Tag Archives: Intelligence

Sock Puppet Social Media Friends

“The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.”

Propaganda program “will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.”

The military “stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries”.”

More: http://m.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks

SpyWriter Jack King “A new King of thrillers on the horizon” http://www.SpyWriter.com


The subtle difference between a “spy” and an “intelligence agent”

Q: “What exactly were you doing in the U.S.? What is it called? Spying?”

A: “It’s the same thing the American special services are doing in Russia. The English word “spy” may refer to what the Russians call “spy” or “intelligence agent.” It depends on how you look at it. It’s no accident that, in the Soviet Union, the good guys were called “intelligence agents” and the enemies were called “spies.” …

“intelligence does not work against specific people. It’s not permanent and assignments can change. As a secret agent, you work for the good of your country. Crimes may be committed against specific people, but intelligence is a patriotic business.”

More: http://indrus.in/articles/2012/10/19/russian_spy_reveals_his_secrets_18485.html

Loneliness of a double life

As new school year approaches and recruiters will be sweeping every campus for impressionable youth it may be a good idea to recount what it is like to be a spy:

“Intelligence agents lead double lives, requiring them to regularly deceive other people, and not just their targets. It is not easy for a person with a solid social conscience to sustain a lifestyle that involves covertly influencing or controlling others through lies. Agents can come to feel subtly detached or separated from other people, feelings that may persist even when they resume their normal lives once their espionage is over.

These psychological burdens of detachment and loneliness are acute while the agents are deployed and living their covers among their targets, where the seemingly trusting social relationships they have built with targets are mostly false, based on lies and manipulation. Sometimes they frankly despise the targets they are pretending to admire. Their real personalities are buried under layers of clandestinity; there is no one there who is aware of their true status, other than themselves. One particularly self-aware agent described his psychological situation while deployed as a form of solitary confinement, with his own skull his prison cell.”

More: http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2012/07/05-spy-wilder

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The absurd world of espionage

“From propaganda catapults to exploding seashells, why do “intelligence” services come up with so many bad, and often absurd, ideas?

Well, maybe they aren’t coming up with all that many stupid ideas: maybe they come up with exactly as many stupid ideas as, say, the U.S. House of Representatives, but we pay more attention to the CIA’s nonsense because we’re more surprised by it. After all, these people, at least, are supposed to have some idea of what they’re doing.

But reading through some of these stories, you start to wonder if there might be another explanation. The CIA’s looniest notions, after all, bear remarkable resemblance to the loony ideas that seem to constantly pour out of totalitarian dictatorships, including current ones such as that of North Korea. Maybe it’s the very fact of brainstorming behind closed doors — six guys in a room trying to figure out a way to do whatever currently seems impossible — that encourages it. Desperation plus not having anyone to laugh at you (whether because of secrecy or, in the case of North Korea, because you’ve got the entire country in a headlock) must be a pretty potent combination.”

More: http://m.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/02/spy-agencies-have-had-some-very-dumb-ideas-new-documents-reveal/253238/

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Corporate Intelligence Manipulation

“Concerned members of the intelligence community have told me that if a corporation wanted to insert items favorable to itself or its clients into the PDB to influence the US national security agenda, at this time it would be virtually undetectable. These companies have analysts and often intelligence collectors spread throughout the system and have the access to introduce intelligence into the system.

To take an extreme example, a company frustrated with a government that’s hampering its business or the business of one of its clients could introduce or spin intelligence on that government’s suspected collaboration with terrorists in order to get the White House’s attention and potentially shape national policy. Or, more subtly, a private firm could introduce concerns about a particular government to put heat on that government to shape its energy policy in a favorable direction.

To get us into the Iraq War, intelligence regarding alleged weapons of mass destruction had to be very artfully manipulated to short-circuit a formidable bureaucracy designed to prevent just such warping of intelligence. Due to the shift toward wide-scale industrial outsourcing in the intelligence community, even that fallible safeguard has been eroded. Sources like “Curveball,” the Iraqi informant who wrongly asserted the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and upon whom the CIA relied, are no longer needed. This is particularly frightening when one considers that the “war on terror” is fought by a $100 billion-plus industry that has a vested interest in its continuation. “

Source: Outsourcing Intelligence, The Nation, July 24, 2007

Soviet SuperSpy comes out of the cold, posthumously

Nikolay Kuznetsov, the legendary Soviet spy who infiltrated the Wehrmacht, has been commemorated with a museum exhibit:

“An exhibition, dedicated to the 100th birth anniversary of legendary Soviet intelligence agent Nikolai Kuznetsov, opened in the Russian Urals city of Yekaterinburg on Thursday.”

Who was Kuznetsov?

“According to Kuznetsov’s Soviet biographers, ‘in March 1938 he began carrying out special assignments in the sphere of state security.’ All old publications summarize this man’s biography in just a few lines. …

Kuznetsov set foot on Ukrainian soil in August 1942. He did so in a very rare capacity, doubling as an intelligence agent and a partisan. Biographers wrote that “he landed behind enemy lines outside Rivne, where he joined a special partisan unit ‘Pobediteli’ (controlled by the NKVD) …

Kuznetsov (known as Nikolai Grachov to his brothers-in-arms in the “Pobediteli” unit and, to the Nazi occupation government in Rivne — as Ober-Lieutenant Paul Wilhelm Sieber, was disguised as “an extraordinary commissioner of the economic command for the use of material resources of the Eastern territories in the interests of the Wehrmacht”)

For the Soviet command he secured such valuable intelligence as the location of Hitler’s field headquarters outside Vinnytsia (December 1942) and plans by the Nazi command to launch a massive offensive at Kursk (Operation Citadel, late May 1943). “Oberleutenant Siebert” eliminated the following ranking functionaries in the Nazi occupation administration: Imperial Financial Advisor with ministerial status General Gell (September 1943); General von Ilgen, Chief Justice of the Supreme German Court in Ukraine; General Alfred Funk (November 1943); Vice-Governor of Galicia Otton Bauer; and the head of his chancellery Heinrich Schneider (Lviv, February 1944). “Siebert” wounded General Paul Dargel, Deputy Imperial Commissioner of the Reich Commissariat Ukraine, who was also the right-hand man of the Nazi satrap of Ukraine — Erich Koch. On May 31, 1943, Kuznetsov secured a personal audience with Koch himself, intending to assassinate him, but his plans failed, owing to the fact that Koch was extremely well guarded.”

