Category Archives: CIA

Revealed: CIA secretly operates on Syrian border, supplies arms to rebels

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June 21, 2012

Members of the Free Syrian Army walk as they carry RPGs at Bab Al Hawa in outskirts of Idlib, near the Syrian-Turkey border (Reuters / Str)

American secret service operatives are distributing illegal assault rifles, anti-tank rocket launchers and other ammunition to Syrian opposition, the New York Times reports. But due to some rebels’ links to Al Qaeda, the CIA’s task is precarious.

The paper reports that for weeks now, officers based in southeast Turkey have supervised the flow of illegal arms to numerous opposition factions ready to fight the regime of President Bashar Assad. The only problem is some of the rebel groups have links with terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda, so the CIA mission must be careful not to arm proven terrorists by mistake.

Arms and ammunition are being brought into Syria mainly over the Turkish border with the help of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood network and other groups, the report says. Expenses are being shared by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The NYT source, an unnamed Arab intelligence official, revealed that American officers are also collecting information on Syrian opposition groups and recruiting informants among their ranks. The source said the Obama administration is considering sharing its intelligence data, such as satellite images and detailed information on the location and maneuvers of Syrian troops.

According to the source, CIA operatives might be helping the rebels with organizing a rudimentary intelligence organization. The CIA agents have reportedly not set foot on Syrian soil, however.

While, it seems, supplying Syrian opposition with arms, the US would like to see Syria’s allies, Russia in the first place, stop supplying weapons to the regime of President Bashar Assad. Washington has expressed concern with Russia performing maintenance of Syrian Mi-25 assault helicopters.

Moscow has consistently denied supplying to Damascus any types of assault weapons that can be used against armed rebels. Russia’s Foreign Ministry says the country has only supplied Syria with defensive capabilities such as anti-air missile systems.

Russia is not violating any international sanctions against Syria, and Moscow has declared it will not cease military cooperation with Damascus.

Prior to the report about CIA officers operating on the Turkish-Syrian border, the Obama administration’s declared policy on the conflict in Syria centered on diplomacy and humanitarian aid. The State Department has reportedly allocated $15 million in medical supplies and communication equipment for armed opposition groups in Syria.

In the meantime it seems the Pentagon is considering various options for interference in the Syrian conflict, including establishing no-fly zones over the country, as was done in Libya a year ago.

American and Israeli generals are also concerned with securing alleged stockpiles of Syrian chemical weapons, the very existence of which has never been proven.

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New U.S. spy service targets China and Iran

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April 24, 2012

China and Iran are the high-priority targets for a new spy service created by the Pentagon. The Defense Clandestine Service is aimed at ramping up spying operations overseas, and suggests a shift in national threat assessment.

The plan approved by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week will see hundreds of case officers working alongside the CIA.

The military and civilian spy agencies will increasingly focus on similar threats.

The large military build up in China is likely to be one of the main targets for the new agency. Iran, Al-Qaeda in Africa, and North Korea’s nuclear programme are also on the priority list.

During the last decade the US has mainly focused on war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

The new service is expected to grow in the coming years by shifting people’s assignments, the New York Times quoted a senior Defense Department official as saying.

The Pentagon has already sought to downplay concerns that the new service would take over CIA functions, rather beef up existing CIA intelligence teams.

While serving the Pentagon case officers in the field will answer directly to the top intelligence representative in their posting, usually the CIA’s chief of station.

There have been complaints that the CIA and Defense Department were stepping on each other’s toes, with the Defense Intelligence Service also gathering information about terrorists and nuclear proliferation along with the CIA.

A study completed by the Director of National Intelligence, has assessed that traditional spying activities are not enough.

Now the Pentagon wants more info on what is called “national intelligence” — gathering and distributing information on global issues and sharing that intelligence with other agencies.

The new project was worked out by the top Pentagon intelligence official, the Undersecretary for Defense Intelligence Michael Vickers, and his CIA counterpart who heads the National Clandestine Service.

