Category Archives: Assassinations

Book: Spy agency sent Israelis into Iran to kill nuclear scientists, targeted from motorcycles

Associated Press | Jul 8, 2012


WASHINGTON — A new book claims Israel’s spy agency dispatched assassins into Iran, as part of a campaign to sabotage the country’s disputed nuclear program.

Israeli operatives have killed at least four Iranian nuclear scientists, including targeting them with operatives on motorcycles, an assassination technique used by the Israeli spy service, the Mossad, according to authors Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman in their book to be published July 9, “Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars”.

The Mossad agents “excel at accurate shooting at any speed and staying steady to shoot and to place exquisitely shaped sticky bombs” and consider it their hallmark, Raviv said Friday during an interview with both authors.

The hits are part of a series of regular missions deep inside Iran, intended to keep Tehran from developing weapons and following through with threats by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to wipe Israel off the map. U.S. officials have said in the past that they were not involved, and they don’t know who did it.

Inside Israel’s super-secret intelligence agency

Death of Shamir: Former Israeli prime minister, fanatical terrorist leader and spy

The U.S. and Israel accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

Iran has long blamed the scientists’ killings on Israel, which has remained silent on the matter, but media reports speculated Israel had contracted killers to do the job.

“They don’t farm out a mission that is that sensitive,” so sensitive that Israel’s prime minister has to sign off on it personally, Raviv said. “They might use dissidents for assistance or logistics but not the hit itself. The methodology and training and use of motorcycles is all out of the Mossad playbook. They wouldn’t trust anybody else to do it.”

The Mossad operatives enter and exit Iran through a “multitude” of routes, using a series of safe houses once inside the country that predate the 1979 revolution, the authors said.

In Friday’s interview, co-author Melman said Israel believes the campaign successfully disrupted Iran’s nuclear program not only by taking out key scientists but also dissuading other up-and-coming scholars from joining the program.

Raviv is a CBS News correspondent, and Melman is a well-known Israeli reporter and commentator.

Israel has told the Obama administration that it expects American military power to “obliterate” Iran’s nuclear program, the authors said. If the U.S. does not act, Israel has threatened to attack Iran’s nuclear sites on its own. The U.S. prefers the carrot-and-stick approach of talks aimed at convincing Iran to stick to a peaceful nuclear regime, combined with increasingly harsh financial sanctions to punish Iran as it improves its current program.

The two nations have cooperated on the harassment campaign, including partnering on cyber programs like Stuxnet, malware credited with damaging the control panel on centrifuges in Iran’s nuclear plant.

Melman said the cyber campaign was an Israeli innovation, not an American one as recently reported. It was the brainchild of Israel’s military intelligence agency Aman and Unit 8200 — Israel’s equivalent of the eavesdropping, code-breaking National Security Agency — and endorsed by the White House at Israel’s suggestion, he added.

Israel’s cyber warriors then worked with NSA to build malware. The program Flame was built first — a Trojan horse code designed to penetrate the Iranian nuclear sites and “suck information about the (uranium-enriching) centrifuges and how they operate,” Melman said. Once the Israeli and U.S. cyber experts got that information, they were able to build Stuxnet.

Obama now ‘George Bush on steroids’

nzherald.co.nz | Jun 4, 2012

Amos Guiora knows all about the pitfalls of targeted assassinations, both in terms of legal process and the risk of killing the wrong people or causing civilian casualties.

The University of Utah law professor spent many years in the Israel Defence Forces, including time as a legal adviser in the Gaza Strip, where such strikes are common. He knows what it feels like when people weigh life-and-death decisions.

Yet Guiora – no dove on such matters – confessed he was “deeply concerned” about President Barack Obama’s own “kill list” of terrorists and the way they are eliminated by missiles fired from robot drones.

Drone wars and state secrecy – how Barack Obama became a hardliner

He believes United States policy has not tightly defined how people get on the list, leaving it open to legal and moral problems when the order to kill leaves Obama’s desk.

“He is making a decision largely devoid of external review,” Guiora said, characterising the US’s apparent methodology for deciding who is a terrorist as “loosey goosey”.

Indeed, newspaper revelations about the “kill list” have shown the Obama Administration defines a militant as any military-age male in the strike zone when its drone attacks.

That has raised the hackles of many who saw Obama as somehow more sophisticated on terrorism issues than his predecessor, George W. Bush.

But Guiora does not view it that way. “If Bush did what Obama has been doing, then journalists would have been all over it,” he said.

Having come to office on a powerful message of breaking with Bush, Obama has in fact built on his predecessor’s national security tactics.