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SpyNews 1: some news from the world of espionage

Knowing who to spy on is just as important as teaching your case officers how to spy”: “While spying on one’s enemies is easy, it’s the other issues that often trip up intelligence services. These include things like spying on allies, spying on neutral countries, spying in order to steal military technology (especially if it’s a friendly nation that possesses it). These are extremely difficult decisions to make since, ideally, the object of spying is to collect information that further the country’s national security or foreign interests. The problem is that this “definitions” of an intelligence agency’s purpose is too broad. A case in point is Israeli espionage against France. Needing a powerful air force to protect itself against attack, Israel had requested that Dassault Aviation produce the Mirage 5 in order to beef up its air combat capabilities. The 50 aircraft paid for by the Israelis were built, but in 1967, the French government imposed an arms embargo on Israel, preventing the aircraft from being delivered. Instead of crying about it, the Israelis simply produced an unlicensed version of the Mirage by using industrial espionage against the French to steal the technical specifications concerning the engine and the airframe. Technically, while the French government was behaving antagonistically, France was neither at war with Israel nor was the nation considered inherently hostile the way Syria and Egypt were at the time. Nonetheless, the Israelis saw something they needed, and had no qualms about stealing it.”

Tell a spy by the book: “But instances of naturalists using their work as a cover for espionage are scarce.  Maybe that’s because the people involved tend to be secretive.  Or maybe it’s because the naturalist connection has mainly served to advance a career, as in Le Carré’s case, or to put a social and intellectual gloss on otherwise dirty work.  The simple delights of birding were no doubt a relief from the double-dealing world of espionage for S. Dillon Ripley, who ran secret agents for the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.), the C.I.A.’s predecessor during World War II, and later served as secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.  It could also be a form of redemption (or not quite):  James Schlesinger, for instance, served a brief, tumultuous tenure as head of the C.I.A., and a shill for Richard Nixon, in the aftermath of Watergate.   When I chatted recently with Nicholas Dujmovic, a historian at the C.I.A., he remarked, “The only nice thing I’ve ever heard about Schlesinger is that he was a birdwatcher.”

The Gehlen organization resurfaces again: “They called Johannes Clemens the “Tiger of Como.” When an SS captain bore a nickname like that, it rarely meant anything good. Clemens belonged to a squad that shot 335 civilians in the Ardeatine Caves near Rome in 1944, one of the worst massacres on Italian soil during World War II. Former chief inspector Georg Wilimzig also had blood on his hands. His 300-member squad, known as IV/2, murdered thousands of men, women and children following the German invasion of Poland in 1939. After 1945, Clemens and Wilimzig both found themselves working for the same employer — the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency.”

Related to the above: Operation Paperclip — US Intelligence and Nazi criminals.

Big Brother watches you: “If it seems a little creepy to you that the same company making ballistic missiles is also processing your taxes, accessing your fingerprints, scanning your packages, ensuring that it’s easier than ever to collect your DNA, and counting you for the census, rest assured: Lockheed Martin’s interest in getting inside your private life via intelligence collection and surveillance has remained remarkably undiminished in the 21st century.”

How well do you know Social Networking “Friends”? “the U.S. Strategic Command (overseeing the nuclear strike) will concentrate on military computer hacking and cyberdefenses. The Joint Staffs will take responsibility for deception operations, while Special Operations Command will take the lead in military information gathering aimed at supporting secret operations. […] the Central Command (covering the greater Middle East) has recently purchased a $2.7 million software, especially designed by San-Diego based Ntrepid. The material will permit the manipulation of social media through the use of fake online “personas” managed by the military, followed by all kinds of infiltration and intelligence operations, while being able to keep the trickery under the radar.”

Marijuana, the secret weapon

Readers of espionage novels may find some thrills in the recently released Department of War documents on psychological warfare, including the use of hallucinogens (see also LSD experiments gone bad)

“Take the origins of MK-ULTRA, the notorious CIA program that dosed thousands of unwitting participants with hallucinogenic drugs.

Initially funded by the Navy, the project set out to study the effects of brain concussion. Soon after, scientists noted that a blow to the head prompted amnesia, leading to the pursuit of a drug-based technique to “induce brain concussion … without physical trauma.” Shortly thereafter, the project was transferred entirely to the CIA, because it involved “human experiments … not easily justifiable on medical-therapeutic grounds.”

Other programs, described briefly focused on mind control. MK-NAOMI was after “severely incapacitating and lethal materials … [and] gadgetry for their dissemination,” and MK-CHICKWIT was designed to “identify new drug developments in Europe and Asia,” and then “obtain samples.”

Another program, MK-OFTEN, started as a study on dopamine. But the scope was soon expanded to evaluate ibogaine, a hallucinogen, and then several more drugs, in hopes of creating “new pharmacologically active drugs affecting the central nervous system [to] modify men’s behavior.”

And the Navy is reported to have “obtain[ed] heroin and marijuana” in an effort to develop speech-inducing drugs for use on defectors and prisoners of war. The drugs were eventually tested on 14 people: six volunteer research assistants, and eight unwitting Soviet defectors.” source