Sunday, November 22, 2015
Snowden Aiding in Rise of Islamic State. A former acting head of the CIA, Michael Morell, says the Paris attacks by ISIS have exposed how freely the IS was able to operate in an environment where intelligence activities have been curtailed as a result of Snowdens massive disclosures. Morell provides examples of the damage done by Snowden in a recent news article. Read "It's All Back in Snowden's Lap", Politico Magazine, November 17, 2015. In a related development the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard has been released from a prison in North Carolina after serving a 30-year sentence - that does free up a cell for Snowden.
Encryption Busting to Fight Terrorism. In the wake of the Paris terror attacks the heads of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are calling for new tools to crack the coded conversations of suspected terrorists. Some are looking for software developers to install a 'backdoor' to their encryption technology. There are some who are resisting the move to using software 'backdoors'. Read more in "Critics Knock FBI and CIA Directors for Encryption-Busting Agenda", Newsweek, November 19, 2015.
NATO to Share Intel with Afghans. According to a recent news report ". . . NATO has agreed to explore the possibility of sharing intelligence with Afghan forces to help prevent incidents . . ." such as recent spectacular Taliban attacks. Hmmm. Though we were doing that already? And if not, why not? Read "NATO to consider sharing intelligence with Afghan forces", Pajhwok Afghan News, November 21, 2015.
More HUMINT Needed. In light of terrorist groups ability to 'go dark' some are advocating more reliance on human intelligence. Read more in "The Defeat of ISIL and the Revival of Humint", Middle East Briefing, November 2015.
Finland - Revising Intel Laws? "The terror attacks in Paris have reinstated a sense of urgency to the ongoing efforts to revise the intelligence laws of Finland." Read more in "Support for intelligence activities rises after attacks in Paris", Helsinki Times, November 18, 2015.
New JIEDDO (JIDA) Busier than Ever. Folks thought that with the withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2011 and significant downsizing of troop levels in Afghanistan (now at 9,800) that the need for an organization like the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) would go away. Not so much. The replacement for JIEDDO - the newly named Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency (JIDA) is working very hard to find solutions to protect soldiers and civilians against more and more IEDs. Read more in "As JIEDDO Becomes JIDA, IED Threat Builds in Theater", Defense News, November 19, 2015.
CENTCOM Sugarcoating Afghan Assessments? "The military has been accused of fudging the numbers in the fight against the Islamic State. Congress wants to know if it did with the Taliban too." Read "Did the Pentagon Cook the Books on Its Afghanistan Intel?", by Dan de Luce, Foreign Policy, November 19, 2015.
Blunders of the CIA. James Lockhart, a specialist in U.S. and Latin American relations, writes about some of the misadventures of the spy agency. Read "The Mysterious Blunderings of the CIA", War on the Rocks, November 20, 2015.
New U.S. National CI Strategy. For the first time since 2009 the National Counterintelligence Strategy of the U.S. has been released at the unclassified level. The new strategy (it is updated every three years) is outlined with five Mission Objectives and two Enabling Objectives to identify, mitigate, and counter Foreign Intelligence Entities efforts and insider threats. Read more in a blog post at On the Homefront, Homeland Security Digital Library Blog, November 19, 2015.
China Spying on U.S.? Recent visits by leading Chinese governmental leaders have been used to reassure the United States that China is no longer stealing our secrets. In early December more meetings are scheduled to discuss anti-hacking accords. But not all are convinced. Read more in "U.S. counterintelligence chief skeptical China has curbed spying on U.S.", Reuters, November 18, 2015.
Received your OMB Letter? Have you got your letter from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) saying that your SF-86 was stolen by the Chinese? Last week my wife got hers and I was feeling a bit left out. Then . . . well I got mine. So I am now reassured by the U.S. government that the Chinese know everything there is to know about me . . . since the SF-86 contains my employment history, almost every address I have lived at, who all my relatives are, and what my social security number is. All told - probably about 80 some pages when printed out. It is great to be included with millions of others on the Chinese database!