Boing Boing 

Macedonia helped CIA kidnap and torture a German they mistook for a terrorist


Macedonia kidnapped a German citizen called Khalid al-Masri (previously, previously) and sent him to the CIA, mistaking him for a similarly named terror suspect; the CIA tortured him in Afghanistan and held him even after they realized they had the wrong name.

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Feds given deadline to subpoena NYT reporter over CIA leak

Reporter James Risen of the New York Times and author of the book, "State of War" speaks during a taping of "Meet the Press" at NBC studios January 8, 2006 in Washington, DC.  Image: NBC


Reporter James Risen of the New York Times and author of the book, "State of War" speaks during a taping of "Meet the Press" at NBC studios January 8, 2006 in Washington, DC. Image: NBC

Now is not exactly the best time for Obama's Justice Department to be subpoenaing one of the nation's best journalists for reporting on a spectacularly botched CIA operation, but that's the decision Attorney General Eric Holder faces this week.

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Calling out the doctors who abetted CIA torture


Dr Atul Gawande (whose Reith lecture on systems thinking I featured last week) took to Twitter to express his shock and disgust at the medical professionals who participated in the crimes documented in the CIA torture report.

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Could CIA torture report open the U.S. to prosecution in the International Criminal Court?

U.S. Army Military Police escort a detainee to his cell during in-processing to the temporary detention facility at Camp X-Ray in Naval Base Guantanamo Bay (Reuters)


U.S. Army Military Police escort a detainee to his cell during in-processing to the temporary detention facility at Camp X-Ray in Naval Base Guantanamo Bay (Reuters)

“Does the recent ‘torture report’ on CIA ‘enhanced interrogation methods’ leave US citizens vulnerable to prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC)?” Mark Kersten explores the question at Justice in Conflict:

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UK government "dries out" its "water damaged" CIA torture files


The Foreign Office said it couldn't provide its files on secret CIA rendition of terrorism suspects for torture, because those files (and only those files) were "water-damaged."

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Freedom of info funnies: CIA cafeteria complaints

Michael from Muckrock writes, "It's not easy being a spy: MuckRock's cooked up two batches of complaints about the CIA's cafeteria service, everything from Pepsi and Diet Pepsi being swapped to offensively inauthentic Russian food. The carrots, however, are 'amazingly great' if you're ever in the area."

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White House leaks name of Kabul CIA chief, yet no one goes to prison

Soldiers take photos as U.S. President Barack Obama (C) shakes hands with troops after delivering remarks at Bagram Air Base in Kabul, May 25, 2014. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)


Soldiers take photos as U.S. President Barack Obama (C) shakes hands with troops after delivering remarks at Bagram Air Base in Kabul, May 25, 2014. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

The identity of the top CIA officer in Afghanistan was exposed over the weekend by the White House when his name was included by mistake on a list given to news organizations of senior officials participating in President Obama’s surprise visit with US troops.

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How the CIA created the Unabomber


When mass murderer Ted Kaczynski was a 16-year-old undergraduate student at Harvard, he took part in a behavioral engineering project run by the CIA. It was part of the US government's illegal MKUltra project, which ruined the lives of many innocent and unwitting test subjects around the world.

The study was run by Dr. Henry Murray, who had each of his 22 subjects write an essay detailing their dreams and aspirations. The students were then taken to a room where electrodes were attached to them to monitor their vitals as they were subjected to extremely personal, stressful, and brutal critiques about the essays they had written. Following the psychological attacks, the participants were forced to watch the videos of themselves being verbally and psychologically assaulted multiple times. Kaczynski is claimed to have had the worst physiological reaction to being interrogated. These experiments, paired with his lack of social skills and memories of being bullied as a child, caused Kaczynski to suffer from horrible nightmares that eventually drove him to move into isolation outside Lincoln, Montana.

The June 2000 issue of The Atlantic has a good, very long, article about this terrible experiment.