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Confirmed: CIA secret prison in Poland

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April 2, 2012

In this Dec. 16, 2005 file photo a watch tower overlooks the area near the Polish intelligence school just outside of Stare Kiejkuty, Poland. The installation has become the focal point of allegations of secret CIA prisons in Poland. For years, the notion that Poland could allow the CIA to operate a secret prison in a remote lake region was treated as a crackpot idea by the country’s politicians. (Czarek Sokolowski, File/Associated Press)

Another CIA-run interrogation ‘black site’ has been exposed after the confessions of top-ranking Polish officials blew the lid on the dirtiest secret in Eastern Europe.

The former head of Poland’s intelligence service secret Zbigniew Siemiatkowski has been charged with taking part in establishing a secret prison for the CIA in a remote part of the country. Allegedly, foreign prisoners in the detention center were tortured in connection with America’s global war on terror.

Siemiatkowski refused to comment on the matter, citing the country’s secrecy laws.  However, he did not deny the report.

Rumors about Poland hosting a CIA-run prison had circulated for years, though the country’s authorities dismissed them as absurd.  However, the UN and the Council of Europe had long claimed they had evidence of the site’s existence.

Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former Prime Minister Leszek Miller both repeatedly denied the knowledge of the prison.

The official investigation into a CIA-run prison in Poland started in 2008, a year after Donald Tusk took office.  It took three years for evidence of the site to come to light.

Allegedly, a secret interrogation facility for terror suspects was operating in Stare Kiejkuty, a small village in remote Poland, from December 2002 to the fall of 2003, “depriving prisoners of war of their freedom” and “allowing corporal punishment.”

Earlier, two prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah, claimed they were prisoners at this ‘black site.’ Polish prosecutors have already given the two “victim status”.

Among other possible detainees are self-proclaimed 9/11 terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, perpetrator of the 2000 USS Cole bombing Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, and Palestinian terror suspect Abu Zubaydah.

According to the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, up to eight prisoners underwent “extraordinary rendition” to be tortured in Poland.

The harsh interrogation techniques used by the American spooks included waterboarding, starvation, cooling of the body, visual and acoustic deprivation for extended periods of time, slamming prisoners against walls, and mock execution, among many other methods.

Naturally, torture is not allowed in any European country, Poland included. If it is proven that Poland did in fact allow torture to take place at a CIA facility in their country, the matter could be taken  before the European Court of Human Rights.  The prosecution of Polish and American agents would also remain a distinct possibility.

“We can think about Polish intelligence officers who most probably somehow collaborated with the CIA  in establishing this site. We can think about the CIA officers, because if they made it [tortures] in the territory of Poland – it is a crime,” human rights lawyer and  head of the legal division at the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights Dr Adam Bodnar told RT.

“But as you most probably know, the US authorities would not give any data regarding them and would not allow them to be extradited,” he concluded.

Never ever again in Poland?

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk fully supports the high-profile case against the former senior official.

Tusk charged that Poland has become a “political victim” of US officials.

“This may be painful, but concrete evidence that Poland is no longer a country where politicians can fix something under the table and expect it not to [eventually] come out — even if they do so with the world’s greatest superpower,”Tusk stated.

In fact, the Polish PM was left no other choice but to recognize the existence of the CIA prison in his country. Tusk charged that Poland has become the “political victim” of US officials leaking some aspects of their bilateral relations.

“Poland is a democracy where national and international law must be observed,” Poland’s PM stated, demanding an investigation into the matter. “Let there be no doubt about it either in Poland or on the other side of the ocean,” he said harshly.

“Poland will no longer be a country where politicians, even if they are working arm-in-arm with the world’s greatest superpower, could make some deal somewhere under the table and then it would never see daylight,” he said in reference to the ongoing investigation which is meant to ensure that nothing like this will happen in Poland again.

