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09 Jan 2012 10:27


World: American charged with “spying” sentenced to death in Iran

  • He has 20 days to appeal under Iranian law: Amir Hekmati, a 28-year-old former U.S. Marine who holds dual Iranian and American citizenship, was sentenced to death “for cooperating with the hostile country . . . and spying for the CIA,” according to Iran’s Fars news agency. His family disputes the claims, saying they believe the verdict wasn’t fair. “Amir is not a criminal,” they said in a statement. “His life is being exploited for political gain.” source

27 Oct 2011 22:51


Politics: Leon Panetta’s expensive New Year’s toast, thanks to Osama bin Laden

  • The oldest bottle in his friend’s restaurant? an 1870 Chateau Lafite Rothschild. Years ago, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made a bet with a restaurateur around his CIA-led mission to find Osama Bin Laden: If Panetta’s team caught Bin Laden, Ted Balestreri would open up a bottle of wine that predates the first automobile. Now that time’s come. With Bin Laden dead, Balestreri will uncork that 141-year-old bottle around New Year’s Eve. Did we mention the bottle costs between $10,000 and $15,000? Careful to walk a line, though, one of Panetta’s spokespeople notes that this gesture isn’t meant to celebrate Bin Laden’s death. “Secretary Panetta has had New Year’s Eve gatherings with toasts with friends for years and this year there will be a special toast,” noted Douglas Wilson, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. source

06 Sep 2011 17:47


World: Documents show CIA, MI6 supported Gaddafi with renditions

  • MI6 and the CIA knew absolutely how much torture was taking place. They knew that these people would be abused in custody when they were sent back to Libya. Why else would you hand them over to the Libyans? You captured him, you have all of your black sites anyway, but you offered him to the Libyans. Of course the [CIA] letters say, ‘Please commit to us that you will respect their human rights.’ But that’s just talk.
  • Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director for Human Rights Watch • Speaking on the trove of documents he himself copied in Tripoli and released to various media. They show that following Gaddafi’s 2003 vow to give up his weapons of mass destruction, the CIA and MI6 both engaged in renditions to send political opponents of Gaddafi’s regime into Libya, presumably knowing the sort of inhumane treatment and torture would await them. One example: A current commander of rebel forces in Tripoli, Abdulhakim Belhadj, was rendered into Libya by the CIA, where he claims he was isolated and tortured.  (h/t ZeitVox) source

30 Jun 2011 16:01


U.S.: David Petraeus unanimously confirmed as new CIA chief

  • 94-0 Senate vote confirming Petraeus as CIA director source
  • » The big shuffle continues: With Robert Gates’ retirement, and Leon Panetta imminently poised to become the new Secretary of Defense, the Senate has voted to confirm General David Petaeus to take Panetta’s old job. Petraeus had been serving as the Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, but will be departing to become the number one man of the government agency we all think of when we think about high-level secrecy. Of note in this confirmation — ninety-four to nothing! Even in a thoroughly divided Washington, it’s clear Petraeus is still one of the most politically popular people to stand in support of, no matter the political party.

16 Jun 2011 11:28


Politics: Did the Bush-era CIA go after prominent bloggers like Juan Cole?

  • ‘What do you think we might know about him, or could find out that could discredit him?’ … Does he drink? What are his views? Is he married?
  • Bush-era CIA official David Low (reportedly) • Discussing with Glenn L. Carle, another top official in the CIA at that time, what they should do about Bush-needling professor Juan Cole, whose Informed Comment blog repeatedly criticized the Bush administration’s foreign policy. Cole posted about the matter on his blog today, kind of shocked about what came out. But he admits that he could be only the tip of the iceberg. “What alarms me most of all in the nakedly illegal deployment of the CIA against an academic for the explicit purpose of destroying his reputation for political purposes,” he says, “is that I know I am a relatively small fish and it seems to me rather likely that I was not the only target of the baleful team at the White House.” source

27 Apr 2011 10:22


U.S.: Two P’s in a pod: Obama shuffles the defense end of his cabinet

  • Panetta Leon Panetta, the head of the CIA, and Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, is on tap to replace Robert Gates, who is retiring as Defense Secretary pretty soon.
  • Petraeus Who’s gonna replace Panetta? General David Petraeus, who will leave the front lines of Afghanistan to head the Central Intelligence Agency. source

25 Apr 2011 23:19


U.S.: CIA: We only burn and shred documents because it’s the green thing to do

  • The Central Intelligence Agency’s practice of shredding and burning classified papers—often referred to in movies and books as “burn after reading”—is one of several ways the CIA conserves energy, reduces its impact on the environment, and lowers costs through its sustainability efforts.
  • The CIA • In an Earth Day posting to their website. The fact that the CIA actually said this is much funnier than any joke we could hope to make, so we’ll just let it stand. source

11 Apr 2011 10:59


World: Key differences in style: The Bush CIA vs. the Obama CIA

  • Bush The CIA became known for its heavy detention and interrogation policies — and drew lots of controversy for some of them, like bringing detainees to Guantanamo Bay and stuff.
  • Obama Beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, the CIA has largely left this strategy behind. “The CIA is out of the detention and interrogation business,” said one U.S. official not speaking on the record. source
  • » Whaddya mean you don’t want to talk? A great example of this is the case of Umar Patek, the main suspect in a 2002 nightclub bombing in Indonesia that killed 202 people. Seven of those people were Americans — and Patek himself possesses a wealth of knowledge about groups linked to al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia. But the CIA has taken a hands-off approach to Patek. They haven’t even bothered to interrogate him. That’s the key thing here — while the CIA certainly has a bunch of detainees from the Bush era that they don’t know what to do with, they’re not actively trying to pick up any new ones, it seems.

31 Mar 2011 01:10


World: Former US intelligence officer: CIA is currently in Libya

  • are cia operatives on the ground in libya? Yes, according to an anonymous American official and former US intelligence officer. It’s unclear, however, what type of operatives they are, and what exactly they’re doing. Details are sketchy at this point, but they apparently helped rescue one of the American soldiers who had to eject from his F-15 on day one of the engagement. We’re going to hold off on drawing any conclusions here until more solid information comes in. source

16 Mar 2011 15:54


World: Accusations of a “blood money” payment over Raymond Davis release

  • Some new intrigue in the case of Raymond Davis: It’s being broadly reported in a number of news sources that Davis, the CIA operative who shot and killed two men in Pakistan, was essentially bailed out of the charges with U.S. cash. Sources claim that the U.S. government paid somewhere around $700,000 to the three families of the victims (the third casualty was a man who was run over by a responding emergency vehicle). This is in accordance with a provision of Islamic law known as “blood money,” in which charges are dropped for financial payouts to victim’s families. This is, obviously, a story that is generating a lot of ink and a lot of ire; the U.S. steadfastly denies any such payment was made, and has thanked the victim’s families. source