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Tag: CIA

Ex-CIA Official to Lead New National Background Investigations Bureau

By Steve Neavling

The new National Background Investigations Bureau will be led by the CIA’s former security director.

Charles Phalen Jr., who was working in the private sector after 30 years as a government employee, will start next week as the new bureau’s first director.

The NBIB was established last year to handle the massive government data breach at the Office of Personnel Management, the Associated Press reports. 

Phalen brings a lot of experience. He worked at the FBI and CIA.

The AP wrote:

The break-in at the OPM exposed security clearances, background checks and fingerprint records of more than 21 million current, former and prospective federal employees. That intrusion was widely blamed on China and led to the resignation of the OPM director and drew outrage over changing explanations about the severity of the hack.

The bureau will be part of OPM, but the Defense Department will design and operate the computer system that houses and processes people’s personal information.

Beth Cobert, acting director of OPM, told reporters that the bureau also is working to reduce the time it takes to investigate and issue or deny security clearances. Currently, it takes an average of 170 days to investigate a top-security clearance request, far exceeding the goal of 80 days, she said.

Other Stories of Interest

Alleged Hackers Who Dumped Data about CIA, FBI Were Arrested

hacker-istock-photoBy Steve Neavling

A hacking group that called itself “Crackas With Attitude” bragged earlier this year about hacking the CIA, FBI and Justice Department, gaining access to thousands of names, phone numbers and email addresses.

Now two alleged members of the group are behind bars, accused of executing the data breaches, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

Andrew Otto Boggs, 22, and Justin Gray Liverman, 24, both from North Carolina, were charged with  conspiring to commit offenses against the U.S. in late 2015 and early 2016.

Among the victims were CIA Director John Brenna and then-Deputy FBI Director Mark Giuliano.

Investigators also are looking into three teenagers in the U.K. who may have been involved.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Authorities said the suspects often gained access to the accounts by calling the help lines at Internet-service companies and impersonating employees at those companies or the victims they were targeting. They were then able to reset the account passwords to their targets’ private email accounts, giving them access to those accounts. Computer-security experts refer to such techniques as social engineering, rather than hacking, because they typically depend on one person tricking another into providing key information that allows the suspect to access private accounts.

The “Crackas With Attitude’’ then used their access to taunt the officials, particularly Messrs. Brennan and Giuliano, with harassing phone calls and public ridicule posted online.

CIA Misled FBI About Smear Campaign of Pentagon Papers Leak

ppheadlineBy Steve Neavling

When the CIA tried to damage the reputation of Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked secret Vietnam documents to the press, the agency’s director at the time offered misleading information to the FBI.

The revelations came to light after the legal watchdog Judicial Watch obtained a 155-page CIA inspector general’s report, USA Today reports. 

The June 1972 memo from CIA Director Richard Helms to his deputy asked the FBI to “desist from expanding this investigation into other areas which may well, eventually, run afoul of our operations.”

According to the report, the CIA was very concerned about the Pentagon Papers, which the New York Times would publish.

“The collective totality of Agency material in the Pentagon Papers would tell any sophisticated or professional outsider a very great deal about how the Agency goes about doing its business,” the report said. “This would constitute a major windfall for any hostile intelligence service and greatly facilitate future denigration operations, including the preparation of fabricated documents, forgeries or other types of tailored disinformation.

“It is against this backdrop that the Administration’s concern and efforts against Ellsberg must be viewed,” the report continued. “Not only did they feel that an example must be made of Ellsberg to forestall future leaks, but also they felt that if he were in touch with the Soviets, as had been rumored, it was of vital importance to identify his contacts. The concern was legitimate, the means to achieve their ends was, to say the least, questionable.”

Maryland Man Who Plowed into CIA Headquarters Gate Pleads Guilty

CIA headquarters

CIA headquarters

By Steve Neavling

A Maryland man has pleaded guilty to ramming his Ford Focus through the gate at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, in June.

Thomas Luu, 35, managed to drive his car at least 75 feet onto the compound after slamming through an 8-foot-tall fence with barbed wire.

“The gate is clearly marked with a sign that notifies visitors that it is closed; there also are ‘no trespassing’ signs in the immediate area,” investigators said.

