Tag Archives: SIGINT

How to get yourself killed

On the edge of the elections, we see new developments in a few areas. The issue is not the people trying to keep others safe; it is now to some extent the law that is aiding people getting killed. Here we see the first of a few issues, that first one being the Human Rights Act 1998. Now, let’s be clear! I am not against the HRA. The issue is that it is now protecting terrorists in completing their goals, which was not what it was intended to do. That issue is seen at the very beginning of article 2.1. Here we see: ‘Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.

This gives us that Terrorists cannot be hunted down; the first rule is to capture them alive, whilst knowingly endangering the lives of many. In addition we see articles 6, 7 and 8 messing things up (in light of terrorism); still it is not a failure of the law.

The issue is that these laws were never designed with the abundance of terrorism to the amount we see nowadays. The fact that any armed police action, aimed on capturing terrorists is placing them in harm’s way, but in an unrealistic and unacceptable way. A policeman’s life is set to a higher degree of danger, whilst giving the terrorist a prolonged time to act out the acts of terrorism. It is in this light that we should see ‘May: I’ll rip up human rights laws that impede new terror legislation‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/06/theresa-may-rip-up-human-rights-laws-impede-new-terror-legislation). There is a growing concern that the laws of our nations have been a hindrance in dealing with acts of terrorism. In addition we see another return with “It is possible May’s plans could involve seeking further derogations from the ECHR. This is the way the government is seeking to prevent human rights claims against soldiers in future military situations“, the question is not just in the laws, the issue we see with “May was then repeatedly challenged about how the Home Office, police and intelligence services dealt with the information relating to the attackers, after Boris Johnson, her foreign secretary, said MI5 had questions to answer. One of the attackers, Khuram Butt, 27, had been reported to the anti-terror hotline in 2015 and a third attacker, Youssef Zaghba, 22, had been detained by Italian authorities in 2016”, there are questions for MI5 to answer, yet it is not just them. The UK needs to establish to with level SIGINT (GCHQ) has been missing the ball.

Now there are two problems with that assumption of mine. The first is whether the European intelligence services have been keeping its allies and NATO partners up to date on movements. The second is how some allies classify certain people of interest (Youssef Zaghba). Without that knowledge we end up kicking both MI6 and GCHQ without actual cause. So it is not just MI5. We can wonder how certain borders were passed as well as how we will stop certain events from happening. So Boris Johnson is correct that there should be questions and answers, yet in the first only to the smallest degree and in the second, I would want to ask GCHQ a few questions before knocking on the door of Andrew Parker. The fact that he goes straight to the door of MI5, gives an implicit lack of knowledge on the address of Boris Johnson which is not the way we know him, so I wonder what he is playing at, at present. This now gets us to ‘Police and MI5 face further scrutiny after third attack since March’ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/05/police-and-mi5-face-further-scrutiny-after-third-attack-since-march). The part that matters here is “MI5 has a staff of 4,000, with up to 1,000 more promised by 2020, to keep tabs on a list of 3,000 people classified as “subjects of interest”, who included Butt, and to engage in other activities. Counter-terrorism accounts for just over 60% of what MI5 does”. We can hide behind the numbers to some extent as we consider that 1650 keep tabs on 3,000 people. This implied two people to watch per agent, this in a situation where it is about resources. In addition when we consider “Another of the London attackers, Rachid Redouane, was not known to the police or MI5, the police said”. The numbers show the impossibility of the task. In opposition we get that either the UK becomes an unlivable police state, or we take the war to them and prune the HRA to a larger extent. Weirdly enough, that gives us the headache that the HRA is losing potency, something that none of the players want. We basically move a nation into a place where we end up getting ourselves killed. As Richard Barrett, former director of global counter-terrorism operations at MI6 states: “I do not want to live in a state like that”. So even the agencies want a non-police state system, as such we need to consider other evolutions.

So how to go forward?

Until we get an actual union of interest in the Intelligence industry there will be an age of uncertainty. As SIGINT departments unite to set forth the first need of identifying the dangers and replicate that knowledge we are at an impasse. If this reads weird, then let me explain it. The function of GCHQ is to monitor and report to the UK agencies. This is how it should be in the past. In this age of ISIS/ISIL we need to consider that SIGINT agencies set the data in one common database when it concerns terrorists. So basically GCHQ forwards Intel directly to NSO (Netherlands), DGSE (France), SAIC (Germany) and so on. After that (or actually at the same time) the obtained data goes to MI5 and MI6. As filters are removed the whole gets more and quicker intelligence on movements. There is no issue with Brexit or Bremain, this is about European security, and as Europe becomes safer, so will the UK be safer. This path has never been walked because the trouble is with containing intelligence going into the open. In this setting we have intelligence filters this is not a bad thing, but the need in light of the attacks require us all to rethink the issues. There is an additional benefit that the union of data could give additional clusters of information, clustering’s we did not have in the past. It gives voice to not just paths of interests, but a path of people that are a justifiable target in this situation. A path that is partially hindered by the Human Rights Act in a way that was never the intent of the Human Rights Act in the first place.

The issue becomes a larger issue when we see certain media. Now as we exclude the tabloids on mere grounds of inferior intellect and increased factors like being clueless and greed driven through the expanse of emotion, we do get some media that should have known better. So when we see “Dame Stella Rimington, the first female director general of the agency, spoke out this week (6 June) during a keynote speech at 2017’s Infosecurity conference. The former spymaster took the time to urge for a calm response in the wake of recent London terror attacks” (at http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/former-mi5-chief-nobody-really-knows-how-deal-cyber-espionage-1625025), we see in addition “We are facing a world where there’s cyber-espionage now, which nobody really knows how to effectively deal with. We are facing a world of very complex communications which make it very difficult [for] our intelligence services to keep pace with changes taking place.

This is a path that has a few additional repercussions. The first repercussion is seen in the need of new technology to meet the challenges. The second repercussion is seen in combined need to evolve HUMINT, FININT and GEOINT. As money can be transferred through alternative means in faster ways and new methods we see that the terrorists are equipped and given new means to which several intelligence paths have no way to counter at present. The simplest issue of funding terrorist infrastructure through international debit cards is a nightmare to get through. Ordering these debit cards with up to 5,000 euros is getting easier and payment via web becomes increasingly easy. Getting these cards in Western Europe and dispense them to the dangerous elements in the UK is an increased danger as we now have a situation where HUMINT and FININT walk two very different paths. If we do not get an evolved SIGINT solution, we will see an escalation of events whilst the intelligence will fail. At present when a student is found with 2,000 euro a flag is raised (not always), yet when a student is seen with a debit card and 300 Euro, no flag will ever be raised. The cyber path is intervening on several levels increasing the dangers of a successful attack as they just get what they need at their destination. Nowadays a student goes into a car rental place, has his international student ID, picks up a van, pays with the prepaid card and he is off to load it up with explosives. At this point, when properly done, SIGINT, HUMINT and FININT will all have failed to stop this. This is the danger that Dame Stella Rimington is warning us about. And whilst the tabloid jokes are all about the emotions and the blame game towards the intelligence service, we see that failure after failure stacks up, mainly because what the intelligence agencies need is not coming their way. It’s like giving Jenson Button the task of winning the F1 trophy whilst giving him an Edsel to get the job done, which seems a little too unfair on the poor lad.

The world evolved too fast in too many directions and in this terrorists, especially lone wolves could use the system to remain largely invisible until it is too late. It is a collection of what we used to perceive as unrealistic elements ion danger assessment that is now stopping police and agencies in finding the targets trying to hurt innocent civilians. The game has become too unbalanced, and for the most I agree with Richard Barrett. Yet, in equal measure, we see a lack of evolution in technology that the seekers need to classify disseminated information as well as being able to cluster a multitude of databases each filled with variable information to find that needle, hoping that you are even near the right haystack. Consider the scenario I just painted. Finding that person would be near impossible if the Lone Wolf kept to the ground. So where is the validation of blame? There is none and the people actually realise this. It does not change the job, or the challenge. It merely increases the pressure. So when I read: “The third attacker was named as Youssef Zaghba, an Italian national of Moroccan descent, who was living in east London” there is no concern to be elevated into some danger status, yet when we see in addition “is said to have told Italian authorities “I’m going to be a terrorist”, while officers reportedly found Islamic State-related material on his mobile phone when they intercepted him” makes it a different issue (apart from any person proclaiming to become a terrorist to the police). How long until that news reached the UK? In addition, what did the Italians do to stop this possible extremist? When we see a file on Youssef Zaghba in the areas of FININT and SIGINT, what do they reveal? You see, we might not stop all events, yet there is an increased chance that any previous success by these lone wolves will leave us with information that potentially stops the next attack. That will leave us with increased options when SIGINT will start sharing the data internationally.

We are in a phase where we get ourselves killed, not because of the failing of the agencies, but with our complacency regarding human rights and thinking that the agencies did not need certain elements. As we are bragging on Facebook and demanding the government does not collect data, we place ourselves in harm’s way, which is increasingly stupid.

Yet in equal measure spending irresponsibly (read: Jeremy Corbyn’s lame promise) is equally dangerous. You see we need to work on actual solutions, not buy 1000 staff members, 15 servers and hope it will work itself out. That is a recipe for a political pork pie that leaves us with indigestion.

There is a lot that requires doing, let’s not get ourselves killed whilst doing that.

 

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Missed it by THAT much?

It started last night. Actually, it started a little earlier, yet I get information from so many sides, that I have to make a choice what I focus on (my final assignment for my master degree being the big number one). So when I initially heard about a missile issue I had no real interest. You see, the things PwC is up to with added narration of missed issues on Tesco, BHS and two others is a lot more interesting to me. Any missile issue tends to be a simple engineering problem. At times it is about other matters, but that is once properly tested a mere 9% of the time, with 91% being engineering or interfacing, which is basically another realm of interfacing. Oh, for the underlying entertainment. I am writing this whilst listening to The Tales of Hoffmann, which is applicable to all this on more than one level.

