Entries in Intelligence (5)


Russian Intelligence Officials Called Boston Marathon Bombing Preventable

Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. congressman says that Russian intelligence officials are convinced that the April bombings at the Boston Marathon were preventable, had American authorities acted on Moscow's warning about one of the suspects.

Massachusetts Democrat William Keating, who has just returned from Russia with other lawmakers, says that U.S. intelligence agents apparently knew in 2010 that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was ready to enlist in a terrorist cell in Dagestan, a southern region of Russia.

Keating told reporters that the head of Russian counterterrorism said "that if we had the level of information sharing and cooperation that is taking place right now, if we had had that back at that period of time, then the bombing might have been averted."

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a shootout with police four days after the Marathon bomb attacks that killed three people and left more 260 wounded. His brother, Dzhokhar, was taken into custody and charged with using a weapon of mass destruction.

Despite the terrorist attack last April 15, Keating, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that if the U.S. and Russia improve cooperation and information sharing  "there will be people in the future whose lives will be saved."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Attorney General Appoints Federal Prosecutors for Leak Investigations

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder ordered two federal prosecutors Friday night to open criminal investigations into a series of national security leaks to the news media.

Holder appointed Ron Machen, the U.S. attorney for the District of Colombia, and Rod Rosenstein to lead the criminal investigations into recent leaks concerning a disrupted bomb plot by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and a New York Times story about President Obama ordering cyber-attacks against Iran with the Stuxnet computer worm.

“These two highly-respected and experienced prosecutors will be directing separate investigations currently being conducted by the FBI,” Holder said in a statement.  “I have every confidence in their abilities to doggedly follow the facts and the evidence in the pursuit of justice, wherever it leads.”

The appointment of the prosecutors comes days after the chairmen and ranking members of the Congressional Intelligence Committees and other members of Congress expressed outrage over the recent leaks.  Some members were calling for Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the leaks, but Holder’s move may neutralize those calls.

Earlier this week, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took to the Senate floor and implied the leaks were released by the White House for political purposes.

“A really disturbing aspect of this is that one could draw the conclusion from reading these articles that it is an attempt to further the president’s political ambitions for the sake of his re-election at the expense of our national security,” McCain said on the Senate floor late Tuesday.

“The notion that my White House would purposefully release classified national security information is offensive. It’s wrong,” the president told reporters at the White House on Friday.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney bristled that McCain had alleged the leaks were coming from the White House.

“Any suggestion that this administration has authorized intentional leaks of classified information for political gain is grossly irresponsible,” Carney said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


John McCain: Leak Investigation Should Follow Evidence

ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- While Sen. John McCain Friday ratcheted up his call for a special prosecutor to investigate leaks of classified intelligence, McCain’s office said the investigation should follow the evidence wherever it goes -- even if it leads to Congress.

“The investigation should go where the evidence takes it -- be that the White House, administration or Congress,” a McCain aide told ABC News.

Republicans have accused the White House of leaking the information purposefully in an effort to make the president look good, but White House officials would not be the only ones with access to the kind of classified information that was leaked to The New York Times and other media outlets over the last two months. Some members of Congress and a small group of senior Congressional staff would likely have access to the information as well.

The president Friday condemned the leaks and called the suggestion that the White House was behind them “offensive” -- a statement McCain said was not satisfactory.

“What the president did not unequivocally say today is that none of the classified or highly sensitive information recently leaked to the media came from the White House,” McCain said in a written statement Friday. “I continue to call on the president to immediately appoint a special counsel to fully investigate and, where necessary, prosecute these gravely serious breaches of our national security.”

McCain’s statement pointed out that the articles in question -- including recent New York Times stories on a covert U.S. cyber attack on Iran’s nuclear program and the “kill list” of terrorists to be targeted by drone strikes -- cited administration sources.

“The journalists themselves identify some of the sources for their articles as 'administration officials,' 'aides’ to the president,' 'members of the president’s national security team who were in the [White House Situation Room]' during key discussions, an official 'who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program,' and 'current … American officials',” McCain said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'No Intelligence' on Christmas Terror Plots, US Finds

PAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- For the first time in more than a decade, there is "no active intelligence" suggesting a possible terror attack timed to the Christmas and New Year's holidays, counter-terrorism officials from five American agencies told ABC News.

But the officials said there is growing concern that al Qaeda is targeting next summer's Olympic games, about which one law enforcement official said the threat level is considered "high," although there is no specific information pointing to an attack on the games.

"They do not want to expend any operatives or resources now on anything else, other than the Olympics," said the official, who was briefed on the latest electronic intercepts.

This week, on a teleconference involving American law enforcement and intelligence agencies, officials reported that electronic intercepts and human sources had turned up no evidence of a pending threat over the next few weeks.

In fact, "There are explicit discussions that nothing should be scheduled for the holiday period," the official told ABC News.

Even so, U.S. officials said there is going to be an "informal heightened alert status" given past al Qaeda efforts around the end of the year.

"It's too soon to say the coast is clear," said a U.S. counter-terrorism official.

Officials said they remain concerned about retaliatory attacks for the deaths of Osama bin Laden and radical al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

"We are not letting our guard down," the official said, pointing out that specific and credible threat information often does not emerge until days before a particular event.

In many cases, of course, there has been no specific warning.

In 2009, an attempt to bring down a U.S. jetliner over Detroit failed when an al Qaeda recruit failed to ignite explosives hidden in his underwear.

In 2000, U.S. law enforcement disrupted a bomb attack supposedly timed to New Year's Eve in Los Angeles and Seattle.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Osama Bin Laden: Officials to Release More Info on DNA Match, Intel

AFP/Getty ImagesUPDATE: A U.S. official tells ABC news that plans have changed, and that the information will not be released Friday, as was previously planned. The source notes that the information is still expected to be released, possibly over the weekend or early next week.

(WASHINGTON) -- The public will learn more Friday about the way officials identified the corpse of Osama bin Laden, as well as other information gleaned from the trove of data taken from the compound, ABC News has learned.

After Navy SEALs took photographs of bin Laden, CIA officials used facial recognition analysis to confirm that the man SEALs shot was in fact bin Laden. DNA samples matched those of bin Laden's relatives with 99.9 percent certainty.

President Obama decided against releasing photographs of bin Laden, fearing their graphic and gruesome nature could be inflammatory and put Americans at risk.

The government will also release more information from the computers seized in the raid on bin Laden's compound. On Thursday, ABC News reported on evidence of discussions about targeting U.S. rail lines and a possible attack marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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