Malzberg | Sharyl Attkisson to discuss her new book “Stonewalled” | Part 2
Wyden: No to warrantless searches by the FBI through National Security Letters
NSA Whistleblower: Everyone in US under virtual surveillance, all info stored, no matter the post
William Binney – The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)
NSA Surveillance and What To Do About It
Taking a Look at the NSA’s Massive Data Center
NSA’s Largest Spy Center Located in Utah (What you need to know)
NSA Whistleblower William Binney: The Future of FREEDOM
‘State of Surveillance’ with Edward Snowden and Shane Smith (FULL EPISODE)
Edward Snowden Full Interview on Trump, Petraeus, & Having ‘No Regrets’
DOCUMENTARY: Edward Snowden – Terminal F (2015)
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things’
NSA paying US Companies hundreds of millions of dollars for access to data
“You’re Being Watched”: Edward Snowden Emerges as Source Behind Explosive Revelations of NSA Spying
Does the NSA Record Phone Calls? Glenn Greenwald on Warrentless Domestic Surveillance (2007)
Published on Jul 8, 2013
The NSA warrantless surveillance controversy (AKA “Warrantless Wiretapping”) concerns surveillance of persons within the United States during the collection of foreign intelligence by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) as part of the war on terror. Under this program, referred to by the Bush administration as the “terrorist surveillance program”, part of the broader President’s Surveillance Program, the NSA was authorized by executive order to monitor, without search warrants, the phone calls, Internet activity (Web, e-mail, etc.), text messaging, and other communication involving any party believed by the NSA to be outside the U.S., even if the other end of the communication lies within the U.S. Critics, however, claimed that it was in an effort to attempt to silence critics of the Bush Administration and their handling of several hot button issues during its tenure. Under public pressure, the Bush administration ceased the warrantless wiretapping program in January 2007 and returned review of surveillance to the FISA court. Subsequently, in 2008 Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which relaxed some of the original FISA court requirements.
During the Obama Administration, the NSA has officially continued operating under the new FISA guidelines. However, in April 2009 officials at the United States Department of Justice acknowledged that the NSA had engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications in excess of the FISA court’s authority, but claimed that the acts were unintentional and had since been rectified.
All wiretapping of American citizens by the National Security Agency requires a warrant from a three-judge court set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. After the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed the Patriot Act, which granted the President broad powers to fight a war against terrorism. The George W. Bush administration used these powers to bypass the FISA court and directed the NSA to spy directly on al Qaeda in a new NSA electronic surveillance program. Reports at the time indicate that an “apparently accidental” “glitch” resulted in the interception of communications that were purely domestic in nature. This action was challenged by a number of groups, including Congress, as unconstitutional.
The exact scope of the program is not known, but the NSA is or was provided total, unsupervised access to all fiber-optic communications going between some of the nation’s largest telecommunication companies’ major interconnected locations, including phone conversations, email, web browsing, and corporate private network traffic. Critics said that such “domestic” intercepts required FISC authorization under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The Bush administration maintained that the authorized intercepts are not domestic but rather foreign intelligence integral to the conduct of war and that the warrant requirements of FISA were implicitly superseded by the subsequent passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF). FISA makes it illegal to intentionally engage in electronic surveillance under appearance of an official act or to disclose or use information obtained by electronic surveillance under appearance of an official act knowing that it was not authorized by statute; this is punishable with a fine of up to $10,000 or up to five years in prison, or both. In addition, the Wiretap Act prohibits any person from illegally intercepting, disclosing, using or divulging phone calls or electronic communications; this is punishable with a fine or up to five years in prison, or both.
After an article about the program, (which had been code-named Stellar Wind), was published in The New York Times on December 16, 2005, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales confirmed its existence. The Times had posted the exclusive story on their website the night before, after learning that the Bush administration was considering seeking a Pentagon-Papers-style court injunction to block its publication. Critics of The Times have alleged that executive editor Bill Keller had withheld the story from publication since before the 2004 Presidential election, and that the story that was ultimately published by The Times was essentially the same as reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau had submitted in 2004. In a December 2008 interview with Newsweek, former Justice Department employee Thomas Tamm revealed himself to be the initial whistle-blower to The Times. The FBI began investigating leaks about the program in 2005, with 25 agents and 5 prosecutors on the case.
FBI’s Patriot Act Abuse of National Security Letters and illegal NSA spying
If you think you can handle the truth, well here it is folks
NSA surveillance has been a matter of political controversy on several occasions, such as its spying on anti-Vietnam-war leaders or economic espionage. In 2013, the extent of some of the NSA’s secret surveillance programs was revealed to the public by Edward Snowden. According to the leaked documents, the NSA intercepts the communications of over a billion people worldwide, many of whom are United States citizens, and tracks the movement of hundreds of millions of people using cellphones. Internationally, research has pointed to the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries through “boomerang routing”.
The origins of the National Security Agency can be traced back to April 28, 1917, three weeks after the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in World War I. A code and cipher decryption unit was established as the Cable and Telegraph Section which was also known as the Cipher Bureau. It was headquartered in Washington, D.C. and was part of the war effort under the executive branch without direct Congressional authorization. During the course of the war it was relocated in the army’s organizational chart several times. On July 5, 1917, Herbert O. Yardley was assigned to head the unit. At that point, the unit consisted of Yardley and two civilian clerks. It absorbed the navy’s cryptoanalysis functions in July 1918. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, and MI-8 moved to New York City on May 20, 1919, where it continued intelligence activities as the Code Compilation Company under the direction of Yardley.
Western Union allowed MI-8 to monitor telegraphic communications passing through the company’s wires until 1929.
Other “Black Chambers” were also found in Europe. They were established by the French and British governments to read the letters of targeted individuals, employing a variety of techniques to surreptitiously open, copy, and reseal correspondence before forwarding it to unsuspecting recipients.
Despite the American Black Chamber’s initial successes, it was shut down in 1929 by U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, who defended his decision by stating: “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”.
World War II and its aftermath
During World War II, the Signal Security Agency (SSA) was created to intercept and decipher the communications of the Axis powers. When the war ended, the SSA was reorganized as the Army Security Agency (ASA), and it was placed under the leadership of the Director of Military Intelligence.
A secret operation, code-named “MINARET“, was set up by the NSA to monitor the phone communications of Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, as well as major civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and prominent U.S. journalists and athletes who criticized the Vietnam War. However, the project turned out to be controversial, and an internal review by the NSA concluded that its Minaret program was “disreputable if not outright illegal”.
The NSA mounted a major effort to secure tactical communications among U.S. forces during the war with mixed success. The NESTOR family of compatible secure voice systems it developed was widely deployed during the Vietnam War, with about 30,000 NESTOR sets produced. However a variety of technical and operational problems limited their use, allowing the North Vietnamese to exploit intercepted U.S. communications.:Vol I, p.79
In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, a congressional hearing in 1975 led by Sen. Frank Church revealed that the NSA, in collaboration with Britain’s SIGINT intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had routinely intercepted the international communications of prominent anti-Vietnam war leaders such as Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock. Following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of FBI, CIA and NSA facilities. Senator Frank Church uncovered previously unknown activity,such as a CIA plot (ordered by the administration of President John F. Kennedy) to assassinate Fidel Castro. The investigation also uncovered NSA’s wiretaps on targeted American citizens.
In 1999, a multi-year investigation by the European Parliament highlighted the NSA’s role in economic espionage in a report entitled ‘Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information’. That year, the NSA founded the NSA Hall of Honor, a memorial at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland. The memorial is a, “tribute to the pioneers and heroes who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to American cryptology”. NSA employees must be retired for more than fifteen years to qualify for the memorial.
NSA’s infrastructure deteriorated in the 1990s as defense budget cuts resulted in maintenance deferrals. On January 24, 2000, NSA headquarters suffered a total network outage for three days caused by an overloaded network. Incoming traffic was successfully stored on agency servers, but it could not be directed and processed. The agency carried out emergency repairs at a cost of $3 million to get the system running again. (Some incoming traffic was also directed instead to Britain’s GCHQ for the time being.) Director Michael Hayden called the outage a “wake-up call” for the need to invest in the agency’s infrastructure.
In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the NSA created new IT systems to deal with the flood of information from new technologies like the Internet and cellphones. ThinThread contained advanced data mining capabilities. It also had a “privacy mechanism”; surveillance was stored encrypted; decryption required a warrant. The research done under this program may have contributed to the technology used in later systems. ThinThread was cancelled when Michael Hayden chose Trailblazer, which did not include ThinThread’s privacy system.
