CIA

CIA conducted aggressive covert cyber operations against Iran, China, as Trump gave it more power

The Central Intelligence Agency, using new powers, carried out aggressive covert cyber operations against countries including Iran, North Korea, China and Russia, a new report says. The operations came after President Trump gave the CIA “sweeping authorization” in 2018 by signing a “presidential finding,” according to Yahoo News, citing U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter. With a presidential finding, the president authorizes covert action necessary to support “identifiable foreign policy objectives” that are deemed “important to the national security of the United States,” according to a U.S. government document. The authorization undoes “many restrictions that had been in place under prior administrations,” and gives the CIA more leeway in authorizing its own covert cyber operations, the Yahoo News report said. Countries mentioned as possible targets include Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. “The White House wanted a vehicle to strike back. And this was the way to do it,” the report added, quoting a former U.S. government official. The new powers gave the CIA more latitude to “damage adversaries’ critical infrastructure, such as petrochemical plants, and to engage in the kind of hack-and-dump operations that Russian hackers and WikiLeaks popularized,” the report explained. The hack-and-dump tactic involves leaking stolen documents or data to journalists or posting it on the Internet. Initially, the Obama administration considered retaliating against Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election by using hack-and-dump but, in the end, the CIA was told to “stand down,” the report stated. John Bolton’s appointment as the National Security Adviser in the Trump administration changed that, Yahoo News reported, citing a passage in Bolton’s memoir, “The Room Where It Happened.” In September 2018, the White House announced a new national cybersecurity strategy to bolster the government’s defenses against foreign adversaries. While cyber-defense was central to the strategy, Bolton also called for a better offense. “We’re going to do a lot of things offensively and I think our adversaries need to know that,” John Bolton told reporters at the time, according to Cyberscoop. “We will identify, counter, disrupt, degrade, and deter behavior in cyberspace that is destabilizing and contrary to national interests, while preserving the United States’ overmatch in and through cyberspace,” Bolton added. Another change that came with the presidential finding was the lowering of the bar for “evidentiary requirements,” thereby expanding the CIA’s ability to conduct covert cyber operations against “media organizations, charities, religious institutions or businesses believed to be working on behalf of adversaries’ foreign intelligence services,” the report added.

This is encouraging.  With China, North Korea, and Iran acting the way they’ve been, we need to step up our offensive game.  Giving the CIA and other members of the Intelligence Community (IC) (i.e. NSA, NGA, DIA, etc,) expanded powers to go after our adversaries like this is a good thing.  After all, they’ve been doing it to us for years, even decades, and we’ve been sitting on our hands and taking it like suckers.  Kudos to President Trump and his administration for not taking it anymore and being proactive in this area.  Excellent!!     🙂

Sen. Tom Cotton: Gina Haspel has spent her life defending our country. She’s an excellent choice for CIA

President Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel, is set to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. As a strong supporter of her nomination, I expect she will do very well. Despite her opponents’ attempts to paint her as an ideological zealot, Haspel is a consummate professional whose record of accomplishment, bipartisan support, and clear love of country make her an excellent choice to lead our nation’s top intelligence agency. Unlike many nominees in recent years, Haspel isn’t the representative of a political faction. She’s a career intelligence officer with over 30 years of experience. Haspel joined the CIA in 1985, working as a case officer for several years in both Africa and Europe. Over time, she rose up the ranks, serving as deputy director of the National Clandestine Service and chief of staff for the director of operations. In addition, Haspel served as chief of station – that is, the agent responsible for overseeing all of the CIA’s work in a foreign country – four times. If confirmed, she would be the first CIA director in decades who has spent her entire career at the agency – as well as the first woman to lead the agency. Having served under six different presidents from both parties, Haspel is far from an ideologue. She’s an institutionalist who has put in so many years of work that she commands respect throughout the rank and file at the CIA. Haspel’s opponents have tried to use a small sliver of her career against her by arguing, essentially, that she was just too tough on Al Qaeda for this country to bear. But I’d argue that her willingness to serve in what was a highly stressful post only enhances the case for her confirmation. In the early 2000s, as the fight against Islamist terrorism heated up, Haspel asked to be reassigned to the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, where her first day on the job was Sept. 11, 2001. It’s easy to forget that we lost 3,000 Americans that day in the worst attacks on American soil since Pearl Harbor – and that this was an especially trying time for all those working on national security. As former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently said: “If you were not in a position of authority on 9/11, you have no idea the pressures we faced to make sure that this country wasn’t attacked again.” And yet Haspel volunteered for the mission, later earning the George H.W. Bush Award, granted for excellence in counterterrorism; the Intelligence Medal of Merit; and the Presidential Rank Award, the most prestigious distinction in all of federal civil service. It’s true, as her critics charge, that Haspel was involved in the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, but once again, their potshots miss the mark. The president approved this program, Congress was fully briefed on it, and it included multiple layers of legal review.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is spot on here.  Gina is eminently qualified for the job and hope the Senate will confirm her soon.  For those of you who may not know, Sen. Cotton is a former solider/warrior who enlisted and then later became an officer, rising to the rank of Captain.  He was an “airborne Ranger” who served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Bronze Star, among other medals.  So, the man isn’t some political hack.  He’s a warrior who recognizes a patriot like Gina, when he sees her.  To read the rest of Sen. Cotton’s op/ed, click on the text above.     🙂

‘Tradecraft failings’: CIA’s conclusion that Putin interfered in election to help Trump was flawed

U.S. intelligence agencies’ far-reaching conclusion that Vladimir Putin interfered in the 2016 presidential election to specifically help Donald Trump was flawed by “tradecraft failings,” says a House report. The conclusion was written by the CIA then under the direction of Obama loyalist John O. Brennan. The report said the CIA’s Putin-Trump analysis violated standards for analyzing intelligence products and noted that one guideline is to “be independent of political considerations.” It said the CIA’s draft section on Mr. Putin’s intentions lacked vigorous internal debate because it was restricted to an “unusually constrained review” by other agencies. The findings are contained in the Republican majority report of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence investigation into 2016 Russian election meddling. The intelligence agencies’ January 2017 Putin-Trump conclusion produced wide-ranging political ramifications. It buttressed the argument from Hillary Clinton, who from the moment she lost to Mr. Trump cited Russia as the reason. Obama loyalists, such as Mr. Brennan and former National Director of Intelligence James R. Clapper, have suggested that Mr. Trump is a Putin agent. House intelligence committee Republicans agreed unanimously about faulty analytical methods.

For more, click on the text above.

Pompeo: North Korea ‘Handful of Months’ Away from Threatening U.S. with Nuclear Weapons

