised many legal defenses– many of which we have argued are plainly inapplicable to private corporations – which have taken up the court’s time and resources. So far, CACI and Titan/L-3 have focused the courts on any question but whether the plaintiffs were tortured. The following are several of the defenses claimed by the contractors: – government contractor defense argues that contractors were operating under the control of the U.S. military and therefore cannot be held liable for their actions because all they were doing is what the government told them to do and the actions of the government in “combat” cannot be reviewed by a court.

– political question doctrine argues that the lawsuits deal with fundamentally political or policy choices that courts should refrain from reviewing and, in light of the separation of powers, should leave to the executive or legislative branches;
– derivative immunity argues that that their behavior constituted combatant activities for which the United States is itself immune and for which contractors, in turn, should be immune.

Furthermore, a majority of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia created a new defense when they dismissed Saleh v. Titan under a “battlefield preemption” theory, which essentially aims to bar civil lawsuits from addressing abuses and other torts that occur on a “battlefield.” Of course, plaintiffs challenge that the torture at issue in these cases constitutes “combat” and that Abu Ghraib and other prisons are “the battlefield.” This defense, if allowed to stand, could have far reaching consequences for contractor accountability.

In short, the contractors deny their liability and so do the government agencies that hired them to do their dirty work. In other words, the plan worked exactly as it was designed to work.

Torture by intelligence agencies is difficult to prove. This is precisely how these agencies want it to be. The examples of torture and its denial discussed in this article are anecdotal evidence of a regime of torture much deeper and complex than acknowledged by the governments involved and the mainstream media. It is only through the work of nonprofits like the above-quoted Center for Constitutional Rights, the Asian Human Rights Commission and media such as the journal this originally appeared in (Torture: Asian And Global Perspectives) that the facts about torture will ever be revealed.1

  1. Bibliography:B’TSelem/Hamoked. “Absolute Prohibition. The Torture and Ill-Treatment of Palestinian Detainees.” May 2007.

    B’TSelem/Hamoked. “Kept in the Dark: Treatment of Palestinian Detainees in the Petah Tikva Interrogation Facility of the Israeli Security Agency.” October 2010

    Center for Constitutional Rights. “Accountability for Torture by Private Military Contractors.” New York. 2011

    Cohn, Marjorie. “Free Pass for Torturers.” National Lawyers Guild Review. 2011 (68)

    Owen, Richard. “23 CIA agents are sentenced over ‘extraordinary rendition’ kidnap: Italy.” The Times. November 5. 2009.

    Ratner, Michael. The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book. New York. The New Press. 2008. []

“Digital Blackwater” rules: The NSA black box in a black hole

by Pepe Escobar, source

The judgment of Daniel “Pentagon Papers” Ellsberg is definitive; “There has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material”. And that includes the release of the Pentagon Papers themselves. Here is the 12-minute video by The Guardian where Snowden details his motives.

By now, everything swirling around the US National Security Agency (NSA) points to a black box in a black hole. The black box is the NSA headquarters itself in Fort Meade, Maryland. The black hole is an area that would include the suburbs of Virginia’s Fairfax County near the CIA but mostly the intersection of the Baltimore Parkway and Maryland Route 32.

There one finds a business park a mile away from the NSA which Michael Hayden, a former NSA director (1999-2005) told Salon’s Tim Shorrock is “the largest concentration of cyber power on the planet”. [1] Hayden coined it “Digital Blackwater”.

Here is a decent round up of key questions still not answered about the black hole. But when it comes to how a 29-year old IT wizard with little formal education has been able to access a batch of ultra-sensitive secrets of the US intelligence-national security complex, that’s a no-brainer; it’s all about the gung-ho privatization of spying – referred to by a mountain of euphemisms of the “contractor reliance” kind. In fact the bulk of the hardware and software used by the dizzying network of 16 US intelligence agencies is privatized.

A Washington Post investigation found out that US homeland security, counter-terror and spy agencies do business with over 1,900 companies. [2] An obvious consequence of this contractor tsunami – hordes of “knowledge” high-tech proletarians in taupe cubicles – is their indiscriminate access to ultra-sensitive security. A systems administrator like Snowden can have access to practically everything.

