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!! 🙂
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted Iran’s satellite launch this week as “dangerous” and “provocative” and urged the international community to intervene. “For years, Iran has claimed its space program is purely peaceful and civilian,” Pompeo said in a statement Saturday. “The Trump Administration has never believed this fiction. This week’s launch of a military satellite by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, makes clear what we have said all along: Iran’s space program is neither peaceful nor entirely civilian.” Iran’s Revolutionary Guard launched its first satellite into space Wednesday, dramatically revealing what experts described as a secret military space program that could advance its ballistic missile development amid wider tensions between the Islamic Republic and the U.S. Using a mobile launcher at a new launch site, the Guard said it put the “Noor,” or “Light,” satellite into a low orbit circling the Earth. Iranian state TV late Wednesday showed footage of what it said was the satellite and said it had orbited the earth within 90 minutes. It said the satellite’s signals were being received. Pompeo said the launch proved that Iran was spreading falsehoods when it repeatedly claimed that its space program was peaceful. “The most recent military launch, which was developed and conducted in secret, proves that these statements were lies,” Pompeo said. The launch comes as Iran has abandoned all the limitations of its tattered nuclear deal with world powers that President Trump unilaterally withdrew America from in 2018. Trump’s decision set off a monthslong series of escalating attacks that culminated in a U.S. drone strike in January that killed a top Iranian general in Iraq, followed by Tehran launching ballistic missiles at American soldiers in Iraq. As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic and historically low oil prices, the missile launch may signal a new willingness to take risks by Iran. Trump himself later tweeted he told the U.S. Navy “ to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,” both raising energy prices and renewing the risk of conflict. Pompeo said the space launch signals Iran’s nuclear weapon aspirations. “This satellite launch vehicle and others launched before it incorporate technologies identical to, and interchangeable with, ballistic missiles, including longer-range systems such as intercontinental ballistic missiles [ICBMs],” Pompeo said in calling on the international community to reject Iran’s development of ballistic-missile capable technologies. “No country has ever pursued an ICBM capability except for the purpose of delivering nuclear weapons,” he said. The Revolutionary Guard caught world powers by surprise this week by launching the military satellite as part of a secret space program as Trump threatened to sink any Iranian vessel harassing U.S. forces. Iran has suffered one of the world’s worst outbreaks of COVID-19. Experts both inside and outside of Iran believe Tehran also is underreporting the scale of the coronavirus crisis. “Iran, of course, has seized the opportunity presented by COVID-19, which is what’s preoccupying Americans at the moment,” said Ariane Tabatabai, a Middle East fellow who studies Iran at the Washington-based German Marshall Fund. “In part, it’s trying to distract from its own botched response to the pandemic and partly, it sees the United States at its weakest in a while and so it’s using this to raise the cost of the maximum pressure campaign to force the U.S. to end it.” Pompeo called for support in extending the United Nations conventional arms embargo on Iran, which is set to expire this October. He also urged the European Union to sanction individuals and entities working on Iran’s missile programs. “When the Iranian people are suffering and dying from the coronavirus pandemic, it is regrettable to see the regime waste its resources and efforts on provocative military pursuits that do nothing to help the Iranian people,” Pompeo said.
This is a very disturbing development. Sec. Mike Pompeo (R) is a very smart diplomat with an extensive resume including having graduated #1 in his class from West Point, a stint on active duty in the Army as an officer, a law degree from Harvard, six terms in Congress, and was the former Director of the CIA. And, that’s just for starters. His assessment of Iran’s space intentions are spot on. With that in mind, we need to take clear and decisive action to make it clear to the wacky mullahs in Tehran that we are NOT weakened by ANY means…and let them know we will not tolerate their pursuit of nuclear weapons…ever.
