Showing posts with label news-intelligence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label news-intelligence. Show all posts

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Intelligence News

LGBT - It's Okay Now. In times gone by a member of the intelligence community having an 'alternative lifestyle' could be a career ender. Times have changed and the U.S. spy agencies are very welcoming (at least the official stance is) to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. The only hiccup is the modification of the current work environment so that six types of bathrooms are located on every floor of federal buildings. No big deal though, as the intelligence community has lots of money - it can afford the redesign and structural modification of its many buildings in DC and around the world. Read more in "U.S. spy agencies to celebrate LGBT employees"Thomson Reuters Foundation News, March 11, 2016.

Former CIA Agent Shares His Stories. Gary Schroen linked up with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 after the terrorists attacks on the United States in September 2001. He provides us with stories of his career exploits on Afghanistan and around the world in "Ex-CIA operative shares tales of espionage", Lincoln Journal Star, March 11, 2016.

Intel -  The Afghan Way. One wouldn't think that Viagra pills would provide you with lots of intelligence but . . . it did for SF teams in 2002 and it appears that it is still working! Read more in "U.S. hands over Viagra pills to Afghan warlords in return for vital Taliban intelligence", Daily Mail, December 31, 2008. (dated article but still interesting!).

"The CIA Agent Who Wasn't". Read the intriguing story of a man who claimed to work for 27 years as an operator in the agencies paramilitary branch, went on to be a Fox News guest commentator, and deployed twice to Afghanistan on DoD contracts. For years Wayne Simmons played this game but then one ex-spook got suspicious. Read "The Plot to Take Down a Fox News Analyst", The New York Times Magazine, March 1, 2016.

OPM Hack - Serious Stuff. The Office of Personnel Management managed to screw up badly when its poor computer security measures allowed the Chinese to hack into its files and download millions of security clearance documents (mine included). Read why this is one of the worst intelligence failures ever in "Why the OPM Hack Is Far Worse Than You Imagine", Lawfare Blog, March 11, 2016.

Spying on Spies. "To prevent whistleblowing, U.S. intelligence agencies are instructing staff to spy on their colleagues." Read "Watch Thy Neighbor", Foreign Policy, March 11, 2016.

Palantir and NGOs. The software firm linked to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is gaining ground in the non-governmental organization aid world. It has potential to revolutionize disaster coordination, management, and response.  This has some humanitarians worried. A month-long investigation reveals that a software application used by the CIA and U.S. special operations forces is tackling a range of humanitarian problems. Read more in "Spies Sans Frontieres?", IRIN News, March 6, 2016.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Intelligence News

CID Director Criticized by Former Spooks. "Former CIA officers are expressing exasperation over John Brennan's recent remark that 'we don't steal secrets'". It seems that the CIA Director told National Public Radio last week that he objects to the idea that the CIA engages in theft. Hmmmm. I thought the CIA was supposed to have spies that found out stuffs that others didn't want us to know. Read more in "Former Spooks Criticize CIA Director John Brennan for Spying Comments", NBC News, March 2, 2016. See also "Time for a New CIA?", The Cipher Brief, March 2, 2016.

Israeli Intelligence. A recent article by Shay Hershkovitz explains the organization and processes of the intel agencies of Israel. Read "Israel's Intelligence Wars", War on the Rocks, March 2, 2016.

Paper - Privacy Research and Best Practices. A summary report (66 pages) of a workshop for the intelligence community has been published by the National Academies Press (2016).

What is the "PDB"? Each day (or at least most days) the President of the United States begins his day with the President's Daily Brief (PDB). This update contains the most sensitive intelligence reporting and analysis in the world. Read more in "All the President's Secrets: The History of the President's Daily Briefing", Foreign Affairs, February 26, 2016.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Intel News Update

Book - Playing to The Edge.  Michael V. Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency has penned a book entitled Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror. Available on

"The Spider" of the CIA. James Jesus Angleton earned the name of "The Spider". He is well-known for his witchhunts seeking traitors within the CIA. Read "My Lunch With 'The Spider' Who Nearly Wrecked the CIA"The Daily Beast, February 27, 2016.

New CIA Spy Thriller. We all love (most folks) love a good spy thriller. A new one is soon to be released (courtesy of Henry Crumpton - former CIA employee). Read more in "STX Developing Spy Thriller with Former CIA Agent Henry Crumpton", Feb 2016.

CIA Agents and "Digital Dust". It is tough being an operative right now if you are undercover for the agency. Most potential agency recruits have used social media (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and they need to cleanse these accounts up once hired. But then the accounts just can't disappear . . . nor can new ones be established without suspicion. Read more in "Why the CIA Likes, And Dislikes, Social Media"National Public Radio, February 24, 2016.

