When you pull up to the CIA headquarters in Langley, you have to shout your Social Security number out the window into a speaker, like when you’re ordering fries at a drive-through. Much like the Union that the Agency was formed to protect, the system, it seems, could be more perfect. But I am willing to do what it takes to get the inside story of how the CIA is recruiting and working with the next generation of spies.
One would think it’s basically impossible to get millennials and zoomers into covert jobs. The youngest of this bunch of young people have spent their entire lives online, some since their parents blasted out their first ultrasound picture as a pregnancy announcement, before they’d even gained sentience. If the whole point of being a spy is that nobody knows who you really are and no one can ever find out, how exactly are you supposed to achieve this level of anonymity when you’ve flung untold reams of identifiable content across the digital world? I intended to find out.
It’s been revealed for the first time in a bombshell Der Spiegel report on Friday that a man found dead just outside the Russian embassy in Berlin last month was a Russian intelligence agent. Though Russia has not disclosed this, the allegation as to his identity is being made by German intelligence officials after his death under mysterious circumstances.
“The 35-year-old man’s body was found early on Oct. 19, the magazine said. It said, citing security sources, that the man had fallen from an upper floor at the embassy,” Reuters summarizes of the German media report.
He was officially considered a diplomat of the embassy, having been publicly listed in the position of second secretary. It’s common for countries, including the United States, to place covert operatives in undercover roles as diplomatic personnel at their foreign embassies and consulates.
The man, whose name has not been given, was found at approximately 7:20 am on 19 October 2021 by police that are assigned to guard the embassy compound. Emergency paramedics arrived on the scene but could not resuscitate him.
Der Spiegel cited German intelligence sources to say that not only was the man “in fact” an undercover Federal Security Service (FSB) agent, but that he’s also believed related to a top ranking FSB general. It remains however that nothing in the way of specific evidence was offered in the publication – but that the Russian’s status appears to be the official view of German intelligence.
America’s first spy couple since Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in the 1950s is facing additional charges related to espionage.
Jonathan and Diana Toebbe were indicted on Tuesday evening by a grand jury for communication of restricted data and conspiracy. Both had already been arrested and charged with a criminal complaint for violating the Atomic Energy Act on October 9th. During separate hearings in a West Virginia federal court on Wednesday, the couple pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to USA Today.
Jonathan is a Navy nuclear engineer and Diana was a teacher at Key School in Annapolis Maryland. Now, possible motives for their alleged espionage are beginning to come out as the media descends upon them.
Several dozen friends of the couple were interviewed by The New York Times, painting a somewhat complex picture of two people who were beset by various anxieties, mostly financial, as well as an ideological cast that put them in opposition to the United States government and, in particular, former President Donald Trump.
Important to the indictment of Diana in particular, both were alleged to be actively involved in the selling of the secrets and, while Jonathan reportedly did the actual smuggling of secret information out of his job, Diana allegedly had full knowledge of what was going on and accompanied Jonathan to the dead drops used to pass the information along.
It’s no secret that Diana in particular despised then-president Trump, and seriously considered leaving the U.S., according to friends interviewed. Political and ideological considerations were reportedly very important to her.
However, there may have been a bigger motivator at play: money. A desire for big-time cash is often the motivator behind such cases, and it appears to be true that they had financial woes, and the friends interviewed said the couple had seemed to feel undervalued, on top of the anxieties of money and raising two children.
It was revealed this week in a bombshell New York Times report that the CIA has raised the alarm with all its overseas stations and officers that an unusually high number of US informants are being captured and executed abroad. There are “dozens” of such instances, according to an agency memo.
The report is an incredibly rare instance of the media getting hold of a fresh, very recent highly classified memo that’s also sure to be embarrassing for the agency. “The message, in an unusual top-secret cable, said that the CIA’s counterintelligence mission center had looked at dozens of cases in the last several years involving foreign informants who had been killed, arrested or most likely compromised,” the NYT writes.
“Although brief, the cable laid out the specific number of agents executed by rival intelligence agencies — a closely held detail that counterintelligence officials typically do not share in such cables.”
