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“U-2, Brut?” Part II: Eddie the Friendly Spook Hits the Trifecta (Updated)

Is Eddie the Friendly Spook a sleeper agent?

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COMMENT: In the third of our posts on “L’Affaire Snowden,” we reiterated and further developed the comparison between Snowden’s activities and the downing of Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 spy plane on the eve of an important summit conference between then President Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev.

In the Guns of November, Part I (recorded on 11/1/1983), we analyzed evidence that the spy plane was deliberately sabotaged in order to frustrate the Eisenhower/Khruschev efforts at detente. (Irate over the incident, Khruschev cancelled the summit conference. The downing of the U-2 incident was blamed on information supposedly leaked to the U.S.S.R. by Lee Harvey Oswald.)

As the actions of Baby Face Snowden take shape, our analysis of this as “U-2, II” becomes more credible.

After decamping to Hong Kong and leaking information about anti-Chinese U.S. hacking programs on the eve of Obama’s summit with Chinese premier Xi, Snowden leaks information on NSA spying on Germany on the eve of Obama’s trip to Germany to meet with Merkel.

Immediately AFTER Obama’s meeting with Vladimir Putin, Snowden decamps to Moscow, thereby placing further strain on Obama’s diplomatic efforts and foreign policy. Obama’s goal of “rebooting” relations with Moscow will suffer as a result. 

Eventually, Snowden’s efforts led to the canceling of Obama’s planned summit conference with Vladimir Putin (update). (See text excerpts below.)

As Secretary of State John Kerry noted, we can safely conclude that Snowden’s trips to China and Russia were not undertaken because either country is a citadel of political freedom and expression, but rather to damage Obama’s presidency. (See text excerpts below.)

The Snowden op also appears to be aimed at alienating idealistic and less sophisticated voters from the Democratic Party. 

We note, in this context, who has handled much of WikiLeaks’ Russian operations–Joran Jermas (“Israel Shamir”)–Assange’s Holocaust-denying pal and the person who connected WikiLeaks with Nazi financial angel Lundstrom’s milieu. (See text excerpt below.)

In passing, we also note that Ecuador and the Correa government, which has sheltered Assange and is apparently moving to shelter Snowden as well, have strong links to Germany and the EU. In a recent visit, Merkel was negotiating with Correa for closer ties between Germany, Ecuador and the EU. (See text excerpt below. In this regard, we must remember that the German economy is governed by the Bormann capital network.)

He has hit the Trifecta and that is almost certainly by design. This is a spook operation, clearly. This should come as no surprise given Snowden’s background–Alphabet Soup from day one.

We still have questions about this imbroglio, including the possibility Eddie the Friendly Spook may be doing some CIA sabotaging of NSA, as well as the only-too-obvious evidence that he is doing his utmost to undermine Obama’s presidency.

In this context, we wonder about Michael J. Morrell’s resignation right in the middle of this affair.

Please examine at length and detail our previous posts on this “op.”

As with the far-right, Nazi-linked WikiLeaks operation, follow the money. Snowden contributed money to Nazi/White Supremacist Ron Paul’s campaign, which was financed by Peter Thiel, the uber-reactionary whose Palantir firm can be safely deduced as having developed the PRISM software at the center of this controversy. A good treatment of Thiel’s background is to be found in FTR #718. Thiel is so far to the right that he has stated that he no longer believes in democracy, in part because we should not have allowed women to vote.

NOTE: Palantir officially claims that “their PRISM” is NOT the same PRISM in the focal point of the Snowden/NSA imbroglio. We feel this claim is laughable, frankly. The notion that the intelligence services are using TWO counter-terror software programs with identical names is not credible. Had a company developed a counter-terror software program for use by the intelligence community and called it “PRISM,” there would have been litigation. The major tech companies are NOTHING if not litigious, and Thiel and company have PLENTY of money!

(Although many of the naifs seduced by the Paul campaign aren’t fascists, we are obliged to hold Eddie the Friendly Spook to a higher critical standard. If Baby Face Snowden is so omniscient, how come he can’t figure out his presidential candidate of choice is a Nazi. THAT is hardly a state secret.)

We’ve also noted that Glenn Greenwald, Eddie the Friendly Spook’s leaker of choice, also networked with the Koch Brothers’ Cato Institute, with which Thiel also works. Saint Greenwald, by the way, has a background working as a lawyer working for high-priced corporate clients.

