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Tag: CIA

Iran Says Disappearance of Robert Levinson Is an Ongoing ‘Missing Person’ Case

Robert Levinson

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The family of Robert Levinson, the former FBI agent who vanished in Iran in 2007, expressed some relief after the Iranian government changed its tone on his disappearance.

The government of Iran acknowledged for the first time that the disappearance is an ongoing “missing person” case.

Levinson “has no judicial or criminal case in any Islamic Republic of Iran court whatsoever,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told reporters, The Associated Press reports.

President Trump said Iran’s acknowledgment was “a very positive step.”

“If Iran is able to turn over to the U.S. kidnapped former FBI Agent Robert A. Levinson, who has been missing in Iran for 12 years, it would be a very positive step,” President Trump tweeted Sunday night.

The State Department last week offered up to a $20 million reward for information leading to the safe return of Levinson, who is believed to have been abducted on March 9, 2007.

FBI Launches Probe of Death Threats Targeting CIA Whistleblower

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating death threats leveled against the CIA whistleblower whose complaint prompted the U.S. House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry.

Since the whistleblower’s identify is still anonymous, the threats were sent to the legal team representing the CIA official, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told the New York Daily News.

Several of the death threats mentioned executing and shooting the CIA informant.

One email sent to the legal team says, “The whistleblower should be shot.”

Another person wrote, “In Putin’s country, they would execute this person.”

According to the source, the FBI is taking the threats “incredibly seriously.”

President Trump has turned up the hateful rhetoric directed at the whistleblower, calling him a “partisan operative,” “spy,” and “never Trumper.”

“Sounding more and more like the so-called Whistleblower isn’t a Whistleblower at all,” Trump tweeted last month.

‘More Than 10,000 spies’ Roam Washington D.C. for Secrets, And They’re Hard to Identify

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Among the civil servants, business people, diplomats, tourists and law enforcement officials in Washington D.C. are “more than 10,000 spies,” according to the International Spy Museum.

Although the actual numbers are in debate, the FBI agrees the city is flush with spies.

“It’s unprecedented — the threat from our foreign adversaries, specifically China on the economic espionage and the espionage front,” Brian Dugan, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, told WTOP for a three-part series on espionage.

The spies come from all over, and they’re increasingly using technology in an attempt to steal secrets. After all, Washington D.C. is home to more than 175 foreign embassies, chanceries, residences and diplomatic missions. Then there are tens of thousands of international students, and an “untold number of business people with links to foreign intelligence services,” WTOP reported.

“A spy is nondescript. A spy is going to be someone that’s going to be a student in school, a visiting professor, your neighbor. It could be a colleague or someone that shares the soccer field with you,” Dugan said.

Highly skilled spies are trained to become virtually invisible to unsuspecting people, and they’re elusive to even the most trained spy hunters.

Among the most troublesome spies are Russians.

“The Russians are hyper focused on the United States,” John Sipher, a retired CIA official. “They see us as their main adversary, the main enemy. All the elements of state power — whether it be their diplomatic service or intelligence services or police services — are focused on the United States.”
Robert Baer, who was a covert operative for the CIA for decades, said it’s not easy identifying a spy.

“Everybody in the espionage business is working undercover,” Baer said. “So if they’re in Washington, they’re either in an embassy or they’re a businessman and you can’t tell them apart because they never acknowledge what they’re doing. And they’re good, so they leave no trace of their communications.”

One reason spies are becoming so common is they have a lot of people from which to recruit, Dugan said.

“There’s a large population in retirement or getting close to retirement,” Dugan said. “The baby boomers are all leaving and that population is looking for post-government jobs”

He added, “Of course there’s always going to be moments that we’re going to have people decide to cooperate with the enemy.”

Ex-CIA Employee Suspected of Leaking Documents to WikiLeaks Faces Sexual-Related Charges

Joshua Adam Schulte (Linkedin photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

There may be a lot questions surrounding 30-year-old former CIA employee Joshua Adam Schulte, but one thing is certain: This man needs lawyers.

First, the federal government suspects he gave a massive trove of agency documents to WikiLeaks about the CIA’s hacking operations, though he has yet to be charged with that, reports Huffington Post.

In the meantime, he faces child pornography charges and charges in Virginia, where he’s accused of snapping photos as he sexually assaulted a passed-out friend as she lay on the floor of his bathroom.

Schulte was arrested back in August on federal child pornography charges, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that The Washington Post and New York Times reported the government was interested in Schulte because it suspected WikiLeaks leaks.

NBC News reports that he’s currently in a Manhattan federal jail on the child porn charges.