So back to the Lockheed Trident we go. Let’s start with the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-38719346) with “Theresa May finds herself under pressure for refusing to answer whether she did, or did she not know that something had gone wrong with our nuclear weapons, when she asked MPs to vote to renew the costly Trident system?

So when I see “So the simple “who knew” question will keep being asked. And for as long as the opposition parties keep pushing for clearer responses, ministers will keep looking like they are awkwardly, even shiftily trying to evade a straight question“, I feel that asking the question is a loaded canon to say the least. In this day and age, regarding any issue on nuclear facilitation, do you really want the other players to openly know that UK defence does not work, so Russia and/or China only needs to work about each other and the USA? With pressures at present it is not the best idea to say the least.

My issue is with “A missile test involving Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent system ended in failure off the coast of Florida last year, a US defense official with direct knowledge of the incident told CNN on Monday“, so not only are US defense officials sanctimonious on the best of days. It seems that they have no problems revealing certain classified events when it concerns their allies.

OK, I can accept that, so how about I reserve a little space at the end and let the public at large know on the storage issues that PRISM is still bringing, not the observation part, but the fact that the storage as it had been one and how the list of people with access was a lot larger than anyone realises. With the New York Times bringing the people on June 6th 2013 ‘U.S. Confirms That It Gathers Online Data Overseas‘ (at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/07/us/nsa-verizon-calls.html), but that the quote by Josh Earnest “has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terror threats as it allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States.” is missing one important element, which is “it equally allows the better hackers to alert certain people of red flags they can scan for“, which is not something they wanted us to know. I’ll get back to that later.

Let’s focus on those Lockheed cigars named Trident. You see, there is a question why the US spokesperson opened his mouth in the first place. When we consider (at http://www.businessinsider.com/upgraded-trident-ii-missile-being-tested-from-us-nuclear-submarines-2016-9), the quote “This was the 161st successful Trident II launch since design completion in 1989“, now I have no idea how many test launches we have seen, but 161 good strikes sounds like a good deal, so why suddenly this ‘revelation‘? I am all for fair display of facts, including failures, but the air that this one flaw gives give in addition other considerations, so if this US spokesperson thinks that the UK is grateful for him opening his mouth, I think it is time we make sure his bosses make sure he never considers that ever again. This all gets us to the reasoning of that US spokesperson.

Brown University is/was housing a Nina Tannanwald, who had an interesting essay. Titled ‘Renewing a Regime of Nuclear Restraint‘, we get “the non-nuclear weapons states of the world are growing increasingly impatient with the failure of the nuclear weapons states to move toward what are seen as their moral and legal obligations to eliminate their nuclear stockpiles. The humanitarian consequences movement, a globally popular movement barely discussed in the United States, is one reflection of this frustration with the slow pace of nuclear disarmament. A similar tension plays out in the United States, as the Obama administration committed to move towards a world without nuclear weapons while concurrently authorizing a multi-decade, trillion-dollar modernization of American strategic nuclear forces“, there is a truth in this, there is also the realisation that even as most want to move into a non-nuclear era, with Iran and North Korea in the mix, that is a reality that will not come any day soon, if ever. Time has taught us that putting the genie back in the bottle is not an option. If that is not an indication, try to interview Pandora on what happened to hope. Good luck with the answer to that one in this day and age!

Yet when we consider Tannanwald, there is more and more the need to consider Robert McNamara’s presentation to NATO in Athens laying out flexible response doctrine. I think that Robert McNamara is one of those essential Americans that show the American spirit. Serving under both John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, he has been confronted with the need to alter perspective and a dimensional scope that has been almost unheard of ever since. He is almost the founding father of policy analysis. In addition he is the person who consolidated functions that is amongst others now known as the Defense Intelligence Agency.

So you might think of him as a spooks Yoda, with a flair for pragmatism. Which gets us to the opposition in all this, namely Dr Julian Lewis, who in the Guardian stated yesterday (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/24/commons-watchdog-criticises-unnecessary-surreptitiousness-trident-missile-malfunction) “chairman of parliament’s defence watchdog has criticised the government’s “unnecessary surreptitiousness” over the Trident missile malfunction, as Michael Fallon declined an invitation to appear before his committee“, in this we congratulate Dr. Lewis for his ability to employ a 17 letter word, yet the issue in all this is twofold. the first is that as far as we can tell this is a 1 in 161 cases, making it an outlier that could have been addressed outside of the view of the public, second that the Government had already clarified a need much earlier (which I will point out a little further, with a link off course) that there was a certain need, that need is now directly undermined. Perhaps there is a political need to get something else started and scuttling one solution will open up a set of new problems onto which certain people with interests can throw a lot of money at, they would only need to get rid of 4 submarines. We know that a new HMS Dreadnought is coming, but what is possibly less known is that a refit of the Vanguard Class should start in 2019, which will impact the defense budget because an overhaul of this kind really requires a serious amount of coins. Now, the latter part is speculation, but is it far-fetched? It is 2017, these matters take time, there is no doubt about that, so there is a gap where certain actions have a lot of impact and the misfire is just a lucky break for some people. In all this I could be, and I am probably wrong in all this. Yet when you look at the facts as they are clear, as we know that our cold war opponent has satellites, so they know about the event, calling this into the open only serves another platform. I have no idea which one, but the visibility of these events call a lot into question, especially the actions of a blabbing yank. Now, for some this might actually be one of those democratic losers with no prospect considered ingratiating himself to optional future employers in the media as this person could be democratically replaced by the new party in charge if his function was high enough and the CNN quote “US defense official with direct knowledge of the incident told CNN on Monday” implies that he is higher up the ranks to some degree.

So how does this reflect back to Trident? Well, if we accept that regional tensions are made worse regarding nuclear policies by unstable regimes where the mental balance of the one in charge leaves a lot to be desired (examples: Kim Jong-un and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, when he was in office) , we should consider that the solution does not work, tension is not eased, it only invigorates that person to consider pressing the famous red button. This comes mainly from the premise of the thought ‘theirs might not work initially‘, which would only instigate a false sense of ego of that person pressing the button. I am going one step further stating that such a person could call in some simpleton cook, asking him ‘Can you press this button? My hand hurts!‘, so that unsavoury character now has the genuine option of remaining in denial.

Even as we consider that 2 out of 161 might not work, the stats are extremely unkind on the chances for the receiving party. Still the issue remains, what was that US spokesperson thinking off when he/she considered speaking on the matter at all was a good idea? Don’t get me wrong, I am not stating that we should be lied to, but there were clear security considerations in play and I wonder if that person was even high enough on the pay scale to make have this consideration, speaking out regarding an allied nation (read: the UK).

My view?

Well, personally, when I look into the error, I am considering that it was not a simple flaw, you see, when the missile is off by a degree, or even less. When it is that small it becomes an issue because that takes time. When the direction is off by a maximum dart score round (180), it tends to be a simple construction flaw, an interface that was not properly checked, basically, the kind of flaw that requires Lockheed (on average) to send the next missile at $0 (and they also have to pay for postage, packaging, gift wrapping and shipping too). Which would be another reason for some people not to speak, unless officially ordered to do so, as it would start an entirely different debate on the Trident Project. So in this light, as we see that 1 out of 161 went wrong, the dust cloud is very much disproportionate to the events as we see them. Even when we see the connected views on Jeremy Corbyn, who has been for the longest times in the light of ‘Jeremy Corbyn says he will put nuclear disarmament at the heart of his leadership re-election campaign‘. which  is what we saw in July 2016, in September 2016 we see: “to put to one side any attempt to reverse Labour’s support for renewing Trident in a bid to reduce tensions with unions and rebel MPs“, yet that ship has sailed, so he can ‘revive’ his lifelong view of being the soul that is anti-Trident. We might see that as a decent view, yet in all that we see evolve is it the correct one? I think that there is no clear answer and this is not on Jeremy, but it all now shows to be a valid political attack, which he cannot be faulted for. Yet how to proceed?

What makes a cigar a cigar?

So this Lockheed device has several elements. I will not some conceded jerk telling you what went wrong. We can speculate that the electronics were wrong, yet what if that is actually not the case? Consider the following sources. the first (at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmdfence/986/98605.htm) gives us at [40]: “‘De-targeting’ and ‘State of Readiness’: The SDR stated that the Trident missiles aboard the Vanguard-class submarines would not be targeted and would normally be at several days ‘notice to fire’. However, the SDR also noted that “we will… ensure that we can restore a higher state of alert should this become necessary at any time”. In the course of our inquiry, we were told that targeting the missiles does not take very long“, in that is it not interesting that an actual metric was not given?

In addition we get “Dr Rebecca Johnson, of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, argued that both de-targeting and the reduced state of readiness were essentially meaningless since they could be could be easily overridden“, which was in the same paragraph and it gave me the part that is soon to come. You see (at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-nuclear-deterrence-factsheet/uk-nuclear-deterrence-what-you-need-to-know) we see ‘A minimum and credible deterrent‘, with the quote “we require a fleet of 4 submarines to maintain 1 continuously on patrol and retaining this posture is essential to assure the invulnerability of the deterrent“.

So, this is me speculating, the triviality that we saw regarding the ‘we were told that targeting the missiles does not take very long‘. So what if the targeting could be messed with? In this day and age, is that such a leap? If that is true and if the targeting can be messed with, the issue now becomes that Her Majesty’s Navy now has 4 cigar boxes that could potentially be regarded as useless, making them extremely expensive non-deterrents. Let’s not forget, this is pure speculation, so it becomes only the smallest of options if the missile was not malfunctioning in a normal way.

So how does this reflect on me making some other case earlier and why mention it?