When one examines the WikiLeaks network, one finds the same forces at work. The Cyber-Wandervogel, as we have termed WikiLeaks’ foot soldiers are, for the most part, “anarcho/Utopian” in their political orientation. 

They are absolutely clueless, however, when it comes to discernible political reality. The “Pirate Bay/Pirate Party” crowd hasn’t even figured out their “own thing,” so to speak. The Pirate Bay operation, on whose servers WikiLeaks’ activities were based, is financed by Nazi money man Carl Lundstrom.  WikiLeaks’ connection with Lundstrom’s cadre is no accident either. 

Assange’s connection to Lundstrom was effected by Joran Jermas (“Israel Shamir”), the WikiLeaks’ founder’s long-standing Holocaust-denying ally. Both Pirate Bay/WikiLeaks Nazi financial angel Lundstrom and Ron Paul have networked with David Duke in the past.

As something of an amusing aside, we find it more than a little entertaining that the “Freetards” are alarmed that NSA/GCHQ is vacuum cleaning communications–something that has been on the public record for many years and an activity that is conducted by other countries, including Germany.

NSA, et al, is indeed monitoring communications on a massive scale. They are not likely to take action against the average citizen, however.

WikiLeaks, on the other hand, partnered with the Russian “phishing mafia”! They are the folks who will use the Internet to hack your e-mails, steal your identity, empty your bank account and max-out all your credit cards. I guess the supporters of WikiLeaks and Eddie the Friendly Spook are OK with that!

There is an old saying: “Count your buttons before doing them up.” it certainly applies to the Pirate Bay/Pirate Party/Anonymous folks and it also applies to the Chinese, Russians, Ecuadorans and anyone and everyone else who wants to give assistance or shelter to Eddie the Friendly Spook.

He is a professional intelligence officer on a mission. The possibility that he might be working to spy on the Chinese, Russians, Ecuadorans, Icelanders, WikiLeakers is one to be carefully considered.

To fully acquaint yourselves with the arguments being developed in connection with Eddie the Friendly Spook, PLEASE examine at length our previous posts on the subject, as well as following the links in those articles: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV.

“Snowden, in Russia, Said to Seek Asylum in Ecuador” by Ellen Barry and Keith Bradsher; The New York Times; 6/23/2013.

EXCERPT: Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive former National Security Agency contractor wanted by the United States for leaking classified documents, foiled his American pursuers on Sunday by fleeing a Hong Kong hide-out for Moscow aboard a commercial Russian jetliner, in what appeared to be the first step in an odyssey to seek political asylum in Ecuador.

It was a day of frustrated scrambling by American officials, who have been seeking Mr. Snowden’s extradition and had annulled his passport a day before he left Hong Kong as part of an effort to thwart his escape. The authorities in Hong Kong said they lacked complete information to prevent his departure.

Mr. Snowden boarded an Aeroflot jetliner that reached Moscow on Sunday afternoon. Russian news agencies said Mr. Snowden was in a transit area, and Ecuador embassy officials, including the ambassador, were seen at the airport into the early hours of Monday.

Ecuador’s government and WikiLeaks, the organization that exposes government secrets and has come to the assistance of Mr. Snowden, appeared to have played a critical role in helping spirit him away from Hong Kong.

Ecuador’s foreign minister said that Mr. Snowden had submitted a request for asylum. In a statement on its Web site, WikiLeaks said, “he is bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks.”

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, who has resided in Ecuador’s London embassy for a year because of his own fugitive status, said in an interview that his group had arranged for Mr. Snowden to travel via a “special refugee travel document” issued by Ecuador last Monday — days before the United States announced the criminal charges against him and revoked his passport. . . .

“Obama Cancels Putin Summit amid Snowden Tensions” by Matthew Lee and Deb Riechmann [AP]; Yahoo News; 8/7/2013.

EXCERPT: Already faltering, President Barack Obama’s five-year effort to reboot U.S.-Russian relations finally crashed Wednesday, as the White House abruptly canceled his planned face-to-face summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The effort to upgrade the relationship has fallen victim to the rapidly shrinking common ground between the former Cold War rivals, including extreme differences over the Syrian civil war, Russia’s domestic crackdown on civil rights and — the final straw — the asylum granted to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. . . .

