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

27 March 2017

The Compromising Of America

By Edward Jay Epstein,

Edward Snowden’s theft of files, whatever good it accomplished in igniting a national conversation on surveillance, also opened the door to more aggressive Russian intrusions in cyberspace. How could it not? According to the unanimous report of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Snowden removed digital copies of 1.5 million files; 900,000 of them originated not with the NSA but Department of Defense documents, and concerned, among other things, the newly created joint Cyber Command. Other stolen files contained documents that originated with the British signal intelligence service, known as GCHQ, which Snowden had used his special access to obtain. One NSA file, a 31,000-page database, included requests to the NSA made by the 16 other agencies in the Intelligence Community for coverage of foreign targets. NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett, who headed the NSA’s damage assessment, described this database as the “keys to the kingdom” because it provided a roadmap to all of the gaps in coverage of Russia and other adversaries.

When sensitive compartmentalized information (SCI) is removed without authorization from the NSA’s secure facilities, as it was by Snowden, it is, by definition, compromised, regardless of what is done with it. Whether Snowden gave these files to journalists, Russians or Chinese intelligence, erased them or threw them in the Pacific Ocean, all the sources in them had to be considered compromised and shut down. So did the methods they revealed. The Pentagon, which did a more extensive damage assessment than the NSA, assigned hundreds of intelligence officers, in round-the-clock shifts, to go through each of the 1.5 million files to find all of the fatally compromised sources and methods in them. The self-destruct button then had to be pressed to close them down. Doing so punched a deep hole in the capabilities of the NSA, the Cyber Command, the British GCHQ, and other allied intelligence services—so deep that Booz Allen Vice-Chairman Michael McConnell, who had previously headed both the NSA and the office of National Intelligence, said, “An entire generation of intelligence was lost.” One measure of the seriousness of the ensuing blindness was the NSA’s failure to detect Russia’s preparations for the invasion of Ukraine in early 2014, according to the Wall Street Journal.

26 March 2017

The Architecture of Artificial Intelligence

By Hannah Wood

“Let us consider an augmented architect at work. He sits at a working station that has a visual display screen some three feet on a side, this is his working surface, controlled by a computer with which he can communicate by means of small keyboards and various other devices.” – Douglas Engelbart

This vision of the future architect was imagined by engineer and inventor Douglas Engelbart during his research into emerging computer systems at Stanford in 1962. At the dawn of personal computing he imagined the creative mind overlapping symbiotically with the intelligent machine to co-create designs. This dual mode of production, he envisaged, would hold the potential to generate new realities which could not be realized by either entity operating alone. Today, self-learning systems, otherwise known as artificial intelligence or ‘AI’, are changing the way architecture is practiced, as they do our daily lives, whether or not we realize it. If you are reading this on a laptop or tablet, then you are directly engaging with a number of integrated AI systems, now so embedded in our the way we use technology, they often go unnoticed.

As an industry, AI is growing at an exponential rate, now understood to be on track to be worth $70bn globally by 2020. This is in part due to constant innovation in the speed of microprocessors, which in turn increases the volume of data that can be gathered and stored. But don’t panic—the artificial architect with enhanced Revit proficiency is not coming to steal your job. The human vs. robot debate, while compelling, is not so much the focus here but instead how AI is augmenting design and how architects are responding to and working with these technological developments. What kind of innovation is artificial intelligence generating in the construction industry?

 5 Corporations Now Dominate Our Privatized Intelligence Industry

By Tim Shorrock

This unaccountable oligarchy of spies controls the information that guides our military and civilian leaders.

The recent integration of two military contractors into a $10 billion behemoth is the latest in a wave of mergers and acquisitions that have transformed America’s privatized, high-tech intelligence system into what looks like an old-fashioned monopoly.

In August, Leidos Holdings, a major contractor for the Pentagon and the National Security Agency, completed a long-planned merger with the Information Systems & Global Solutions division of Lockheed Martin, the global military giant. The 8,000 operatives employed by the new company do everything from analyzing signals for the NSA to tracking down suspected enemy fighters for US Special Forces in the Middle East and Africa.

The sheer size of the new entity makes Leidos one of the most powerful companies in the intelligence-contracting industry, which is worth about $50 billion today. According to a comprehensive study I’ve just completed on public and private employment in intelligence, Leidos is now the largest of five corporations that together employ nearly 80 percent of the private-sector employees contracted to work for US spy and surveillance agencies.

