Showing posts with label Intelligence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Intelligence. Show all posts

28 May 2017

*** Guarding the Guards at the CIA

By George Friedman

Over the weekend, The New York Times published a report detailing the discovery and systematic degradation of the U.S. espionage network in China from 2010 to 2012. The report cites 10 officials, former and current, who describe the penetration of the network and speculate on the reason for its failure. Some claim there was a Chinese mole in the CIA. Others claim that lines of communication between assets and the agency had been breached.

The timing of the report is as interesting as the content itself. CIA officials, after all, have already been accused of leaking information designed to weaken President Donald Trump. And now, not only have a handful of officials revealed a massive intelligence failure, but they have done so, apparently in concert, five years after it happened.

One explanation is that a faction in the CIA means to weaken the agency’s credibility by revealing the failure. (I have no evidence for this, but then again, evidence to substantiate charges is optional in Washington.) This would, in effect, undermine the credibility of those claiming to know about secret Russian plots. “You claim to know about them, but you are actually not very good at intelligence,” or so the argument would go.

21 May 2017

Too many spies spoil the intelligence broth

Vinay Kaura

Following the deadly Maoist attack in Sukma last month, India’s various intelligence agencies have come under scathing criticism. The parliamentary standing committee on home affairs, in its report submitted in April, noted the increasing incidence of terror attacks which “exposed the deficiencies of our intelligence agencies” and lamented the lack of analysis of the “failure of the intelligence agencies to provide credible and actionable inputs regarding the attacks at Pathankot, Uri, Pampore, Baramulla and Nagrota”. Clearly, intelligence strategy continues to be India’s Achilles’ heel and there is an urgent need for its re-articulation.

Deficiencies in the intelligence framework have often led to the growth of India’s intelligence ‘community’.

The Kargil intrusion in 1999 convinced the government that India’s national security mechanism stood in need of comprehensive overhaul. Subsequently, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) was designated as the premier counter-terrorism agency and authorized to create a multi-agency centre (MAC) which was to be an intelligence-sharing ‘fusion centre’ in New Delhi.

19 May 2017

HUMINT: A Continuing Crisis?

Before Vietnam completely fades from memory and its lessons learned gather even more dust, it might be worth exploring a few issues that will likely resurface again.

During the latter months of the Vietnam War (1971-72), the United States was actively sending units home, turning facilities and functions over to the South Vietnamese and to U.S. forces located elsewhere before the 29 March 1973 deadline for all U.S. forces to be out of the country. In January 72, President Nixon announced that 70,000 troops would be withdrawn by 1 May 72, reducing the troop level in Vietnam to 69,000.


I was assigned in 1971 to the 571st Military Intelligence Detachment in Da Nang, the unit primarily ran Human Intelligence (HUMINT) operations throughout I Corps in northern South Vietnam. I was quickly exposed to Viet Cong (VC), North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and friendly forces’ activity in our area of interest. As such it was evident that South Vietnamese forces that had taken part in Lam Son 719 in Laos were licking their wounds - even the much touted 1st Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Division, garrisoned in Hue had been severely crippled in this failed campaign in 1971.

Intelligence and the Presidency

By Jami Miscik

U.S. presidents and other senior policymakers often come into office knowing little about the 17 federal agencies and offices that make up the U.S. intelligence community, but in short order, they come to rely heavily on its unique technologies, tradecraft, and expert analysis. The intelligence community’s mission is to provide national leaders with the best and most timely information available on global affairs and national security issues—information that, in turn, can help those leaders achieve their foreign policy objectives.

The president is the country’s top intelligence consumer and the only person who can authorize a covert action, and the services he receives from the intelligence community can be invaluable—providing early warning of brewing trouble, identifying and disrupting threats before they materialize, gaining insight into foreign leaders, and discreetly affecting developments abroad. For the relationship between intelligence producers and consumers to work effectively, however, each needs to understand and trust the other.


The most common misperception about the intelligence community is that it makes policy. It doesn’t. As Allen Dulles, the director of central intelligence from 1953 to 1961, once said, “Intelligence is the servant, not the master, of foreign policy.” A new administration considers and articulates what it stands for and what it hopes to achieve; it develops policies and informational priorities, and then it deploys the resources of the intelligence community based on those priorities.

