American Authorities Working On Charges To Arrest Julian Assange

The Resurgent, by Chris Queen, April 21, 2017:

Insiders at the Justice Department say that authorities are putting together what they need in order to arrest Julian Assange. After nearly seven years of investigations and confidence from the Obama administration that charges would be difficult to prosecute, American officials now believe they have what they need to move a prosecution forward.

Obama’s Justice Department was hesitant to pursue charges against Assange because Wikileaks was not the only organization to publish the information that Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning procured. But CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in a speech that the Trump Justice Department is ready to move forward.

He said WikiLeaks “directed Chelsea Manning to intercept specific secret information, and it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States.”

“It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: A non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” Pompeo said.

US intelligence agencies have also determined that Russian intelligence used WikiLeaks to publish emails aimed at undermining the campaign of Hillary Clinton, as part of a broader operation to meddle in the US 2016 presidential election.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said publicly that arresting Assange is a “priority.”

 “We are going to step up our effort and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks,” he said. “This is a matter that’s gone beyond anything I’m aware of. We have professionals that have been in the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks and some of them are quite serious. So yes, it is a priority. We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.”

Assange’s attorney Barry Pollack has said that the has had no contact with the Justice Department – and even that authorities have refused to speak with him – and he claims that Wikileaks is no different than news organizations that used information that Manning had stolen.

Assange has tried to hide behind the First Amendment for himself and for Wikileaks, but Pompeo has asserted that the Swede has no First Amendment protection as a non-citizen seeking asylum in a foreign country. He is currently staying at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden on allegation of rape. The left-leaning president-elect in Ecuador has promised to continue harboring Assange.

The ACLU is already up in arms about the very idea of charges against Assange, because – you guessed it – it’s the Trump administration bringing the charges.

Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, argued that US prosecution of Assange sets a dangerous precedent.

“Never in the history of this country has a publisher been prosecuted for presenting truthful information to the public,” Wizner told CNN. “Any prosecution of WikiLeaks for publishing government secrets would set a dangerous precedent that the Trump administration would surely use to target other news organizations.”

It will be interesting to see how the Justice Department goes forward in pursuing charges and whether they will stick. Stay tuned.

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CIA’s Pompeo rips WikiLeaks as ‘hostile intelligence service’ abetted by Russia

Fox News, April 13, 2017:

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, in his first speech since taking over the agency, lambasted WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange — calling the group a “non-state hostile intelligence service” that is often abetted by “state actors like Russia.”

Speaking Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Pompeo called Assange a “fraud,” someone with no “moral compass” and a “narcissist who has created nothing of value.”

He asserted that Assange and former National Security Agency staffer and famed leaker Edward Snowden “seek to use that information to make a name for themselves” and they “care nothing about the lives they put at risk or the damage they cause to national security.”

Asked why he would focus on WikiLeaks rather than other issues, Pompeo said he felt it was vital to inform the American people about the threat they pose.

In the case of Snowden, Pompeo said the detrimental impact of his leaks was expansive and that more than 1,000 foreign targets attempted to change their means of communication as a result of the Snowden disclosures.

“The bottom line is that it became harder for us in the intelligence community to keep Americans safe. It became harder to monitor the communications of terrorist organizations that are bent on bringing bloodshed to our shores.  Snowden’s disclosures helped these groups find ways to hide themselves in the crowded digital forest,” he said.

Last week, WikiLeaks released the latest chapter in its ongoing “Vault 7” series of cyber and hacking tools that it claims were stolen from the CIA.

According to its release, the new leaked information contains 27 documents from the CIA’s Grasshopper Framework, which is allegedly the software tools used by the CIA to infiltrate Microsoft’s Windows platform.

The former Kansas congressman began his speech by telling the story of Philip Agee, a founding member of the magazine Counterspy, which advocated for the exposure of intelligence agents.

In September 1974, Agee’s magazine publicly identified Richard Welch as the CIA chief of station in Athens, Greece and published his address. One year later, Agee was assassinated.