This past Sunday, an investigation into the global abuse of spyware developed by veterans of Israeli intelligence Unit 8200 gained widespread attention, as it was revealed that the software – sold to democratic and authoritarian governments alike – had been used to illegally spy on an estimated 50,000 individuals. Among those who had their communications and devices spied on by the software, known as Pegasus, were journalists, human rights activists, business executives, academics and prominent political leaders. Among those targeted political leaders, per reports, were the current leaders of France, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Iraq.
The abuse of Pegasus software in this very way has been known for several years, though these latest revelations appear to have gained such traction in the mainstream owing to the high number of civilians who have reportedly been surveilled through its use. The continuation of the now-years-long scandal surrounding the abuse of Pegasus has also brought considerable controversy and notoriety to the Israeli company that developed it, the NSO Group.
While the NSO Group has become infamous, other Israeli companies with even deeper ties to Israel’s intelligence apparatus have been selling software that not only provides the exact same services to governments and intelligence agencies but purports to go even farther.
Originally founded by former Israeli Prime Minister and Jeffrey Epstein associate Ehud Barak, one of these companies’ wares are being used by countries around the world, including in developing countries with the direct facilitation of global financial institutions like the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank. In addition, the software is only made available to governments that are “trusted” by Israel’s government, which “works closely” with the company.
Despite the fact that this firm has been around since 2018 and was covered in detail by this author for MintPress News in January 2020, no mainstream outlet – including those that have extensively covered the NSO Group – has bothered to examine the implications of this story.
The US military operates a vast network of soldiers, civilians, and contractors that it uses for clandestine missions both at home and abroad, Newsweek has claimed, adding that the force also manipulates social media.
After a two-year investigation, the outlet reported that the undercover army consists of around 60,000 people, many of whom use fake identities to carry out their assignments. The Pentagon’s agents operate in real life and online, with some even embedded in private businesses and well-known companies.
The massive program, unofficially known as “signature reduction,” is reportedly 10 times the size of the CIA’s clandestine service, making it the “largest undercover force the world has ever known,” Newsweek claimed. But the true scale and scope of the shadow army remains a closely guarded secret. No one knows the program’s total size, and Congress has never held a hearing on the military’s increasing reliance on signature reduction. There appears to be very little or no transparency regarding the massive clandestine military force, even as its continued development “challenges US laws, the Geneva Conventions, the code of military conduct, and basic accountability,” the outlet said.
Around half of the signature reduction force is said to consist of special operations personnel who hunt down terrorists in war zones and work in “unacknowledged hot spots” such as North Korea and Iran. Military intelligence specialists reportedly make up the second-largest part of the secret army.
Foreign intelligence service MI6 will spy on other nations to check whether they are abiding by their climate change pledges, one of Britain’s top spy chiefs has said.
The head of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), Richard Moore, indicated that the agency’s “green spying” could target large industrial nations, claiming that alleged man-made climate change is “foremost international foreign policy item for this country and for the planet”.
Mr Moore, known as C, told Times Radio according to The Telegraph on Sunday: “Our job is to shine a light in places where people might not want it shone and so clearly we are going to support what is the foremost international foreign policy agenda item for this country and for the planet, which is around the climate emergency, and of course we have a role in that space.”
He added: “Where people sign up to commitments on climate change, it is perhaps our job to make sure that what they are really doing reflects what they have signed up to,” he added.
The remarks come as Britain is set to host the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.
New documents have been released about the birth of a secret intelligence pact between the US and UK 75 years ago.
The documents, including diary entries, detail the war time meetings that began at Bletchley Park and led to the UKUSA deal being signed in March 1946.
The alliance involved working together to intercept communications and break codes, sharing almost everything.
It grew into what is today called the “Five Eyes” pact of the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
“Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts,” said Jeremy Fleming, director of GCHQ, and director of the US National Security Agency, Gen Paul Nakasone, in a joint statement to mark the anniversary, amid talk of expanding the group even further.