Intercepts – Help me count the ways …


I used to think that I understood the rough outline of US law and capability with regard to the intercept and collection of signals intelligence.   In light of all the media reporting and accusations flying around just now I see that I was mistaken in that belief.   I am in the process of sorting out the details. I ask you to help me with this:

1.  Both the FBI and DoJ can go to the FISA court to ask for a broad warrant to do surveillance of communications of Americans domestically or overseas on the basis of probable cause to think that these Americans are engaged in espionage against the US or terrorism directed at the US.  Such warrants are usually applicable for all communications means oof the subject(s).

2.  The FBI often does not go to the FISA courts because the information gathered in that channel is often contaminated under US rules of evidence and can not be used in a criminal proceeding.  Instead, the FBI, often goes to an Article 3 federal court for a non-FISA warrant.  It is reported that in this case the FBI did not approach the FISA court.  The DoJ in a fit of desire to please the WH evidently did that on its own hook.  If that is the case, Comey is correct in saying that the FBI did not do that.

3.  After yesterday we suspect that CIA has the internal capability to intercept all the Trumpworld communications that it was pleased to do.   Would that have required a FISA warrant for intercept of an American's communications or to surveille him?  Would the CIA have accepted such a requirement?

4. NSA surveilles just about all US communications.  Under rules adopted during the Bush '43 Administration such intercepts do not require  FISA warrant because, well, the government says they do not.  According to Judge Napolitano (the legal sage of Fox News) POTUS can legally order intercepts of the communications of Americans by simply certifying that to be necessary to national security.  

5.  Because of the close cooperation between the USIC and various foreign "players" most notably the UK's GCHQ, it is possible for the leaders of the USIC to informally ask such foreign players to collect SIGINT against US domestic targets because for the foreign player these targets are not domestic to them.  This procedure obviates the need for a US FISA warrant and the US IC receives the fruits of such intercepts as traffic received in liaison.  It is alleged in various media reports that this "path" was followed by Clapper and Brennan in this case and that the precipitous departure of the GCHQ boss was blow back from this when Teresa May was menaced over future BREXIT aftermath cooperation by person or persons unknown.  This implies a leak from the USIC to Trumpworld.

OK.  Elaborate, contradict, or whatever.  pl

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89 Responses to Intercepts – Help me count the ways …

  1. J says:

    CIA providing raw intelligence as Trump-Russia probes heat up
    Wonder if Sen. Coryn and Sen. Burr get ‘travel pay’ every time they visit Langley on this boondoggle?
    Does the CIA get a ‘finders fee’ for every ‘folder’ that the good Senators get to view?
    And that’s just the Senate side……the continuing circus of House Representative(s) like Rep. Nunes and his gaggle (politically correct term his panel) get travel pay also?
    Are these intrepid members of Congress getting taxpayer provided Lear Jet rides to and from Langley complete with in-flight cocktails?
    It appears that not just war is a racket as Maj. Gen. Butler said referring to war.

  2. BillWade says:

    It’s probably time to put aside our political differences (whatever they are: Dem, Rep, Ind or whatever) and solve this problem as just Americans. I’ve assumed since about 1999 that everything I said online was probably recorded and put away for possible future use.
    If any government intel was used to further a “Globalist” agenda, to me that’s “un-American”. If any government intel was used to protect or enhance the interest of the USA, it’s ok with me.

  3. Neslo says:

    The more this story come out the more it sounds like either Clapper, Brennan, or both did reach out to foreign intelligence to get the alleged wire tap. I’m a bit confused and maybe someone can clarify something for me. If there was a wire tap and if there was incriminating evidence found. Since it was gotten in this round about way, could it be used to bring legal charges? Or is it really only good for a media smear campaign?

  4. P.L.! Your summary conforms to my understanding with one major exception. Much is trawled worldwide, most thrown back eventually, but at any time any place a specific catch can be targeted and warrants often avoided for many reasons legal and technical. Could be wrong of course!

  5. Jackrabbit says:

    No leak from USIC to Trumpworld is necessary.
    Could’ve been:
    1) Trump noticed that, in public or private communication Hillary/Obama/Democrats knew something that they shouldn’t have. There may have been one or more instances of such strange occurrences.
    2) Trump learned that FISA warrants had been requested for spying on him or people close to him.
    3) Trump was briefed about the up-coming release of Wikileaks Vault7.
    4) Trump made the not-so-HUUGE supposition that if the denial of FISA warrants wouldn’t prevent Obama associates from snooping.

  6. Also have to look at what collection is done against non-US Persons under EO 12333 within the U.S. Does the CIA’s NR Division and the FBI’s NSB need FISA court warrants when targeting purely foreign targets in the US?
    I know I linked to this article a few days ago, but it’s gotten a lot more attention lately as has the author.

  7. Jackrabbit says:

    Another interesting question:
    Was Obama’s executive order to share NSA info CYA (Cover-Your-Ass) to obfuscate the source of intel that Obama associates had already obtained via CIA/MI-6?
    Often officials are caught due to the cover-up, not the crime.

  8. jld says:

    There is not really anymore any such thing as “the rule of law” for the surveillance state, not in the US, not in the UK, nor anywhere else for that matter, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia or most European countries.
    The privacy laws are probably effectively more stringent in Russia than elsewhere 😀

  9. JJackson says:

    Seem about right.
    Us, and other intelligence agency, seem to have been given free reign to hover up what they like and can then use the information as they see fit. Legal niceties can wait and if they need to prosecute someone they can then go back and apply for the paper work to redo it legitimately.
    The fly in the appointment is a small number of insiders who are not ‘with-the-program’ and then choose to leak. Now we get to watch the chickens come home to roost – hopefully.

