Closing Thought–30Jun17

Spy vs Spy!

That’s Bond– James Bond

Since I was a teenager I have loved me some spy novels and such….but you know real-life is just as interesting as the fiction stuff.

Remember a few years back when the US caught all those Russian sleeper agents…..one was a sexy red head that could make a dead guy write bad checks.

Then there are stories of the assassinations around the world…especially the ex-KGB guy that was poisoned in the UK with his tea…..

Then I read the report of a Brit spy that was found dead stuffed into a sports bag…..

After the dead body of an MI6 spy was found locked in a sports bag in London, police said the death was “probably an accident” – but British and American spy agencies have secret intelligence suggesting Gareth Williams may have been assassinated over highly sensitive work on Russia.

A British spy whose naked body was found decomposing in a padlocked sports bag in his bathtub is among at least 14 people suspected of having been killed by Russian assassins on British soil, BuzzFeed News can reveal.

Source: The Death Of The Spy In The Bag Is Linked To Russia By Secret Intelligence Files

See what I mean…fascinating.

My question is how does a dead guy accidentally lock himself into a sports bag?

Any answers out there?

Time to say bye for the day…..hope you will join tomorrow for more stuff…..chuq

Military Intelligence (Not The Oxymoron)

These days in the news and opinion blogs we see a lot about the CIA, NSA, etc…..has anyone asked…where did all this stuff begin?

Yep, another Professor’s Classroom…..

There have always been spies….those individuals that were employed to get info, vital info, on the enemy……but military intelligence came into its own during the years of World War One……

Near the beginning of the Revolutionary War, George Washington purportedly said, “The necessity of procuring good intelligence is apparent and need not be further urged.” Even in the 18th Century the importance of intelligence collection and analysis was understood. Today commanders often take for granted the fact that they will have robust intelligence assets and organizations to inform their decision making process, supporting them in ways Washington never could have envisioned. But as James L. Gilbert points out in his book, World War I and the Origins of U.S. Military Intelligence this was not always the case. George Washington who is often credited as the United States first great spymaster ran several spy rings during the revolutionary war including the famous Culper Ring.  The Culper Ring is credited, among other things with providing Washington early warning of British activity and helping identify a British spy working with Benedict Arnold. Washington’s intelligence collection abilities were so good that an unnamed British Intelligence Officer is often quoted as saying, ““Washington did not really outfight the British. He simply out-spied us.” It would take the U.S. Army almost 150 years to comply with George Washington’s urging and create a permanent Intelligence apparatus.

Source: World War I and the Origins of U.S. Military Intelligence | RealClearDefense

Now you know the “rest of the story”……..

Class dismissed!

Spies Like Us

A funny movie from the 80’s…..Ackroyd and Chase…..but intel gathering is not a funny business…..dangerous and unpredictable……and NO one looks like Sean Connery or Roger Moore.

But when I was younger I was thrilled by spy novels…Ian Fleming, LeCarre, et al……but my fave in those days were the pulp novels written by Edward S. Aarons whose character Sam Durell was always fighting bad guys and chasing beautiful women….

Then when I joined the Army I volunteered for Military Intelligence….thus began my career of an analyst…..

As you can tell Spies have always fascinated me….so I ask…who were the 10 most famous spies?

In and out of wartime, spies play an essential role in information gathering for their nations (and, on occasion, as double-spies for other nations). The spies listed here are the most famous in history.

Source: Top 10 Famous Spies – Listverse

History can be fun and it is always informative and educational.

HUMINT?

I know….what the Hell is HUMINT?

First, in my days with military intelligence (no not the oxymoron) we dealt with human intelligence(HUMINT)…..that is intel gathered from human resources….or as defined by the CIA……

Human intelligence (HUMINT) is defined as any information that can be gathered from human sources.

The National Clandestine Service (NCS) is the branch of the CIA responsible for the collection of HUMINT. The NCS is charged with strengthening national security and foreign policy objectives through the clandestine collection of HUMINT.

HUMINT is collected through:

  • Clandestine acquisition of photography, documents, and other material
  • Overt collection by people overseas
  • Debriefing of foreign nationals and U.S. citizens who travel abroad
  • Official contacts with foreign governments

The NCS officers responsible for collecting HUMINT are called Operations Officers. They focus on acquiring information from individuals with access to vital foreign intelligence on the full range of national security issues.

To be successful, NCS officers must understand one of the most complex aspects of running assets — human nature. Emotions, intentions and motivations differ from person-to-person and change overtime. Understanding people, with all of their complexities, is crucial to the business of running assets to collect HUMINT.

Collection methods can take place in a variety of ways, including in-person meetings. Some HUMINT operations are short in duration, while others take years. Through it all, NCS officers must understand and assess the intentions and motivations of their assets, as well as the authenticity of the intelligence they provide. The most successful HUMINT sources provide volumes of intelligence responsive to Intelligence Community requirements.