Trailblazer Project ramped up in 2002. SAIC, Boeing, CSC, IBM, and Litton worked on it. Some NSA whistleblowers complained internally about major problems surrounding Trailblazer. This led to investigations by Congress and the NSA and DoD Inspectors General. The project was cancelled in early 2004. Several whistleblowers were later arrested and charged with violating federal espionage laws.
Turbulence started in 2005. It was developed in small, inexpensive “test” pieces, rather than one grand plan like Trailblazer. It also included offensive cyber-warfare capabilities, like injecting malware into remote computers. Congress criticized Turbulence in 2007 for having similar bureaucratic problems as Trailblazer. It was to be a realization of information processing at higher speeds in cyberspace.
The massive extent of the NSA’s spying, both foreign and domestic, was revealed to the public in a series of detailed disclosures of internal NSA documents beginning in June 2013. Most of the disclosures were leaked by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.
Scope of surveillance
It was revealed that the NSA intercepts telephone and Internet communications of over a billion people worldwide, seeking information on terrorism as well as foreign politics, economics and “commercial secrets”. In a declassified document it was revealed that 17,835 phone lines were on an improperly permitted “alert list” from 2006 to 2009 in breach of compliance, which tagged these phone lines for daily monitoring. Eleven percent of these monitored phone lines met the agency’s legal standard for “reasonably articulable suspicion” (RAS).
A dedicated unit of the NSA locates targets for the CIA for extrajudicial assassination in the Middle East. The NSA has also spied extensively on the European Union, the United Nations and numerous governments including allies and trading partners in Europe, South America and Asia.
The NSA tracks the locations of hundreds of millions of cellphones per day, allowing it to map people’s movements and relationships in detail.It reportedly has access to all communications made via Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, Skype, Apple and Paltalk, and collects hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts each year. It has also managed to weaken much of the encryption used on the Internet (by collaborating with, coercing or otherwise infiltrating numerous technology companies), so that the majority of Internet privacy is now vulnerable to the NSA and other attackers.
Domestically, the NSA collects and stores metadata records of phone calls, including over 120 million US Verizon subscribers, as well as Internet communications, relying on a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act whereby the entirety of US communications may be considered “relevant” to a terrorism investigation if it is expected that even a tiny minority may relate to terrorism. The NSA supplies foreign intercepts to the DEA, IRS and other law enforcement agencies, who use these to initiate criminal investigations. Federal agents are then instructed to “recreate” the investigative trail via parallel construction.
The NSA also spies on influential Muslims to obtain information that could be used to discredit them, such as their use of pornography. The targets, both domestic and abroad, are not suspected of any crime but hold religious or political views deemed “radical” by the NSA.
Although NSA’s surveillance activities are controversial, government agencies and private enterprises have common needs, and sometimes cooperate at subtle and complex technical levels. Big data is becoming more advantageous, justifying the cost of required computer hardware, and social media lead the trend. The interests of NSA and Silicon Valley began to converge as advances in computer storage technology drastically reduced the costs of storing enormous amounts of data and at the same time the value of the data for use in consumer marketing began to rise. On the other hand, social media sites are growing as voluntary data mining operations on a scale that rivals or exceeds anything the government could attempt on its own.
According to a report in The Washington Post in July 2014, relying on information provided by Snowden, 90% of those placed under surveillance in the U.S. are ordinary Americans, and are not the intended targets. The newspaper said it had examined documents including emails, text messages, and online accounts that support the claim.
Despite President Obama’s claims that these programs have congressional oversight, members of Congress were unaware of the existence of these NSA programs or the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, and have consistently been denied access to basic information about them. Obama has also claimed that there are legal checks in place to prevent inappropriate access of data and that there have been no examples of abuse; however, the secret FISC court charged with regulating the NSA’s activities is, according to its chief judge, incapable of investigating or verifying how often the NSA breaks even its own secret rules. It has since been reported that the NSA violated its own rules on data access thousands of times a year, many of these violations involving large-scale data interceptions; and that NSA officers have even used data intercepts to spy on love interests. The NSA has “generally disregarded the special rules for disseminating United States person information” by illegally sharing its intercepts with other law enforcement agencies. A March 2009 opinion of the FISC court, released by court order, states that protocols restricting data queries had been “so frequently and systemically violated that it can be fairly said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively.” In 2011 the same court noted that the “volume and nature” of the NSA’s bulk foreign Internet intercepts was “fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe”. Email contact lists (including those of US citizens) are collected at numerous foreign locations to work around the illegality of doing so on US soil.
Legal opinions on the NSA’s bulk collection program have differed. In mid-December 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that the “almost-Orwellian” program likely violates the Constitution, and wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”
Later that month, U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled that the NSA’s collection of telephone records is legal and valuable in the fight against terrorism. In his opinion, he wrote, “a bulk telephony metadata collection program [is] a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data” and noted that a similar collection of data prior to 9/11 might have prevented the attack.
An October 2014 United Nations report condemned mass surveillance by the United States and other countries as violating multiple international treaties and conventions that guarantee core privacy rights.
On March 20, 2013 the Director of National Intelligence, Lieutenant General James Clapper, testified before Congress that the NSA does not wittingly collect any kind of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans, but he retracted this in June after details of the PRISM program were published, and stated instead that meta-data of phone and Internet traffic are collected, but no actual message contents. This was corroborated by the NSA Director, General Keith Alexander, before it was revealed that the XKeyscore program collects the contents of millions of emails from US citizens without warrant, as well as “nearly everything a user does on the Internet”. Alexander later admitted that “content” is collected, but stated that it is simply stored and never analyzed or searched unless there is “a nexus to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups”.
Regarding the necessity of these NSA programs, Alexander stated on June 27 that the NSA’s bulk phone and Internet intercepts had been instrumental in preventing 54 terrorist “events”, including 13 in the US, and in all but one of these cases had provided the initial tip to “unravel the threat stream”. On July 31 NSA Deputy Director John Inglis conceded to the Senate that these intercepts had not been vital in stopping any terrorist attacks, but were “close” to vital in identifying and convicting four San Diego men for sending US$8,930 to Al-Shabaab, a militia that conducts terrorism in Somalia.
The U.S. government has aggressively sought to dismiss and challenge Fourth Amendment cases raised against it, and has granted retroactive immunity to ISPs and telecoms participating in domestic surveillance. The U.S. military has acknowledged blocking access to parts of The Guardian website for thousands of defense personnel across the country, and blocking the entire Guardian website for personnel stationed throughout Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South Asia.
NSA also has an Inspector General, head of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), a General Counsel, head of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) and a Director of Compliance, who is head of the Office of the Director of Compliance (ODOC).
Unlike other intelligence organizations such as CIA or DIA, NSA has always been particularly reticent concerning its internal organizational structure.
As of the mid-1990s, the National Security Agency was organized into five Directorates:
The Operations Directorate, which was responsible for SIGINT collection and processing.
The Technology and Systems Directorate, which develops new technologies for SIGINT collection and processing.
The Information Systems Security Directorate, which was responsible for NSA’s communications and information security missions.
The Plans, Policy and Programs Directorate, which provided staff support and general direction for the Agency.
The Support Services Directorate, which provided logistical and administrative support activities.
Each of these directorates consisted of several groups or elements, designated by a letter. There were for example the A Group, which was responsible for all SIGINT operations against the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and G Group, which was responsible for SIGINT related to all non-communist countries. These groups were divided in units designated by an additional number, like unit A5 for breaking Soviet codes, and G6, being the office for the Middle East, North Africa, Cuba, Central and South America.
As of 2013, NSA has about a dozen directorates, which are designated by a letter, although not all of them are publicly known. The directorates are divided in divisions and units starting with the letter of the parent directorate, followed by a number for the division, the sub-unit or a sub-sub-unit.
The main elements of the organizational structure of the NSA are:
F – Directorate only known from unit F6, the Special Collection Service (SCS), which is a joint program created by CIA and NSA in 1978 to facilitate clandestine activities such as bugging computers throughout the world, using the expertise of both agencies.
G – Directorate only known from unit G112, the office that manages the Senior Span platform, attached to the U2 spy planes.
I – Information Assurance Directorate (IAD), which ensures availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and non-repudiation of national security and telecommunications and information systems (national security systems).
J – Directorate only known from unit J2, the Cryptologic Intelligence Unit
L – Installation and Logistics
M – Human Resources
Q – Security and Counterintelligence
R – Research Directorate, which conducts research on signals intelligence and on information assurance for the U.S. Government.
S – Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), which is responsible for the collection, analysis, production and dissemination of signals intelligence. This directorate is led by a director and a deputy director. The SID consists of the following divisions:
S1 – Customer Relations
S2 – Analysis and Production Centers, with the following so-called Product Lines:
S2A: South Asia, S2B: China and Korea, S2C: International Security, S2E: Middle East/Asia, S2F: International Crime, S2G: Counter-proliferation, S2H: Russia, S2I: Counter-terrorism, S2J: Weapons and Space, S2T: Current Threats
S3 – Data Acquisition, with these divisions for the main collection programs:
S31 – Cryptanalysis and Exploitation Services (CES)
S32 – Tailored Access Operations (TAO), which hacks into foreign computers to conduct cyber-espionage and reportedly is “the largest and arguably the most important component of the NSA’s huge Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) Directorate, consisting of over 1,000 military and civilian computer hackers, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers, and electrical engineers.”
S33 – Global Access Operations (GAO), which is responsible for intercepts from satellites and other international SIGINT platforms. A tool which details and maps the information collected by this unit is code-named Boundless Informant.
S34 – Collections Strategies and Requirements Center
S35 – Special Source Operations (SSO), which is responsible for domestic and compartmented collection programs, like for example the PRISM program. Special Source Operations is also mentioned in connection to the FAIRVIEW collection program.
T – Technical Directorate (TD)
Directorate for Education and Training
Directorate for Corporate Leadership
Foreign Affairs Directorate, which acts as liaison with foreign intelligence services, counter-intelligence centers and the UKUSA-partners.
Acquisitions and Procurement Directorate
Information Sharing Services (ISS), led by a chief and a deputy chief.
In the year 2000, a leadership team was formed, consisting of the Director, the Deputy Director and the Directors of the Signals Intelligence (SID), the Information Assurance (IAD) and the Technical Directorate (TD). The chiefs of other main NSA divisions became associate directors of the senior leadership team.
After president George W. Bush initiated the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP) in 2001, the NSA created a 24-hour Metadata Analysis Center (MAC), followed in 2004 by the Advanced Analysis Division (AAD), with the mission of analyzing content, Internet metadata and telephone metadata. Both units were part of the Signals Intelligence Directorate.
A 2016 proposal would combine the Signals Intelligence Directorate with the Information Assurance Directorate into a Directorate of Operations.
The NSA maintains at least two watch centers:
National Security Operations Center (NSOC), which is the NSA’s current operations center and focal point for time-sensitive SIGINT reporting for the United States SIGINT System (USSS). This center was established in 1968 as the National SIGINT Watch Center (NSWC) and renamed into National SIGINT Operations Center (NSOC) in 1973. This “nerve center of the NSA” got its current name in 1996.
NSA/CSS Threat Operations Center (NTOC), which is the primary NSA/CSS partner for Department of Homeland Security response to cyber incidents. The NTOC establishes real-time network awareness and threat characterization capabilities to forecast, alert, and attribute malicious activity and enable the coordination of Computer Network Operations. The NTOC was established in 2004 as a joint Information Assurance and Signals Intelligence project.
The number of NSA employees is officially classified but there are several sources providing estimates. In 1961, NSA had 59,000 military and civilian employees, which grew to 93,067 in 1969, of which 19,300 worked at the headquarters at Fort Meade. In the early 1980s NSA had roughly 50,000 military and civilian personnel. By 1989 this number had grown again to 75,000, of which 25,000 worked at the NSA headquarters. Between 1990 and 1995 the NSA’s budget and workforce were cut by one third, which led to a substantial loss of experience.
In 2012, the NSA said more than 30,000 employees worked at Fort Meade and other facilities. In 2012, John C. Inglis, the deputy director, said that the total number of NSA employees is “somewhere between 37,000 and one billion” as a joke, and stated that the agency is “probably the biggest employer of introverts.” In 2013 Der Spiegel stated that the NSA had 40,000 employees. More widely, it has been described as the world’s largest single employer of mathematicians. Some NSA employees form part of the workforce of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that provides the NSA with satellite signals intelligence.
The NSA received criticism early on in 1960 after two agents had defected to the Soviet Union. Investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee and a special subcommittee of the United States House Committee on Armed Services revealed severe cases of ignorance in personnel security regulations, prompting the former personnel director and the director of security to step down and leading to the adoption of stricter security practices. Nonetheless, security breaches reoccurred only a year later when in an issue of Izvestia of July 23, 1963, a former NSA employee published several cryptologic secrets.
The very same day, an NSA clerk-messenger committed suicide as ongoing investigations disclosed that he had sold secret information to the Soviets on a regular basis. The reluctance of Congressional houses to look into these affairs had prompted a journalist to write, “If a similar series of tragic blunders occurred in any ordinary agency of Government an aroused public would insist that those responsible be officially censured, demoted, or fired.” David Kahn criticized the NSA’s tactics of concealing its doings as smug and the Congress’ blind faith in the agency’s right-doing as shortsighted, and pointed out the necessity of surveillance by the Congress to prevent abuse of power.
Edward Snowden‘s leaking of the existence of PRISM in 2013 caused the NSA to institute a “two-man rule“, where two system administrators are required to be present when one accesses certain sensitive information. Snowden claims he suggested such a rule in 2009.
The NSA conducts polygraph tests of employees. For new employees, the tests are meant to discover enemy spies who are applying to the NSA and to uncover any information that could make an applicant pliant to coercion. As part of the latter, historically EPQs or “embarrassing personal questions” about sexual behavior had been included in the NSA polygraph. The NSA also conducts five-year periodic reinvestigation polygraphs of employees, focusing on counterintelligence programs. In addition the NSA conducts periodic polygraph investigations in order to find spies and leakers; those who refuse to take them may receive “termination of employment”, according to a 1982 memorandum from the director of the NSA.
NSA-produced video on the polygraph process
There are also “special access examination” polygraphs for employees who wish to work in highly sensitive areas, and those polygraphs cover counterintelligence questions and some questions about behavior. NSA’s brochure states that the average test length is between two and four hours. A 1983 report of the Office of Technology Assessment stated that “It appears that the NSA [National Security Agency] (and possibly CIA) use the polygraph not to determine deception or truthfulness per se, but as a technique of interrogation to encourage admissions.”Sometimes applicants in the polygraph process confess to committing felonies such as murder, rape, and selling of illegal drugs. Between 1974 and 1979, of the 20,511 job applicants who took polygraph tests, 695 (3.4%) confessed to previous felony crimes; almost all of those crimes had been undetected.
In 2010 the NSA produced a video explaining its polygraph process. The video, ten minutes long, is titled “The Truth About the Polygraph” and was posted to the Web site of the Defense Security Service. Jeff Stein of The Washington Post said that the video portrays “various applicants, or actors playing them — it’s not clear — describing everything bad they had heard about the test, the implication being that none of it is true.” AntiPolygraph.org argues that the NSA-produced video omits some information about the polygraph process; it produced a video responding to the NSA video. George Maschke, the founder of the Web site, accused the NSA polygraph video of being “Orwellian“.
After Edward Snowden revealed his identity in 2013, the NSA began requiring polygraphing of employees once per quarter.
The number of exemptions from legal requirements has been criticized. When in 1964 the Congress was hearing a bill giving the director of the NSA the power to fire at will any employee,The Washington Post wrote: “This is the very definition of arbitrariness. It means that an employee could be discharged and disgraced on the basis of anonymous allegations without the slightest opportunity to defend himself.” Yet, the bill was accepted by an overwhelming majority.
When the NSA was created, the agency had no emblem and used that of the Department of Defense. The agency adopted its first of two emblems in 1963. The current NSA insignia has been in use since 1965, when then-Director, LTG Marshall S. Carter (USA) ordered the creation of a device to represent the agency.
The NSA’s flag consists of the agency’s seal on a light blue background.
The National Security Agency/Central Security Service Cryptologic Memorial honors and remembers the fallen personnel, both military and civilian, of these intelligence missions. It is made of black granite, and has 171 names carved into it, as of 2013 . It is located at NSA headquarters. A tradition of declassifying the stories of the fallen was begun in 2001.
NSANet (NSA’s intranet)
Behind the Green Door – Secure communications room with separate computer terminals for access to SIPRNET, GWAN, NSANET, and JWICS
NSANet stands for National Security Agency Network and is the official NSA intranet. It is a classified network, for information up to the level of TS/SCI to support the use and sharing of intelligence data between NSA and the signals intelligence agencies of the four other nations of the Five Eyes partnership. The management of NSANet has been delegated to the Central Security Service Texas (CSSTEXAS).
