Sunday, June 25, 2017

Is American Intelligence Wide Open?

In Episode 2 of Oliver Stone's interviews with Russian President Vladimir Putin we see glimpses of the old spy. Putin flat out lies two or three times, and he sticks to his cover stories like school trained spooks do.
YouTube links to all four episodes of Oliver Stone's Interviews with President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
Part 1: 2: 3: 4:
Which reminds me of something that I learned sometime during my own government employment, which was reinforced when I attended SERE-C. You recognize a hostile service intelligence officer by detecting the residual indicators in their behaviors that they are school trained.

Those marks, the body language, the careful control of facial expressions, emanate off of Vladimir Putin. He was obviously a professional, formally trained intelligence officer when he was younger. You can just see it. 

Most interesting to me in this installment, Putin says that he thinks that “Snowden went too far,” though surely Russian SIGINT celebrated the release of the Snowden documents. Putin never says so, and Mr. Stone does not pressure him on this.

It is possible that this is the lone aspect of the Snowden breaches that everyone can agree to: that their release gave adversarial intelligence agencies a bonanza to work with.

Suddenly, like everybody else, intelligence agencies worldwide, both hostile and allied, got an unprecedented peek into the arcana of American SIGINT, and some of them may have been as dismayed as we were.

I am sure that the Snowden documents filled in deficits in the knowledge base of hostile services, and they surely incited envy, but one other thing bugs me.

The mandarins of American intelligence know now that an undetected leaker, someone with wide access to data, blew more information than everything that Snowden released. 

In this case, and I obviously refer to the Vault 7 breach, an unidentified leaker, potentially a patriot, exposed classified CIA SIGINT data to WikiLeaks. 

My concern is that this breach, and others that I will discuss below, may not be the only ones that American counterintelligence knows about. 

An unknowable number of yet undetected leakers may have exposed this data and potentially even more to hostile intelligence agencies.

Yet another gross breach of NSA security is seen in the Shadow Broker’s hack, which spawned the WannaCry malware which is causing havoc worldwide. 

NSA literally does not know how the Shadow Brokers ended up with their weaponized code tools, which Snowden confirmed came out of NSA’s TAO, Tailored Access Operations. 

The CIA Vault 7 breach is already assessed as the worst breach in the history of American intelligence, and WikiLeaks says that they have umpteen gigabytes of data, which they are systematically working through on a weekly release schedule. Every week, WikiLeaks publishes yet another blown project, yet another blown capability, yet another blown tool. 

The CEO of Microsoft publicly lambasted NSA and CIA for hoarding zero day exploits, and then failing to adequately warn private firms about leaked malware. Cybersecurity researchers worldwide are livid that weaponized NSA code was used to create the WannaCry exploit. 

But back to Snowden: I consider Snowden a self-inflicted wound on the part of the mandarins of the intelligence community. I will explain. 

Bradley Manning, now Chelsea Manning, preceded Snowden. Manning was deployed to Iraq in 2009, and he leaked to WikiLeaks in 2010. 

Manning was our great wakeup call. When he released hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables, we should have realized that access permissions, and clearance processes, were too liberal.

Remember that Manning was detected because he confided in Adrian Lamo, who ratted him out and informed US Army Counterintelligence. 

No system detected Manning as he transferred gigabytes of classified cables to a CD-R as he worked in his SCIF. Manning was caught due to a tip. Even Manning’s supervisors, who should have realized that Manning was a problem due to multiple red flags, were clueless about his activities.

Manning’s modus operandi was simple: he pretended to be rocking out to Lady GaGa CD’s while he worked. He was actually capturing massive quantities of data and burning it to that CD. 

There was a push to drop the walls between the fiefdoms of the multiple intelligence agencies in the aftermath of 9-11. One initiative was Intellipedia, a classified online Wiki for the intelligence community. 

Intellipedia debuted in 2006, and was intended to improve interagency collaboration. Manning was the result. Did the mandarins of American intelligence respond by re-erecting those walls?

They did not. They left the walls down, and then Snowden happened in 2013. You would think that after Snowden that more effective filters would be emplaced, but then we see that Reality Winner in 2017 not only retained a TS/SCI clearance against all logic, she could access information well beyond her need to know. And she did just that.

Reality Winner was not even working in a compartment that would have justified her searching for the document that she blew to The Intercept, much less printing a hard copy.

Both Manning and Winner are prime examples of people who never should have received security clearances in the first place, much less retained them. To my knowledge nobody was ever punished over the failure of the clearance process in either of these two cases.

In the old Stasi, or the old KGB, somebody would have been shot for these failures.

Which brings us to the strange case of Mr. Harold T. Martin, who was indicted in February by prosecutors for illicitly exfiltrating more than 50 terabytes of highly classified material and several bankers boxes of hard copy documents, a quantity that eclipses both Snowden and Manning by several orders of magnitude. 

Over a 20 year career, Martin accumulated massive quantities of classified data in hard copy and in digital form that he hoarded in his home, in his shed, in his car, and in the portfolio that was in his hands at the moment of his arrest. 

Martin was arrested on August 27, 2016, but no details have been released about how he was detected. Perhaps new “Insider Threat” programs are actually effective? 

Authorized leaks by intelligence sources discussing the Martin case closely coincide throughout mainstream media, outlining the parameters of the government’s case against him. 

And no further information has been released. 

One point of interest is that the monumental hoarder Mr. Martin was a contractor working for Booz Allen Hamilton at the time of his apprehension, though he did work for a total of seven separate private firms with intelligence contracts over his 20 year career. 