The CIA Created The Unabomber

Obama administration proves why we need someone to leak CIA Torture Report

image: Reuters


image: Reuters

It’s now been over a month since the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to force the Obama administration to declassify parts of the Committee’s landmark report on CIA torture, and the public still has not seen a word of the 6,000 page investigation.

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State Dept launches 'Free the Press' campaign while DOJ asks Supreme Court to force NYT's James Risen to jail

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The US State Department announced the launch of its third annual "Free the Press" campaign today, which will purportedly highlight "journalists or media outlets that are censored, attacked, threatened, or otherwise oppressed because of their reporting." A noble mission for sure. But maybe they should kick off the campaign by criticizing their own Justice Department, which on the very same day, has asked the Supreme Court to help them force Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter James Risen into jail.

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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]

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]

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)

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."

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.

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."

CIA director promotes woman who approved destruction of CIA "harsh interrogation" videos

A woman has been placed in charge of the CIA’s clandestine service for the first time in the agency’s history, reports the Washington Post. She's a veteran officer whom many in the agency support, and the high-level appointment is seen as a step forward for women in Washington. That's the good news! The bad news is...
[S]he also helped run the CIA’s detention and interrogation program after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and signed off on the 2005 decision to destroy videotapes of prisoners being subjected to treatment critics have called torture. The woman, who remains undercover and cannot be named, was put in the top position on an acting basis when the previous chief retired last month. The question of whether to give her the job permanently poses an early quandary for [CIA Director John] Brennan, who is already struggling to distance the agency from the decade-old controversies.

More: "CIA director faces a quandary over clandestine service appointment". [The Washington Post, via @dabeard]

There's some speculation it's this person. [Gawker]

"Zero Dark Thirty" not good enough to justify torture fantasies

"Zero Dark Thirty," director Kathryn Bigelow's truthy-but-not-a-documentary-but-maybe-it-kinda-is thriller about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, opened in New York and Los Angeles this week. I watched a screener last night. I thought it kind of sucked. There's a lot of buzz about what a great work of art ZDT is. I don't get it. In reviews of ZDT, fawning critics reflexively note that she directed Oscar-winning "Hurt Locker." Guys, she directed "Point Break," too.

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Petraeus outed by Gmail

As reported earlier today, CIA chief David Petraeus has resigned after an FBI probe into whether someone else was using his email led to the discovery he was having an extramarital affair.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the investigation focused on his Gmail account, and that the traffic they observed "led agents to believe the woman or someone close to her had sought access to his email." The woman in question has now been identified as West Point graduate Paula Broadwell, author of "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus."

While Mr. Petraeus was still a general, he had email exchanges with the woman, but there wasn't a physical relationship, the person said. The affair began after Mr. Petraeus retired from the Army in August 2011 and ended months ago, the person said.

Previously: CIA chief Petraeus steps down, having failed to keep his drone in his pants

CIA chief Petraeus steps down, having failed to keep his drone in his pants

David H. Petraeus, the head of America's Central Intelligence Agency, resigned just days after the election after issuing a statement saying he had engaged in an extramarital affair.

"By acknowleding an extramarital affair, Mr. Petraeus, 60, was confronting a sensitive issue for a spy chief," reports the New York Times. "Intelligence agencies are often concerned about the possibility that agents who engage in such behavior could be blackmailed for information."

In an email to Wired's national security blog Danger Room, a former confidant says of the disgraced general, “He feels that he screwed up. He did a dishonorable thing and needed to try to do the honorable thing.” The source says the affair began after Petraeus retired from the military and became CIA director.

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How Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light transformed into the CIA's Argo covert op

To facilitate the return of six US diplomats trapped in Iran, during the 1979 hostage crisis, CIA technician Tony Mendez concocts an incredible cover story: they're part of a film crew, scouting out locations in the Islamic republic for an epic science fiction movie. But one core prop is hard to find at short-notice: a convincing, ready-to-shoot screenplay.Read the rest