SpyNews 1: some news from the world of espionage

Knowing who to spy on is just as important as teaching your case officers how to spy”: “While spying on one’s enemies is easy, it’s the other issues that often trip up intelligence services. These include things like spying on allies, spying on neutral countries, spying in order to steal military technology (especially if it’s a friendly nation that possesses it). These are extremely difficult decisions to make since, ideally, the object of spying is to collect information that further the country’s national security or foreign interests. The problem is that this “definitions” of an intelligence agency’s purpose is too broad. A case in point is Israeli espionage against France. Needing a powerful air force to protect itself against attack, Israel had requested that Dassault Aviation produce the Mirage 5 in order to beef up its air combat capabilities. The 50 aircraft paid for by the Israelis were built, but in 1967, the French government imposed an arms embargo on Israel, preventing the aircraft from being delivered. Instead of crying about it, the Israelis simply produced an unlicensed version of the Mirage by using industrial espionage against the French to steal the technical specifications concerning the engine and the airframe. Technically, while the French government was behaving antagonistically, France was neither at war with Israel nor was the nation considered inherently hostile the way Syria and Egypt were at the time. Nonetheless, the Israelis saw something they needed, and had no qualms about stealing it.”

Tell a spy by the book: “But instances of naturalists using their work as a cover for espionage are scarce.  Maybe that’s because the people involved tend to be secretive.  Or maybe it’s because the naturalist connection has mainly served to advance a career, as in Le Carré’s case, or to put a social and intellectual gloss on otherwise dirty work.  The simple delights of birding were no doubt a relief from the double-dealing world of espionage for S. Dillon Ripley, who ran secret agents for the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.), the C.I.A.’s predecessor during World War II, and later served as secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.  It could also be a form of redemption (or not quite):  James Schlesinger, for instance, served a brief, tumultuous tenure as head of the C.I.A., and a shill for Richard Nixon, in the aftermath of Watergate.   When I chatted recently with Nicholas Dujmovic, a historian at the C.I.A., he remarked, “The only nice thing I’ve ever heard about Schlesinger is that he was a birdwatcher.”

The Gehlen organization resurfaces again: “They called Johannes Clemens the “Tiger of Como.” When an SS captain bore a nickname like that, it rarely meant anything good. Clemens belonged to a squad that shot 335 civilians in the Ardeatine Caves near Rome in 1944, one of the worst massacres on Italian soil during World War II. Former chief inspector Georg Wilimzig also had blood on his hands. His 300-member squad, known as IV/2, murdered thousands of men, women and children following the German invasion of Poland in 1939. After 1945, Clemens and Wilimzig both found themselves working for the same employer — the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency.”

Related to the above: Operation Paperclip — US Intelligence and Nazi criminals.

Big Brother watches you: “If it seems a little creepy to you that the same company making ballistic missiles is also processing your taxes, accessing your fingerprints, scanning your packages, ensuring that it’s easier than ever to collect your DNA, and counting you for the census, rest assured: Lockheed Martin’s interest in getting inside your private life via intelligence collection and surveillance has remained remarkably undiminished in the 21st century.”

How well do you know Social Networking “Friends”? “the U.S. Strategic Command (overseeing the nuclear strike) will concentrate on military computer hacking and cyberdefenses. The Joint Staffs will take responsibility for deception operations, while Special Operations Command will take the lead in military information gathering aimed at supporting secret operations. […] the Central Command (covering the greater Middle East) has recently purchased a $2.7 million software, especially designed by San-Diego based Ntrepid. The material will permit the manipulation of social media through the use of fake online “personas” managed by the military, followed by all kinds of infiltration and intelligence operations, while being able to keep the trickery under the radar.”

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