Well, let’s take you through the motions, it will take a few paragraphs. First there is “NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden has denied he committed treason with his revelations that the US had been hacking Hong Kong and China since 2009. He said his revelations did not disclose military targets – a treasonable act – only civilian infrastructure“, try and focus on the red parts in all this. The next part is “Without asking for public permission, the NSA is running network operations that affect millions of innocent people. In a previous interview with the South China Morning Post, Snowden said he was releasing the information to demonstrate “the hypocrisy of the US government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries“, which gets us part of the first part. The source is the IB Times (at http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/nsa-whistleblower-edward-snowden-479709) and they are only one of several sources.

From that same source we get “Internet companies – including Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Apple and Microsoft – were reported to have given the NSA “direct access” to their servers under a data collection programme called Prism” as well as “US government agency had access to the raw databases of these companies. “They can enter and get results for anything they want [such as] phone numbers, email, user id, cell phone handset id,”” and “Additionally, audits are cursory, incomplete, and easily fooled by fake justifications. At GCHQ, the number of audited queries is only 5% of those performed.” now we need to consider that “He was employed by several outside contractors including his current employer, defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton“.

Now I make one step back to a statement I made some time ago. You see, there is a part that never rang true, especially as the amount of data he allegedly took with him, yet this data never saw the light of day. In addition, for one person to have this level of clearance and access is something I always questioned! On the 23rd June 2013 I wrote ‘Who are the real watchers?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2013/06/23/who-are-the-real-watchers/), in there I wrote “his account is broken down and thousands of dollars on internal communications, price agreements, customer’s details and many more details are now duplicated. It would be worth quite a few coins for the right competitor. As such the quiet student will have all his University debts paid off long before he gets his degree. So, what is this about?“, which I bring on January 18th 2014 in ‘Diary for a wimpy President‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/01/18/diary-for-a-wimpy-president/) with “The government will no longer store the phone call information of millions of Americans. But he did not say who should maintain the information, instead giving the intelligence community 60 days to come up with options” as well as former Presidents Obama quote “What I did not do is stop these programs wholesale, not only because I felt that they made us more secure, but also because nothing in that initial review, and nothing that I have learned since, indicated that our intelligence community has sought to violate the law or is cavalier about the civil liberties of their fellow citizens“, the point in all this is not just the traitor Edward Snowden, who decided to become the judge, what also happened is that several sides of this went to private contractors, some of them very much greed driven. It is my belief that one event is linked. It was given on October 5th 2016, I wrote about it, but I will not give the link. The Telegraph (at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/05/nsa-contractor-charged-over-alleged-theft-of-secret-us-governmen/) gives us the parts we need. “Harold Thomas Martin, 51, was secretly arrested by the FBI in August for allegedly stealing classified information. The US Department of Justice says it found Top Secret documents in Mr Martin’s home, vehicle, and two storage sheds on his property in Glenn Burnie, Maryland during a search on August 27th” as well as “Those documents were reportedly “source code” developed by the NSA to hack its adversaries. The codes would allow the NSA to covertly place malware in the computer systems of foreign governments and to monitor or even attack the networks“. Now, the part that comes next remains speculation!

I think that is exactly what has been happening. I think that whatever Harold Thomas Martin did get out before the NSA/FBI could lock down on it. I think that these contractors have been doing their job, but I also believe that someone has been getting access because part two gave access to part one and those people aren’t sworn in executives of agents of any government.  What if we consider when we combine the ‘claimed facts‘ as published, where other parties have been gathering information from selected mobiles, and where users have been interfered with. You see, we all got the messages as seen (at https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/us/politics/russia-hack-election-dnc.html), where we see “At least one computer system belonging to the D.N.C. had been compromised by hackers federal investigators had named “the Dukes,” a cyberespionage team linked to the Russian government“, so even if we question whether this is a Yay or a Nae, the issue is that the DNC is not the gemstone. Yes, most foreign governments want to see in what direction policies are likely to go. Which is why people like Marine Le Pen are getting monitored and not just by the French. You remember the earlier quote “giving the intelligence community 60 days to come up with options“? What if that has been rolled out, don’t you think that both the Russians and the Chinese are a lot more interested in access to those systems (read: that data)? Now we see the dangers that Harold Thomas Martin brought to America, the fact that these intrusion tools are in the open and possibly in Russian hands. We now see that tools can be used against their collection points. They only need to open one port and slowly siphon data away. How much damage do you think that this brings. In addition, and this last part is pure speculation, as those Tridents rely on ‘targeting the missiles does not take very long‘ yet if the specifications come from the outside, can these tools interfere with that? Do not forget that “would normally be at several days ‘notice to fire’” implies that there is a track that the targeting goes through and only the final step is the most secure one. Can we even know how secure those previous steps are? Which tools have been pushed to less controlled civilian hands due to the entire Snowden debacle? What dangers has he placed us all in? We now see via the Wall Street Journal and The Australian that what is now published in 2017, I already covered to some degree in 2013, I was correct to the largest degree all along. We see the quote “According to a unanimous report declassified on December 22 by the house permanent select committee on intelligence, the investigation showed Snowden had “removed” 1.5 million documents“, with added “based on, among other evidence, electronic logs that recorded the selection, copying and moving of files“, another issue I raised due to my knowledge of SE-UNIX. The fact that he had done this over a period of 6 weeks implies that there is a level of what should be regarded criminal negligence concerning Intelligence matters which is truly unsettling. The fact is that this stuff went into the open void, the question was who else got a hold on that stuff? The Wall Street Journal gives one part I never had (due to a lack of specific knowledge). That part is seen in the quote “Since the NSA was created in 1952, Russia and other adversary nations had been trying to penetrate its Level-3 secrets without great success“, he fact that they clearly have access to some degree, both Edward Snowden and Harold Thomas Martin have made that a near certainty.

This now reflects back to the Lockheed devices. Consider that the UK has a different methodology regarding its missiles. If a test was performed through the normal track and if we accept that the Russians have to some degree Level-3 documentation ‘access’, when we also accept that they have a clear understanding on the PRISM system now and we already know that both China and Russia can interfere with data packages (read: transmitted data) whilst in motion, is it really far-fetched that they intervened (read: corrupted) the data meant for the failed Trident test? Let me reiterate, I am not stating they retargeted that missile as there are too many components they do not control, the package just needed to be corrupt to the smallest degree, which would get the missile into a wrong destination and then self-destruct. Now, as stated, this is speculative, yet based on data which after 3 years is now proving to be utterly (read: mostly) correct. Is the speculation that far-fetched? And Russia has every reason to scuttle the UK Vanguard units now before the newer and totally unknown entity HMS Dreadnought comes into play, as stated by other academics in this field that it is  ‘essential to assure the invulnerability of the deterrent‘, when that invulnerability is gone, what remains?

I can tell you that I might not be entirely correct, but I can tell you that based on 3 years of data coming true that my aim is a lot better than the latest Lockheed Trident missile, which was allegedly off by almost 180 degrees.

 

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Non iudicium tuum

This telling is a little overdue. You see, when you are looking at one aspect, when the aspect is blended into the frame, it tends to be a larger puzzle to decipher where the colours have ended up. You see, when you start the painting, you work with blue, yellow and perhaps a little red. So before you know it, you have in addition purple, Green, Orange and at times brown appears. Yet, how much of yellow is in each of the blends? Do not think it is a black and white path, it is tainted in contrast and the one trying to decipher it all is in the largest of dangers by letting his or her ego speak in the extent that the amount of yellow that made green is used. It isn’t always science, it is at times art. This is the path of intelligence analyses and whomever is pointing its finger at a mere correlation table of SIGINT (or Business Intelligence) will for the most never have a clue what got themselves into that number and they end up painting themselves into a corner, the deadliest of actions in any given analytical equation.

So when I initially got to the fact that the foundation of the Huawei revenue was down 4.25%, I was looking at the base of it. You see, like the blending of colours, Huawei is also getting blended. Samsung would be the strongest indicator why their profits are up by a fair share. In addition as Apple disappointed to the smallest equation is an equal measure of the impact, yet Google is about to hit the revenue ball out of the park with the Pixel and Pixel XL, where it now seems that filling the initial US and UK orders is no longer feasible, the demand for this communication jewel is crushing all expectations raising the bar by a sizeable amount, something we have not seen since the early days of the Apple iPhone.

You see, in July the Financial Times reported on operating margins shrinking, even though revenue surged 40% (for Huawei), the quotes aren’t too ‘informative’, you see the answer isn’t always easy when a brand is global. Yet this quote will help “But while revenue surged, picking up from 30 per cent growth in the same period last year, Huawei’s operating margin shrank from 18 per cent to 12 per cent, the privately owned company said on Monday“, yes the revenue went up by a lot, mainly because over the previous year Huawei was very aggressive offering the P7 at such discounts that in its league it was almost the only choice to make. Other models were sold at very sharp prices, giving shoppers clear reasons to select something that seemed too good to be true. The rest at the Financial Times is pretty spot on, but incomplete. (at https://www.ft.com/content/12a427e2-5232-11e6-befd-2fc0c26b3c60).

It is the next quote I have an issue with “Sabrina Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer, predicted the strong sales would continue through the year: “We are confident that Huawei will maintain its current momentum, and round out the full year in a positive financial position backed by sound ongoing operations”“, as stated before, people are getting more and more clued in on what is required in a smartphone, as they went the way of Samsung and others in limiting what was available the market is slowing down for them, it will slow down faster and faster as they ignored to comprehend their mobile customers. The lesson Apple knew and Google comprehends at presale is the reason that the Huawei and other markets will slow down even further. Don’t get me wrong, they will still make a profit, but their mobile share will take a hit (when we exclude the Samsung shift). By listening to the wrong analysts and not realising that their production path could have been optimised by not giving in to fragments, the margin was kept low. This is a choice you can make, and it comes with consequences.