The US never disclosed the whereabouts of the so-called “black sites,” but human rights groups named Afghanistan, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Thailand as the most likely hosts.

Lithuania was the first country in Europe to admit it had allowed the CIA to establish two secret detention facilities in 2002-2006.

In November 2011, Lithuania faced a lawsuit for hosting a secret CIA prison on its soil when Abu Zubaydah, a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, claimed he was detained and tortured there.

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NATO forces already operating in Syria

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Revealed by recent Stratfor WikiLeaks e-mail

By Tayfun Gol
March 13, 2012

Free Syria Army checkpoint in Baba Amr district of Homs

Despite Western powers’ denial of military involvement in Syria, undercover NATO forces are already on the ground, according to recently leaked WikiLeaks documents.

The key document is an e-mail written by Reva Bhalla, director of analysis for Stratfor, a leading private U.S. intelligence agency. The e-mail contains details of a Pentagon meeting that took place in early December 2011 and was attended by members of the U.S. Air Force Strategic Studies Group along with high-ranking military officers, including French and British representatives.

During the meeting, the military officials mention that, despite official claims to the contrary, foreign troops from NATO powers were already on the ground in Syria. “After a couple hours of talking, they said without [saying] that SOF [Special Operations Forces] teams (presumably from the U.S., UK, France, Jordan, Turkey) are already on the ground focused on recce [reconnaissance] missions and training opposition forces.”

When Bhalla asked about what these forces would be working toward, he got the following response from the military officials: “The idea ‘hypothetically’ is to commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces, elicit collapse from within.”

The “Alawite forces” refers to the Syrian government. The Alawites are a sect of Shi’a Islam, as distinct from the majority of the Syrian population, who are Sunni Muslims. There is also a sizeable Christian population. The Assad family and some in the ruling circle are Alawites. But Syria has a secular state.

The Syrian population is deeply divided and both sides, the government and the rebels, have a substantial base of support. The dividing line among the population is not simply one of Christians and Alawites on the government’s side, versus the Sunnis on the rebel side. There are definitely many Sunnis who support the government. But with the leading role that the Muslim Brotherhood plays in the opposition, sectarian divisions have been accentuated in the course of the last year. The rebel forces in Syria are made up mostly of Sunni Muslims.

This document appears to show that U.S. and NATO forces are already in Syria planning terrorist attacks and assassinations against the state and training rebels in order to overthrow the sovereign government of Syria.

Mossad, CIA, Blackwater and British in Homs conflict

There have been other reports of foreign troops entering Syria, especially in Homs, which has witnessed fierce fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels. Last month, an Israeli intelligence outfit, Debka, revealed that British Special Forces were “operating with rebel forces under cover in the Syrian city of Homs just 162 kilometers from Damascus.”

In addition to the British involvement in supporting the rebels, a recent security operation in Homs by Syrian forces revealed the role of Mossad, CIA and Blackwater forces after 700 Arab and Western gunmen were captured in the Baba Amr district, the former rebel stronghold. Among the captured gunmen were Qatari intelligence agents and non-Arab fighters from Afghanistan, Turkey and France. Along with the gunmen, advanced Israeli, European and American weapons were captured. A coordination office established in Qatar with intelligence agents from Qatar, Saudi Arabia as well as CIA, Mossad and Blackwater oversaw the rebel military operations in Baba Amr, Homs.

Document exposes Turkish role in Syrian civil war

A WikiLeaks e-mail between a Turkish official and a Stratfor analyst exposes the role U.S.-client state and NATO member Turkey is playing in escalating the civil war in Syria by providing training, arms and support to the “Free Syrian Army.” This is a militia that operates out of Turkey and claims to have about 10,000 fighters. The same document also exposes the mainstream media’s propaganda function when the Turkish official comments: “Notice all the talk in the press now about civil war breaking out in Syria. This is the narrative Turkey and U.S. want to build.”