CIA's Ground Branch. Jack Murphy writes about the Central Intelligence Agency's paramilitary organization in "Ground Branch: The CIA's covert alternative to special operations"SOFREP, February 25, 2016.

OPM Official Retires. On Wednesday, February 24th, Donna Seymour - the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Chief Information Officer (CIO) was to testify before the U.S. House about the security breach by the Chinese on two databases that contained the security clearance information of millions of government workers (Yes, I received the infamous OPM letter as well). But . . . she retired two days before the hearing. Read more in "Official overseeing breached OPM computer systems retires ahead of House hearing"Stars and Stripes, February 23, 2016.

Private Email Servers - Don't Do It! "U.S. spy agencies have told Congress that Hillary Clinton's home computer server contained some emails that should have been treated as "top secret" because their wording matched sections of some of the government's most highly classified documents . . . " Not to worry . . . if the Chinese can't hack the Office of Personnel Management security clearance data base then what chance do they have of a private server in someones' home? Oh, that's right. The Chinese have my SF-86! Never mind. Read more in a news report by Reuters, February 24, 2016.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

IO, CT, and Intel News

Bureau of Counterterrorism Renamed. The new name is the "Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism". This name (and mission) change reflects the emphasis placed on the new buzzword (or at least fairly new to me) of "Countering Violent Extremism" - sometimes called CVE. The new organization will look at combating terrorism, in part, by countering online extremism. Read more in "State changes counterterrorism unit to include online focus", FCW, February 16, 2016.

Worldwide Threat Assessment. The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 9, 2016 providing an assessment of threats against the United States. You can read his 33-page prepared statement for the record in Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community. The information on Afghanistan is on page 26 and comprises about 3/4 of a page in this report.

More on Clapper. It appears that the DNI was aware that high intelligence officials at Central Command (CENTCOM) were cooking the books when it came to intelligence estimates of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Read more in "America's top spy reportedly was aware that analysts were cooking ISIS intelligence reports", Business Insider, February 16, 2016.

Assessing CT Actions. A 60-page report provides us with how to assess CT operations in Asking the Right Questions: A Framework for Assessing Counterterrorism Actions, CNA Analysis & Solutions, February 2016.

Resource on Global Islamist Insurgency. Robert Bunker and Dave Dilegge have provided us with a valuable resource about Al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Global Radical Islamist Insurgency: Al Qaeda and Islamic State Networks - A Small Wars Journal Anthology, iUnivers (February 11, 2016), 852 pages.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Intelligence News

Canada & "Five Eyes". "Canada has stopped sharing intel with its allies after it discovered that its citizens' metadata wasn't properly disguised. The defense minister said it would resume sharing intel when adequate measures are put in place."  Canada's Communications Security Establishment (CSE) - which is the NSA of Canada - was passing info containing metadata of Canadian citizens to its counterparts in the "Five Eyes" program (U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and UK). Read more in "Canada's spy agency mistakenly passed on citizens' metadata", Deutsche Welle, January 28, 2016.

CIA's "Eyewash". So how do you protect important secrets from your workforce? You can spread disinformation using internal memos while sending accurate information about highly secret operations through separate, discreet channels to those recipients with a need to know. According to one report the CIA does this from time to time in a practice referred to a 'eyewash'. Read more in "Eyewash: How the CIA deceives its own workforce about operations", The Washington Post, January 31, 2016.

Petraeus to Keep 4th Star. SECDEF Carter has informed Senator John McCain (Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee) that the Petraeus investigation is closed and the highly esteemed general will not face any further punishment for the inappropriate use of classified material. See "Pentagon won't demote Petraeus for sharing classified information", USAToday, January 30, 2016.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Intelligence News

Intelligence and U3 Information. The world of conflict has changed but some people think the intelligence world has not kept up. In past years (as in the Cold War) collection was the prime emphasis - learning everything possible about the Soviet Union (and others). The new age of Hybrid Warfare has changed up the intelligence world. Some think that less collection needs to be done and more analysis has to take place in the intelligence community. Today's world is seeing the growth of 'open source' collection of 'ubiquitous, useful, and unclassified' information. Read more in an article by Josh Kerbel - Chief Analytic Methodologist at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) - "The U.S. Intelligence Community Wants Disruptive Change as Long as it's Not Disruptive", War on the Rocks, January 20, 2016.

CTC Sentinel. The most recent issue of "CTC Sentinel" published by the Combating Terrorism Center focuses on terrorism threats we will likely face in 2016.

Book Review. A new book is out about the Central Intelligence Agency. Mark Stout provides an analysis of the book for us in "The CIA's Constant Battle Between Secrecy and Effectiveness", War on the Rocks, January 22, 2016.