“Assange’s Extrem­ist Employ­ees: Why is Wik­iLeaks employ­ing a Holo­caust Denier and his dis­graced son?” by Michael C. Moyni­han; Rea­son Mag­a­zine; 12/14/2010.

EXCERPT: . . . According to reports in the Swedish and Russian media, the broad strokes of which have been confirmed by a WikiLeaks spokesman, Shamir serves as the group’s content aggregator in Russia, the man who “selects and distributes” the cables to Russian news organizations, according to an investigation by Swedish public radio. In the newspaper Expressen, Magnus Ljunggren, an emeritus professor of Russian literature at Gothenburg University, outlined Shamir’s close ties to WikiLeaks and his position “spreading the documents in Russia.” (The article is illustrated with a picture of Assange and Shamir in an unidentified office.)

. . . . The Swedish media has iden­ti­fied Shamir’s son, a dis­graced jour­nal­ist named Johannes Wahlström, him­self accused of anti-Semitism and fal­si­fy­ing quotes, as a Wik­iLeaks spokesman in Swe­den. Indeed, Wahlström has authored sto­ries based on the Wik­iLeaks mate­r­ial for the news­pa­per Afton­bladet and is cred­ited as a pro­ducer on a recent Swedish pub­lic tele­vi­sion doc­u­men­tary about the group.

But while being the son of a famous Holo­caust denier is per­haps only suggestive—Wahlström is surely not respon­si­ble for his father’s many sins—his cel­e­bra­tions of his father’s work in print and his con­tri­bu­tions to Shamir’s web­site sug­gest ide­o­log­i­cal affin­ity.* Indeed, in 2005 Wahlström wrote a story for the left­ist mag­a­zine Ord­front argu­ing that Swedish media, not known for being friendly to the Jew­ish state, was in fact being manip­u­lated by Jew­ish inter­ests on behalf of the Israeli government.

Three of the jour­nal­ists inter­viewed for the story—Cecilia Uddén, Lotta Schüllerqvist, and Peter Löfgren—claimed that Wahlström fal­si­fied quotes, lead­ing the mag­a­zine to with­draw the story and issue an apol­ogy. Heléne Lööw, a his­to­rian of fas­cism and Euro­pean neo-Nazism, com­mented that the Wahlström story con­tained all the “ele­ments that one would find in a clas­sic anti-Semitic con­spir­acy theory.”

A mem­ber of Ordfront’s edi­to­r­ial board, writ­ing in the news­pa­per Dagens Nyheter, lamented that the piece was ever pub­lished, cit­ing Wahlström’s “close work­ing rela­tion­ship with Israel Shamir,” with­out point­ing out just how close the two were.

Wahlström and Shamir, father and son, are the Wik­iLeaks rep­re­sen­ta­tives for two rather large geo­graphic areas. Accord­ing to Swedish Radio’s inves­ti­ga­tion, Wahlström is the gate­keeper of the cables in Scan­di­navia, and “has the power to decide” which news­pa­pers are pro­vided access and what leaks they are allowed to see. (At the time of fil­ing, Wahlström had yet to respond to an email request for comment.) . . .

“Germany aims to be a good partner”; bundesregierung.de; 4/17/2013.

EXCERPT: After their talks the Chancellor reported on the issues that are currently of particular political importance: a free trade agreement, an investment protection agreement and vocational training.

Angela Merkel and Rafael Correa discussed the situation in Latin America as a whole. Bilateral relations and also the relations with Latin America are “eminently interesting”. “Germany would like to be an increasingly good partner,” said the Chancellor.

EU free trade agreement with Ecuador

Ecuador is interested in joining the existing free trade agreement between the European Union and Colombia and Peru. Germany, said Angela Merkel, could help support the positive development of relations between the EU and Ecuador. “I have said that we will once again be speaking with the European Commission in order to generate an impetus to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion,” she said.

A stable legal framework for economic agreement

The talks also touched on the legal conditions for improved economic cooperation, and thus the conclusion of a German-Ecuadorian investment protection agreement. “We need a stable legal framework,” said the Chancellor. More talks are to be held between Germany and Ecuador on this point.
The German economy is also interested in expanding infrastructure, including airports and roads, said Angela Merkel. She made special mention of cooperation in the field of vocational training, and gave the example of the vocational school in Quito, which is attached to the city’s German school.