“Today, there are still plenty of Philip Agees in the world, and the harm they inflict on U.S. institutions and personnel is just as serious today as it was back then,” said the director.

In an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Wednesday, Assange said he shared the goal of the Post and The New York Times “to publish noteworthy content.”

The director also came to the defense of his agency and CIA agents who cannot “speak up for themselves” given their positions.

He said that “regardless of what you see on the silver screen, we do not pursue covert action on a whim without approval or accountability” and that when covert action takes place, “there is oversight and accountability every step of the way.”

Obama used NSA & FBI to spy on Trump – veteran CIA officer Gary Berntsen

RT – SophieCo, March 17, 2017: (go to RT for video)

The mighty CIA has fallen victim to a major breach, with WikiLeaks revealing the true scope of the Agency’s ability for cyber-espionage. Its tools seem to be aimed at ordinary citizens – your phone, your car, your TV, even your fridge can become an instrument of surveillance in the hands of the CIA. How does the CIA use these tools, and why do they need them in the first place? And as WikiLeaks promises even more revelations, how is all of this going to shape the already tense relationship between new president and the intelligence community? A man who has spent over two decades in the CIA’s clandestine service – Gary Berntsen is on SophieCo.

Follow @SophieCo_RT

Sophie Shevardnadze: Gary Berntsen, former CIA official, welcome to the show, great to have you with us. Now, Vault 7, a major batch of CIA docs revealed by Wikileaks uncovers the agency’s cyber tools. We’re talking about world’s most powerful intelligence agency – how exactly did the CIA lose control of its arsenal of hacking weapons?

Gary Berntsen: First off, I’d like to say that the world has changed a lot in the last several decades, and people are communicating in many different ways and intelligence services, whether they be American or Russian, are covering these communications and their coverage of those communications has evolved. Without commenting on the specific validity of those tools, it was clear that the CIA was surely using contractors to be involved in this process, not just staff officers, and that individuals decided that they had problems with U.S. policy, and have leaked these things to Wikileaks. This is a large problem, for the U.S. community, but just as the U.S. is having problems, the Russia face similar problems. Just this week you had multiple members of the FSB charged with hacking as well, and they have been charged by the U.S. government. So both services who are competitors, face challenges as we’ve entered a new era of mass communications.

SS: So like you’re saying, the leaker or leakers of the CIA docs is presumably a CIA contractor – should the agency be spending more effort on vetting its own officers? Is the process rigorous enough?

GB: Clearly. Look… There have been individuals since the dawn of history. Espionage is the second oldest occupation, have conducted spying and espionage operations, and there have been people who have turned against their own side and worked for competitors and worked for those opposing the country or the group that they’re working with. It’s been a problem from the beginning, and it continues to be a problem, and the U.S. clearly is going to have to do a much better job at vetting those individuals who are given security clearances, without a doubt.

SS: The CIA studied the flaws in the software of devices like iPhones, Androids, Smart TVs, apps like Whatsapp that left them exposed to hacking, but didn’t care about patching those up –  so, in essence the agency chose to leave Americans vulnerable to cyberattacks, rather than protect them?

GB: I think you have to understand, in this world that we’re operating and the number one target of our intelligence community are terrorists. Since the attacks of 9\11, 16 years ago, the obsession of the American intelligence community is to identify those planning terrorist attacks, collecting information on them and being able to defeat them. These individuals are using all these means of communication. I have spoken with many security services around the world, since my retirement back in 2005-2006, a lot of them have had problems covering the communications of somebody’s very devices and programs that you’ve talked about – whether they be narcotraffickers or salafist jihadists, they are all piggybacking off of commercial communications. Therefore the need for modern intelligence services to sort of provide coverage of all means of communications. And there’s a price that you pay for that.

SS: One of the most disturbing parts of the leaks is the “Weeping Angel” program – CIA hacking into Samsung Smart TVs to record what’s going on even when the TV appears to be turned off. Why are the CIA’s tools designed to penetrate devices used by ordinary Western citizens at home?

