'Utterly ridiculous': GCHQ shreds Spicer's claim that UK spy agency wiretapped Trump

Officials with the British government complained to the White House today after Donald Trump's spokesliar Sean Spicer cited a bogus Fox News report claiming that former President Barack Obama got help from U.K. intelligence agency GCHQ to spy on Donald Trump.

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Justice Dept. to charge 2 Russian spies and 2 criminal hackers with 2014 Yahoo breach of 500 million accounts

Before today's anticipated announcement by the Justice Department, more details are already leaking out about who they're after: “two Russian spies, and two criminal hackers.”

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U.S. spies are withholding intelligence from Donald Trump, who has none

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 domestic spies use Tinder to infiltrate protest movements

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. Read the rest

UK's Investigatory Powers Tribunal says GHCQ illegally spied for 17 years

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. Read the rest

SeaWorld secret agents go deep undercover

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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Women In Espionage trading card set

Mary Yordy made a set of 16 cards called Women In Espionage. You can buy them through Etsy. Read the rest

Hamas claims Israel is using dolphins as spies

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

British intelligence's use of persuasion psychology

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

What horrible things did we learn about Hacking Team today?

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. Read the rest

NBC airs Edward Snowden's first US TV interview

The hour-long conversation with Brian Williams is the former NSA contractor’s first US television interview since leaking NSA documents to reporters.

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. Read the rest

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. Read the rest

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." Read the rest

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." Read the rest

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] Read the rest

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. Read the rest

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