Successful development cooperation

One focus of bilateral relations is development cooperation. On the basis of international agreements, the two sides have been cooperating closely for some 50 years. In the face of global climate change, it is particularly important to conserve tropical rainforests. Germany is one of Ecuador’s largest bilateral donors in the field of development cooperation.

In October 2012 government negotiations took place in Quito to decide on cooperation over the next three years. For the priority areas of environmental protection and conservation of natural resources and state decentralisation and modernisation, a total of 60.9 million euros was pledged, i.e. 20.3 million euros a year. Total assistance already stands at some 600 million euros.

“Leaker’s Flight Raises Tension For 3 Nations” by Peter Baker and Ellen Barry; The New York Times; 6/25/2013.

EXCERPT: Frustrated Obama administration officials pressed Russia on Monday to turn over Edward J. Snowden, the national security contractor who disclosed surveillance programs, while warning China of “consequences” for letting him flee to Moscow.

As Mr. Snowden remained out of sight, apparently holed up in Moscow awaiting word of his fate, what started as a dramatic escape story involving a self-described whistle-blower evolved into a diplomatic incident in which the United States faces an open rift with one major power and a tense standoff with another. Hopes for a quick resolution had faded by nightfall.

Secretary of State John Kerry said China’s decision to allow Mr. Snowden to leave Hong Kong despite an arrest request from the United States would have “without any question some effect, an impact on the relationship, and consequences.” He called on Russia to expel Mr. Snowden. “I would urge them to live by the standards of the law, because that’s in the interest of everybody,” Mr. Kerry said.

He pointed out that the United States in the past two years had transferred seven prisoners Russia had sought, though the parallel is not exact, since Mr. Snowden is not being held by the Russian government.

At the White House, President Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, reinforced what he called “our frustration and disappointment with Hong Kong and China,” calling their refusal to detain Mr. Snowden a “serious setback” in relations. He said the Hong Kong authorities had been notified that Mr. Snowden’s passport had been revoked, and he dismissed their explanation that they had no legal basis to stop Mr. Snowden. “We do not buy the suggestion that China could not have taken action,” Mr. Carney said.

American officials also openly mocked China and Russia as states that repress free speech and transparency and therefore are hardly apt refuges for someone fighting government secrecy in the United States.

“I wonder if Mr. Snowden chose China and Russia as assistants in his flight from justice because they’re such powerful bastions of Internet freedom,” Mr. Kerry said sarcastically during a stop in New Delhi. . . .


3 comments for ““U-2, Brut?” Part II: Eddie the Friendly Spook Hits the Trifecta (Updated)”

  1. He’s the Dennis the Menace of espionage. “Helloooo, Mr. Putin!”:

    ABC News
    Edward Snowden Steps Into Secret U.S.-Russia Spy Scuffle

    By BRIAN ROSS (@brianross) , LEE FERRAN (@leeferran) and RANDY KREIDER
    June 26, 2013

    As NSA leaker Edward Snowden is said to be spending his third day in hiding in a Moscow airport, the 30-year-old contractor may have unwittingly become the newest player in a relentless yet relatively little-known espionage war between the U.S. and Russia.

    An ABC News review of public reports shows that in the past 16 months alone, at least six people have been accused or convicted of spying for the U.S. in Russia, including two Americans who were kicked out of the country and four Russians purportedly recruited by U.S. intelligence — all sent to prison. Another American, a lawyer, was reportedly expelled from Russia this May because he rebuffed Russian agents’ attempt to recruit him to spy for them.

    “Espionage is alive and well” between the old Cold War foes, said David Major, a former senior FBI counter-intelligence officer and now President of the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, which tracks spy cases the world over.

    Some of the cases, like that of blown CIA agent Ryan Fogle, splashed across headlines the world over. But several others, like the case of a Russian intelligence colonel who worked with the CIA and got 18 years behind bars for it, barely made a ripple in American media.

    Prior to 2012, the whole world took notice in 2010 when the FBI rounded up 10 undercover Russian agents in America – including the “SoHo Spy” Anna Chapman – but far fewer heard in 2011 when it was revealed a Russian intelligence official in Moscow had given the spy ring up and then fled to the U.S. That man, Col. Alexander Poteyev, reportedly had been recruited by the CIA.

