DEFEND THE REALM. Dead Drop’s long reach has turned up an interesting tidbit from the mother country, the fabled Cambridge University to be specific. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) demonstrated some exemplary “outreach” — that’s intel-speak for seeking the wisdom of academic and other experts — on the world’s toughest problems. The DIA, which runs a joint analytic center at RAF Molesworth in the UK, put together a two-day unclassified conference with a host of academic and retired government experts assembled by Cambridge on issues ranging from Russia, to the Middle East and Iran. The idea was to see what could be learned from history that might enable understanding of the future — now there’s a novel notion. Today’s generals were probably lieutenants when the Cold War ended. Now that the Russian bear is awake, not a bad idea to think through the lessons of the past. The idea behind the event originally came from LTG Michael Flynn, a big outreach proponent, who retired as DIA Director about a year ago. Helping put the conference together was a former head of Britain’s spy agency, MI-6, who must remain nameless. We’re told this chap has held a post at Cambridge for several years, however. Among the blokes participating was Professor Christopher Andrew, noted intelligence historian and author of the authorized history of MI5.
ELITE PREPARATION. We’re told that things got a little crazy after hours in Jersey City this week. Apparently, Law Enforcement Officers strapped on tactical gear and played out an active shooter scenario, using City Hall as a ground zero training platform. A Dead Drop source tells us that it was a uniquely blended, elite team of first responders and former special operators that worked police, fire and emergency responders through the scenario of an armed shooter moving through the building. Coincidentally, former NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was in California this week reminding attendees at a security conference how important it is to actually exercise incident response plans. His advice: If you take a look at your emergency response plan and it includes the names of people who don’t work there anymore, that’s probably a good indicator that it should be updated. Coincidentally too, Cipher Brief CEO Suzanne Kelly heard from Rear Admiral Kevin Lunday during NGA’s Georgetown Kalaris Conference last week that one of the biggest lessons that came out of a classified Cyber Command tabletop exercise this past June was that those kinds of exercises need to be carried out much more often in order to be relevant and most effective. Seems like rather good advice all around.
PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE. There is a food fight going on between a People Magazine reporter and the Army’s Chief of Public Affairs. Seems the Army is unhappy with a story by Susan Keating in the Sept 25 edition of People which suggests that “officials at the highest levels of the Army” had the fix in to ensure that some women soldiers graduated from Ranger School.
BGen Malcolm Frost, the Army’s top spokesman, took to social media posting a statement on Facebook saying in part: “The latest attack on the integrity of the United States Army by PEOPLE magazine’s Susan Keating is more than inaccurate, it is pure fiction.” The general goes on at length about things he says Keating got wrong and says: “Ms. Keating has requested to interview dozens, if not hundreds, of individuals associated with Army Ranger training. The only person she has not asked to interview is its commander, Maj. Gen. Miller.” Hundreds of interview requests? Hmm. Keating returned fire on Facebook saying: “Gen. Frost, this statement is a lie, and you know it. Stop instigating an online mob attack. It’s not in keeping with Army values. The only reason I did not speak to Gen. Miller is because he wouldn’t talk to me.” In another post she notes, with some unhappiness, that someone commenting on the Army’s Facebook page recommends that she be put in front of a firing squad. Doesn’t look like this skirmish will end any time soon. Hope it is resolved by Oct 9, however, when BGen Frost is scheduled to speak at a Military Reporters and Editors conference in Washington on “Building the Reporter, PAO Relationship.
A NEWLY REORGANIZED CIA FAMILY. The world’s most-famous spy agency marked a milestone this week in the Agency’s controversial reorganization effort. You’ll remember that the re-org was announced back in March, and it’s led to a variety of responses throughout the building, some in the form of early retirement for those who didn’t agree with the Director’s vision. The headline this week was the announcement of a new directorate (the first since 1963). The Directorate for Digital Innovation (DDI) will tackle the task of sharing cyber capabilities among all of the Agency’s ten new mission centers, which also launched this week. The mission centers combine the Agency’s operational (think clandestine spies), analytic (think analysis that feeds the machine), support (think contractors, supply and communications), technical and digital (think cyber) into smaller, happier family units. OK, maybe not quite ‘happier’. There’s been a steady chorus of criticism from formers (particularly on the DO side) about diluting the clandestine culture, and overall, the product by throwing everyone together. No family is without a healthy dose of dysfunction, right? Brennan has been working hard to assure his workforce that he’ll be listening to their feedback over the coming months. So will we, just in case you wondered…
FOR YOUR NEXT TRIVIA CONTEST. Our own Dead Drop ‘analysis’ reminds us that the head of CIA Analysis…used to be called the DDI. Now the DDI is the cyber guy. The chief Analyst is the DA…. DA is what they used to call the Directorate of Support..when it was Directorate of Administration. The DO, of course, was the DO..until it became the NCS…until it became the DO again. Way back when it was the Directorate of Plans — and of course had little to do with planning…and a lot to do with operations.
BEWARE OF NEW FRIENDS. If you’re a spy and your personal information gets “hacked,” the aftermath is a little different than if you’re a Target or Home Depot customer. That’s why the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is rolling out a series of public service announcements telling their enormous workforce what to be wary of in the aftermath of the OPM breach. Among the recommendations that go well beyond credit monitoring, employees are being encouraged to be suspicious of making new friends who seem to have a lot in common with you. “Human targeting” is a real concern and with all of that personal data out there, it just got easier. Human targeting gets back to the days of old-fashioned spy recruitment: either use charm or blackmail to get a citizen of a country to spy against their own government. Of course, there are also the more traditional ways of targeting that employees are being warned about: phishing attacks, social media deception, unsolicited phone or text messages, and identify theft. If you want a good read, check out what resources the work force is getting to help them understand what to do if this happens to them: http://www.dni.gov/index.php/resources/protecting-personal-information?start=4
BEYOND ALL RECOGNITION. Partisans are pouring through the latest dump of Hillary emails released by the State Department on Wednesday night in search of…well, something. Our favorite nugget so far is an email sent on Saturday December 4, 2010 in which the Secretary of State asked, “And BTW what does “fubar” mean?” Top aide Cheryl Mills responded to Clinton three minutes later by saying, “Fubar is unprintable on civil email.” Apparently that was not all that was unprintable, because whatever immediately followed that sentence was redacted by the State Department censors. Now we will never know.
BRIDGE OF SPIES SNEAK PEEK. The Cipher Brief scored some tickets to the advance D.C. screening of Steven Spielberg’s ‘Bridge of Spies’ on October 14th, a full two days before the movie hits theaters. The story is about James Donovan, the lawyer who was recruited by the CIA to negotiate the release of American pilot Francis Gary Powers. You might (or might not) remember that Powers’ U-2 was shot down during a CIA reconnaissance mission over the Soviet Union in 1960. If you’re interested in casting eyes on the Amblin Entertainment – DreamWorks SKG, Fox 2000 Pictures release before anyone else, we have a few tickets to share. Drop us a line at [email protected].
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