GB: Look, I wouldn’t say it has anything to do with Western homes, because the CIA doesn’t do technical operations against American citizens – that’s prohibited by the law. If the CIA does anything in the U.S., it does it side-by-side with the FBI, and it does it according to FISA – the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act laws. It’s gotta go to the judge to do those things. Those tools are used primarily against the individuals and terrorists that are targeting the U.S. or other foreign entities that we see as a significant threat to the U.S. national security, which is the normal functioning of any intelligence service.

SS: Just like you say, the CIA insists it never uses its investigative tools on American citizens in the US, but, we’re wondering, exactly how many terrorist camps in the Middle East have Samsung Smart TVs to watch their favorite shows on? Does it seem like the CIA lost its direction?

GB: Plenty of them.

SS: Plenty?…

GB: I’ve travelled in the Middle East, Samsungs are sold everywhere. Sophie, Samsung TVs are sold all over the world. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Middle East, I’ve seen them in Afghanistan, I’ve seen them everywhere. So, any kind of devices that you can imagine, people are using everywhere. We’re in a global economy now.

SS: The CIA has tools to hack iPhones – but they make up only around 15 % of the world’s smartphone market. IPhones are not popular among terrorists, but they are among business and political elites – so are they the real target here?

GB: No. The CIA in relative terms to the size of the world is a small organisation. It is an organisation that has roughly 20 or more thousand people – it’s not that large in terms of covering a planet with 7 billion people. We have significant threats to the U.S. and to the Western world. We live in an age of super-terrorism, we live in an age when individuals, small groups of people, can leverage technology at a lethal effect. The greatest threats to this planet are not just nuclear, they are bio. The U.S. needs to have as many tools as possible to defend itself against these threats, as does Russia want to have similar types of tools to defend itself. You too, Russian people have suffered from a number of terrible terrorist acts.

SS: Wikileaks suggest the CIA copied the hacking habits of other nations to create a fake electronic trace – why would the CIA need that?

GB: The CIA, as any intelligence service, would look to conduct coverage in the most unobtrusive fashion as possible. It is going to do its operations so that they can collect and collect again and again against terrorist organisations, where and whenever it can, because sometimes threats are not just static, they are continuous.

SS: You know this better, so enlighten me: does the he CIA have the authorisation to create the surveillance tools it had in the first place? Who gives it such authorisation?

GB: The CIA was created in 1947 by the National Security Act of the U.S. and does two different things – it does FI (foreign intelligence) collection and it does CA – covert action. Its rules for collection of intelligence were enshrined in the law that created it, the CIA Act 110, in 1949, but the covert action part of this, where it does active measures, when it gets involved in things – all of those are covered by law. The Presidential finding had to be written, it had to be presented to the President. The President’s signs off on those things. Those things are then briefed to members of Congress, or the House Permanent Subcommittee for Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence. We have a very rigorous process of review of the activities of our intelligence communities in the U.S.

SS: But you’re talking about the activities in terms of operations. I’m just asking – does CIA need any authorisation or permission to create the tools it has in its arsenal? Or it can just go ahead…

GB: Those tools         and the creation of collection tools falls under the same laws that allowed the CIA to be established. And that was the 1949 Intelligence Act. And also, subsequently, the laws in 1975. Yes.

SS: So, the CIA programme names are quite colourful, sometimes wacky –  “Weeping Angel”, “Swamp Monkey”, “Brutal Kangaroo” – is there a point to these, is there any logic, or are they completely random? I always wondered…

GB: There’s absolutely no point to that, and it’s random.

SS:Okay, so how do you come up with those names? Who… like, one says: “Monkey” and another one says: “Kangaroo”?…

GB: I’m sure they are computer-generated.

SS: Trump accused Obama of wiretapping him during the campaign… Could the CIA have actually spied on the president? It seems like the agency doesn’t have the best relationship with Donald Trump – how far can they go?