When the Stratfor analyst mentions the challenges in creating the conditions for a civil war due to the strength of the government forces, the Turkish official acknowledges that “it’ll be messy and it will take a lot of blood and time for a Sunni power to emerge in Syria, but that this is the Turkish obligation.”

In a recent interview with BBC, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has admitted that al-Qaeda and other groups on the U.S. terror list are actually fighting on the same side as the U.S. in Syria,—that is, aiding opposition rebels. In fact, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri has publicly expressed support for Syrian rebels. Recent terrorist bombings in February in Aleppo have been linked to al-Qaeda. These attacks have killed 28 people, including civilians as well as Syrian officials.

Media source on human rights tied to U.S. and Britain

The “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” has been the major source for mainstream media reports about Syria. This outfit is essentially a one-man show based in London and operating in connection with the Damascus Center for Human Rights, an NGO based in Syria’s capital. The Damascus Center for Human Rights, in turn, boasts affiliation with the National Endowment for Democracy, an NGO directly funded by the U.S. Congress.

A Reuters photo published in November 2011 also proved the connection between the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the British government. The photo depicts the head of the organization, Rami Abdelrahman, leaving the Foreign and Commonwealth Office after meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Most of the organization’s reports are based on phone calls and YouTube videos from Syria, without any independent sources to confirm their validity or accuracy. Despite the glaringly dubious nature of the organization and the fact that it is working in coordination with both U.S.-funded NGOs and the British government, mainstream media outlets have extensively relied on this organization as the main source of their news from Syria.

While this London-based organization is mass producing shady reports about alleged human rights violations by the Syrian government, the U.S. and British governments are at the same time setting up the shameless pretext in the U.N. for an armed intervention under the guise of the so-called “Right to protect” doctrine.

Main goal: To install another U.S. puppet regime in Syria

Earlier in February, when a U.N. Security Council resolution to promote regime change in Syria was vetoed by Russia and China, Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., accused Russia and China of holding the Security Council “hostage.” This accusation, from the representative of a country that on 42 occasions vetoed resolutions critical of the state of Israel, is laughable at best. Rice is a leading supporter of the aforementioned “Right to Protect” doctrine, which advocates the “right” of imperialist powers to engage in armed intervention for “humanitarian” purposes.

Historically, the role of the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East has been centered on the drive to install and maintain client states while pushing for the overthrow of independent ones. Oppressive regimes like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar enjoy full support as long as they loyally serve the interests of the U.S. and its allies. When needed, they willingly participate in the imperialist plans to overthrow neighboring independent states. The role of Turkey, Qatar and Israel in the latest plot against Syria clearly demonstrates this.

The fact is that the U.S. government and its allies have long been after regime change in Syria. As in the case of Libya, the Syrian state is not a workers’ state nor a socialist country, even though there is substantial state ownership of large industrial enterprises. In a document assessing the country, the U.S. State Department complains that Syria has “failed to join an increasingly interconnected global economy.”

The same document goes on to mention that as a result of the Ba’athists’ (ruling party) ideological fixation on socialism, “privatization of government enterprises is still not widespread.” The economy “remains highly controlled by the government.” Article 14 in the newly adopted Syrian Constitution reaffirms the importance of the public ownership of “natural resources, facilities, institutions and public utilities.” In other words, in the eyes of the U.S. government, by pursuing independent economic policies and refusing to surrender its state-owned enterprises to imperialism, Syria is guilty as charged.

No to imperialist intervention in Syria

If the imperialist project to overthrow the Syrian regime succeeds, it would be a great defeat for the people of Syria and the Middle East. Syria’s resources would quickly be plundered by the Western governments and investors. There would most likely be a violent sectarian conflict between the Alawites, Christians and Sunnis that make up the Syrian population. The new puppet government would willingly sign a peace treaty with Israel, causing a historic setback for the Palestinian struggle.