NSANet is a highly secured computer network consisting of fiber-optic and satellite communication channels which are almost completely separated from the public Internet. The network allows NSA personnel and civilian and military intelligence analysts anywhere in the world to have access to the agency’s systems and databases. This access is tightly controlled and monitored. For example, every keystroke is logged, activities are audited at random and downloading and printing of documents from NSANet are recorded.
In 1998, NSANet, along with NIPRNET and SIPRNET, had “significant problems with poor search capabilities, unorganized data and old information”. In 2004, the network was reported to have used over twenty commercial off-the-shelf operating systems. Some universities that do highly sensitive research are allowed to connect to it.
The thousands of Top Secret internal NSA documents that were taken by Edward Snowden in 2013 were stored in “a file-sharing location on the NSA’s intranet site” so they could easily be read online by NSA personnel. Everyone with a TS/SCI-clearance had access to these documents and as a system administrator, Snowden was responsible for moving accidentally misplaced highly sensitive documents to more secure storage locations.
National Computer Security Center
The DoD Computer Security Center was founded in 1981 and renamed the National Computer Security Center (NCSC) in 1985. NCSC was responsible for computer security throughout the federal government. NCSC was part of NSA, and during the late 1980s and the 1990s, NSA and NCSC published Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria in a six-foot high Rainbow Series of books that detailed trusted computing and network platform specifications. The Rainbow books were replaced by the Common Criteria, however, in the early 2000s.
National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, 2013
Headquarters for the National Security Agency is located at 39°6′32″N76°46′17″W in Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, although it is separate from other compounds and agencies that are based within this same military installation. Ft. Meade is about 20 mi (32 km) southwest of Baltimore, and 25 mi (40 km) northeast of Washington, DC. The NSA has its own exit off Maryland Route 295 South labeled “NSA Employees Only”. The exit may only be used by people with the proper clearances, and security vehicles parked along the road guard the entrance.
NSA is the largest employer in the U.S. state of Maryland, and two-thirds of its personnel work at Ft. Meade. Built on 350 acres (140 ha; 0.55 sq mi) of Ft. Meade’s 5,000 acres (2,000 ha; 7.8 sq mi), the site has 1,300 buildings and an estimated 18,000 parking spaces.
The main NSA headquarters and operations building is what James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets, describes as “a modern boxy structure” that appears similar to “any stylish office building.” The building is covered with one-way dark glass, which is lined with copper shielding in order to prevent espionage by trapping in signals and sounds. It contains 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2), or more than 68 acres (28 ha), of floor space; Bamford said that the U.S. Capitol “could easily fit inside it four times over.”
The facility has over 100 watchposts, one of them being the visitor control center, a two-story area that serves as the entrance. At the entrance, a white pentagonal structure, visitor badges are issued to visitors and security clearances of employees are checked. The visitor center includes a painting of the NSA seal.
The OPS2A building, the tallest building in the NSA complex and the location of much of the agency’s operations directorate, is accessible from the visitor center. Bamford described it as a “dark glass Rubik’s Cube“. The facility’s “red corridor” houses non-security operations such as concessions and the drug store. The name refers to the “red badge” which is worn by someone without a security clearance. The NSA headquarters includes a cafeteria, a credit union, ticket counters for airlines and entertainment, a barbershop, and a bank. NSA headquarters has its own post office, fire department, and police force.
Due to massive amounts of data processing, NSA is the largest electricity consumer in Maryland.
Following a major power outage in 2000, in 2003 and in follow-ups through 2007, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA was at risk of electrical overload because of insufficient internal electrical infrastructure at Fort Meade to support the amount of equipment being installed. This problem was apparently recognized in the 1990s but not made a priority, and “now the agency’s ability to keep its operations going is threatened.”
Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE, now Constellation Energy) provided NSA with 65 to 75 megawatts at Ft. Meade in 2007, and expected that an increase of 10 to 15 megawatts would be needed later that year. In 2011, NSA at Ft. Meade was Maryland’s largest consumer of power. In 2007, as BGE’s largest customer, NSA bought as much electricity as Annapolis, the capital city of Maryland.
One estimate put the potential for power consumption by the new Utah Data Center at US$40 million per year.
When the agency was established, its headquarters and cryptographic center were in the Naval Security Station in Washington, D.C. The COMINT functions were located in Arlington Hall in Northern Virginia, which served as the headquarters of the U.S. Army‘s cryptographic operations.Because the Soviet Union had detonated a nuclear bomb and because the facilities were crowded, the federal government wanted to move several agencies, including the AFSA/NSA. A planning committee considered Fort Knox, but Fort Meade, Maryland, was ultimately chosen as NSA headquarters because it was far enough away from Washington, D.C. in case of a nuclear strike and was close enough so its employees would not have to move their families.
Construction of additional buildings began after the agency occupied buildings at Ft. Meade in the late 1950s, which they soon outgrew. In 1963 the new headquarters building, nine stories tall, opened. NSA workers referred to the building as the “Headquarters Building” and since the NSA management occupied the top floor, workers used “Ninth Floor” to refer to their leaders. COMSEC remained in Washington, D.C., until its new building was completed in 1968. In September 1986, the Operations 2A and 2B buildings, both copper-shielded to prevent eavesdropping, opened with a dedication by President Ronald Reagan. The four NSA buildings became known as the “Big Four.” The NSA director moved to 2B when it opened.
On March 30, 2015, shortly before 9 am, a stolen sports utility vehicle approached an NSA police vehicle blocking the road near the gate of Fort Meade, after it was told to leave the area. NSA officers fired on the SUV, killing the 27-year-old driver, Ricky Hall (a transgender person also known as Mya), and seriously injuring his 20-year-old male passenger. An NSA officer’s arm was injured when Hall subsequently crashed into his vehicle.
The two, dressed in women’s clothing after a night of partying at a motel with the man they’d stolen the SUV from that morning, “attempted to drive a vehicle into the National Security Agency portion of the installation without authorization”, according to an NSA statement. FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson said the incident is not believed to be related to terrorism.In June 2015 the FBI closed its investigation into the incident and federal prosecutors have declined to bring charges against anyone involved.
An anonymous police official told The Washington Post, “This was not a deliberate attempt to breach the security of NSA. This was not a planned attack.” The two are believed to have made a wrong turn off the highway, while fleeing from the motel after stealing the vehicle. A small amount of cocaine was found in the SUV. A local CBS reporter initially said a gun was found,but her later revision does not. Dozens of journalists were corralled into a parking lot blocks away from the scene, and were barred from photographing the area.
NSA held a groundbreaking ceremony at Ft. Meade in May 2013 for its High Performance Computing Center 2, expected to open in 2016. Called Site M, the center has a 150 megawatt power substation, 14 administrative buildings and 10 parking garages. It cost $3.2 billion and covers 227 acres (92 ha; 0.355 sq mi). The center is 1,800,000 square feet (17 ha; 0.065 sq mi) and initially uses 60 megawatts of electricity.
On January 6, 2011 a groundbreaking ceremony was held to begin construction on NSA’s first Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative (CNCI) Data Center, known as the “Utah Data Center” for short. The $1.5B data center is being built at Camp Williams, Utah, located 25 miles (40 km) south of Salt Lake City, and will help support the agency’s National Cyber-security Initiative. It is expected to be operational by September 2013.
In 2009, to protect its assets and to access more electricity, NSA sought to decentralize and expand its existing facilities in Ft. Meade and Menwith Hill, the latter expansion expected to be completed by 2015.
NSA operates RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, which was, according to BBC News in 2007, the largest electronic monitoring station in the world. Planned in 1954, and opened in 1960, the base covered 562 acres (227 ha; 0.878 sq mi) in 1999.
The agency’s European Cryptologic Center (ECC), with 240 employees in 2011, is headquartered at a US military compound in Griesheim, near Frankfurt in Germany. A 2011 NSA report indicates that the ECC is responsible for the “largest analysis and productivity in Europe” and focusses on various priorities, including Africa, Europe, the Middle East and counterterrorism operations.
Thailand is a “3rd party partner” of the NSA along with nine other nations. These are non-English-speaking countries that have made security agreements for the exchange of SIGINT raw material and end product reports.
Thailand is the site of at least two US SIGINT collection stations. One is at the US Embassy in Bangkok, a joint NSA-CIA Special Collection Service (SCS) unit. It presumably eavesdrops on foreign embassies, governmental communications, and other targets of opportunity.
