Tag Archives: Espionage

Obama administration hiding the extent of damage from the OPM hack

Previously, I blogged about three serious breaches of secure data that occurred under the Obama administration, which is not known for competence in information technology (think Obamacare web site). The three breaches were Snowden, Manning, and China’s hack of Office of Personnel Management (OPM). I did not include Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server, since we don’t know the extent of the damage there, although in a previous post, I quoted a former deputy director of the CIA saying that foreign governments had everything on Clinton’s e-mail server. So that would be a fourth massive breach of security.

First, let’s see who Obama put in charge of OPM. Was it someone with a background and experience adequate to the job?

About Katherine Archuleta:

This morning, Katherine Archuleta was sworn-in as the 10th Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and will serve as the Federal government’s personnel chief. She will be the first Latina to hold this position. Katherine shares President Obama’s vision for diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce…

[…]OPM has recognized and acknowledged the underrepresentation of Hispanics in the federal work force, and the potential and talent they have to offer.  OPM has made it a point to expand outreach and recruitment within the Hispanic community…

[…]Katherine also worked as the National Political Director for President Obama’s reelection campaign…

[…]Katherine served as the Executive Director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation…

Now look at this article from the Wall Street Journal – it turns out that the Obama administration is trying to avoid revealing the severity of the hack, just like when they blamed their failure to protect our assets in Benghazi on a YouTube video.

Look:

The Obama administration for more than a week avoided disclosing the severity of an intrusion into federal computers by defining it as two breaches but divulging just one, said people familiar with the matter.

That approach has frustrated lawmakers as they probe the administration’s handling of one of the biggest-ever thefts of government records.

Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation suspect China was behind the hack of Office of Personnel Management databases discovered in April, and that those hackers accessed not only personnel files but security-clearance forms, current and former U.S. officials said. Such forms contain information that foreign intelligence agencies could use to target espionage operations.

[…]The administration on June 4 disclosed the breach of personnel files—but not the security-clearance theft. That theft was disclosed a week later, even though investigators knew about it much earlier, people familiar with the situation said.

They are trying to hide the extent of the damage from the public, just like they hid Hillary Clinton’s home-brew e-mail servers and the IRS e-mails dealing with the targeting of Tea Party groups:

Before the OPM formally announced June 4 that it had been hacked, officials at the agency denied to The Wall Street Journal that security-clearance forms were taken, as people familiar with the attack had described.

A day after the public announcement, an OPM spokesman said there was “no evidence to suggest that information other than what is normally found in a personnel file has been exposed.’’ By that time, the FBI already knew—and told OPM—that security-clearance forms had been tapped, officials said.

[…]Officials familiar with the behind-the-scene discussions said officials at the White House and OPM agreed to handle the problem as at least two separate breaches—one of the personnel files, and one of the security clearance forms.

That had major implications for the initial description of damage. Rather than saying the hack potentially involved the private details of an estimated 18 million people—and possibly millions more if relatives and close friends listed on the security clearance forms are counted—the agency said about four million people were potentially affected.

Eighteen million! And the Chairman of the Committee thinks the real number could be as high as 32 million, according to this article from the radically leftist NPR. In order to give someone a very high security clearance, you have to submit them to a background check. And that’s what China got – the background checks of anyone who needed a security clearance. And background checks require you to disclose all the foreign contacts you have interacted with – including the names of dissidents in foreign countries who you’ve been in contact with.

Now, let’s see what Congressman Mike Pompeo has to say. He is a graduate of West Point and Harvard Law, and he is on the House Inteligence Committee and the Select Committee on Benghazi.

Excerpt:

HH: And the Supreme Leader rejected any meaningful concessions yesterday. That’s a talk for a different day. I want to turn to the OPM story with you, Congressman Pompeo. I just read the Wall Street Journal editorial today. I told people I was the general counsel and deputy director of the OPM. I describe for them what’s in these files. So did the Journal. Why hasn’t anyone been fired?