16 May 2017

Complex Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield in Ukrainian Antiterrorism Operations

by Victor R. Morris

In September 2015, the US Army Europe Joint Multinational Readiness Center’s Raptor 14 Team supported “Battle Staff Attack the Network/Network Engagement and Company Intelligence Support Team” training for Ukrainian Armed forces Officers conducting antiterrorism operations (ATO) at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center (IPSC) in Yavoriv, Ukraine. To help Ukrainian intelligence staffs understand their operational environment (OE), doctrinal tools for intelligence preparation were not adequate. This experience serves as a case study on how cross-functional staffs and Company Command teams can apply a concept called complex intelligence preparation of the battlefield (complex IPB) to improve problem framing, understand relevant issues at all levels, and inform operational planning. Complex IPB focuses on ways to understand group dynamics and how they influence the behavior of relevant populations. Complex IPB can support the Army’s doctrinal intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) process and the joint process called joint intelligence preparation of the operational environment (JIPOE).

From IPB to Complex IPB

According to Army Techniques Publication 2-01.3, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (also published as Marine Corps Reference Publication 2-3A, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace), an Army intelligence staff (1) defines the operational environment, (2) describes environmental effects on operations, (3) evaluates the threat, and (4) determines the threat.1 The staff uses this four-step process to analyze certain mission variables in the area of interest for a specific operation.2 The mission variables analyzed are the enemy, terrain, weather, and civil considerations.3 The goal of Army IPB is to provide Army commanders and staffs the information necessary to develop courses of action and make decisions.4

15 May 2017


The panel should present its unclassified report within 180 days of the bill’s passage.

The intel committees come close to calling for the separation of the jobs of NSA Director and the head of Cyber Command.

They want a briefing from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis just three months after passage of the Omnibus Bill considering the “impact of the dual-hatting relationship, including advantages and disadvantages.”

It wants to know timelines for ensuring that no damage is done to national security should the arrangement change, any legal changes that might be needed and say “a larger organizational review of NSA should be conducted with respect to the eventual termination of the dual-hatting relationship.”

To that end, they also want a report from the DNI “on options to better align the structure, budgetary procedures, and oversight of NSA with its national intelligence mission in the event of a termination of the dual-hatting relationship.”

National Counterterrorism Center chief says org is sharing intelligence with technology companies

Laura Kelly
Washington Times

The National Counterterrorism Center is incentivizing technology companies by sharing intelligence with them to battle terrorist-recruiting strategies on the web, NCTC Director Nicholas Rasmussen said Wednesday.

The director highlighted that the companies “become burdened with the knowledge” of how certain platforms are being used and exploited by foreign terrorist organizations.

He made his comments at an event discussing new terrorist threats and counterterrorism strategies hosted by the Center for a New American Security.

Short of sharing classified information, the NCTC is looking at ways to make information accessible to people outside of this community, Mr. Rasmussen added.

“We’re leaning forward pretty dramatically in this area to try and share that information,” he said.

“Again to incentivize these partners, these companies to take steps that are in their capacity to take and not to do so

12 May 2017


By RC Porter 

Noted, and internationally renowned cyber expert, Bruce Schneier, had an article on April 27, 2016 on the, with the title above. Mr. Schneier begins with this observation: “There is something going on inside the intelligence communities in at least two countries; and, we have no idea what it is. Consider these three data points,” Mr. Schneier wrote: “Someone, probably a country’s intelligence organization, is dumping a massive amount of cyber tools belonging to the NSA on the Internet; Two: someone else, or maybe the same someone, is doing the same thing to the CIA; Three: in March, Deputy Director of the NSA, Richard Ledgett, described how the NSA penetrated the computer networks of a Russian intelligence agency; and, was able to monitor them as they attacked the U.S. State Department in 2014. Even more explicitly, a U.S. ally — my guess (Mr Schneier) is the U.K. — was not only hacking the Russian intelligence agency’s computers; but, also the surveillance cameras inside their building,” Mr. Schneier wrote. “They [the U.S. ally], monitored the [Russian] hackers as they maneuvered throughout the U.S. systems, and as they walked in and out of the work-space, and were able to see faces,” the official said.

“Countries don’t often reveal intelligence capabilities: “sources and methods.” Because it gives their adversaries important information about what to fix, it is a deliberate decision done with good reason. And, it’s not just the target country who learns from a reveal. When the U.S. announces it can see through the cameras inside the buildings of Russia’s cyber warriors, other countries immediately check the security of their own cameras,” Mr. Schneier observes.