Clinton Emails. "The intelligence community believes that at least several dozen of the emails sent and received by Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of State contained classified material, including intelligence material classified at the highest levels, according to a new letter by the inspector general". The IG of the intelligence community says that the information is "Top Secret" and "Special Access Program" (SAP) information. The emails were received and sent (and stored) on a private server installed at Hillary Clinton's suburban New York home. Read "Intelligence community watchdog reconfirms that dozens of Clinton emails were classified", The Washington Post, January 19, 2016.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Intelligence News

Article - Presidential Intelligence. Samuel F. Rascoff has penned an article concerning the role of the President and the National Security Council in overseeing foreign intelligence collection. Rascoff is a Professor of Law as well as Faculty Director for the Center on Law and Security at the New York University Law School. Several responses to his article are also available. Read the article and responses in Harvard Law Review.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Intelligence News

Defense Clandestine Service. A relatively new kid on the block in the intelligence community is the Defense Clandestine Service (DCS). It is part of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and is charged with conducting clandestine activities around the world. The DCS is part of the DIA's Directorate of Operations and is, in part, a consolidation of the Defense Human Intelligence Service. Read more in an entry by WikipediA and in a recent news article by SPEC OPS, January 5, 2016.

Intelligence Reports and Literary Aspirations. Many of us in the military (or those who used to be . . . like me) had literary ambitions that went unsatisfied due to restraints imposed by a bureaucratic institution (as in the U.S. Army). However, sometimes the writer 'just comes out'! Read more in "Fighting Words: Spies, Soldiers, and Stylish Scribes", War on the Rocks, January 8, 2016.

Covert Intelligence and War on Terror. Joshua Perkins, an Army officer, writes about the importance of having covert intelligence agencies that serve a vital function for our nation. Read "Covert Intelligence versus the American Body Politic?", Small Wars Journal, January 7, 2016.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Intelligence News

Logo of the NDS
An examination of the story behind the resignation in early December 2015 of the chief of the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) will point to the discord found within the National Unity Government (NUG) and the divide between those who favor increased dialogue and reconciliation (some call it appeasement) with the Pakistan government and those who accuse Pakistan as the source of all problems with the insurgency (which, of course, they are!). The NDS chief resigned at the same time that President Ghani was in Islamabad attempting to reopen the dialogue with Pakistan and re-start the postponed peace talks that would resolve the conflict with the Taliban. Thomas Ruttig of the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) provides this analysis for us in Political Cleavages over Pakistan: The NDS chief's farewell, December 23, 2015.

CIA and Tora Bora 2001. Gary Berntsen, the CIA head of operations for eastern Afghanistan in 2001, recounts the battle of Tora Bora, missed opportunities, and inability of DoD to react to quick-changing situations. Read "Remembering the battle of Tora Bora in 2001", PRI, December 22, 2015.

CIA's Top Stories of 2015. The Central Intelligence Agency has listed its top stories for the past year. Jedburghs, Area 51, Saigon, William F. Buckley, research tools, and more.

Task Force Longhorn. A short article published on tells us about the success that the members of the 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade has been having since they deployed to Afghanistan in September 2015. The Fort Hood Soldiers report to Task Force ODIN - a theater-wide military intelligence team supporting U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. The task force's multi-functional teams or MFTs help facilitate actionable intelligence at the lowest echelon. The MFTs are comprised of human intelligence, signal intelligence, and analysts that provide a multi-disciplined approach to intelligence exploitation. Read more in "Task force already successful in Afghanistan intel mission",, December 15, 2015.

Got a TS Clearance? The Chinese are the only ones that have you on a database. Doyle Quiggle gives us something to think about in "The Cognitive Delusions of a Top Secret Clearance", Small Wars Journal, December 26, 2015.

Russia & Taliban Sharing Info? A CNN report says that the Taliban and Russia are sharing intelligence about the Islamic State. Russia is worried about jihadists based in Russia's Caucasus region and former Soviet republics going off to fight in Syria . . . and then returning. The article explains the many reasons that (if true) Russia would cooperate with the Taliban. (CNN, Dec 25, 2015).

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Intelligence News

Afghan Intelligence Chief Resigns. The chief of the Afghan spy agency - National Directorate of Security or NDS - has resigned amid policy differences with President Ghani. Rahmatullah Nabil submitted his resignation on Thursday, December 10, 2015. Nabil's deputy -Massoud Andrabi - has been appointed as acting chief. One constant source of friction between the NDS chief and President Ghani is the approach to Pakistan. Afghanistan's neighbor has been supporting the various insurgent groups for years - in the belief that an unstable Afghanistan is much better for Pakistan than a strong country that could possibly ally with India and/or make demands on the disposition of the Durand Line. Mr. Nabil has been heading the NDS for about five years. See "Afghanistan intelligence chief resigns amid row", BBC News, December 10, 2015. Read also "Afghan Spy Chief Quits After Denouncing Talks With Pakistan", The New York Times, December 10, 2015. See also a report from Khaama Press, Dec 11, 2015.