Okay, does that help?

This technique was all but abandoned when Reagan came to power….his CIA chief, Turner, did not place much confidence in HUMINT….he thought that SIGINT would be a better place to put the funding.

He was wrong and since those days we are struggling to find human resources for intel gathering…we lost a whole generation of 2nd generation Americans that spoke these languages they way they are suppose to be spoken not from some school.

WE have yet to return to the adequate state of our HUMINT that we had before 1980…..and that is the cause of many of the problems we are having with our intel gathering.

I Spy

NO!  This is not a rehash of the ’60’s TV show with Bill Cosby(never was a fan of that show)……

By now every American has heard of the CIA….and the NSA….and even the ultra secret DIA…..but do you think that is all there is to the intel agencies?

If so then you would be mistaken.

There is an even a more secret agency than any of the ones you thought you knew.

Ever heard of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency?

Of course you have not…that is until now.

If you’re one of the countless Americans who was distraught to learn of the revelations made by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, the mere idea that there might be yet another agency out there — perhaps just as powerful and much more intrusive —  should give you goosebumps.

Foreign Policyreports that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or NGA, is an obscure spy agency former President Barack Obama had a hard time wrapping his mind around back in 2009. But as the president grew fond of drone warfare, finding a way to launch wars without having to go through Congress for the proper authorization, the NGA also became more relevant. Now, President Donald Trump is expected to further explore the multibillion-dollar surveillance network.

Source: More Dangerous Than the NSA? The Massive Spy Agency You Haven’t Heard Of

There is so much more to our intel apparatus than what you see on cheap TV shows….and now you know a bit more than you did when you started this post.

Now do you feel safer or what?

You are welcome!

The Walls Have Ears

I begin my day at 0100 hours…..I read and post as I finish my research.  Most days I have two posts waiting for the earlier ones I post and then I set about getting my stuff together for the rest of the day.

And this is what happens when I take the weekend off…..

Today is Monday and the big news is this wiretapping accusation by the man in the White House….our fearless leader is a paranoid tool….and what better way to try and change the conversation fro his and his boyz involvement with the Russians and than a new scandal in the making.

Before I start let me say that I do not say this NEVER happened but I am a bit suspicious at the timing of this revelation.

President Trump started his Saturday with a series of extraordinary allegations against his predecessor. In a series of early-morning tweets, Trump accused Barack Obama of having his “wires tapped” in Trump Tower during the election campaign, the Guardian reports. “Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Trump tweeted. In follow-up tweets, he claimed a court order had rejected the alleged surveillance, wondered if it was “legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election” and said: “How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

“I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!” Trump said in yet another tweet. He didn’t provide any evidence or make it clear what report he was basing the accusations on, though the Hill notes that Breitbart reported Friday on radio host Mark Levin’s claim that the Obama administration used “police state” tactics to undermine Trump.

Of course the Obama team has denied all such allegations…….

A spokesperson for Barack Obama says President Trump’s accusations about Obama wiretapping Trump Tower are “simply false,” NBC News reports. “Neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen,” Kevin Lewis says. The Obama camp wasn’t the only one denying the veracity of Trump’s claim, which came in a flurry of tweets Saturday morning and was presented without evidence. A senior US official says Trump didn’t speak to anyone in the government who would have knowledge of a wiretap. And a former deputy national security adviser says presidents don’t have the power to order wiretaps on citizens.

Nancy Pelosi responded to Trump’s tweets by calling him the “deflector-in-chief” and demanding an independent investigation into his alleged Russia connections, USA Today reports. According to CBS News, Howard Dean pointed out that if Trump Tower was actually wiretapped, it means a judge found probable cause of Trump being involved in something criminal. And Paul Ryan says he doesn’t believe the Obama administration was conducting surveillance on Trump. But Lindsey Graham said he was concerned about the accusations and promised “to get to the bottom of this” during a town hall meeting Saturday. In recent days, right-wing media has started accusing Obama of leading a “silent coup” to take down Trump.

This is starting to smell like a “Fire” moment that I have been waiting for…..the alt-Right has embraced this so-called incident with both hands….I expect to see the blogosphere blow up with these accusations.

But what promoted this outrage and accusations from the Prez?

So where did President Trump’s bombshell accusation that his predecessor tapped his phones come from? The White House tells the Fact Checker blog at the Washington Post that he’s relying on reports “from BBC, Heat Street, New York Times, Fox News, among others.” After an analysis, the Post finds that the two most important ones are from the right-leaning Heat Street and the BBC. (Other reports have cited an article at Breitbart News, but it relies on the Heat Street piece.) The two articles say that US intelligence officials went to the FISA court (which deals with intelligence matters) because they wanted to investigate possible activity between two banks in Russia and a computer server in Trump Tower (which, to make matters more confusing, might actually be located in Philadelphia). Excerpts:

  • Heat Street: “Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.”
  • BBC: It says Justice Department lawyers went to the FISA court. “Their first application, in June, was rejected outright by the judge. They returned with a more narrowly drawn order in July and were rejected again. Finally, before a new judge, the order was granted, on 15 October, three weeks before election day.”