Huawei is following Microsoft, Motorola, Sony and a few others in this. And as we see the news in the corner on how others are following the P9 dual lens, they are all ignoring the main element in all this, it is storage plain and simple! That is, for the consumer users, in addition, when we see Ericsson dive deep down into a 94% drop, we need to consider the quote that IT News gave (at http://www.itnews.com.au/news/ericsson-profits-plunge-94-percent-439317) “Acting CEO Jan Frykhammar was confident Ericsson could fight back, noting it had faced a similar situation in 2007-2009 when it was waiting for demand for 4G technology to kick in“, you see, ‘waiting’ is the issue, you either take the lead and jump or let the revenue slide by, that was the consequence. They gave up the mobile smartphone a long time ago, as there was no way to compete with the market. In addition, Ericsson has been dropping the ball on a few telecom fronts.

I think it is relatively safe to state that there is a lull in the Telecommunication market (in general). The final quote “Our result is significantly lower than (what) we expected, with a particularly weak end of the quarter, and deviates from what we previously have communicated regarding market development,” said acting Ericsson CEO Jan Frykhammar” this sounds like an answer, yet it is not.

Is he showing that he had no way to forecast what the market was doing?
Is there no correct focus on ‘market development’?

The Ericsson case is showing us that there is more than one issue. In the same state we have to see that Huawei is a lot more than just mobile phones, as it is with Ericsson, yet as I personally believe it to be, some places aren’t thinking through, at l;east not to the extent that they should be thinking it through. They are trying to get back to the ’98 time when they were getting rich by selling concepts. I see it as backward thinking. Ericsson states on their website “Opportunities in 5G! We asked 650 executives from 8 industries how they use communications technology today, which use cases are likely to dominate their industry, and what business reasons are driving them to move to 5G“, which is not untrue, but as we see the PR machine waking up 4 years early on the biggest opportunities that are eligibly coming, whilst there are still 4 general meetings and as I see it no less than 8 shareholders meetings, so focussing on the now is extremely essential (don’t you agree?), this is why Ericsson got to drop 94%, the ‘now’ is not covered and we only have yesterday’s technology to compare it to. If you wonder about 5G, look here:

https://5g.co.uk/guides/what-is-5g/

what-is-5g-euroWhat is important is “Huawei is planning to launch the first 5G pilot network with its partners in 2018. Interoperability testing is to be completed in 2019 ahead of a commercial launch in 2020. Ericsson is planning to demonstrate 5G at the Winter Olympics in South Korea (as is Samsung) and at the World Cup in Russia, both in 2018“, this sounds nice, and it actually is, but consider that the devices that need to be there are not created yet, so they are dealing with old tech that is soon no longer interesting, whilst todays needs that shows clear forward momentum thinking is not shown by either and relying on 32GB mobile devices is definitely not it. So the consumer at present is looking at buying at least 2 more mobiles in the next 5 years, so having one now that last 3 years is a massive requirement as I see it. In addition, lowering the upcoming threshold is an initial requirement. The image on that page, shown here, is the first step. The image shows two elements. In the first we see ‘smart mobility‘ and ‘smart wearables‘ in the second we see ‘domotics‘ and ‘Entertainment, apps beyond imagination‘. This gets us now back to ‘Viewpoint to a point of view‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.wordpress.com/2016/10/05/viewpoint-to-a-point-of-view). Google wasn’t just ‘on the ball‘ they are now leading the game and are the new game deciders in the field where everyone wants to play. In that presentation on Google Home they showed to be active in all four elements, and they are now leading in at least two of them. That is the part Huawei ignored. And as so called 2018 G5 partners they had the option to lead the field, they just decided not to do so. By using the initial Apple approach, the Pixel and Pixel XL offer the 128 GB solution for $150 more. Meaning that your phone could last you until 2020 and only when the 5G requirement is actually needed, the current Google solution will give you some of what 5G is supposed to offer, so you will only be upgrading the centre of the hub of your domotics, namely your mobile phone. The rest will most likely already be there, so that is why we see the shift.

So is my view tainted?
It is!

I look at a lot more elements than the consumer will, yet in all this, the consumer is already getting exposure to these elements and as such we see a level of contrasting within the consumers choice that we haven’t seen before, that elements needs to be taken into account as well. Whasun Jho who has published works regarding building Telecom markets. As he sees it and I agree we see a contrasting in the Telecom markets where we see the growth of facility based competition versus service based competition, I believe that the second is only a field of combat if your hardware isn’t up to specs to deal with the wave that will follow over the next 5 years, so in that Huawei, as I stated in the past had the option to grow the market to rule as they went with sharp competition in 2015, they now gave it away by seeking margins instead of overpowered ruling through superior options. In my view as we see where limitations were the only options, it was about competition between providers of the same or similar services (in Australia Telstra versus Optus) and by giving in, they are now losing market share that I stated is a base drop of 4.25% and could rise to 11% before Christmas, almost literally depending on the power of Google’s devices as accepted by the global consumers. In this situation, it is not a given that Google would switch to a Software As A Service path, but by offering the path on corporate whilst leaving the consumers with open and negligible costs, the image as shown implies that ‘smart’ elements and ‘domotics’ will give us Google at number one, with a massive advantage for the longest of times, that is, unless the players change their ways and right fast. Because when proven to work, customer loyalty will soon be the most important metric in this telecom shift. Samsung gambled and got hit hard, yet they are not out. One burning battery does not stop a company the size of Samsung and a lot of burning batteries makes for a fun roasting of Marshmellows (pun intended).

So here we see the use of colours. Which colour is what is not a given and does not matter, what matters is what the consumers and what the corporations need, in the next 3-4 years it will all be about what will last longer, not some hardware as a service that requires annual replacement. Ericsson shows us what happens when you are not proactive on the ball and there will be the licking of wounds for some time there, in addition, as we see the mobile iteration (Experia Z to Z5), actions that I call to be an iterative market that has no chance to survive. sweetening deals like a couple of movies has no place here as I see it, it seems like a quick fix and it is, yet in that Sony has made that mistake a few times too often and Huawei should have learned from those failures. They were all options that could have been avoided and it will hurt Huawei, yet in all this they too are not down or out. Just a little bruised as I see it. So we will see a market that will shift over the next 4-6 weeks. Yet in the end there is no certainty on how matters are impacted. What is clear is that the Telecom market will shift in a massive way, those who do not shift with that market are most likely the players that will not make it to 2019, an extreme prediction, yet will I be wrong?

Consider what the market is trying to imbue to us between 2017 and 2021/2022. As per 2018 you should only consider a device that will last that initial transition (software without the 5G speed), and the one after that will have the speed if you want to play on that level. So buying with clear common sense could save you $1000-$1800, that is for most people serious money, for those relying on a new plan with a new phone, you better remember that soon such a solution might not be that easy to get, or that cheap. The Telecom providers will remain facility based competition, yet the market we swim in is more and more becoming service based, so we need the right device that can deal with this and for telecom companies to keep on playing a ‘this will do for a year‘ isn’t thinking forward, or at least just limited short term. A game we cannot go along with and there are enough people to realise this danger, which is what is pressuring the Huawei market as I personally saw it.

There is more to all this, but a market that revolves on ‘We decide your choice‘ is not a choice, it is a limitation, something that Google is building awareness on by showing us what is possible and then offering the overkill device for a mere $150 extra, like Apple did, but Apple didn’t come with the shown benefits of actually showing us that part. As you realise that you already knew most of these elements as you YouTubed your way through the internet universe, consider the options your phone don’t allow for at present. There is no reason to suddenly update the phone at present, but you should realise that these limitations will hinder you in the future and realising what you need in three years is more and more important in today’s mobile market. It is something you only need to be aware of at present, when the shift comes you will be ready with the right phone and with the options to do it all (without getting pushed into spending $1000+ overnight), as well as the option to keep your movies, your photos, your Pokémon’s, as well as whatever the domotics apps universe brings to your mobile.

 

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A New Disney

There was an Italian, who has been famous for over 125 years, he is not the first or the only famous Italian. There was this guy who came up with Pizza, There was this other Italian who thought fast Ford cars were a joke and he created Ferrari, then there was this other Italian, who made tractors, disagreed with the previous Italian and created Lamborghini. It is actually none of those. It is Carlo Lorenzini who was born 190 years ago. You might not know the name, perhaps his alternative name? Carlo Collodi! If you are still in the dark, than remember the story of a wooden boy who wanted to become a real live boy. Steven Spielberg used the notion in AI, but the original remains the best, namely Pinocchio!

Yes, the story of a wooden boy going into the world, yet as a wooden boy he was not alone, there was a little Cricket accompanying him and he would be a lot more important than your average Cricket, Jiminy was his name. Today the story is even more relevant, you see, the name Yemini Cricket might be ringing bells, but the truth of the wooden boy is there. The question becomes, who is the wooden boy?

So when I read ‘US, Britain and UN demand Yemen ceasefire within days‘ (at http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/10/16/us-britain-and-un-demand-yemen-ceasefire-within-days),

Yet when I read “The United Nations envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said: “We are here to call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, which will be declared in the next few hours.” Cheikh Ahmed said he had been in contact with the rebel Huthi militia’s lead negotiator and with Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s government“, my recollection does not go towards the classical story, it goes to a reference a little closer to the present (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFZrKOCdHFs), the laughter applies to both the sketch and reality. Aleppo is a great example, how 5 years and 400,000-450,000 fatalities later, no solution is there, but they are still flying to places like Switzerland to talk. I wonder when we add up all the costs, how much did the taxpayer pay for this play?

