Archive for North America
An American diplomat accused by Russia of spying for the CIA was ordered to leave the country Tuesday after a highly publicized arrest that seemed designed to embarrass the United States and its premier intelligence service. The expulsion of Ryan C. Fogle was announced by the Russian Foreign Ministry, and footage on state-run television showed him wearing a blond-streaked wig and a baseball cap as he was held facedown and handcuffed. Fogle, who is listed as a low-level diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, was accused of trying to recruit a Russian official to work as a CIA spy. Fogle’s Monday night arrest was captured on videotape and made public Tuesday afternoon. Russia’s domestic security service, known by the initials FSB, said Fogle was caught with a stack of cash. Images showed a collection of amateurish spy gear, including a compass, sunglasses and a form letter promising million-dollar payments and offering tips on setting up an anonymous e-mail account. U.S. officials did not dispute that Fogle was a CIA employee, and they sought to play down the potential for any diplomatic fallout. A CIA spokesman declined to comment. A State Department spokesman, Patrick Ventrell, said only that “an American staff member at the embassy” had been briefly detained. CIA veterans marveled at the theatrical nature of the arrest and likened it to the spy-versus-spy showdowns that were hallmarks of the Cold War. “It is right out of the 1980s playbook,” said Milton Bearden, who served as chief of the CIA’s Soviet/East Europe Division. “The elaborate drama of the whole thing [indicates] that there was almost certainly an elaborate ambush set up. Cameras at the ready. A well-trained [Russian] take-down team. All made for taking it public on video.” He was turned over Tuesday to the U.S. Embassy, where he is listed as the third secretary in the political section. CIA officers routinely use State Department positions as diplomatic cover for espionage.
The Embassy of the Republic of Korea (ROK) has offered Arlington County the use of prime land in the Courthouse area at no cost. The County Board is scheduled to vote on the lease agreement at its meeting this Saturday, May 18. The two parcels of vacant land run along Clarendon Blvd, between N. Adams Street and N. Barton Street. The ROK Arlington Embassy Annex building lies adjacent to the land, but faces Wilson Blvd. The land parcels up for grabs currently house nothing but fenced asphalt and gravel lots. The embassy reports that the space is only used a few times each year during large meetings. It decided to offer the land to the county as a goodwill gesture. Terms of the lease would allow the county to use the land free of rent as long as it maintains the parcels. The county may use the property for any legal use, provided it notifies the embassy prior to changing the land use. Any permanent improvements on the land would first require consent from the embassy. The lease agreement would be in effect for a minimum of two years and would continue until terminated by one of the parties. The county staff report indicates maintenance costs associated with the lease would be minimal and no significant fiscal impact is expected.
The personal effects of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens are in the possession of an Islamic terrorist currently at large in Libya, according to information provided exclusively to WND by reliable expatriate Libyan sources in exile. According to the expatriate Libyans, Stevens’ personal belongings – including his camera, cell phone, identification papers and various private documents – are being kept locked in a safe in the possession of Wesam Bin Hameed in Libya. Bin Hameed has been identified as an Islamic extremist in Benghazi who allegedly participated in the terrorist attack Sept. 12, 2012, attack in Benghazi that led to Stevens’ death. No U.S. authorities, including the FBI, have questioned Bin Hameed regarding the Benghazi attack. At present, according to the sources, he is roaming freely in Benghazi, where he continues to threaten to shoot any Libyans who dare protest against the various Islamic terror gangs and militia that currently exert unofficial authority in the streets of Tripoli and Benghazi.
The U.S. diplomat and Sheffield Lake native who was injured in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan on April 6 is nearing a return to the Cleveland area. Kelly Hunt, 33, was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., late in April for continued medical treatment after having been treated since the April 6 bombing at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Hunt’s mother, Dinah Hunt, has been updating friends and family via Facebook on a page called Kelly Hunt’s Road to Recovery. “Kelly is alert and improving. She’s been mouthing words, but with the trachea tube removed I look forward to her speaking, Dinah Hunt posted on Friday. “Very soon we should be heading to CLE for rehab.” The post also included an update on the healing process. Dinah Hunt said that the wounds to the back of Kelly’s legs are healing well and that successful plastic surgery was preformed Friday. Additionally, Kelly’s hand wound is healing and doctors were able to remove more shrapnel from her hand and arms.
Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s envoy to the US resigned following the defeat of the Pakistan People’s Party in last week’s general elections. Congratulating the new parliament on its election, Ms Rehman sent in her resignation to the caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, Pakistan Embassy spokesman Nadeem Hotiana said in a message posted on Twitter. Another message on Twitter quoted Ms Rehman as saying: “It is time a new envoy comes in as quickly as possible so that there is no gap in the relationship.” The 52-year-old diplomat, a close aide of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, was appointed to the post by the PPP-led government in 2011. She replaced Husain Haqqani who was forced to quit over a controversy regarding a mysterious memo seeking American help to stave off a possible military coup in Pakistan following the killing of Osama bin Laden in a US military raid. A senior leader of the PPP and a former aide to slain party chief Benazir Bhutto, Ms Rehman had also served as Information Minister in the PPP-led government. Several other envoys appointed by the outgoing government are expected to quit following the PML-N’s victory in the May 11 polls, which marked the first democratic transition of power in Pakistan’s history.
The content of the recent speech by the US ambassador to Sri Lanka Michele J Sison to the Foreign Journalists’ Association in Colombo on the “next steps” for US engagement with Sri Lanka is typical of the forceful and uncivilised approach to diplomacy being practiced by US state department officials whose career rise roughly coincides with the neocon capture of the US government and the Armed Forces. Some US diplomats in this category who have got promoted to ambassadorial postings are typified by a level of arrogance that borders on stupidity due to the brainwashing they have undergone at the hands of neocon-run diplomacy schools and neocon mentors within the state department – they have been brought up on a world view that the US is ‘the’ rightful, unrivalled emperor of the world, and those who represent that power should ‘manage’ world events like the viceroys of the preceding empire. So they come and present the world with a caricature of the fabled “Ugly American”. They are not apprised of the fact that the US power and influence in the world is more ‘imagined’ and fake than real, and that US elitism is not readily ‘accepted’ by significant numbers of people in other countries. Sison’s remarks prior to coming to Sri Lanka clearly shows that US plans for Sri Lanka centred around financing anti-government NGOs and other US-compliant sundry “civil society groups”.
President Barack Obama’s administration fought back on Friday against Republican accusations that it covered up details of last year’s deadly assault on a U.S. mission in Libya, after a news report that memos on the incident were edited to omit a CIA warning of a threat posed by al Qaeda. The report by ABC News gave new momentum to the highly partisan flap over whether the administration tried to avoid casting the September 11, 2012, attack as terrorism at a time when the presidential election was less than two months away. ABC released 12 versions of the administration’s “talking points” on Benghazi that appeared to show how various agencies – particularly the State Department and the CIA – shaped what became the Obama’s administration’s initial playbook for explaining how four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the attack. The report came two days after a hearing by a House of Representatives committee in which Gregory Hicks, a former U.S. diplomat in Libya, gave a dramatic account of the night of the attack and what he described as a poorly handled response to it. The hearing was the latest in a series of efforts by Republicans to raise questions about the administration’s response to the attack by suspected Islamist militants, with an increasing focus on the role of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a possible Democratic presidential contender in 2016. The memos were used to prepare Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, before she appeared on television talk shows a few days after the attack. The ABC report on the emails among the White House, State Department and intelligence agencies about the attack showed the final talking points went through a series of revisions that scrubbed them of references to previous terror warnings. In one email exchange, the State Department’s spokeswoman at the time, Victoria Nuland, objected to including the CIA’s reference to intelligence about the threat from al Qaeda in Benghazi and eastern Libya.
The American embassy announced withdrawal of staff because security issues relating the present political crisis. The US Embassy latest travel warning says that the security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and similarly advises its citizens to avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.
U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford briefly crossed into northern Syria to meet with Syrian opposition leaders. It is Ford’s first visit back to Syria since he left in February, 2012, when the U.S. embassy suspended operations in Damascus as the opposition effort to oust Syrian President Bashar al Assad developed into a full-blown civil war. Since then, Ford has become the Obama administration’s point man on Syria and point of contact with the Syrian opposition. A U.S. official confirmed Ford’s secret visit, which occurred along the Turkey-Syria border. He briefly crossed into Syria to meet with opposition leaders before returning to Turkey. Ford did not go deep into Syria, according to the official. “It was literally just across the border,” the official said. National Public Radio cited Syrian activists as saying Ford met with a rebel leader from Aleppo who thanked him for the delivery of some food aid being provided by the U.S.
A homeless Egyptian man stabbed an American citizen in the neck with a knife near the American embassy in Cairo’s Garden City district. Local residents in the neighbourhood helped the embassy’s security personnel arrest the man as he was trying to escape. Cairo’s security chief referred the suspect to the general prosecution for investigation. Embassy doctors provided aid to the American citizen and facilitated his transfer to a hospital. The motives of the attack remain unclear.