“Revolving door” does not even begin to explain the system. Snowden was one of 25,000 employees of Booz Allen Hamilton (“We are visionaries”) for the past three months. [3] Over 70% of these employees, according to the company, have a government security clearance; 49% are top secret (as in Snowden’s case), or higher. The former director of national intelligence Mike McConnell is now a Booz Allen vice president. The new director of national intelligence, the sinister-looking retired general James Clapper, is a former Booz Allen executive.

At least US – and world – public opinion may now have a clearer idea of how a Pashtun girl in Waziristan is obliterated by a “targeted strike”. It’s all a matter of this privatized NSA-collected meta-data and matrix multiplication leading to a “signature”. The “terrorist” Pashtun girl of course may eventually morph in the near future into a dangerous tree-hugger or a vocal political protester.

It’s all China’s fault

True to form, as soon as Snowden revealed his identity US corporate media privileged shooting the messenger instead of poring over the message. That included everything from cheap character assassination to the usual former CIA asset spinning that in Washington many were looking at Snowden as an agent in a potential Chinese espionage plot.

Much has also been made of the John Le Carre-esque plot twist of Snowden leaving his tranquil life in Hawaii and flying to Hong Kong on May 20, because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”. Hong Kong-based blogger Wen Yunchao memorably described it as Snowden having “left the tiger’s den and entered the wolf’s lair”. Yet Snowden’s visa stamp at Chek Lap Kok airport lasts for 90 days – plenty of time to ponder the next move.

Since 1996, before the British handover to China, an extradition treaty applies between the tiger and the wolf. [4] The US Department of Justice is already surveying its options. It’s important to remember that the Hong Kong judicial system is independent from China’s – according to the Deng Xiaoping-conceptualized “one country, two systems”. As much as Washington may go for extraditing Snowden, he may also apply for political asylum. In both cases he may stay in Hong Kong for months, in fact years.

The Hong Kong government cannot extradite anyone claiming he will be persecuted in his country of origin. And crucially, article 6 of the treaty stipulates, “a fugitive offender shall not be surrendered if the offence of which that person is accused or was convicted is an offence of a political character.” Another clause stipulates that a fugitive shall not be surrendered if that implicates “the defense, foreign affairs or essential public interest or policy” of – guess who – the People’s Republic of China.

So then we may have a case of Hong Kong and Beijing having to reach an agreement. Yet even if they decided to extradite Snowden, he could argue in court this was “an offence of a political character”. The bottom line – this could drag on for years. And it’s too early to tell how Beijing would play it for maximum leverage. A “win-win” situation from a Chinese point of view would be to balance its commitment to absolute non-interference in foreign domestic affairs, its desire not to rock the fragile bilateral relation boat, but also what non-pivoting move the US government would offer in return.

The ultimate Panopticon

The usual rabid right-wingers in the US predictably skip the fact of how Snowden does not see intelligence analysts – and even the US government, per se – as inherent “bad guys”. [5] What he stressed is how they all work under a false premise; “If a surveillance program produces information of value, it legitimizes it … In one step, we’ve managed to justify the operation of the Panopticon”.

Oh yes, make no mistake; Snowden has carefully read his Michel Foucault (he also stressed his revulsion facing “the capabilities of this architecture of oppression”).

Foucault’s deconstruction of the Panopticon’s architecture is now a classic (see it here in an excerpt of his 1975 masterpiece Discipline and Punish). The Panopticon was the ultimate surveillance system, designed by utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century. The Panopticon – a tower surrounded by cells, a pre-Orwellian example of “architecture of oppression” – was not originally conceived for the surveillance of a prison, but of a factory crammed with landless peasants on forced labor.

Oh, but those were rudimentary proto-capitalist days. Welcome to the (savagely privatized) future, where the NSA black hole, “Digital Blackwater”, lords over all as the ultimate Panopticon.

Notes:

1. Digital Blackwater: Meet the Contractors Who Analyze Your Personal Data, Alternet, June 10, 2013.
2. Top Secret America, Washington Post, June, 2010.
3. See here for company website.
4. See here for extradition treaty.
5. Code name ‘Verax’: Snowden, in exchanges with Post reporter, made clear he knew risks, Washington Post, June 10, 2013.

Petraeus scandal expands to cabinet as Benghazi ties hinted

After Resigning in Disgrace, Petraeus ‘Too Busy’ to Testify

by Jason Ditz, source

Iraq Commander turned CENTCOM Commander turned Afghanistan Commander turned CIA Director David Petraeus spent the weekend unemployed, having resigned on Friday in the face of evidence he gave his girlfriend access to classified data.