    Now with Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency with a head and, reportedly, laptops full of U.S. secrets, Major said the Russians have been handed a victory, even if Snowden insists he’s not working with any governments.

    “One of the highest targets [for foreign intelligence agencies] has always been the NSA, one of the hardest targets for them ever to penetrate,” Major said. “[Russian intelligence] is going to look at this case as an opportunity, as a treasure trove of intelligence that [will be] exploited to the extent that they can, and then when they decide, they’ll move on.”

    While hiding in Hong Kong earlier this month, Snowden revealed himself to be the source of several headline-grabbing reports from The Guardian and The Washington Post revealing what he called “horrifying” U.S. government domestic and foreign surveillance programs. Snowden, who has been charged by the U.S. with espionage, and those he worked with claim there’s much more to come to light.

    When he was in Hong Kong, Snowden mocked the idea he would defect to China and said he only works “with journalists.” After Snowden escaped Hong Kong for Moscow – a move that stunned U.S. officials — Russia’s President Vladimir Putin assured the world Tuesday that his security services have not worked with Snowden.

    Such assurances haven’t calmed fears from current and former U.S. officials who have told ABC News it would not be difficult for foreign intelligence agents to copy information from the laptops with which Snowden is reportedly traveling, with or without Snowden’s permission, or for them to talk directly to Snowden, if need be under the guise of immigration officers. Putin, a former intelligence officer himself, said Snowden is a free man and flatly denied repeated U.S. requests to send him back to the States.

    “Why would you want to help?” Major said of Putin’s decision no to expel Snowden. “Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that?”

    Whatever the Russians can get from Snowden, if anything, it will be the latest salvo in the decades-long battle over secrets between the U.S. and Russia that in recent years has reached a fevered pitch, harkening back to the days of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall.

    You kind of have to wonder about the credibility of the claim that the NSA is “one of the hardest targets for them ever to penetrate”. Maybe pre-911 that was the case, but if the Russians can’t get a mole in the NSA nowadays they might not be doing their due diligence:

    Flaws found in security checks by U.S. contractors 4 years ago

    By Diane Bartz and Tabassum Zakaria

    WASHINGTON, June 26 | Wed Jun 26, 2013 12:59am EDT

    (Reuters) – U.S. government auditors discovered four years ago that a select group of private contractors conducting background checks for high-security jobs were not doing enough to ensure the quality of their investigations.

    Some investigators hired by the companies were not adequately trained or closely supervised, and the background reports they turned over to agencies for hundreds of thousands of prospective employees had missing information that could lead to risky hiring, the inspector general for the Office of Personnel Management said in a 2010 report that got little attention.

    Now, as Congress focuses on how former Booz Allen Hamilton systems administrator Edward Snowden gained access to National Security Agency secrets while working at a facility in Hawaii, the report’s findings are drawing new attention. Some lawmakers are calling for a full review of how security clearances are done.

    Snowden is facing espionage charges after leaking details about secret U.S. surveillance programs to the media. He flew to Moscow from Hong Kong on Sunday and, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday he was in the transit area of a Moscow airport.

    At a hearing last week, Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat on a contracting oversight panel of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, cited an ongoing investigation into USIS, the contractor that conducted the most recent security review of Snowden.

    “It is a reminder that background investigations can have real consequences for our national security,” McCaskill said.

    Questions have been raised about whether Snowden misstated his educational credentials. Hiring screeners at Booz Allen Hamilton found possible discrepancies in a resume submitted by Snowden, but the company still employed him, a source with detailed knowledge of the matter said last week.

    Snowden also would have had to undergo a polygraph exam administered by the NSA, a senior government official said on condition of anonymity.

    USIS is one of three companies now doing background checks under contracts worth up to $2.5 billion with the government’s Office of Personnel Management.

    USIS declined to comment for this story beyond a statement issued last week in which it said it had cooperated with the OPM inspector general’s investigation and had no comment about Snowden’s background check.

    Screening prospective employees is a challenge because of the large number of jobs now requiring secret or top-secret clearances.

    As of October 2012, 4.9 million U.S. workers had some sort of federal security clearance. There were 3.9 million background investigations done in fiscal 2012, some by the OPM’s Federal Investigative Services unit and others by the three contractors with oversight by the OPM. It is unclear how many each does.