 

Ex-CIA Boss Brennan: Russia May Have Compromising Information on Trump

Former CIA Director John Brennan on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former CIA Director John Brennan said Wednesday that he suspects Russian may have compromising information on Trump, a claim that set of a storm of speculation about whether Brennan was acting on a hunch or inside information.

Brennan, who led the CIA from 2013 to 2017, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Russians “may have something on him personally” when asked if he believed Trump was afraid of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The Russians, I think, have had long experience with Mr. Trump, and may have things that they could expose,” he said.

Brennan was still running the CIA when a salacious dossier suggested the president may be vulnerable to blackmail because of compromising information Russians had on Trump.

Brennan’s interview came a day after the president ignored his advisers and congratulated Putin on his election victory.

Trump also has refused to criticize Russia for meddling in the presidential election, even after the president finally acknowledged the Kremlin’s involvement in a smear campaign against Hillary Clinton.   

Hunt Continues for Missing FBI Agent Levinson 11 Years After Disappearance in Iran

Robert Levinson

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

It has been 11 years since former FBI agent Robert Levinson was last seen alive.

Levinson, who would have turned 70 years old on Saturday, disappeared while on a CIA operation on Kish Island in Iran.

The Iranian government initially responded that it had detained Levinson but soon backed off that story and has since maintained it has no idea about Levinson’s whereabouts.

“This is something the FBI has never forgotten. His fellow agents have never forgotten Bob,” Tom O’Connor, the head of the FBI Agents Association, told WTOP. “The FBI Agents Association stands with his family and with the FBI in the efforts that everyone is making to reunite Bob with his family.”

The FBI has not given up. O’Connor said.

“There are people that are dedicated to working nothing but the Bob Levinson kidnapping case,” he said.

Some intelligence officials believe Levinson may be dead, but that hasn’t stopped the search.

“By remembering these solemn anniversaries — 11 years is a long time — we hope that somebody will come forward with information. There’s a reward out there, $5 million, for the return of Bob Levinson to his family,” O’Connor said.

“Representatives of the Government of Iran and the United States agreed to cooperate in sharing information which would lead to Mr. Levinson’s return,” the FBI said in a statement on Friday. “The FBI calls on the government of Iran to uphold this commitment so that Mr. Levinson and his family can be reunited.”

In his experience, O’Connor said he’s not giving up hope.

“I’ve worked on hostage cases in the past where someone was held in Iraq for 311 days, and it just was one piece of information that broke and he was reunited with his family,” he said. “People didn’t think that was going to happen and it did, so never give up hope.”

Former CIA Officer Arrested in Alleged Plot to Dismantle U.S. Spy Network

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former CIA officer long suspected of helping China disable the United States’ sophisticated spy network has been arrested and charged in federal court with the unlawful retention of nation defense information that he’s accused of leaking to Beijing.

The arrest of Jerry Chun Shing Lee at Kennedy Airport in New York on Monday capped a five-year investigation spearheaded by the FBI, the New York Times reports

Federal investigators became suspicious that the CIA had within its ranks a mole when the intelligence agency began losing its closely guarded informants in China. The FBI said it discovered Lee, who left the CIA in 2007 and moved to Hong Kong, was leaking the identities of the informants. 

In 2o12, while Lee was visiting family in the U.S., FBI agents scoured his luggage and found two volumes of handwritten notes containing classified information.

The dismantling of America’s spy network has been considered one of the U.S.’s worst intelligence blunders in recent years. 

Hawkish CIA Director Pompeo May Replace Tillerson As Secretary of State

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

If all goes as planned, hawkish CIA Director Mike Pompeo will leave his post to become President Trump’s next secretary of state, replacing Rex W. Tillerson, whose relationship with the White House has become strained.

The New York Times also reports that Pompeo likely would be succeeded at the CIA by Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican who has aligned himself with the president on national security issues. 

Trump has not officially approved the plan, which was pitched by White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly.

Pompeo, a hard-line former Congressman from the Tea Party wing of the party, has expressed more hawkish views toward Iran, North Korea and other prominent issues.

A West Point graduate, Pompeo has been unusually vociferous and political for a CIA director, soft-pedaling the link between Trump’s campaign and Russia and endorsing regime change in North Korea. 

Sen. Tim Cotton

Some questions remain about whether Cotton would be tapped to become the CIA director. He’s a strong ally on immigration and national security, but Republicans are hesitant to put a Senate seat in play during what could be disastrous mid-term elections for the party.

When asked by Fox News whether he’d take the CIA position, Cotton didn’t answer directly. 

“I’m very proud to be representing the people of Arkansas,” he said.

The New York Times reports that another potential candidate for the top CIA post is Robert S. Harward, a retired Navy vice admiral who turned down the national security position after Michael T. Flynn’s abrupt departure.