It does not take much imagination to draw these conclusions about Syria if we only take into account the recent and grim aftermath of the NATO intervention in Libya. The progressives and liberals who earlier rushed to cheer for the so-called “Libyan revolution” are now left to make excuses for a group of NATO-installed criminals whose short record includes racist lynchings, mass executions and the handing over of Libya’s resources to their imperialist masters.

U.S. imperialism is driven by the expand-or-die logic of capitalism to dominate the world politically, economically and militarily. Backed by mainstream media lies and despite its fake rhetoric of “freedom, democracy and human rights,” its interventions are intended to increase profit for its capitalist class and secure its global domination.

It is the responsibility of all progressive and revolutionary forces to oppose all forms of intervention in Syria, whether by the U.S. government and its imperialist allies or by their client states. Hands off Syria!

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Iran airs footage of downed US drone

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December 8, 2011

Iran has released video footage of the most advanced US reconnaissance drone which was downed by the Iranian Army in the eastern part of the Islamic Republic earlier this week.

On Sunday December 4, the Iranian Army’s electronic warfare unit downed with minimum damage the US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft which was flying over the Iranian city of Kashmar, some 140 miles (225km) from the Afghan border.

The aircraft had crossed into Iran’s airspace over the border with neighboring Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Iran has announced that it intends to carry out reverse engineering on the captured RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft, which is also known as the Beast of Kandahar, and is similar in design to a US Air Force B-2 stealth bomber.

On Tuesday, two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the drone had been part of a CIA reconnaissance mission, involving the United State’s intelligence community stationed in Afghanistan.

They claimed the reconnaissance capability of the RQ-170 Sentinel drone enabled it to gather information from inside Iran by flying along Afghanistan’s border with the Islamic Republic.

The RQ-170 is designed and developed by the American company, Lockheed Martin.

A commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said on Thursday that the aircraft, equipped with highly advanced surveillance systems, electronic communication, and radar systems, had fallen into the trap of Iran’s armed forces.

Iran has said that the US drone spy mission was a “hostile act”, adding that it will complain to the United Nations over the violation of its air sovereignty by the intelligence gathering aircraft.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has also summoned the Swiss ambassador to Tehran to protest the recent violation of the Islamic Republic’s airspace by the US spy drone.

The United States has admitted that the unmanned stealth drone was part of a surveillance program for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

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Iran delivers major blow to the CIA

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By Mahan Abedin
December 1, 2011

Iran’s claim last week to have arrested 12 spies working for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is potentially a major blow to American intelligence-gathering efforts in Iran and to American intelligence generally. The arrests come on the heels of the arrest of 30 alleged CIA spies in late May and are indicative of steadily improving counter-intelligence capabilities.

The recent success is reinforced by the unraveling of a CIA spy ring in Lebanon operating within the Hezbollah organization. These reports have been grudgingly confirmed by current and former US intelligence officials, which is suggestive of a major American intelligence defeat, if not a full-blown disaster.

Recent Hezbollah counter-intelligence successes against Israel and the US (in June, Hezbollah arrested two CIA spies operating inside the organization) are at least in part due to increased counter-intelligence assistance from Iran.

Asia Times Online sources in Tehran claim that Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) has been more willing in recent years to transfer sensitive counter-espionage know-how and techniques to both Hezbollah and the official Lebanese intelligence services.

Regarding the arrest of 12 alleged CIA spies by Iran, aside from the clear indication of escalating American intelligence operations, there are two outstanding observations. First, the CIA is operating a lower threshold of quality control in terms of agent recruitment and management. Second, there are signs that the MOIS is moving steadily in the direction of making Iran a forbidding space for hostile foreign intelligence services.

Information from a wide range of Iranian media – and corroborated by ATol sources in Tehran – is suggestive of a scatter-gun approach by the CIA inasmuch as the agency is targeting virtually any Iranian citizen it believes could potentially provide useful information on the CIA’s target set.

