Month: July 2010

Stratfor infiltration attempt

From the Telegraph:

It was… revealed yesterday that one of the agents, a man called Andrei Bezrukov who passed himself off as Donald Heathfield, had been attempting to infiltrate influential US risk advisory group Strategic Forecasting.

The Texas-based company, better known as Stratfor, said Mr Bezrukov had held five meetings with them to try to get them to install his software on their computers.

“We suspect that had this been done, our servers would be outputting to Moscow,” George Friedman, the firm’s chief executive officer, said. “We did not know at the time who he was. We have since reported the incident to the FBI.”

International nationalists

“…the Nazis were not simple nationalists. Their nationalist propaganda was directed toward their fellow-travelers and not their convinced members; the latter, on the contrary, were never allowed to lose sight of a consistently supranational approach to politics. Nazi "nationalism" had more than one aspect in common with the recent nationalistic propaganda in the Soviet Union, which is also used only to feed the prejudices of the masses. The Nazis had a genuine and never revoked contempt for the narrowness of nationalism, the provincialism of the nation-state, and they repeated time and again that their "movement", international in scope like the Bolshevik movement, was more important to them than any state, which would necessarily be bound to a specific territory. And not only the Nazis, but fifty years of antisemitic history, stand as evidence against the identification of antisemitism with nationalism. The first antisemitic parties in the last decades of the nineteenth century were also among the first that banded together internationally. From the very beginning, they called international congresses and were concerned with a co-ordination of international, or at least inter-European, activities.“

– Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, second edition, 1958, pp. 3-4

Al-Jazeera under pressure

On the fourth anniversary of the Lebanon-Israel war, American, Israeli and Canadian victims of Hezbollah rocket attacks have filed a lawsuit against the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television network, alleging that

Al-Jazeera intentionally reported live coverage of the locations of the missile strikes inside of Israel in violation of military censorship regulations, in order to enable Hezbollah to aim the missiles more accurately.

Via beforeitsnews.com

Strange games

In the current issue of Yezhednevny zhurnal Alexander Podrabinek examines the current U.S.-Russia “spy swap” and detects a strong element of farce in the proceedings [my tr.]:

Why farce? Judge for yourself. The Russian spies who have been uncovered in the U.S. are the embodiment of amateurishness and mediocrity. And the FBI’s ten-year hunt for them can be taken about as seriously as the Russian spies themselves. The political prisoner Igor Sutyagin was not a political opponent of the regime and ended up in jail more or less by chance – simply because the FSB needed to demonstrate its success at least in something. Sutyagin bears no guilt, either political or espionage-related. He is a random victim of the Chekists’ ambitions and conscious manipulation. For his work with open sources he received 15 years in prison – quite a dramatic result of the farce performed by the FSB.

Sutyagin did not plead guilty at his trial. A large public campaign was organized in his defence, and Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience. Three years ago Sutyagin filed a petition for clemency, but a few days ago he signed a written statement expressing repentance for the crime he did not commit. This was the price of freedom. According to his relatives, he explained his repentance by saying that if he had not written the statement the exchange would not take place and he felt very sorry for the Russian spies arrested in the United States, who would have had to serve time in jail, as he had. A strange argument, I think, and a very weak position, especially given that the people who have defended him all these years were sincerely convinced of his innocence. While they are unlikely to change their minds about this now, they will probably be more cautious in such cases in future. At least where Russian political prisoners are concerned.

Podrabinek sees a further dimension of strangeness in recent events:

While it is hard to congratulate Igor Sutyagin on his release, we can at least be pleased that he is free. However, it is far from clear why he needs to leave Russia. In this voluntary/involuntary departure there are echoes of the spy exchanges of the Cold War. But today, if Sutyagin still has Russian citizenship (and no one can deprive him of that), then what is to stop him returning to Russia whether temporarily or for good, at any time?

Some kind of strange game is being played by the Russian secret services. One has the impression that they thought up the idea of the exchange in a bad state of hangover, without even trying to relate their plans to current legislation and real life. Perhaps in a similar condition they also prepared the Russian spies for their work abroad. Well, they’re ours, and that explains a lot.

See also: Igor Sutyagin

British court acquits factory saboteurs

In a disturbing development which has not been widely covered in U.K. media, a British judge and jury have acquitted a group of activists who broke into an arms factory near Brighton at the time of last year’s conflict in Gaza, smashing equipment and causing around £180,000 of damage.

The activists used the “lawful excuse” defense – committing an offense to prevent what they say was a more serious crime because EDO was “complicit in war crimes.”  (Jerusalem Post)

The court’s decision gives cause for concern, as it suggests that other anti-Israel actions of this kind may be similarly tolerated in future, and that persons and institutions perceived to be supporting Israel may not receive protection under British law.

Update (July 9): The JC reports that the judge in the trial said of the raiding group’s leader that “The jury may feel his efforts investigating the company merit the George Cross."