Capping off Donald J. Trump's No Good Very Bad Horrible Day today, the Wall Street Journal reports that senior U.S. intelligence officials are deliberately withholding sensitive information from the President because they don't trust him. Today's report cites sources inside the White House, and underscores the deep mistrust between career spies and the imploding kakistocracy.
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Brazilian Army Captain Willian Pina Botelho posed as Baltazar "Balta" Nunes in a fake Tinder profile and set out to seduce members of left wing anti-government protest movements in order to infiltrate them.
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The independent tribunal ruled on a case brought by Privacy International, concluding that the UK spy agency GCHQ was acting illegally for 17 years while it amassed huge databases of "bulk collection" data of cellphone location and call-data -- a practice revealed by the Edward Snowden docs.
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Sounding like something out of a mediocre Hollywood movie, SeaWorld has copped to infiltrating animal rights groups and spying, under the guise of protecting them selves from "credible threats."
I also enjoy that "certain employees" were directed to these tasks. Seal trainers? Cotton candy spinners?
From the Orlando Sentinel:
Reading from a statement while speaking with analysts, Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby said SeaWorld's board of directors has "directed management to end the practice in which certain employees posed as animal-welfare activists. This activity was undertaken in connection with efforts to maintain the safety and security of employees, customers and animals in the face of credible threats."
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Mary Yordy made a set of 16 cards called Women In Espionage. You can buy them through Etsy.
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According to an article in the Palestinian daily al-Quds, Israel has "recruited a watery pet, the dolphin, known for his friendship with humans, to use for operations to kill Qassam Brigade Naval Commandos." Read the rest
The documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed a division of British intelligence focused on the use of psychological science to influence, deceive, and infiltrate suspected terrorist cells, hostile states, criminal gangs, and activist groups. Vaughan "Mind Hacks" Bell investigates, and notes that some of their techniques draw heavily from the work of Robert Cialdini, author of Influence
, an absolute must-read classic book about techniques of persuasion. Read the rest
The enormous dump of docs from cyber-arms-dealer Hacking Team continues to yield up details, like the time the company tried to sell spying tools to a death squad.
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The hour-long conversation with Brian Williams is the former NSA contractor’s first US television interview since leaking NSA documents to reporters.
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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
." Read the rest
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." Read the rest
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] Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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] Read the rest
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). Read the rest