GB: Let me just say this: the President used the word “wiretapping” but I think it was very clear to us that have been in the intelligence business, that this was a synonym for “surveillance”. Because most people are on cellphones, people aren’t using landlines anymore, so there’s no “wiretapping”, okay. These all fall under the Intelligence Surveillance Act, as I stated earlier, this thing existing in the U.S.. It was clear to President Trump and to those in his campaign, after they were elected, and they did a review back that the Obama Administration sought FISA authorisation to do surveillance of the Trump campaign in July and then in October. They were denied in July, they were given approval in October, and in October they did some types of surveillance of the Trump campaign. This is why the President, of course, tweeted, that he had been “wiretapped” – of course “wiretapping” being a synonym for the surveillance against his campaign, which was never heard of in the U.S. political history that I can remember, I can’t recall any way of this being done. It’s an outrage, and at the same time, Congressional hearings are going to be held and they are going to review all of these things, and they are going to find out exactly what happened and what was done. It’s unclear right now, but all we do know – and it has been broken in the media that there were two efforts, and at the second one, the authorisation was given. That would never have been done by the CIA, because they don’t do that sort of coverage in the U.S.. That would either be the FBI or the NSA, with legal authorities and those authorities… the problem that the Trump administration had is they believed that the information from these things was distributed incorrectly. Any time an American –  and this is according to the U.S. law – any time an American is on the wire in the U.S., their names got to be minimized from this and it clearly wasn’t done and the Trump administration was put in a bad light because of this.

SS: If what you’re saying is true, how does that fall under foreign intelligence? Is that more of the FBI-NSA expertise?

GB: It was FBI and NSA – it was clearly the FBI and the NSA that were involved, it would never have been the CIA doing that, they don’t listen to telephones in the U.S., they read the product of other agencies that would provide those things, but clearly, there were individuals on those phone calls that they believed were foreign and were targeting those with potential communications with the Trump campaign. Let’s be clear here – General Clapper, the DNI for President Obama, stated before he left office, that there was no, I repeat, no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. This has been something that has been dragged out again, and again, and again, by the media. This is a continuing drumbeat of the mainstream, left-wing media of the U.S., topaint the President in the poorest light, to attempt to discredit Donald Trump.

SS: With the intelligence agencies bringing down Trump’s advisors like Michael Flynn – and you said the people behind that were Obama’s loyalists – can we talk about the intelligence agencies being too independent from the White House, playing their own politics?

GB: I think part of the problem that we’ve seen during the handover of power from President Obama to President Trump was that there was a number of holdovers that went from political appointee to career status that had been placed in the NatSec apparatus and certain parts of the intelligence organisations. It is clear that President Trump and his team are determined to remove those people to make sure that there’s a continuity of purpose and people aren’t leaking information that would put the Administration into a negative light. That’s the goal of the administration, to conduct itself consistent with the goals of securing the country from terrorism and other potential threats – whether they be counter-narcotics, or intelligence agencies trying to breach our… you know, the information that we hold secure.

SS: Here’s a bit of conspiracy theories – could it be that the domestic surveillance agencies like the NSA or the FBI orchestrated the Vault 7 leaks  – to damage CIA, stop it from infringing on their turf?

GB :I really don’t think so and that is conspiracy  thinking. You have to understand something, in the intelligence communities in the U.S., whether it be the CIA and FBI, we’ve done a lot of cross-fertilizations. When I was in senior position in CIA’s counterterrorism center, I had a deputy who was an FBI officer. An office in FBI HQ down in Washington had an FBI lead with a CIA deputy. There’s a lot more cooperation than one would think. There are individuals that do assignments in each other’s organisations to help foster levels of cooperation. I had members of NSA in my staff when I was at CIA, members of diplomatic security, members of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and it was run like a task force, so, there’s a lot more cooperation than the media presents, they always think that there are these huge major battles between the organisations and that’s rarely true.

SS: Generally speaking – is there rivalry between American intel agencies at all? Competition for resources, maybe?