While there were media reports that some government “managers” were amongst the suspected CIA spies arrested in May, this time around Iran’s intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi, told local journalists on Sunday that there were no government officials amongst the 12 suspected spies.

Speaking on the fringes of the government’s weekly cabinet meeting, Moslehi gave strong indications that most, if not all, of the latest arrested suspected spies were either junior Iranian scientists or students who frequently travelled overseas as part of their studies or official scientific work.

Information gleaned from a wide range of Iranian media over the past six months – and confirmed by ATol sources in Tehran – appears to indicate that besides the high-value targets such as the nuclear program and the country’s defense establishment, the CIA’s target set includes Iran’s banking and financial sector; logistics and transportation networks (particularly air transportation); town planning; the oil and gas sector; and the software industry, particularly private companies that design and operate specialist software for the Iranian government.

More specifically, the CIA appears to be focussed on how Iran is defeating international and unilateral US and European sanctions; how and to what extent Iran is using the international financial system to advance its critical projects as well as its ordinary day-to-day business; the vulnerabilities of Iran’s transportation and logistics network; the level of preparedness by Iranian emergency and humanitarian relief organizations; and more generally the resilience of critical Iranian infrastructure in the face of a major disaster or a prolonged period of national stress, such as a military conflict.

To achieve its objectives, the CIA’s National Clandestine Service (NCS) has set up a dedicated team of operatives and analysts who operate primarily from countries bordering Iran, but also further afield, particularly in countries with sizeable numbers of Iranian students, such as Malaysia.

This dedicated network is exceptionally well-trained, for example all the operatives and analysts possess a masterful command of the Persian language and display high levels of inter-cultural competence.

Early indications appear to suggest that the CIA started to develop this dedicated network in 2003 and that most of the elements were in place by the middle of 2008. This makes the MOIS’ recent counter-intelligence success an even more remarkable achievement, in so far as Iranian counter-intelligence may have doomed the CIA’s vast investment almost from the outset.

In the course of its investigations and specialized counter-espionage work, the MOIS claims to have identified 42 officers of the CIA’s NCS operating in several countries and collected detailed information on the scope and nature of their activities.

The dedicated NCS team appears to be embedded within numerous official and unofficial American organizations, including US embassies, multinational corporations, medium-sized commercial organizations, recruitment consultancies, immigration and wider legal services, academic and quasi-academic institutions and reputable (ie longstanding) as well as newly set up thinktanks.

If accounts on online Iranian media are to be believed the focus on Iranian scientists and students may have been this dedicated team’s downfall. It has been suggested that the 30-person network(s) unraveled earlier this year (and announced in late May) was initially brought to the attention of the MOIS by a patriotic Iranian student who had been approached by a quasi-academic institution (offering grants and scholarships as a means of entrapment) in Malaysia.

The MOIS subsequently investigated the Malaysia-based institution and was able to establish a clear CIA link, which in turn widened the scope of the investigation and eventually netted 30 suspected spies.

It has been reported that 75% of the suspected spies detained this year had higher education qualifications. At one level, this is suggestive of an innovative CIA approach to entrap and recruit gifted Iranian scientists and students with a view to collecting information on the target set in a short to medium time frame.

However, the relative dearth of government officials – or in fact anyone with access to classified or sensitive information – indicates a degree of CIA desperation and an acceptance by the agency that it has to make do with lower quality recruits and manage them to a shorter life span, in view of the agents’ lack of ready access to classified materials and the expectation that the MOIS would catch up with them sooner rather than later.

It is also an indication that the most sensitive Iranian organizations (or at least the higher reaches of these organizations) including the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the wider defense establishment, are now either free of American spies or at least more secure than before in the face of determined American espionage efforts.

Furthermore, it can be argued that as the CIA widens and intensifies its agent recruitment efforts it runs the long-term risk of making it more and more difficult to operate inside Iran, in view of the MOIS’ proven prowess at penetrating American intelligence networks and learning the key secrets at the heart of these conspiracies at a relatively early stage.

