An exclusive investigation by The Grayzone reveals new details on the critical role Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands played in an apparent CIA spying operation targeting Julian Assange, and exposes the Sands security staff who helped coordinate the malicious campaign.
by Max Blumenthal
“I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole.”
–Mike Pompeo, College Station, TX, April 15, 2019
Part 5 - From top US cyber-crime investigator to Adelson’s security chief
During his lengthy career in the US Secret Service, Nagel worked at the nexus of federal law enforcement and US intelligence. In the 1990s, Nagel not only served on the personal protection detail of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; he was assigned to “work with two foreign protective services after the assassination and attempted assassination of their respective heads of state,” he said in sworn testimony in a US District Court in 2011. Nagel also stated that he later protected the director and deputy director of a federal agency that he neglected to name.
During the same testimony, Nagel said he received the CIA’s Intelligence Community Seal Medallion, an award given to non-CIA personnel “who have made significant contributions to the Agency’s intelligence efforts.”
As the deputy director of the Secret Service, he appeared alongside then-US Attorney General John Ashcroft at a November 2003 press conference on combating cybercrime, and testified before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee in March 2007. Besides those two public events, Nagel has not appeared on camera.
While the public tends to associate the US Secret Service with burly men in dark suits and aviator shades who whisper into their sleeves while shadowing presidents, the agency also functions as the country’s leading computer crime investigative body.
In November 2002, the LA Times reported on Nagel’s role in creating the Los Angeles Electronic Crimes Task Force, a massive federal operation that occupied an entire floor of a downtown LA skyscraper. Dedicated to fighting electronic crime and cyber terrorism, the task force included the FBI, local law enforcement, private security contractors, and the US Secret Service. The initiative, said Nagel, “was all about enhancing our current partnerships and building new ones.”
In October 2004, Nagel was credited with taking down a major international cybercrime outfit called shadowcrew.com (no relation to the Shadow Brokers hacker outfit that leaked NSA secrets). According to TechNewsWorld, under Nagel’s watch, “The Secret Service used wiretaps, an undercover informant and their own hackers to gain access to the private portions of the [shadowcrew] site.”
These tactics seemed remarkably similar to those deployed 13 years later to spy on Assange.
Before leaving public life in 2008, Nagel helped the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) create the National Computer Forensic Institute. Then-DHS Director Michael Chertoff vowed the institute would “turn the tables on criminal groups” by empowering law enforcement to use “the same technologies” hackers and cyber-criminals typically employed.
Two years later, when Wikileaks first appeared, the special federal cyber-security units Nagel helped create were likely on the frontlines of the US fight to combat Assange’s online information clearinghouse.