Problems with Drones. Thomas Ricks writes about "5 big problems with the drone programs" in Foreign Policy, December 10, 2015.

LTG (Ret) Flynn to Write Book. A high-ranking U.S. Army intelligence officer, Michael T. Flynn, will soon be writing a book on how to win the global war against radical Islam. Flynn served as the intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), as the G2 for ISAF in Afghanistan, and is the a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is at odds with the Obama administration in their handling the fight against Islamic terrorism and the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. Read "Michael T. Flynn Inks Deal With St. Martin's Press", GalleyCat, December 9, 2015.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Intelligence News

Khost Protection Force & the CIA - Part 1. A regional counterterrorism pursuit team set up in Khost province by the CIA has been problematic due to human rights concerns and a lack of accountability. The CIA transferred the CPT to the National Directorate of Security (NDS) a few years back but still has some involvement. Western security officials maintain that the Khost pursuit team is one of the most effective elements fighting insurgents and terrorists in Afghanistan. David Jolly tells us more in "Civilian Deaths Raise Questions About C.I.A.-Trained Forces in Afghanistan", The New York Times, December 3, 2015.

Khost Protection Force & the CIA - Part II. More info on the CIA-run and supported (still?) Khost Protection Force. See "CIA runs shadow war with Afghan militia implicated in civilian killings", The Washington Post, December 3, 2015.

John Brennan Presentation. The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recently (Nov 16) spoke at the Global Security Forum 2015 held by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS). Topics include ISIS and global security. You can listen to his 48-minute address (video or audio) or download his transcript.

Movie - "Central Intelligence". A new comedy about a U.S. intelligence agent is to be released in 2016 starring "The Rock". Watch the movie trailer (USA Today, Nov 20, 2015).

More Spies Against ISIS? It appears that the Defense Department is ready to beef up the intelligence gathering against the Islamic State. Read "U.S. Spies May be Back in Action Against ISIS", Newsweek, December 1, 2015.

CENTCOM's Intel Credibility. The changing of intelligence analysts reports at the highest level to satisfy political beliefs is still a problem even though the story has all but disappeared from the headlines. Read "Obama's Intel Scandal", The Weekly Standard, December 7, 2015.

Taliban Holding Secret U.S. Hostage? A news report suggests that the Taliban are holding an American in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. See "Secret U.S. Hostage Held by Taliban Allies", The Daily Beast, December 1, 2015.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Intelligence News Updates

Snowden? "Hang Him". Former CIA Chief Woolsey believes that Snowden is partially responsible for the terrorist attacks in Paris. Certainly Snowden has done immense damage to the intelligence community and needs to be punished for a very long time! Not everyone agrees with Woolsey's analysis of Snowden's share of the blame for recent events in Paris. Read "Former CIA Chief Woolsey: Electrocution Too Good for Snowden, Hang Him! - OpEd", Eurasia Review, a Journal of Analysis and News, November 22, 2015.  

Pentagon Investigation on CENTCOM Intel Reports. An expanding internal investigation is underway at the Pentagon about intelligence assessments on ISIS that may have been altered to paint a more positive picture of Iraqi security forces. For instance, instead of saying that Iraqi security forces hastily retreated from ISIS attacks the reports were modified to say that the government forces 'repositioned' or 'redeployed'. The investigation is also looking at allegations that CENTCOM sugarcoated intelligence reports about Afghanistan as well. They shouldn't have to look too far for that evidence! Read more in "Pentagon Expands Inquiry Into Intelligence on ISIS Surge", The New York Times, November 21, 2015.

CIA, Amazon, and Cloud Computing. "Amazon is building a cloud for the intelligence community that could bridge the sort of gaps that preceded the 9/11 attacks". Read "How the CIA Partnered With Amazon and Changed Intelligence", by Frank Konkel, Defense One, July 11, 2014.

Spymasters - a Review. A two hour documentary on the Central Intelligence Agency aired on Showtime on Saturday, November 28th. Twelve of the living former directors of the CIA were interviewed. Afghanistan and the Global War on Terror (GWOT) are recurring themes. Read a review of the program by Lea Carpenter, in "Showtime's CIA Documentary Takes On New Relevance After the Paris Attacks", Vogue, November 27, 2015.

Selfies Instigated by NSA? One LinkedIn account put forth the rumor that selfies are just a fad created by the National Security Agency in order to get as many faces on file as possible for facial recognition technology. Naw, no way.