  10. Lefty says:

    Is there any reason to believe that intent varies from capability here? As in intent begat capability.
    Seems this is a logical follow on that addresses Wikileaks published specifics about what “collect everything and hang onto it forever” means from TTG’s July 17, 2013 post “Collect it All”. CIA CTO “Gus” Hunt is quoted from an open IT conference presentation in that post:
    “The first step is for ‘data scientists’ to save and analyze all digital breadcrumbs — even the ones people don’t know they are creating (i.e. “More is always better”).
    “Since you can’t connect dots you don’t have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever,” Hunt said. “It is really very nearly within our grasp to be able to compute on all human generated information.”

  11. Willybilly says:

    Close cooperation between the USIC and various foreign “players” most notably the UK’s GCHQ, and Israeli SIGNIT, it is and has been done for decades by the leaders of the USIC to ask such foreign players to collect SIGINT against US domestic and foreign targets…. and it’s still been done today 24/7, most notably since 2000.

  12. Kooshy says:

    I think we all should be happy that CIA is goverment agency, funded and gets oversights by US congress, I can’t imagine what if, if it wasn’t.

  13. Seems there was intel sharing beyond the Five Eyes thing. The BBC’s Paul Wood reported back before the inauguration that a Baltic intel service tipped of the CIA about a recording they had of a conversation about Kremlin money going to a presidential campaign (apparently someone in the Trump campaign). This led to the creation of a CI task force of six agencies to investigate the matter. This was the source of the FISA warrant to investigate the two Russian banks connections to the server in the Trump Towers.

  14. turcopolier says:

    Admission. I haven’t worked in this area for a long time. When I did the IC was a simpler place. pl

  15. turcopolier says:

    Yes, Something wrong with that? I am trying to summarize the possibilities for you all. pl

  16. eakens says:

    Yeah, they’d almost be as dangerous to our well being as the federal reserve is.

  17. walrus says:

    So basically, the Democrats are promoting the CIA to the equivalent of the Praetorian Guard? No candidate can be elected unless the all seeing, all knowing, intelligence community give her the tick of approval?
    How is this situation good for the American people? What is to be done? If President Trump can be fitted up like this, then what chance does a Senator or representative have of resisting the blandishments of the intelligence community?

  18. gemini33 says:

    I believe that we now have the technology to collect & store all internet communications in real time, at least into a buffer, like the GCHQ’s Tempora program. Mark Klein’s whistleblowing about Room 641A in San Francisco, showed that the government was sitting on the internet backbone taking a copy of things back in 2003. I can only imagine what they can do now. I’m not sure how much phone data runs across those internet cables but VOIP would.
    Brennan doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who cares at all about laws and would have been gathering everything on both campaigns, in my opinion.
    If there was any warrant, I think it indicates that they were building a legal case that could stand up in court using parallel construction, not to acquire communications, which I doubt they got a warrant for initially.
    All of this is just opinion, but based on a fairly close following of the publicly available writings on the subject over the past decade.
    It makes a lot of sense that they might have used some friends at GCHQ to get to the treasure trove of real time communications collections. I have read that covert operations that are done jointly by allied intelligence agencies can be considered liaison operations and don’t require reporting to oversight committees. I’ve seen the term “Safari Club” tossed around for operations like that.

  19. LondonBob says:

    Mad Mensch!
    I would consider her as being effectively an agent of influence for Israel, more as a result of her state of mind and world outlook than something more sinister. Her twitter feed is a bizarre state of consciousness outpouring on her hatred for Trump, Putin and the usual neocon obsessions. Bizarrely Neocon godfather Rupert Murdoch put up the backing for her latest venture heat street, her reputation is not good in this country.
    I would treat anything she reports with a very healthy dose of suspicion. Especially given the nature of the British press and the likelihood that GCHQ, and of course MI6/Steele, were actively involved in smearing Trump. The Israelis seem to be deeply involved in the media campaign, whatever Netanyahoo might do to suck up to Trump.

  20. LondonBob says:

    Paul Wood is a Member of the “New America Foundation” – one of the board members is Jonathan Soros, CEO of JS Capital Management – Father? George Soros who is making a career out of political manipulation and opposed Trump. Additionally, the President of the New American Foundation is Anne-Marie Slaughter who worked for the U.S. State Department between 2009 and 2011 under the one and only HRC.

  21. Kooshy says:

    Colonel Lang, in your knowledge, how often the IC and or alaphabet agencies lie to C of C, is there a serious punishment/ consequences for wrong reporting.

  22. Warpig says:

    Agreed, BUT. Who gets to decide the American interest?
    I would just prefer we stick with laws. And actually stick to laws. That way we all know where we stand. I’m very disturbed by “secret” laws, rules, memorandums, etc.

  23. Andy says:

    One thing people outside the intel community do not understand is what is meant by intelligence “collection.” Collection is part of the intelligence cycle and, generally, information is only considered “collected” after it is gathered, filtered, processed, stored and made available to analysts in some form. Information that is gathered, but not processed or stored is not considered “collected.”