But despite what one would figure is a wide open schedule, with his government career in tatters and his political future presumably dead, indications are that the “retired” general is “too busy” to testify on the September 11 attack on the Benghazi Consulate.

But the scandal surrounding both the literal and figurative Petraeus Affair continues to grow with or without him, and has even has a potential Benghazi link now, with the discovery that Petraeus’s girlfriend Paula Broadwell recently made a claim that the Benghazi attack was centered not on the consulate but on the CIA safehouse, which she insists was housing detainees.

The CIA denies this, but a claim that was totally ignored at the time because there was no reason to take Broadwell’s word for it, is getting a lot more attention now that it is known she had classified documents on her personal computer and could well have had inside access on the CIA’s info on the attack.

Broadwell’s classified data access is also having fallout beyond Petraeus now, witheyes turning on Attorney General Eric Holder, who knew about the investigation for months but reportedly kept it a secret until the end of the November 6 election, at which time he told DNI James Clapper, who advised Petraeus to resign.

There was already a lot of anger about the FBI not coming forward with information to Congress about the investigation as soon as it was apparent that there was a national security component, but if it turns out the Justice Department deliberately kept it under wraps to avoid any political fallout before the election, the scandal is even bigger.

And that could be the tip of the iceberg. If Broadwell’s claims about the CIA holding detainees in Benghazi also turns out to be true, that whole separate scandal is potentially far bigger, as keeping that secret, along with the administration’s already shaky history of truth-telling on Benghazi, could suggest there really was a cover-up in the wake of the attack on the consulate, that the Obama Administration lied about ending the use of CIA black sites, and got their own ambassador killed in doing so.

The possible fallout of all that, even coming after the presidential election, is virtually unfathomable, and as a part of the story continues to center on a sordid affair the real information about very really issues seems to be coming out as well.

Possible new CIA director already politically compromised

Jane Harman and Israeli Spying

by ALISON WEIR, source

*click original source for links

It is astounding to find that one of the handful of prospects being floated to become CIA director following the fall of General David Petraeus is a person reportedly implicated in a 2005 Israeli spy scandal.

CNN, Politico, and others have all listed former Congresswoman Jane Harman as a potential new CIA head. Oddly, however, none have mentioned reports in 2006 and again in 2009 that an NSA wiretap in 2005 had picked up Harman promising a suspected Israeli agent that she would aid people indicted for espionage on behalf of Israel.

According to reports, Harman allegedly told the Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two top officials for the powerful Israel lobby organization, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

In return, the suspected Israeli agent (who may have been a dual-citizen American) reportedly pledged to help lobby for Harman to become chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Harman was already the ranking Democrat on the committee.

At the end of the conversation, Harman reportedly said: “This conversation doesn’t exist.”

The two AIPAC officials had been indicted for illegally obtaining classified documents about Iran and passing these on to Israel. They also gave them to prominent Washington Post journalist Glenn Kessler, whose speaker bio lists three topics: “Global Affairs, Jewish Interest, Middle East Issues.”

One of the indicted AIPAC officials has since defended himself by stating that his actions were routine for AIPAC – that AIPAC staffers regularly obtain and hand on classified U.S. information to Israel and others.

AIPAC, worried at public exposure caused by the indictments, fired the two men. Subsequent lawsuits over their firing provided considerable information, from sleazy details about AIPAC high officials to the fact that dozens of AIPAC donors had provided monetary assistance to the two men, despite evidence that they had leaked classified U.S. documents to a foreign country.

Among these donors were Slim-Fast billionaire Daniel Abraham, philanthropist Lynn Schusterman, and Haim Saban, an Israeli-American who is one of the major donors to Democratic candidates. Saban, who is close to Harman, says his “greatest concern is to protect Israel.” (His wife was recently nominated to be US ambassador to the UN.)

Harman, who frequently speaks at AIPAC events, is widely known for her strong advocacy for Israel and of Middle East wars on behalf of it.

She backed the attack on Iraq and now similarly maintains that Iran is a threat to Americans, despite the fact that Iraqquickly turned into a tragic, unnecessary, and disastrously costly debacle; that Iraq had none of the weapons of mass destruction that had been claimed; and that current claims against Iran are similarly tenuous.

