ELECTION MEDDLING: The Russian “news” service Sputnik (a wholly owned subsidiary of Putin Inc.) reported this week that Moscow’s “Ambassador at Large,” Vladimir Churov, says he is shocked, shocked at the intervention in the U.S. election by intelligence services – no – not those intelligence agencies. He meant the CIA and FBI. Churov says “the US intelligence agencies’ warnings of outside interference in vote rigging or altering vote numbers at precincts” could be a cover for their own plans “to withhold data, including the number of voters, early voters and the election returns.” This sounds like the first installment of a “I know you are but what am I?” reaction in the aftermath of the upcoming election.
MALWEIRD: We learned from Yahoo Sports (of all places) about some absurd malware floating around which, if surreptitiously installed on your computer, causes all your normal processes to shut down and a warning message to flash on your screen saying that you must send “50$” within 24 hours to the CIA/FBI or the “registred (sic) name on your house adress (sic) election vote will not be valid.” Unless the CIA and FBI have been taken over by those Nigerian princes who keep sending us email – we suspect this threat is not valid.
VIRAL IN VENEZUELA: The sick man of Latin America, Venezuela, has come up with an explanation for why there have been a number of cases of diphtheria diagnosed in their country. It is not because their health care system – and everything else – seems to be collapsing. Prominent government supporters last week blamed the outbreak on Venezuela being the target of “germ warfare orchestrated by the CIA labs.”
CREST FALLEN: Secrecy News reports that the CIA has finally agreed to enter the 21st century – when it comes to making declassified information readily accessible to the public. The Agency has long placed documents that it declassifies on a database known as CREST (CIA Records Search Tool). But to access CREST, you must physically get yourself to the National Archives in College Park, MD, queue up to use one of a handful of terminals, and do your research. Critics have long maintained that the cumbersome arrangement was designed to make accessing the information as difficult as possible – while complying with public access law. But the CIA has apparently finally agreed to put the CREST contents on its public website, where the information will be full-text searchable. No word on when that transfer will happen.
LIVING HISTORY: Treat yourself and read the article at ShadowSpear.com about OSS and CIA veteran Ambassador Hugh Montgomery. (Shadow Spear says it is a website “dedicated to Special Operations Forces (SOF) of the past, present, and future.”) The article tells of a visit the 93-year-old Montgomery recently made to the SEAL Heritage Center where he regaled the audience with tales from his time parachuting into Europe on D-Day and other exploits.
FAREWELL TO FURY: A highly respected, retired Special Operations warrior named Major Tom Greer was laid to rest this week. As a former Delta Force operator, few members of the public would have known his name – but after leaving the military Greer wrote under the pen name, “Dalton Fury.” His first book: “Kill Bin Laden: A Delta Force Commander’s Account of the Hunt for the World’s Most Wanted Man” told of the battle of Tora Bora in 2001. He was interviewed on 60 Minutes while wearing a disguise to discuss the operation. Greer subsequently authored a series of novels featuring Delta Force personnel. Greer was only 52. According to U.S. News and World Report, the cause of his death was cancer. Greer’s family has asked friends and admirers to make donations in Greer’s name to the Task Force Dagger Foundation which “provides assistance to wounded, ill, or injured U.S. Special Command members and their families.”
MAKING HISTORY: The Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) has announced that the keynote speaker at their 2017 Achievement Awards on February 23 will be LTGEN Vincent Stewart, Director of the DIA. Why are we telling you this so far in advance? Because INSA is seeking nominations in six categories for folks to honor at the event. Categories and criteria are here.
POCKET LITTER: Other stuff of interest we found laying around.
- SMILE YOU’RE ON NGA CAMERA: The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency announced that under a new contract with Planet, a commercial imagery provider, they will be “harnessing the potential” of small satellites with their persistent capabilities. The program will provide NGA with access “to a global imagery refresh every 15 days of most of Earth’s landmass.”
- POLE POSITION: According to Radio Poland, Polish President Andrzej Duda has posthumously awarded Colonel Ryszard Kukliński, who passed secret Warsaw Pact documents to the CIA during the Cold War, the rank of brigadier general.
- CONSPIRACY THEORY OF THE WEEK: The British tabloid, The Daily Star, is out with a story about how the CIA allegedly “brain-washed” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to get him to create ISIS perhaps because “the U.S. needed an excuse to stay in the Middle East after the war on Iraq.”
- NETWORK NEWS: Hardly a day goes by that at least one of the top foreign policy and national security experts in The Cipher Brief Network makes news somewhere. In this new feature we’ll point out a few notable ones each week.
- Former U.S. Border Control Chief Michael Fisher in the news in Tucson about Cartels recruiting drug and people smugglers in bars and high schools
- Past Director of the National Counterproliferation Center, Amb. Joe DeTrani, in the Korea Herald on the lack of progress in U.S.-North Korea talks
- Former NSA and CIA chief General Mike Hayden calling Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity “a true propagandist” for praising WikiLeaks, and
- Carmen Medina, former Deputy CIA Director of Intelligence on CNBC on a big threat to the nation – an election night hack.
WHAT’S ON THEIR NIGHTSTAND? (Our contributors tell us about what they’re currently reading)
Mike Hayden, former NSA and CIA Director:
A Peace to End All Peace, David Fromkin’s New York Times best seller on the end of the Ottoman Empire and the European division of the Middle East. A cautionary tale for today, particularly about those claiming “expertise.”
SECURITY QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“…the likelihood of further Russian action (hack) before election day is high if the U.S. does not take action in response. One essential lesson for cybersecurity is that unpunished acts are seen as a green light by an attacker.”
– James Lewis, Senior Vice President and Program Manager at CSIS
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