    The OPM’s Federal Investigative Services (FIS) defended the quality of background investigations.

    “FIS investigative personnel are held to the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct in their positions of public trust and national security,” Merton Miller, associate director of FIS, said in a statement. “Misconduct rarely occurs.”

    The 2010 report found problems with procedures and safeguards used by all three private contractors – USIS, KeyPoint Government Solutions and CACI International Inc .

    All three companies have had investigators who were found to have done substandard work in background checks, which involve pulling records and interviewing associates of a job seeker.

    “USIS, Kroll (KeyPoint) and CACI have all employed background investigators who have been convicted of fabrication,” Susan Ruge, associate counsel at the OPM’s inspector general’s office said.

    The U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia has prosecuted 18 cases since 2006 – 11 of them federal employees and seven who worked for the private companies, according to OPM Inspector General Patrick McFarland in testimony to Congress last week. The penalties for the crimes have ranged from prison time to house arrest.

    CACI and KeyPoint declined to comment.

    Some experts said it made no difference whether the background investigations were done by contractors or by government employees.

    Companies are “using basically the same kinds of people” as the government, said Daniel Schwartz, a former NSA general counsel. “They’re former agents or retired agents.”

    The Government Accountability Office said the fiscal 2012 base price for a “top-secret” clearance investigation conducted by OPM was $4,005 while the base price of a less sensitive “secret” clearance was $260.

    Those conducting the background checks may be inexperienced, and may be pushed to work quickly, said Schwartz.

    “The real problem in this process is that it is grossly understaffed,” said Schwartz, now with the law firm Bryan Cave. “There are not enough good staffers. On the clearance side, it’s a huge problem.”

    USIS, which has 2,300 investigators, is the oldest and largest of the three companies. It was created in 1996 when the government decided to partially privatize the work to achieve savings estimated at the time to be between $60 million and $120 million per year.

    USIS is owned by a larger investigative company called Altegrity, which in turn is principally owned by private equity firm Providence Equity Partners.

    KeyPoint started in 2000 as Kroll Government Services, which did consulting and investigations. Veritas Capital bought Kroll in 2009 and changed its name.

    It has 2000 investigators and works for more than 120 federal agencies, including OPM, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration, according to the company’s web site.

    Defense contractor CACI, a technology company, began doing federal background checks in 2004. It was criticized for the translators and other personnel that it provided to the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

    Since USIS was privatized to save an estimated $60-$120 million per year, so it raises the question of what the actual savings were. It would be pretty sweet if that info was available:

    Here’s How Edward Snowden Got ‘Top Secret’ Clearance

    By DAVID FRANCIS, The Fiscal Times
    June 21, 2013

    A Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee met Thursday afternoon to examine the government’s process for granting security clearance.

    The purpose of the meeting was to figure out how someone like Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker, could get access to some of the most secret information in the country.

    The subcommittee failed in that regard: Merton Miller, associate director of investigations at the Office of Personnel, said he had no information on Snowden’s specific case. OPM Inspector General Patrick McFarland said he did have information on Snowden, but couldn’t reveal it to the committee just yet.

    That’s not to say that the committee lacked revelation. Six witnesses and three lawmakers revealed a security clearance system so broken that it would be comical if a 29-year-old wasn’t hiding in Hong Kong and leaking American secrets to the press.

    That’s not to say that the committee lacked revelation. Six witnesses and three lawmakers revealed a security clearance system so broken that it would be comical if a 29-year-old wasn’t hiding in Hong Kong and to the press.

    They include:

    * 87 percent of background checks are never fully completed. OPM uses the information it has to make a judgment on whether to approve these checks.
    * There are no uniform guidelines across the government for different levels of clearance. This means that top-secret clearance at one agency means something completely different at another.
    * Within each agency, there are no strict guidelines for determining security clearance.
    * USIS, a private contractor, conducts 65 percent of all U.S. government background checks.
    * USIS, which conducted a background check on Snowden, is now under investigation by OPM’s IG for failing to conduct proper background checks.
    * OPM has already paid USIS $200 million this year.
    * The $1-billion-dollar fund that OPM uses to pay for background checks has never been audited.
    * OPM’s IG said they have not been granted access to documentation on the fund.
    * Miller said the documentation did not exist.
    * Even if it did exist, OPM’s IG said he didn’t have the staff to audit the fund.

