Tag Archives: intelligence

The Intercept Discloses Top-Secret NSA Document on Russia Hacking Aimed at US Voting System

Mother Jones

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On Monday, the Intercept published a classified internal NSA document noting that Russian military intelligence mounted an operation to hack at least one US voting software supplier—which provided software related to voter registration files—in the months prior to last year’s presidential contest. It has previously been reported that Russia attempted to hack into voter registration systems, but this NSA document provides details of how one such operation occurred.

According to the Intercept:

The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the US election and voting infrastructure. The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed US government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.

While the document provides a rare window into the NSA’s understanding of the mechanics of Russian hacking, it does not show the underlying “raw” intelligence on which the analysis is based. A US intelligence officer who declined to be identified cautioned against drawing too big a conclusion from the document because a single analysis is not necessarily definitive.

The report indicates that Russian hacking may have penetrated further into US voting systems than was previously understood. It states unequivocally in its summary statement that it was Russian military intelligence, specifically the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, that conducted the cyber attacks described in the document:

Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions. … The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to … launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations.

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The Intercept Discloses Top-Secret NSA Document on Russia Hacking Aimed at US Voting System

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Donald Trump Doesn’t Like Dealing With Peasants

Mother Jones

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The Washington Post reports that President Trump prefers to receive his daily intelligence briefing in comic book form, but we already knew that. However, this is new to me:

Most mornings, often at 10:30, sometimes earlier, Trump sits behind the historic Resolute desk and, with a fresh Diet Coke fizzing and papers piled high, receives top-secret updates on the world’s hot spots. The president interrupts his briefers with questions but also with random asides. He asks that the top brass of the intelligence community be present, and he demands brevity.

….Though career intelligence analysts often take the lead in delivering them, Trump likes his political appointees — Pompeo and Coats — to attend, along with national security adviser H.R. McMaster. Pompeo and Coats, whose offices are in McLean, Va., have had to redesign their daily routines so that they spend many mornings at the White House.

It’s appropriate for the intelligence chiefs to be present periodically. But forcing two of them to blow off an hour or two of their time every day isn’t. It’s dumb management.

So why does Trump do it? Mostly for ego and dominance reasons, I suppose. He might also still be convinced that the intelligence community is his enemy and will play games with the orders he gives them. So he wants his own appointees present to make sure they do what he wants.

These are both the marks of an insecure leader. It’s not a good sign.

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Donald Trump Doesn’t Like Dealing With Peasants

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The Intel Community Needs to Fire Someone—Fast

Mother Jones

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The US intelligence community has screwed up. Someone (or multiple someones) passed along British intel about the Manchester bombing to US reporters before it had been publicly released. This is bad for at least three reasons:

It quite possibly impedes an active investigation.
It pisses off British intelligence.
It gives Donald Trump a very reasonable excuse to demand an investigation into leaking from our intelligence agencies.

This is a bit like the reporters who fail to verify their stories properly and end up making mistakes. It might not happen very often, but it gives Trump ammunition for his claims that the media is out to get him with endless fake news. For that reason, reporters in the age of Trump need to be doubly careful about what they write.

If the intel community is smart, it will figure out where these leaks came from and fire someone fast. But are they smart?

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The Intel Community Needs to Fire Someone—Fast

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British Officials Angered by US Leaks of Manchester Intelligence to Media

Mother Jones

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High-ranking British officials, including Home Secretary Amber Rudd, are speaking out against the United States, after a number of confidential details in the ongoing investigation into Monday’s Manchester attack appeared in American media before British authorities confirmed them.

“The British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information to protect operational integrity, the element of surprise,” Rudd said in an interview Wednesday with BBC’s Radio 4. “So it is irritating if it gets released from other sources.”

“I have been very clear with our friends that that should not happen again,” she continued.

The information in question includes the suspected attacker’s identity and the detail that the attack was likely a suicide-bombing—intel that emerged in American reports hours before authorities publicly verified them. BuzzFeed reports CBS News and the Associated Press were among the American media to cite anonymous US intelligence officials in the reports in question. Notice the time-stamps below:

Meanwhile, British news outlets adhered to police exhortations and waited to disclose such details until officials were ready to reveal them.

Rudd’s admonishment comes as the latest setback in the United States’ intelligence-sharing relationships with key allies, after the Washington Post reported last week that President Donald Trump divulged highly classified information to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister during a meeting in the Oval Office. The bombshell allegation raised concern that Trump’s reveal could jeopardize relations with the intelligence-sharing partner—later reported to be Israel—who relayed the information to the United States in the first place.

On Monday, Trump stepped into it again, when he appeared to inadvertently confirm that the source was in fact Israel.

“This is a leaky administration,” Thomas Sanderson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in DC told the Guardian. “What does that mean for sharing information we need to going forward? The UK and Israel are probably our two biggest sources of intelligence. Now they’re thinking, ‘Is this going to cause us damage every time we share?'”

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British Officials Angered by US Leaks of Manchester Intelligence to Media

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Look at the Difference in Trump and Obama’s Notes for Israel’s Holocaust Memorial

Mother Jones

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Before leaving Israel’s Holocaust museum Yad Vashem Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump continued the tradition of US leaders who have visited the memorial before him, including former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, by writing a message in the Book of Remembrance.

“It is a great honor to be here with my friends!” Trump’s signature read. “So amazing and will never forget!”

The president’s note quickly attracted criticism for its strangely upbeat tone, with many mocking the message for appearing out of step with the memorial’s somber setting, especially when compared with former president Barack Obama’s 2008 message when he was still a senator.

The note on Tuesday is the latest in a series of awkward moments for Trump during his first overseas trip as president. The day before, while addressing reporters at a press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump appeared to inadvertently confirm that Israel was the source that provided the intelligence he shared with high-ranking Russian officials in the Oval Office last week.

Trump’s unusually lighthearted Book of Remembrance message is only the most recent example of tone deafness coming from the administration regarding the Holocaust. In February, the administration sparked by the ire of Jewish groups when it released a statement commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day that failed to mention the word Jews. White House press secretary also once called Nazi concentration camps “Holocaust centers” while positively comparing Adolf Hitler to Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad.

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Look at the Difference in Trump and Obama’s Notes for Israel’s Holocaust Memorial

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