Thank God the Kremlin Does Not Read the Washington Post. But Wait!
Readers know exactly where I stand on the NSA surveillance activities — they must change — and on how I feel about the way Mr. Snowden revealed those abuses: Snowden broke the law.
Setting all that aside, we now learn — thanks to Mr. Snowden and the Washington Post — details of the 2013, $52.6 ‘’black budget.” OK, no big deal, we kind of knew, you say.
In response to a Post inquiry, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said, “Our budgets are classified as they could provide insight for foreign intelligence services to discern our top national priorities, capabilities and sources and methods that allow us to obtain information to counter threats.” Bunch of crap and why should we believe him now, you say.
The 178-page summary for the National Intelligence Program, a TOP SECRET/SI/TK/NOFORN document, “provided” to the Washington Post by Edward Snowden, “details the successes, failures and objectives of the 16 spy agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community,” according to the Post.
“It also describes cutting-edge technologies, agent recruiting and ongoing operations.”
However, we should be extremely thankful for the thoughtfulness of The Washington Post to withhold some information “after consultation with U.S. officials who expressed concerns about the risk to intelligence sources and methods. Sensitive details are so pervasive in the documents that The Post is publishing only summary tables and charts online.” How considerate.
Let’s hope the Post is kind enough to continue to properly safeguard such highly classified information concerning our most sensitive secrets: our sources and methods.
Regrettably we cannot expect such thoughtfulness and consideration on the part of Russia, China and who-knows-who-else who have had access to a trove of secrets, courtesy Mr. Snowden.
Among the notable revelations in the budget summary, the Post proudly includes:
•The CIA and NSA have launched aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing what the budget refers to as “offensive cyber operations.”
•U.S. intelligence officials take an active interest in foes as well as friends. Pakistan is described in detail as an “intractable target,” and counterintelligence operations “are strategically focused against [the] priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel.”
In another piece we learn that “the CIA devotes $1.7 billion, or nearly 12 percent of its budget, to technical collection efforts including a joint program with the NSA called “CLANSIG,” a covert program to intercept radio and telephone communications from hostile territory.
That “The agency is also pursuing tracking systems ‘that minimize or eliminate the need for physical access and enable deep concealment operations against hard targets.’”
That “The CIA has deployed new biometric sensors to confirm the identities and locations of al-Qaeda operatives. The system has been used in the CIA’s drone campaign.”
And that “The NSA is also planning high-risk covert missions, a lesser-known part of its work, to plant what it calls ‘tailored radio frequency solutions’ in hostile territory — close-in sensors to intercept communications that do not pass through global networks.”
The Post announces:
The document describes a constellation of spy agencies that track millions of individual surveillance targets and carry out operations that include hundreds of lethal strikes. They are organized around five priorities: combating terrorism, stopping the spread of nuclear and other unconventional weapons, warning U.S. leaders about critical events overseas, defending against foreign espionage and conducting cyber operations.
For additional “selected” details just click here.
Would you like to know more details of the highly classified commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011? Just click here and read, for example, how:
The U.S. commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden was guided from space by a fleet of satellites, which aimed dozens of separate receivers over Pakistan to collect a torrent of electronic and signals intelligence as the mission unfolded, according to a top-secret U.S. intelligence document.
The National Security Agency was also able to penetrate guarded communications among al-Qaeda operatives by tracking calls from mobile phones identified by specific calling patterns, the document shows. Analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency pinpointed the geographic location of one of the phones and tied it to the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where an accumulation of other evidence suggested bin Laden was hiding.
The Post does not publish all the details, but don’t worry, those who want more details can, with some skill and luck, probably get them from the Russian and Chinese intelligence services.
Want to know about SIGINT and counter intelligence programs? Just click here.
Want to know about high-tech surveillance of North Korea, Iran and Syria? Just click here.
Not only do we learn about the vast outlays and capabilities of our intelligence agencies, but also about “persistent and in some cases critical blind spots”– such as in counter-terrorism.
Other blank spots include questions about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear components when they are being transported, the capabilities of China’s next generation fighter aircraft, and how Russia’s government leaders are likely to respond “to potentially destabilizing events in Moscow, such as large protests and terrorist attacks.”
A chart outlining efforts to address key questions on biological and chemical weapons is particularly bleak. U.S. agencies set themselves annual goals of making progress in at least five categories of intelligence collection related to these weapons. In 2011, the agencies made headway on just two gaps; a year earlier the mark was zero.
That should make our enemies feel much better.
Thank God that the Post has not spilled all the beans. And thank God that the Russians and our enemies do not read the Washington Post.
But wait, Russia may have access to the whole unabridged enchilada right from the horse’s mouth, right “on location,” courtesy Mr. Snowden.