CIA to return to traditional espionage against state actors, says new director

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The United States Central Intelligence Agency will return to traditional espionage against foreign states and focus less on counterterrorism against non-state actors, said its new director in her first public appearance. Gina Haspel joined the CIA in 1985 as a reports officer and completed several undercover tours overseas before serving as chief of station. She rose through the ranks to become deputy director of the National Clandestine Service and was appointed deputy director of the CIA in 2017. In May of this year, she became the Agency’s first female director, despite some controversy that arose from her role as chief of a CIA undercover facility (so-called “black site”) in Thailand. Critics alleged that Agency personnel under her command practiced enhanced interrogation, including waterboarding, on terrorism detainees. Continue reading

US sees Russian weapon behind US diplomats’ mystery ailments, say officials

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In early September, Douglas H. Smith, who heads the team of scientists tasked by the US government to examine the matter, said that microwave radiation was almost certainly responsible for the diplomats’ ailments. He added that microwaves were considered “a main suspect” and that his team of scientists was now “increasingly sure” that the diplomats had suffered brain injuries caused by microwave radiation. Now the US news network NBC reports that Russia is viewed as the primary culprit behind the mystery ailments that plagued US diplomats. Reporting on Tuesday the news network cited three unnamed officials in the administration of US President Donald Trump, as well as “congressional aides and others briefed on the investigation”. Specifically, NBC reported that the Russian connection was supported by “evidence from communications intercepts” (signals intelligence or SIGINT), though it did not elaborate on their precise nature. It also said that the ongoing investigation into the purported weapon involves the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency among other US intelligence and security agencies. Another leading actor in the investigation is the US Air Force, said NBC, stating that experts in its directed energy research program at the Kirtland Air Force Base near Albuquerque, New Mexico, are trying to reverse-engineer the alleged weapons based on the symptoms that they cause. Continue reading

CIA informants inside Russia are going silent, say US sources

Kremlin, Russia

 

Secret informants inside the Russian government, which the United States has relied on in recent years for tips about Moscow’s strategy and tactics, have gone silent in recent months, according to sources. Over many years, US intelligence agencies have built networks of Russian informants. These consist of officials placed in senior positions inside the Kremlin and other Russian government institutions, who can help shed light on Russia’s political maneuvers. These informants were crucial in enabling the US Intelligence Community to issue warnings of possible Russian meddling in the American presidential elections of November 2016. Since then, US spy agencies have largely relied on these informants to produce detailed assessments of Russian intelligence activities targeting the US, and propose measures against those involved. Continue reading

Chinese shipbuilding boss gave CIA aircraft carrier secrets, reports claim

Liaoning aircraft carrier China

 

One of China’s most senior shipbuilding executives, who has not been seen in public for nearly two weeks, has been charged with giving secrets about China’s aircraft carriers to the United States. Sun Bo, 57, is general manager of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), China’s largest state-owned maritime manufacturer, which leads nearly every major shipbuilding project of the Chinese navy. Most notably, Sun headed the decade-long retrofitting of the Liaoning, a Soviet-built aircraft carrier that was commissioned to the Chinese Navy’s Surface Force after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Continue reading

Chinese influence in New Zealand threatens intelligence-sharing, says Canadian report

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The report, entitled China and the Age of Strategic Rivalry, was authored by experts at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). It contains a summary of views expressed by participants at an academic outreach workshop that was organized in Canada by the CSIS. In a section focusing on Chinese “interference in democratic systems”, the report suggests that, despite its small size, New Zealand is “valuable to China […] as a soft underbelly through which to access Five Eyes intelligence”. In recent years, claims the report, Beijing has adopted “an aggressive strategy” that has sought to co-opt political and economic elites in New Zealand as a means of influencing political decision making in the country. As part of that process, China seeks to gain advantages in trade and business negotiations, suppress negative views of China, facilitate espionage and control the views of the Chinese expatriate community in New Zealand, according to the report. Ultimately, Beijing seeks to “extricate New Zealand from […] its traditional [military and intelligence] partners]” as a means of asserting its regional and —eventually— global influence, the report concludes. Continue reading

Outgoing CIA director acknowledges US killed ‘couple of hundred’ Russians in Syria

 

At a press conference held soon after the armed clash, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis refused to discuss the matter, which he referred to as “perplexing”. Bloomberg said at the time that American officials were “in talks” with Russian counterparts “in search of an explanation for what happened”. On Thursday, however, Pompeo appeared to acknowledge that US troops killed hundreds of Russians in Deir al-Zour. The outgoing CIA director was speaking before a committee of the US Senate, during a hearing pertaining to his nomination to serve as the next US secretary of state. He was making the point that the administration of US President Donald Trump had maintained a hardline policy on Russia. After referring to the recent expulsions of 60 Russian diplomats from the US, Pompeo said: “in Syria, now, a handful of weeks ago the Russians met their match. A couple of hundred Russians were killed”.

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MI5 releases new information about Soviet ‘Portland Spy Ring’

 

Files released on Monday by the British government reveal new evidence about one of the most prolific Soviet spy rings that operated in the West after World War II, which became known as the Portland Spy Ring. Some of the members of the Portland Spy Ring were Soviet operatives who, at the time of their arrest, posed as citizens of third countries. All were non-official-cover intelligence officers, or NOCs, as they are known in Western intelligence parlance. Their Soviet —and nowadays Russian— equivalents are known as illegals. NOCs are high-level principal agents or officers of an intelligence agency, who operate without official connection to the authorities of the country that employs them. They often pose as business executives, students, academics, journalists, or non-profit agency workers. Unlike official-cover officers, who are protected by diplomatic immunity, NOCs have no such protection. If arrested by authorities of their host country, they can be tried and convicted for engaging in espionage. Continue reading

America’s Cyber Vulnerabilities

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Cyber is the newest branch of warfare. Even in its baby stages, it has the potential to cripple the United States.