Speaking at an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) forum on the future of U.S. intelligence operations, CIA Director Mike Pompeo warned that North Korea could be a “handful of months” away from plausibly threatening the continental United States with nuclear weapons. Pompeo warned North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is advancing at a “very rapid clip.” He added that U.S. intelligence fears Kim would aggressively use nuclear weapons as a tool to conquer the entire Korean Peninsula. Pompeo repeated his recent warnings that “North Korea is ever closer to being able to hold America at risk,” but said the intelligence community is helping to hold them just shy of achieving their goals. “I said that was a handful of months,” he recalled. “I said the same thing several months before that. I want everyone to understand that we are working diligently to make sure that a year from now, I can still tell you they are several months away from having that capacity.” Later in his appearance, Pompeo clarified that he was not laying out a timeline where North Korea might be fielding nuclear missiles by the end of the summer, or anything quite so immediate. He said it was inappropriate to think in terms of timelines to landmark missile test launches. Instead, the real issue is reliability—“Can they reliably deliver the pain which Kim Jong-un wants to be able to deliver against the United States of America?” He explained: ” It’s one thing to be able to say, ‘Yes, it’s possible if everything went right, if the missile flew in the right direction, we could do it,’ as opposed to certainty. This is the core of deterrence theory. In the deterrence model, you have to be certain that what you aim to deliver will actually be successful. At the very least, you need to make sure your adversary believes that it is certain.” “That’s what Kim Jong-un is driving for. He is trying to put in our mind the reality that he can deliver that pain to the United States of America. Our mission is to make the day that he can do that as far off as possible,” Pompeo said. He disputed the commonly reported notion that the intelligence community was caught by surprise when North Korea’s nuclear program surged forward. “We’ll never get the week or the month right on something that’s this complicated, but we can get the direction of travel and the capacity for the rate of change right, and we did,” he insisted. During a question-and-answer session with AEI’s Marc Thiessen, Pompeo cautioned that he was not at liberty to divulge sensitive intelligence about North Korea, other than to say, “They have moved at a very rapid clip, make no mistake about it.” “They’re testing capacity has improved. The frequency that they have tests which are more materially successful has also improved, putting them ever closer to a place where Americans can be held at risk,” he said. Pompeo said the CIA believes Kim Jong-un to be a “rational actor,” and that his rational strategy is about more than achieving deterrence against conventional military action by the United States and its allies since the massive North Korean artillery threat to South Korean cities already provides such deterrence. Pompeo said the CIA believes that Kim wants “more than just regime preservation,” which is why the Trump administration is so determined to prevent him from achieving nuclear ICBM capability. They suspect Kim will not be content to become merely the latest authoritarian ruler sitting on an inventory of nuclear weapons he would never dare to use. Thiessen asked if Kim’s status as a “rational actor” meant limited military action to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program is possible since a rational state would not respond in a manner that guaranteed its own destruction. “I’m thrilled that you asked that. I’m equally happy not to answer,” Pompeo replied. “Let me say this, though: the American people should know we’re working to prepare a series of options to make sure that we can deliver a range of things, so the president will have the full suite of possibilities.” “We are in a much better place today than we were twelve months ago,” he said. “We are still suffering from having gaps. Part of that is not the intelligence community’s fault per se. These are difficult target sets. I’ll concede that at the outset. But it’s completely inadequate for the CIA to say, ‘Well, that’s a hard problem.’ Of course it’s a hard problem. That’s why you pay us.” He said the CIA’s top priorities in North Korea included analyzing its command structure, determining how sanctions affect various individuals and layers of North Korean society, and who might be helping the Kim regime mitigate the effects of sanctions.

CIA Releases Hundreds of Thousands of Documents from Osama bin Laden

Over at the Long War Journal, Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio have the first analysis of the massive trove of documents, files, and images which were recovered at Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, during the raid in which bin Laden was killed. The cache of documents, released today for the first time by the CIA, are an amazing stockpile of information that has never before been public. Click here for some highlights.

Real-life ‘X-Files’? CIA posts trove of UFO documents

The truth is out there – the CIA is offering a peek into its ‘X-files,’ shining a spotlight on a series of once-classified UFO documents. “To help navigate the vast amount of data contained in our FOIA UFO collection, we’ve decided to highlight a few documents both skeptics and believers will find interesting,” explained the agency, in a blog post. The UFO documents, which date primarily from the 1940s and 1950s, are among hundreds that the CIA declassified in 1978. In a nod to Fox’s new “X-Files” series, the agency highlights “five documents we think X-Files character Agent Fox Mulder would love to use to try and persuade others of the existence of extraterrestrial activity.” “We also pulled five documents we think his skeptical partner, Agent Dana Scully, could use to prove there is a scientific explanation for UFO sightings,” it added. The “Mulder” documents include 1952 reports of flying saucers over the then-East Germany, Spain and North Africa, as well as a survey of UFO reports from the same year. The agency also posted a 1952 report of “two fiery disks” flying over a uranium mine in the then-Belgian Congo and the minutes of a CIA branch chief’s meeting discussing UFOs. The report from East Germany details “an object ‘resembling a huge frying pan’ and having a diameter of about 15 meters [49 feet].” The object landed in a forest clearing in Germany’s Soviet Zone, according to the report. “A smoke-trailing object over Barcelona” and an unusual object “emitting a pale green light” over the Tunisian city of Sousse are described in the report from Spain and North Africa. Photos posted on the CIA website include an unexplained sighting above Minneapolis in 1960 and another above Sheffield, U.K. two years later. It also posted an image of a UFO investigation in Socorro, N.M. The “Mulder” documents include an office memo from 1949, a 1952 memo to the Director of Central Intelligence and a ‘Memorandum for the Record on Flying Saucers,’ also from 1952. The agency also posted a 1953 document detailing the suggestions of a scientific advisory panel on UFOs and the minutes of an Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) UFO advisory group from the same year.