The second installation is a FORNSAT (foreign satellite interception) station in the Thai city of Khon Kaen. It is codenamed INDRA, but has also been referred to as LEMONWOOD. The station is approximately 40 ha (100 acres) in size and consists of a large 3,700–4,600 m2 (40,000–50,000 ft2) operations building on the west side of the ops compound and four radome-enclosed parabolic antennas. Possibly two of the radome-enclosed antennas are used for SATCOM intercept and two antennas used for relaying the intercepted material back to NSA. There is also a PUSHER-type circularly-disposed antenna array (CDAA) array just north of the ops compound.
NSA activated Khon Kaen in October 1979. Its mission was to eavesdrop on the radio traffic of Chinese army and air force units in southern China, especially in and around the city of Kunming in Yunnan Province. Back in the late 1970s the base consisted only of a small CDAA antenna array that was remote-controlled via satellite from the NSA listening post at Kunia, Hawaii, and a small force of civilian contractors from Bendix Field Engineering Corp. whose job it was to keep the antenna array and satellite relay facilities up and running 24/7.
According to the papers of the late General William Odom, the INDRA facility was upgraded in 1986 with a new British-made PUSHER CDAA antenna as part of an overall upgrade of NSA and Thai SIGINT facilities whose objective was to spy on the neighboring communist nations of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
The base apparently fell into disrepair in the 1990s as China and Vietnam became more friendly towards the US, and by 2002 archived satellite imagery showed that the PUSHER CDAA antenna had been torn down, perhaps indicating that the base had been closed. At some point in the period since 9/11, the Khon Kaen base was reactivated and expanded to include a sizeable SATCOM intercept mission. It is likely that the NSA presence at Khon Kaen is relatively small, and that most of the work is done by civilian contractors.
NSA’s eavesdropping mission includes radio broadcasting, both from various organizations and individuals, the Internet, telephone calls, and other intercepted forms of communication. Its secure communications mission includes military, diplomatic, and all other sensitive, confidential or secret government communications.
According to the Washington Post, “[e]very day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases.”
As part of the National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54), signed on January 8, 2008 by President Bush, the NSA became the lead agency to monitor and protect all of the federal government’s computer networks from cyber-terrorism.
Operations by the National Security Agency can be divided in three types:
Collection overseas, which falls under the responsibility of the Global Access Operations (GAO) division.
During the early 1970s, the first of what became more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed at Menwith Hill. Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell reported in 1988 on the ECHELON surveillance program, an extension of the UKUSA Agreement on global signals intelligence SIGINT, and detailed how the eavesdropping operations worked. In November 3, 1999 the BBC reported that they had confirmation from the Australian Government of the existence of a powerful “global spying network” code-named Echelon, that could “eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet” with Britain and the United States as the chief protagonists. They confirmed that Menwith Hill was “linked directly to the headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade in Maryland”.
NSA’s United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18) strictly prohibited the interception or collection of information about “… U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations….” without explicit written legal permission from the United States Attorney General when the subject is located abroad, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when within U.S. borders. Alleged Echelon-related activities, including its use for motives other than national security, including political and industrial espionage, received criticism from countries outside the UKUSA alliance.
The NSA is also involved in planning to blackmail people with “SEXINT“, intelligence gained about a potential target’s sexual activity and preferences. Those targeted had not committed any apparent crime nor were charged with one.
The Real Time Regional Gateway is a data collection program introduced in 2005 in Iraq by NSA during the Iraq War that consisted of gathering all electronic communication, storing it, then searching and otherwise analyzing it. It was effective in providing information about Iraqi insurgents who had eluded less comprehensive techniques. This “collect it all” strategy introduced by NSA director, Keith B. Alexander, is believed by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian to be the model for the comprehensive worldwide mass archiving of communications which NSA is engaged in as of 2013.
Edward Snowden revealed in June 2013 that between February 8 and March 8, 2013, the NSA collected about 124.8 billion telephone data items and 97.1 billion computer data items throughout the world, as was displayed in charts from an internal NSA tool codenamed Boundless Informant. It was reported that some of these data reflected eavesdropping on citizens in countries like Germany, Spain and France.
NSA’s mission, as set forth in Executive Order 12333 in 1981, is to collect information that constitutes “foreign intelligence or counterintelligence” while not “acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons”. NSA has declared that it relies on the FBI to collect information on foreign intelligence activities within the borders of the United States, while confining its own activities within the United States to the embassies and missions of foreign nations. The appearance of a ‘Domestic Surveillance Directorate’ of the NSA was soon exposed as a hoax in 2013.
NSA’s domestic surveillance activities are limited by the requirements imposed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for example held in October 2011, citing multiple Supreme Court precedents, that the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to the contents of all communications, whatever the means, because “a person’s private communications are akin to personal papers.” However, these protections do not apply to non-U.S. persons located outside of U.S. borders, so the NSA’s foreign surveillance efforts are subject to far fewer limitations under U.S. law. The specific requirements for domestic surveillance operations are contained in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which does not extend protection to non-U.S. citizens located outside of U.S. territory.
George W. Bush administration
George W. Bush, president during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, approved the Patriot Act shortly after the attacks to take anti-terrorist security measures. Title 1, 2, and 9 specifically authorized measures that would be taken by the NSA. These titles granted enhanced domestic security against terrorism, surveillance procedures, and improved intelligence, respectively. On March 10, 2004, there was a debate between President Bush and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Acting Attorney General James Comey. The Attorney Generals were unsure if the NSA’s programs could be considered constitutional. They threatened to resign over the matter, but ultimately the NSA’s programs continued. On March 11, 2004, President Bush signed a new authorization for mass surveillance of Internet records, in addition to the surveillance of phone records.This allowed the president to be able to override laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which protected civilians from mass surveillance. In addition to this, President Bush also signed that the measures of mass surveillance were also retroactively in place.
One such surveillance program, authorized by the U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18 of President George Bush, was the Highlander Project undertaken for the National Security Agency by the U.S. Army 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. NSA relayed telephone (including cell phone) conversations obtained from ground, airborne, and satellite monitoring stations to various U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Officers, including the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion. Conversations of citizens of the U.S. were intercepted, along with those of other nations.
As a result of the USA Freedom Act passed by Congress in June 2015, the NSA had to shut down its bulk phone surveillance program on November 29 of the same year. The USA Freedom Act forbids the NSA to collect metadata and content of phone calls unless it has a warrant for terrorism investigation. In that case the agency has to ask the telecom companies for the record, which will only be kept for six months.
In May 2006, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing Narus hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between American citizens.
NSA was reported in 2008 to use its computing capability to analyze “transactional” data that it regularly acquires from other government agencies, which gather it under their own jurisdictional authorities. As part of this effort, NSA now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic email data, web addresses from Internet searches, bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel records, and telephone data, according to current and former intelligence officials interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The sender, recipient, and subject line of emails can be included, but the content of the messages or of phone calls are not.
A 2013 advisory group for the Obama administration, seeking to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward J. Snowden. mentioned in ‘Recommendation 30’ on page 37, “…that the National Security Council staff should manage an interagency process to review on a regular basis the activities of the US Government regarding attacks that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application.” Retired cyber security expert Richard A. Clarke was a group member and stated on April 11 that NSA had no advance knowledge of Heartbleed.
In August 2013 it was revealed that a 2005 IRS training document showed that NSA intelligence intercepts and wiretaps, both foreign and domestic, were being supplied to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and were illegally used to launch criminal investigations of US citizens. Law enforcement agents were directed to conceal how the investigations began and recreate an apparently legal investigative trail by re-obtaining the same evidence by other means.
Barack Obama administration
In the months leading to April 2009, the NSA intercepted the communications of American citizens, including a Congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the interception was unintentional. The Justice Department then took action to correct the issues and bring the program into compliance with existing laws. United States Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the program according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.
Polls conducted in June 2013 found divided results among Americans regarding NSA’s secret data collection.Rasmussen Reports found that 59% of Americans disapprove,Gallup found that 53% disapprove, and Pew found that 56% are in favor of NSA data collection.
Section 215 metadata collection
On April 25, 2013, the NSA obtained a court order requiring Verizon‘s Business Network Services to provide metadata on all calls in its system to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” for a three-month period, as reported by The Guardian on June 6, 2013. This information includes “the numbers of both parties on a call … location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls” but not “[t]he contents of the conversation itself”. The order relies on the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act.