18 March 2017

WikiLeaks Dump Shines Light on Government’s Shadowy Zero-Day Policy

BY JOSEPH MARKS

The documents shed little light on how many unknown vulnerabilities the intelligence agency retains and how well it vets the damage they might cause.

WikiLeaks’ massive release of CIA cyber exploits this week produced more questions than answers about the government’s shadowy procedure for hoarding damaging digital vulnerabilities that remain unknown even to a system’s manufacturer.

These bugs—called zero days because industry has had zero days to create and promulgate a software patch—can be goldmines for U.S. intelligence agencies looking to sneak undetected into the computers, phones and other electronic devices of terrorists and officials of adversary nation-states.

These glitches can be extremely dangerous, however, if those same terrorists or other nations’ intelligence agencies discover them independently and use them to spy on Americans. If discovered by cyber criminals, they might also be used to steal money or information from American citizens or U.S. companies.

How Many Zero Days Does the Government Have?

11 March 2017

Pay attention to your threat intelligence’s shelf life


Nick Ismail

Organisations want to be seen to be taking threat intelligence seriously, implementing strategies and platforms that absorb hundreds of indicators on a daily basis. But how many of these organisations realise that their threat data will expire? 

In order to be effective and successful as you add more sophisticated aging metrics to your approach, an expiration strategy must be simple, reliable, relatively predictable and easy to adjust 

With each day that passes, threat intelligence platforms automatically absorb hundreds, thousands, potentially millions of indicators, forcing teams, and vendors, to quickly define a threat data lifecycle or expiration strategy. 

Much like attribution, expiration efforts are very subjective and depend entirely on tools, adversaries, feeds, and the teams’ sanity point between chasing false positives and precautionary due diligence alerts. 

So what do people mean when they talk about expiration? Put simply, your threat intelligence has a shelf life and this means it needs to be kept track of, used before it goes off and got rid of when it’s past its best. 

10 March 2017

Report Finds Botched Israeli Leadership and Intelligence Failings During 2014 Gaza Strip War


TEL AVIV – Two and a half years after Israel’s summer 2014 Gaza war, Israel’s comptroller general on Tuesday released his report on the 50-day conflict, with findings ranging from ill-preparedness vis a vis the tunnel threat and inappropriate reliance on military brass for strategic decisions that should have been made by civilian government authorities.

In his voluminous report on what is known here as Operation Protective Edge, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira admonished Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his security cabinet for insufficient attention to strategic objectives regarding the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Cabinet meetings on the issue, he wrote, were “limited,” particularly regarding alternative options to use of military force.

War objectives that were authorized by the government, he wrote, were determined by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and not by the security Cabinet.

“The Cabinet is the long arm of the government, and according to basic law, the military is subordinate to it,” he wrote. He took Netanyahu and former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to task for not involving other relevant ministers in decisions taken between the two of them at the recommendation of the IDF.

9 March 2017

The Sri Lankan Counterterrorism Model: Intelligence Innovation Outside the Anglosphere

BY KAGUSTHAN ARIARATNAM

In reading Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) of the ongoing counterterrorism operations in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, I have noticed a pattern in Islamic State’s “modus operandi”, that of an analogical spider.

Spiders have eight legs and two body parts, including the head region (cephalothorax) and the abdomen. Most spiders have toxic venom, which they use to kill their prey. So, if the international community wants to get rid of ISIS, hypothetically speaking, they must get rid of ISIS’ cephalothorax, rather than fight with its eight legs. What I try to pinpoint here is that, while ISIS's headquarters (cephalothorax) are in Syria, their means of survival (abdomen) depend on how much area they control in Iraq. Thus, before this ISIS "spider" transforms into a "multi-headed" and "multi-pronged" spider, the international community must target their headquarters in Syria.

Although international intelligence agencies have feet of clay, particularly in dealing with an enemy of many different faces, I feel that they deserve a more involved role than just being the eyes and ears of any one nation. Recommendations for an appropriate tradecraft to achieve collective intelligence are the need of the day. Although there is no truth to search for, no absolute truth, since everything is subjective, the valuable role that intelligence agencies play in producing deterrence is paramount. Achieving a state of global terrorist deterrence is what I consider the essential argument.

7 March 2017

CENTCOM Already Implementing Recommendations To Improve Intelligence Efforts

By: John Grady

U.S. Central Command headquarters at McDill Air Force Base.

