Posts Tagged With: Spies

Obama Puts Spies in Charge of Investigating Spies…..


A majority of Americans now consider Edward Snowden to be a whistle-blower, not a traitor. And numerous members of Congress want more checks and balances on the National Security Agency’s spying programs that Snowden exposed. Before Congress’s summer vacation began last week, Justin Amash, a Republican representative from Michigan, got more traction than expected for an amendment he sponsored that would have curbed the NSA’s ability to scoop up records in bulk.

All this adds up to a public-relations headache for President Obama. Which is why, during the press conference he held last week, Obama promised more scrutiny of U.S. intelligence. “It’s not enough for me, as president, to have confidence in these programs,” he said. “The American people need to have confidence in them, as well.” Among the reform proposals he floated was a panel of independent outsiders that could look at what the NSA is collecting, and how, and suggest changes to protect Americans’ civil liberties. On Monday, Obama followed through and ordered the formation of such a panel—but it’s not exactly what you’d call independent.

The Review Group on Intelligence Communications and Technologies (RGOICAT?) will be headed by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, aka the official who currently oversees the spying in question. And it’s not yet clear whether the board will have any real government outsiders on it, or if they’ll all be insiders. In a memo yesterday, Clapper said he’ll be assembling the panel.

Also, per the president’s memo, the panel’s first priority appears to be making sure that federal programs guarantee the country’s national security (which, presumably they already do), rather than ensuring the NSA isn’t abusing its power. Obama wrote:

“The Review Group will assess whether, in light of advancements in communications technologies, the U.S. employs its technical collection capabilities in a manner that optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while appropriately accounting for other policy considerations, such as the risk of unauthorized disclosure and our need to maintain the public trust.”

Under Clapper’s direction, the board is supposed to issue its first set of findings within 60 days—to the president. Meanwhile, the truly independent privacy and civil liberties board the U.S. has already set up to keep watch over spying programs continues to be ignored.

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Calling all Code Breakers….British Intelligence needs YOUR help…..



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A recently discovered code from World War II found on a pigeon that was dead in some guy’s chimney has Britain’s top code-breakers completely stumped. David Martin, of Bletchingley, discovered the rotted pigeon corpse with a funny scarlet tube attached to its leg while he was cleaning his chimney. Turns out the bird was a carrier pigeon during World War II and now one know’s what the heck that code says. Like, even Britain’s super-secretive GCHQ code-breaking and communications interception unit couldn’t do it. “But, like, we use computers, how can this even happen?” you’re asking. The leading theory says this was probably a one time key used for specifically this code. If the sender and receiver were the only people to know the secret to deciphering it, then we’re all out of lunk and we’ll never know what it says. Or, alternatively, if the code used here was for a specific mission, and the book has since been destroyed, then it’s unlikely we’ll ever know what it is.

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Spy drone, owned by animal rights group, shot down…



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And so, the surface-to-air war between ground dwellers and unmanned aerial drones has begun. This incident occurred, as an animal rights group was hoping to snoop on a hunting club. The result was a well-placed shot, bringing down the drone they call ‘Angel’. The Angel, has fallen to earth with a gaping hole, put there by a lead gift from the ground. This isn’t the first time the Pennsylvanian, Berks County Hunting Club, has been under surveillance from the group, SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK).
SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) are in the midst of a campaign against the Wing Pointe commercial hunting grounds in Hamburg, Berks County and its live pigeon shoots in which the birds are shot down. SHARK began to use an “Octocopter,” a remote controlled flying machine with a high tech video camera, to secretly record the pigeon shoots as they happen.

“The pigeon shooters are basically going into hiding,” said Steve Hindi, president of SHARK. “So they’re using a ring that’s up a hill and completely surrounded by trees. So the only way you can get to it is through the air.”

Here is SHARK’s account of how the Angel met its doom:
SHARK claimed “a single sharp rifle crack rang out,” in a press release sent out on Monday. The group says the camera’s video feed was terminated and the drone went out of control before it was manually brought down. The gunshot caused around $4,000 in damage to the camera, according to SHARK.

While SHARK claims that pigeon shoots are illegal, so is taping individuals without his or her consent …not to mention, it’s quite rude.