Snowden was also a contractor with Booz at the time that he extracted his infamous documents from an NSA facility in Hawaii. 

While Martin was detected and arrested, the question whether truly effective reforms are in place and successful must remain doubtful as Martin is yet another contractor who was able to access vast quantities of classified information, in his case for 20 years, far in excess of his legitimate need to know. 

And then we see what happened with Ms. Reality Winner. 

There are now seven separate cases where leakers breached NSA security, just in the past three years. 

Putin does get a funny little smile on his face when he is telling a flat out lie. If you watch his body language, you will see it.

Then of course there is at least one other leaker that we barely know about, and about whom state controlled media in America has regurgitated minimal official anonymous leaks, though the record of court cases involving him is not lean. 

This leaker’s long history of dubious interactions with the US government paints him as litigious, and his character is so successfully assassinated that his own lawyer described him as a conman.

Which makes you wonder whether recent articles about him happened despite his long legal history with the US government, or if the journalists who wrote about him failed to do the simplest due diligence investigation into his background. 

I refer of course to Mr. Dennis Montgomery, characterized by some as the most epic intelligence leaker of all time, who legally duplicated and retained in his custody some 28 million distinct NSA records, and some 600 million pages of classified documents. Yes, those numbers were reported in historically trustworthy media.  

In his latest act, Mr. Montgomery sued multiple mandarins of the intelligence community and their organizations, naming former FBI Director James Comey, current DIRNSA Mike Rogers, former DCI John Brennan, and former POTUS Barack Hussein Obama. He also named the FBI, the CIA, the NSA and the DIA and other agencies in his lawsuit. 

Mr. Montgomery’s complaint: he was ignored, and he was shunned by Congressmen, Senators, and by Mr. Comey, whom he accuses of suppressing these records in order to perpetuate a series of illegal programs that surveil the American people and preeminent figures like the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, other Supreme Court Justices, prominent businessmen like Donald J. Trump, and Mr. Montgomery himself and his lawyer, Mr. Larry Klayman. 

Mr. Montgomery and Mr. Klayman first blipped my radar when InfoWars published an article on 20 March 2017 confirming that Donald J. Trump was surveilled. The examples provided were persuasive. 

The surveillance was confirmed between 2004 and 2009, but records provided to Sheriff Joe Arpaio only covered years up to 2010. So it is possible that further surveillance took place. 

On 22 March 2017, Bob Unruh published an article on stating that Mr. Montgomery provided testimony to the FBI under a grant of immunity nearly two years ago. No investigation was mounted. 

The USG henceforth ignored Mr. Montgomery and his problematic whopping quantities of forensic evidence of illegal mass surveillance of the domestic US population, and resumed its whispering campaign that he is unreliable, a conman and a fraudster, and perhaps mentally unstable. 

Did they shoot the messenger? Or is their character assassination of Mr. Montgomery accurate? Is it possible that Mr. Montgomery is a nutcase, but he also has in his custody evidence of illegal government domestic mass surveillance? 

Mr. Montgomery’s lawyer, Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, sent a letter to Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the House, demanding that former Director Comey be asked about this forensic evidence under oath during his testimony. 

Obviously, that did not happen. Mr. Klayman also demanded a meeting with the Congressman who instead sent a staffer to listen to the lawyer. 

It is inescapable that Mr. Klayman and Mr. Montgomery were treated with rudeness and contempt by officials at the highest levels of the intelligence community, and now, by Mr. Nunes. Was it merited? 

Mr. Montgomery’s lawsuit was assigned to Judge Richard J. Leon of the District Court for the District of Columbia, who issued an historic ruling in December, 2013 that NSA’s Bulk Telephony Metadata Program likely violates the Constitution. 

Judge Leon however stayed his own injunction ordering a halt to the surveillance in light of the national security interests at stake and the novelty of the constitutional issues raised, he said. Judge Leon was also optimistic that the appeals process would move expeditiously. 

Judge Leon’s optimism was betrayed, however, until he ruled two years later that the program likely violates the constitution. Then the appeals court moved expeditiously on behalf of the government, and a panel of three appellate court judges ruled in favor of NSA.

Judge Richard Leon is considered an ally of the people, and this court case may end up with rulings against mandarins of the intelligence community and against the former president and the intelligence agencies themselves. Or it may be dismissed, like other litigation involving Mr. Montgomery.

Mr. Montgomery’s long history of litigation with the US government remains problematic, and it appears possible that journalist Mr. Bill Still was deceived, as was Bob Unruh, as was Sheriff Joe Arpaio, as were John Solomon and Sara A. Carter of Circa

Mr. Montgomery’s Wiki entry is devastating. It states that Mr. Montgomery “conned the Pentagon” and “won millions in federal contracts” for software that was later characterized as “an elaborate hoax.” 

The talk page for that entry shows Mr. Montgomery himself attempting to edit his own entry, which drove Wikipedia editors into a frenzy.

In a final condemnation, the entry states that Mr. Montgomery’s former lawyer “called him a “con artist” and an “habitual liar engaged in fraud.”

As interesting that all of this is, my point is that Mr. Montgomery may have exfiltrated classified records. Mr. Martin certainly did, Mr. Snowden definitely did, and so did Mr. Manning. So did Ms. Winning. 

We can also consider the OPM breach in this context, which is blamed on Chinese hackers, as well as another recent breach, this time of Air Force personnel files. All of these breaches happened, while only Mr. Montgomery’s remains problematic. 

What about the spies that we never hear about? 

We are still apparently wide open. Reality Winner was just an exception because she got caught. What about the leakers that did not make her mistakes?

Nobody knows. 


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