The Pentagon’s inspector general’s office is following up on 29 recommendations it made to ensure intelligence analysis in U.S. Central Command remains unbiased and not politicized, the acting IG told a key congressional subcommittee.

Glenn Fine, testifying Tuesday before the House Armed Services oversight and investigation subcommittee, said “we want specific details” on what CENTCOM is doing now and will do in 60 days following the release of the unclassified report, which was released in late January.

Although the IG’s probe did not find that intelligence was being tampered with, it did find “troubling and widespread” problems in communications and leadership. Fine said CENTCOM, the Joint Staff, the defense secretariat and Defense Intelligence Agency have expressed general support of the IG’s findings and recommendations.

Among the recommendations was the idea that CENTCOM needed to improve feedback and guidance to analysts, so they know who exactly they are working for, what their relationship is with the Defense Intelligence Agency, and and that an analysis of alternatives is required in final intelligence products.

5 March 2017

The Iranian Intelligence and Security Services Continue to Arrest Anyone Remotely Suspected of Spying


FORECAST 
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps will continue to arrest Iranians with Western citizenship or residency as a way to secure its interests and boost its legitimacy. 

The frequency of arrests may increase as Iran’s emergence from international isolation attracts Iranians living abroad to return. 

Such incidents will run counter to President Hassan Rouhani’s drive to rejoin the global economy. 

ANALYSIS
Iran’s high-profile release of five imprisoned U.S. citizens in January 2016 marked a moment of detente between the United States and Iran, timed to coincide with Washington’s suspension of wide-ranging economic sanctions. Over the past year, however, Iran has continued to arrest people with Western citizenship or residence, more than making up for those it released in January. Whereas Tehran ended 2015 with 11 acknowledged Western prisoners, that number was up to 16 by the end of 2016 — and that’s only the prisoners whom the public knows about.

Iran has long had a reputation for imprisoning political dissenters. Hundreds of journalists, activists and academics are in jail in Iran for various political offenses, raising concerns about Iran’s domestic legal system and the propriety of political dissent. A smaller group of prisoners who hold either foreign passports or have foreign residency sheds light on how Iran’s security apparatus is maintaining relevance amid Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s drive for reform.

1 March 2017

** The Data-Driven Transformation of Intelligence

Jason M. Brown

When “little green men” invaded Crimea in early 2014, they left a data trail that went largely unnoticed by the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). Distracted by a large Russian exercise to the west, the IC did not connect the digital dots that indicated the impending invasion. In the Information Age, the “dots” are more plentiful and glaring as everyone now leaves a data trail. Given that, how can intelligence analysts better gather, share, organize, and view data to reveal intent, more accurately predict behavior, and make better decisions with limited resources?

Intelligence is, for the most part, production focused, meaning many analysts are often forced to make quick assessments from limited text-based sources to meet deadlines. As such, they can be trapped into making predictions that put too much weight on personal experience and cognitive biases. This is a big problem considering the difficulty of forecasting the behavior of every rival the U.S. faces in the global arena or on the battlefield. The best analysis derives from the right combination of art and science. It is dangerous to favor the former at the expense of the latter, even for the most experienced and skilled analysts. 

If the U.S. government is to deal with deceptive and elusive adversaries, the IC must make data, structured in a way to tell a story, the foundation for its intelligence assessments. Data analytics are changing how we approach economics, elections, health, security, business, and our daily routines. It is time for intelligence to catch up. Analysts must pair their intuition and expertise with data science to give decision-makers the best possible intelligence. 

In turn, IC and defense leaders must accelerate this data-driven transformation of intelligence tradecraft, and demand a more structured, scientific approach to the intelligence problems we face.

24 February 2017

*** How Trump Donor Peter Thiel’s Palantir Technologies Helped NSA Spy on the Whole World


Donald Trump has inherited the most powerful machine for spying ever devised. How this petty, vengeful man might wield and expand the sprawling American spy apparatus, already vulnerable to abuse, is disturbing enough on its own. But the outlook is even worse considering Trump’s vast preference for private sector expertise and new strategic friendship with Silicon Valley billionaire investor Peter Thiel, whose controversial (and opaque) company Palantir has long sought to sell governments an unmatched power to sift and exploit information of any kind. Thiel represents a perfect nexus of government clout with the kind of corporate swagger Trump loves. The Intercept can now reveal that Palantir has worked for years to boost the global dragnet of the NSA and its international partners, and was in fact co-created with American spies. 