"Yeah . . . About That Facebook Account". It was recently disclosed that over 600,000 Facebook users were taking part in an experiment conducted by Cornell University on how emotions spread on the popular social network site Facebook. This is the type of new ground that the intelligence agencies are now exploring as well - using open-source indicators in order to predict social unrest, growth of insurgent or terrorism organizations, and more. Read "The Military Is Already Using Facebook to Track Your Mood", Defense One, by Patrick Tucker, July 2, 2014.

"John has a very long beard". All you secret squirrels will appreciate the latest comic from "The Further Adventures of Doctrine Man", November 27, 2015.

Nations CI Strategy 2016. For those who may have missed it - the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released the National Counterintelligence Strategy of the United States - 2016.

Scholarship and Intelligence. Stephen Coulthart and Damien Van Puyvelde have penned an article about national security education and subsequent employment - the process where students take courses relating to security or intelligence studies and then find employment in the intelligence community. The authors believe, contrary to some recently published news reports, that there are plenty of national security programs to provide the prospective employees for the many intelligence agencies and organizations. Read more in "What Crisis? Scholarship and National Security", War on the Rocks, November 19, 2015.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Intelligence News

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!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Intelligence News

National Cryptologic School. Where does the National Security Agency (NSA) get its trained cryptologists? They recruit and then train them. Learn more in "The NSA school: How the intelligence community gets smarter, secretly", The Washington Post, November 9, 2015.

"Red wine with fish - well that should've told me something". Learn the secret ways of how spies enjoy their beverages in "Bond on Drinking", Molotov Cocktail - War on the Rocks, November 13, 2015.

Drones and Terrorists. The United States launched an airstrike last week that may have killed an ISIS terrorist known as "Jihadi John". The U.S. has relied heavily on using remotely piloted aircraft or drones to target terrorists over the past decade and more. Read a history of the more significant drone strikes in "Terror Suspects are Frequent Targets of U.S. Drones", NBC News, November 14, 2015.

Spying Among Friends? In the spring of 2014 a colleague of mine and I were in the office of a German general in Mazar-e-Sharif having a discussion about training up the ANA of 201st Corps. At the conclusion of the meeting, just after making a reference to recent revelations that the NSA was spying on German leaders to include Chancellor Angela Merkel, the German said that he wished to continue our meetings in the future. We left the meeting with that 'chilly message'. Now it appears that the U.S. is not the only nation collecting on their allies. Read more in "Spying on Friends: Germany's BND Scandal Puts Snowden Leaks in Context", World Politics Review, November 11, 2015.

Honey Traps and Norwegians. "Norwegian police are warning that an increasing number of Norwegian politicians and businessmen have been the targets of Russian intelligence "honey traps" involving sex and alcohol . . .: (Business Insider, Nov 12, 2015).

CIA Bank Mystery - Nugan Hand. The co-founder of a mysterious bank with ties to drugs, thugs, and Langley was recently discovered in Idaho - decades after he disappeared. The former Green Beret and CIA operative, now with a new identity, claims he has done nothing wrong. Read more in "The Ghosts of Nugan Hand: A New Chapter in a Long-Running CIA Bank Mystery", Newsweek, November 12, 2015.

CTF - Intel on Taliban Financing. Estimates of the annual budget of the Taliban range from $500 million to $2 billion per year. Much of this money comes from the drug trade. One writer, Joseph V. Micallef, says to shut down the Taliban we should 'follow the money'. Read more in "How the Taliban Gets Its Cash", The World Post, November 14, 2015.

Socio-Cultural Intelligence. Robert R. Tornes, an adjunct professor of security studies at Georgetown University, has wrote a 16-page paper entitled "Socio-Cultural Intelligence and National Security", Parameters, Summer 2015, pages 61-76, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army.

ICC Reports Use of Torture by ISAF. The International Criminal Court (ICC) stated that there is evidence to indicate that NATO-led international security forces in Afghanistan tortured prisoners. (, Nov 13, 2015).

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Intelligence News

Corporate Espionage and Drones. Have you ever operated a Raven UAV? (See photo of Raven at left). You may have new job possibilities in after your hitch in the Army in corporate spying. In a look to the future one writer imagines small private drones flying by corporate headquarters capturing writing on whiteboards in corporate boardrooms recording secrets via camera. Far fetched? Read "The corporate espionage that flies below the radar", C4ISR & Networks, October 26, 2015.

Book Review - The Billion Dollar Spy. David E. Hoffman has penned a true story of cold war espionage and betrayal. His book is reviewed by Benjamin Wittes. Read the review in "A True Cold War Spy Thriller with Contemporary Relevance"Lawfare Blog, October 27, 2015.