GB: I think, sometimes, between the Bureau and the CIA – the CIA is the dominant agency abroad, and the FBI is the dominant agency in the U.S. What they do abroad, they frequently have to get cleared by us, what we do domestically, we have to get cleared by them, and sometimes there’s some friction, but usually, we’re able to work this out. It makes for great news, the CIA fighting FBI, but the reality is that there’s a lot more cooperation than confrontation. We are all in the business of trying to secure the American homeland and American interests globally.

SS: I’m still thinking a lot about the whole point of having this hacking arsenal for the CIA since you talk on their behalf – the possibility to hack phones, computers, TVs and cars – if the actual terrorist attacks on US soil, like San Bernardino, Orlando are still missed?

GB: Look. There are hundreds of individuals, if not thousands, planning efforts against the U.S. at any  time. It can be many-many things. And the U.S. security services, there’s the CIA, the FBI, NSA – block many-many of these things, but it is impossible to stop them all. Remember, this is an open society here, in America, with 320 million people, here. We try to foster open economic system, we allow more immigration to America than all countries in the world combined. This is a great political experiment here, but it’s also very difficult to police. There are times that the U.S. security services are going to fail. It’s inevitable. We just have to try the best we can, do the best job that we can, while protecting the values that attract so many people to the U.S.

SS:The former CIA director John Brennan is saying Trump’s order to temporarily ban travel from some Muslim states is not going to help fight terrorism in ‘any significant way’. And the countries where the terrorists have previously come from – like Saudi Arabia, or Afghanistan, it’s true – aren’t on the list. So does he maybe have a point?

GB: John Brennan is acting more like a political operative than a former director of CIA. The countries that Mr. Trump had banned initially, or at least had put a partial, sort of a delay – where states like Somalia, Libya, the Sudan, Iran – places where we couldn’t trust local vetting. Remember something, when someone immigrates to the U.S., we have what’s called an “immigration packet”: they may have to get a chest X-ray to make sure they don’t bring any diseases with them, they have to have background check on any place they’ve ever lived, and in most of these places there are no security forces to do background checks on people that came from Damascus, because parts of Damascus are totally destroyed – there’s been warfare. It is actually a very reasonable thing for President Trump to ask for delay in these areas. Look, the Crown-Prince, the Deputy Crown-Prince of Saudi Arabia was just in the United States and met with Donald Trump, and he said he didn’t believe it was a “ban on Muslims”. This was not a “ban on Muslims”, it was an effort to slow down and to create more opportunity to vet those individuals coming from states where there’s a preponderance of terrorist organisations operating. A reasonable step by President Trump, something he promised during the campaign, something he’s fulfilling. But again, I repeat – America allows more immigration into the U.S., than all countries combined. So, we really don’t need to be lectured on who we let in and who we don’t let in.

SS: But I still wonder if the Crown-Prince would’ve had the same comment had Saudi Arabia been on that ban list. Anyways, Michael Hayden, ex-CIA…

GB: Wait a second, Sophie – the Saudis have a reasonable form to police their society, and they provide accurate police checks. If they didn’t create accurate police checks, we would’ve given the delay to them as well.

SS: Ok, I got your point. Now, Michael Hayden, ex-CIA and NSA chief, pointed out that the US intelligence enlists agents in the Muslim world with the promise of eventual emigration to America – is Trump’s travel ban order going to hurt American intelligence gathering efforts in the Middle East?

GB: No, the question here – there were individuals that worked as translators for us in Afghanistan and Iraq and serving in such roles as translators, they were promised the ability to immigrate to the United States. Unfortunately, some of them were blocked in the first ban that was put down, because individuals who wrote that, didn’t consider that. That has been considered in the re-write, that the Trump administration had submitted, which is now being attacked by a judge in Hawaii, and so it was taken into consideration, but… the objective here was to help those that helped U.S. forces on the ground, especially those who were translators, in ground combat operations, where they risked their lives alongside American soldiers.

SS:You worked in Afghanistan – you were close to capturing Bin Laden back in 2001 – what kind of spying tools are actually used on the ground by the CIA to catch terrorists?