Peter Thiel became one of the American political mainstream’s most notorious figures in 2016 (when it emerged he was bankrolling a lawsuit against Gawker Media, my former employer) even before he won a direct line to the White House.Now he brings to his role as presidential adviser decades of experience as kingly investor and token nonliberal on Facebook’s board of directors, a Rolodex of software luminaries, and a decidedly Trumpian devotion to controversy and contrarianism. But perhaps the most appealing asset Thiel can offer our bewildered new president will be Palantir Technologies, which Thiel founded with Alex Karp and Joe Lonsdale in 2004.

Palantir has never masked its ambitions, in particular the desire to sell its services to the U.S. government — the CIA itself was an early investor in the startup through In-Q-Tel, the agency’s venture capital branch. But Palantir refuses to discuss or even name its government clientele, despite landing “at least $1.2 billion” in federal contracts since 2009, according to an August 2016 report in Politico. The company was last valued at $20 billion and is expected to pursue an IPO in the near future. In a 2012 interview with TechCrunch, while boasting of ties to the intelligence community, Karp said nondisclosure contracts prevent him from speaking about Palantir’s government work.

19 February 2017

Can Artificial Intelligence Replace Human Intuition?

by Upasana Bhattacharjee

The International Conference for Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS) hosts competitions every other year where computer systems try to find solutions to planning problems (such as scheduling flights). Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory are discovering processes to augment the technology by imbuing human intuition in them. This is another reminder of how far the developments in artificial intelligence have come along with their pace especially when posed against the economic progress and ethical understanding they demand.

Understanding the technology

Automated planning and scheduling is an aspect of artificial intelligence that is concerned with constructing strategies for machines (intelligent agents, autonomous robots, etc.) based on factors like the observability, determinism and variables involved in the situation. ICAPS is a forum for researchers and practitioners to ensure progress in the field. This branch of artificial intelligence is extremely useful in fields like space systems, software engineering and robotics.

11 February 2017

US Intelligence Loves the Tendency of Russian Soldiers to Tweet Military Information and Photos


For Russian security officials’ cell phones and social networks are again proving to be major problem when it comes to keeping certain facts out of the news. The latest example is the effort to conceal the movements of elite Russian troops between Ukraine and Syria. A recent example is members of the 137th Guards Airborne Regiment who were mourning the recent deaths of three of their own in Syria. Part of this effort included messages and photos posted online. Comparing this to earlier postings it confirmed that the 137th had indeed been shifted from Ukraine to Syria and was experiencing more combat there than they had in eastern Ukraine.

The Russians also got bit by this intelligence vulnerability in 2015 as more Russian troops and heavy weapons began showing up in Syria. At first the Russians tried to deny it, but they were done in by their own troops posting (on Russian social networks) photos of their presence in (and travel to) Syria. The Russian censors got most of those posts removed but not before they were seen by Western media and intelligence agencies and filed away. All this was good news for the Western intel people and bad news for their Russian counterparts. This sort of thing has been going on since the late 1990s and despite increasingly strenuous efforts to get the troops to be discreet there are always enough who disobey to give the real or potential enemy what they are looking for.

All this is yet another side effect of cellphone cameras, which have become a major source of military intelligence and this is especially true with counter-terrorism operations. For example in mid-2015 the United States revealed how a picture an Islamic terrorist took of himself with his cellphone (a selfie) revealed the location of an ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) headquarters, which was promptly bombed. Such incidents are more common with poorly trained irregulars, but even well trained troops have problems with “cellphone discipline”. This problem is a 21st century one and it has been getting worse.

8 February 2017

Treason Through the FSB Looking Glass

Source Link
By Mark Galeotti

Is espionage or bureaucratic politics behind the leak of news about the arrests of a number of Russian computer security specialists? As often the case in Russia, the story is murky; it is probably a bit of both.

Last week it emerged that back in early December, the FSB had arrested two of its own, Colonel Sergei Mikhailov, head of the Second Operational Directorate of its Information Security Center (TsIB), and one of his subordinates, Major Dmitry Dokuchaev. They also detained Ruslan Stoyanov, head of investigations at Russia’s Kaspersky Lab cybersecurity company. It later emerged that this followed the arrest in October of Vladimir Anikeev, founder of the Shaltai-Boltai group, which hacked and released emails from and to several senior Russian officials, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

All but Anikeev are reportedly being charged with treason, but for what? The leaks and rumors have presented an engagingly eclectic range of options. That Dokuchaev, reportedly a hacker named Forb, offered the choice between prison and the FSB, was part of Shaltai-Boltai (Russian for Humpty Dumpty: members of the group adopted monikers inspired by Lewis Carroll). That Mikhailov was in effect its “curator,” or else a spy, or at least received money from a foreigner, or wanted to undermine the Kremlin.