In summary, there appears to be a disparity between escalating CIA espionage and the MOIS’ growing counter-espionage resilience, with the latter steadily gaining the upper hand.

But despite clear improvements in counter-espionage capabilities and protective security measures, Iran is still some way away from making it prohibitively costly for Western agencies to operate inside the country. Indeed, all the major West European, North American and Israeli intelligence services are either active inside Iran or work closely with some elements of the Iranian diaspora.

Nevertheless, there are clear signs that in the pure intelligence war (as opposed to sabotage) Iran is beginning to turn the tide.

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CIA spy ring busted in Iran and Lebanon

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November 21, 2011

United States officials are saying that shortcuts, unaccountability, laziness and general mismanagement are to blame for the compromising of several CIA informants in Iran and Lebanon who are now feared dead.

A CIA-led program in the Middle East is up in the air after officials confirmed to news organizations today that paid informants in Iran and Lebanon working for the US government have disappeared while attempting to infiltrate Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed military organization considered a terrorist group by the US.

Iranian intelligence minister Heidar Mosleh announced in May that more than 30 US and Israeli spies had been discovered and he quickly took to Iranian television to broadcast information explaining the methods of online communication that the agents would use to trade intel. Only a month later, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah announced that two high-ranking officers within his own organization had been identified as CIA spies. Just now, however, does the US government confirm that not only is this information true, but they believe that the rest of their Hezbollah-targeted operations in the Middle East have been compromised.

According to some within the agency, all of this could have been prevented.

Speaking to ABC News, one former US senior intelligence official speaking without accreditation says that CIA agents were warned to avoid using the same Lebanon hub for secret meet-ups — a Beirut Pizza Hut restaurant — though spies continue to use the location for countless meet-ups with a wide range of informants.

“We were lazy and the CIA is now flying blind against Hezbollah,” the former official tells ABC.

According to several US officials speaking to the press, the CIA used the codeword “PIZZA” to arrange for would-be clandestine meetings at the restaurant. To ABC, however, a current CIA officer denied the allegations that the entire operations evaporated at the eatery

Others within the agency, but currently and formerly, say that outside of the Pizza Hut sting, the revealing of the online communication conducted between the CIA and informants in Iran led to “dozens” of assets being compromised. Officials have confirmed that the websites that Intel Ministero Mosleh showed an Iranian television audience were indeed used by the CIA in their secret web chats.

“We’ve lost the tradition of espionage,” one former intelligence official tells ABC. “Officers take short cuts and no one is held accountable.”

Another anonymous official tells the Associated Press that the CIA was warned by Hezbollah’s Nasrallah that they were cracking down on American spies, but the US pressed on despite the consequences.

Prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Hezbollah organization was believed to be responsible for the most terrorism-related deaths of Americans ever. Last year the State Department described the militants as “the most technically capable terrorist group in the world” and a government probe linked the group to hundreds of millions of dollars in funding out of Iran. A 2009 crackdown by Hezbollah aimed at Israeli spies led to the arrest of roughly 100, and a CIA investigation that followed revealed that the United States’ own agents would be just as susceptible to similar strikes.

While the fate of the CIA agents remains uncertain — and the final toll kept under wraps — what is known is that for the American intelligence community, not much good can come from this.

“Hezbollah has disappeared people before. Others they have kept around,” counterterrorism expert Matthew Levitt tells the AP.

“If they were genuine spies, spying against Hezbollah, I don’t think we’ll ever see them again,” former CIA officer Robert Baer tells ABC. “These guys are very, very vicious and unforgiving.”

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CIA to continue covert operations in Iraq

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October 26, 2011

A picture taken by the Iraqi air force Caravan (Cessna 280) Intelligence. (file photo)

As the US prepares to withdraw its forces from Iraq, the CIA is looking for ways to continue its secret so-called “counterterrorism” and intelligence programs inside the country.