The Jewish Forward calls her a “pro-Israel stalwart,” and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports, “Harman is beloved by the pro-Israel lobby and is a sure-bet appearance at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference.”

According to Open Secrets, Harman was one of the top recipients of pro-Israel campaign donations.

JTA reported that her departure from Congress in 20011, “earned her an unusually effusive statement of regret from AIPAC director Howard Kohr.”

Like AIPAC, Harman currently pushes the alleged need, often promoted by flawed media reports, for the U.S. to address what she claims is Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, despite the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies continue to find that Iran is actually not developing them. (She also neglects to mention that Israel has a stockpile of nuclear weapons and has refused to sign the nonproliferation treaty).

In her nine terms in Congress, Harman focused on military and security affairs and served on all the major security committees: six years on Armed Services, eight years on Intelligence, and four on Homeland Security.

Harman, who was married to billionaire Sidney Harman, owner of Newsweek, until his death last year, was listed as the second-richest member in congress.

Harman resigned from Congress in 20011 to head up the Washington DC Woodrow Wilson Center, part of theSmithsonian. The Wilson Center is listed as the 16th most powerful think tank in the world.

Like Harman, the longtime chair of the Wilson Center, Joseph B. Gildenhorn, is extremely close to Israel. He endowed theInstitute for Israel Studies at the University of Maryland and may at one point have been an AIPAC board member. Wilson Co-chair Sander R. Gerber has been an AIPAC board member for many years.

In explaining her decision to leave Congress in order to direct the Wilson Center, Harman said: “Serving at its helm provides unique opportunities to involve the House and Senate, top experts and world leaders in ‘great debates’ about the most pressing foreign and domestic policy matters.”

While Congressional Quarterly’s Roll Call contains an article in which Harman denies the espionage-related reports, the publication seems to have taken down the report to which Harman was responding and to which numerous other articleslink: “Sources: Wiretap Recorded Rep. Harman Promising to Intervene for AIPAC,” by Jeff Stein, Congressional Quarterly, April 19, 2009. (It’s unclear whether the removal of Stein’s article is related to the fact that three months after the story broke, Congressional Quarterly was bought by the Economist Group.)

In the report, investigative journalist Jeff Stein provided additional details about the incident and explained that whether or not Harman delivered on her promise (she did not attain her desired chairmanship), the making of the promise was sufficient to constitute, in legal terms, a “completed crime.”

Despite considerable outcry and calls for a Justice Department investigation, Harman eluded prosecution, the expected full investigation of the powerful southern California Democrat never happened, and Harman’s allegedly subversive actions seem to have dropped from sight.

While former Petraeus deputy (and currently acting director) Michael J. Morell seems to be the current frontrunner for CIA head, Harman and others are reported to still be in the running. Also, Morell could prove to be a temporary choice to prevent a lapse in leadership while the long-term director is chosen.

If Harman does becomes CIA director, her appointment would no doubt be greeted with glee by the Israeli government. Whether or not Harman made treasonous promises to an Israeli agent, there is no doubt that she is a committed advocate for the Israeli regime.

Americans, on the other hand, might have less reason for joy.

* * *

For more information on the incident, see TPM, Salon, Time, Stephen Walt, the New York Times, Antiwar.com and C&L.

For more information on the AIPAC case, see the investigative work by Grant Smith at the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy – IRmep.

For more information on the pro-Israel lobby, see Introduction to the Israel Lobby by the Council for the National Interest.

WSJ: Attacked Libyan mission mainly CIA operation

Moqawama

The US Wall Street Journal uncovered Friday: “The US mission in Benghazi that came under attack on September 11 was mainly a secret Central Intelligence Agency operation.”

This revealed information came as US President Barack Obama’s administration has faced a storm of pre-election questions about why there was not more security at the US consulate where four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed.

“The mission was mainly a CIA operation, adding that of the 30 American officials evacuated from Benghazi following the assault, just seven worked for the State Department,” WSJ stated.

It also identified the two security contractors killed in the attack — former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty — as working for the CIA and not the State Department.

In a break from tradition, it said “CIA Director David Petraeus did not attend the ceremony when the coffins arrived back on American soil in order to conceal the CIA operation in eastern Libya.”