He has presided over a massive expansion of secret surveillance of American citizens by the National Security Agency. He has launched a ferocious and unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers. He has made more government documents classified than any previous President.

He has broken his promise to close the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison and pressed on with prosecutions via secretive military tribunals, rather than civilian courts. He has preserved CIA renditions.

In last week’s New York Times article that detailed the “kill list”, Bush’s last CIA director, Michael Hayden, said Obama should open the process to more public scrutiny. “Democracies do not make war on the basis of legal memos locked in a [Department of Justice] safe,” he told the newspaper.

Even more pertinently, Aaron David Miller, a long-term Middle East policy adviser to both Republican and Democratic Administrations, delivered a damning verdict in a recent issue of Foreign Policy magazine. He wrote bluntly: “Barack Obama has become George W. Bush on steroids.”

The Administration used the Espionage Act – an obscure World War I anti-spy law – six times. That is more uses in three years than under all previous Presidents combined. Cases include John Kiriakou, a CIA agent who leaked details of waterboarding, and Thomas Drake, who revealed the inflated costs of a National Security Agency data collection project that had been contracted out.

The development fits with a growing level of secrecy in government under Obama. Last week a report by the Information Security Oversight Office revealed 2011 saw US officials create more than 92 million classified documents: the most ever and 16 million more than the year before.

“We are seeing the reversal of the proper flow of information between the Government and the governed. It is probably the fundamental civil liberties issue of our time,” said Elizabeth Goitein, a national security expert at the Brennan Centre for Justice. “The national security establishment is getting bigger and bigger.”

The drone programme and “kill list” have emerged as most central to Obama’s hardline national security policy. In January 2009, when Obama came to power, the drone programme existed only for Pakistan and had made 44 strikes in five years. With Obama it expanded to Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia with more than 250 strikes. Civilian casualties are common. Obama has deliberately killed US citizens, including radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki last September, and accidentally killed others, such as Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdul-Rahman.

Yet for some, politics seems moot.

Jesselyn Radack was a Justice Department ethics adviser under Bush who became a whistleblower over violations of the legal rights of “American Taleban” John Walker Lindh. Now she works for the Government Accountability Project, defending fellow whistleblowers. She campaigned for Obama, donated money and voted for him.

“Whoever gets elected, whether it’s Obama or Romney, they are going to continue this very dangerous path,” she said. “It creates a constitutional crisis for our country. A crisis of who we are as Americans. You can’t be a free society when all this happens in secret.”

Secret sifter

High in the Utah mountain deserts a chamber of American secrets is being built.

The innocuously named Utah Data Centre is being built for the National Security Agency near a tiny town called Bluffdale.

When completed next year, the heavily fortified US$2 billion ($2.65 billion) building, which is self-sufficient with its own power plant, will be five times the size of the US Capitol in Washington DC.

Gigantic servers will store vast amounts of data from ordinary citizens to be sifted and mined for intelligence clues. It will cover everything from emails to phone calls to credit card bills.

The centre is the most obvious sign of how the operations and scope of the NSA have grown since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Under President George W.

Bush, a key part was a secret “warrantless wiretapping” programme that was scrapped when it was exposed. However, in 2008 Congress passed a bill that effectively allowed the programme to continue.

Will Your Future Be Full of Robot Assassins and Spy Aircraft?

With Its “Roadmap” in Tatters, The Pentagon Detours to Terminator Planet

A Drone-Eat-Drone World

At the end of World War II, General Henry “Hap” Arnold of the U.S. Army Air Forces praised American pilots for their wartime performance, but suggested their days might be numbered.  “The next war may be fought by airplanes with no men in them at all,” he explained.  The future of combat aviation, he announced, would be “different from anything the world has ever seen.”

alternet.org | Jun 2, 2012

By Nick Turse

Today’s armed drones are actually the weak sisters of the weapons world.  Even the Reaper is slow, clumsy, unarmored, generally unable to perceive threats around it, and — writes defense expert Winslow Wheeler — “fundamentally incapable of defending itself.”  While Reapers have been outfitted with missiles for theoretical air-to-air combat capabilities, those armaments would be functionally useless in a real-world dogfight.

Similarly, in a 2011 report, the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board admitted that modern air defense systems “would quickly decimate the current Predator/Reaper fleet and be a serious threat against the high-flying Global Hawk.”  Unlike that MQ-1000 of 2030, today’s top drone would be a sitting duck if any reasonably armed enemy wanted to take it on.  In this sense, as in many others, it compares unfavorably to current manned combat aircraft.