MP: Incomprehensible. I don’t know how else to explain it. I can’t account for why there haven’t been not only folks fired, but massive corrective action taken inside that organization that would permit this kind of thing to have happened with no accountability, no one taking responsibility for it, and most importantly, no one beginning the task of ensuring that this kind of thing never happens again, and mitigating the damage from this particular set of breaches.

And a bit later:

HH: Has the administration been forthcoming to the Intelligence Committee, and you are the right venue, on the scale and nature of the breach, and the risk that it poses? I’ve been speculating along with the Wall Street Journal, because I know what’s in those files. The Chinese have basically a map of every American, and our intelligence agencies, dating back as long as they had digitized it.

MP: You know, I’ll say this. They have been behind the curve in identifying not only the scope, but continuing to uncover the things that need to be done to counter the fact that some of this information is likely in the hands of folks who we don’t want to have it. So there is a lot of work to do, and time is of the essence to protect lots of folks whose data was in the hands of the federal government, and is now likely in the hands of other governments.

HH: Now you know, Mike Pompeo, when Hanssen spied on the United States and gave away our secrets, people died, because the Russians went and they killed the people that they suspected were working for us. The Chinese are going to be able to run different analyses of this data and come to the conclusion who’s working for us, and who’s not. And a bunch of other people, they might sell it, they might turn people, they might blackmail people. The scope of this is Snowden-like. So this is the second time in three years that our government has taken just a knee to the groin. I can’t describe it any other way, and in the worst possible way, and we’re doubled over, and no one seems to know about it.

MP: It is a big deal, Hugh. It is, I don’t make statements like firing folks and saying that a senior leader should be let go from their position lightly. But this is serious business. There are real people out there whose lives and potentially the families of those people whose lives are at risk if this data ends up in the hands of folks that shouldn’t have it. And that risk is out there, and we’ve got a lot of work to do to make sure and protect those folks at the level that is demanded from our government.

You can listen to that interview in its entirety on Hugh Hewitt’s website. Think anyone will be fired over this? Has anyone been fired over the Obama administration’s other failures?

Three serious breaches of national security under this Democrat administration

What difference does national security make?
What difference does national security make?

The first one was Edward Snowden’s leak of classified data.

This article from Reuters has an update on the damage that Snowden caused.

It says:

Britain has pulled out agents from live operations in “hostile countries” after Russia and China cracked top-secret information contained in files leaked by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, the Sunday Times reported.

Security service MI6, which operates overseas and is tasked with defending British interests, has removed agents from certain countries, the newspaper said, citing unnamed officials at the office of British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Home Office (interior ministry) and security services.

Snowden downloaded more than 1.7 million secret files from security agencies in the United States and Britain in 2013, and leaked details about mass surveillance of phone and internet communications.

[…]British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Snowden had done a huge amount of damage to the West’s ability to protect its citizens.

“As to the specific allegations this morning, we never comment on operational intelligence matters so I’m not going to talk about what we have or haven’t done in order to mitigate the effect of the Snowden revelations, but nobody should be in any doubt that Edward Snowden has caused immense damage,” he told Sky News.

[…]A Home Office source told the newspaper that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not grant Snowden asylum for nothing.

“His documents were encrypted but they weren’t completely secure and we have now seen our agents and assets being targeted,” the source said.

A British intelligence source said Snowden had done “incalculable damage”.

“In some cases the agencies have been forced to intervene and lift their agents from operations to stop them being identified and killed,” the source was quoted as saying.

You’ll recall that it was a British agent who stopped a recent attack by an Islamic terrorist. And now, British agents from MI6 are pulling out of their stations. There is a cost to focusing too much on global warming and free contraceptives, and not enough on national security and foreign policy.

Note that we haven’t done anything to Snowden or Russia that might discourage others from doing similar things in the future, because I guess the Democrats think that would be too mean. I don’t think it would be too mean.

Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks

Here’s the second great intelligence failure, Private Bradley Manning.

Bradley E. Manning, the soldier convicted of leaking a trove of classified documents, was sentenced to 35 years in prison Wednesday for the largest public breach of secret data in U.S. history, sparking a debate over the length of his prison term and whether he could ever win an early release.