In August 2013, following the Snowden leaks, new details about the NSA’s data mining activity were revealed. Reportedly, the majority of emails into or out of the United States are captured at “selected communications links” and automatically analyzed for keywords or other “selectors”. Emails that do not match are deleted.
The utility of such a massive metadata collection in preventing terrorist attacks is disputed. Many studies reveal the dragnet like system to be ineffective. One such report, released by the New America Foundation concluded that after an analysis of 225 terrorism cases, the NSA “had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”
Defenders of the program say that while metadata alone can’t provide all the information necessary to prevent an attack, it assures the ability to “connect the dots” between suspect foreign numbers and domestic numbers with a speed only the NSA’s software is capable of. One benefit of this is quickly being able to determine the difference between suspicious activity and real threats. As an example, NSA director General Keith Alexander mentioned at the annual Cybersecurity Summit in 2013, that metadata analysis of domestic phone call records after the Boston Marathon bombing helped determine that[clarification needed] another attack in New York was baseless.
In addition to doubts about its effectiveness, many people argue that the collection of metadata is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. As of 2015, the collection process remains legal and grounded in the ruling from Smith v. Maryland (1979). A prominent opponent of the data collection and its legality is U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who issued a report in 2013 in which he stated: “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval…Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment”.
Under the PRISM program, which started in 2007, NSA gathers Internet communications from foreign targets from nine major U.S. Internet-based communication service providers: Microsoft,Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, VoIP chats such as Skype, and file transfers.
July 2015 – WikiLeaks: Espionage against German federal ministries
In July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on federal German ministries since 1990s. Even Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s cellphones and phone of her predecessors had been intercepted.
Claims of prevented terrorist attacks
Former NSA director General Keith Alexander claimed that in September 2009 the NSA prevented Najibullah Zazi and his friends from carrying out a terrorist attack. However, this claim has been debunked and no evidence has been presented demonstrating that the NSA has ever been instrumental in preventing a terrorist attack.
Besides the more traditional ways of eavesdropping in order to collect signals intelligence, NSA is also engaged in hacking computers, smartphones and their networks. These operations are conducted by the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.
NSA’s China hacking group
According to the Foreign Policy magazine, “… the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, has successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years, generating some of the best and most reliable intelligence information about what is going on inside the People’s Republic of China.”
Syrian internet blackout
In an interview with Wired magazine, Edward Snowden said the Tailored Access Operations division accidentally caused Syria‘s internet blackout in 2012.
Suspected responsibility for hacking operations by the Equation Group
The espionage group named the Equation Group, described by discoverers Kaspersky Labs as one of the most advanced (if not the most advanced) in the world as of 2015,:31 and connected to over 500 malware infections in at least 42 countries over many years, is suspected of being a part of NSA. The group’s known espionage methods have been documented to include interdiction (interception of legitimate CDs sent by a scientific conference organizer by mail),:15 and the “unprecedented” ability to infect and be transmitted through the hard drivefirmware of several of the major hard drive manufacturers, and create and use hidden disk areas and virtual disk systems for its purposes, a feat demanding access to the manufacturer’s source code of each to achieve.:16–18 The methods used to deploy the tools demonstrated “surgical precision”, going so far as to exclude specific countries by IP and allow targeting of specific usernames on discussion forums.:23–26 The techniques and knowledge used by the Equation Group are considered in summary to be “out of the reach of most advanced threat groups in the world except [this group].:31
When my oldest son [Linus Torvalds] was asked the same question: “Has he been approached by the NSA about backdoors?” he said “No”, but at the same time he nodded. Then he was sort of in the legal free. He had given the right answer, [but] everybody understood that the NSA had approached him.
— Nils Torvalds, LIBE Committee Inquiry on Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens – 11th Hearing, 11 November 2013
IBM Notes was the first widely adopted software product to use public key cryptography for client–server and server–server authentication and for encryption of data. Until US laws regulating encryption were changed in 2000, IBM and Lotus were prohibited from exporting versions of Notes that supported symmetric encryption keys that were longer than 40 bits. In 1997, Lotus negotiated an agreement with the NSA that allowed export of a version that supported stronger keys with 64 bits, but 24 of the bits were encrypted with a special key and included in the message to provide a “workload reduction factor” for the NSA. This strengthened the protection for users of Notes outside the US against private-sector industrial espionage, but not against spying by the US government.
While it is assumed that foreign transmissions terminating in the U.S. (such as a non-U.S. citizen accessing a U.S. website) subject non-U.S. citizens to NSA surveillance, recent research into boomerang routing has raised new concerns about the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries. Boomerang routing occurs when an Internet transmission that originates and terminates in a single country transits another. Research at the University of Toronto has suggested that approximately 25% of Canadian domestic traffic may be subject to NSA surveillance activities as a result of the boomerang routing of Canadian Internet service providers.
Intercepted packages are opened carefully by NSA employees
A “load station” implanting a beacon
A document included in NSA files released with Glenn Greenwald‘s book No Place to Hide details how the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) and other NSA units gain access to hardware. They intercept routers, servers and other network hardware being shipped to organizations targeted for surveillance and install covert implant firmware onto them before they are delivered. This was described by an NSA manager as “some of the most productive operations in TAO because they preposition access points into hard target networks around the world.”
Computers seized by the NSA due to interdiction are often modified with a physical device known as Cottonmouth.Cottonmouth is a device that can be inserted in the USB port of a computer in order to establish remote access to the targeted machine. According to NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group implant catalog, after implanting Cottonmouth, the NSA can establish Bridging (networking) “that allows the NSA to load exploit software onto modified computers as well as allowing the NSA to relay commands and data between hardware and software implants.”
Role in scientific research and development[
NSA has been involved in debates about public policy, both indirectly as a behind-the-scenes adviser to other departments, and directly during and after Vice Admiral Bobby Ray Inman‘s directorship. NSA was a major player in the debates of the 1990s regarding the export of cryptography in the United States. Restrictions on export were reduced but not eliminated in 1996.
Its secure government communications work has involved the NSA in numerous technology areas, including the design of specialized communications hardware and software, production of dedicated semiconductors (at the Ft. Meade chip fabrication plant), and advanced cryptography research. For 50 years, NSA designed and built most of its computer equipment in-house, but from the 1990s until about 2003 (when the U.S. Congress curtailed the practice), the agency contracted with the private sector in the fields of research and equipment.
NSA was embroiled in some minor controversy concerning its involvement in the creation of the Data Encryption Standard (DES), a standard and public block cipheralgorithm used by the U.S. government and banking community. During the development of DES by IBM in the 1970s, NSA recommended changes to some details of the design. There was suspicion that these changes had weakened the algorithm sufficiently to enable the agency to eavesdrop if required, including speculation that a critical component—the so-called S-boxes—had been altered to insert a “backdoor” and that the reduction in key length might have made it feasible for NSA to discover DES keys using massive computing power. It has since been observed that the S-boxes in DES are particularly resilient against differential cryptanalysis, a technique which was not publicly discovered until the late 1980s, but which was known to the IBM DES team.
The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reviewed NSA’s involvement, and concluded that while the agency had provided some assistance, it had not tampered with the design. In late 2009 NSA declassified information stating that “NSA worked closely with IBM to strengthen the algorithm against all except brute force attacks and to strengthen substitution tables, called S-boxes. Conversely, NSA tried to convince IBM to reduce the length of the key from 64 to 48 bits. Ultimately they compromised on a 56-bit key.”
The involvement of NSA in the selection of a successor to Data Encryption Standard (DES), the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), was limited to hardware performance testing (see AES competition). NSA has subsequently certified AES for protection of classified information (for at most two levels, e.g. SECRET information in an unclassified environment[clarification needed]) when used in NSA-approved systems.
The NSA has specified Suite A and Suite B cryptographic algorithm suites to be used in U.S. government systems; the Suite B algorithms are a subset of those previously specified by NIST and are expected to serve for most information protection purposes, while the Suite A algorithms are secret and are intended for especially high levels of protection.
The widely used SHA-1 and SHA-2 hash functions were designed by NSA. SHA-1 is a slight modification of the weaker SHA-0 algorithm, also designed by NSA in 1993. This small modification was suggested by NSA two years later, with no justification other than the fact that it provides additional security. An attack for SHA-0 that does not apply to the revised algorithm was indeed found between 1998 and 2005 by academic cryptographers. Because of weaknesses and key length restrictions in SHA-1, NIST deprecates its use for digital signatures, and approves only the newer SHA-2 algorithms for such applications from 2013 on.