The Navy’s even newer MQ-8B Fire Scout, a much-hyped drone helicopter that has been tested as a weapons platform, has also gone bust.  Not only was one shot down in Libya last year, but repeated crashes have caused the Navy to ground the robo-copter “for the indefinite future.”

Even the highly classified RQ-170 Sentinel couldn’t stay airborne over Iran during a secret mission that suddenly became very public last year.  Whether or not an Iranian attack brought down the drone, the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board report makes it clear that there are numerous methods by which remotely piloted aircraft can potentially be thwarted or downed, from the use of lasers and dazzlers to blind or damage sensors to simple jammers to disrupt global positioning systems, not to mention a wide range of cyber-attacks, the jamming of commercial satellite communications, and the spoofing or hijacking of drone data links.

Smaller tactical unmanned aircraft may be even more susceptible to low-tech attacks, not to mention constrained in their abilities and cumbersome to use.  Sergeant Christopher Harris, an Army drone pilot and infantryman, described the limitations of the larger of the two hand-launched drones he’s operated in Afghanistan this way: the 13-pound Puma was best used from an observation post with some elevation; it only had a 12-mile range and, though theoretically possible to take on patrol, was “a beast to carry around” once the weight of extra batteries and equipment was factored in.

Terminators of Tomorrow?

As for the future, the Air Force’s 2011-2036 Roadmap has already hit a major detour.  In 2010, Air Force magazine breathlessly announced, “Early in the next decade, the Air Force will deploy a new, stealthy RPA — currently called the MQ-X — capable of surviving in heavily defended airspace and performing a wide variety of ISR [intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance] and strike missions.”

Indeed, the 2011 Roadmap lists the MQ-X as the future of Air Force drones.  In February 2012 however, Lieutenant General Larry James told an Aviation Week-sponsored conference: “At this point… we don’t plan, in the near term, to invest in any sort of MQ-X like program.”  Instead, James said, the Air Force will be content simply to upgrade the Reaper fleet and watch the Navy’s development of its Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike or UCLASS drone to see if it soars or, like so many RPAs, crashes and burns.

The Holy Grail of drone ops is the ability of an aircraft to linger over suspected target areas for long durations.  But ultra-long-term loitering operations still remain in the realm of fantasy.  Admittedly, the Pentagon’s blue skies research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is pursuing an ambitious drone project to provide intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and “communication missions over an area of interest” for five or more years at a time.  The project, dubbed “Vulture,” is meant to provide satellite-like capabilities “in an aircraft package.”

Right now, it sounds downright unlikely.

While the Air Force has had a hush-hush unmanned space plane orbiting the Earth for more than a year, much like a standard satellite, the longest a U.S. military drone has reportedly stayed aloft within the planet’s atmosphere is a little more than336 hours.  Plans for ultra-long duration flights took a major hit last year, according to scientists at Sandia National Laboratories and defense giant Northrop Grumman.

In an effort to “to increase UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] sortie duration from days to months while increasing available electrical power at least two-fold,” according to a 2011 report made public by the Federation of American Scientists’Secrecy News, the Sandia and Northrop Grumman researchers identified a technology that “would have provided system performance unparalleled by other existing technologies.”  In a year in which the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster turned a swath of Japan into an irradiated no-go zone, the use of that mystery technology, never named in the report but assumed to be nuclear power, was deemed untenable due to “current political conditions.”

With the Pentagon now lobbying the Federal Aviation Administration to open U.S. airspace to its robotic aircraft and ever more articles emerging about dronecrashes, don’t bet on nuclear-powered, long-loitering drones appearing anytime soon, nor on many of the other major promised innovations in Drone World to come online in the near term either.

From Dystopian Fiction to Dystopian Reality

Until recently, drones looked like a can’t-miss technology primed for big budgetincreases and revolutionary advances, but all that’s changing fast.  “Realistic expectations are for zero growth in the unmanned systems funding,” Weatherington explained by email.  “Most increases will be in technical innovations improving application of delivered systems on the battlefield, and driving down the cost of ownership.”

Major Jeffrey Poquette of the Army’s Small Unmanned Air Systems Product Office talked about just such an effort.  By the late summer, he said, the Army planned to introduce more sophisticated sensors, including the ability to track targets more easily, in its four-pound Raven surveillance drones.  Put less politely, what this means is no roll-outs of sophisticated new drone systems or revolutionary new drone technology: the Army will simply upgrade a glorified model airplane that first took flight more than a decade ago.