The judge, Col. Denise Lind, also demoted him from private first class to private and dishonorably discharged him from the Army at a brief court-martial hearing at Fort Meade, Md.

[…]Manning, 25, was convicted July 30 on 20 charges, including six under the Espionage Act, for downloading, copying and passing to WikiLeaks more than 700,000 raw U.S. military battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan and State Department cables, all classified “Secret.”

[…]His defense attorney, David Coombs, argued that the military was partly to blame because it should have pulled Manning’s access to classified documents after a series of extreme emotional events the junior intelligence analyst experienced during his deployment in Iraq.

Manning raged at superiors, emailed photos of himself dressed as a woman and punched a female soldier in the face.

Manning now wants to get a sex change and be referred to as Chelsea. What exactly was he doing with all of this classified information? Does the Obama administration not check people for these things, or did he get a free security pass because he was gay?

China hacking

Here’s the third great intelligence failure, the recent China hacking of government employee data.

Here’s Jonah Goldberg writing in The Stream.

Excerpt:

[I]t was revealed last week that the Chinese stole millions of personnel files and mountains of background-check information from the U.S. government. I suppose I should say the Chinese “allegedly” stole the information, but many lawmakers, government officials, anonymous intelligence sources and industry experts are convinced that the Chinese did it. Besides, we normally use “allegedly” in such cases because we don’t want to prejudice a jury — and this case is never, ever going to court.

The damage is hard to exaggerate. Former NSA counterintelligence officer John Schindler calls it a “disaster” in a column headlined “China’s hack just wrecked American espionage.” Joel Brenner, America’s top counterintelligence official from 2006 to 2009, says the stolen data amounts to the “crown jewels” of American intelligence. “This tells the Chinese the identities of almost everybody who has got a United States security clearance,” he told the Associated Press.

Countless current and past federal employees are now extremely vulnerable to blackmail and even recruitment by Chinese intelligence operatives. Millions are open to identity theft (the files included all of their personal information, including Social Security numbers, and in many cases medical, family, romantic and substance-abuse histories). My wife, who previously worked for the Justice Department, may have lived a fine and upstanding life, but I don’t relish the fact that some chain-smoking Chinese bureaucrat is going over her personal information.

Many are calling it a “cyber Pearl Harbor.”

I would not want to be a non-official cover agent working for the U.S. government right now.

Next time, let’s vote for the serious party.

Friday night movie: 13 Rue Madeleine (1946)

Here’s tonight’s movie:

Description:

During World War II, Charles Stevenson Gibson, a St. Louis attorney with an extensive background in international affairs, is chosen by President Roosevelt to organize the secret activities of a new Intelligence Corps. Gibson, in turn, selects Robert Sharkey, a widely traveled, multi-lingual scholar who served with distinction in World War I, to administer the complex training program.

Selected groups of volunteers report to Washington for rigorous training before assignment overseas. In 1944, the candidates selected for the 77th group include Suzanne de Beaumont, a French citizen who became stranded in the U.S. when France fell, and whose husband is an artillery officer in the French army. Jeff Lassiter, the son of an American consul, educated in Geneva and Oxford and recruited from the Officers’ Training School at the University of California at Los Angeles, and Bill O’Connell, a Rutgers graduate and former employee of the foreign department of a major bank, are also chosen.

At a secluded country estate, the twenty-two candidates are given two weeks of intensive testing to see if they qualify for further training. Gibson tells Sharkey he knows that one of the candidates is a German agent and Sharkey is assigned to identify him.

IMDB rating: [7.0/10]

Here’s a spy image which is pretty cool, too:

A mysterious spy lurks at night
A mysterious spy lurks at night

Happy Friday!

Friday night movie: Decision Before Dawn (1951)

For Friday night, I thought I’d re-post a movie I like a lot.