A new hash standard, SHA-3, has recently been selected through the competition concluded October 2, 2012 with the selection of Keccak as the algorithm. The process to select SHA-3 was similar to the one held in choosing the AES, but some doubts have been cast over it, since fundamental modifications have been made to Keccak in order to turn it into a standard. These changes potentially undermine the cryptanalysis performed during the competition and reduce the security levels of the algorithm.
This is now deemed to be plausible based on the fact that the output of the next iterations of the PRNG can provably be determined if the relation between two internal elliptic curve points is known. Both NIST and RSA are now officially recommending against the use of this PRNG.
Because of concerns that widespread use of strong cryptography would hamper government use of wiretaps, NSA proposed the concept of key escrow in 1993 and introduced the Clipper chip that would offer stronger protection than DES but would allow access to encrypted data by authorized law enforcement officials. The proposal was strongly opposed and key escrow requirements ultimately went nowhere. However, NSA’s Fortezza hardware-based encryption cards, created for the Clipper project, are still used within government, and NSA ultimately declassified and published the design of the Skipjack cipher used on the cards.
Perfect Citizen is a program to perform vulnerability assessment by the NSA on U.S. critical infrastructure. It was originally reported to be a program to develop a system of sensors to detect cyber attacks on critical infrastructure computer networks in both the private and public sector through a network monitoring system named Einstein. It is funded by the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and thus far Raytheon has received a contract for up to $100 million for the initial stage.
NSA has invested many millions of dollars in academic research under grant code prefix MDA904, resulting in over 3,000 papers (as of 2007-10-11). NSA/CSS has, at times, attempted to restrict the publication of academic research into cryptography; for example, the Khufu and Khafre block ciphers were voluntarily withheld in response to an NSA request to do so. In response to a FOIA lawsuit, in 2013 the NSA released the 643-page research paper titled, “Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research, ” written and compiled by NSA employees to assist other NSA workers in searching for information of interest to the agency on the public Internet.
NSA has the ability to file for a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under gag order. Unlike normal patents, these are not revealed to the public and do not expire. However, if the Patent Office receives an application for an identical patent from a third party, they will reveal NSA’s patent and officially grant it to NSA for the full term on that date.
One of NSA’s published patents describes a method of geographically locating an individual computer site in an Internet-like network, based on the latency of multiple network connections. Although no public patent exists, NSA is reported to have used a similar locating technology called trilateralization that allows real-time tracking of an individual’s location, including altitude from ground level, using data obtained from cellphone towers.
Excerpt of James Clapper‘s false testimony to Congress on NSA surveillance programs
In the United States, at least since 2001, there has been legal controversy over what signal intelligence can be used for and how much freedom the National Security Agency has to use signal intelligence. The government has made, in 2015, slight changes in how it uses and collects certain types of data, specifically phone records. President Barack Obama has asked lawyers and his national security team to look at the tactics that are being used by the NSA. President Obama made a speech on January 17, 2014 where he defended the national security measures, including the NSA, and their intentions for keeping the country safe through surveillance. He said that it is difficult to determine where the line should be drawn between what is too much surveillance and how much is needed for national security because technology is ever changing and evolving. Therefore, the laws cannot keep up with the rapid advancements.
President Obama did make some changes to national security regulations and how much data can be collected and surveyed. The first thing he added, was more presidential directive and oversight so that privacy and basic rights are not violated. The president would look over requests on behalf of American citizens to make sure that their personal privacy is not violated by the data that is being requested. Secondly, surveillance tactics and procedures are becoming more public, including over 40 rulings of the FISC that have been declassified. Thirdly, further protections are being placed on activities that are justified under Section 702, such as the ability to retain, search and use data collected in investigations, which allows the NSA to monitor and intercept interaction of targets overseas. Finally, national security letters, which are secret requests for information that the FBI uses in their investigations, are becoming less secretive. The secrecy of the information requested will not be indefinite and will terminate after a set time if future secrecy is not required. Concerning the bulk surveillance of American’s phone records, President Obama also ordered a transition from bulk surveillance under Section 215 to a new policy that will eliminate unnecessary bulk collection of metadata.
As of May 7, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act was wrong and that the NSA program that has been collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk is illegal. It stated that Section 215 cannot be clearly interpreted to allow government to collect national phone data and, as a result, expired on June 1, 2015. This ruling “is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the N.S.A. phone records program.”  The new bill getting passed later in May taking its place is known as the U.S.A. Freedom Act, which will enable the NSA to continue hunting for terrorists by analyzing telephone links between callers but “keep the bulk phone records in the hands of phone companies.” This would give phone companies the freedom to dispose the records in an 18-month period. The White House argued that this new ruling validated President Obama’s support of the government being extracted from bulk data collection and giving power to the telecommunications companies.
Previously, the NSA paid billions of dollars to telecommunications companies in order to collect data from them. While companies such as Google and Yahoo! claim that they do not provide “direct access” from their servers to the NSA unless under a court order, the NSA had access to emails, phone calls and cellular data users. With this new ruling, telecommunications companies would not provide the NSA with bulk information. The companies would allow the disposal of data in every 18 months, which is arguably putting the telecommunications companies at a higher advantage.
This ruling made the collecting of phone records illegal, but it did not rule on Section 215’s constitutionality. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already put forth a new bill to re-authorize the Patriot Act. Defenders of this surveillance program are claiming that judges who sit on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had ruled 37 times that this kind of collection of data is, in fact, lawful. The FISC is the court specifically mandated to grant surveillance orders in the name of foreign intelligence. The new ruling made by the Second District Court of Appeals now retroactively dismisses the findings of the FISC on this program.
Story 1: House Select Committee investigating Benghazi — The Unintended Consequences Of President Obama’s Undeclared War on Libya and Central Intelligence Agency Covert Operations in Libya and Syria — Congress Did Nothing To Stop An Imperial President — The Lying and Blame Game On Display — “Disgusting and Reprehensible” — Videos
Obama and Hillary Blame Youtube Video for Benghazi Terrorist Attack as Coffins Arrive
Our Fallen Heroes
Published on Sep 15, 2012
President Obama speaks about the tragic loss of four of our fellow Americans who were serving in our diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. These Americans represented the best of our country; without people like them, we could not sustain our freedoms or security, or provide the leadership that the entire world depends on. During this time of turmoil in many different countries, the President makes it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths, but as Commander in Chief, he will never tolerate efforts to harm our fellow Americans and will ensure that those who attack our people find no escape from justice.
Obama and Press Secretary Carney Blame a Video for the Benghazi Attack
YouTube Video Maker Blamed for Benghazi Attacks Breaks Silence on CNN
White House Covers Up Benghazi Terrorist Attack
13 hours in Benghazi FULL VERSION INTERVIEW 5 parts combined.
ABC News’ Jon Karl hammers Jay Carney over New bombshell Benghazi emails
Benghazi Whistleblower Embarrassed by Obama Admin Placing Blame on a YouTube Video
Benghazi Gate – Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton – Question & Answer
Email Reveals Obama Advisor Urged Susan Rice to Blame Video for Benghazi
Exclusive: Docs Show Weapons Going From Benghazi To Syria – Benghazi Gate – Happening Now
Breaking: Hillary Clinton Knew About Libyan Arms Shipments to Syria in 2011
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew that the US was sending arms from Libya to Syria back in 2011. She denied this during public testimony (under oath) in early 2013 after the Benghazi terrorist attack.
Melvin Goodman on why CIA Director Brennan is dangerous
The show is going to be about the response to CIA director Brennan’s press conference two weeks ago and then an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations last week, an on the record interview with Charlie Rose in New York about his plans to restructure the CIA to try to bring a more integrity to intelligence and make it less politicized. We are going to hear from today Melvin Goodman. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University. He is he is a former CIA analyst. Melvin Goodman is the author of Failure of Intelligence: the Decline and Fall of the CIA and the forthcoming book On the Path to Dissent: A Whistleblower at the CIA. Goodman is the national security columnist for Counterpunch, and he said of CIA director ‘s plan to restructure the CIA and I quote “Simply, it takes the CIA further from Truman’s concept and closer to the ability to politicize intelligence. Operations are part of the policy world and not the intelligence world. The Centers have made it too easy to provide the intelligence that the ‘masters’ desire, whether they are the masters on CIA’s 7th floor or the policy masters. Brennan’s world was the Center for Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism, and many of the intelligence errors and operational errors of the past 15 years have emanated from those centers. Organizationally, it makes no sense — what are the directorates of operations and analysis — they sound as if they are HR experts.”