Obama’s DNI has called this a falsehood (I would expect him to do so…so this is nothing new)……you would think that the leak atmosphere in DC these days it would a simple thing to find the FISA warrant, right?

The Fact Checker’s assessment? Even if the stories are accurate, and that hasn’t been confirmed, they do not say that President Obama was behind the request. Plus, they involve a computer server, not the tapping of phone lines. And, finally, they “do not back up the administration’s revised claim of politically motivated investigations.” As a result, Trump gets the blog’s worst rating of Four Pinocchios.

The man who was the director of national intelligence until January 20 wasted little time in shooting down President Trump’s claim that former President Obama’s administration wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election, reports the AP. “There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, as a candidate or against his campaign,” James Clapper told Meet the Press on Sunday, shortly after the White House demanded a congressional investigation into the issue. Clapper says he would have been aware of a “FISA court order on something like this. Absolutely, I can deny it.”

Now fearless leader is calling on Congress to get involved…..something they are good at…wasting time and money on investigations…..

The White House demanded on Sunday that Congress investigate whether former President Obama abused his executive powers in connection with the 2016 presidential election, reports the AP. President Trump leveled that claim Saturday when he accused his predecessor of tapping telephones at Trump Tower. But Trump offered no supporting evidence, a spokesman for Obama denied the claim as “simply false,” and lawmakers in both parties asked for proof. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement Sunday that reports “concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling.”

“President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016,” Spicer said. It was unclear what reports Spicer was referring to, and what prompted Trump to make the allegation. Spicer ended the statement by saying that neither the White House nor Trump will comment further “until such oversight is conducted.” In a series of morning tweets Saturday, Trump suggested Obama was behind a politically motivated plot to upend his campaign. He compared the alleged events to “Nixon/Watergate” and “McCarthyism!” And he called Obama a “Bad (or sick) guy.”

Is that really a good idea, Mr. President?

This could backfire on him.

Like I have said….stranger things have happened….but this sounds like an attempt to change the tone of the news…a diversion from all the Russian noise these days.

Instead of blaming Obama maybe Trump should look to his VP….whose side is he really on?

See what happens when I step away from the keyboard?  Sorry but Pence has a look about him….I would not trust him one inch…just saying…..

News Update:  FBI Director James Comey has waded into the controversy surrounding President Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped by Barack Obama last fall, the New York Times reports. Officials say Comey has asked the Justice Department to publicly reject Trump’s explosive claim, both because he believes it is false and because he believes it suggests the FBI was engaged in illegal behavior. The Times‘ sources say senior FBI officials are also worried that if the public believes there was a court-approved Trump wiretap, they might expect them to find solid evidence of Russian interference in last year’s election.

You just cannot make this stuff up…..this is looking more and more like reality TV…..what can we expect from a star of that genre?

Will There Be Freedom Of The Press?

Praise the internet gods!  My connectivity has returned……(for now)…….

In the past year there has been an uproar about “fake news”….both sides claim the other is the fake and no one but them can know what is true and what is false.  Of course when this type of debate rages there will always be one side or the other that claims something about the freedom of press, which usually includes that old thing about free speech.

I wrote a post earlier about “free speech” and what it means……

Source: That Thing Called “Free Speech” – In Saner Thought

The 1st amendment and the 2nd are about the only ones that most Americans know by heart (that may be a bit of a stretch)…..but just in case….

The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to gather, publish, and distribute information and ideas without government restriction; this right encompasses freedom from prior restraints on publication and freedom from Censorship.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, in part, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the press.” The courts have long struggled to determine whether the Framers of the Constitution intended to differentiate press freedom from speech freedom. Most have concluded that freedom of the press derives from freedom of speech. Although some cases and some legal scholars, including Justice Potter Stewart, of the U.S. Supreme Court, have advocated special press protections distinct from those accorded to speech, most justices believe that the Freedom of the Press Clause has no significance independent of the Freedom of Speech Clause.

Okay I got you caught up a bit……

The reason I brought up the quick lesson was because of something that is happening….looks like the FBI will have an easy time spying on journalists…..

Secret FBI rules allow agents to obtain journalists’ phone records with approval from two internal officials — far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures.

The classified rules, obtained by The Intercept and dating from 2013, govern the FBI’s use of national security letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. They have previously been released only in heavily redacted form.

Media advocates said the documents show that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants before accessing journalists’ information.

Source: Secret Rules Make It Pretty Easy for the FBI to Spy on Journalists

This does NOTHING to protect the concept of a “Free Press”….and Obama help this process before he left office……

Source: The Birth Of The “Ministry Of Truth” – In Saner Thought

Do you feel much safer now?