10 May 2017

Getting Intelligence Agencies to Adapt to Life Out of the Shadows

by Guest Blogger

Jamie Collier is a Cyber Security DPhil Candidate and a Research Affiliate with the Cyber Studies Programme, University of Oxford. You can follow him @jscollier93

Gone are the days when spy agencies did not officially exist with their personnel and activities guarded surreptitiously away from the public view. Today, the situation could not be more different. The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence has had a Tumblr account since 2014. NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers appears regularly at conferences and panels. On the other side of the Atlantic, GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan writes op-eds for the Financial Times. GCHQ also recently broke a historical precedent of refusing to comment on allegations about its activities: the agency dismissed the unhelpful allegations about the agency’s role in spying on Trump, made by Andrew Napolitano and then echoed by the White House, claiming that they were ‘utterly ridiculous and should be ignored’. In recent years, signals intelligence (SIGINT) agencies have been pro-actively trying to manage and shape their public perception. 

Why are organisations that pride themselves on secrecy, and which have previously appeared allergic to press relations, now proactively getting their message out there? The answer is that they are increasingly communicating out of necessity. 

9 May 2017

Options for United States Intelligence Community Analytical Tools

Divergent Options

Marvin Ebrahimi has served as an intelligence analyst. Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.

National Security Situation: Centralization of United States Intelligence Community (USIC) Analytical Tools.

Date Originally Written: March 6, 2017.

Date Originally Published: May 1, 2017.

Author and / or Article Point of View: Author has served as an all-source analyst. The author has personal experience with the countless tool suites, programs, and platforms used by intelligence analysts within the USIC to perform their analytical function, and the fact that there is no centralized collaborative environment from which such tools can be learned, evaluated, or selected for unit-specific mission sets tailored to the end-user.

Defense intelligence has opportunity to be ‘reimagined’

By: Jen Judson

Correction: A previous version of this story mentioned an individual by the name of Clark. This has been corrected to reference Cook, whose job title has also been corrected.

WASHINGTON — With the goal of providing military commanders and policymakers with the best possible analysis, defense intelligence has reached a point where innovations in information technology and cyber present an opportunity to drastically reimagine the entire enterprise, according to a Defense Intelligence Agency expert.

Due to the inherently complex environment, providing the right intelligence to support decision-making, processes and answering requirements is more challenging than its ever been, Louis Werdebach, senior defense intelligence expert for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence at DIA, said Wednesday at the C4ISRNET annual conference.

Over the past several years, DIA has been working “very hard trying to get ahead” of intelligence requirements gaps, “trying to close a number of the hard problems,” Geoffrey Strayer, the chief of DIA’s Office for Analytic Enterprise Operations in the Directorate for Analysis, said.

30 April 2017


The above is the title of an article on’s website, (April 24, 2017) by Kelly Sheridan. Ms. Sheridan first reminds readers that the CIA and FBI are conducting a joint investigation to discover who leaked the highly sensitive, classified files which Wikileaks published last month — that revealed tools the CIA used for hacking into various Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Ms. Sheridan, citing “sources close to the investigation,” writes that investigators are focusing on a current CIA employee, or contractor,” who did, or would have had physical access to these documents/files. CBS News has reported that these files “were stored in a “highly secure” CIA division.” “The files, collectively named Vault 7, included information on zero-day vulnerabilities for Windows, Android, and iOS, as well as exploits against routers and smart TVs,” Ms. Sheridan wrote.

“Shortly after the Wikileaks dump,” Ms. Sheridan writes, “cyber security firms connected the Vault 7 documents with a cyber espionage group known for targeting governments and private companies with a variety of [hacking] tools. Each company has a different name for the group, which many believe to be the CIA.” The Russia-based, “Kasperky Labs, calls the group — the Lamberts — and, claims its tools target Windows and MAX OS devices;” while “Symantec calls it [the group] the Longhorn, and said that attacks are aimed exclusively at Windows targets. Symantec started looking into these tools three to four years ago,” said Vikram Thakur, Principal Researcher at Symantec Security Response.

New Batch of Leaked Snowden NSA Material Placed Online

The Intercept
Margot Williams, Micah Lee, and Talya Cooper

Three years after the 9/11 attacks, a frustrated NSA employee complained that Osama bin Laden was alive and well, and yet the surveillance agency still had no automated way to search the Arabic language PDFs it had intercepted.

This is just one of many complaints and observations included in SIDtoday, the internal newsletter of the NSA’s signals intelligence division. The Intercept today is publishing 251 articles from the newsletter, covering the second half of 2004 and the beginning of 2005. The newsletters were part of a large collection of NSA documents provided to The Intercept by Edward Snowden.

This latest batch of posts includes candid employee comments about over-classification, descriptions of tensions in the NSA-CIA relationship, and an intern’s enthusiastic appraisal of a stint in Pakistan.