Sci-fi it isn’t, but that doesn’t mean that nothing will change in the world of drone warfare.

The Terminator films weren’t exactly original in predicting a future of unmanned planes dominating the world’s skies.  At the end of World War II, General Henry “Hap” Arnold of the U.S. Army Air Forces praised American pilots for their wartime performance, but suggested their days might be numbered.  “The next war may be fought by airplanes with no men in them at all,” he explained.  The future of combat aviation, he announced, would be “different from anything the world has ever seen.”

The most salient and accurate of Arnold’s predictions was not, however, his forecast about drone warfare.  Pilotless planes had taken flight years before the Wright Brothers launched their manned airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903, and drones would not become a signature piece of American weaponry until the 2000s.  Instead, Arnold’s faith in a “next war” — a clear departure from thesentiments of so many Americans after World War I — proved accurate again and again.  Over the following decades, American aircraft would strike in North Korea, South Korea, Indonesia, Guatemala, Cuba, North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Grenada, Libya, Panama, Iraq, Kuwait, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq (again), Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen (again), Libya (again), and the Philippines.  New technologies came and went, air strikes were the constant.

In Vietnam, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and the Philippines, the U.S. deployed pilotless planes as per Arnold’s other prediction.  From Afghanistan onward, all of the countries that have experienced American air power have also experienced lethal drone attacks — just how many is unknown because figures on drone strikes are kept secret “for security reasons,” the Air Force’s Spires recently told TomDispatch.  What we do know is that drone attacks have increased radically over the years.  “More” has been the name of the game.

Still, barely a decade after our drone wars began, dreams of Terminator-esque efficiency and technological perfection are all but dead, even if the drone itself is increasingly embedded in our world.  Fantasies of autonomous drones and submarines fighting robot wars off the coast of Africa are already fading for any near-term future.  But drone warfare is here to stay.  Count on drones to be an essential part of the American way of war for a long time to come.

Air Force contracting documents suggest that the estimated five Reaper sorties flown each day in 2012 will jump to 66 per day by 2016.  What that undoubtedly means is more countries with drones flying over them, more drone bases, more crashes, more mistakes.  What we’re unlikely to see is armed drones scoring decisive military victories, offering solutions to complex foreign-policy problems, or even providing an answer to the issue of terrorism, despite the hopes of policymakers and the military brass.

Keep in mind as well that those global skies are going to fill with the hunter-killer drones of other nations in what could soon enough become a drone-eat-drone world.  With that still largely in the future, however, the Pentagon continues to glow with enthusiasm over the advantages drones offer the U.S.

Regarding the importance of military robots, for instance, the Pentagon’s Dyke Weatherington explained, “Combatant commanders and warfighters place value in the inherent features of unmanned systems — especially their persistence, versatility, and reduced risk to human life.”

On that last point, of course, Weatherington is only thinking about American military personnel and American lives.  Tomorrow’s drone warfare will likely mean “more” in one other area: more dead civilians.  We’ve left behind the fiction of Hollywood for a less high-tech but distinctly dystopian reality.  It isn’t quite the movies and it isn’t what the Pentagon mapped out, but it indisputably provides a clear path to a grim and grimy Terminator Planet.

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Intelligence expert Crispin Black on why sex games feature in so many spy deaths

dailyrecord.co.uk | May 5 2012

By Crispin Black – former government intelligence adviser

SITTING at the Gareth Williams inquest this week, listening to the more lurid details of the case, it occurred to me the death of spooks in bizarre circumstances involving sex games or women’s clothing is hardly an unusual event.

Disposing of an enemy and making it look like a perverted fantasy gone wrong is in the training manuals of every spy agency from MI6 to Mossad.

Codebreaker Gareth, from Anglesey, north Wales, was found dead in a locked bag, in a flat full of women’s clothing and wigs and with his internet browsing history conveniently featuring bondage sites, sparking a flurry of allegations which horrified his parents.

But the fact the 31-year-old’s death scene was organised in such a way as to suggest a sex game gone wrong should make us more suspicious, not less.

The sex game cover is a very useful mechanism in a murder. Not only does it provide a disguise for the actual means and method of death, it trashes the reputation of the victim and blunts the energy of any subsequent investigation.

And it appears to explain the astonishing number of spies, and other people who step into their murky world, who turn up dead in circumstances similar to Gareth.

Take GCHQ personnel for instance, those that work at the vast electronic doughnut in Cheltenham that is responsible for intercepting and decoding secret electronic traffic of interest to Her Majesty’s Government. And Gareth’s ultimate employer.

