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Interview with James Mitchell, psychologist credited with designing CIA torture program


James ("Jim") Mitchell, frame grab from ABC video (4/2009). ABC News, via New York Times.

Journalist Jason Leopold tells us,

Recently, I conducted a wide-ranging, two hour interview with retired Air Force psychologist James Mitchell, who is credited with being the architect of the CIA's torture program. Mitchell and his partner, Dr. Bruce Jessen, are featured prominently in the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA's detention and interrogation program. This is the first time Mitchell has spoken at length about interrogation since he was linked to the program by Jane Mayer in 2005.

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US intel chief James Clapper: journalists reporting on leaked Snowden NSA docs “accomplices” to crime


U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

In a Senate Judiciary Hearing on NSA surveillance today, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper insinuated dozens of journalists reporting on documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden were “accomplices” to a crime. His spokesman further suggested Clapper was referring to journalists after the hearing had concluded.

If this is the official stance of the US government, it is downright chilling.

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Press freedom case of NYT reporter James Risen may go to Supreme Court

"A federal appeals court will not reconsider a decision compelling a journalist to identify a source who disclosed details of a secret CIA operation," reports the AP:

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Snowden's CIA career taught him that going through channels achieved nothing

In an interview with the NYT's James Risen, Edward Snowden explains what was really going on back in his CIA days, when he was allegedly reprimanded for accessing systems he wasn't supposed to see. It turns out Snowden had found a security vulnerability in their sensitive systems, which he reported through channels, got blown off for, and then kept pushing. In the end, the manager who had tried to cover up the vulnerability took revenge on Snowden by putting a black mark on his record.

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New head of CIA's National Clandestine Service profiled in Newsweek

In Newsweek, Jeff Stein profiles Frank Archibald, who was named head of the CIA's National Clandestine Service earlier this year. Stein describes him as "a nice guy in a killer job – literally;" an "affable, hulking former Clemson University football player, 57," who is now the guy in charge of the CIA division that handles the "agency's spies and hunter-killer teams, like the ones dispatched to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya and elsewhere in search of al Qaeda and other terrorist spore." [Newsweek] Xeni 9

Washington's $52.6 billion "black budget" exposed

The Washington Post's Barton Gellman and Greg Miller detail the vast sums of money America spends on intelligence operations, far from public scrutiny.

Among the notable revelations in the budget summary:

•Spending by the CIA has surged past that of every other spy agency, with $14.7 billion in requested funding for 2013. The figure vastly exceeds outside estimates and is nearly 50 percent above that of the National Security Agency, which conducts eavesdropping operations and has long been considered the behemoth of the community.

•The CIA and NSA have launched aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing what the budget refers to as “offensive cyber operations.”

•The NSA planned to investigate at least 4,000 possible insider threats in 2013, cases in which the agency suspected sensitive information may have been compromised by one of its own. The budget documents show that the U.S. intelligence community has sought to strengthen its ability to detect what it calls “anomalous behavior” by personnel with access to highly classified material.

•U.S. intelligence officials take an active interest in foes as well as friends. Pakistan is described in detail as an “intractable target,” and counterintelligence operations “are strategically focused against [the] priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel.”

Don't miss this incredible, clarifying interactive chart.

ANCHORY: NSA's 1990s catalog of spook assets


Michael Morisy sez, "Back when the National Security Agency still measured data in megabytes rather than by the square mile of servers, the agency took it upon itself to catalogue the output of a newswire service and publications of the wider intelligence community, new documents show.

"The NSA database's called ANCHORY catalogs intelligence analysis and reports from the CIA, State Department and Defense Intelligence Agency, plus Reuters for good measure. The program comes to (dim) light following a FOIA request inspired by Christopher Soghoian observation that scouring LinkedIn profiles might yield some good counter-surveillance clues."

A glimpse into ANCHORY, NSA's intelligence catalog database (Thanks, Michael!)

Ecuador: our London embassy was bugged

Representatives of the government of Ecuador in London claim to have discovered a hidden microphone inside its London embassy where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is living. The bug is being analyzed by forensics experts, and Ecuador intends to diclose more information on who controlled or planted it as they are available. It "was found inside the office of the Ecuadorean ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ana Alban, at the time of a visit to the embassy by Patino to meet with Assange on June 16." [Reuters] Xeni 1

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou has advice for NSA leaker Edward Snowden

John Kiriakou, the former CIA officer serving a thirty-month sentence in prison for leaking the name of an officer involved in the USA's torture program has written an open letter to Edward Snowden. His “most important advice” as he writes, is to “not, under any circumstances, cooperate with the FBI....FBI agents will lie, trick and deceive you. They will twist your words and play on your patriotism to entrap you.” Read it at The Dissenter (FDL) Xeni 1

Facebook releases new post-NSA-Prism-leak privacy settings


Parody, obviously. 'shoop: XJ

Wired profiles NSA's Keith Alexander, the general leading America into cyberwar


Illustration for WIRED by Mark Weaver

"Infiltration. Sabotage. Mayhem. For years four-star general Keith Alexander has been building a secret Army capable of launching devastating cyberattacks. Now it's ready to unleash hell."

In this month's Wired Magazine, James Bamford profiles Keith Alexander, the man who runs cyberwar efforts for the United States, "an empire he has built over the past eight years by insisting that the US’s inherent vulnerability to digital attacks requires him to amass more and more authority over the data zipping around the globe."

The claims in Edward Snowden's leaks are the tip of one big, secret iceberg.

Read: NSA Snooping Was Only the Beginning. Meet the Spy Chief Leading Us Into Cyberwar (Wired.com)

What some former CIA spies say they'd do to evade capture if they were Snowden

Edward Snowden was a technology contractor, not a trained operative. AND Magazine talked to a few former CIA operatives about the tradecraft they'd use if they were in his much-sought shoes, and wanted to avoid ending up in a US court. "Staying off the grid and holing up in a low-rent bordello or someplace else that doesn't require a credit card" is seen as a more prudent move than Hong Kong; China, Russia, and Ecuador are among the countries that could offer him safe harbor, but it's not clear what options exist for the NSA whistleblower. Read: "Man On The Run." Xeni

Shia LaBeouf, a prescient phone surveillance whistleblower

Oh, if only we'd listened to Shia LaBeouf. CBC News reports that back in 2008, while the actor was promoting his film Eagle Eye, (about a mysterious stranger who spies on other people's phone calls), he told Tonight Show host Jay Leno the movie's FBI consultant warned him the government was doing just that, on a grand scale, with innocent Americans. "He told me that one in five phone calls that you make are recorded and logged, and I laughed at him and then he played back a phone conversation I'd had two years prior," said LaBeouf. And we ignored him. Xeni

Grassy field in Florida was once secret CIA base from which Guatemalan coup was launched

There's a fascinating article in the Miami Herald today about a grassy field in Opa-locka, Florida which was the site of the secret CIA base where the US-led coup of Guatemala was launched in 1953.

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Officer linked to torture tapes' destruction advances within C.I.A.

At the New York Times, Mark Mazzetti reports on the promotion of a C.I.A. officer "directly involved in the 2005 decision to destroy interrogation videotapes and who once ran one of the agency’s secret prisons." Xeni