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Bizarre photos from the East German spy archives

Wired posted a selection of photos from Simon Menner's new book, Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives, and they're so very bizarre.

During the Communist era, East Germany employed 300,000 spies to observe its own citizens; more per capita than any other totalitarian government in recent history. First opened in 1992, the archives of the Stasi contain 1.4 million photographs and over 50 miles of documents
The set contains far weirder images than the above. But this one contains Stasi Clones of Mark Frauenfelder and Steve Jobs practicing martial arts, so it is the one that I have chosen.

A herpetologist with a secret life as a spy

Early 20th century herpetologist Edward Taylor is known for identifying new species of frogs and lizards, for his curmudgeonly personality, and paranoid racism. Turns out, he was also secretly a spy for the US government during World Wars I and II. Maggie 1

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

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

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]

A brief history of space monkeys and spies

In the late 1950s, American scientists very publicly readied a crew of monkeys for a series of trips into Earth orbit and back. As far as the researchers knew, Project Discoverer was an actual, honest-to-Ike peaceful scientific program. Naturally, they were wrong about that. In reality, their work was part of an elaborate cover-up masking a spy satellite program. At The Primate Diaries, Eric Michael Johnson reports on some fascinating space history. Maggie

High-tech border crossings stymie spies

The CIA fears high-tech customs checks, writes Jeff Stein: "The increasing deployment of iris scanners and biometric passports at worldwide airports, hotels and business headquarters, designed to catch terrorists and criminals, are playing havoc with operations that require CIA spies to travel under false identities." [Wired] Rob

Iraqi defector whose phony WMD intel and "sexed up graphics" led to 100,000+ deaths: "Yes, I lied."

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, aka "Curveball", an Iraqi defector who falsified testimony about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, confirms that he made the whole thing up in an interview airing this week on the BBC2 TV series, "Modern Spies." The former chemical engineer's "confidence trick" was used by the Bush administration to justify going to war with Iraq in 2003.

Snip from The Independent:

But Mr Janabi, speaking in a two-part series, Modern Spies, starting tomorrow on BBC2, says none of it was true. When it is put to him "we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie", he simply replies: "Yes."

US officials "sexed up" Mr Janabi's drawings of mobile biological weapons labs to make them more presentable, admits Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, General Powell's former chief of staff. "I brought the White House team in to do the graphics," he says, adding how "intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy".

You can watch the episode in entirety here, for a limited time—but alas, only if the BBC's web servers can be convinced that you're in the UK.

(via Doctrine Man).