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CIA Implicated in Attack on North Korean Embassy in Madrid (elpais.com)
67 points by yasp 6 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 52 comments





From the linked article:

> What’s more, unlike other intelligence activities – such as cyberattacks, which are characterized by their discretion, the attack on the North Korean embassy was especially violent. On February 22 at 3pm, 10 masked men carrying alleged imitation weapons broke into the embassy, located north of the capital in the residential area of Aravaca. They tied up the eight people inside and put bags on their heads. The victims were beaten and interrogated. A woman managed to escape from a window on the second floor and her screams for help were heard by a neighbor, who contacted the police.

> Officers arrived at the scene but when they tried to enter the embassy a man opened the door to them and told them that there was nothing going on. Minutes later, two luxury vehicles sped out of the embassy. The cars used for the getaway belonged to the diplomatic mission and were later abandoned in a nearby street.

This doesn't add up at all. An operation like this would be guaranteed to blow up into a major diplomatic incident with repercussions far more negative than whatever the US could hope to gain. Surely real CIA agents understand that.

This "operation" literally sounds like some James Bond plot.


> guaranteed to blow up into a major diplomatic incident

So they've pissed off Spain. So what? Arrogance is a characteristic. Maybe they assumed Spain was like other Latin American countries where they could operate freely.

The Saudi murder of Khashoggi was similarly blatent, and that's not really affected US support for them.


The EU as whole may have an issue with it.

While the US government usually acts in a collective fashion this particular action has Trump fingerprints on it:

* He isn't particularly concerned with pissing off allies.

* He has taken a particular interest in North Korean negotiations so is likely taking more direct control on this front.

* These actions demonstrate a desire to increase US negotiating leverage especially in light of the last failed summit.


> Maybe they assumed Spain was like other Latin American countries where they could operate freely.

Spain is a European country.


"[..] Surely real CIA agents understand that."

I don't follow the argument that this makes the CIA implication less probable.

Surely all the spook agencies of any country understand that and yet it happened.

If something, we could ask ourselves "who's is arrogant enough to do something like that in a foreign country?"


I agree that it is an arrogant action, but the cost-benefit analysis doesnt add up.

North Korea just isn't that important. Seems to be connected to a top DPRK diplomat who is involved in the Trump meetings, but roughing up an embassy doesnt have any obvious benefit.

Which doesnt mean the CIA wasnt involved, but the comment you are replying to seems to be largely reacting to how curious this event seems.


There's no question this operation would become known the moment it happened, even worse by the folks they're targeting. That doesn't sound like something the CIA or anyone would want.... or even get anything out of.

> There's no question this operation would become known the moment it happened

No question, like none at all?

The fact that this is only making bigger news after weeks, and only because the police was actually called to the scene, ultimately leading to the CIA connection, does kinda contradict that idea.

Who knows if the Koreans would even have been willing to call local police themselves, embarrassment can play a very big role here, just like having a foreign police force go through your embassy isn't without its own set of very relevant security issues.


I mean known by the North Koreans.

Of course, but by the Trump mindset: What are they gonna do about it?

Trump constantly insist on "not taking any options from the table" to stay "unpredictable" as such this would fit neatly right in there along the lines of "We can do this to you, and there's literally nothing you can do about it, don't forget who's holding all the cards here!"


>Government sources say that it would be “unacceptable” for an ally to take such action. Not only would it mean that the US agency had operated on Spanish soil without asking for authorization or informing the authorities, it would also be a violation of the international conventions that protect diplomatic delegations.

Something tells me the Spanish govt will do nothing about it besides issuing a non-consequential statement of disapproval just like when Merkel found out her blackberry was being tapped by the five eyes. Gotta love sovereignty,


> just like when Merkel found out her blackberry was being tapped by the five eyes. Gotta love sovereignty

Fun side-fact about that particular thing: Not much did happen there because nothing about that was actually illegal. The NSA totally had and still has, the right to spy on Merkel [0].

Exceptions for this kind of surveillance were already lobbied into the German constitution by NSA surveillance interests decades ago [1]. Couldn't have German constitutional rights be in the way of winning the intelligence Cold War.

The German BND gladly goes along with it all of this, as their origin traces right back to the CIA [1].

[0] https://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2013-10/nsa-uerberwa...

[1] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/20140...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gehlen_Organization


What should they do?

They don't seem to know who actually did this... not at this point.


This really doesn't sound like a CIA operation.

Maybe some folks involved had some "connection" at some point in their lives, but this seems really weird as an official or even non official operation.

Like what do you get interrogating these folks anyway, you automatically give away what you're asking for. Strange.


I read the transcripts of Haspel's torture sessions. They read like an episode of "24". These are dumb, violent people with an exaggerated sense of their own heroic virtue. Par for the course.

https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/intelligence-torture...


Certainly possible, but this seems out of character for even that "explanation".

In all fairness, if you think you know what a CIA operation looks like then you probably don't.

I don't think that means anything.