Meanwhile, the daily clarified: “the nearly two dozen CIA operatives secretly worked out of a separate building known as the “annex,” where officials at the consulate had retreated following the initial attack before coming under fire again.”

It further suggested that “the security lapse may have been due to miscommunication between the CIA and the State Department, with the latter assuming the annex security team was a sufficient backup for its own guards.”

“They were the cavalry,” it quoted a senior US official as saying.

In parallel, the journal revealed that “day after the attack, the CIA sent Libyan security officials to the annex to destroy classified documents and sensitive equipment while leaving the charred and ransacked consulate -which by design had contained no classified materials -unattended.”

CIA sees “Israel” as No.1 espionage threat in Mideast: AP report

Press TV

The US intelligence agency reportedly considers Israel as Washington’s number-one counterintelligence threat in the Middle East, highlighting new rifts in the historical US-Israel ties.

A number of current and former US intelligence officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Israel is the top threat for CIA’s Near East Division which undertakes Washington’s espionage activities across the Middle East, the Associated Press reported on Saturday.

“This means the CIA believes that US national secrets are safer from other Middle Eastern governments than from Israel,” the report said.

Both the CIA and Israel’s prime minister’s office have declined to comment on the issue.

The report comes on the heels of a new revelation by the White House that the houses of several CIA agents in Israel have been recently broken into.

In the most recent instance of such intrusions, the CIA station chief in Tel Aviv discovered that sensitive equipment he employed to communicate with the CIA headquarters in Virginia was tampered with.

“It is likely that Israeli intelligence is linked to the cases,” the report said.

“Israel employs highly sophisticated, professional spy services that rival American agencies in technical capability and recruiting human sources…..Israel as a steadfast US ally enjoys access to the highest levels of the US government in military and intelligence circles,” the report noted.

The existing mistrust between Washington and Tel Aviv becomes more manifest in Israel’s exclusion from the “Five Eye” umbrella.

The Alliance which incorporates the US, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zenalnd agree to share intelligence and not to spy on one another.

The report pointed out that Israel is not America’s closest ally at least “when it comes to whom Washington trusts with the most sensitive national security information.”

FBI wants Google, Facebook to provide wiretap backdoor: Report

Moqawama

The FBI wants Facebook, Google and other large Internet companies to build in backdoors to allow wiretapping, CNET reports.

A CNET report has revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is pressuring major Internet communications firms to build in backdoors that would allow the bureau to conduct wiretapping investigations. The report said the FBI fears its ability to conduct surveillance as more users employ Web-based communication and messaging services to talk to each other.

The news is unlikely to go down well with Internet freedom groups, which are already alarmed by government proposals to regulate and monitor the Internet.
“New methods of communication should not be subject to a government green light before they can be used,” Ross Schulman, of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, said in the report.

The Web products to be covered would include social networks, Voice Over Internet Protocol, instant messaging and Web email, CNET said in the May 4 article.

The report also mentions any wiretapping would require a court order before it could be initiated. “What the FBI is proposing is an amendment to the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, which would require communications platforms like Facebook and Web email programs like Gmail and Yahoo to build FBI-accessible backdoors into their services,” the article said.
Privacy is already a major concern for social networking sites like Facebook, which counts a little more than 900 million users worldwide and more than 150 million users in the US.

“While some privacy or security issues arise from poor choices Facebook users themselves make, other problems can stem from the ways the company collects data, how it manages and packages its privacy controls, and the fact that users’ data can wind up with people or companies with whom they did not intend to share,” the report said.

“Some users might be surprised to know that Facebook gets a report every time they visit a site with a ‘Like’ button, regardless of whether or not they click on that button, have a Facebook account or are even logged in,” the report finally read.

Source: CNET, edited by moqawama.org

US-funded legal organizations and research centers in Lebanon

by Ali Oubani, Moqawama

The facades covering up the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) presence in Lebanon are numerous and more than to be determined, as they spread throughout the many political, diplomatic, legal, economic, financial, media, and military levels.

A CIA exploitation of academic facilities, human rights organizations, political and strategic centers has come to light. This comes after the US espionage den in the Awkar-based Embassy in Beirut was revealed; in which the US exploited diplomatic asylum to veil its conspiracy schemes in Lebanon. Also, a recent Wikileaks revelation indicated that the “Stratfor” Association is nothing but the “CIA Phantom” and media platform used to breach civil organizations in our region.

