More than three years ago, the CIA dispatched a stealth surveillance drone into the skies over Iran.
The bat-winged aircraft penetrated more than 600 miles inside the country, captured images of Iran’s secret nuclear facility at Qom and then flew home. All the while, analysts at the CIA and other agencies watched carefully for any sign that the craft, dubbed the RQ-170 Sentinel, had been detected by Tehran’s air defenses on its maiden voyage.
“There was never even a ripple,” said a former senior U.S. intelligence official involved in the previously undisclosed mission.
CIA stealth drones scoured dozens of sites throughout Iran, making hundreds of passes over suspicious facilities, before a version of the RQ-170 crashed inside Iran’s borders in December. The surveillance has been part of what current and former U.S. officials describe as an intelligence surge that is aimed at Iran’s nuclear program and that has been gaining momentum since the final years of George W. Bush’s administration.
The effort has included ramped-up eavesdropping by the National Security Agency, formation of an Iran task force among satellite-imagery analysts and an expanded network of spies, current and former U.S. officials said.
Known internally as “Persia House,” the Iran Operations Division was set up in the agency’s Old Headquarters Building. Over time, it swelled from several dozen analysts and officers to several hundred. The division is now headed by a veteran case officer who previously served as CIA station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan.
The division began assembling an informant network that stretched from the Middle East to South America, where Iran’s security services have a long-standing presence. The CIA also exploited the massive U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq to mount espionage operations against the country sandwiched between those war zones.
- Education is Liberation
- The Politics of Austerity: Fighting for the World
- Readings on Urbicide
- Robot Wars: US Empire and Geopolitics in the Robotic Age
- Remote: a Documentary about Drones and Humans
- Policing the Future City: Robotic Being-in-the-World
- Intervention Symposium: “Algorithmic Governance”; organised by Jeremy Crampton and Andrea Miller
- How intelligent drones are changing warfare
- Opinion: robots and AI could soon have feelings….
- Predator Empire – Reviews
- The Great War of Enclosure: Securing the Skies (2017)
- Predator Empire – 30% discount at UMP
- Book Reviews
- Camp Lemonnier
- Chalmers Johnson
- Civilian drones and robotics
- Customs and Border Patrol
- Documentaries and media
- Drone Technology
- Forensic Architecture
- Geopolitics and International Relations
- Guantanamo Bay
- Hannah Arendt
- History of Drones
- Human Geography
- Human Rights
- Jeremy Scahill
- Law and Lawfare
- Martin Heidegger
- Middle East
- Military Industrial Complex
- Nick Turse
- Ocean Geopolitics
- Opinions and Commentary
- Outer Space
- Secrecy and Surveillance
- Special Forces
- Statistics and Graphics
- Terrorism and Counterterrorism
- White House Politics