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
view of a post Cold
War world grappling
with the unexpected
* - spy vs spy
among friends and
traditional intelligence targets
Russia and China play the part
bystanders. [more inside]
Studying the "wisdom of the crowd" the Good Judgement Project
has been asking average citizens to predict global events over the last 3 years. A weighted average
shows these participants, who do not have access to classified materials, are more accurate than the Intelligence community. And the projects "elite" forecasters are 30% more accurate.
Inside The One-Man Intelligence Unit That Exposed The Secrets And Atrocities Of Syria's War
He had no formal intelligence training or security clearance that gave him access to classified documents. He could not speak or read Arabic. He had never set foot in the Middle East, unless you count the time he changed planes in Dubai en route to Manila, or his trip to visit his in-laws in Turkey.
Yet in the 18 months since Higgins had begun blogging about Syria, his barebones site, Brown Moses [previously], had become the foremost source of information on the weapons used in Syria's deadly war. Using nothing more sophisticated than an Asus laptop, he had uncovered evidence of weapons imported into Syria from Iran. He had been the first person to identify widely-banned cluster bombs deployed by Syrian forces. By The New York Times' own admission, his findings had offered a key tip that helped the newspaper prove that Saudi Arabia had funneled arms to opposition fighters in Syria. [more inside]
In 2011, the CIA declassified documents admitting its involvement in the 1953 coup that overthrew Iran's elected government and installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, details of which were first first disclosed by the New York Times
in 2000. Timeline
. However, they refused to release them to the public
. Today, the National Security Archive research institute has (after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit) obtained and made the 21 documents public. "Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States' role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq's ouster has long been public knowledge, but today's posting includes what is believed to be the CIA's first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup
. [more inside]
The United States' National Security organization has many parts, from the famous (NSA
) to the mundane (OCI
) to the more esoteric (NRO
). But even the most dedicated Washington insider may not have heard of INR
. [more inside]
It's been five years
since the death
of Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh
in Damascus. No one ever claimed responsibility for killing him. Hezbollah publicly blames
Israel's Mossad, a charge they unsurprisingly deny. So, who killed The Driver? [more inside]
The Permanent War
(video). "This project, based on interviews with dozens of current and former national security officials, intelligence analysts and others, examines evolving U.S. counterterrorism policies and the practice of targeted killing." Part 1: Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists.
Part 2: A CIA veteran transforms U.S. counterterrorism policy.
Part 3: Remote U.S. base at core of secret operations. [more inside]
In December 1974, New York Times reporter Seymour Hersh's front-page account (paywall)
of the CIA's MK-ULTRA program
documented their illegal domestic intelligence operations
against the antiwar movement and other dissident groups in the United States. The article eventually prompted investigations by the Rockefeller Commission
and the Church
committees. "There have been other reports on the CIA's doping of civilians, but they have mostly dished about activities in New York City. Accounts of what actually occurred in San Francisco have been sparse and sporadic. But newly declassified CIA records, recent interviews, and a personal diary of [George
,] an operative at Stanford Special Collections shed more light on the breadth of the San Francisco operation." SF Weekly
: "Operation Midnight Climax: How the CIA doped San Francisco citizens with LSD." MK-ULTRA: Previously on Metafilter. (Via)
Double or Nothing:
9/11 Counterterrorism Czar Richard Clarke Speculates That the CIA Tried and Failed to Recruit the Hijackers, and Then Engaged in a Cover-Up. Admitting that he has no proof, he nonetheless alleges
that CIA Director George Tenet and others concealed their knowledge that the suspected Al-Qaeda members were inside the country, which in turn prevented the FBI and other agencies from thwarting the 9/11 attack. Tenet et al. have responded
to this charge via a prepared statement.
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]
In an age of information wealth, how do we decide what's true & what's not? Allow me to introduce the world of discussion mapping. First up we have zest
), a simple tool for threading mailing lists for easier navigation. It lacks the advanced features of the others but it's an easy starting point for structuring your discussions. [more inside]
Hacking Al-Qaeda's websites:
Hacker wars are the latest front in the fight against Al Qaeda. CNN says here that AQ may be unable to post propaganda videos as a result.
But who is attacking? As far back as 2002, people speculated that Western intelligence agencies had compromised them
, and a pornographer claimed he did.
More recently, there are Shiite vs. Sunni battles, as when Ayatollah Sistani's website was cracked.
In 2004, Zarqawi's site was breached.
An internal CIA memorandum has been obtained by Venezuelan counterintelligence from the US Embassy in Caracas that reveals a plan to destabilize Venezuela during the upcoming constitutional referendum
. The plan, titled "OPERATION PLIERS" was authored by CIA Officer Michael Middleton Steere and was addressed to CIA Director General Michael Hayden in Washington. The full text of the memo will be released soon for verification purposes. Many previously
The man who knew too much.
"He was the CIA's expert on Pakistan's nuclear secrets, but Rich Barlow was thrown out and disgraced when he blew the whistle on a US cover-up. Now he's to have his day in court."