    * OPM’s IG was unable to answer the first two questions he was asked without extensive consultation with members of the audience.
    * One question was passed from one witness, then to another, who called someone named Stanley Sims out of the audience to answer it.
    * I didn’t catch Sims’ title, but he did say there are more than 10,000 private facilities in the United States that have security clearance.
    * Eighteen OPM investigators have been convicted of falsifying information contained in investigations they’ve conducted. Eleven work for OPM, while the other seven work for private contractors.
    * Forty other investigators are currently being investigated for falsifying background checks.
    * When asked if there are more than 40, IG McFarland said, “I believe there may be considerably more. I don’t believe we’ve caught it all by any stretch.”
    * Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) asked Miller why OPM so heavily relied on contractors.
    * He answered because they were cheaper than hiring government workers.
    * She asked him for a cost-benefit analysis proving this.
    * He said there is no cost benefit analysis.
    * McCaskill again asked how he knew they were cheaper.
    * Because they are cheaper, Miller said.
    * “I’m tired of this assumption that contractors are cheaper. I just think it’s easier,” McCaskill then said.

    And one last followup: Intelligence contractors aren’t actually cheaper:

    Booz Allen, the World’s Most Profitable Spy Organization
    By Drake Bennett and Michael Riley
    June 20, 2013

    Even so, spending can spin way out of control. According to the ODNI, a typical contractor employee costs $207,000 a year, while a government counterpart costs $125,000, including benefits and pension. One of the most notorious projects was the NSA’s Trailblazer. Intended as an advanced program to sort and analyze the vast volume of phone and Web traffic that the NSA collects hourly, Trailblazer was originally set to cost $280 million and take 26 months. Booz Allen was part of a five-company consortium working on the project. (SAIC was the lead contractor.) “In Trailblazer, NSA is capturing the best of industry technology and experience to further their mission,” Booz Allen Vice President Marty Hill said in a 2002 press release. In 2006, when the program shut down, it had failed to meet any of its goals, and its cost had run into the billions of dollars. An NSA inspector general report found “excessive labor rates for contractor personnel,” without naming the contractors. Several NSA employees who denounced the waste were fired; one, a senior executive named Thomas Andrews Drake, was charged under the Espionage Act after he spoke to a reporter. (The charges were eventually dropped.)

    A U.S. Department of Homeland Security computer systems contract awarded to Booz Allen around the same time had similar issues. Over the course of three years, costs exploded from the original $2 million to $124 million, in large part, auditors at the Government Accountability Office would later report, because of poor planning and oversight. But even when the problems came to light, as the Washington Post reported, DHS continued to renew the contract and even give Booz Allen new ones, because the agency determined it couldn’t build, or even run, the system on its own.

    Booz Allen spokesman James Fisher and NSA spokeswoman Vaneé Vines both declined to comment on Trailblazer. (Former NSA Director Michael Hayden has since said publicly that the project failed because the spy agency’s plan for it was unrealistic.) Fisher also declined to comment on the DHS contract; Peter Boogaard, a spokesman for that agency, did not immediately return a call for comment.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 26, 2013, 11:39 am
  2. Here’s one those stories that’s a reminder that the massive US military industrial complex is run by a pretty small world:


    press release

    Aug. 1, 2013, 9:31 a.m. EDT
    CSSS.NET Hires Raymond C. Tye as Senior Vice President

    WASHINGTON, Aug 01, 2013 (BUSINESS WIRE) — CSSS.NET, a leading provider of mission-critical technology solutions and one of the fastest-growing, women-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned government solutions providers in the country, announced today it has hired Raymond C. Tye as senior vice president. Reporting to company president and CEO Lisa Wolford, Tye is responsible for day-to-day program operations for customers in the eastern U.S., overall government market expansion in Washington, and the support of overall business strategy development and implementation.

    “We are very excited about having Ray on our team. He brings more than 25 years of experience working in fast-paced, high-growth government sectors and will be a great asset to our organization,” said Wolford. “Ray shares our intense commitment to customer success as well as our character — trust, reliability and respect. His industry knowledge and expertise will greatly contribute to our mission of delivering high-quality solutions to our diverse clients.”

