Thursday, March 15, 2018

Welcome to OSINT NEWS- the latest in U.S., Russian and foreign spy agency happenings!

     Welcome to OSINT NEWS, your portal to timely happenings within the U.S., Russian and foreign intelligence agencies. Subscribe HERE! to receive timely posts about the U.S., Russian and other foreign intelligence agency happenings.
     The "Spy Agency Happenings!" newsletter contains timely articles about important U.S. and foreign intelligence agency events. I search through over 150 U.S. and foreign newspapers and journals and hand-pick relevant items centered around a theme for each newsletter.

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Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence
Officers (AFIO) and writes about the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) and foreign intelligence agencies. He authors the "Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean and Florida Keys" spy thriller series.

CIA "Torture" shouldn't be an issue in Gina Haskel confirmation

     Gina Haspel's selection for possible CIA director has brought back the "torture program" issue and I have some thoughts on it. In 2012, the Senate Intelligence Committee approved a report on the CIA's post-9/11 interrogation program. Despite the news media hype and grandstanding machinations by politicians, no new surprises or revelations existed within the document.
     After conducting OSINT research and interviewing a few professionals in the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), I couldn't uncover any startling new details about the CIA's detention and interrogation program, nor could I find evidence that the CIA lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee about it.
     From the start, our senators were fully aware of the intelligence operations undertaken after 9/11. Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) knew that the CIA created clandestine 'black sites' and used 'enhanced-interrogation techniques' in each of them, even though she speaks negatively of them now.
     I wanted to hear the facts about the EIT program, so I planned a trip to hear Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr. talk at an Association Of Former Intelligence Officer’s (AFIO) luncheon. Unfortunately, I couldn't make the meeting. However, I learned much about the presenter, Rodriguez, who is a former CIA National Clandestine Service Director and was the person who, after 9-11, was appointed to lead the U.S. counterterrorism operations and oversee the highly controversial enhanced interrogation technique (EIT) program.
     At the time, America was expecting another imminent terrorist attack and the program was consensually agreed upon by politicians on both sides of the aisle. They felt our intelligence agencies needed to obtain vital and timely information from terrorists who were bent on killing as many Americans as possible.

     Rodriguez was a good choice. He served the United States for twenty-five years as an undercover officer before bringing his wealth of field knowledge to the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC). He was one of America’s top undercover operatives and was hired to, basically, use “hard measures” to thwart terrorist’s plans that targeted the U.S.  
     I read the transcript of Rodriguez’s AFIO luncheon lecture. He discussed how the CIA’s undercover operations and tactics were implemented during the George W. Bush presidency, how they were approved at the highest levels of the U.S. government, how they were certified as legal by the Department of Justice, and why they were supported by bipartisan leadership in the congressional intelligence oversight committee.
      In April, Gina Haspel will be grilled by Republican senator Rand Paul and others during her confirmation hearing because of her involvement in that program. Rodriguez and the CIA will, no doubt, come under relentless criticism and smear campaign rhetoric.
     I urge Rand Paul and others to not forget the stark realities of 9/11. America’s psyche was devastated and the nation demanded further action and stronger responses. “Touchy-feely" hand-holding, "tell-me-all, I'm your friend" sessions with terrorist detainees would not have been an appropriate response to the deaths of thousands of fellow citizens trapped in the twin-towers, helplessly pinned inside the Pentagon or held hostage on board the commercial airliner that crashed in a rural Pa. countryside. Grieving and anxiety-ridden Americans feared that another terrorist attack was in the making.
     Time moved on and as the shock of 9/11 faded, the support that the CIA enjoyed and deserved gave way to shortsighted and potentially dangerous political correctness. The tools to which effective counterintelligence and counterterrorism relied upon had been neutralized by lack of funding and ineffective legislation. CIA and FBI counterintelligence agents were hamstrung, spread thin, overworked and subject to ridicule and prosecution for their involvement in the interrogation program.
     In his book “Hard Measures,” Rodriguez reflects on the justification for the techniques used and why they were necessary, why they worked and how, ultimately, they saved American lives and contributed to the capture of the world’s most-wanted terror operatives, including Osama bin Laden. 
     On April 29, 2012, I watched the “60 Minutes” program that grilled Jose Rodriguez about the EIT program. It was an unbalanced 'script' skewed heavily by its critics and included grandstanding politicians who claimed to be "experts" and stood on the sidelines to lob stones at CIA officials, like Rodriguez, who were in the 9/11 trenches making tough, real-time national security decisions.  
     Jose Rodriguez showed no regrets about the CIA using "enhanced interrogation techniques." His interviewer, Leslie Stahl, exhibited intimidating body language, including raised eyebrows, and it was obvious that she considered EIT’s an unnecessary evil and unbecoming of the U.S.
     Rodriguez countered by emphasizing that the program’s EIT methods proved effective in getting information from high-level detainees like Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, who gave their best information only after the harsh treatment.
     During the upcoming confirmation hearings to decide if Gina Haskel should become CIA director, I urge the committee members to remember how tumultuous the times were when she was ordered to oversee the CIA “black site” prison in Thailand.
     Such torture programs are unlikely to return, and many CIA agents never favored them to begin with. I attended an AFIO luncheon last year in San Francisco and heard a talk by General Michael Hayden, the former director of the CIA and NSA. He stated firmly, “Over my dead body will the torture program ever be reinstated.”
     I think CIA Deputy Director Gina Haskel feels the same way.  