  24. Pundita says:

    Based on the following CIA-AG document, the answer to your #3 questions would seem to be yes.
    Page 17, Section 4.4.2 “Special collection approval authority,” which specifically mentions the FISA court.
    Page 19, Section 4.4.4 “Countermeasures related to electronic surveillance equipment.”
    From 4.4.2, they do seek a FISA warrant under certain circumstances although oddly enough as the circumstances could apply OUTSIDE the US.
    4.4.4 pertains to stipulations about CIA surveillance INSIDE the US. From my reading of 4.4.4, what they could have done (perhaps even without a FISA warrant) was surveil anyone on the Trump team (including Trump) that they had reason to believe was being clandestinely surveilled by a foreign entity.
    If that reasoning holds, the above could’ve been why CIA-friendly US media began making a lot of noise about Russian hacking of US politicians to interfere with the US political process. The din would’ve helped provide cover for 4.4.4 to kick into gear.
    However comma the question is whether the previous version of the document contained the same wording as the current 4.4.4. The current version was cosigned on 10 January 2017 by Brennan CIA Director and on 17 January 2017 by Lynch AG. But as the procedures stated in the document do not go into effect until 60 days after its signing by both D-CIA and AG, I’ll tentatively assume the current and previous versions roughly comport re the stipulations mentioned in 4.4.4. This on the theory they wouldn’t have the gall to move the goal posts before the ink was dry.
    Now with regard to the use of a FISA warrant to surveil Trump & associates, I am not entirely sure that this didn’t happen, no matter what Messrs. Clapper and Comey have said to the contrary. I note this because of what Larry Johnson wrote at No Quarter on March 6, “Are Obama’s DOJ and Intel Community Leaders Guilty of Sedition?–UPDATE:”
    All of this should be pretty easy to sort out. The House and Senate Intelligence committees should immediately request the paper work on all of the FISA requests. Once that material is in hand then the people involved with the preparation and submission of the FISA requests should be investigated and interviewed under oath. Particular focus should be on uncovering what the original impetus was for these warrants. Who initially thought it was necessary to go the FISA route.
    If press reports are accurate, there were at least three efforts to get the FISA court on board to go after Trump. We know that at least two of those requests were rebuffed. Still unclear what happened to the third request. We need to know whether the first and second FISA requests originated with the FBI or with the Department of Justice. I am betting that it came from the DOJ.
    Larry was zeroing in on a February 14 NYT report:
    There it is in black and white:
    [NYT quote] “American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee.”
    If we are to believe the NY Times, current and former officials claim that both law enforcement (i.e., FBI) and the CIA and/or the NSA were intercepting calls and phone records of “members of Donald Trump’s campaign” in the May/June 2016 timeframe.
    How do we know? Because that is when the DNC “hack” was taking place. If this was the FBI then that means there had to be a FISA warrant.
    How can that be? News reports this week state that that the first two FISA requests regarding the Trump campaign were rejected by the judge. The first rejection came in June. So where did these records and intercepts come from?
    I think Larry’s right; it’s vital to nail down once and for all the FISA warrant trail. But can this be done? Possibly, through a Judicial Watch fishing expedition:
    “Judicial Watch Sues CIA, DOJ and Treasury for Records Related to Intelligence Leaks Regarding Investigation of General Flynn”
    Asks Court to Order Searches and Production of Records
    National Security Agency Refuses to Confirm or Deny Existence of Records
    (Washington DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the United States Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury regarding records related to the investigation of retired United States Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak (Judicial Watch v. Central Intelligence Agency et al. (No.1:17-cv-00397)).
    (The National Security Agency refused to confirm or deny the existence of intelligence records about communications between Gen. Flynn and Amb Kislyak.)
    Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after the agencies failed to respond to a January 25, 2017, FOIA request seeking:
    > Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the investigation of retired Gen. Michael Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak between October 1, 2016 and the present.
    > This request includes, but is not limited to, any and all related warrants, affidavits, declarations, or similar records regarding the aforementioned investigation.
    END QUOTE – see rest of article for more detail
    So. We’ll see what Judicial Watch can ferret out, which might just be documents so heavily redacted they’re useless. But nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  25. Pundita says:

    Here’s reasonable confirmation that the Wikileaks docs are genuine. Note the German government’s pathetic attempt to shift the entire story to yet more insinuations of Russian hacking:
    March 8, 2017 – 1:16pm EST
    U.S. officials aware of CIA security breach in 2016, say WikiLeaks papers authentic
    By John Walcott and Andrea Shalal | WASHINGTON/BERLIN
    U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Wednesday that they have been aware since the end of last year of a security breach at the CIA that led to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks publishing agency documents on its hacking tools.
    The officials, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters that they believed that the documents published by WikiLeaks on Tuesday were authentic.
    Investigators were focusing on CIA contractors as the likely source of passing materials to WikiLeaks, the officials said. The group published what it said were nearly 8,000 of pages of internal CIA discussions about hacking techniques used between 2013 and 2016.
    In Germany on Wednesday, the chief federal prosecutor’s office said that it would review the Wikileaks documents because some suggested that the CIA ran a hacking hub from the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt.
    “We’re looking at it very carefully,” a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office told Reuters. “We will initiate an investigation if we see evidence of concrete criminal acts or specific perpetrators.”
    Reuters could not immediately verify the contents of the published documents, but several contractors and private cyber security experts said the materials appeared to be legitimate.
    The latest revelations came days before Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to visit Washington for an initial meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, who has sharply criticized Berlin for everything from its trade policy to what he considers inadequate levels of military spending.
    The Wikileaks documents may also complicate bilateral intelligence ties that have just begun to recover after a series of scandals, including news in 2013 that the National Security Agency had bugged Merkel’s cellphone. The consulate was already heavily investigated by German lawmakers after that incident.
    Merkel last month told lawmakers she did not know how closely Germany’s spies cooperated with their U.S. counterparts until 2015 when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the BND spy agency had for years passed on information to the NSA about European companies and politicians.
    Germany scaled back the level of cooperation with the NSA after those revelations.
    U.S. officials have acknowledged that the consulate in Frankfurt is home to a CIA base. A facility adjacent to the city’s airport and the Rhein-Main Air Base has for many years been home to the CIA’s “Tefran” station, a U.S. center for collecting intelligence on Iranian activities in Europe, maintaining surveillance on Iranian officials and targeting potential defectors working in Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
    Foreign ministry spokesman Sebastian Fischer told a regular government news conference that Germany took the issue seriously, but more work needed to be done to verify the authenticity of the documents. Berlin was in close touch with Washington about the case and such matters generally, he said.
    Officials at the German government news conference declined to answer questions about any knowledge Berlin might have about CIA activities in Germany. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Germany’s domestic intelligence agency was tasked with uncovering espionage activities in Germany, and carried out its work comprehensively.
    Wikileaks reported CIA employees had been given diplomatic passports and State Department identities to carry out their work in Germany at the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt, focused on targets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
    The documents included advice for CIA experts about life in Germany, including the fact that shops are closed on Sundays, and to have “your cover-for-action story down pat” when they passed through German customs.
    One European official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Wikileaks material could in fact lead to closer cooperation between European spy agencies and U.S. counterparts, which share concerns about Russian intelligence operations.
    The European official said there was suspicion, still unconfirmed, that Moscow could have had a hand in the latest leaks. U.S. spy agencies accuse Russia of meddling in the U.S. presidential election last year, which Russia denies.
    “It’s interesting and maybe significant that this leak coincides with stepped-up Russian attempts to influence upcoming European elections, intimidate the Baltic states and other former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe, and destabilize NATO and the European Union,” said the European official.
    When a reporter at the German government news conference asked whether it was a double standard that Berlin tolerated U.S. spying while trying to root out such activity by Russians, one of the government spokesmen said Berlin had good reason to suspect Moscow of seeking to influence Germany’s election.
    (Reporting by John Walcott and Yara Bayoumy in Washington and Matthias Sobolewski and Andrea Shalal in Berlin; Editing by Peter Graff and Grant McCool)

  26. turcopolier says:

    The word “lie” is being used far too loosely. To make a mistake and be in error in analysis no matter to whom the result is briefed is not a “lie.” It happens and is merely proof that to err is human. An actual deliberate lie to the chief executive is unheard of. If such a think happened and was discovered the result would be dismissal from the government. pl

  27. trinlae says:

    This was also my sense of it.
    Not only might DT had been given a Vault 7 heads up, a sneak preview may have come to him and T May both around October-Nov 2016 c.o Ecuador Embassy, London.
    Not only CIA has professional counterpart colleague peers among 5 eyes but FBI-Interpol peer networks may be older and more robust.

  28. Bandolero says:

    Regarding your five point list of ways of interception I wonder whether the list is complete.
    For example, as a layman I find it logical that any military in the world engages in interception activity. So I guess, interception capabilities are just there, and even cyber warfare units, and in the US military as much as in any military of the world, and likely more, since the US military has the largest budget in the world.
    So, I don’t know what legal procedures apply and what happens when the US military – accidentally or not – catches some US domestic data, or what happens when a foreign military shares with the US military US domestic data military to military. But I could hardly imagine that there are no domestic “interception issues” and legal doubts or questions in the military’s cyber warfare at all.

  29. Eric Newhill says:

    SIGINT experts,
    What happens when you are authorized, by whatever formalities, to go after party A and party A happens to communicate by means susceptible to your intercept methodologies to party B, who you have not been authorized to collect on? Maybe you even kind of guessed that A communicates with B and maybe you actually are more interested in B, but couldn’t supply the authorities with ample justification to get through the formalities regarding B.
    Does party B’s data get summarily discarded with everyone closing their eyes immediately and erasing their brief memories of it?

  30. Pundita says:

    Washington (CNN – 5:04 PM EST 3/8) Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday he is ready to subpoena the intelligence agencies for evidence that would prove President Donald Trump’s claims that he was wiretapped last year by then-President Barack Obama.
    Asked by CNN if he would subpoena for any evidence, the South Carolina Republican said, “Yes.”
    Graham and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey and the acting deputy attorney general Wednesday, requesting any information regarding Trump’s claims.
    “We request that the Department of Justice provide us copies of any warrant applications and court orders — redacted as necessary to protect intelligence sources and methods that may be compromised by disclosure, and to protect any ongoing investigations — related to wiretaps of President Trump, the Trump Campaign, or Trump Tower,” Graham and Whitehouse wrote.
    Lots more in the report

  31. BraveNewWorld says:

    We know from the Snowden docs that every thing that the NSA is doing CSIS & CSAC are doing as well as are the other 5eyes members. All that raw intel that is collected is also handed over to Israel.