MI6 dirty secrets.. why do sex games appear to feature in so many spy deaths?

Sex, spies and seven suspicious deaths: The murky waters of the intelligence world – coincidence or conspiracy?

In 1983, 25-year-old Stephen Drinkwater, who worked as a clerk at GCHQ, was found dead at his home with a plastic bag over his head. In 1997 another worker, Nicholas Husband, 46, was found dead at home dressed in a bra and panties – with a plastic bag over his head.

Two years later, Kevin Allen, 31, a language expert at GCHQ, was found dead in his bed with a plastic bag over his head and a dust mask over his mouth. One wonders what the Gloucestershire Constabulary make of it all.

To be fair, the kind of higher mathematical ability that many GCHQ codebreakers have is rare and it sometimes comes with some personal eccentricities attached.

Alan Turing, the Cambridge academic and founder of modern computer science who became the greatest of the wartime Bletchley Park codebreakers was a distinctly odd fish – a loner with sexual hang-ups who seemed to spend most of his waking hours dreaming of obscure mathematical theorems.

The point was amusingly made in 60s film The Italian Job in which Charlie Croker, played by Michael Caine, recruits computer genius Professor Simon Peach – Benny Hill – to pull off a daring bullion robbery.

But the whole scheme nearly comes unstuck as Prof Peach is unable to control his powerful urges towards large women. MI6, who recruit a more worldly-wise type than the boffins of GCHQ, have not been immune.

In 1994 ex-MI6 man turned journalist James Rusbridger, 65, was found hanged at his house in Cornwall – in a green chemical protection suit including rubber gloves, gas mask and black plastic mackintosh. Bondage pictures completed the tableau.

And of course, according to the pathologist, it turned out he probably did it himself as part of a sex game.

The same year Stephen Milligan, the Tory MP for Eastleigh, was found dead with electrical flex tied round his neck, a black bin liner over his head and wearing stockings and suspenders.

The 45-year-old was also tied to a chair and had a satsuma stuffed into his mouth.

His boss at the time, then junior defence minister Jonathan Aitken, has since denied suggestions Milligan had links to MI6.

Even if you are not a spook you need to be careful. In 1990, ex-RAF helicopter pilot and editor of Defence Helicopter World Jonathan Moyle, 28, was found hanged in the wardrobe of his hotel in Chile with a pillow case over his head.

At the time his demise was widely thought to be an auto-erotic accident. He was in fact almost certainly murdered after uncovering links between Chilean arms dealers and Saddam Hussein.

The last person to give evidence at the Gareth Williams inquest was Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire – the senior investigating officer in the case.

She stated confidently that she was sure she and her team would be able to unlock the mystery in the end. But she also felt that this, her final appearance in court, was an appropriate time to remind the assembled audience of Williams’s internet browsing habits.

The last website he accessed probably just a few hours before his death was connected to cycling – a photo of him competing in a cross-country cycling race has been seen frequently in the national newspapers.

But then she went on to deal with the browsing information that had been made much of in the media over the last 20 months. Williams had accessed bondage websites on four days over a two-year period.

He had never accessed so-called “claustrophilia” sites which cater for people who get a thrill out of being confined in small spaces.

There we have it – the view of the woman in charge of the probe. Williams may have had a passing interest in bondage but no more than that. Even this passing interest may have a perfectly innocent explanation.

All MI6 officers get extensive training before they are allowed out on to the streets. Much of this takes place at Fort Monckton near Gosport in Hampshire – a Napoleonic era fortress surrounded by barbed wire and accessible only by a drawbridge.

It includes instruction in basic entry and exit procedures – buildings and cars mainly. If you ever get locked out of your flat and know a friendly spook from school or university give them a ring.

They should be able to get you back inside and could save you a fortune on locksmith’s fees. The instruction also includes some counter-surveillance techniques – how to make sure you are not followed.

And instruction on what to do if you fall into the wrong hands – resistance to interrogation and crucially, what to do if you are restrained – tied or chained up.

It is possible Williams had some of this training and it might well account for the episode when he was discovered tied up in his room by his landlady.

That the sex game angle was a simple smear is a view certainly not ruled out by the Westminster coroner who said, “it is still a legitimate line of inquiry” Gareth died at the hands of MI6.

In her narrative verdict, Dr Fiona Wilcox said: “I am sure a third party placed the bag into the bath and on the balance of probabilities locked the bag.

The cause of death was unnatural and likely to have been criminally mediated. I am therefore satisfied that on the balance of probabilities Gareth was killed unlawfully.”