Investigators said Luu admitted he crashed the gate to get the CIA’s attention, but he didn’t explain specifics.

His mother said her son was distraught by the mass shooting inside an Orlando nightclub, which occurred the night before.

A judge ordered Luu to two years of supervised probation and 30 days in jail.

Other Stories of Interest

USA Today Column: CIA Isn’t Providing Presidential Candidates with Classified Info

donald trump rallyBy Ray Locker
USA Today

Intelligence briefings for presidential candidates, a tradition since 1952, have stirred more controversy this year than in any campaign since 1960, as the critics of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump say they can’t be trusted with vital national security information.

Trump’s habit of saying or tweeting anything that comes into his mind has led to unsubstantiated claims that he spilled secret information about Saudi Arabia, while critics such as House Speaker Paul Ryan say Clinton’s past use of an unsecured email server makes her ineligible to receive classified information.

Since President Harry Truman started the briefings to make sure the two nominees didn’t inadvertently veer into topics that interfered with ongoing policy, most briefings have been routine and uneventful. But there was an exception in 1960, when the fate of U.S. policy in Cuba drove much of the political debate, and that led to a change in nominee briefings that endures to this day.

Republican Vice President Richard Nixon and Democratic Sen. John Kennedy of Massachusetts were locked in an extremely tight race for the presidency. Kennedy claimed the incumbent administration of President Dwight Eisenhower was soft on the newly minted communist government of Fidel Castro in Cuba.

A growing exile community in the United States wanted Castro gone, and in March 1960, Eisenhower approved a covert program to oust Castro.

During the final weeks of the campaign, the Kennedy campaign released a statement calling for a brigade of exiled Cubans to retake Cuba. Kennedy, who was sleepingwhen the statement was issued, never saw it before it was released.

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

Jane Burrell, the First CIA Officer to Die in the Agency’s Service

Jane Burrell

Jane Burrell

By Steve Neavling

Jane Burrell became the first CIA officer to die while working for the agency when the plane in which she was riding – an Air France DC-3 – crashed while it was approaching the Le Bourget airport near Paris on Jan. 6, 1948.

Small Wars Journal reports that Burrell was a CIA counterintelligence officer at a time when most women in intelligence were “clerk typists.”

“The way that Jane entered into US intelligence and eventually into CIA was through her intellectual ability combined with her mastery of the French language,” Small Wars Journal wrote.

Burrell held several intelligence jobs before the plane accident.

But at the time of the accident, little was known about her. At the time, the U.S. said she had been on vacation.

Feds: Former Fox News Analyst Lied about Being Secret CIA Agent

Wayne Simmons on Fox News.

Wayne Simmons on Fox News.

By Steve Neavling

Former Fox News analyst Wayne Simons was a lot of things, but a CIA agent likely wasn’t one of them.

The Washington Post reports that the former professional football player and drug trafficker lied about a career as a spy, according to the CIA.

Simons, who said he spent 27 years as an agency operative, is expected to be sentenced this morning for perpetuating fraud and illegal firearm possession. Prosecutors are asking for a three-year prison sentence.

Authorities investigated Simmons’ life and career and found no evidence he worked as a spy.

Ex-CIA Director Petraeus Hid Materials in Insulation as FBI Investigated Him

Former CIA Director David Petraeus

Former CIA Director David Petraeus

By Steve Neavling

While under investigation by the FBI, former CIA Director David Petraeus hid materials in insulation in his attic, the bureau’s director James Comey said Thursday.

Comey made the statement to say that the investigation of Petraeus was different than the one into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information, Fox News reports. 

Petraeus pleaded guilty last year to sharing classified information with his biographer, with whom he had a sexual relationship.

“The Petraeus case, to my mind, illustrates perfectly the kind of cases the Department of Justice is willing to prosecute. Even there, they prosecuted him for a misdemeanor,” Comey told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“In that case, you had vast quantities of highly classified information … not only shared with someone without authority to have it, but we found it in a search warrant hidden under the insulation in his attic and then he lied to us about it during the investigation,” Comey said.

“So you have obstruction of justice, you have intentional misconduct and a vast quantity of information. He admitted he knew that was the wrong thing to do. That is a perfect illustration of the kind of cases that get prosecuted. In my mind, it illustrates importantly the distinction to this case.”