Hereupon, Retired Lebanese Army General Amine Hotait revealed in an interview with al-Intiqad online newspaper, one of the CIA methods; exploiting legal organizations and research centers to breach Arab countries. Hotait listed sample organizations, among which are Lebanese; like the Badaro, Beirut-based “Philosophy of Law” Association, established by university professor George Saad, and directly linked to the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Elaborating on the issue, General Hotait referred that the “Philosophy of Law” is a nearly-forgotten course taught in Lebanese law schools and colleges, further wondering why such an association would be dubbed by that name.

“The establishers of this association tried at first to hide its true identity and demonstrate it at a far distance from any relation with the Americans; which therefore was a trap for some university professors to collaborate with it and join its membership,” General Hotait stated.

On another hand, Hotait noted that George Saad is a professor at the Lebanese University, and therefore, by law, he is not allowed to establish a private association. He also recalled how the said association tried to link with him, through inviting him to seminars and lectures, which led him to investigate about it and later find out it is a subordinate of the USAID.

In line of his investigation on the issue, retired General Hotait asked “what’s the relation between human rights and development?” He was told it is “developing and raising societies”. At that point, Hotait realized that the aim of that association basically was to contact the elite university professors who are known for their media appearances and ability to affect public opinion, and place them in an academic framework controlled by a certain political background. Hotait believed such makes those who lack security and political sensors vulnerable to falling in the trap of joining the association.

Hotait clarified that the “philosophy of law” association represents a “model” of many others found in the Arab world, asserting that 90% of the globe’s human rights organizations is an invention of the CIA, with four major tasks:

– To gather the elite in one group able to receive “one” orientation
– To make way for intellectual elites to “intellectually” interact with each other to serve the goal implanted in their minds
– To enable the elite of affecting the public opinion
– To make the elites capable of giving a monochromic opinion to the society; become the screen to which the society follows know where to head

Regarding the funding, General Hotait indicated that the US spending on these organizations is not rocket-high, and revealed that George Saad’s “Philosophy of Law” Association receives a “humble” monthly batch of 75 thousand US Dollars.

Furthermore, General Hotait explained that the “CIA” violated world communities through five different frameworks:

– Political framework via political recruitment
– Military framework via keeping hold on military leaderships
– Economic framework via controlling the economy’s joints
– Social framework via establishing so-called “Welfare Facilities”
– Intellectual Academic framework to attract influential personnel. This was successful in many countries, and stands evidence is that the officials and political elite are dragged from these organizations

*US-Funded Research Centers

General Hotait went on to say that the CIA exploits another side as a façade for its society breach; the US-funded research centers. In this context, he unveiled a number of the centers operating in Lebanon, among which is Paul Salem’s Carnegie Middle East Center, which is specialized in strategic political affairs. Also, another one is a political research center specialized in following up Hizbullah and revealing only its flaws, it is managed by Antoine Saad, who every four months travels to the US to receive his assigned “financial batch”.

*USAID and ABA

More on this issue, the USAID, one of the CIA’s branches, usually resorts to breaching societies and countries with the help of civil and non-governmental organizations, as it designated many of its programs to accomplish this goal. Among these programs are educational scholarships, good governance, economic aids, etc… and on this level, the USAID claims, on its website, that it has two major goals:

1) Enhancing the Lebanese government’s capability to present high-quality services for its citizens, including education, clean water, good governance…
2) Achieving economic opportunities and enhancing stability in the country’s poorest regions, especially rural ones, where the individual income stands for 4 dollars/day.

In Lebanon, an attempt was made (in 2010) to license a branch for the American Bar Association (ABA), which seems to be one of the USAID’s legal facades; as referred to in its reports from its Arab-based branches, like Jordan and Egypt. However, the said attempt was aborted despite a Lebanese government decree to license it; thanks to the efforts exerted by the Lebanese Bar Association in Beirut and Tripoli. These two firms worked on issuing a decree (number 4673 issued on July 28, 2010) that annulled the cabinet’s decree (number 3971 issued on April 29, 2010), which allowed an ABA branch to be established in Lebanon.

According to its establishment decree, the goals of the aforementioned organization are to develop legal jurisprudence, enhance justice for all nations, unify and organize legal legislations and resolutions, maintain the honor to practice law and implement knowledge and expertise related to the career; in order to boost public interests and encourage communication and interaction.