I was impressed by Dr Wilcox. She had good judgment and wisdom as can be seen from her verdict in the case. She played down the bondage question and the interest in female fashion – Williams had an expensive collection of women’s clothing nearly all of it unworn and most of it not in his size.

She seemed to accept the view of Williams’s sister that these were a store of presents for his female acquaintances. Dr Wilcox pretty much dismissed the idea of any sexual component in his death.

Sadly that is the aspect many people will remember. Well, these kinky games with yourself or other people go wrong – what can you expect – becomes the prevailing attitude.

Occasionally the dark arts of postmortem reputation trashing are employed in a good cause and based on hard facts rather than a set-up.

The strange and squalid habits of Osama bin Laden before his death have been used to great effect by the US to make him a laughing stock.

Crispin Black’s espionage thriller The Falklands Intercept is published by Gibson Square on June 19.

Scotland Yard investigates transvestite smear against spy Gareth, but no disciplinary action will be taken


Victim: Gareth Williams was found locked inside a holdall at his home

Daily Mail | May 5, 2012

Detectives have investigated allegations that police smeared MI6 spy Gareth Williams – but have ruled out taking disciplinary action against any officer.

Scotland Yard’s internal investigation unit examined claims that officers leaked information which led to false media reports that Gareth Williams was a transvestite who was the victim of a sex game that went wrong.

The leaks shifted attention from the spy’s work with MI6 and GCHQ, the Government’s secret listening station, to his private life.

Last night, the Met confirmed its team had ruled out disciplining any officer over the leaks.

In 2010, Mr Williams’s family complained to officers they were learning more about the investigation from newspaper reports rather than from police briefings.

Coroner says British secret service worker was probably “killed unlawfully”

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire, who is leading the investigation into Mr Williams’s death, told his inquest last week that the leaks diverted resources from genuine lines of inquiry.

The spy’s body was found on August 23, 2010, locked inside a holdall which was placed in the bath at his home in Pimlico, Central London. The victim had last been seen by his colleagues ten days earlier.

Last week, coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox questioned the motives of those who leaked details about Mr Williams’s private life, including his visits to bondage websites. His family say the visits could have been work-related.

Dr Wilcox said Mr Williams was not a transvestite and that his collection of £20,000 of unworn women’s clothes were probably gifts for friends.

She also dismissed claims that Mr Williams had entered the sports bag seeking sexual gratification.

The coroner said: ‘I wonder what the motive was for the release of this material to the media. I wonder whether this was an attempt by a third party to intimate a sexual motive.’

Scotland Yard’s internal investigations unit was asked to look at the leaks after concerns were expressed by Det Chief Insp Sebire.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘Concerns were raised that information relating to the investigation had been placed in the public domain.

The force initiated an exercise to assess the concerns. A decision was taken not to proceed further.’

Police wasted time on false leads generated by the leaks. Reports that Mr Williams went to gay bars in the Vauxhall area of London, and visited websites on sadomasochism and claustrophilia – the sexual pleasure of confined spaces – proved to be false.

Det Chief Insp Sebire told the inquest that she had seen at first-hand the
distress the leaks had caused the Williams family, but insisted: ‘They did not come from my team.’

A senior police source said that suspicions surrounding the source of the leaks initially centred on counter-terrorism police officers and MI6.

Last night a Whitehall spokesman denied MI6 was responsible for the smears but declined to say whether the Service was also investigating the claims.

A memo released to the inquest revealed that senior officials at GCHQ, where Mr Williams spent most of his career, were concerned about the leaks.

Last night, a GCHQ spokesman declined to comment on the memo or any investigation into the leaks.

MI6 and GCHQ were criticised by the coroner for waiting more than a week before raising the alarm about Mr Williams’s absence.

Dr Wilcox also hit out at counter-terrorism officers who liaised with MI6 and GCHQ, and police officers investigating the spy’s death.

She said evidence that could have helped the inquiry was only passed to detectives once the inquest was in its second week.

Last week it was revealed that police are planning to take DNA samples from up to 50 spies.

Dr Wilcox said the possibility that another spy was involved in Mr Williams’s death was a ‘legitimate line
of inquiry’.

At the end of the inquest, Mr Williams’s family criticised SO15, the Met’s counter-terrorism branch, for the ‘total inadequacies’ of its investigation into MI6.

The family said: ‘Our grief is exacerbated by the failure of MI6 to make even the most basic inquiries as to Gareth’s whereabouts and welfare.