Most revealing perhaps are insights into how NSA has operated domestically. The Intercept is publishing two stories on this topic, including one about NSA cooperation with law enforcement during American political conventions, and in a throwback to the movie “Bladerunner,” another article describes a spy balloon used over the United States.

26 April 2017

Unmasking the Unmaskers

When then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice asked for the names of Donald Trump aides who were communicating with foreign officials and being monitored by the National Security Agency, she probably didn’t anticipate igniting a firestorm.

The saga kicked off in February, when the Washington Post reported that key Trump advisor Michael Flynn had been chatting with the Russian ambassador, an article that led to his early resignation from the president’s team.

By March, Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, declared that the Trump team had been seriously wronged. After Nunes’ alleged mysterious midnight run on the White House grounds came to light, his committee’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election was thrown into political turmoil, prompting his departure from the investigation.

The next month, Rice was identified as at least one official who asked that the names of Americans who spoke with Russian officials be “unmasked,” though it’s unclear whether she uncovered Flynn’s name. Critics quickly accused her of being a source of the leaks, an allegation she’s vehemently denied.

25 April 2017

U.S. Eavesdropping Program Goes Silent

By The Daily Beast,

It’s long been considered one of the most important ways American spies gather information overseas. But in 2016, it apparently went dark.

Something a little funny might be going on in America’s most secretive court. According to the annual report for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), released April 20, the court didn’t authorize any surveillance last year under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—a controversial provision of the 1978 spy law.

24 April 2017

Palantir's Relationship With America's Spies Has Been Worse Than You'd Think

By BuzzFeed

Palantir Technologies, the Silicon Valley data company co-founded by billionaire investor Peter Thiel, has developed an almost mythical reputation for its work building tools for the U.S. intelligence community. But Palantir has had a far rockier relationship with the nation’s top spy agencies than its image would let on, BuzzFeed News has learned.

As of summer 2015, the Central Intelligence Agency, a signature client, was “recalcitrant” and didn’t “like us,” while Palantir’s relationship with the National Security Agency had ended, Palantir CEO Alex Karp told staff in an internal video that was obtained by BuzzFeed News. The private remarks, made during a staff meeting, are at odds with a carefully crafted public image that has helped Palantir secure a $20 billion valuation and win business from a long list of corporations, nonprofits, and governments around the world.

“As many of you know, the SSDA’s recalcitrant,” Karp, using a Palantir codename for the CIA, said in the August 2015 meeting. “And we’ve walked away, or they walked away from us, at the NSA. Either way, I’m happy about that.”

20 April 2017

World War II Had Many Spies, But None That Matched This Pathan

He helped Bose who was seeking help from Germany and Japan to free India escape from the country via Kabul, and that was all even Bose knew of this man, who in reality was betraying Bose to the British.

Bhagat Ram Talwar, the only quintuple spy of World War II, whose spymaster Peter Fleming gave him the code name Silver, was spying for Britain, Italy, Germany, Japan and the USSR, all at the same time without any of them having a whiff of it. While the best of spies with all their skill stayed put in one city, this deceptive Pathan shuttled between Kabul and India, 24 times, that too on foot.

Mihir Bose’s The Indian Spy, the true story of the most remarkable secret agents of the World War II, recounts all of the life of this mastermind, who managed to deceive almost everybody, yet remain unscathed.

Some of the characters one comes across in the excerpt below which talks of how Talwar took the Nazi’s for a ride are, Uttam Chand , Talwars’ former jail mate in Peshawar who had moved to and set up a shop in Kabul and helped him hide Bose by hosting him in his own house, and Carl Rudolf Rasmuss, a member of the German Diplomatic Club and former German Trade Commissioner in Calcutta.

Here is an excerpt:

During Silver’s absence from Kabul, Uttam Chand had become more involved with the foreign powers there. Rasmuss had asked his help in getting hold of gold sovereigns—Shankar Das, the Indian merchant helping the Italians, could not obtain enough—to pay bribes to Afghan officials and also the tribal leaders, and soon Uttam Chand was buying some 2,000 gold sovereigns 1 as well as Indian currency for the Germans from various brokers in Kabul. He also took to visiting the Russian Minister telling him more about Bose and Silver, passing on various titbits of information about how the Japanese were trying to bribe Afghan officials, and how the Kirti party was not happy about Silver maintaining relations with the Axis powers.

18 April 2017

A Discussion on National Security with CIA Director Mike Pompeo

JOHN J. HAMRE: Thank you. I rarely get applause when I come out. I’m sorry, no, I – (laughter). Welcome. Thank you. We’re delighted to have all of you here. 