  32. Cee says:

    The techies may be on our sides. They are trying to step up security

  33. Lefty,
    Here’s another thing for us all to worry about. All this personal information has been monetized by private enterprise. It is all for sale and resale. My good friend who was and still is in the thick of the digital information revolution at NSA and CIA, told me the IC pales in comparison to what big business collects on all of us and exploits with ruthless abandon.

  34. BraveNewWorld says:

    If any one is interested the FISA stats can be found here. They aren’t really in the business of rejecting wire tap applications.

  35. turcopolier says:

    NSA is part of DoD and coordinates all SIGINT activities of the separate armed forces. The SIGINT people in the armed forces are operationally controlled by NSA in peacetime and are actively employed in the national effort by NSA and are part of NSA’s effort. When committed to combat support they work for the local commander in coordination with NSA. pl

  36. Eric Newhill,
    NSA reports refer to US persons and US entities as (US PERSON 1) or (US COMPANY 2) in their reports. The information is there, but the specific identities are not. I’ve written HUMINT reports for the Army and DIA in the same manner.
    If in the course of collection you happen upon information of a crime (international or US), whether it committed by a US person or not, you must refer this information to your legal counsel and the FBI.

  37. kooshy says:

    Thank You sir, I meant deliberately to miss inform, or cover up a mistake. IMO in that case (deliberate) the punishment needs to be more than just dismissal.

  38. turcopolier says:

    It would be a rare thing to be able to prove intent to deceive. This not an American tradition. What would be the punishment if proven? Amputation? pl

  39. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Lying is cheap; no physical punishment whatsoever.

  40. Old Microbiologist says:

    I think there are plenty of instances of lying by omission. In other words someone new to the system like Trump et. al. might not know the right questions to ask and the IC might not be all that willing to be forthcoming on clandestine activities, particularly when they are clearly illegal. The type of lying is what Clapper faced when given a choice of revealing something classified and in conflict with American laws (but approved by Obama) or telling a lesser lie. Only after he was caught out did he admit his lying. Of course, as usual with Obama, no punishment was applied. It seems to me the IC is being given a “pass” most of the time and that this has created an environment where flaunting the laws is commonplace. The FISA court is a travesty and in the period between 2009 and today we know of only 2 instances out of 10,547 requests that were rejected. So, this is merely a rubber stamp court. The fact that they rejected the first Trump request was because whoever wrote the affidavit mentioned Trump by name as the target. We can assume the next version was tailored to only be targeting non-US citizens communicating with the Trump team. I suppose all of this will come out eventually and the truth revealed.

  41. Cee says:

    Col. Lang,
    On intended to decieve
    The CIA’s UMBRAGE group, according to the press release of a drop that the intelligence community admits is wholly authentic, “collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation,” which could be used to “misdirect attribution by leaving behind the ‘fingerprints’ of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.”

  42. Lars says:

    It appears that Wikileaks exclusively targets the US. There has to be a reason for that. Anyone know the answer?

  43. kooshy says:

    Good morning Colonel, how about jail, for deliberately deceiving the C of C, IMO it’s worst than stealing.

  44. turcopolier says:

    I suppose you would have to prove conspiracy. pl

  45. turcopolier says:

    We are the country that most matters in terms of our actions and their effect on all. pl

  46. turcopolier says:

    IMO you have to be very careful that you do not make it impossible for analysts at the strategic level especially to give their opinion as to what the information means. After 9/11 I repeatedly ran into people in the policy side of government who simply derided and rejected the notion that long serving analysts with great depth of knowledge of a subject had opinions concerning that subject that had any value. The policy people who, for example, wanted to invade and occupy Iraq insisted that the long term students of Iraqi affairs were simply wrong in telling them that the highly anti-colonial and xenophobic Iraqis of various kinds would resist occupation endlessly. Hence the nonsense about being greeted as liberators on a long term basis. IMO to adopt Kooshy’s policy of punishing analysts and briefers for “getting it wrong” would reduce people like Trump who are essentially clueless about esoteric subjects to relying on whatever it is that some talking head like Jack Keane says on the tube. pl

  47. kooshy says:

    Thank you Colonel, I asked this question, because IMO at least one US intelligence agency which is supposedly under the command of C in C and is in charge of daily briefing of the president, is actively trying or helping to unseat him, if true, someone(s) there in that agency is/are deliberately deceiving the president, again if true, who knows if they are giving him their best estimates/ analysis.

  48. turcopolier says:

    I don’t see how Trumpworld could have focused on GCHQ as their hidden opponent without being told so from within the conspiracy. My candidate for the “rat” would be Admiral Rogers at NSA. Just after his meeting with Trump in NYC Clapper called for him to be fired. pl

  49. turcopolier says:

    IMO the idea that the Daily Briefing team is deliberately deceiving so fanciful as to be just about impossible. On the other hand IMO Trump should have a small panel of greybeards to tell him if the Daily Brief is incorrect. I volunteer. pl

  50. Eric Newhill says:

    Thanks, but that really didn’t answer my question.
    In the insurance industry we deal with information, with personal identifiers, that is considered, by law in many cases, to be fairly sensitive. Actually, you’d be surprised what we know about people beyond their healthcare diagnoses, procedures, doctors, etc. We get “big data” files from vendors (purveyors of personal info) that tell us many things, like what people buy with their credit cards, the magazines they subscribe to… sorts of interesting details.
    As the information becomes more sensitive fewer employees have access it – that or it is masked for those at lower levels. However, there are translation tables for the masked data. A meaningless series of alpha numeric characters becomes a real person if you have permission to join to tables.
    So I am thinking that someone in these agencies has the ability to translate (US PERSON 1) or (US COMPANY 2) seen in reports into real people and companies. Yes? meaning that someone who has been collaterally spied upon now has a file and that some people in the agencies know exactly who that file pertains to and what is in it.