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Civil War…Confederate Spy….Rose O’Neal Greenhow..




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She was born Maria Rosetta O’Neale in Montgomery County, Maryland to John O’Neale and Eliza Henrietta Hamilton and was orphaned as a child. When she was a teenager, she was invited to live with her aunt who ran the exclusive Congressional Boarding House in Washington, D.C. and was introduced to important figures in the Washington area. O’Neale was considered beautiful, educated, loyal, compassionate, and refined. Many were surprised when she accepted the marriage proposal of Dr. Robert Greenhow, a quiet physician and historian, who worked in the U.S. State Department and married him on Tuesday, May 27, 1835. Their marriage record lists her as Miss Rose Mariea O’Neale. Through her husband, she came to meet the leading southern politicians of the day, including Jefferson Davis, who was to become the first and only president of the Confederate States of America. The Greenhows had four daughters: Florence, Gertrude, Leila, and little Rose. Dr. Greenhow died in 1854, soon after little Rose’s birth. As the country moved toward war, Greenhow continued to host parties for both southern and northern politicians, but she made her views clear, that she was a southerner first, last, and always. A young lieutenant from Virginia named Thomas Jordan knew that Greenhow was probably the best-placed southerner in Washington and, after meeting with her, he proposed that she spy for the Confederacy, acting on behalf of Gen. Beauregard and she accepted. On July 9 and 16, 1861, Greenhow passed on secret messages to Confederate General Pierre G. T. Beauregard containing critical information regarding the 1st Bull Run (known in the South as the Battle of Manassas) campaign of Union General Irvin McDowel. Confederate President Jefferson Davis credited Greenhow’s information with securing victory at Manassas for the South. On August 11, 1861, she was able to send a report several pages long, detailing the complete Washington defense system. Every fort in the Washington area was described in detail, along with the number of guns, their caliber and range; weak spots in the earthworks; regiments identified by state origin and their strengths; the level of troop morale; number of officers and their experience; the political beliefs of the officers; the number of muskets issued to each regiment and the number of shots and grape issued for each weapon; the number of mules for freight-hauling available and the condition of the animals; itemized lists of wagons, ambulances and stores for each fort. This was the kind of information she delivered. She was arrested as a spy by Allan Pinkerton on August 23, 1861. Mrs. Greenhow was kept a prisoner in her home, which had been labeled “a clearing house for spies.” Her home was officially made her prison by government decree on August 30, 1861. When guards discovered a Confederate plot to free Greenhow, the government acted, ordering her and her daughter, “Little Rose” transferred to the Old Capitol Prison on January 18, 1862. For five months, she and her daughter remained at the Old Capitol Prison, however, even her imprisonment did not deter her from continuing to provide information to Southern loyalists. This prompted Federal authorities to banish her south. On June 2, the New York Times recorded her release and removal under close custody. On June 6, 1862, she and her daughter arrived in Richmond to wildly cheering crowds. Asked by the government to act as a courier to Confederate diplomats, she assumed the role of blockade runner and traveled to England and France. In September 1864, she boarded a blockade-runner, the Condor, bound for North Carolina. Spied by a Union gunboat in the waters just off the coast near Wilmington, North Carolina, the Condor raced ahead up the Cape Fear River hoping to avoid confrontation. Instead, the Condor ran aground on a sandbar. Desperate to escape, Greenhow boarded a lifeboat that capsized in the rough water and drowned due to the weight of over $2000 in gold that was sewed into her garments. In the afternoon of Saturday, October 1, 1864, her body was carried in a long funeral procession through the streets of Wilmington, a guard of honor accompanying her horse-drawn casket which was draped with a huge Confederate flag. Thousands of soldiers marched behind it, led by Admiral Hampden and many other Confederate officers, to Oakdale Cemetery. A squad of Confederate soldiers fired their muskets over her grave as the guns of Fort Fisher boomed in her honor. Note: A great white stone was later placed above her grave, purchased by the Ladies Memorial Association of Wilmington. On it bears the legend: “This monument commemorates the deeds of Mrs. Rose Greenhow, a bearer of dispatches to the Confederate government. She was drowned off Fort Fisher from the blockade runner ‘Condor’ while attempting to run the blockade on September 30, 1864. Her body was washed ashore at Fort Fisher Beach and brought to Wilmington.”