    Tye’s career includes a wide range of senior leadership positions in organizations ranging from Fortune 100 firms to government agencies to startup companies. Most recently, he served as vice president of the National Security Solutions business unit at USIS, where he was responsible for delivering a wide range of security, technical and analytical solutions and business operations support to the intelligence community, Homeland Security and other federal agencies.

    Prior to joining USIS, Tye served as principal at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he provided security solutions support for a number of federal agencies. He was responsible for developing and implementing strategic plans, identifying mission-critical functions, and providing program support for government and commercial accounts, with a focus on the development, convergence, and integration of IT security, cybersecurity, physical security and privacy solutions.

    A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Tye enlisted in 1973, was commissioned as an officer in 1981 and retired from military service in 2000.

    Tye holds a Master of Business Administration from Texas State University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas Business Honors Program. He is a certified information security manager, a designation granted by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association.

    And here’s a reminder that MIC-mismanagement is apparently one of that small world’s god given rights:

    USIS gets security contract extension
    Published: Aug. 5, 2013 at 11:26 AM
    ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 5 (UPI) — Personnel security services will continue to be provided to the U.S. government by a firm reportedly caught up in the Edward Snowden espionage affair.

    US Investigations Services LLC said the continued work is for the Federal Protective Service, a Department of Homeland Security sub-component of the National Protection and Programs Directorate, and comes through the exercise of a contract option.

    “USIS is honored to continue to provide a team of highly trained professionals that can assist FPS in its mission to render federal properties safe and secure for federal employees, officials and visitors,” said Sterling Phillips, chief executive officer of USIS.

    The services to be provided include supplying program managers, personnel security assistants and personnel security specialists for “credentialing, customer service helpdesk, industrial security and broad program support/consultation,” USIS said.

    The option is part of a contract awarded to USIS in 2011.

    USIS is reported to have conducted a security clearance review of Snowden, the contractor performing work for the National Security Agency who leaked information on NSA domestic surveillance programs and then fled the country. The Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified sources, reported that a federal grand jury is investigating whether USIS improperly rushed cases without proper review.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 24, 2013, 6:32 pm
  3. National security contractor clearances: Nice work if you can get it:

    August 28, 2013, 11:45 p.m. ET

    Company That Vetted Snowden Defends Work
    US Investigations Services Says It Was Up to the Government to Find Fault With Its 2011 Review of Former NSA Contractor


    WASHINGTON—The private company that conducted the last background check of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden said it was the federal government’s responsibility to catch any problems with its 2011 investigation of the man who has said he leaked top-secret documents.

    US Investigations Services LLC defended its work after a review by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence concluded that the Falls Church, Va.-based company conducted an inadequate examination of Mr. Snowden for the renewal of his high-security clearance.

    Mr. Snowden still had that clearance when he was hired early this year by Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., where he used his position as a systems administrator at an NSA office in Hawaii to obtain top-secret documents detailing America’s global surveillance system.

    USIS declined to discuss the federal review on Tuesday. But it said Wednesday that a Wall Street Journal article painted “an inaccurate view” of its role in the case. While USIS said it couldn’t “refute or verify” the government’s conclusions, the company said in a statement the federal government didn’t raise any concerns at the time about its work in February 2011 on the five-year “periodic reinvestigation” of Mr. Snowden. The company said the NSA, not USIS, was ultimately responsible for approving or denying Mr. Snowden’s security clearance.

    USIS is the largest of three firms conducting background investigations under a multiyear federal contract awarded in 2011 that is worth nearly $2.5 billion. USIS received $200 million last year for such work.

    In Mr. Snowden’s case, USIS said, the federal government accepted its findings without asking for a deeper investigation. After Mr. Snowden came forward in June as the source of stories on top-secret U.S. surveillance programs, USIS said that it had been told by the federal Office of Personnel Management, the agency responsible for overseeing most federal background checks, that “all standards were met” in its 2011 investigation.

    But the review of Mr. Snowden’s case by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence concluded that USIS fell short. A report said USIS failed to track down enough character references for Mr. Snowden and that investigators didn’t do enough to examine concerns raised during the review.

    As a result, the examination concluded, the 2011 investigation “did not present a comprehensive picture of Mr. Snowden.”

    The NSA, the Office of Personnel Management and that agency’s inspector general, which has been investigating USIS, all declined to comment.

    Actually, the work itself looks awful, but the dividends are probably pretty sweet.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 29, 2013, 9:06 am

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