Source: al-Intiqad Online Newspaper, Translated by moqawama.org

Rice’s Advisor: CIA breaching int’l, war crimes law & recruiting Lebanese students in US universities

Rice’s Advisor: CIA Breaching Int’l, War Crimes Law

Moqawama

The senior Bush administration official, the former head of the 9/11 Commission, and the former senior official in US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s era Philip Zelikow described CIA interrogation techniques used as torture and said he warned in a secret memo at the height of the “war on terror” that they breached the US’s own war crimes laws.

Zelikow unveiled that what US officials euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation”, such as sleep deprivation and water boarding, are only forms of physical torments.

Zelikow, who was counselor to Rice, expressed his concerns in a top secret 2006 memorandum.

The memo, to other members of the committee who represented the justice and defense departments and intelligence services, warned that the CIA’s use of water boarding and other abuses were almost certainly in breach of US and international law. But the memo so alarmed the administration that it was immediately rejected and all copies were ordered destroyed.

A draft version of the memo, found at the state department, was released this week following a freedom of information request by the National Security Archive in Washington.

Zelikow said that a later supreme court ruling that the Geneva Conventions do apply to those deemed by the Bush administration to be “illegal combatants” reinforced his position that some of the CIA’s interrogation methods were illegal. “If I was right, officials would be violating the federal War Crimes Act, a felony punishable by up to life imprisonment,” he stressed.

In his 2006 memorandum to other members of the National Security Council committee of deputies to cabinet secretaries, the highest level interagency committee considering the legality of “enhanced interrogations”, Zelikow said that such methods were in breach of the Convention Against Torture as well as a recent US law that “extended the prohibition against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment to all conduct worldwide”.

Zelikow argued that US law on the issue applied the American constitution’s own standard regarding “cruel and unusual punishment” and that there is a long history of case law that prevents techniques used by the CIA from use in the US.

“The techniques least likely to be sustained are the techniques described as “coercive”, especially viewed cumulatively, such as the water board, walling, dousing, stress positions and cramped confinement,” Zelikow wrote in the memo.

Toward the end of the memo, part of a section has been blacked out by a censor. It refers to foreign governments abandoning several of the techniques Zelikow criticises. Asked if those governments include the UK, he said: “Yes.”

Zelikow said that after the office of legal counsel decided his memorandum “was not appropriate for further discussion”, the order came from the White House to destroy all copies.

The existence of the memo came to light when Zelikow gave testimony to the Senate judiciary committee two years ago in which he described the systematic physical abuses by the CIA as “unprecedented” and said that at least some of the legal opinions of justice department lawyers on the maltreatment of prisoners were “unsound, even unreasonable”.

“The US government adopted an unprecedented program of coolly calculated dehumanizing abuse and physical torment to extract information. This was a mistake, perhaps a disastrous one,” he said.

Zelikow described an atmosphere in which policymakers fell under the spell of the intelligence community and became deferential “in a time of seemingly endless alarms”. But, he added, the CIA had no real experience of interrogating enemy captives and so “improvised an unprecedented elaborate, systematic program of medically monitored physical torment to break prisoners and make them talk”.

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CIA Recruiting Lebanese Students in US Universities: Al-Akhbar

Al Manar

American universities have been operating Lebanese students in the CIA since 2008, Al-Akhbar revealed Friday.

According to a report the Lebanese daily published, an American-Lebanese university club have decided a couple of years ago to gather Lebanese students from various states and offer them courses and volunteer work opportunities in the US Central Intelligence Agency under the slogan “providing jobs to Lebanese students in the United states”.

The paper pointed out that the Lebanese students would allow themselves to work for the CIA under the excuse that “I could work in the languages, Informatics, or engineering departments, and no one will accuse me of being an agent.  I am a regular employee in an American organization, no more no less…” and another excuse is: “the agency is not part of the American government… It does not promote the US policies… it rather offers variable job opportunities, so why not make use of that?”

Al-Akhbar reported that “Lebanese students carrying the American citizenship and studying in American universities have established and joined a “non-profit organization” called “Lebanese Collegiate Network” LCN.”