  51. Fred says:

    A very good point. Just buy something on Amazon or even do a google search and see what ads one is bombarded with. Then there is the OPM hack (for example). Just what happened to all that data and who has it?

  52. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Iranian legends are filled with references to counselors to the king who first sought immunity from beheading before communicating the bad news to the king.

  53. kooshy says:

    Colonel, I hope someone he trust.

  54. Harper says:

    Recall that DNI James Clapper flagrantly lied to Congress when asked directly whether NSA was collecting mass data on American citizens in the US. Now with Vault 7 data, it is once again clear that all the presumed post-Snowden terminations of these illegal spy programs were just more lies. Col. Lang’s noting of the use of other “Five Eyes” spy agencies, specifically GCHQ, to spy on Americans who were “foreign targets” of British collection is a pretty standard means of violating the “spirit” of the so-called Constitutional protections. In the 1970s, revelations of illegal CIA domestic activities led to widely publicized Church and Pike committee probes of FBI and CIA illegal activities. It led to the laws that for the first time allowed Congressional oversight, as opposed to “old boy” informal briefings by CIA Directors to select Congressional leaders. Has Congress been so emasculated that such a probe today is out of the question? Of course, the NSA was never seriously probed by Congress, to the best of my knowledge, and it is the only intelligence agency that was not a creation of Congress but a creation of an Executive Order.

  55. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Trump has indicated that he covets the oil of Iraq. He has now lost Iraqis – they will never trust any actions by his administration.

  56. kooshy says:

    Colonel in your opinion was GWB lied to, about Iraqi WMD just like we were lied to. If so the consequences deserve big punishment.

  57. turcopolier says:

    During the US Civil War (WBS) Union Army generals were thrown out and/or imprisoned for what the US Congress chose to call treachery, etc. You seem to want to return to that kind of thing. Who do you have in mind to be tried before some sort of kangaroo court? pl

  58. Peter Reichard says:

    Given the revelations of Tice, Binney, Klein and others and the capacity of the NSA’s Utah facility that consumes 1.2 million gallons of water a day just to cool the computers it is likely that they copy and store every phone conversation, e-mail and text message in the USA. The entire communication system is subject to one gigantic wire tap and the government is spying on everybody all the time. Any FISA search warrant just retroactively authorizes what is already going on so it can legally be used in a prosecution.

  59. Eric Newhill,
    IC files are purged at least annually for US person data. This was documented by signed certification by each unit commander/OIC to the General Counsel. Files of someone collaterally spied upon would not exist. I have no idea how LE handles this data. For the raw, unprocessed SIGINT data, I’m not sure what is done. My guess is that it exists somewhere in those massive data centers to be processed some day by more powerful AI tools.

  60. bks says:

    Plenty of Sturm und Drang but I have yet to see anything very surprising in the Wikileaks dump. The CIA was rigging photocopiers in the 1960’s. You’d have to be a pretty stupid terrorist to disregard electronic surveillance. The prerequisites for 9/11 were c. $500,000, a few novice pilots willing to die for the cause, and umpteen thugs; no need for cellphones or smart TVs. While it’s of dubious value for combating terrorism, all that signal data would be very useful for making money.

  61. kooshy says:

    Colonel, I don’t know, I just think there are not serious consequences, punishment for deliberately lying, miss informing, the ultimate in charge of national security which is the C in C. IMO if there were serious punishments and persuasion to punish, the neocons/yellow bellies would have thinked twice to push their agenda with innuendos, deception and lies. we all know what happened to this nation and Iraq after Iraqi mishap, that was due to a lie that C in C knowingly or unknowingly believed to be a slam dunk, and the liar was awarded presidential medal of freedom. Sorry to drag this far, I will stop.

  62. Bandolero says:

    Thank you for informing me.
    So it looks like to me that if someone in high position wants to use or better say misuse the armed forces for getting SIGINT for political purposes such an effort would end up at the NSA anyway? If so, than the way of misusing the armed forces for that seems quite closed.

  63. turcopolier says:

    Yes. The Service Cryptologic Agencies and NSA are functionally the same thing. pl

  64. turcopolier says:

    Brennan built a wholly owned duplicative analog to NSA. Why did he do this? pl

  65. crf says:

    Wikileaks is most likely just a publisher. So “targetting” might not be the right word.
    It probably doesn’t only target the US, in that it would accept leaks from anywhere, but the risks of leaking in say China or Russia or Iran would possibly be serious not only for the leaker, but also the leaker’s family and that family’s future. In the United States, the consequences for leaking are surely dealt with solely within the purview of the law. In other countries that is not so.
    Maybe I’ll grant you that it is a bit strange that there are not more leaks out of South Korea, say, or Britain: countries where the rule of law is well established. For instance, the info wikileaks has on South Korea are all really leaks from the United States on the topic of South Korea, and not leaks endogenous to Korea.