A number of civilian casualties that have now surpassed the total US Military casualties, of those who died during WW2. Doesn’t that look like a clear message that massive change was required a few years ago? I reckon all the players know that, yet, having long conversations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose only concern is to stall so that the population can be made extinct before the resolution passes, reads a lot more like the Friends edition of Pinocchio, than the original by Carlo Collodi, where we see the conscience that is Jiminy Cricket.

So as we see the beginning of the same slow train in Yemen, I have to wonder if creating a new version of Pinocchio with Yemini Cricket is the way to go. It educates politicians as well as bring some hard needed cash towards Hollywood (or Bollywood).

So why is this different?

To one degree it is not, towards the other degree it is very much so. The problem is that both Syria and Yemen could be on the same page, no degrees of separation. In this case there are two at least. You see, Yemen has limited ties to Russia, making it less complicated, what is the issue is that the Houthi’s are actively shooting missiles at the US Navy complicating matters a lot more. It only takes one direct hit, and Yemen would technically be in a state of war with the US. Now, normally, a bankrupt nation is not that much a bother, but Yemen is not an economic or military superpower, so going against America sounds like a PR approach to get them ‘involved’. What is an issue is that Yemen, the neighbour of Saudi Arabia could get lucky at some point, what happens after the hit will be an issue, because Americans tend to get cranky when you successfully blow up something American. Interesting is that there are now multiple sources claiming that Iran is now moving towards the Red sea. An interesting story as the Red sea is on the other side of the Persian Gulf and Iranian war ships have no actual business there (which could also apply to the Americans). The question becomes how is Saudi placed into all this? Here there are issues too. There is no stating if there is even any link but the changes and the Attention that members of the Saudi government are drawing attention to themselves become a factor (speculation from my side).

One part is from the Australian Financial Review (at http://www.afr.com/news/world/middle-east/saudi-prince-mohammed-bin-salmans-shatters-decades-of-tradition-20161017-gs3yt5), where we see the title ‘Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s shatters decades of tradition‘, is not giving us the ‘goods’. The first quote is “He has slashed the state budget, frozen government contracts and reduced the pay of civil employees, all part of drastic austerity measures as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is buffeted by low oil prices“, which would be quite acceptable in one view, at least it appears that one government in this world is dealing with its budget issues, although not in the most ‘desirable’ way, when a nation is so dependent on oil, there might not be too many options. The second quote is “While vacationing in the south of France, Prince Mohammed spotted a 134-metre yacht. He dispatched an aide to buy the ship, the Serene, then owned by Russian vodka tycoon Yuri Shefler. The deal was done within hours, at a price of approximately €500 million (roughly $720 million today)“, which implies the opposite. The question is not the cut-backs or spending spree, the issue is neither quote, it is the quote I will give now “Many young Saudis admire him as an energetic representative of their generation who has addressed some of the country’s problems with uncommon bluntness. The kingdom’s media have built his image as a hardworking, businesslike leader less concerned than his predecessors with the trappings of royalty” as well as “Others see him as a power-hungry upstart who is risking instability by changing too much, too fast“. So is the prince a go-getter or power-hungry? I cannot tell as this is all based on third degree of information, what matters is how the view and the actions will reflect the counteractions of the US and Iran in regard to Yemen. The moment the conflict results in a direct attack on Saudi grounds, what then? Iranian warships in the Red Sea would only complicate that, making a harsh response from the Saudi Military even more destabilising.

In my view there are two sides within Saudi Arabia, yet how they should be seen is another matter. I do not claim to have a proper view. I have questions. You see Mecca is an Islamic Holy city (the most important one) and it is part of Saudi Arabia, so as Saudi Arabia is the caretaker of this holy site, the involvement if Iran is more than just a small issue. Whatever they decide to escalate could have large repercussions all over the Middle East. The Sovereign State of Saudi Arabia has every right to defend it in every way possible, so Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman is also Minister of Defence and the youngest one in the world, which as a stat sounds nice, yet it also means that in light of other decisions, he is ready to do that what the US has been unable to do, declare war on its enemy by actually acting against them! Not that the US needed to declare war, but in light of Syria, doing anything actively would have been nice, an absence of resolution that His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud is less likely to show.

What is a problem is the fact that the complications are more and more likely as days go by and that is the one spark that this powder keg does not need. Iran cannot be denied access to international waters, which will not lessen the impact. One of the elements in all this is seen in the second quote regarding the ‘power hungry’ side of it. You see, the AFR article is also mentioning “Mohammed bin Nayef, the interior minister and longtime counter-terrorism czar“, which is now an element in all this. You see, whatever happens next is all surrounding the need for intelligence. So whatever issues there are between His Royal Highness Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud gives wake to the Disney sequel, a tale of two princes. A new approach to the classic Dickens story where the plight of two members of the Royal family of Al Saud are protecting the Sovereign state of Saudi Arabia as well as the safety and security of all Muslims that are in and nearby Mecca. Even as the papers are expecting a ceasefire, the issue is that stalling is equally a tactic here. There is no way of telling why Iran is involving its warships in that region, other than trying to complicate matters and demanding a seat at the table of decision, which would only change the time table in the worst of ways. What the Deutsche Welle did give was the quote “the Saudi-led coalition has blamed an airstrike that killed over 140 people at a funeral ceremony in Yemen on “erroneous information” received from a “party” affiliated with the country’s embattled government“, it matters, because it gives light to the essential issue that the two princes need to rely on quality intelligence, sources that can be scrutinised. And in this matter, mentioning the yacht was to iterate that spending that money on a satellite over the area might not have been the worst personal idea I am having. And let’s face it, any prince that can claim that he has his own satellite wins the discussion with any other prince relying on yacht and status. So many have a yacht, but how many of these rich individuals (very wealthy people in general) would own their own satellite? Especially if it becomes a source of intelligence.

Of course there is a lot more to owning one’s own satellite, but I hope we can all agree that intelligence will be key in whatever escalates over the next week. My issue is that too many players have their own agenda, yet would those agenda’s be truly 100% be focussed on whatever is best for Yemen and/or Saudi Arabia? You see, oil prices are down now, but why and for how long? What happens when prices go through the roof again? What happens then? Suddenly all these political issues are all linked to the price of Oil and the profit it brings?

I do not claim to have these answers, but the fact that too many sources are not asking the questions that require asking is troubling, yet the AFR article gives us a lot more, even more than I bargained for, which is comforting to say the least. What becomes a matter of discussion is the one quote that shows the elements “People who have met Mohammed bin Salman said he insisted that Saudi Arabia must be more assertive in shaping events in the Middle East and confronting Iran’s influence in the region – whether in Yemen, Syria, Iraq or Lebanon“, giving the links that require addressing and the prince is not afraid to do just that, however it take two to dance rings around Iran and taking away its influence in the Middle East. As I see it, Riyadh will have to make changes to some degree. Counter-Intelligence will be key in dealing with Iran and the impression I get when I see a quote like “has deep ties to Washington and the support of many of the older royals” shows the speculative possibility of the older ‘let us see how this plays out‘ against the younger ‘let us get this party started through action‘. It is not about the balance, but about what works best. In that regard both princes might have to make changes a lot faster than they are comfortable with, because if the news is correct, the Iranian ships and submarines will soon be active in the Red Sea, but active to what extent is something that remains speculative, whatever they do, the fact that it includes Iranian submarine presence (as reported but not confirmed), will also raise tensions with Israel.

As I see it, the biggest issue is Iran and what they are trying to get out of it. Putting themselves in the middle of a conflict where they are now trying to imply that it is all about them (especially as they are in the Red Sea), yet is their presence less valid than that of the US? It seems to me that we are creating a new Vietnam, just not with the Russians involved (like Syria). So there are two solutions to consider. One is that the US is replaced by for example the Commonwealth, or France, which takes away the Iranian-US issues. That is, if Saudi Arabia would be willing to consider that move. No matter what, the navy that does that, could find themselves in an armed conflict with Iran, so it better be a competent and modern Navy which leaves not that many options. The Netherlands, the UK, France, South Korea and India. Giving the option to either South Korea or India would benefit, as Iran cannot spin some NATO link story. In addition Iran cannot afford to piss of too many additional nations as either could make short work of the ego of Iran as these navies decide to sink Iranian war vessels like rubber dinghies, because they pushed one button too many.

No matter what happens, Saudi Arabia must do what it can to keep safe and the Yemeni issue is one that tests many sides of those who see and witness it, because there is a dilemma in conscience. A revolution that got out of hand, a set government overthrown with its own agenda. When we see the Houthi’s slogan “God is great, death to the US, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam“, can we really show any kind of support or sympathy?

The most important part to realise is that we need to set aside our version of what is acceptable, we have seen the US and Europe at large impose their version of ‘civility’, whilst bending over, grabbing their ankles and let the financial industry quite literally get away with murder in many ways. We impose rules and expectations, whilst having no clue how to manage a budget or how to stem greed to the point of strangulation. In all this, we have given up the high ground in several fronts, so we are no lecturer with any level of confidence. It is my opinion, that the Middle East can only be decently governed by someone in the Middle East. I personally believe that Saudi Arabia should be at the centre of it, there is no doubt that it would beneficial that a coalition that would include Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, but I am not knowledgeable enough to see whether it is just them, or that other players should be seriously considered. What does matter is that both General Intelligence Directorate (GID, aka Mukhabarat) and Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate would be important in ascertaining Iran’s hostile actions and if need be counter them. From my academic point of view is the challenge that the SIGNT of the three would pose to get one coherent reporting and analytical solution on Iranian intelligence. One that would definitely benefit all three nations. Yet perhaps that will evolve into a third Disney project, which could be the next big thing. It’s all just a thought, but think it over for yourself and ask yourself the question you did not hear voiced, this is important, because this stage could get ugly in a hurry and possibly before Christmas this year.

 

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What did I say?