"It's a great thing about this government
... the only people that ever stand up and tell the truth are who? Intelligence officers." George Tenet told his side on 60 Minutes tonight. In case you missed it. [via
You can't write anything honest, only fairy tales."
"This administration," Bob Graham, the former Senator and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told me, "does not seek the truth as a basis for its judgments, but tries to use intelligence to validate judgments it has already made
"I spent 30 years at the CIA," said one former official, "and no one was ever interested in knowing whether I was a Republican or a Democrat. That changed with this administration. Now you have loyalty tests."
Newsfilter: CIA director Porter Goss resigns.
After taking some of the
heat for bad intelligence in the months before 9/11, Cheney's "cat's paw"
finally gets out of the kitchen.
"It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on
in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between [Bush] policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," writes former CIA official Paul Pillar, coordinator of U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until 2005, in an article soon to appear in Foreign Affairs
, hardly a radical rag. More confirmation that Seymour Hersh was right about the administration "cherry-picking" intelligence
to justify a foregone conclusion to go to war in Iraq.
Why outing Plame mattered.
If you wonder what's really at stake behind all the media buzz around the Fitzgerald indictments, read this lengthy and cogent analysis by Stratfor's
no-nonsense George Friedman. "Rove and Libby had top security clearances and were senior White House officials. It was their sworn duty, undertaken when they accepted their security clearance, to build a 'bodyguard of lies' -- in Churchill's phrase -- around the truth concerning U.S. intelligence capabilities... The minimal story -- that they talked about Plame with a reporter -- is the end of the matter."
Testimony of former CIA case officer James Marcinkowski
on the Plame Affair, via David Corn. Now that the US government has exposed a CIA case officer and endangered her contacts, it will be much more difficult for CIA officers to recruit informants in the future. Any undercover officer, whether in the police department or the CIA, will tell you that the major concern of their informant or agent is their personal safety and that of their family. Cover is safety. If you cannot guarantee that safety in some form or other, the person will not work for you and the source of important information will be lost. ... What has suffered perhaps irreversible damage is the credibility of our case officers when they try to convince our overseas contact that their safety is of primary importance to us.
Everyone's favorite unidentified 22-year CIA veteran
who used to hunt Osama bin Laden, Anonymous
, is back with a new book, "Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror,"
and suggests that al-Qaida may try to reward Bush
before the election. Last year, Anonymous created a stir with another book
and was interviewed on Nightline
. If only he had a scramble suit
, he could do a book tour.
"A Temporary Coup"
-- after a brief commercial, read Salon's interview with CIA historian Thomas Powers, who wrote The Trouble with the CIA
and The Failure
previously for the NYRB, and herein relates a tale of terror and truly Byzantine
CIA Warned of Attack 6 Years Before 9-11
Six years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the CIA warned in a classified report that Islamic extremists likely would strike on U.S. soil at landmarks in Washington or New York, or through the airline industry, according to intelligence officials.
At least four times in the fall of 2002, the president and his advisers invoked the specter of a "mushroom cloud," and some of them, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, described Iraq's nuclear ambitions as a threat to the American homeland... Among the closely held internal judgments of the Iraq Survey Group, overseen by David Kay as special representative of CIA Director George J. Tenet, are that Iraq's nuclear weapons scientists did no significant arms-related work after 1991, that facilities with suspicious new construction proved benign, and that equipment of potential use to a nuclear program remained under seal or in civilian industrial use.
So in regards to Iraq's possession of the one weapon we can be certain causes mass destruction: the atomic bomb
, as Gregg Easterbrook
put it, the verdict is the unsurprising (and unsurprisingly closely held
) nope, not, zero, zip, nada...
Team B (from Outer Space)
Gordon Mitchell, author of Strategic Deception
, has recently penned a paper that investigates the process by which decisions about the quality of American intelligence are made. He highlights the role of Team B, a group of far-right conservatives who routinely debated against Team A, usually consisting of mid-level intelligence analysts. These debates were a commonplace during the cold war, and through a series of enthymemetic narratives that altered the conditions of proof, Team B was able to successfully beat Team A (time and time again) and move foreign policy further and further to the right. The cold war ended, and Team B ended with it. But now Team B is back in the form of the OSP, and the same movements are happening, this time challenging and compromising moderate foreign policy, including the more moderate portions of the Bush Doctrine. Is this structural device possibly to blame for the Iraq intel snafu, rather than some overt desire to lie and deceive? Your thoughts?
GOP Warns TV Stations Not to Air Ad Alleging Bush Mislead the Nation Over Iraq
They claim that the ad itself
is dishonest, and cite the obligation of broadcast outlets to be free of misleading information. “Such obligations must be taken seriously. This letter puts you on notice that the information contained in the above-cited advertisement is false and misleading; therefore, you are obligated to refrain from airing this advertisement.”
Despite the implicit threats, only one station has refused to run the ad, a Fox station.