In the absence of any hard information, two broad narratives have emerged to explain the arrests. The first is that this is essentially a case of espionage, that they knowingly or unwittingly divulged state secrets to the Americans. The second is that this is instead one of the regular ‘silovik struggles’ take place within and around the security agencies, over resources, seniority or personality. The two need not, however, be mutually exclusive.

2 February 2017

Busting The Biggest Myths About National Security Intelligence

Source Link
By Frederic Lemieux

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a visit to the CIA in Langley, Virginia on January 21, 2017.

President Trump has gotten off to a rough start with the intelligence community. The day after being sworn in, Trump spoke at CIA headquarters in an apparent attempt to mend his relationship with the agency. The relationship was frayed in large part due to Trump’s skepticism about an intelligence assessment that suggested Russia had hacked into the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Where did this skepticism come from? Trump—along with some security experts—has expressed doubt about the complexity of the cyberattack attribution and the reliability of the intelligence sources. This skepticism seems to be fueled by the desire for irrefutable evidence of Russian interference in the election.

In the United States, approximately 5.1 million people have security clearance to handle sensitive information. 

At Georgetown University, I study and teach how the intelligence community collects, analyzes, and circulates sensitive information for policymakers and elected officials. I’d like to point out some of the misunderstandings about intelligence activities exhibited not only by the new president, but in the media coverage of the Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016.

Correcting these persistent myths is important because they set unrealistic expectations about intelligence production and analysis. These false expectations could damage the credibility of the U.S. intelligence community and its ability to fulfill its mission.

Myth 1: Intelligence and evidence are the same

Intelligence and evidence are starkly different. Intelligence analysts are tasked with understanding situations that are often multifaceted, forming a judgment about that situation and informing policymakers.

30 January 2017

Six myths about national security intelligence

Frederic Lemieux

Frederic Lemieux does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above. 
Partners 

At CIA headquarters on Jan. 17, Trump said the ‘dishonest media’ made it appear he was having a feud with the intel community. Olivier Douliery/AP via CNP

President Trump has gotten off to a rough start with the intelligence community.

The day after being sworn in, Trump spoke at CIA headquarters in an apparent attempt to mend his relationship with the agency. The relationship was frayed in large part due to Trump’s skepticism about an intelligence assessment that suggested Russia had hacked into the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Where did this skepticism come from? Trump – along with some security experts – has expressed doubt about the complexity of cyberattack attribution and the reliability of the intelligence sources. This skepticism seems to be fueled by the desire for irrefutable evidence of Russia interference in the election.

At Georgetown University, I study and teach how the intelligence community collects, analyzes and circulates sensitive information to policymakers and elected officials. I’d like to point out some of the misunderstandings about intelligence activities exhibited not only by the new president, but in the media coverage of the Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016.

Correcting these persistent myths is important because they set unrealistic expectations about intelligence production and analysis. These false expectations could damage the credibility of the U.S. intelligence community and its ability to fulfill its mission.

Myth #1: Intelligence and evidence are the same

Intelligence and evidence are starkly different.

26 January 2017

Opinion: Robert Hannigan, GCHQ and the future of British intelligence

Robert Hannigan, GCHQ and the future of British intelligence

There was a time when the top job in British intelligence was the head of MI5 or MI6. Today it is arguably the director of the Government Communications Headquarters, the secret listening centre in Cheltenham. The search is now on for a new GCHQ chief after the unexpected resignation yesterday of Robert Hannigan, for personal reasons. 

In his two years in the post, Mr Hannigan has done a fine job in the face of changing circumstances. He has seen the threat from cyber‑warfare increase to the point where it is now the main challenge to British security.

 

25 January 2017

** Robert Steele: Fixing Intel II

Robert David Steele

For just under thirty years I have been striving to re-direct the craft of intelligence away from spies and secrecy promoting war and waste, toward open sources and decision-support – generally unclassified – useful not only to the President, but to all who need decision-support.