British Officer to be Dep Dir of DoD Intel Agency. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has chosen Air Vice Marshal Sean Corbett of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) as a deputy director. Read more in a news report by The Atlantic Council, November 2, 2015.

Big Data Intelligence Symposium. On November 17-18, 2015 the Defense Strategies Institute will host a symposium for intelligence professions.

AF Awards DCGS Training Contract. Aptima has been awarded a $12 million contract to develop a weapons trainer for the Air Forces's Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS). (C4ISR & Networks, Oct 30, 2015).

New 007 Movie - Spectre. Daniel Craig's fourth Bond film has been released. Should be an exciting movie for all those Intel geeks out there. However, indications are that Craig will do one more Bond film and then he is finished with the 007 character. There are many who wonder who can replace him. Some in the New England (USA) area have their favorite guy in mind. Read "7 Reasons Tom Brady should be the next James Bond",,  November 6, 2015.

193 James Bond Gadgets. Great 15 min video.

NGA Has New Commercial GEOINT Strategy. "The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is targeting private industry's capabilities in imagery and big data analytics as part of a broader, new commercial strategy in the GEOINT field. (C4ISR & Networks, Oct 29, 2015).

Not So Intelligent. A Soldier attempted to enter Fort Bragg dressed as a suicide bomber, complete with a fake explosive vest (it's a Halloween thing I guess). Needless to say - it caused a bit of a stir at the entry gate. (Army Times, Nov 2, 2015).

OPM Breach, Security Clearances, and Jobs. The hack of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) by China has slowed hiring for jobs requiring a security clearance. The hack has had a negative effect on cleared recruiting across the industry. Read more in "Got a Clearance? Getting a Job Just Got Harder", Defense One, October 26, 2015.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Intelligence News

CIA's Red Cell. After 9/11 the agency developed a semi-independent organization called the 'Red Cell' that was charged with getting a fresh set of eyes to consider possible terror threats. The Red Cell employed alternative-analysis techniques and is used to provoke thought within the agency. Read more in "Inside the CIA Red Cell: How an experimental unit transformed the intelligence community"Foreign Policy, October 30, 2015.

U.S. Intel Agencies - Lacking Cultural and Language Expertise. The intelligence agencies of the U.S. - of which there are many - have a proven track record of not reaching out to academia for experts in history, culture, and language. Read more in "The Ignorance of Intelligence Agencies", by Williamson Murray, War on the Rocks, October 26, 2015.

Daniel Craig Wouldn't Cut It. According to one news story James Bond wouldn't have the 'emotional intelligence' to get a job as a real-life spy. Hmmmm. (Quartz, Oct 2015).

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Intel & CT

CIA Psychologists Being Sued. A lawsuit was filed this past week in federal court in Spokane, Washington against a pair of psychologists who earned millions using untested, brutal techniques, such as waterboarding, on CIA prisoners. Read more in "Former prisoners sue architects of CIA's brutal interrogation program", The Washington Post, October 13, 2015.

Ex-CIA Agent Who Wasn't. A man who passed himself off as an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency has been arrested. His story of a 27-year career with the agency has some holes in it. He appeared on Fox News as an expert on intelligence matters from time to time. His LinkedIn account says he worked a few DoD contracts in Afghanistan as well; however, some sources close to those enterprises say he was sent home as he didn't have a valid clearance and . . . . (The Washington Post, October 15, 2015).

How is working for the CIA? Learn more in "A Day in the Life of a CIA Political Analyst Intern.", Central Intelligence Agency,  October 14, 2015.

Movie - 'Bridge of Spies'. A new movie is out set in the Cold War starring Tom Hanks. I personally don't like Hanks as an actor; but he does star is some great movies. It is somewhat based on real events based on the exchange of Francis Gary Powers (captured U2 pilot) and Rudolf Abel (Russian spy). Read a review in War is Boring,  Oct 16, 2015. See also a historical record of the event by the Central Intelligence Agency entitled "The Cold War: Strangers on a Bridge".

Drone Pilots Speak Out. General Hawk Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, listened to remotely piloted aircraft pilots for over four hours about the RPA career field over a week ago. There were lots of recommendations on how to fix the RPA career field. Currently there is a shortage of RPA airmen that is expected to worsen over the next few years. RPAs or drones have been used extensively in Afghanistan. Read more in "RPA operators to Air Force: Fix this career field"C4ISR Networks, October 8, 2015.

Intel on Russia - Not so Much. "Politicians in Washington are pointing their fingers at spies for making them look silly on Russia and Syria. Did our spies mess up again?" The House Intelligence Committee has some deep concerns on the quality and timeliness of the Intel they are being provided. Read more in "Washington's Civil War over Russia Intel"The Daily Beast, October 12, 2015.