Last night I got a news push from the Washington Post. It took me more than a second to let the news sink in. You see, I have been advocating Common Cyber Sense for a while and apart from the odd General being ignorant beyond belief, I expected for the most that certain players in the SIGINT game would have their ducks in a row. Yet, the opposite seems to be true when we see ‘NSA contractor charged with stealing top secret data‘ (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/government-contractor-arrested-for-stealing-top-secret-data/2016/10/05/99eeb62a-8b19-11e6-875e-2c1bfe943b66_story.html), the evidence becomes blatantly obvious that matters in the SIGINT industry are nowhere near as acceptable as we think they are. The quote “Harold Thomas Martin III, 51, who did technology work for Booz Allen Hamilton, was charged with theft of government property and unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials, authorities said. According to two U.S. officials familiar with the case, he is suspected of “hoarding” classified materials going back as far as a decade in his house and car, and the recent leak of the hacking tools tipped investigators to what he was doing“, so between the lines we read that it took a mistake after a decade for the investigators to find out? No wonder the NSA is now afraid of the PLA Cyber Division!

In this light, not only do I get to tell you ‘I told you so‘, I need to show you a quote from July 1st 2013, where I wrote “So if we consider the digital version, and consider that most intelligence organisations use Security Enhanced Unix servers, then just accessing these documents without others knowing this is pretty much a ‘no no’. EVEN if he had access, there would be a log, and as such there is also a mention if that document was copied in any way. It is not impossible to get a hold of this, but with each document, his chance of getting caught grows quicker and quicker“, so I questioned elements of the Edward Snowden case, because my knowledge of Security Enhanced Unix servers, which is actually an NSA ‘invention’, now it seems to become more and more obvious that the NSA has no flipping clue what is going on their servers. They seem to be unaware of what gets moved and more important, if the NSA has any cloud coverage, there is with this new case enough doubt to voice the concern that the NSA has no quality control on its systems or who gets to see data, and with the involvement of a second Booz Allen Hamilton employee, the issue becomes, have they opened up the NSA systems for their opponents (the PLA Cyber division being the most likely candidate) to currently be in possession of a copy of all their data?

If you think I am exaggerating, then realise that two people syphoned off terabytes of data for the term of a decade, and even after Snowden became visible, Harold Thomas Martin III was able to continue this for an additional 3 years, giving ample worry that the NSA needs to be thoroughly sanitised. More important, the unique position the NSA had should now be considered a clear and present danger to the security of the United States. I think it is sad and not irony that the NSA became its own worst enemy.

This is seen not in just the fact that Harold Thomas Martin III moved top secret data home, whilst he was at work a mere FSB or PLA intern could just jimmy the front door and copy all the USB devices. So basically he was potentially giving away data on Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) systems, which would be nice for the PLA Cyber Unit(s), as they did not have the capacity to create this themselves. So whilst they were accused for allegedly trying to get a hold of data on the laptop of Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez (2008), they possibly laughed as they were just climbing into a window and taking all day to copy all the sweet classified data in the land (presumption, not a given fact). So he in equal measure pissed off the US, India and Russia. What a lovely day that must have been. In that regard, the Affidavit of Special Agent Jeremy Bucalo almost reads like a ‘love story’. With statements like “knowingly converted to his own use, or the use of another, property of the United States valued in excess of $1,000“. Can we all agree that although essential and correct, the affidavit reads like a joke? I mean that with no disrespect to the FBI, or the Special agent. I meant that in regard to the required personal viewed text: “Harold Thomas Martin III, has knowingly and intentionally endangered the safety and security of the United States, by placing top secret information and its multi-billion dollar value in unmonitored locations“, I do feel that there is a truth in the quote “The FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit is working on a psychological assessment, officials said. “This definitely is different” from other leak cases, one U.S. official said. “That’s why it’s taking us awhile to figure it out.”“. It is my personal view that I agree with this, I agree because I think I speculatively figured out the puzzle. He was a reservist, Reserve Navy and a Lieutenant at 51. So the Navy might not see him as ‘full’ or ‘equal’, this might have been his way, to read these documents at night, knowing that they will never have this level of clearance for such an amount of Top Secret information. With every additional document he would feel more in par with Naval Captains and Admirals, he would feel above all the others and if there was ever a conversation with people who did know, he had the option to leave the slightest hint that he was on that level, perhaps stating that he was also an NSA contractor. He star would suddenly be high with Commanders and higher. It is a personal speculation into the mind of Harold Thomas Martin III.

When we look at 18 U.S. Code Chapter 115 – TREASON, SEDITION, AND SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES. We see at paragraph 2381 “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States“, now if we see the following elements ‘giving them aid and comfort within the United States‘ and the other elements are clearly stated as ‘or’ a case of treason could be made. In my view a person like that was guilty of treason the moment Top Secret materials were removed or copied from there assigned location and without proper clearance moved to an unsecure location. As an IT person Harold Thomas Martin III should have known better, there is no case of presumption of innocence. The fact that I made a case that he might have a mental issues does not mitigate it in any way, to do this in excess of a decade and even more insidious to do this for years after Edward Snowden got found out is also matter of concern.

The NSA has a sizeable problem, not just because of these two individuals, but because their servers should have has a massive upgrade years ago, in addition, the fact that contractors got away with all this is in equal measure even more insulting to a failing NSA. I can only hope that GCHQ has its ducks properly in a row, because they have had 3 years to overhaul their system (so tempted to put an exclamation mark here). You see, we have all known that for pretty much all of us, our value is now data. No longer people, or technologies, but data and to see 2 cases at the NSA, what was once so secret that even the KGB remained clueless is now, what we should regard as a debatable place. This should really hurt in the hearts of those who have faithfully served its corridors in the past and even today. In addition, the issues raised around 2005 by the CIA and other agencies regarding the reliability of contractors is now a wide open field, because those opposing it and those blocking data integration are proven correctly.

This now gets us to a linked matter. You see, it is not just the fact that the government is trailing in this field, because that has been an eternal issue. The issue is that these systems, due to the likes of Harold Thomas Martin III and Edward Snowden could be in danger of intrusions by organised crime.

For those thinking that I am nuts (on the road to becoming a Mars bar), to them I need to raise the issue of USB security, an issue raised by Wired Magazine in 2014. The fact that the USB is not just used to get data out, if malware was added to the stick, if it was custom enough, many malware systems might not pick up on it and that means that whomever got into the house, they could have added software, so that on the next run to copy a project, the system might have been opened up to other events. There is no way to prove that this happened, yet the fact remains that this is possible and the additional fact that this was happening for over 10 years is equally disturbing, because it means that the NSA monitoring systems are inadequate to spot unauthorised activities. These elements have at present all been proven, so there.

I think it is time for TRUSIX to convene again and consider another path, a path where USB sticks get a very different formatting and that its embedded encryption require the user, the location and the hardware id to be encrypted within the stick, in addition the stocks need to work with a native encryption mode that does not allow off site usage. Perhaps this is already happening, yet it was possible for Judas tainted Highwayman Harold to walk away with the goods, so something is not working at present. I am amazed that a system like that was not in place for the longest of times. I certainly hope that Director Robert Hannigan at GCHQ has been convening with his technology directors. In addition that there are some from Oxford and some from Cambridge, so that their natural aversion to the other, will bring a more competitive product with higher quality, which would serve all of GCHQ. #JustSaying

The one part where this will have an impact is the election, because this has been happening during an entire Democratic administration, so that will look massively sloppy in the eyes of pretty much every one, too bad Benghazi emails were not left that much under the radar, because that could have helped the Clinton election campaign immensely. Still, there are technology and resource issues. The fact that Booz Allen Hamilton gets mentioned again is unfortunate, yet this should only be a partial focus as they have 22,000 employees, so statistically speaking the number of transgressions is in that regard insignificant. What is significant is how these two got vetted and passed all their clearances. In addition to this there is the issue of operation centres. You see, if there has been data breaches, have there been system breaches? The question derives directly from the fact that data was taken off site and there were no flags or alerts for a decade. So at this point the valid question becomes whether NSOC and NTOC have similar flaws, which now places US Homeland Security in speculated direct data dangers. My consideration in this regard came from earlier mentions in this article. If any US opponent has a clue in this regard, what would be the repercussions, in addition, the question (due to my admitted ignorance) would be, did Edward Snowden have any knowledge of Harold Thomas Martin III, if so, was this revealed in any conversation Snowden would have had with a member of the FSB (there is absolutely no doubt that they had a ‘conversation’ with Edward Snowden whilst he was in sunny Moscow. If so, what data dangers is Homeland Security facing? If data was copied, it is not impossible that data was moved. If that has happened, any data event with any specific flag?

Now the next example is purely fictional!

What if conditionally an <!important> (or whatever flag the NSA uses in their data sets) was added or removed? If it was used to give weight to certain data observations, like a cleaning pass, the pass would either be useless, or misdirecting. All possible just because Harold Thomas Martin III had to ‘satisfy’ his ego. This is not whether it happened or not, this is about whether it was possible, which would give added voice to the NSA issues in play and the reliability of data. This is a clear issue when we consider that false journalistic stories give way to doubt anything the journalist has written, any issue with a prosecutor and all those cases need reviewing, so do you think it is any different for IT people who have blatantly disregarded data security issues? This is not some Market Researcher who faked response data, this is collected data which would have been intervened with, endangering the people these systems should protect. As stated, this is speculative, but there is a reality in all this, so the NSA will need to sanitise data and sources from the last 10 years. There is no telling what they will dig up. For me it is interesting to see this regarding Snowden, because I had my issues with him and how he just got data away from there. Now there is a chance that the NSA gets to rename their servers to NSA_Siff_01 to NSA_Siff_nn, wouldn’t that be the rudest wake up call for them? I reckon they forgot the old rules, the one being that technology moves at the speed of your fastest employee + 1 and the human ego remain the most dangerous opponent when it involves security procedures.