  66. Valissa says:

    Great piece by Jonathan Turley…
    Discredited Obama-era insiders back from the dead to slam Trump
    In the midst of the raging controversies over secret surveillance and new healthcare plans, there were some curious and unsettling sightings in the coverage.  Individuals once thought to have passed from political existence reappeared to hold forth on the very subjects of their demise.
    In ancient times such figures were called druagr or, in Old Norse, revenant.  The two most recent revenants were James Clapper and Jonathan Gruber.  They are ample proof that no one really dies in Washington; their scandals just fade away.
    James Clapper is being widely quoted as proof that President Donald Trump was lying in saying that there was surveillance of Trump Tower carried out by President Barack Obama.  Clapper went public to say categorically that no such surveillance operations occurred. That ended the issue for many in the media.  After all, as the former Director of National Intelligence, Clapper would know right?
    Of course, all of the members of Congress and media widely quoting Clapper as the final word on the issue are ignoring that, in the Obama administration, some felt that Clapper should have been indicted for perjury in denying the existence of the most massive surveillance program in the history of the country.
    The section on revenant Jonathan Gruber, the so-called architect of Obamacare is worth reading too.

  67. Lars says:

    You may be right, but there has to be more to this. It certainly makes Wikileak very partisan and at some point it will damage their credibility. As of now, they appear to be aligned with Russia.

  68. Richard says:

    Cornyn’s background is law.
    And prior to running for Congress, Burr worked for 17 years as a sales manager for a distributor of lawn equipment.

  69. Cee says:

    I’m not over the warrant not granted
    August 22-28, 2001: Phoenix Memo Withheld from FISA Attorneys in Moussaoui
    The FBI’s Minneapolis field office drafts an application for a FISA warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui’s belongings and sends it to the Radical Fundamentalist Unit (RFU) at FBI headquarters. From there, the application is sent to four attorneys at the FBI’s national security law unit (NSLU), as it needs to be legally cleared by them before being submitted to the FISA court. All four attorneys are doubtful that the application contains enough evidence to secure a warrant. Although they are aware that Moussaoui is connected to Chechen rebels, they do not believe the FISA court will consider the Chechen rebels to be a foreign power. Moreover, they do not think the connection between the Chechens and Osama bin Laden is strong enough to make Moussaoui an agent of al-Qaeda. However, the attorneys are not given the relevant documentation. For example, they are not informed that the FBI was warned in April that the Chechen rebel leader and bin Laden were planning an attack against the US (see Before April 13, 2001). Nor are they provided with a copy of the Phoenix memo, in which Arizona FBI agent Ken Williams correctly theorized that bin Laden was sending agents to the US to train in flight schools (see July 10, 2001). Attorney Sherry Sabol will later say that she asked RFU agents Mike Maltbie and Rita Flack whether there was any evidence of people being sent to the US for flight training. Flack, who read the Phoenix memo five days before (see August 22, 2001), said no. Maltbie will later say he does not recall this, and Flack will deny it

  70. Eic Newhill says:

    Just saw your comment, immediately above, above personal info for sale by private business. That’s what I refer to down thread where you and I discusses personal identifiers. Like I said, you might be surprised what companies know about you. I have access to all sorts of information well beyond your healthcare and demographics. There is a team that works with that data for various purposes and I don’t think it is adding much value at this time, but we have it. I have spoken with purveyors of the data and they are very excited about what they will be able to supply in the future. Smart phones figure heavily in the data capture as do credit cards. Plus the personal identifiers associated with both a universal; meaning they are easily tied to the healthcare data, to each other and to financial data. With all of that very robust profiles of individuals can be constructed. Ostensibly, this is for highly targeted marketing and, in insurance, highly refined pricing of policies.
    Given that the company I work for involves tens of millions of covered lives, it is very conceivable that someday some employee with the right skills and access will take such a profile of someone in or running for office and use it against that person. We try to protect against such an event in various ways, but, well you know how it goes. It’s a scary new world out there in terms of lack of privacy with all the info gathered and bought and sold.

  71. Based on all info since 9/11 I believe the FBI legal ruling erroreous.

  72. Stumpy says:

    Sounds reasonable. Increase the attack surface, complexity is your friend. Flip side, the dispersion leaves a broad spectrum to analyze from the inside, i.e. Borg loyalists. Assange decried the CIA for keeping all their cookies in one jar with wide albeit privileged access. If you are right, someone gets caught with their finger in the dike, eventually.

  73. Stumpy says:

    If you have been tested for AIDS in a “mandatory government program”, your blood sample provides the ways and means to 1) identify you and 2) frame you. Fingerprints, too.

  74. J says:

    Speaking of FBI, according to the Wikileaks trove, the FBI has been working hand in glove with BestBuy Geek Squad to spy and go where no Court would allow a warrant for spying and surveillancing the innocent consumer.
    Hitler’s Gestapo head Himmler would love such a slithering technique were he alive today.