Robert Morton is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers and author of the "Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean and Florida Keys" spy series. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

President Trump's National Security Strategy December 2017


     President Trump's National Security Strategy of the United States of America December 2017 document has been released. Many in the Intelligence Community and national security experts alike view it as a fairly middle-of-the-road approach to global security. For all of Trump’s promises to blow up the international system and get America “winning” again, there’s not much in it that varies from what previous presidents wanted. The introduction by President Trump appears to be a summary of his Twitter tweets. 
     In general, the document states that America will partner with governments to end long-running, violent conflicts and encourage them to be more accountable and responsive to their citizens. The U.S. will continue to respond to humanitarian needs and work with governments to address the root causes of human suffering. We will also sanction government officials and institutions that prey on their citizens and commit atrocities. Does that mean Russia, too? 

     Economically, America's worldwide goals will be to expand trade and commercial ties to create jobs and build wealth for Americans and Africans. Interestingly, Africa was solely named here. A good choice, since jihadi terrorists are setting up shop all over that continent. Economic integration among African states will be a priority and we will form partnerships to promote prosperity and offer them American goods and services as an alternative to China's extractive economic tactics in Africa.  
     Regarding the military and global security, the document states the U.S. will continue to work with partner nations in improving their security services to counter terrorism, human trafficking, and the illegal trade in arms and natural resources. The last sentence in the document's conclusion stated that America will work with partners to defeat terrorist organizations and others who threaten U.S. citizens and he homeland.

Robert Morton is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and is author of the Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean and Florida Keys spy series. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Dick Cheney and Donald Trump politicized the CIA

     After reading Susan Hasler's book "A Novel Of The CIA," I thought about Trump's belittling of the CIA and NSA and how these agencies have become political pawns. Everything in her book is relevant to what's happening today under the Trump administration. 
     Hasler describes the world of CIA analysts: they work deep within the bowels of the CIA and sift through mounds of incoming intelligence from various collection sources: overseas case officers and their recruited spies, spy satellites and all types of electronic eavesdroppers, OSINT research of foreign press, the diplomatic service and military attaches…the list is endless. 
     The pile of raw data keeps piling up, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour. By the day’s end, thousands of reports lay on their desks. They analyze the origins of them all, including the reliability of each source and how productive it has been in the past. Each report is rated as to its urgency and the extent to which it is to be distributed (who sees it) is determined. 
     She describes how dedicated analysts weigh all the incoming evidence into a cohesive whole and avoid “choosiness,” or cherry-picking some bits of information while ignoring others. Unfortunately, “hired pens” exist who pick and choose only what the policymakers want to hear. 
     When Dick Cheney made dozens of unprecedented visits to the CIA HQ at Langley, he pressured the CIA’s managerial staff to ensure such “hired pens” select from their intelligence piles only that evidence which suggests Iraq could have been involved in the attack.
      Cooking the intelligence to suit the policy-maker’s liking and playing fast and loose with the professional intelligence collection and analysis process is what happened during the Bush administration.
     After the 9/11 attack, hundreds of CIA analysts focused on finding out who the al-Qaeda leadership were, where they were at, and the best way to hunt them down and kill them. Their manhunt was immediately terminated. Pressured by their managers after another Dick Cheney visit, they were directed to refocus back on Iraq and Saddam Hussein.
     The CIA management pulled the analysts who were the most knowledgeable on Iraq away from hunting down bin Laden and al-Qaeda and reassigned them to refocus on Iraq. The managers told them, through heavy sighs, that Vice-President Cheney was taking them to task for not doing the job properly on Iraq. The VP was upset that the CIA is was not doing its homework on Iraq.
     Even though Baghdad didn’t fly airliners into the twin towers, the overworked, understaffed, and overextended lowly analysts within the bowels of the CIA sifted through the rising piles of incoming intelligence on their desks, searching not for the whereabouts of bin Laden and al Qaeda or Saudi Arabia connections to the twin towers attack, but for Iraqi ties.
     Vice-President Dick Cheney wanted a complete and thorough assessment of all possible Iraqi connections to 9/11 on his desk in two days. As the actual schemers who killed 2,996 people and wounded 6,000 were retreating deep underground, the lowly CIA analysts fretted over the possibility that bin Laden and al-Qaeda may be planning a follow-up attack. They knew that Iraq wasn’t behind the strikes but were forced to refocus on preparing a fabrication for Cheney and other policymakers to regurgitate on CNN, MSNBC, Meet the Press and, of course, a sympathetic Fox News.
     Despite a herculean effort, a case to be made against Iraq involved in 9/11 couldn’t be made. A great read. 