‘We are also extremely disappointed at the reluctance and failure of MI6 to make available relevant information.’

British MI6 officer executed by secret agents specialising in the “dark arts”


Ceri Subbe, the sister of British MI6 agent Gareth Williams, leaves Westminster Coroner’s Court with her husband Chris Subbe, in central London April 23, 2012. On the first day of the inquest into the death of Williams, Ceri Subbe spoke of how he had complained of office tensions and of London’s “rat race” shortly before he met his macabre death. The naked decomposing corpse of Williams was found inside a red bag in a bath at his flat, near the headquarters of Britain’s external intelligence service MI6, in central London on August 25, 2010. Reuters

Updates

Spy found dead in a holdall ‘was being followed in weeks before he was killed’

Relatives demand answers into spy’s ‘dark arts murder’

Body in bag spy Gareth Williams ‘hated London and wanted to leave MI6’

Secret meeting between MI6 and police hours after discovery of spy Gareth Williams’s death

MI6 spy found dead in a bag ‘disliked the office culture, post-work drinks, flash car competitions’ and dreamed of escaping the rat race, sister tells inquest

Dirty tricks may mean killers will never face justice

independent.co.uk | Mar 31, 2012

by Kim Sengupta

An MI6 officer whose body was found in a holdall may have been executed by secret agents specialising in the “dark arts”, with a cover-up subsequently organised to ensure that his killers did not face justice, a court heard yesterday.

The highly charged allegations came at a coroner’s hearing which was also told it was virtually impossible for Gareth Williams to have locked himself inside the bag, but that the hunt for those who may have killed him was sidetracked by a major forensic blunder.

The mix-up, over DNA found on the body, was discovered only two weeks ago – while the investigation into one of the most high-profile spy cases of recent times has been going up a blind alley for the best part of a year.

Westminster Coroner’s Court in London was also told that MI6 (the Secret Intelligence Service) had not checked on Mr Williams’s whereabouts for more than a week, even though he had failed to turn up for work. As a result, his remains were so decomposed and contaminated that scientists had been unable to ascertain the cause of death.

Anthony O’Toole, representing Mr Williams’s relations, told the court: “The impression of the family is that the unknown third party was a member of some agency specialising in the dark arts of the secret services – or evidence has been removed post mortem by experts in the dark arts.”

Mr O’Toole said Mr Williams “could have been actively deployed” as an agent up to five months before his death. There was a “bland statement” from MI6 “that the death was nothing to do with his work”, said the lawyer. “To properly explore the circumstances of the death, we need to establish the deceased’s work,” he added.

 

Mr Williams worked as a cipher and codes expert for GCHQ, the Government listening station, but had been on secondment with MI6 since March 2010. His body was found at his flat in Pimlico, south-west London, in August 2010 in a North Face holdall sealed by a padlock.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire told the court that traces of DNA found on one of Mr Williams’s hands were previously been regarded as a “key line of inquiry”. But it subsequently emerged that “actually the DNA evidence was contamination by a scientist at the scene”.

The laboratory responsible, LGC Forensics, last night apologised to Mr Williams’s family. “LGC identified the partial profile as matching that of a Metropolitan Police scientist who was involved in the original investigation,” a spokeswoman for the company said.

The coroner, Dr Fiona Wilcox, said: “What I am concerned about is that there is a system in placed to detect the error. Human errors will always occur.

“There has been so much public speculation and so much public anxiety that this is the reason the court has to act to address it.”

Mr Williams’s family, said Mr O’Toole, was concerned a third party who may have been present at his death has still not been traced. There was the DNA evidence which turned out to be contaminated and also, supposedly, a footprint. But both leads had come to “dead ends”.

Examination of a door knob which may have provided incriminating material could not be carried out because the expert tasked with doing so found the door had been removed and the knob taken out, said the lawyer.

The inquest into Mr Williams’s death, expected to begin in April, will hear from his colleagues at MI6 (who will give evidence anonymously) and GCHQ, toxicology experts, bag experts, as well as from his sister. It will also hear that he may have died after breathing too much carbon dioxide.

Dr Wilcox said she wanted the circumstances of Mr Williams’s death to be re-enacted in court. “I want it demonstrated in court how somebody could have got into the bag, done it up and locked it from outside when confined inside. It’s the fundamental issue in this case: whether Gareth Williams was able to lock the bag when he was inside.”

But Vincent Williams, representing Scotland Yard, held there was no need for such a demonstration. A panel of experts had concluded it “would have been very difficult, if not impossible” for him to lock the bag from the inside.