"The New Normal?" Bobby Chesney, a professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law (and fellow at Brookings), asks if the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) has come to an end or is it still on-going but with a different name? He discusses the 'lily pad' concept of stationing counterterrorism forces around the world to attack terrorists who might plan or attempt to execute attacks against the United States or its interests. This 'light footprint' approach, he says, might be called the "Global Counterterrorism Footprint". Read more in "The New Normal? From Global War on Terrorism to Global Counterterrorism Footprint", Lawfare Blog, October 5, 2015.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Intel & Counterterrorism News

Victory / Defeat Not Always Final. An intelligence professional, using setbacks such as the Snowdon treachery or China's downloading of every one's SF-86, says that defeats are not always final and cites some historical examples to put us at ease. Read "Rome, Carthage, and Counterintelligence: Why No Victory or Defeat Has to Be Final", Real Clear Defense, October 2, 2015.

Internet, Cookies, and Law Enforcement. A research on computer security at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, California explains how the National Security Agency (NSA) and law enforcement agencies can subpoena Google and others for your Internet activities. Read "Law Enforcement and the World Wide Web of Spies", Lawfare Blog, October 5, 2015.

Radicalization in Afghan Schools. "There is widespread political activism, including an extensive presence of radical activists among high school students in Afghanistan", according to a new study by Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU). Read more in "Study Finds Radicalization on the Rise in Afghan Schools", Tolo News, October 7, 2015.

Booz Allen Contract - $937 Million. Booz Allen Hamilton is receiving a huge contract for "global threat mitigation". Learn more about this 'secretive' contract. (Washington Business Journal, October 8, 2015).

Insurgents - Rational and Emotional. Thomas Zeitzoff, an Associate Professor at American University, has penned an article entitled "Calculated or Emotional? How Insurgents Are Both Rational and Ideological", Political Violence @ a Glance, October 9, 2015.

ToA - 303rd MI Bn Now in Country. The 319th MI Bn is heading home after a Transfer of Authority ceremony at Bagram Air Field.

U.S. Spy Agencies "Caught Off Guard". It is now being described as another intelligence failure - the inability to predict that Russia would "go all in" with Syria. Read "US spy agencies were 'caught off-guard' by Putin's sudden dramatic escalation in Syria", Business Insider, October 8, 2015.

Torture, CIA, and "the Dark Side". In a riveting story we learn about aspects of torture that we probably would rather not know about. Caution: graphic photos in "A Former CIA Interrogator on Death, Torture and the Dark Side", Newsweek, October 7, 2015.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

CT and Intel News

OPM Breach, the CIA, and China. According to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper the ". . . CIA pulled a number of officers from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing as a precautionary measure in the wake of the massive cybertheft of the personnel data of federal employees . . ." Essentially, anyone with a security clearance (electronic SF 86 questionaire on file) who is in government service or in the military now has duplicate records. One in the U.S. and one in China. I am still waiting on my letter from the OPM notifying me that the Chinese have my file. (Washington Post, Sep 29, 2015).

New CIA Directorate. The Central Intelligence Agency is reorganizing itself. One new addition is the Directorate of Digital Information. See "The CIA unveils a radically new org chart"The Washington Post, October 1, 2015.

How Were CIA Agents Discovered by the KGB? It appears that the personnel section of the CIA took the "easy road" when sending replacement overseas. Read more in "How to explain the KGB's amazing success identifying CIA agents in the field?"Salon, September 26, 2015.

Intel and Politics. Robert Tomes writes "On The Politicization of Intelligence" in War On the Rocks, September 29, 2015. He explores what "politicization" really is and provides us some history on the topic.

Leaders' Summit to Counter ISIL. The United States recently held a summit that highlighted the international community's efforts to counter ISIL, address Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs), and Counter Violent Extremism (CVE). Read a fact sheet on the summit provided to us by the White House, September 29, 2015.

Understanding & CVE in Afghanistan. "Youth recruitment into extremist groups in Afghanistan continues to be a major source of group building." A report presents findings from a three-province study on violent extremism in Afghanistan. The endeavor was undertaken by The Liaison Office, an Afghan research and peacebuilding organization. Read "Understanding and Countering Violent Extremism in Afghanistan", United States Institute of Peace (USIP), September 3, 2015.