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes the "Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean and Florida Keys" spy series. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Russian nuclear submarines sneak into North Atlantic


     Russian nuclear-powered submarines are sneaking through the “GIUK gap” area and lurking in the waters off Greenland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom. The Soviet Union used it as a strategic gateway during the Cold War and now, three decades since the Berlin Wall fell, the Gap is returning to its Cold War importance.
     The Pentagon is resurrecting an old Cold War-era air base in Iceland, so America can keep an eye on Russia’s new generation of stealthy submarines slipping into the North Atlantic.
     Hidden deep inside the 2018 defense budget is a provision for $14.4 million to refurbish hangars at Naval Air Station Keflavik to accommodate more U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft which will locate and track the subs.
     “GIUK gap” is an acronym for Greenland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom. Our friends will soon know when and where Russia’s submarines are lurking off their coastlines.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes the "Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean and Florida Keys" spy series. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Putin and resurrection of the KGB


     This 11/22/17 “Spy Agency Happenings!” is all about the rebuilding of Putin’s KGB spy agency. It delves into Vladimir Putin’s childhood as a street-fighter living in a crowded housing development in the Soviet Union and his dreams to become a spy. His biography posted on a Kremlin website quoted him as saying, "Even before I finished high school, I wanted to work in intelligence. At first, I decided I wanted to be a sailor, but then I wanted to do intelligence again." As a teen, Putin even attended a public reception at the office of the KGB Directorate to ask how he could become a spy.

     This 11/22/17 “Spy Agency Happenings!” discusses other KGB spies not as dedicated as Putin. These KGB spooks defected from the agency and turned up in Britain and the U.S. with copious amounts of sensitive intelligence to share.

     This issue purports that Putin and his FSB reinstated the use of Cold War “Active Measures” against America and the West…the same disinformation schemes the KGB used during the Cold War. In the 60’s, KGB agents spread a rumor that the U.S. assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr. In the 80’s, they spread gossip that American intelligence had “created” the AIDS virus, at Fort Detrick, Maryland. KGB agents infiltrated and supported progressive movements inside the U.S. and leftist parties and insurgencies throughout Latin and South America.

     Meanwhile, the CIA desperately worked to stop them. Conservative republicans and liberal democrats alike supported the CIA’s efforts to overthrow regimes in Iran, Cuba, Haiti, Brazil, Chile, and Panama. With the blessings of our beltway politicians, the CIA used bribery, propaganda and violence to sway elections away from KGB- backed politicians in Italy, Guatemala, Indonesia, South Vietnam, and Nicaragua.

     Simultaneously, the KGB created fear, suspicion and mistrust among Americans as it continued its successful dominion over our neighbor’s social and governmental structures. When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early nineties, the CIA asked Russia to abandon these “Active Measures” and Russia promised to do so. But when Sergey Tretyakov, the station chief for Russian intelligence in New York, defected, in 2000, he revealed that Moscow’s “Active Measures” had never subsided. “Nothing has changed,” he wrote, in 2008. “Russia is doing everything it can today to embarrass the U.S.” This Russian hegemony has resurfaced under Putin.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes the "Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean and Florida Keys" spy thriller series.      

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Russian spy agency happenings- Issue 5 10/23/17


     This 10/23/17 Issue 5 of Russian Spy Agency Happenings! reports on a large sum of money that Hillary Clinton received from the Russians, just before the uranium negotiations began. Did you know a British MI6 spy named Mona Maund penetrated the Communist Party in the 1930s and identified the Soviet Union’s longest-serving British spy? Yes, but she was brushed off by a male boss who didn’t think much of women in espionage. England paid dearly for that male chauvinistic decision. We also discuss how Putin has finally given rebirth to the KGB.
     Here's some more highlights in Issue 5:
  • According to redacted evidence that the FBI submitted to a federal court, Russia’s External Intelligence Service (SVR) successfully targeted Clinton in 2008 and penetrated her inner circle.
  • British two biggest TV charges Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi of having had links to the Soviet KGB. 

Robert Morton is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes the Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean and Florida Keys spy thriller series.