Timeline: The mysterious death of Gareth Williams

15 Aug 2010

31-year-old Gareth Williams, a cipher and codes expert who worked at the GCHQ listening post in Cheltenham, is seen alive for the last time.

23 Aug 2010

A colleague at GCHQ reports Williams missing. His body is found later that day at his flat in Pimlico, London.

30 Aug 2010

Detectives say they are looking at whether Williams may have been killed by a foreign intelligence agency.

1 Sept 2010

An inquest hears that Williams’s remains were discovered padlocked into a sports bag, which was in an empty bath at his flat.

6 Sept 2010

Police appeal for help in tracing a couple of Mediterranean appearance, pictured left, who were seen entering Williams’s flat earlier in the summer.

22 Dec 2010

Police reveal that Williams had accessed bondage websites and visited a drag show, amid suggestions that the death could have been the result of a sex game gone wrong.

March 2012

After 18 months of investigation, police discover that a trace of DNA found on Williams’s hand came from a crime scene scientist. They also find that the couple they were tracing were irrelevant to the inquiry.

JFK’s mistress assassinated by the CIA ‘because she knew too much about his assassination’


Murder: Ms Meyer, center, was shot dead by a Georgetown canal in October 1964, and while police said it was a would-be sexual assault that turned fatal, a new book- and her ex- claims she was assassinated by the CIA

Daily Mail | Apr 20, 2012

The suspicious death of one of President John F. Kennedy’s mistresses just months after his death has sparked numerous conspiracy theories.

The latest version posits that socialite Mary Pinchot Meyer, a beautiful divorcee who was close friends with the Kennedys and is widely known for having a lengthy affair with the playboy President, was shot in a cover-up operation by the CIA.

A new book alleges that, in her preoccupation with her lover’s assassination and ensuing personal investigation, she may have gotten so close to the ‘truth’ that the CIA found her to be a threat.

As a result, agency operatives staged a shooting to make it look like she died due to a sexual assault that turned violent.

Whether or not the theory is true, there are a number of questionable components to the story of the months leading up to her death on October 12, 1964.

Her ex-husband, Cord Meyer, was a CIA agent himself and the couple were card-carrying members of Georgetown’s starry social set, which included then-Senator John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline.

The couples became close friends, along with Mary’s sister Antoinette (who went by Tony) and her husband Ben Bradlee, who was a bureau chief for Newsweek but later went on to be the managing editor of The Washington Post.

Mary Pinchot Meyer Book Suggests JFK Did LSD, Assassinated by CIA

Mary Pinchot Meyer, JFK Mistress, Assassinated By CIA, New Book Says

Another couple that they spent time with was Mary’s Vassar classmate Cicely d’Autremont and her husband James Angleton, who was the chief of the counter surveillance for the CIA.

A book by Peter Janney, called Mary’s Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision of World Peace, the author claims that the the socialite would often bring marijuana and LSD to her trysts with the President.

During their conversations while on these hallucinogens, Ms Pinchot Meyer reportedly tried to appeal to Mr Kennedy’s pacifist nature and urged him to seek peaceful solutions to such worldwide crises like the Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis.

At the time, LSD was not illegal, and many, including Harvard professor Timothy Leary, advocated its use because they believed it helped people expand their knowledge base.

Mr Janney’s book is not the first to draw conclusions between Ms Pinchot Meyer’s friendship with Mr Leary and her intentions with her relationship with Mr Kennedy.

He goes on to say that she was later murdered by the CIA, who he believes organized the assassination of the President in an effort to stop him from preventing violent escalation that they wanted in the Cold War.

Though The Huffington Post thought that the book rested largely on substantial assumptions, these theories have been in existence for some time.

One question lies in the existence- and retrieval- of her diary that included writings about her affair with President Kennedy.

Within a day of her murder, Mr Bradlee went over to her home to find the diary and, though the door was locked, he found Mr Angleton.

The CIA spymaster said that he also was looking for the diary but claimed that it was because his wife- Ms Meyer’s friend- had asked him to.

The whereabouts of the diary today are uncertain.

Another clue erring on the side of the conspiracy is that while her ex-husband included a statement of support for the police investigation of her murder, his assistant supposedly said that it was a lie and he did truly believe it to be a standard ‘in house rub out’.

In an interview shortly before his death in 2001, Mr Meyer said that ‘the same sons of b****es that killed John F. Kennedy’ killed his ex-wife.

Police arrested Robert Crump, a man who was found near the scene of the crime, but had no connection to the murder weapon, which was never found, or any prior history with Ms Meyer.