IMDB rating: [7.5/10]

Description:

WWII is entering its last phase: Germany is in ruins, but does not yield. The US army lacks crucial knowledge about the German units operating on the opposite side of the Rhine, and decides to send two German prisoners to gather information. The scheme is risky: the Gestapo retains a terribly efficient network to identify and capture spies and deserters. Moreover, it is not clear that “Tiger”, who does not mind any dirty work as long as the price is right, and war-weary “Happy”, who might be easily betrayed by his feelings, are dependable agents. After Tiger and another American agent are successfully infiltrated, Happy is parachuted in Bavaria. His duty: find out the whereabouts of a powerful German armored unit moving towards the western front.

Happy Friday!

Obama administration spied on Fox News reporter’s e-mails and phone calls

Twitchy has everything linked here. And UPDATE: THREE Fox News reporters, including MEGYN KELLY were targeted.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what happened from radically left-wing UK Guardian, of all places: (links removed)

Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen had his emails read by the Obama DOJ, which accused him of being a co-conspirator in a criminal leak case.

It is now well known that the Obama justice department has prosecuted more government leakers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all prior administrations combined – in fact, double the number of all such prior prosecutions. But as last week’s controversy over the DOJ’s pursuit of the phone records of AP reporters illustrated, this obsessive fixation in defense of secrecy also targets, and severely damages, journalists specifically and the newsgathering process in general.

New revelations emerged yesterday in the Washington Post that are perhaps the most extreme yet when it comes to the DOJ’s attacks on press freedoms. It involves the prosecution of State Department adviser Stephen Kim, a naturalized citizen from South Korea who was indicted in 2009 for allegedly telling Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, that US intelligence believed North Korea would respond to additional UN sanctions with more nuclear tests – something Rosen then reported. Kim did not obtain unauthorized access to classified information, nor steal documents, nor sell secrets, nor pass them to an enemy of the US. Instead, the DOJ alleges that he merely communicated this innocuous information to a journalist – something done every day in Washington – and, for that, this arms expert and long-time government employee faces more than a decade in prison for “espionage”.

The focus of the Post’s report yesterday is that the DOJ’s surveillance of Rosen, the reporter, extended far beyond even what they did to AP reporters. The FBI tracked Rosen’s movements in and out of the State Department, traced the timing of his calls, and – most amazingly – obtained a search warrant to read two days worth of his emails, as well as all of his emails with Kim. In this case, said the Post, “investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.” It added that “court documents in the Kim case reveal how deeply investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist”.

But what makes this revelation particularly disturbing is that the DOJ, in order to get this search warrant, insisted that not only Kim, but also Rosen – the journalist – committed serious crimes. The DOJ specifically argued that by encouraging his source to disclose classified information – something investigative journalists do every day – Rosen himself broke the law. Describing an affidavit from FBI agent Reginald Reyes filed by the DOJ, the Post reports [emphasis added]:

“Reyes wrote that there was evidence Rosen had broken the law, ‘at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator’. That fact distinguishes his case from the probe of the AP, in which the news organization is not the likely target. Using italics for emphasis, Reyes explained how Rosen allegedly used a ‘covert communications plan’ and quoted from an e-mail exchange between Rosen and Kim that seems to describe a secret system for passing along information. . . . However, it remains an open question whether it’s ever illegal, given the First Amendment’s protection of press freedom, for a reporter to solicit information. No reporter, including Rosen, has been prosecuted for doing so.”

Under US law, it is not illegal to publish classified information. That fact, along with the First Amendment’s guarantee of press freedoms, is what has prevented the US government from ever prosecuting journalists for reporting on what the US government does in secret. This newfound theory of the Obama DOJ – that a journalist can be guilty of crimes for “soliciting” the disclosure of classified information – is a means for circumventing those safeguards and criminalizing the act of investigative journalism itself. These latest revelations show that this is not just a theory but one put into practice, as the Obama DOJ submitted court documents accusing a journalist of committing crimes by doing this.

I find it amusing that the journalists on the left are just now realizing that the most left-wing President we have ever had is just like all the other left-wing leaders. He’s a fascist. Fascism is solely a phenomenon of the left. What fascism means is “big government”. To be on the right is to be for smaller government, free trade, and more liberty for families and individuals. That’s why fascism is only enacted by parties on the political left. Free-market capitalism means limited government.