On October 21, President Barack Obama announced that all US forces would withdraw from Iraq by December 31 and “America’s war in Iraq will be over.”

US officials, however, have made it clear that the CIA plans to continue the programs, which have been run by the Joint Special Operations Command and other military organizations for years, in the country.

These programs include different activities such as the deployment of remote sensors that scan the wireless spectrum of terrorist safe havens to stealth US-Iraqi counterterrorism commando teams.

“There are of course parts of the counterterrorism mission that the intelligence community, including CIA, will be able to take on from other organizations-and there are parts of that mission that it won’t,” the Daily Beast quoted one of the US counterterrorism officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

The US and its allies invaded Iraq in 2003 under the pretext that Saddam Hussein’s regime possessed weapons of mass destruction. However, no such weapons were ever found in the country.

There are currently about 4,700 US soldiers deployed in Iraq. According to a 2008 security accord, known as the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), all US troops are required to leave the country by the end of 2011.

The US appears desperate to maintain its regional presence as it has entered talks with regional allies after negotiations with Iraq for keeping a few thousand troops in the country broke down when Iraqi leaders refused to grant American soldiers and mrcenaries legal immunity.

The US is negotiating with Kuwait about moving some equipment and troops to the Persian Gulf state.

Washington is also holding talks with Turkey about deploying sensitive sensors, drones, and other equipment used in Iraq at the Incirlik airbase, promising to assist the Turkish government in fighting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

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Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away with Murder

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“Ratner and Smith cut through the lies and distortions to provide a riveting and thoroughly documented history of the murder of Che Guevara. In an era when ‘targeted assassinations’ and ‘capture and kill operations’ have become routine, and are routinely glorified by the mainstream U.S. press, their examination of the U.S. role in Che Guevara’s death could not be more timely.” —Amy Goodman, host and executive producer, Democracy Now!/democracynow.org

ABOUT THE BOOK

In compelling detail two leading U.S. civil rights attorneys recount the extraordinary life and deliberate killing of the world’s most storied revolutionary: Ernesto Che Guevara. Michael Ratner and Michael Steven Smith survey the extraordinary trajectory of Che’s career, from an early politicization recounted in theMotorcycle Diaries, through meetings with his compañero Fidel Castro in Mexico, his vital role in the Cuban revolution, and his expeditions abroad to Africa and Latin America. But their focus is on Che’s final days in Bolivia where, after months of struggle to spread the revolution begun in Havana, Che is wounded, captured and, soon after, executed. Bound and helpless, Che’s last words to his killer, a soldier in the Bolivian Army, are “Remember, you are killing a man.”

Referencing internal U.S. government documentation, much of it never before published, Ratner and Smith bring their forensic skills as attorneys to analyze the evidence and present an irrefutable case that the CIA not only knew of and approved the execution, but was instrumental in making it happen. Cables from the agency disavowing any U.S. role in the murder were merely attempts to provide plausible deniability for the Johnson administration.

The spirit of Che Guevara, as an icon and an inspiration, is as vibrant today as it ever was. News photographs of democracy protestors in the Middle East carrying his image have circulated the world in recent months. For anyone drawn to his remarkable life and its violent, unlawful end, Who Killed Che ? will engage, anger and educate.

Publication November 15th 2011 • 160 pages with b/w illustration throughout
paperback ISBN 978-1-935928-49-2 • ebook ISBN 978-1-935928-50-8

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Michael Ratner is president of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. He is a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and is the author of The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book and the co-author of The Pinochet Papers and Against War with Iraq and Guantánamo: What the World Should Know.

Michael Steven Smith is an attorney practicing in New York City and a board member of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He is the author of Notebook of a Sixties Lawyer: An Unrepentant Memoir and Lawyers You’ll Like, and the co-editor of The Emerging Police State by William Kunstler.

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