If the CIA or anyone was armed with fake guns breaking into embassies and trying to extract information by force regularly ... we'd hear about it.


Please describe to me what you think corresponds to a typical and oh so recognizable CIA operation so we can all easily pin it back on them next time they make a move

> Please describe to me what you think corresponds to a typical and oh so recognizable CIA operation so we can all easily pin it back on them next time they make a move

Something slower, more covert, and less out of a blockbuster spy movie. More John Le Carré and less James Bond.


Not this event that appears to be fairly unique. Simply by being unique that would mean it's nobody's typical operation.

It was roughly coincident in time (one week prior) with the US-NK denuclearization summit.

To me that makes it sound even less like a CIA operation.

What is it you imagine CIA operations are like? The CIA has a long history of incompetence e.g.:

https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/08/15/botched-cia-communicati...

Some have claimed that their secrecy is less about national security, and more about job security. If the public knew their mistakes, they would have been disbanded a long time ago (although similar claims have been made about the UK's SIS).


> What is it you imagine CIA operations are like? The CIA has a long history of incompetence e.g.:

> https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/08/15/botched-cia-communicati...

Are you serious? That example is a far cry from acting like a bunch of incompetent bank robbers, like whoever conducted this present attack on the NK embassy.


I feel like you're talking about your impression of the CIA and that somehow makes you think that this fairly unprecedented and odd event .... somehow must be them.

I can't convince you otherwise, or even explain my own POV, if you have some strong belief that this must be them, even without much of any evidence.

I also don't think people care like you think they care.


> somehow must be them.

That wasn't something I said.

> if you have some strong belief that this must be them

Literally never said nor implied that.

> I also don't think people care like you think they care.

I don't know what this is in response to.

Did you reply to the wrong post?


If confirmed, it's a great example of lack of professionalism. This is the behavior of a gang of drunken thugs, no words. Which kind of information worth the diplomatic incident and the irritation of a partner nation ? Because that kind of desperate action only is justified to rescue information of capital importance.

Wouldn't surprise me, they recently caught a guy related to the DEA/US EMbasy in Argnetina extorting politicians and business men, among other things.

I love all the "this doesn't sound like a CIA operation" comments.

What do you actually know about anything CIA-related that makes you believe you know if this or that is or isn't a CIA thing?


The description of the event seems fairly unique, seems it is unlike any security service's usual behavior.

What is the usual behavior of any security service? How do you know what is normal and what is not normal if you don't have any actual knowledge about this subject? For all we know, this might actually be the usual behavior.

Do you feel what is described in the article happens often?

So you are telling me watching all those spy movies hasn't made us experts in CIA operations?

This seems to back up the side claiming that the Deep State is out to get Trump, here by sabotaging the peace talks with North Korea.

What is the "deep state", exactly? I understand it to be the right's bogeyman on the left, but I've never heard it taken seriously outside of more...esoteric discussions.

The security services and foreign services pursuing their own agenda, over and above (or even in contradiction to) the elected government's directions and supervision.

It's rather odd framing this as a right vs. left discussion when traditionally it's been the other way round. FBI harassment of MLK, or COINTELPRO, are traditional examples of the deep state against the left. The left could write a very long charge sheet against the CIA.

Of course, this is consistent with the argument that the people complaining about the deep state on the right aren't "organic" but instead funded by a foreign intelligence service.


I didn't really mean to frame it as right vs left; that's just the context that I've seen the topic discussed in. I was hoping to be as neutral as possible with my query.

well here are two examples with actual definitions to get you started. hopefully the guardian isn't too esoteric for you!

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/jul/17/iraq.usa

>The ideologically driven network functioned like a shadow government, much of it off the official payroll and beyond congressional oversight. But it proved powerful enough to prevail in a struggle with the State Department and the CIA by establishing a justification for war.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/22/leaks-...

>America doesn’t have coups or tanks in the street. But a deep state of sorts exists here and it includes national security bureaucrats who use secretly collected information to shape or curb the actions of elected officials.


Budgetary messes and administrative Independence gets out of hand... partly because congress doesn't bother to provide real oversight.

But the whole "deep state" term seems to imply a great deal more. We have people here claiming the CIA is doing this to undermine the president. That's not at all backed up or necessary follows bureaucracy operating on its own.


Those are nice euphemisms but giving these articles a critical read, particularly in light of the implications of the first one might do us more good than engaging in systematic and apologetic damage control

>engaging in systematic and apologetic damage control

I don't know what you mean by that.


The deep state should get no black budget.. this is getting out of hand... https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/national/black...

No surprises there. The day after this Trump's negotiations fell through with NK.

Actually, this happened BEFORE the summit. Feb 22nd. The summit was Feb 27-28. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_North_Korea%E2%80%93Unite...

Exactly, this happened before the summit. And then the summit was derailed.

Am I really the only one who had that thought in the back of my mind?

Deliberately brazen. Ex-cia, current fsb. Or something along those lines.

Why not? (Fix the fkn downvoting)


To save anyone the click: those are just previous, failed submissions with zero comments.



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