On the afternoon of Dec. 23, 2015, Ukrainian engineers from a Prykarpattya Oblenergo power station stared at a computer screen while the cursor progressed on its own across the monitor. The mouse on the table had not moved. But the cursor hovered over the station’s breakers, each one controlling power to thousands of Ukrainian citizens. Then, with one mouse click at a time, the hackers now in control of the power station began shutting off power to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians.

At the same time, Kyivoblenergo employees watched as dozens of substations shut down, one by one. In their case, there was no phantom mouse. A computer on their network that they could not locate was being used by someone to shut down the power—and there was nothing they could do. Continue reading

Trump set up? The CIA’s UMBRAGE group can stage RUSSIAN hacking

FISA warrant could have been obtained through staged hacking

(INTELLIHUB) — Among the startling revelations coming out through the Wikileaks “Vault 7” release is the shocking fact that the CIA has the ability to “misdirect attribution” of a hack, effectively making it look as if a country such as Russian was the culprit when in reality it was forces within the Central Intelligence Agency itself.

According to the Wikileaks documents, a group within the CIA’s Remote Devices Branch, code-named UMBRAGE, collects and maintains a massive library of attack techniques stolen from other countries, including the Russian Federation.

“With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from,” reads the Wikileaks release. “UMBRAGE components cover keyloggers, password collection, webcam capture, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques.” Continue reading

NSA and CIA is the enemy of the people

 

Astute students of history understand that government agencies often further their own interests and not the administration they are designated to serve. Seldom is the genuine national security advanced when bureaucrats pledge their loyalty to their respective fiefdoms of projecting influence and power. Absent in this supremacy struggle equation is the abstract notion that state legitimacy is founded upon the will and consent of the people. Such a quaint concept does not reflect a chapter in the training manual that breeds the spooks who operate as above the law and unaccountable super spies.

Guarding signals traffic or capturing foreign communication is a logical task to protect national secrets, while gathering information on intentions and operations from adversaries. Once upon a time the National Security Agency directed the ECHELON project as a cold war network. Over the decades the functions of electronic surveillance broadened into collection on all forms of data, no matter the source or the national origin of the subject. Continue reading

US Special Forces deployed at Russian border to defend Baltic states ‘scared to death’ by Vladimir Putin

US Special Operations forces will work with Lithuanian special ops troops shown here on a joint exercise PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images

 

The troops will help train local forces and add to intelligence gathering operations carried out by the CIA

US Special Forces have been deployed close to the border with Russia as part of a “persistent” presence of American troops in the Baltics.

Dozens of special ops solders are being stationed along Europe’s eastern flank to reassure Nato allies Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

The move will also allow the US to monitor Russian manoeuvres amid fears of further destabilisation following its annexation of Crimea in 2014. Continue reading

Donald Trump Plans Revamp of Top U.S. Spy Agency

President-elect Donald Trump, seen speaking in November in Hershey, Pa., is working on a plan to restructure the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the nation’s top spy agency, according to people familiar with the matter. PHOTO: EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

 

President-elect works on restructuring Office of the Director of National Intelligence, tweets again his doubts that Russia hacked Democrats

WASHINGTON—President-elect Donald Trump, a harsh critic of U.S. intelligence agencies, is working with top advisers on a plan that would restructure and pare back the nation’s top spy agency, people familiar with the planning said.

The move is prompted by his belief that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has become bloated and politicized, these people said. Continue reading

The Moscow Times: CIA Director made secret trip to Moscow in March

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov says that John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), made a secret visit to Moscow in March, according to The Moscow Times.

“It’s no secret that Brennan was here,” Syromolotov said on Monday. “But he didn’t visit the Foreign Ministry. I know for sure that he met with the Federal Security Service [the successor agency to the Soviet KGB], and someone else.” Continue reading

America’s most senior intelligence official has his phone, email hacked

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A member of a hacker group that took responsibility for breaking into the personal email account of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency last year has now hacked the email of the most senior intelligence official in the United States. In October 2015, the hacker group referred to by its members as “Crackas With Attitude” —CWA for short— claimed it was behind the hacking of an AOL personal email account belonging to John Brennan, who heads the CIA. Less than a month later, the CWA assumed responsibility for breaking into an online portal used by US law enforcement to read arrest records and share sensitive information about crimes involving shootings. Shortly after the second CWA hack, the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued an alert to all government employees advising them to change their passwords and be cautious about suspicious emails and other phishing attempts. Continue reading

Military to Military

Seymour M. Hersh on US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war

Barack Obama’s repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office – and that there are ‘moderate’ rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him – has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. Their criticism has focused on what they see as the administration’s fixation on Assad’s primary ally, Vladimir Putin. In their view, Obama is captive to Cold War thinking about Russia and China, and hasn’t adjusted his stance on Syria to the fact both countries share Washington’s anxiety about the spread of terrorism in and beyond Syria; like Washington, they believe that Islamic State must be stopped. Continue reading