NSA

NSA Finalizes $6.7 Billion in Classified Tech Contracts

The National Security Agency is quietly beginning work on a new series of three communications contracts valued at $6.7 billion. Details are sparse because the classified contracts—collectively called Greenway—were secretly awarded to telecommunications giant AT&T and defense contractors General Dynamics and ManTech International over the past year. Redacted legal documents following a protest of one of the contracts in March indicate the NSA’s goal is to “technically evolve” its IT environment. NSA’s Greenway program is a continuation of its classified Groundbreaker program, which dates back to then-NSA Director Michael Hayden’s decision to outsource the agency’s IT operations to industry. At the time, Hayden said the contract would allow NSA to “refocus assets on the agency’s core missions of providing foreign signals intelligence and protecting U.S. national security-related information systems by turning over several information technology infrastructure services for industry’s purview.” NSA awarded the first $5 billion Groundbreaker contract in 2001 to a joint alliance of contractors called the Eagle Alliance, led by Computer Science Corp., which became CSRA. The same Eagle Alliance companies, which included Northrop Grumman, held the business for well over a decade before the NSA decided to break the Groundbreaker program up into smaller pieces, resulting in Greenway. As Nextgov reported in September 2017, CSRA won the first Greenway contract worth up to $2.4 billion over the next decade. The company announced the award through a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, where it acknowledged the value and duration of the contract without naming the customer agency or contract’s name. Months later, a redacted decision by the Government Accountability Office on a protest of the contract revealed CSRA’s portion of Greenway is called “Global Enterprise Services.” The documents state “Global Enterprise Services” will focus “on services on a global scale and more virtual in nature.” Following the contract, CSRA was purchased by General Dynamics, a northern Virginia-based defense contractor. In January 2018, AT&T won the second Greenway contract, called “Regional Infrastructure Services I.” AT&T’s award became public following two protests lobbied against it by competitors DXC Technology and Enterprise Services LLC. According to GAO, Regional Infrastructure Services I has a maximum value of $3.3 billion over 10 years. According to the redacted documents, AT&T will “operate, maintain and technically evolve” the NSA and Central Security Service’s IT environment. ManTech International captured the third and final Greenway phase, called “Regional Infrastructure Services II.” As reported by Washington Technology, ManTech announced the contract—worth up to $1 billion over 10 years—in a May 1 earnings call. Little else is known about the deal, although the redacted GAO documents state Greenway’s Regional Infrastructure Services will provide “services more localized and physical in nature and provisioned at specific zones throughout the world.”

Inside the government’s secret NSA program to target terrorists

Relentless attacks on American military personnel at the height of the Iraq war made the U.S. intelligence community confront a dire problem: They needed real-time intelligence to take Al Qaeda off the battlefield and dismantle its bomb-making factories. This realization was the start of a highly secretive program, developed by the National Security Agency, to put NSA specialists on the battlefield in order to send “near real-time” intelligence to the troops so they could avoid ambushes and root out insurgents. For the first time, going in depth with Fox News, senior NSA leadership is speaking publicly about that program, called the Real Time Regional Gateway or RT-RG. “Starting in 2005, we started seeing a big uptick in casualties caused by IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and ambushes,” NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett told Fox News. The RT-RG program created to combat those attacks, he said, “was really a complete change in how we provided signals intelligence support to the tactical war fighter.” The program, parts of which were classified until now, has dispatched thousands of NSA experts into war zones since 9/11. It has put those experts – from an agency most-known for its controversial surveillance programs – at grave risk across multiple theatres. But in the process, officials say, RT-RG has saved the lives of fellow Americans. Col. Bob Harms, one of the first people on the ground for the NSA at Baghdad’s Camp Victory, said the goal was to “get in front of our adversaries.” Exclusive images shared with Fox News from Camp Victory show the basic set-up, which took traditional streams of intelligence and married it up with information gathered from raids – for instance, taking satellite images and combining that with on-the-ground information about an insurgent’s movements and contacts, to pinpoint threats. Some of the most useful information came from captured operatives – information known in the intel world as “pocket litter.” Harms said this included “pattern of life” details including “when do they go to sleep, where do they go to sleep, where do they work and those types of things.” The NSA’s goal was to compress the timeline for crunching all this information from a period of weeks or days, to just hours or minutes. Think of it like a phone app — but instead of giving directions, it’s flagging threats. “[Battlefield commanders] would actually feed us information … so that we could give them a roadmap to the next site,” Harms explained. Ledgett said the program harnessed big data, in a way that it could be used immediately on the battlefield. Ledgett said RT-RG “integrated hundreds of pieces of information,” and then software was developed to draw connections that could “put things on graphical displays” so it was easy for analysts and operators to understand. “It might connect something like a phone number to a location, to an activity and display that to an analyst who could then, via radio, contact a convoy and say, ‘Hey looks like there’s an ambush waiting for you at this point — go left or go right or take an alternate route,’” he said. Asked about collateral damage – the accidental killing of civilians — Ledgett said the program reduced those numbers because targeting data was drawn from multiple sources. No further specifics were offered. Retired Gen. Jack Keane, a Fox News military analyst, said the program “gave a tool to brigade commanders, who were spread out all over the battlefield, something that they never had before.” It also took NSA experts out of the office and placed them in the field, to work side-by-side with special operations. “We needed to be coffee-breath close in order to have that shared situational understanding,” Harms said. The program extended from Iraq to Afghanistan, and then other conflict zones that the NSA will not publicly identify.