“This network, headed by Lebanese, aims at gathering the biggest number of student clubs with Lebanese members, and relating them to one network… the CIA have succeeded in joining 20 Lebanese clubs until today, and its main activities are organizing conferences, workshops, donation campaigns, and Dabkeh (Lebanese traditional dance) parties,” the paper added.

It further indicated that while the “Lebanese network claims that it is working for the benefit of the Lebanese students in the United States and for providing job opportunities to them,” out of the entire US job market, it merely chose to promote volunteering in the CIA.

In parallel, the paper clarified that “officials in the Lebanese network try to present the CIA as a “human rights” organization, ignoring its role in assassinations around the world, including Lebanon, and during the civil war in specific. This, in addition to its constant coordination with the Israeli intelligence on the information and services level.”

Iran hardest intelligence target to CIA, Mossad: NY Times & war costly

Iran hardest intelligence target to CIA, Mossad: NY Times

Al Manar

The New York Times published Saturday a report under the headline “US Faces a Tricky Task in Assessment of Data on Iran, in which it quoted a former intelligence official as saying that “Iran is the hardest intelligence target there is. It is harder by far than North Korea”.

The report, which highlighted the difficulty that the United States faces in finding information on Iran’s nuclear program, also indicated that Israel’s intelligence service, Mossad, agrees with the American intelligence assessments, despite Israel’s constant threats of waging a military attack on the Islamic Republic to prevent it from becoming a real existential threat to the occupying entity.

The intelligence official stated that “in large part, that’s because their system is so confusing… which has the effect of making it difficult to determine who speaks authoritatively on what.”

“We’re not on the ground, and not having our people on the ground to catch nuance is a problem,” he explained.

Jeffrey Richelson, the author of “Spying on the Bomb,” a history of American nuclear intelligence, told the US daily that “at certain stages, it is very hard to track the weapons work unless someone is blabbing and their communications can be intercepted… the extent of the evidence the spy agencies have collected is unclear because most of their findings are classified.”

The paper indicated that “the United States relies heavily on information gathered by inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency who visit some of Iran’s nuclear-related facilities.”

However, it added “collecting independent human intelligence — recruiting spies — has been by far the most difficult task for American intelligence. Some operational lapses — and the lack of an embassy as a base of operations ever since the hostage crisis three decades ago — have frequently left the C.I.A. virtually blind on the ground in Iran.”

In parallel, American officials assured to NY Times that America and Israel share intelligence on Iran, clarifying that “Israel relies in part on an Iranian exile group that is labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, the Mujahedeen Khalq, or M.E.K., which is based in Iraq. The Israelis have also developed close ties in the semiautonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq.”

In contrast, the paper pointed out that that “American intelligence officials, however, are wary of relying on information from an opposition group like the M.E.K., particularly after their experience in Iraq of relying on flawed information provided by the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group run by Ahmad Chalabi.”

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US War Game: “Israeli” Strike on Iran Means Regional War, Hundreds US Soldiers Dead

Moqawama

A classified war simulation held this month to assess the repercussions of an “Israeli” attack on Iran forecasts that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead.

In an interview with “New York Times” US famous daily, US officials stated that “the game has raised fears among top American planners that it may be impossible to preclude American involvement in any escalating confrontation with Iran.”

The paper’s report further revealed that the results of the war game were especially troubling to General James N. Mattis, who commands American forces in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia.
“Mattis told aides, upon the conclusion of the exercise, that an “” first-strike could have dire consequences for the region and for United States US forces stationed there,” the NYT added.

Well informed US officials told the paper that “the two-week war game, called Internal Look, played out a narrative in which Washington found that it was pulled into the conflict after Iranian missiles struck a Navy warship in the Persian Gulf, killing about 200 Americans.”

“US then retaliated by carrying out its own strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities,” the paper clarified.

Warning that “a strike could prove perilous for the United States,” the US military officials informed that “the initial “Israeli” attack was assessed to have set back the Iranian nuclear program by roughly a year.”

However, “the subsequent American strikes were not able to slow the Iranian nuclear program by more than an additional two years,” they stressed.

“In the end,” the report confirmed, “the war game reinforced to the unpredictable nature of a strike by “Israel”, as well as a counterstrike by Iran.”

According to the New York Times, the war game, called “Internal Look,” has been one of Central Command’s most significant planning exercises, and is carried out about twice a year to assess how the headquarters, its staff and command posts in the region would respond to various real-world situations.