 

 

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What the law allows

This is not the usual article for me. This is not a mere look at facts and at information, one could say that I have skin in the game (me using the loosest of all interpretations). You see, I know Paul Farrell. We might not be on the same side at times, for the same reason I am on opposite sides of Brendan Molloy, but we all went to the same University and I know them both to be good people, both with integrity and with a decent moral compass. These issues matter. For the same reason that I stand next to David Cameron, yet I remain holding a healthy respect for Ed Miliband. Ed sees things wrong (read: does not see them my way), but he truly believes that he was fighting the good fight for his party, which is all that mattered.

So how does this relate?

You see, whenever the name Edward Snowden comes up, it seems to raise a red flag for me, like a bull my horns go into battle mode. There is something really wrong about the Snowden case and it forever will be from my point of view, so when I read ‘Edward Snowden on police pursuing journalist data: the scandal is what the law allows‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/apr/17/edward-snowden-on-police-pursuing-journalist-data-the-scandal-is-what-the-law-allows) got my attention to the smallest degree, yet when the quote “singled out for critique the Australian government’s contention that it broke no laws in its leak investigation of Paul Farrell, a Guardian reporter who in 2014 exposed the inner workings of Australia’s maritime interception of asylum seekers“, I became wide awake. You see, I know Paul, which makes it another matter entirely. This links back to an article where Paul Farrell was part of a team (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/07/asylum-seekers-will-be-handed-to-police-on-return-sri-lanka-confirms), that reported on certain issues. The quote “a group of 53 legal experts have called on the federal government to reveal how asylum seekers are being assessed on board customs vessels” points towards an issue that is very valid to be raised upon. When we see “a group of 53 legal scholars from 17 Australian universities warned that the government’s conduct under its hardline military-led border regime “Operation Sovereign Borders” was in violation of international law“, that point of view does not change one bit. The press has every right and even a mandate to report on it (read: why this is not done more often in commercial cases remains a mystery). These elements are not part of the actual spying issue, but they are related to the issue.

The rest of the article reads nice, but there is a side that I saw missing. Where were these people stopped? You see that makes all the difference. How far have people looked into the matter? When we consider UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), we need to consider article 17 where we see “Subject to this Convention, ships of all States, whether coastal or land-locked, enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea“, which is at the heart of the matter. Refugee boats are for the most smugglers, meaning that they cannot rely on ‘innocent passage’, in addition, article 18 gives us the passage bit with “traversing that sea without entering internal waters or calling at a roadstead or port facility outside internal waters“, which is exactly what smugglers are intent on doing, and whilst doing so we get article 19 where we see “Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State“, which again is exactly what smugglers ignore, because the status of these people cannot be confirmed, as such they can be regarded as prejudicial to both the peace and the good order as well as the security of the coastal state. Perhaps these 53 legal experts looked at that part, perhaps not (read: if I get any documents proving that part, I will reopen this blog article at a later stage).

So at this point, I saw an article that has issues, but I see nothing short of a mere article, nothing that should have woken up Edward Snowden, more important, why did it wake up the AFP? The article gives more than just 53 legal experts, it mentions “Hanson-Young also called on the minister to reveal the fate of a second vessel of 153 asylum seekers believed to have departed from India“, it mentions “The Tamil Refugee Council of Australia” as well as “UNICEF Australia and Save the Children said they were also “seriously concerned” over the secrecy on the second boat“, which are clear quotes, clear issues to be raised by a member of the press, so why do we get: ‘Federal police admit seeking access to reporter’s metadata without warrant‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/14/federal-police-admit-seeking-access-to-reporters-metadata-without-warrant)? You see, in the 2014 case we have the quote “The Australian government’s “on-water” activities to turn back asylum seekers have been shrouded in secrecy under the military-led Operation Sovereign Borders. They led to several incursions into Indonesia’s territorial waters in December and January”, you see, this makes it not an AFP case, but an ASD case as this was a military led operation. The quote: “incorrect calculation of the boundaries of Indonesian waters” is even more hilarious especially when you realise that RADAR, SATNAV and other means tend to show shorelines, can we assume that those on board of the Ocean Protector should have known these little facts? If not, than let us meet with the captain and discuss the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, where we see in section 2(a):

Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case.

Which gets us nicely to the duties of being a ship’s captain, where we could now conclude that the Ocean Protector could be regarded as in violation of that pesky UN law named UNCLOS, to be more precise in violation of section 19 of that one, because it could be seen as acting against the ‘security of the coastal State’. This is why I looked at the IRPCS, as that is foremost on the mind of any ship captain, which gives us section 2a and this now gets that person in hot water with section 19 of UNCLOS. Going from other sides there are now the 1st and second mate to consider of the Ocean Protector, as the transgression, unless clearly defined in a military agreement, could be cause for a tribunal and as such the captain could stand a chance to be ‘captain-no-more’, which means that the mates move up a position, this is sometimes regarded as promotion through termination (read: this doesn’t always require extreme prejudice).

My issue is less with the statements of Edward Snowden and much more about (as I see it) the stupidity of the AFP to look into a matter that has so many clear sources named, especially names of people who would know more than the article revealed that the investigation into Paul Farrell seems to be a waste of time to say the least. To be honest, I am much more worried about the escalations we get from the SMH with the title ‘Scott Morrison to share Australian Christian Lobby stage with anti-gay extremists‘ than anything Paul has written here (sorry Paul, I am not trying to diminish your work).

You see, the article Paul partially wrote asks questions, they ask the right question. What is a clear issue is: “the secrecy on the second boat and were worried that unaccompanied minors could be on board whom required additional assistance from Australia under international law“, now also consider “The council had previously stated that at least 11 of those on board had previously been tortured by the Sri Lankan authorities before fleeing“, we see a pattern. A pattern that some elements (I reckon mostly UNICEF) had data and information that was vital, in all this we see the statement that also matters “Morrison told Sydney radio that the second boat was no longer in Australian waters“, so basically Morrison has clearly stated that the second boat had entered Australian waters. Yet when and where? This does not change my view on UNCLOS and its interpretation of it, but it does have an issue with what happened afterwards and the Guardian does not really report on it, it asks questions. Now if Paul got Morrison to make the statement, than that does not make Paul a better investigative journalist, but it does make him an awesome and dangerous interviewer and no matter how he got the quote, he did get the quote and Morrison will have to place his virtually burned bum on a cushion for a little while. So why did the AFP need the metadata of Paul Farrell?

You see, I look at the article with different eyes, as a data miner I see other patterns and the article skates on one that seems to be ignored. We get that from “The AFP have undertaken a number of investigations targeting journalists’ sources, many related to stories about asylum seeker operations“, a statement where I see ‘many’ in a different light. I am wondering, especially in light of what was written why Paul’s data was sought for. My assumption is that there is another side to this. I personally reckon that Paul has had interactions with another person, on perhaps another story. I reckon that someone else is under investigation and Paul Farrell is only connected to some extent.

Can I prove this?

That is of course part of all this. You see, I cannot without seeing more than one source smitten with all this. But consider all the sources the Guardian has had. Any maritime issue can be much easier ascertained by the ASD (and it was a military led operation), they have a lot more resources and any maritime leak can more easily be traced at the maritime source (you know the instigating server side of things). In all this, the quote “Earlier this year Guardian Australia reported that the AFP had accrued a file of at least 200 pages on Farrell in an attempt to uncover and prosecute his confidential sources” from the ‘surveillance’ article now matters. It links to a Feb 12th article where we see the quote “In April 2014 I reported for Guardian Australia that one of the vessels involved in Australia’s unlawful incursions into Indonesian waters, the Ocean Protector, had gone far deeper into Indonesian waters than the government had disclosed“, which is the statement that caused all this. You see, the Ocean Protector is a government vessel, yet a civilian one that falls under the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. The ASD has options here, but it seems overkill to use them when it is not a military operation. The ASD can rely on “The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) provides foreign signals intelligence, known as SIGINT, to the Australian Defence Force and Australian Government to support military and strategic decision-making“. So why use the AFP instead of a much better equipped ASD? That is the question that comes to mind. What is without doubt is that this is not merely a Paul Farrell investigation. This is just a personal opinion, but when we see the amount of sources Paul Farrell had, in addition if the ship had an Automatic Identification System (AIS) on board, was it logged off and shut down? Even crew members with a smartphone turned on could have been enough of a source. A dozen sources all lower than open intelligence sources, were they looked at? In addition if the Ocean Protector had any switched on Esterline Technologies equipment on board, there might be additional ways to get certain information. I wonder how deep this was investigated before someone had the less than bright idea to, no matter how lawful I was, to the metadata of a journo?

The article raises questions, and what it does not tell us makes me wonder about several other questions, none of them considered.

In all this the by-line of a picture in the February article gives us “Michael Pezzullo, secretary of the immigration department, told a Senate committee this week he had referred a cabinet leak to the police. He also referred a Guardian Australia journalist to the AFP after a report that revealed a customs ship had entered Indonesian waters far deeper than previously disclosed“, which makes sense, yet that line gives me the issue of the Cabinet leak and a lot less about the Guardian leak. It seems to me that the massive file on Paul Farrell reads like a bright light, one that dissuades away from the cabinet investigation that is one that many parties would want to keep out of the press. I just wonder what Paul will find when he takes a look at that Cabinet member and the information that is being looked at. I am not certain that it will be about Asylum seekers or refugees, or another matter entirely, but that again is merely speculation from my side.

Can I be wrong?

Off course I can. You see, my speculations are merely the consequences of data I saw and other data I read. Now ask yourself, knowing the backlash spying on the press gets you; do you think that the AFP is actually this stupid? As I raised issues of location tracking in many forms, the essential part isn’t whether he got a hold of that data, the question becomes how many non-illegal methods could he have used to get it. So, the actions by the AFP seems to be a massive overreaction. That is even before we see whether the Ocean Protector is on http://www.marinetraffic.com. Even after that, there are Indonesian systems to consider. If anyone had revealed that data it would have been a political issue between Indonesia and Australia (the second party without any claim to secrecy within the territorial waters of Indonesia). All these mere issues, all clearly within the view of the public, the audience, the press and the governments at large.