Until Donald Trump and Mike Flynn came along, and John Brennan over-played his hand with lies of a very grand scale, I have been successfully marginalized. It remains to be seen if Donald Trump can in fact defeat the Deep State, but I for one pray that he is successful.

In 2010 Mike Flynn, today National Security Advisor to Donald Trump, published Fixing Intel I with Matt Pottinger and Paul Batchelor. That report rocked the US Intelligence Community (US IC) and because Mike Flynn was too respected to be ignored, forced the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Jim Clapper, to go through the motions of listening, first by hosting Mike Flynn in the Office of the DNI, and then by giving him the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

In 2014 Mike Flynn reached out to me and I wrote On Defense Intelligence: Seven Strikes, delivered to Chuck Hagel at home, in an effort to save his job. Flynn’s honesty clashed with the dishonesty of the White House, the “leaders” in the Department of Defense, and the US IC. Among the 65 or so flag officers I have dealt with over the years, Mike Flynn is second only to Peter Schoomaker in understanding that Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is 80-95% of the solution for creating strategic, policy, operations, and acquisition intelligence. I am delighted, not only that Mike Flynn has ended up in the White House, but that John Brennan has over-played his hand with lies on a very grand scale, to the point that Donald Trump has every reason to embrace those of us who have been critical of the secret intelligence world for decades.

Was Snowden a Russian Agent?

By Edward Jay Epstein 

1.
One evening in the fall of 2015, the writer Edward Jay Epstein arranged to have dinner at an Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side with the director Oliver Stone. At the time, Stone was completing Snowden, an admiring biopic about the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden, who disclosed a vast trove of classified documents about National Security Agency surveillance programs to journalists in June 2013 and had since been living as a fugitive in Russia. Epstein was working on a book about the same topic, which has now been published under the title How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft. As the writer recounts in that book, their conversation took a testy turn: 

Toward the end of our dinner, Stone told me that he did not know I was writing a book about Snowden until a few weeks earlier. He learned of my book from Snowden himself. He said Snowden had expressed concern to him about the direction of the book I was writing. “What is it about?” Stone asked me. 

I was taken aback. I had no idea that Snowden was aware of my book. (I had not tried to contact him.) I told Stone that I considered Snowden an extraordinary man who had changed history and was intentionally vague in my description of my book’s contents. Stone seemed to be reassured…. Edward Snowden; drawing by James Ferguson

Epstein and Stone had a history of rivalry when it came to interpreting another important historical event: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Early in his career, Epstein wrote three books about that topic. The first, Inquest (1966), poked holes in the rigor of the Warren Commission’s official investigation. The second, Counterplot (1969), brought a skeptical eye to the investigation by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who pursued the theory that the Central Intelligence Agency orchestrated the president’s murder. And the third, Legend (1978), pointed readers to the conclusion that Oswald’s image as a mixed-up loner with half-baked Marxist ideas was an operational cover story—a “legend”—and that he had been a Soviet intelligence agent. (After the Soviet Union collapsed, the opening of the KGB’s archives did not corroborate the theory that Oswald had actually been a trained intelligence agent.) 

Revealed: How CIA tried to gather intel before 1971 India-Pakistan war

Appu Esthose Suresh

Soldiers investigate a Pakistani damaged tank during the 1971 war. At the time, India had neither confirmed nor denied crossing the border before the war broke out.(File Photo)

At 9:29 am on November 24, 1971, Henry Kissinger, the US National Security Advisor, convened a tense and confidential meeting of the Washington Special Action Group (WSAG) in the White House Situation Room. The WSAG, consisting of the US top brass, had come together to discuss the escalating conflict in the Indian subcontinent after India crossed into the erstwhile East Pakistan to join the New Delhi-backed Mukti Bahini rebel group. 

“Why do we have no independent intelligence?” Kissinger had to ask the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as lack of intelligence was stonewalling his diplomatic options. 

Contrary to the popular perception of the famed capabilities of the US spy agency, the CIA, or “Langley” as the agency is referred in the diplomatic and spy world after the location of its headquarters, had little intelligence or an accurate assessment of a crisis the American leadership was deeply interested in. 

A study of the declassified CIA papers by Hindustan Times reveals that the 1971 war remains the single most important episode of interest for Langley. These documents, posted online on January 17, were declassified after the mandatory 25-year period, but this is the first time the CIA has put more than 12 million documents on its website.