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!