GB: The CIA as does any intelligence service in the world, is a human business. It’s a business where we work with local security forces to strengthen their police and intelligence forces, we attempt to leverage them, we have our own people on the ground that speak the language, we’re trying to help build transportation there. There’s no “secret sauce” here. There’s no super-technology that changes the country’s ability to conduct intelligence collections or operations. In Afghanistan the greatest thing that the U.S. has is broad support and assistance to Afghan men and women across the country. We liberated half of the population, and for women were providing education, and when the people see what we were doing: trying to build schools, providing USAID projects – all of these things – this makes the population willing to work with and support the United States. Frequently, members of the insurgence groups will see this and sometimes they do actually cross the lines and cooperate with us. So, it’s a full range of American political power, whether it’s hard or soft, that is the strength of the American intelligence services – because  people in the world actually believe – and correctly so – that American more than generally a force of good in the world.

SS: Gary, thank you so much for this interesting interview and insight into the world of the CIA. We’ve been talking to Gary Berntsen, former top CIA officer, veteran of the agency, talking about the politics of American intelligence in the Trump era. That’s it for this edition of SophieCo, I will see you next time.

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While searching for the RT video on YouTube I found this recent interview with Gary Berntsen by Newsfirst Sri Lanka:

Some Quick Thoughts on WikiLeaks’s Release of CIA Hacking Documents

National Review, by Fred Fleitz, March 7, 2017:

Obama Frees Manning the Traitor

manning

Front Page Magazine, by Matthew Vadum, January 18, 2017:

To the Left the highest form of service to America is to betray it.

This is why President Obama yesterday ordered that the 35-year sentence of convicted traitor U.S. Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning be commuted. Manning, who leaked vast quantities of classified materials, was born male with the given name Bradley but now identifies as female.

Bradley’s transgender status, which has made the prisoner a cause célèbre among left-wingers, almost certainly played a huge role in the commutation. Manning, who has tried to commit suicide in prison, has not had sex-reassignment surgery but has been campaigning for it for years.

As a consequence of our Marxist, identity politics-obsessed president’s order, Manning is now scheduled to be released from military prison on May 17 of this year, instead of 2045. This means that upon release Manning will have served about seven years behind bars.

Manning was convicted by court-martial on July 30, 2013, of 20 counts, including six violations of the Espionage Act, along with theft and computer fraud. An acquittal was registered on the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, which can result in a sentence of life imprisonment.

As a clemency-sweetener, on Jan. 12 WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange offered to allow himself to be extradited to the U.S. if President Obama ordered the release of Manning.

Will Assange honor his promise? We’ll see.

Read more

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Tucker Carlson and Ben Collins discuss:

Was Friday’s declassified report claiming Russian hacking of the 2016 election rigged?

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Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, January  9, 2016:

Friday night, during her last show on Fox News, Megyn Kelly asked former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra whether he accepted the conclusion by 17 intelligence agencies in a recently released declassified report that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and that this interference came at the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Hoekstra gave an answer Kelly did not anticipate.  He noted that the declassified report represents the views of only three intelligence agencies, not seventeen. Hoekstra also questioned why the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) did not co-author or clear the report and why it lacked dissenting views.

The declassified report issued on January 6 is an abridged version of a longer report ordered by President Obama that concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to undermine the 2016 president election, hurt Hillary’s candidacy and promote Donald Trump through cyber warfare, social media and the state-owned Russia cable channel RT. Although the report’s authors said they have high confidence in most of these conclusions, they were unable to include any evidence for classification reasons.

As someone who worked in the intelligence field for 25 years, I share Congressman Hoekstra’s concerns about Friday’s declassified Russia report and a similar Joint DHS and ODNI Election Security Statement released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and DHS on October 7, 2016.

I also suspect the entire purpose of this report and its timing was to provide President Obama with a supposedly objective intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2016 election that the president could release before he left office to undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s election.

I am concerned both intelligence assessments were rigged for political purposes.