So now ask yourself: ‘Is there any sense to exposing one’s self to internal investigation as the press demands visible answers?

That is why I got to the path I am on. Consider one additional path. If we consider a phone number, for example (purely a random example): 8816 273 14432, now consider that this is an Iridium sat phone. You see these puppies also tend to be on boats. They have been used in many non-metro environments since the mid 90’s. These puppy’s come with data and GPS enabled and Iridium is actually one of the better more secure solution, there are few cheap ones that offer very little security. So was this about Paul Ferrell, or did Mike Pezzullo (or one of his top minions) drop the ball in another way and was this his panic solution?

These are mere thoughts in all this. It took mere minutes to get to this place and I had initially read the article in February. We must acknowledge the issue that “Law enforcement did not need a warrant for accessing the information at the time“, which is not as much a cause for concern as people make it out to be. Let’s face it, we are all held to a need for results. So was the AFP wasting time? In my summary they were for other reasons. The need to give the image that they are looking in one area is adamant, for politicians the need for the AFP to look somewhere else is equally their personal need, yet where lies the real need? On the foundations given, it was clearly not looking aty Paul’s data I raised many issues on that matter.

This gets me to the final article. There is nothing about the article that is wrong, it is the reflection of Paul Farrell (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/15/australias-attacks-on-journalists-sources-are-about-politics-not-national-security). The title ‘Australia’s attacks on journalists’ sources are about politics, not national security‘ hits the mark on several issues. The quotes that I needed in my case were “It’s become a sadly normal reality that journalists’ sources can be targeted in Australia in an effort to hunt down whistle-blowers“, the operative word here is ‘can‘, which is not a given, just a mere option. It does not make the action correct. What is more an issue is “this is the first time the AFP has ever made such an admission in Australia“, you see, why is this the first time? Was there too much overwhelming evidence, or is was the clear visibility of the search a reason to hide something else?

You see, that could be seen as a clear case of ‘conspiracy theory’, but regarding the evidence. The document (at https://www.scribd.com/doc/298816051/Paul-Farrell-AFP-Decision-Letter-and-Documents) that reveals nothing really, there is too much marked out. So was this a clear case of wrongful investigation, or was that the case because it dims the lights of what the AFP is actually looking into. So when we see the quote “From the AFP’s point of view, it has done nothing wrong. As it has indicated in its statement, it has sought to undertake investigations within the scope of the law. It has “sought to identify the source of the disclosure, and then determine whether they had the appropriate authority to release that information”“, to me it shouts not ‘what was wrongfully looked at‘, in my personal belief it screams ‘We are actually sneakily looking at something else‘, again, it is a speculation and I could be massively wrong, yet there is enough in the air to wonder about that issue, not just by me.

 

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Where are my lenses?

For a moment I was contemplating the Guardian article ‘National borders are becoming irrelevant, says John McDonnell‘, which could be seen as a load of labour by the Bollocks party, or is that a load of bollocks by the Labour party? Anyway, the article was so shaky that it did not deserve the paper to explain the load of bollocks in there. What is however an interesting article, is the article in the National Security section of the Washington Post. The article “‘Eyewash’: How the CIA deceives its own workforce about operations” is worthy of digging into for a few reasons (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/eyewash-how-the-cia-deceives-its-own-workforce-about-operations/2016/01/31/c00f5a78-c53d-11e5-9693-933a4d31bcc8_story.html).

Initially, the very first thought I had was regarding Lao Tsu, who gave us the quote: ‘Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know‘, which is a truth in all this.

Apart from the title, the first quote to look at is: “Senior CIA officials have for years intentionally deceived parts of the agency workforce by transmitting internal memos that contain false information about operations and sources overseas“, there are a number of issues here, but let’s focus on one thread for now.

You see the second quote “Agency veterans described the tactic as an infrequent but important security measure, a means of protecting vital secrets by inserting fake communications into routine cable traffic while using separate channels to convey accurate information to cleared recipients” is at the very core of this.

No matter how you slice and dice it, the CIA has had a number of issues since 2002. The first is that after two planes got the wrong end of a vertical runway, the game changed, suddenly there was a massive overhaul and suddenly it had to deal with the United States Department of Homeland Security. In 2002 the DHS combined 22 different federal departments and agencies into a unified, integrated cabinet agency. More important, the DHS was working within and outside of American borders.

Now, the blissfully ignorant (including a host of politicians) seemed to live with the notion that under one flag and united, these people would start playing nice. Now, apart from that being a shaped a joke of titanic proportions, hilarious and all, the reality is far from that. You see, both the FBI and the CIA (not to mention the NSA) suddenly had to worry about 240,000 people, 240,000 security screenings. What do you think was going to happen? The issue of ‘false information about operations and sources overseas‘ is not an issue until you try to exploit that information, which means that you are doing something ILLEGAL (to the extent of being worthy of a shot through the back of the head). ‘Eyewash’ is only one cog in a vast machine of smokescreens that counterintelligence has to see how certain tracks of misinformation makes it outside the walls of intelligent wailing. You must have heard the story of the Senator/Governor who has a ‘friend’ in the CIA, not all those ‘friends’ are working valid paths. The intelligence community is a closed one for a reason. There is a clear chain of command, which means that the CIA has a chain of command and if a Senator or a Governor wants information, there is a clear path that he/she walks, from that point a politician gets informed if that person is allowed or has a valid reason for knowing. If anyone needs to move outside that path, you better believe that it is for political or personal reasons!

Now we get the quote that matters “officials said there is no clear mechanism for labelling eyewash cables or distinguishing them from legitimate records being examined by the CIA’s inspector general, turned over to Congress or declassified for historians“, I am not sure that this is correct. The question becomes what paths and what changes were pushed through in the last 2 administrations? I am willing to contemplate that errors have popped up since the Bush Government, yet in all this the parties seem to forget that the DHS was a political solution pushed through by politicians within a year. I know at least three companies that seriously screwed up a reorganisation of no more than 1,500 people over the period of 2 years, so what did you think would happen when 240,000 people get pushed all over the place? In addition, when a massive chunk of the intelligence section went private to get an income that was 400% better than there previous income (same place, same job), additional issues became their own level of a problem within the DHS, CIA, FBI (and again the non-mentioned NSA).

There were all levels of iterative issues in DATAINT, SIGINT, IT and Tradecraft. Names like Bradley/Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden might be the most visible ones, but I feel 99.99993422% certain (roughly), that there were more. Eyewash is one of the methods essential to keep others off balance and in the dark what actually was going on, because it was not their business or place to know this. This gets us to the following quotes “But a second set of instructions sent to a smaller circle of recipients told them to disregard the other message and that the mission could proceed” and ““The people in the outer levels who didn’t have insider access were being lied to,” said a U.S. official familiar with the report. “They were being intentionally deceived.”“, now consider this quote from another source “Having DOOMED SPIES, doing certain things openly for purposes of deception, and allowing our spies to know of them and report them to the enemy“, which comes from chapter 13 of Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War‘, a book that is almost 2,500 years old, and the tactic remains a valid one. Should you consider that to be hollow, than consider the little hiccup that the British Empire faced (I just love the old titles). Perhaps you remember the names:  Kim Philby, Donald Duart Maclean, Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt. They made a massive mess of British Intelligence, it took them years to clean up the mess those four had left behind, now consider adding 245,000 names, for the most none of them had passed CIA and/or FBI clearances. So what options did the CIA have? In addition, as we saw more and more evidence of the events linking to Edward Snowden, additional questions on the clearing process should be asked in equal measure, which leads to: ‘What options did the CIA have?’

In that light, the quote “Federal law makes it a criminal offense when a government employee “conceals, covers up, falsifies or makes a false entry” in an official record. Legal experts said they knew of no special exemption for the CIA, nor any attempt to prosecute agency officials for alleged violations” becomes little more than a joke, for the mere reason that not making the intelligence community exempt from this would be a very dangerous issue indeed. You see, today the CIA has a larger issue than just small players like North Korea, it has to deal with business conglomerates all over the world and they have become close to sovereign financial entities in their own right. What happens when a Senator chooses to take a book filled with intelligence anecdotes, just because it is an American Corporation? What happens when he gets the multi-billion dollar deal and he only has to ‘sweeten’ the deal a little? This is entering a grey area that most regard to be a grey area no one wants to touch, but what if it is not a high ranking official? What if it is just a mid-level controller, or a mere IT member looking for a retirement fund? Suddenly, this scenario became a whole lot more realistic, didn’t it?

Eyewash is just one cog in a machine of cogs, it drives a certain amount of cogs of the machine and as certain levels of Intel makes it outside of the walls, counterintelligence has a path to trot on, the article only lightly (too lightly) treads on those elements (yet they are mentioned), but the overall issue of internal dangers that the CIA (et al) faces are almost trivialised, in addition, the entire issue of the DHS and the linked dangers of intelligence access remains untouched. That is perhaps the only issue the article has. Well, from my point it has a few more, like under valuating the need for counter intelligence and the fact that this tactic had been around for around 2,500 years, but let’s not squabble on minor details.

The only additional minor detail I would like to add is that in all this is the missing component of the chain of command towards the Director of National Intelligence (which at present is James Clapper), in opposition, there is no denying that there is an issue that the internal mechanisms for managing eyewash cables were largely informal, which is an issue, even if there would be a clear document, likely higher than Top Secret within the CIA on how to identify and/or classify eyewash cables. Which now only leaves us with the Eyewash cables by No Such Agency like the CIA, but that is something for another day.

 

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