Drones and Pilots. UAVs provide a vast amount of strategic, operational, and tactical intelligence around the world (and in Afghanistan). There is a pilot shortage for drones within the Air Force and numerous reports indicate that many are leaving the Air Force for less stressful jobs. It appears that the Air Force may start using enlisted pilots. Read more in "Enlisted drone pilots? Decision expected early next year", Air Force Times, September 28, 2015.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Intelligence & Counterterrorism News

Intel Analyst Revolt at CENTCOM? One news article is reporting a 'revolt' by intelligence professionals working at Central Command in Florida. Seems that the dire reports about the fight with ISIS are being sugarcoated by very senior intelligence officers in order to reflect the "We are beating ISIS" message being broadcast by the Obama administration and senior American generals. This is not unusual. The same happened in Afghanistan. I spent four years traveling from FOB and COP and then back to ISAF headquarters in Kabul. The capability of the ANA kandaks and district police got better and better as you moved from company, to battalion, to brigade, to RC, to IJC, and finally to ISAF headquarters. The reality on the ground was slowly taken out of  Intel reports and assessments until ISAF headquarters staff had a false impression of how the ANSF (ANDSF) were really performing. Looks like we have the same type of two, three, and four star generals heading up the fight in Iraq/Syria as well. They are more about "messaging" than about "reality". Read more in "50 Spies Say ISIS Intelligence Was Cooked", The Daily Beast, September 9, 2015. Oh, and Secretary of Defense Carter is not happy - says he wants the unvarnished truth in intelligence reports. (The Hill Defense Blog, Sep 10, 2015).

Book - Defending CIA Interrogations. A book has been released that provides a defense of CIA interrogations during the "Global War on Terror" or GWOT. The book has been wrote by former high-ranking CIA officials and disputes the findings of a Senate report released last year about the agency's use of brutal interrogation methods. Read more in "Former CIA officials release book defending agency interrogations"The Washington Post, September 8, 2015.

CIA Blood Chit. Blood chits were carried to request aid from people in enemy territory. Usually military or government personnel with a high risk of capture (pilots, Special Forces, CIA agents, etc.) would be issued a blood chit. Learn more about blood chits from the Central Intelligence Agency's website.

CIA Missed Opportunity? It is appears that the Central Intelligence Agency goofed up when they may have detected a western hostage (possibly Warren Weinstein) but did not keep drone coverage in play. Read more in "Officials fear CIA missed opportunity to identify Western hostage", Washington Post,  September 10, 2015.

Day in the Life of a CIA Intern. So how does one get to work for the CIA? I suppose one avenue would be to start out as an intern. Learn more in a news release by the agency (CIA, Sep 10, 2015).

Afghan Intel Program Shut Down by Snowden. One of the disclosures based on documents leaded by Edward Snowden, the former National Agency contractor, prompted the shutdown of a key intelligence program in Afghanistan". Read more in "Top spy bemoans loss of key information gathering program", The Washington Post, September 9, 2015.

Drone Pilots Gapping It. "Drone or RPA pilots are leaving the USAF faster than they can be replaced. Even more pay doesn't seem to slow the hemorrhaging down much. Concerns of burnout, stress, mental health concerns and even moral injury have become a familiar litany highlighted in press releases and articles about the RPA pilot shortage crisis". Read more in "Finding Meaning Inside the Box: Understanding RPA Crew Resilence", Small Wars Journal, September 10, 2015. Learn more about drones (or RPAs, or UAVs, whatever) in Afghanistan. Despite the problems with drone pilots it seems the activity level is still robust - see "U.S. drone strike kills 15 Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan", Reuters, September 11, 2015.

Rebranding al-Qaeda. "There is no love lost between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Al-Qaeda appears to be rolling out a very deliberate PR strategy against its erstwhile affiliate. Can the organization re-brand itself as the jihadi group the world can live with?" Read "Extreme Makeover, Jihadist Edition: Al-Qaeda's rebranding campaign", War on the Rocks, September 3, 2015.

Al-Qaeda 14 Years Later. With all the media focus on the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (as well as North Africa and Afghanistan) we sometimes forget who public enemy number one is. The folks at the West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) have not forgotten. Their September issue of CTC Sentinel focuses on the topic in a special issue entitled The Al-Qa'ida Threat 14 Years Later, Volume 8, Issue 9, September 2015.

British 'kill list' or JPEL. A little news article telling us a little about the Joint Priority Effects List (JPEL). Read "A British 'kill list' does exist. We used it in Afghanistan", The Spectator, September 9, 2015.

Intel "Reachback" from Afghanistan. As the forces in Afghanistan slowly dwindle down some units are relying on elements in the United States to provide finished intelligence products and reports. Read more in "Military Intelligence Soldiers awarded for helping deployed comrades", DVIDS, September 10, 2015.

Cognitive Dominance Education Program (CDEP). "Led by U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's (TRADOC) G2, the Cognitive Dominance Education Program (CDEP) was formerly called the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies, and has evolved from lessons learned during operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.". Sounds like a real fancy name that obscures the purpose of the program. Learn more about CDEP here in a post on the Army's Stand-To! website dated September 8, 2015.