You may remember when Hillary Clinton claimed during the final presidential debate on October 19 that based on the October 7 ODNI/DHS statement, all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies had determined the WikiLeaks disclosures of Democratic emails were an effort by Russia to interfere with the election.

Clinton’s remark was not accurate. Although the October memo said “the U.S. Intelligence Community” was confident that the Russian government was behind the alleged hacking, the October memo was drafted by only two intelligence organizations – ODNI and DHS.

Since it came out only a month before the presidential election and was co-authored by only two intelligence agencies, the October memo looked like a clumsy attempt by the Obama White House to produce a document to boost Clinton’s reelection chances.  Its argumentation was very weak since it said the alleged hacking of Democratic emails was “consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts” but did not say there was any evidence of Russian involvement.

Friday’s declassified intelligence report on Russia hacking is even more suspicious.  As Congressman Hoekstra noted, this report was drafted and cleared by only three intelligence agencies, not 17.  DHS, which co-authored the October statement, added a brief tick to the new report, but did not clear it.  The Office of Director of National Intelligence, which co-authored the October memo, did not draft or clear Friday’s report, nor did other members of the U.S Intelligence Community with important equities in this issue such as DIA and the State Department’s Intelligence and Research Bureau (INR).

The declassified Russian report also lacks standard boilerplate language that it was coordinated within the U.S. Intelligence Community. This language usually reads: “This memorandum was prepared by the National Intelligence Council and was coordinated with the US Intelligence Community” or “this is an IC-coordinated assessment.”

Given how politically radioactive the issue of Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election has become, why wasn’t the January 6 Russia report an intelligence community-coordinated assessment?  Why were several important intelligence agencies and their experts excluded?

It also is important, as Hoekstra indicated in his Fox interview, that intelligence community assessments on extremely controversial issues include dissenting views, such as those added by INR to the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s WMD program.  A declassified version of this estimate was released in 2002 that included INR’s dissent.

The content of the declassified report was underwhelming. Although the report made serious accusations of Russian interference in the election, it did not back them up with evidence.  And, as Hoekstra also noted in his Fox News interview, the report made some dubious arguments that Russia succeeded in influencing the election using its RT cable channel, a Russian propaganda tool that is only taken seriously in the United States by the far left.

It’s also troubling that the unclassified report does not mention the extremely weak internet security of Clinton’s private email server, the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chief John Podesta.  This makes it impossible to determine whether the alleged hacking and leaking of Democratic emails was more Russia and other hostile actors exploiting this carelessness rather than a deliberate and robust Russian operation to interfere with the election.

This is not to say the new CIA/NSA/FBI report is without value.  I believe the classified report probably includes solid evidence on the intensive and broad-based cyber warfare efforts that Russia, China and other states have been conducting against the United States for the last eight years that President Obama has ignored.

I am encouraged that President-elect Trump responded to this report by stating that will take aggressive action against cyber warfare against the United States in the early days of his administration.

At the same time, I believe President-elect Trump and his team are justified in questioning the January 6 report as politically motivated.

I am concerned that the exclusion of key intelligence players and the lack of dissenting views give the appearance that the conclusions of this report were pre-cooked.

I also suspect the entire purpose of this report and its timing was to provide President Obama with a supposedly objective intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2016 election that the president could release before he left office to undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s election.

Adding to the Trump team’s concerns that intelligence agencies were playing political games over possible Russian interference in the election, is the fact that at the same time these agencies were refusing to brief Congress about their findings on this issue, they were constantly being leaked to the news media. The most recent press leaks, some by intelligence officials, occurred this week on the classified contents of the new Russia report before they were briefed to Mr. Trump.

The new intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election broke so radically with the way objective and authoritative intelligence community assessments are supposed to be produced that it appears to have been rigged to support a pre-ordained set of conclusions to undermine President-elect Trump.   I believe the October 2016 memo and related developments support this unfortunate conclusion.