Cooked intel revolts spooks - Spooks revolt
: elements of the US intelligence community are between outrage and open revolt
, and Veterans for Intelligence Sanity, a group of ex - CIA professionals led by Ray McGovern, a 27 year veteran of the CIA who used to brief George Bush Sr., has called for Dick Cheney's resignation in an open letter to GW Bush, reports Nick Kristoff. "You may not realize the extent of the current ferment within the intelligence community and particularly the CIA"
they have warned Mr. Bush. At the heart of the matter
is the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans (OSP) under the leadership of Abram Shulsky.
Meanwhile, "It's like, duh, the net doesn't forget. Get it?" : a blogger compiles a chronological list of Bush Administration statements on Iraq's WMD's
- from "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
(George W. Bush
Address to the Nation, March 17, 2003) to "They may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer."
(Donald Rumsfeld, Remarks to Council on Foreign Relations, May 27, 2003) and "U.S. officials never expected that "we were going to open garages and find" weapons of mass destruction.
(Condoleeza Rice, Reuters Interview, May 12, 2003) Also in above link: scroll to bottom for memorandum to GW Bush.
The First Casualty.
The New Republic is one of the few left-leaning political journals who supported the war on Iraq. Now it seems like they've come to their senses and have written a very exhaustive story on how exactly Team Bush manipulated evidence to support the war on Iraq: "Rather, interviews with current and former intelligence officials and other experts reveal that the Bush administration culled from U.S. intelligence those assessments that supported its position and omitted those that did not. The administration ignored, and even suppressed, disagreement within the intelligence agencies and pressured the CIA to reaffirm its preferred version of the Iraqi threat. Similarly, it stonewalled, and sought to discredit, international weapons inspectors when their findings threatened to undermine the case for war."
An official Q&A with the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld,
alludes to some extremely scary/interesting tidbits-- the Office of Strategic Influence is still alive, John Poindexter can do anything he pleases with DARPA, we just might renew nuclear weapons testing.
Don't worry, though. Rummy sez: "Anyone who is concerned ought not be. Anyone with any concern ought to be able to sleep well tonight. Nothing terrible is going to happen."
Pentagon Plans a Computer System That Would Peek at Personal Data of Americans
And this is justified because of National Security. We will lose much that is personal, private, but in turn we will be protefted against the bad guys. Or will we? When NASA and CIA claim they need to spy domestically, and computers gather all data on Americans, what is left that is not what Orwell had suggested might our future be like?Or, as Morth Sahl once labelled a comic record: TheFuture Lies Ahead."
How the U.S. Missed the Clues
Time magazine assessmeznt of what went wrong in evaluation of intelligence pre-9/11. I am not yet sure why I find the conclusions a bit evasive but it seems to me the article tries to satisfy differing perspectives rather than taking a stand for a specific point of view. But then that may be my reading and wrong headed.
Was the Venezuela coup another Chile 1973?
Two months ago, Narco News called attention to the striking similarities between the situation in Venezuela and CIA plots against leftist Chilean president Salvador Allende in the early 1970s. The CIA's own version of what happened in Chile
discusses its "sustained propaganda efforts, including financial
support for major news media, against Allende and other Marxists." Hmm. Chavez shut down five private TV stations after they repeatedly aired what he called misleading footage of the protest deaths last week, after months of relentless attacks against his government. Sure makes you wonder.
On another note, did eyewitness accounts widely disseminated over the Web
help doom the White House spin that "government supporters, on orders from the Chavez government, fired on unarmed, peaceful protestors"? If the Web didn't exist, would the final word have come from articles like this now out-of-date, pro-business analysis
in yesterday's Washington Post?
On flight simulators, Tetris, and the CIA
The Sunday Times Mag has a feature on Gilman Louie, popularizer of Tetris who was recruited by the CIA in 1998. " Louie's marching orders were to provide venture capital for data-mining technologies that would allow the C.I.A. to monitor and profile potential terrorists as closely and carefully as Amazon monitors and profiles potential customers."
What really happened in the week before the attacks in reguards to a Pakistani Inteligence visit with CIA officials.
What did we know?
And what are we doing now? The best background summary I've yet seen, and the concrete info on the difficulties the intelligence agencies are facing is sobering.
Realism Urgently Needed - Or Not?
David Ignatius's column today in The Washington Post addresses the question of effectiveness in the war against terrorism. He tells the sobering story of the CIA's collaboration with the terrorist Ali Hassan Salameh.
The downside: "The most obvious (lesson) is that collecting intelligence about terrorists is a truly dirty business. This world cannot be penetrated without help from members or friends of the terrorist network".
The upside: "Paradoxically, these tragic days have probably been an ideal time for the CIA to be recruiting new sources of intelligence about terrorism. The barbaric attacks Tuesday aroused disgust around the world --- not least among civilized Muslims. Some of these disgusted Muslims will surely want to help the United States and its allies put the terrorists out of business."
The crucial moral question: It's really a classic means/ends debate. Is it right - or just acceptably expedient - to collaborate with known terrorists in order to strike out at those we don't yet(or otherwise will never) know about?