  75. confusedponderer says:

    “people like Trump who are essentially clueless about esoteric subjects”
    That is really putting the problem with Trump in a brief and elegant sentence.
    Recently, Trump invented a terror act in Sweden because he was incapable to separate the things he saw in tv between reality or fiction – documentation, propaganda, whatever – having seen it on tv, it became reality to him.
    The Swedes adressed that dumb idiocy appropriately. The former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt commented on Trump: “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound.”
    He made a good point. Whatever drugs Trump takes, he should stop using them. Or maybe he is just rolling dice, or is hearing voices – neither of which does help in achieving rational insights.
    Whatever is plaguing his mind, it won’t help him in a world that is more complex than his to be forgettable show “The Apprentice”. Reality today has unpredictable folks like Trump with access to nuclear codes and a disturbing enthusiasm for using them. Quite disturbing.
    Trump has said the US made the great mistake of not using nukes on Iraq in the last invasion (the US killing an additional 200k Iraqis surely would have made the Iraqis love the US and Trump – and go for an elating pro-US democracy).
    Maybe there is a way the US can get Trump to eventually pay the taxes he owes and confess what he owned and earns, and, while at it, has earned and owned. It’ll make him less economically movable (notable side bonus), and, iirc, being confined he couldn’t be a president, or could he? Great side bonus: Getting Trump to be a civilian again would probably reduce the risks of accidental nuclear war.

  76. turcopolier says:

    IMO you badly underestimate Trump. He is not a sophisticate. He has a mind that has been narrowly focused on entrepreneurial business deals but he is not stupid. He is not inflexible and is willing to compromise rather than adhering to an abstract vision of ideological purity. the notion that he is likely to get the US into a war with Russia (the only war that would threaten us all) is IMO empty of anything but haughty snobbery. Businessmen of his type talk tough in negotiations but are remarkably risk averse. War with Russia (or Iran) would be the ultimate risk both militarily and politically. As for any talk of removing him from office, you should be wary of that. In spite of the baloney in the leftist media here he remains very popular outside bi-coastal America and a “soft coup” against him would be seen as the result of a conspiracy. This would have a profoundly de-stabilizing effect on the US. pl

  77. Am I correct that the CIA charter document (specifically the National Security Act of 1947, as amended) has never been modified in any way to allow the CIA to collect SIGINT on a solely domestic target(s)?
    And what exactly is the SIGINT authorized by the CIA for foreign targets?

  78. LeaNder says:

    I think there are plenty of instances of lying by omission.
    Yes, sure there are. There are also limits to our perception. Yours or mine. Yours is no doubt way more informed then nitwit mine’s.
    But I am sure you can enlighten me about the human/intelligence/intelligent interpolation between your suspicion Trump’s victory would/could be hacked and the idea that Russia interfered in US elections.

  79. Cee says:

    Nossel said we shouldn’t expect any privacy!
    Bring out the pink hats!! LOL!

  80. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Andrew Napolitano: Did Obama spy on Trump?
    by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

    Sources have told me [Judge Napolitano] that the British foreign surveillance service, the Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ, most likely provided Obama with transcripts of Trump’s calls. The NSA has given GCHQ full 24/7 access to its computers, so GCHQ — a foreign intelligence agency that, like the NSA, operates outside our constitutional norms — has the digital versions of all electronic communications made in America in 2016, including Trump’s. So by bypassing all American intelligence services, Obama would have had access to what he wanted with no Obama administration fingerprints.

    GCHQ issues rare public statement to dismiss Trump Tower wiretapping claims as ‘utterly ridiculous’
    by Barney Henderson

  81. Keith Harbaugh says:

    The above post should have included the following excerpt from the story:

    In a break from its normal practice of refusing to comment on allegations about its activities, a spokesman for GCHQ said: “Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”

    A further development, published on Friday, 2017-03-17 is:
    According to the New York Times, one of Judge Napolitano’s sources is one Larry C. Johnson.
    Any relation to the Larry Johnson who contributes to SST?

    Larry C. Johnson, a former intelligence officer …
    said in a telephone interview that Mr. Napolitano called him on Friday and requested that he speak to The New York Times. Mr. Johnson said he was one of the sources for Mr. Napolitano’s claim about British intelligence.
    Mr. Johnson became infamous in political circles after he spread false rumors in 2008 that Michelle Obama had been videotaped using a slur against Caucasians. In the interview on Friday, Mr. Johnson acknowledged his notoriety, but said that his knowledge of surveillance of Mr. Trump came from sources in the American intelligence community. Mr. Napolitano, he said, heard about his information through an intermediary.
    “It sounds like a Frederick Forsyth novel,” Mr. Johnson said.

  82. turcopolier says:

    Keith Harbaugh
    Same man. A denial or two from GCHQ means nothing. That is what you do in the intelligence business when caught red-handed. pl

  83. Keith Harbaugh says:

    My surmise, FWIW, is that google (one of whose founders received a “Friend of Israel” award)
    knows more about most Americans than probably even NSA,
    and has the real mission of identifying anyone and everyone
    who might ultimately be a threat to the Jewish community.
    Could there be a better way of gathering information than google plus gmail?
    By the way, if anyone wonders why Russophobia runs so deep in America,
    they might find the following suggestive:

  84. Keith Harbaugh says:

    I later found the following denial by Johnson to the NYT story:
    Johnson said:

    But that is not the whole story…..

  85. Eric Newhill says:

    So now we are hearing that 20 or 24 people have the ability to see unmasked identifiers as I imagined they could. I can also imagine that it is more than that and that the 20 or 24 are just those who can authorize the unmasking of personal identifier data. They probably don’t even know how to do it themselves. They would probably order some underlings to do the tech work. There are probably at least a hundred people who can easily access the unmasked data.
    At least one of these 20 or 24 people is guilty of being responsible for the Flynn leak. That or there’s a Snowden type on the loose with anti_Trump sentiments. I opt for the former.

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