CIA Station Chief Ordered out of Berlin, DOJ Declining to Investigate CIA Complaints that Senate Staff Hacked into Agency Computers while Completing Contentious Torture Report, and More: FRINFORMSUM 7/17/2014
Berlin has ordered the CIA chief of station to leave Germany by the end of the week amid a growing espionage scandal, according to German newspapers. The German Foreign Office did not verify a timeline for departure, but did reiterate the German government’s expectation that the intelligence representative leave “promptly.” Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded the station chief’s departure last week after a year-long spying dispute, triggered by revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) monitored Merkel’s cell phone, culminated with reports that a German intelligence official was spying for the CIA.
Maj. James Weirick, the Marine Corps whistleblower who accused a senior general and his staff of wrongdoing during the trial of Marines implicated in a video depicting US personnel urinating on dead Afghani insurgents, has been transferred. Weirick, who previously served as a staff judge advocate at Quantico with Marine Corps Combat Development Command, filed an inspector general complaint in March of last year accusing Marine Commandant Gen. James F. Amos and some of his senior staff of exerting undue influence and seeking “to manipulate the military justice system to ensure tough punishments against the snipers shown in the video,” namely by removing the three-star general assigned to oversee the cases after learning that the general intended to impose administrative nonjudicial punishment rather than a more serious court-martial.
The Department of Justice declined to investigate the CIA’s allegations that Senate Intelligence Committee staff somehow hacked the agency’s computers while working on a report highly critical of the agency’s detention and interrogation program. The DOJ’s refusal to investigate the CIA allegations seems to affirm Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) earlier comments that accusations “that Senate committee staff who have no technical training somehow hacked into the CIA’s highly secure classified networks…appears on its face to be patently absurd.”
A Navy nurse at Guantanamo is refusing to continue force-feeding inmates on hunger strikes and has been reassigned to “alternative duties.” The Department of Defense recently admitted it has video recordings of force-feeding detainees at the same time detainees are accusing the US of manipulating data on inmates’ hunger strikes to keep strike numbers artificially low. A lawyer for one of the striking detainees, Abi Wa’el Dhiab, submitted court filings to preserve the force-feeding tapes. Dhiab is also one of the six-low level detainees being transferred to Uruguay, and the transfer would likely render his lawsuit moot.
House Democrats are asking the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general to investigate McClatchy’s allegations that “Motorola’s contracting tactics have led state and local governments to squander millions of dollars on the company’s pricey two-way emergency radio systems.” Motorola’s public safety division, Motorola Solutions, has controlled an estimated 80 per cent or more of the market for emergency communications equipment for years, and its radios contain proprietary software that prevents Motorola equipment from interacting with other systems.
Russia will regain control of Lourdes Intelligence Center outside of Havana after giving it up in 2001 to satisfy a request from the US. Russia began negotiating with Cuba to regain control of the facility, which was the USSR’s largest electronic intelligence facility and controlled radio and telephone connections over a large territory of the “potential enemy,” several years ago. Russian President Vladimir Putin also signed a law writing off 90 per cent of Cuba’s $32 billion Soviet-era debt to Russia during his visit to Havana last week.
Newly declassified documents obtained by Ryan Shapiro show the FBI monitored Nelson Mandela during the 1990s over a perceived communist threat. The documents show the bureau monitored Mandela’s communications with the African National Congress “and kept a close eye on the anti-apartheid activities of the Communist Party USA.” Mandela remained on the US’ terror watch list, and the ANC remained designated as a US’ terrorist organization, until 2008. Shapiro has FOIA lawsuits against the NSA, FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency for their records on any participation in Mandela’s 1962 capture, and a separate case against the CIA for records on Mandela’s arrest.
FOIA work from the folks at MuckRock revealed some interesting cafeteria complaints at the CIA, including suspicion that the Pepsi dispenser was in fact dispensing Diet Pepsi, anger with Russian-themed menu items (“Beef stroganoff is more American than Russian”), and frustration with the grumpy demeanor of fast food workers who have “attitude every day.” In other culinary news, the international food service company Sodexo is seeking a master chef for a secure US government facility in Northern Virginia who holds or can obtain a Top Secret security clearance. As Steve Aftergood points out, this is a prime example of the bloated security clearance system, which the Office of Management and Budget reported earlier this year as being too large and needing to be reduced. As Aftergood notes, “Eliminating the TS/SCI clearance requirement for access to the kitchens and dining rooms of government facilities might be a sensible place to start.”
The KGB Archives of Soviet defector Vasiliy Mitrokhin’s are in the process of opening to the public for the first time. While not available online yet, the FBI called these documents, which Mitrokhin initially smuggled out of KGB facilities daily on small scraps of paper hidden in his shoes, “the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source,” and are bound to be a boon to researchers when they become available.
Finally, this week’s #tbt document pick is a great reminder on the need for reform to the b(5) “deliberative process” exemption. The document is a May 18, 1994, State Department memo expressing doubts about the size of the Rwandan death toll and was cited in Samantha Power’s 2003 groundbreaking history A Problem from Hell, based largely on FOIA requests she and other Archive staff filed while at the National Security Archive. Apparently, the Department of State failed to realize in 2007 that the memo had been released years earlier in its entirety and cited in Power’s book, and chose to use the b(5) exemption to withhold the information in the memo from the public, citing the specious claim of the deliberative process. It’s worth noting that Power’s book also cites the intransigence of US agencies at the time, noting the need for “congressional inquiries with the power to subpoena documents and to summon US officials of all ranks in the executive and legislative branches,” as it was nearly impossible to obtain “meaningful disclosure” about the Rwandan genocide through the FOIA process.