Some outstanding journalism by veteran award-winning intelligence reporter, Catherine Herridge.    🙂

Bill Clinton’s neglect left NSA ‘brain dead’ as al Qaeda plotted 9/11 attacks

President Clinton left the National Security Agency, the nation’s electronic eavesdropper, in shambles at the very moment al Qaeda was in the final planning stages of carrying out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and the Pentagon. Retired Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the NSA director at the time, describes the decline in a memoir, writing an insider’s view of an agency that the government at one time refused to acknowledge even existed. One day in January 2000, the NSA’s clunky, aging computer network became so overburdened that it crashed. The NSA, he says, was “brain dead.” The “coma” crisis lasted for several days as new computer hardware was flown into Fort Meade, Maryland, and techies shut down every node in order to reboot the nation’s largest spy machine. But it was a symptom of something far more serious at the NSA, and for the country. “The outside world had passed it by in many areas,” Mr. Hayden says in “Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror.” “It was going deaf.” “The computer crash was the perfect metaphor for an agency desperately in need of change,” he writes. “Antiquated computers were a problem. But the reality was actually worse. NSA was in desperate need of reinvention.” In a dawning age of encrypted, fiber optic and mass communications, coupled with rising global Islamic terrorism, the NSA was losing a game called SIGINT, or signals intelligence. “NSA had experienced years of declining budgets, a shrinking workforce, an aging infrastructure and little new hiring,” the agency’s former director says. “Running hard just to keep up, we had let the network become so tangled that no one really seemed to know how it worked. There was no real wiring diagram anyone could consult.” Mr. Hayden, who went on to become CIA director under President George W. Bush, is the second top intelligence official to write about the Clinton 1990s as a dark age for American spying. Mr. Hayden does not directly criticize Mr. Clinton, or any other politician, for the NSA’s fall into disrepair. But not so George J. Tenet, who was Mr. Clinton’s CIA director. He stayed on in the early Bush administration, during the Sept. 11 attacks, and began rebuilding operations at Langley, Virginia, while jousting with critics who blamed the agency for not penetrating the plot beforehand. Mr. Tenet’s memoir, “At the Center of the Storm,” stated that the CIA was in “Chapter 11” by the end of the 1990s and the White House refused to help. “You can’t toss spies at al Qaeda when you don’t have them, especially when you lack the recruiting and training infrastructure to get them and grow them,” he wrote. “The fact is that by the mid- to late 1990s American intelligence was in Chapter 11, and neither Congress nor the executive branch did much about it.” Of the NSA under Mr. Clinton, Mr. Tenet said: “You don’t simply tell NSA to give you more signals intelligence when their capabilities are crumbling and they are ‘going deaf,’ unable to monitor critical voice communications.” Who is to blame for Sept. 11 is back in the public square, compliments of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Well, of course Al Qaeda was to blame for that.  But, there is no doubt, we were caught with our pants down.  As someone who spent many years in the intelligence community (IC), I’m well aware of how the IC was not given the necessary attention, funding, manpower, and infrastructure necessary to do it’s job.  Then, when 9/11 happened, it was left holding the bag of blame by cowardly politicians.  Veteran defense columnist Rowan Scarborough, rightly points out here that the demise of our intelligence gathering agencies can be traced back to the presidency of Bill Clinton who famously said he “loathed” the military when he was in college.  He, and Hillary, definitely brought that attitude to the White House in January of 1993.  To read the rest of this outstanding article by Rowan, click on the text above.

Appeals court reverses ruling that found NSA program illegal

A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the Obama administration in a dispute over the bulk collection of phone data on millions of Americans. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday reversed a lower court ruling that said the program likely violates the U.S. Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches. But the impact of the ruling is uncertain, now that Congress has passed legislation designed to replace the program over the next few months. The court sent the case back for a judge to determine what further details about the program the government must provide. The uproar over the surveillance program began in 2013 when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details to news organizations.