My name is John Hamre. I’m the president at CSIS. I told the director that we’ve got standing room only, and I said let’s not wait another 15 minutes to watch the clock come; let’s get going. And he said of course, let’s do that. And typical of his character, he’s always getting at it. And I want to say thank you for coming, sir. 

When we have events like this, we always start with a little safety announcement. I am responsible for your safety, so follow my instructions if I ask you to do anything. I’m not worried about the director. He’s got guys with guns here, so we’re going to take it that’s going to be OK. (Laughter.) But I am worried about you. And if I have to ask you to leave the room, the exits are right behind us. These three are exits. The stairs closest to the – or to the stairs going down is right through here. We take two left-hand turns. We’re going to go over to the courtyard of National Geographic, I will order ice cream, and we’ll sing a song of praise for our salvation, OK? (Laughter, applause.) 

Anyway, everything’s going to be fine. Just follow me if I have to ask you to do something. 

We’re very honored that Director Pompeo has chosen to come. When his people called and said he wants to come on Thursday afternoon before Easter weekend, I said, what the hell? Who is going to come to this, you know? (Laughter.) And lots of people are here, obviously, because this is an enormous opportunity to hear the director. We’re very privileged to have him here. 

I would say that we’re very fortunate as a country that Director Pompeo is willing to serve at this time. His life has been about service. He was the highest-ranking cadet at West Point when he graduated from West Point, and his entire life, career has been about service. He’s been in and out of government and private sector. Fortunately, at this hour he’s willing to serve all of us as the director of the CIA. 

17 April 2017



Word that President Donald Trump as well as some of his family and associates may have appeared in National Security Agency (NSA) intercepts as masked (and in some cases later unmasked) identities has caused a great deal of sturm und drang in the United States. Many Americans are convinced that the mentions of Trump-linked personalities in signals intelligence reports indicates that the “deep state” or the Obama administration was “surveilling” them and that this is a dangerous politicization of the intelligence community. Eli Lake of Bloomberg View, for instance, wrote:

One U.S. official familiar with the reports said they contained valuable political information on the Trump transition such as whom the Trump team was meeting, the views of Trump associates on foreign policy matters and plans for the incoming administration.

Lake’s source is doubtless correct that these reports contained “valuable political information,” even if his conclusion that there is a legitimate “unmasking” scandal afoot is off base. Because America is important, foreigners spend a lot of time talking amongst themselves about Americans. The NSA targets the communications of influential foreigners, so we should expect the names of Americans to appear on a routine basis. Moreover, American officials who are named in intercepts often have reason to be grateful for that fact.

13 April 2017

** Unlocking The Secrets Of MOMINT

 By Scott Stewart

The old cliche goes that there's no substitute for a mother's love. But for Chinese intelligence officers, her access to classified information comes close. On March 29, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the arrest of Candace Claiborne, an office management specialist (or administrative assistant) with the State Department, for failing to disclose thousands of dollars in gifts and payments from Chinese officials.

Above graphic: The Federal Bureau of Investigation crest inside the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington, DC. It pays to know who your mother is receiving gifts from. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The criminal complaint against Claiborne notes that she was in communication with two suspected operatives with the Shanghai State Security Bureau, a regional office that reports to the Chinese Civilian intelligence service the Ministry of State Security (MSS) in Beijing. It also cites an instance in May 2011, during Claiborne's third tour in China, when a suspected Chinese intelligence officer contacted her to request internal U.S. government analysis of a recent U.S.-China strategic economic dialogue. A month earlier, Claiborne received a $2,480 payment. (It isn't clear whether she provided the document, which probably explains why she hasn't been charged with espionage.)

Some of the gifts that Claiborne accepted, which included thousands of dollars in cash and items such as an iPhone and MacBook computer, were for her personal use. Many of them, however, went to a person identified in the complaint against her as "Co-conspirator A." The media initially ran with stories that the figure was a man deployed by Chinese intelligence to steal Claiborne's heart - and any privileged information she had access to - in a so-called "honey-trap" operation. After all, female administrators are frequent targets of these kinds of schemes, which typically dispatch attractive men (known as "ravens") to romance them. But the details of the complaint make clear that Co-conspirator A is, in fact, Claiborne's adult son, who returned to live with his mother in China in 2012 after finishing college in Maryland. Among the items he received through his mother's Chinese contacts are tuition at a fashion school in Shanghai, spending money, a furnished apartment, international vacations for him and his friends, a sewing machine, and herbal medicines.