The Intelligence Community Inspector General office is the place where spies and spook contractors who discover wrongdoing are supposed to be able to confidentially report their suspicions and know that they'll be investigated and acted upon. Dan Meyer, who is in charge of liasing with whistleblowers is now prohibited from talking with whistleblowers, from briefing agencies or congress or send out the office's newsletter. He has been stripped of his deputy and staff. Read the rest
A comically sycophantic outcome at Harvard.
Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell earlier Thursday announced his resignation as a senior fellow at Harvard over its decision to invite Manning. Mike Pompeo, the agency's current director, also canceled a speaking engagement there Thursday night.
"I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a visiting fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility," Kennedy School Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf said in a statement posted on the university's website early Friday
Manning: "The CIA determines what is said and is not taught at Harvard."
The contrast between the two is striking: Morell is an advocate of torture and extrajudicial killings; Manning exposed them. Read the rest
Psychologist James Mitchell is the self-described "architect" of the CIA's torture program (a consulting gig that netted him a cool $80m at taxpayer expense), along with his partner John "Bruce" Jessen -- they're the pair who oversaw black-site torture programs that killed and maimed people who'd been convicted of no crime by any court, anywhere in the world. Read the rest
Michael from Muckrock writes, "The 'friendly' rivalry between America's East and West Coasts extends from hip-hop feuds to pizza bagels, and recently unearthed memos regarding California champagne from the CIA's declassified archive shows that even the Agency isn't immune." Read the rest
For four years, N313P, a modified Boeing 737 bizjet, flew people who'd been kidnapped by the CIA to secret torture-camps; it's only got 5,942 hours on it, and sports a customized seven-tank fuel reserve for long-haul flights. It's yours for a mere $27.5M. Read the rest
At SXSW, CIA Senior Collection Analyst David Clopper revealed a series of tabletop games developed as training materials for CIA internal training exercises: Collection, a Pandemic-style crisis-resolution game; Collection Deck, a Magic: The Gathering style intel-collection game; and Kingpin: The Hunt for El Chapo, designed "to train analysts who might work with law enforcement and other partners around world to find a well-armed, well-defended, well-protected bad guy." Read the rest
Wikileaks' seismic Vault 7 release didn't follow the usual Wikileaks procedure: perhaps in response to earlier criticism, the organization redacted many of the files prior to their release, cutting names of CIA operatives and the sourcecode for the cyber-weapons the CIA had developed, which exploit widely used mobile devices, embedded systems, and operating systems. Read the rest
Wikileaks posted a tranche of documents Wednesday under the name Vault7, detailing CIA activities, capabilities and ambitions.
The #Vault7 hashtag is furious with activity as activists, journalists and perhaps the CIA itself combs through the release for hot topics. Some standout claims and exposures:
Gaping security holes in all major operating systems [Wikileaks]
The CIA is interested in hacking your car [Mashable]
CIA can basically hack "almost anything" (it can bypass Signal, Telegram, Whatsapp and Confide encryption by hacking the handset)
The CIA Hacking Tools now thought to be publicly proliferated and in wide use [Wikileaks]
CIA Org Chart
Independent authentication of the documents is underway, reports USA Today.
Wikileaks said the documents are from the CIA Center for Cyber Intelligence and represent a new series of leaks code-named "Vault 7." The website says the CIA "lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal," more than several hundred million lines of code, providing "the entire hacking capacity of the CIA." Wikileaks says the archive appears to have been circulated among former government hackers and contractors, one of whom provided WikiLeaks with portions of it. The covert hacking program taps into Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows and even Samsung TVs, which can be turned into covert microphones, the website says.
The stuff about smart TVs infested with CIA malware is the most striking: specifically Orwellian, albeit covertly. You can put a tape over your webcam, but the microphones? Read the rest
Federal Bureau of Investigations chief James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper today indicated the FBI and ODNI support a recent CIA assessment that Russia committed internet attacks targeted at America's elections, with the intent in part being to help Donald Trump win. Read the rest
The New York Times indulged a bit of wishful thinking last week when it reported on Trump's surprise that his likely secretary of defense Marine Corps General James Mattis thought torture didn't work, suggesting that this meant that Trump would abandon his campaign promise to torture the shit out of anyone he didn't like, because if it's good enough for ISIS, it's good enough for Trump. Read the rest
Former Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency chief Michael Hayden, now a private security consultant and George Mason University professor, writes in the Washington Post that a Trump presidency would be tantamount to handing America over to Russian power interests. Read the rest
Lufti al-Arabi, a Tunisian man who was arrested in Pakistan while studying at university, spent 13 years in the CIA's notorious "Salt Pit" prison (AKA "Detention Site COBALT") in Afghanistan, enduring incredible, crippling torture, before finally being released without charge, comment, or compensation in 2015; in his first interview since his release, he tells Human Rights Watch about the inhumane tortures of the Salt Pit, including some tortures that were apparently omitted from the CIA's suppressed torture report to the US Senate. Read the rest
For nearly a decade, the CIA kidnapped people from over 20 countries, held them without trial or counsel, and viciously tortured them, sometimes to death -- but the only person to serve jail time for the program is the man who blew the whistle on it, and that's thanks in part to Obama's insistence that "Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past." Read the rest
“We appreciate that there are times when secrecy around a government warrant is needed,” Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post Thursday. “But based on the many secrecy orders we have received, we question whether these orders are grounded in specific facts that truly demand secrecy. To the contrary, it appears that the issuance of secrecy orders has become too routine.”
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What do you do if you're a spy and you want to make untraceable transfers of dirty money without having your funding of your country's nominal enemies exposed to the voters whose money you're spending? You hire Mossack Fonseca to open a numbered account in an offshore tax-haven, naturally. Read the rest
CIA personnel left “explosive training material” under the hood of a Loudoun County, Virginia school bus after performing training exercises using the school bus last week. That very same bus was then used to shuttle elementary and high school students to and from school on the following Monday and Tuesday with that explosive material still inside the engine compartment. Read the rest
If you're searching for some uplifting bedtime reading, you might enjoy this e-book of a 1953 CIA report titled "A Study of Assassination," made public in 1997 as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. Here are a few choice nuggets:
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Assassination is a term thought to be derived from "Hashish", a drug similar to marijuana, said to have been used by Hasan-ibn-Sabah to induce motivation in his followers, who were assigned to carry out political and other murders, usually at the cost of their lives.
It is here used to describe the planned killing of a person who is not under the legal jurisdiction of the killer, who is not physically in the hands of the killer, who has been selected by a resistance organization for death, and who has been sele cted by a resistance organization for death, and whose death provides positive advantages to that organization....
The essential point of assassination is the death of the subject. A human being may be killed in many ways but sureness is often overlooked by those who may be emotionally unstrung by the seriousness of this act they intend to commit. The specific technique employed will depend upon a large number of variables, but should be constant in one point: Death must be absolutely certain. The attempt on Hitler’s life failed because the conspiracy did not give this matter proper attention...
It is possible to kill a man with the bare hands, but very few are skillful enough to do it well.