I know this will probably irk my libertarian friends, but this is a good decision.  The President, regardless of who it is, needs to be able to have these tools at his disposal.  This decision upholds his ability to use this specific tool in the interest of national security.  So, while it may be moot at the moment, it may not be at some point later on down the road.

NSA Director: China can damage US power grid

The head of the NSA issued a blunt warning Thursday to lawmakers: China can shut down the United States.

Our politicians need to start taking the threat that China poses, very seriously.  Adm. Michael Rogers, the Director of the NSA (DIRNSA), is spot on here.  So, kudos to him and his staff for making their case before lawmakers earlier today.  We need to be proactive, both defensively and offensively, in thwarting China’s cyber attack efforts….or we could become a third world country over night.

A Thumbs-up for NSA Internet Spying on Foreigners

A Thumbs-up for NSA Internet Spying on Foreigners

A smart decision…  After all, foreigners here in America do NOT have the same rights that we enjoy here.  They do NOT have a right to privacy.  Its truly breathtaking how dumb some of these so-called “activists” are.  The NSA, CIA, DIA, and other (“alphabet soup”) agencies of the Intelligence Community (IC) exist to protect us.  Their job is to collect intel (i.e. useful information) on foreigners, especially those from countries that MIGHT do us harm, and get that intel to our decision makers (i.e. the President and federal legislators in Congress).  So, this is perfectly reasonable, and makes all the common sense in the world.  Ever since that little weasel Snowden violated his non-disclosure agreement last year (for which he should be brought up on charges of treason and executed), all hell has reigned down on NSA.  And so the NSA and the rest of IC have been the target of non-stop abuse, and downright persecution, from the media and politicians piling on the band wagon.  Sure, there probably could be some better processes put in place to ensure that the civil liberties of American citizens (within reason) are respected, and those charged with oversight could probably do a better job.  I think MOST people would agree with that.  However, the greater picture is that there are thousands of intel professionals out there every day working hard to make sure another 9/11 doesn’t occur.  And the only way for that to happen, is for us to step back and let them do their job (instead of hounding them and tying their hands behind their back)…and maybe thank them, as we stop at our local coffee shop and get a latte…without getting blown up.  We’re a society full of self-centered, and self-righteous spoiled brats.  Its nauseating..

HAYDEN: Freedom vs. security debate with Greenwald like Hockey Night in Canada

HAYDEN: Freedom vs. security debate with Greenwald like Hockey Night in Canada

An EXCELLENT OP/ED by retired four star Air Force General Michael Hayden.  He is a former director of Central Intelligence (CIA) and also a former Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA).  With all the current two-dimensional bumper sticker discussion of NSA collection efforts, its refreshing to see someone who understands the importance of what NSA does, and the contributions it is making to protect those liberties we have.  Its ironic that those very liberties we value are used daily to attack the methods used by intel agencies like NSA.  Only in America.  And, that’s ok!   Its healthy that there IS a debate, as long as BOTH sides are afforded the opportunity to fairly make their case. Unfortunately, the anti-NSA side has been the only one we’ve been really hearing in the media, and in the discourse of our federally elected politicians on BOTH sides of the aisle, which is never a good thing. Nor is it fair. But, we must not forget that the NSA/CSS employs thousands of civilians and military personnel who are loyal, dedicated, and hard working patriots who care about their jobs and believe in the work they do for the rest of us.  Sure there are the occasional fools (or tools), who ruin it for the rest.  And those less than 1% are who the liberal media zero in on, and parade on tv.  But, by and large, its a quality organization working to protect us from all sorts of threats.  We should be grateful they’re there working 24/7, 365, to protect us.  

Obama to call for end to NSA’s bulk data collection

Obama to call for end to NSA’s bulk data collection

Interesting..  I’ll have to dig a little deeper to see the pros/cons of this.  At this point..just passing this on.  For the record, I am NOT part of the jump all over NSA crowd.  They have a very important mission, and the dedication and efforts of the folks who work at NSA have thwarted countless numbers of attacks on U.S. soil since 911.   So, while I get that its politically popular to beat them up.  I think that pendulum has swung WAY too far, and that NSA has become the fall guy for BAD leadership at the White House.

Snowden: NSA targeted Chinese tech giant Huawei

Snowden: NSA targeted Chinese tech giant Huawei

Here is a novel thought..  IF, what that sniveling little weasel Snowden says is true, and IF our NSA targeted a Chinese tech firm…then GOOD!  Its about flippin time!  The Chinese have been stealing our tech secrets for ages.  Their newest fighter jet is the product of stolen stealth technologies from our Air Force F-35 fighter jet.  In the technology race, the Chinese are kicking our butts..and they’re not playing nice.  So, its about time we fought back.  Like I said, IF the NSA is doing this, then GOOD!  Its doing its job.