Things that make ya go, “hmmmm..”   Of course most of this stuff is from the 1940s and 1950…with a few items from the ’60s; over 50 years ago!!  So..BIG yawn..  I’m sure MUFON and other similar groups, including the folks at “Ancient Aliens” will find this “significant.”  But, it’s really not.  You’d get a lot more simply from Leslie Kean’s book “UFOs.”  Now, when they start declassifying stuff from the 1980s, ’90s, and especially within the last 10-15 years, THAT might be worth delving into.  But, hey..  Glad to see the CIA is finally getting around to declassifying some of this stuff that should have been declassifyed…a half century ago.

CIA probes ISIS claim Jordanian airstrikes killed US aid worker

U.S. intelligence officials are investigating a claim by ISIS that its sole known remaining American hostage, an aid worker held for nearly a year and a half, has been killed, and the terrorist group’s claim that her death came in a Jordanian airstrikes.

This story is developing..

CIA admits: Half of those UFO sightings in the 1950s and 1960s? ‘It was us’

As far as “best of 2014” lists go, the CIA has a pretty irresistible one: On Dec. 22 it started tweeting links to the 10 most popular articles of the year that it shared on Twitter, and the agency arrived at No. 1 yesterday, tweeting: “Reports of unusual activity in the skies in the ’50s? It was us.”

Nothing really new here..  Ever since the infamous Roswell, NM UFO story broke in 1947, probably more than 85-90% of UFO or UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) sightings/mysteries can be easily, logically, and readily, explained.  Its those 10-15% that CAN’T be explained that we should focus our efforts on trying to figure out.  And, when possible, the intel and space communities should declassify and release info, where appropriate and reasonable, to defuse some of the silly UFO conspiracy theories that have gotten out of control and are perpetrated by some of the silly UFO shows on tv these days.  Having spent a little time in the space community myself, I’m well aware of how many of those stories have gotten WAY out of hand.  So, getting FACTS out there always helps.  That said, there is still 10-15% of such sightings for which there is no, as of yet, logical/reasonable explanation.  A few years ago Leslie Kean put out a book called:  “UFOs.”  Its probably the best research of that 10-15% of unexplained UFOs/UAPs, at the unclassified level, on this topic that I’ve come across.  So, I recommend it, if you’re into this subject matter.

CIA’s harsh interrogation tactics crucial in bin Laden capture

Senate Democrats’ ‘torture report’ claims tactics played no role in finding al Qaeda leader

And their “crap” report (to quote former VP Dick Cheney) has been disproven by the facts, many of which were conveniently left out of that self-righteous, agenda-driven, blow hard Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) report.  This is an EXCELLENT breakdown of those facts, and how those “enhanced interrogation” methods helped bring an end to bin Laden and some of his associates.

Massive Media Fail: Only 29% Oppose CIA Enhanced Interrogation Methods

A Pew Research poll finds that the mainstream media and Democrats failed miserably in their coordinated attacks against the Bush Administration (and America) over Bush-era enhanced interrogation methods employed by the CIA against 3 terrorists to stop future terror attacks (and hunt down 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden).

When the overwhelming majority of Americans saw that ridiculous so-called “report” put together by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), outgoing Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), and their anti-CIA ideologically-driven staffers, Americans realized it really was just a political hit-piece, and NOT a serious, bi-partisan report.  They realized it really WAS “crap” (as former VP Dick Cheney called it), and Dianne and Mark lost ALL credibility.  So, this poll doesn’t surprise me one bit.  And, I’m right there with the majority on this one.