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WWII….Noor Inayat Khan: The Indian princess who spied for Britain….



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The Princess Royal is set to unveil a sculpture of Noor Inayat Khan, dubbed the “Spy Princess” by her biographer Shrabani Basu in London’s Gordon Square Gardens.

Raised in Britain and France and a descendant of Indian royalty, bilingual Noor Inayat Khan was recruited by the elite Special Operations Executive (SOE) in 1942 to work in Paris as a radio operator.

Records from the national archives show she was the first female wireless operator sent to Nazi-occupied France during World War II.

After evading capture for three months, the spy was imprisoned, tortured and eventually shot by the German Gestapo at Dachau concentration camp in 1944.

Her final word – uttered as the German firing squad raised their weapons – was simple. “Liberté”.

Liberty was a notion the pacificist-turned-war-heroine held deeply, according to Ms Basu.

For her bravery, she was posthumously awarded the George Cross. In France she was honoured with the Croix de Guerre, and later with two memorials and an annual ceremony marking her death.
Indian royalty

Brave, glamorous and both sensitive and formidable, it is said she acted not out of a love for Britain, but out of an aversion to fascism and dictatorial rule.

Her father was a musician and Sufi teacher, and Noor Inayat Khan was raised with strong principles and believed in religious tolerance and non-violence.

Ms Basu claims she “couldn’t bear to see an occupied country”, a notion that seems to run in her family.

Noor Inayat Khan’s great-great-great-grandfather was Tipu Sultan, an 18th century Muslim ruler of Mysore. He refused to submit to British rule and was killed in battle in 1799.

Born on 1 January 1914 in Russia to an Indian father and American mother, the agent’s infancy was spent in London.

The family moved to France when she was a child and lived in Paris, where she was educated and learnt fluent French.
The national archives describe how the sensitive young woman studied both medicine and music.

In 1939 the Twenty Jataka Tales, a collection of traditional Indian children’s stories she had retold, were published in Le Figaro.

When war broke out in 1939, Noor Inayat Khan trained as a nurse with the French Red Cross.

She fled the country just before the government surrendered to Germany in November 1940, escaping by boat to England with her mother and sister.
‘Tigress’

Shortly after arriving in the UK, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) as a wireless operator and soon caught the attention of recruiters from the SOE.

Also known at the time as Nora Baker, Khan joined the elite spy squad in 1942.

She was deployed to France a short time later despite an SOE training report describing her as “not over-burdened with brains” and “unsuited to work in her field”.

Codenamed “Madeleine”, she joined others in the resistance network Prosper, famously tasked by then Prime Minister Winston Churchill to “set Europe ablaze”.

Despite suspicions that the network had been infiltrated by a Nazi spy, Khan refused to return to Britain, risking arrest by the Gestapo.

Ms Basu – who spent eight years researching her life – told the BBC: “She was this gentle writer of children’s stories, a musician, but she was transformed. She was a tigress in the field.”
With her team gradually captured by the Gestapo, Noor Inayat Khan continued for as long as possible to send intercepted radio messages back to England.

Despite her commanders urging her to return to England, she single-handedly ran a cell of spies across Paris for three more months, frequently changing her appearance and alias.

Eventually, she was betrayed, arrested and imprisoned. She was sent to Pforzheim prison in Germany where she was kept shackled and in solitary confinement.

She refused to reveal any information, despite 10 months of repeated beatings, starvation and torture by her Nazi captors.

Her fortitude – and two escape attempts – led her captors to brand her “highly dangerous”, despite her pacifist upbringing.
‘Inner strength’

In September 1944, she and three other female SOE agents were transferred to Dachau concentration camp where on 13 September they were shot and killed.

Ms Basu has described her life as “inspirational”, and said the modern world can draw lessons from the story of Noor Inayat Khan.

She said: “For her to come into this world on the front line taking on the Gestapo, showed her inner strength and her courage, her immense courage and resilience.

“It’s very inspiring, especially given the the troubled times that we live in. It is important to remember these qualities and values.

“Two and a half million Indians volunteered for the war effort and it was the largest single volunteer army.

“I think we must not forget their contribution. Noor was part of this.”

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