In some ways, it is hard to imagine two paths more different than being a writer and being a spy. It is certainly hard to imagine two careers with more wildly disparate stakes. And yet there are parallels in the underlying qualities of their practitioners: an interest in psychology, a facility with narrative, a tendency to position oneself as an observer, and a willingness to lie and call it something else.--writer Jennifer DuBois explains what it was like to be hired by the CIA.
The US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was established in 1961 and has grown into one of the US government’s largest intelligence organizations. It employs 17,000 people, including thousands stationed overseas, and its 2013 fiscal year budget request was for $3.15 billion. Yet, the DIA is also one of the more secretive agencies in the U.S. intelligence community, regularly denying access to basic information about its structure, functions and activities. On November 20, the National Security Archive posted a new sourcebook of over 50 declassified documents that help to illuminate the DIA’s five-decades-long history. [more inside]
In the past week, Germany has found and fired an American mole in their intelligence agency, investigated another suspect in their defense ministry, and asked the CIA station chief to leave the country. Media reports offer an interesting view of a post Cold War world grappling with the unexpected* - spy vs spy among friends and allies, while traditional intelligence targets Russia and China play the part of bemused bystanders. [more inside]
"The six CIA officers were sweating. It was almost noon on a June day in the Middle Eastern capital, already in the 90s outside and even hotter inside the black sedan where the five men and one woman sat jammed in together. Sat and waited. They had flown in two days earlier for this mission: to break into the embassy of a South Asian country, steal that country’s secret codes and get out without leaving a trace. During months of planning, they had been assured by the local CIA station that the building would be empty at this hour except for one person—a member of the embassy’s diplomatic staff working secretly for the agency." [The CIA Burglar Who Went Rogue]
In 2007 former CIA Agent John Kiriakou went public with his involvement with waterbording Al-Quaeda Detainees. At the time he felt that it worked. And, he only belived it had happened once with Abu Zubaydah. By 2010 he'd learned that Zubaydah had been waterboared 83 times, and that information was not good. Now, he's being prosecuted under the espionage act, for allegedly helping to identify CIA operatives that Guantánamo defense lawyers who might be able to testify about abusive treatment. [more inside]
Emmanuel "Toto" Constant led a paramilitary organization called FRAPH that terrorized Haiti after the overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. When FRAPH's fortunes declined, Toto mysteriously appeared in New York City, where he was scorned by the Haitian community. Justice eventually caught up to Toto, who is now imprisoned in New York state. [more inside]
On June 6th, Shahram Amiri - an Iranian nuclear scientist -- appeared on a YouTube video claiming he was abducted by US and Saudi authorities in Medina, drugged and flown to the US. On June 7th, a second video on Youtube appeared where he, or someone claiming to be him, said he was fine, studying in the US. (The U.S. government has no official comment but cited him as a source on Iran's nuclear program.) A 3rd video backed the first. Now Pakistan says Amiri is in hiding in its Washington embassy's Iranian interests section under asylum and making arrangements to get back to Iran. How he got there, and why, is a mystery. [more inside]
Submarine causalities are tragedies of war that are not always directly associated with combat. Systems failures at sea are often mysterious, with evidence and remains disappearing to all but the deepest diving vehicles. This was no different in the Cold War, with non-combat losses from the US and the Soviet Fleets. In that era of nuclear secrets, both those of nuclear-powered submarines and nuclear weapons, learning about the enemy's technology was paramount. Such an opportunity came to the US with the sinking of K-129, a Golf Class II Soviet submarine that went down with 98 men on board. The recovery took over six year, involved the possible payback of Howard Hughes, a videotaped formal sea burial that was eventually copied and given to then-President Boris Yeltsin, and decades of CIA secrecy. [more inside]
118 Days, 12 Hours, 54 Minutes — On June 21, reporter Maziar Bahari was rousted out of bed and taken to Tehran's notorious Evin prison—accused of being a spy for the CIA, MI6, Mossad…and Newsweek magazine. This is the story of his captivity. CBS 60 Minutes feature. [more inside]
Julia Child apparently liked to mix cooking and covert operations. What did the beloved chef have in common with Arthur Schlesinger and baseball's Moe Berg? A career with the OSS, that's what. The CIA precursor's papers have recently been released, revealing Child's involvement in the agency. [more inside]
The CIA's Odd Man Out: CIA station chief Bob Lady coordinated the secret kidnapping of Islamic militant Abu Omar in Milan and Omar's "extreme rendition" to Egypt where he was tortured. Italy indicted various CIA agents; Lady is on the run in Central America, abandoned by the agency. The twist: Lady opposed the mission all along. And Abu Omar will probably end up with Lady's home in the foothills of the Alps. [more inside]
Fred Burks: Conscientious whistle-blower or American traitor? Fred Burks was a State Department interpreter in Indonesian for almost two decades. After resigning his contract when asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, he suddenly appeared as a defence witness in the case of Abu Bakar Ba'asyir who masterminded the Bali bombing. His testimony was instrumental in Ba'asyir's acquittal on terror charges. In court, he divulged the details of a secret meeting between Indonesian President Megawati and CIA and NSA operatives who demanded Megawati arrest Ba'asyir and hand him over which put pressure on the Indonesian court to give Ba'asyir a wrist slap. Fred Burks: Conscientious whistle-blower or American traitor? You decide.
The Lie That Linked CIA to the Kennedy Assassination, an essay by the CIA