Congress / Intelligence / Politics / etc.

The President under investigation

I have continued to watch the news with regard to the Russian intelligence operations against the US elections in 2016, part of which included cyber operations but also clearly included good ol’ human intelligence operations. I’ve continued to watch, in part for the sadness over how this is continuing to impact our country, our House and Senate, and our new administration, but also out of professional curiosity – I am these days teaching counterintelligence to undergraduates and graduate students. One thing that continues to amaze me is the Trump’s obsession with being told that he isn’t under investigation, even

Intelligence / Military / Politics

Looking Back: 8 Years of an Obama Administration

I have been recently reflecting on what these last eight years have meant, and in part on how I think they will written in the history books. Reflection is, after all, an important tool for me – I’ve written about that before. But with my 25 years in the intelligence field, and my current work teaching intelligence, security studies, and a lot of topics related to policy to undergraduate and graduate students, I have and continue to spend time thinking about decision and policy makers. History is going to judge them. History is going to make judgement about these

Intelligence / Politics

Dear Mr. President-Elect: “Reforming” the CIA as a Priority

Donald, I continue to read reports, dating back to the time of the election, that you want to initiate significant reforms to the Central Intelligence Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). With this, you may look to significantly change and even eliminate the position of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Intelligence reform is a topic I teach at the undergraduate and graduate level. This includes the reforms made after the Bush / Cheney / Wolfowitz / GOP abuses of the Intelligence Community in 2002, but also the abuses committed by American intelligence agencies

Intelligence

The Clinton Email Investigation

Back in July, I read with great interest the statement from James B. Comey, the Director of the FBI, regarding the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, their cyber analysis in support of their investigation, and his ultimate decision to not recommend that she or others involved in this series of events be brought up on charges or prosecutes. I read this with interest because, unlike others, I am not a self-described political blogger. I am a retired intelligence officer. I spent a lifetime living, eating, breathing these exact types of classified information, for 25

Intelligence

The Congressional Report of Bias at CENTCOM

For my friends and colleagues still in the business, it might be worth the time to read the newly released report from the Congressional Joint Task Force that looked into allegations that CENTCOM senior officials and senior intelligence analysts slanted intelligence analysis and the intelligence process.   This is good reading, and key to understanding – and remembering – so many of the things that led to the debacle of the poor intelligence support to policy and decision makers in 2002.   This speaks to the role analysts play in supporting policy and decision makers; to analysts vs those

History / Intelligence / Iraq

The Chilcot Report

Professionally, I do a lot of work on the decision to go to war with Iraq. That involved a lot of work with now-declassified documents pertaining to Iraq, its alleged nuclear, biological and chemical programs in the 1990s, efforts to procure something called yellowcake, alleged connections to al-Qaeda, and so on. I read books, I watch videos, I study memoirs, and I swim through history. This morning, the British government finished and posted to its website (here) a 6505 page, 6.5 million word report summarizing British involvement in Iraq, from the run-up and decision to invade, to the withdrawal

Intelligence

Explaining the Hillary Rodham Clinton emails

In his statement to the press today (here), FBI Director James Comey laid out what he described as the background of the FBI efforts associated with their investigation of the emails on and security for the email server maintained by and for Bill and Hillary Clinton, primarily while she served as Secretary of State. As background, it seems that Clinton wanted to be able to use a Blackberry as her primary means of communications – for voice and email – and both the Department of State and the National Security Agency were against this, specifically on the basis of

Intelligence

Hillary Clinton has 2,093 problems ¯\_(?)_/¯

On Monday, the State Department finished their review of the 30,300 work-related emails and attachments that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had kept on her “private” email server at her house, and released to the public the last of the ones that the were able to release. Of those 30,000, all but 2093 were released. Those 2093 could not be released because they were determined to contain classified information. [1] The standard for this is, of course, zero. None. As someone with access to classified information, Hillary Clinton – and those who worked for her – are required by

Education / Intelligence / Research / etc.

Keeping track of PDF files

Now that I am back in the business of reading and using a lot of PDF files, I have a nice system in place. I thought it time to share it. Some of the PDF files are ones that I already have on my hard drive. Others are ones I need to pull from the internet. Others, still, are ones I make by “printing” a web page and saving it as a PDF files. In all of these cases, the end result is a PDF file that is saved to my hard drive (well, to the Google Drive account

Intelligence / Iraq / Syria

American strategy and politicization

Geoff Arnold pointed me towards a great article in The American Conservative, The Pentagon Fights Back. I’m going to plan to use it in future iterations of one of the classes I teach, ISSA 3302, Fundamentals of Intelligence Analysis, specifically during the section about the perils of politicization. Giraldi makes a good point, comparing current American actions and apparent strategy to a thinking of that of 1938 in Munich. I don’t think it’s just Rwanda that hangs over the head of this Democratic administration (Bill Clinton regrets how he handled it), but other atrocities and acts of genocide, to

History / Intelligence / Military / etc.

The train derailment in Russia

CNN is just now starting to talk about a 1.5 meter by 1 meter hole under the railbed, and Russian assertions that — gasp! — this tragic accident may not be an accident but indeed the work of (dum, dum, DUM!) terrorists. Well, of course it’s terrorism. Investigators have shown up and have begun to ask questions of the locals — have there been strangers in the area recently? Maybe Chechens? Or some other terrorists from the North Caucasus region? I have no doubt that it’s terrorism, and would not be surprised in the least if it turns out

Intelligence / Iraq / Military

The DNI Speaks Out

I haven’t really talked much about the Long War recently. Been kind of busy with it. A few pieces have been in the press recently. I am not going to try and sum them up, but am going to recommend going and making the time to read them. Read this, then this, and then this. Below, there’s a letter from the Director of National Intelligence — so yes, this is kind of serious stuff going on. Don’t be the one, twenty years from now, who remembers that there was talk of interrogation and torture. Be the one who read

Army / Blogging / Intelligence / etc.

Prisoners of War and the War on Terror

The United States of America mismanaged detainees during the initial phases of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) because it did not understand its own history. The American administration failed to capitalize on its own lessons learning during the establishment of Prisoner of War (POW) procedures during World War II (WWII), and the legal precedents established in Johnson v. Eisentr?ger (1950). This is important because civil rights groups and others are legally challenging the US Government on its detention policy.

Intelligence / Movies / War

Movie: Spies Like Us

Don’t mock me. This movie is like mashed potatoes for me. It’s total comfort food. See if you can follow along: It’s got John Landis directing. Same guy who directed Blues Brothers. Ditto for Animal House. The list keeps on going from there. The script for this is great, and Landis does a great job bringing it to life. It’s got Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase working as a team. And Spies Like Us was made back in ’85, back when they were at the height of their game. They are top performers in this. It’s not laugh-so-hard-you-can’t-breath kind

Army / Intelligence / Military / etc.

Russia, Georgia, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia

Georgia and the separatists in South Ossetia came to blows a couple of days ago, ending the de facto stalemate in the war there. Russia has had “peace keepers” there for some time, and this re-introduction of combat operations has dragged Mother Russia back into the fighting. Russia and the Republic of Georgia are at war. I realize that, for most of America, this is not a big deal. For me, this is news, with a capital N. For Russia, this is a win-win situation. Russia wins in exerting influence over South Ossetia when it comes at the expense