It is vital that the Trump administration and U.S. intelligence agencies move beyond this situation by working together to forge new policies to protect our nation against the many serious threats it faces, including radical Islam, cyber warfare, nuclear proliferation, Russia, China and other threats.

Intelligence agencies were led astray by the Obama administration’s partisanship and national security incompetence.

I am confident that over time, the outstanding men and women Trump has named to top national security posts will ensure that America’s intelligence agencies have Trump’s confidence and produce the hard hitting and objective intelligence he will need to defend our nation.

***

Also see:

Gertz: ‘America Is Extremely Vulnerable’ to Cyber Threats

iwarBY: Washington Free Beacon Staff
January 3, 2017

Washington Free Beacon senior editor Bill Gertz said that the United States is “extremely vulnerable” to cyber attacks during a radio interview with Sean Hannity on Tuesday evening. Gertz appeared on Hannity’s radio show to discuss his newly released book, iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age.

To begin the interview, Hannity asked Gertz what he thought of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s assertion that he did not receive hacked emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign from Russian sources.

“We’re going to have to wait to see what the [Obama] administration’s investigation of the Russian influence operation is,” Gertz responded.

Hannity then referenced his previous interview with Assange in which the WikiLeaks founder claimed to have hacked into NASA at the age of sixteen, prompting Gertz to explain how vulnerable the U.S. is to what he described as information attacks.

“America is extremely vulnerable, and I think that’s the bottom line of this book, iWar. We’re getting killed in the information space,” Gertz said.

Gertz defined the information space as twofold: one part encompasses the use of cyber and technical attacks and the other involves information and content.

In the second chapter of his book, Gertz details the sophistication of North Korean cyber attacks, including the 2014 Sony breach after the entertainment company released a comedic movie that made fun of the North Korean regime. Gertz described an interview with a North Korean defector who “issued a dire warning” that the American government needs to do something to “counterattack North Korean information warfare operations.”

Continuing on this point, Gertz asserted that the CIA needs “dire reform.” Under the leadership of current CIA Director John Brennan, the organization, Gertz noted, has focused too heavily on drone strikes instead of clandestine information operations.

Hannity then played a brief snippet of his interview with Assange in which he repeatedly denied that the Russian government was behind the leaked Clinton and DNC emails during the 2016 election. Hannity asked Gertz what he thought of Assange’s adamant denials of receiving the hacked emails from Russian sources.

“On Assange I think it’s clear until he reveals where he obtained the information that he leaked, then I think the onus is going to be on him,” Gertz said. “And if he doesn’t reveal it, that’s going to be a problem.”

Later discussing America’s relationship with Russia and the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, Gertz declared that “we are definitely entering a new Cold War.” Gertz explained that in his new book he lays out Putin’s strategy to “reestablish the Soviet Union without communism.”

Hannity then asked Gertz what the new Trump administration can do to confront Iran after what he described as President Obama’s capitulation to Tehran with the Iran nuclear deal and the $1.7 billion payment early last year to the Iranian regime to free American hostages.

“We’ve got to use an information warfare campaign against Iran,” Gertz said, adding that the Obama administration missed a golden opportunity to do so during the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009.

Gertz suggested that the American government could establish a new institution to combat foreign enemies and administrations by using information and political warfare to spread American messages of freedom and democracy.

iWar can be purchased today in print or as an e-book from Amazon and a variety of other booksellers. It can be downloaded as an audiobook through iTunes and Audible.

Gertz is the author of seven books, including the New York Times best-selling Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security.

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Bill Gertz’s ‘iWar’ Now Available as Audio Book

The new book by Free Beacon Senior Editor Bill Gertz, iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age, is now available in print and as an audio book.

Gertz is a long-time national security correspondent and columnist for the Free Beacon and Washington Times. He is the author of seven books, including the New York Times best-selling Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security.

Gertz published iWar to explain the digital battle being waged between the United States and foreign adversaries like Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.

A five-minute excerpt of the audio book is embedded below.

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The following is an excerpt from the book

Chinese Information Warfare: The Panda That Eats, Shoots, and Leaves