Separately, and just as important.. This is yet another example of why it is absolutely critical we invest now in both our civilian space (i.e. NASA), and military space programs. Indeed, President Trump’s vision for a true “Space Force” is needed now more than ever. We posted an article about just that written by a retired Air Force 3-star general. To read that, type “Space Force” into the Search field to the right and it’ll bring that article up.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., confirmed on Tuesday that he met with Iran’s foreign minister, arguing that “it’s dangerous not to talk to adversaries.” The two met at the Munich Security conference amid tough rhetoric between President Trump and Iran’s leadership. Murphy claimed he told Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that Congress is also responsible for setting U.S. foreign policy. “Many of us have met w Zarif over the years, under Obama and Trump,” Murphy tweeted. “So though no one in Congress can negotiate with Zarif or carry official U.S. government messages, there is value in having a dialogue.” According to his tweets, Murphy also urged Zarif to control any proxies that might attack U.S. forces, as well as release American citizens unlawfully detained in the nation. Murphy’s tweets confirmed an earlier report that Murphy and other Democratic senators held a secret meeting with Zarif. It’s unclear which other senators were involved. In a Medium post, Murphy expanded on his meeting and clarified that he wasn’t trying to sidestep the administration’s foreign policy. “I don’t know whether my visit with Zarif will make a difference. I’m not the President or the Secretary of State — I’m just a rank and file U.S. Senator. I cannot conduct diplomacy on behalf of the whole of the U.S. government, and I don’t pretend to be in a position to do so,” Murphy wrote. “But if Trump isn’t going to talk to Iran, then someone should. And Congress is a co-equal branch of government, responsible along with the Executive for setting foreign policy. A lack of dialogue leaves nations guessing about their enemy’s intentions, and guessing wrong can lead to catastrophic mistakes.” Murphy’s chamber recently voted on a war powers resolution aimed at reining in Trump’s actions against Iran. The resolution received a majority vote but ultimately failed to garner the two-thirds majority needed to overcome Trump’s veto. The meeting came as the Trump administration seeks to increasingly isolate Iran through the re-imposition of sanctions under its “maximum pressure campaign” on the Islamic republic. Murphy has been a harsh critic of the administration’s policy toward Iran and said in a Medium post that he had raised the U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian general in Iraq and told Zarif that despite differences, Congress and the administration are united in sending a message that any Iran-backed attack on American troops in Iraq would be “an unacceptable escalation.” The senator also said he had raised Iran’s support for Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen and Americans held prisoner in Iran.
What Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) has done here is mind-boggling, and sinister at best. The President and the Executive Branch of government are responsible for setting and maintaining our nation’s foreign policy. It is NOT something shared with the legislative branch. Sen. Murphy knows this, despite his disingenuous comments to the contrary. To be clear… He is consciously, proactively undermining the Trump Administration’s foreign policy efforts with Iran because he disagrees with them, and he’s a Dem that doesn’t like Trump. It’s that simple. At best, Sen. Murphy is in violation of the Logan Act, and should be censured by the Senate. At worst, he is undermining our national security, and might be engaging in treasonous activities and should be criminally charged accordingly. Sen. Murphy has NO business doing what he’s doing, and has no authority to be doing it whatsoever. Yes, there ARE three co-equal branches of government, Senator. But, they each have their separate roles and responsibilities and those roles and responsibilities are clearly laid out in our Constitution, Sir. Perhaps you should read it. The conduct of foreign policy resides solely in the purview of the executive branch. Period. Sen. Murphy is a legislator, and someone needs to tell him to stay in his lane. What a self-serving, sanctimonious, sleazy tool…
An Iranian student who was denied entry to the United States on arrival and deported this week, amid objections from top Democrats and left-wing activists, has family ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah, a Department of Homeland Security official said. Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein was denied entry to the U.S. and detained on Sunday when he arrived on a student visa at Boston Logan International Airport. His detention sparked outrage from activists, who flooded the airport demanding his release. It also drew objections from Northeastern University, where Dehghani was due to be enrolled, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “Shahab Dehghani is an Iranian student with a valid F1 visa, returning to finish his education. CBP already held him overnight,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. tweeted. “His deportation must be halted, and we must fight the Trump administration’s xenophobic policies.” A Massachusetts district court judge granted Dehghani a stay from deportation, but Customs and Border Protection (CBP) deported him minutes later — a DHS official told Fox News Wednesday that he had already been put on the plane when the stay was issued. In a statement Tuesday, CBP said that “the issuance of a visa … does not guarantee entry to the United States” and said that Dehghani had been “deemed inadmissible and processed for expedited removal and return to his place of departure. “During today’s hearing, the court ruled that the matter is now moot as the subject was never admitted into the United States, the subject is no longer in custody, and the court does not have jurisdiction to order his return,” the statement said. A CBP spokesperson said that the agency was not at liberty to discuss an individual’s case due to the Privacy Act, but noted that “CBP officers are charged with enforcing not only immigration and customs laws, but they also enforce over 400 laws for 40 other agencies and have stopped thousands of violators of U.S. law. “
You know its an election year when someone like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) whines and grandstands about something like this. This kid has ties to Hamas and the IRGC. CBP was well within its right to deport this guy. So, kudos to them for doing their job protecting us. Shame on Lizzy for her self-righteous bs. She couldn’t care less about our safety. She just trying to play to her very small base by taking a silly pot shot at Trump over this. Typical.. For more, click on the text above.