CNN Benghazi Claims: Report alleges CIA operatives in Libya were sending weapons to Syrian rebels
Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin suspects US Was Running Guns To Syrian Rebels Via Benghazi
Clinton Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary
Even by the standards of arms deals between the United States and Saudi Arabia, this one was enormous. A consortium of American defense contractors led by Boeing would deliver $29 billion worth of advanced fighter jets to the United States’ oil-rich ally in the Middle East…E
Why is Benghazi still a big issue for Hillary Clinton? BBC News
General Petraeus Testifies Before Congress For The First Time Since Resigning As Director Of CIA
Select Committee on Benghazi Holds First Hearing
Former CIA Director and General David Petraeus (Ret.) testified at a hearing on U.S. policy toward the Middle East and combating ISIS* in the region. He talked about his support for military enclaves in Syria and for greater military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and ISIS. He also gave his assessment of the Russian military build-up in Syria and of the Iran nuclear agreement.
At the beginning of his testimony, General Petraeus apologized for what what he called his “serious mistake” of sharing classified information with his biographer, with whom he also had an extramarital affair.
Select Committee on Benghazi Holds Second Hearing
Select Committee on Benghazi Holds Third Hearing
Rep. Gowdy: Either Petraeus Will Come Before Congressional Committee Or He Will Be Subpoenaed
Rep. Trey Gowdy addresses Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during his opening statement at a hearing Thursday by the House Select Committee on Benghazi. trey gowdy elivers opening statement of benghazi committee hearing with hillary clinton. trey gowdy says ‘We are going to find the #Truth because there is no expiration of it.’ Chairman Trey Gowdy opens #Benghazi hearing: ‘Previous investigations were not thorough. Trey Gowdy to Clinton: Trey Gowdy addressed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally at a high-stakes hearing on Thursday, telling the Democratic presidential candidate that the panel’s investigation is not about her. “Madame Secretary, I understand some people — frankly in both parties — have suggested this investigation is about you,” Gowdy said. “Let me assure you it is not. And let me assure you why it is not. This work is about something much more important than any single person. It is about four U.S. government workers, including our Ambassador, murdered by terrorists on foreign soil. It is about what happened before, during, and after the attacks that killed these four men.” He continued: “It is about what this country owes those who risk their lives to serve it. It is about the fundamental obligation of our government to tell the truth — always — to the American people. Not a single member of this Committee signed up for an investigation into you or your email system. We signed up because we wanted to honor the service and sacrifice of four people sent to a foreign land to represent us – who were killed – and do everything we can to prevent it from happening to others.” Gowdy also presented several key questions he would be asking in his opening statement: Why were there so many requests for more security personnel and equipment, and why were those requests denied in Washington? Why did the State Department compound in Benghazi not even come close to meeting proper security specifications? What policies were we pursuing in Libya that required a physical presence in spite of the escalating violence? Who in Washington was aware of the escalating violence in Libya? What special precautions, if any, were taken on the anniversary of 9-11? What happened in Washington after the first attack and what was the response to that attack? What did the military do or not do? What did our leaders in Washington do or not do and when? Why was the American public given such divergent accounts of what caused these attacks? And why is it so hard to get information from the very government these four men were representing and serving and sacrificing for?
Benghazi panel chair: Investigation not about Hillary Clinton
South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Select Committee investigating Benghazi, tells Hillary Clinton in his opening statement that the probe is not singularly focused on the former secretary of state.
Hillary Clinton gave her opening statement to the House Select Committee investigating the 2012 attacks at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
Benghazi Hearing Committee Chairman on Hillary Clinton’s Emails | The New York Times
Trey Gowdy questions Hillary Clinton (Part 1)
Trey Gowdy questions Hillary Clinton (Part 2)
Clinton to panel: 3 things we learned from Benghazi
Trey Gowdy GRILLS Hillary Clinton Benghazi Committee Hearing
Trey Gowdy GRILLS Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi Committee Hearing. trey gowdy went off on hillary clinton about blumenthal and more. watch the explosive exchange. Hillary Clinton coolly hit back at her Republican interrogators on the Benghazi committee during her long-awaited testimony on Thursday, rebuffing claims she was detached as the situation in Libya deteriorated and asserting she did not use email to conduct the “vast majority” of her work as secretary of state.
The Democratic front-runner told the House Selection Committee on Benghazi, which is 18 months into its probe of the 2012 attacks on the consulate in Libya, that the tragedy does not deserve partisan attacks, while insisting the U.S. needs to stay committed to diplomatic engagement.
“Despite all the previous investigations and all the talk about partisan agendas, I’m here to honor those we lost and to do what I can to aid those who serve us still,” Clinton said, speaking slowly and deliberately during her opening statement. “My challenge to you, members of this committee, is the same challenge I put to myself…. Let’s be worthy of the trust the American people bestow on us… they expect us to rise above partisanship. And I hopes it’s what we’ll strive for today and in the future.”
Republicans questioned Clinton about why numerous requests for additional security never made it Clinton’s attention. She said they went to the right place: to personnel who handled security. And when they pressed her on why she kept the compound open or did not give it additional, she retorted that she never received a recommendation to shut down the mission—even after two attacks on the compound.
The hearing kicked off on Thursday with the partisan sniping that has been the hallmark of the committee’s work, with House Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy defended his investigation, assuring Clinton that his probe is not centered on her.
WATCH LIVE: Hillary Clinton testifies before Benghazi Committee
“Madame Secretary, I understand some people — frankly in both parties — have suggested this investigation is about you. Let me assure you it is not,” Gowdy said in his opening statement, adding that it was about the people who were killed.
He also blamed her in part for the fact that the inquiry has dragged on for a year and a half.
The State Department only realized it did not have Clinton’s emails after they requested documents, triggering a lengthy process by which the department had to ask her and her top aides who also sometimes used private email for work purposes to turn them over.
“You had an unusual email arrangement with yourself, which meant the State Department could not produce your emails to us,” Gowdy said. “When you left the State Department you kept those public records to yourself for almost two years….Those decisions were your decisions, not ours… It just took longer to get them and garnered more attention in the process.
Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) blasted the committee as a partisan witch-hunt out to get Clinton, saying Republicans formed the panel because they “did not like the answers they got” in previous probe—“so they set up this select committee with no rules, no deadlines and a unlimited budget.”
“They set the noose because you’re running for president,” Cummings said, raising his voice before calling for the panel to disband. “It is time for Republicans to end this …fishing expedition.”
It only took Cummings a few minutes to highlight a number of embarrassing moments for Gowdy in recent weeks, including comments by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y) and a fired GOP Benghazi investigator who all suggested the panel was either out to hurt Clinton or increasingly focused on investigating her.
REP. Martha Roby vs Hillary Clinton at House Select Committee on Benghazi 10/22/15
Rep Jim Jordan Goes After Hillary ‘Where’d the False Narrative Start It Started With You’
REP Trey Gowdy vs Hillary Clinton Round 2 at House Select Committee on Benghazi 102215
Benghazi Select – Gowdy: this is an investigation, not a prosecution
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More Background Information
Weekly Address: Carrying on the Work of
America’s intelligence community, explained
THE RECRUIT – Spy School: Inside the CIA Training Program, 1 of 2
THE RECRUIT – Spy School: Inside the CIA Training Program, 2 of 2
Special Activities Division
Published on Aug 15, 2014
The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) National Clandestine Service (NCS) responsible for covert operations known as “special activities”. Within SAD there are two separate groups, SAD/SOG for tactical paramilitary operations and SAD/PAG for covert political action.
Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations that include the collection of intelligence in hostile countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be overtly associated. As such, members of the unit (called Paramilitary Operations Officers and Specialized Skills Officers) normally do not carry any objects or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government. If they are compromised during a mission, the government of the United States may deny all knowledge.
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The CIA began as a spy agency after World War Two, but soon the CIA was planning and executing covert operations across the globe without proper congressional oversight. From the removal of the democratically elected leaders of Iran and Guatemala to the attempted invasion of Cuba, to the removal of every secular government in the Middle East, the influence of the agency is insidious. But how can a democratic society tolerate such a secret and lethal institution that works against the very values America seeks to uphold around the world?
CIA Covert Operations in Africa: How Does the U.S. Government Make Decisions?
According to the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, a covert operation (also as CoveOps or covert ops) is “an operation that is so planned and executed as to conceal the identity of or permit plausible denial by the sponsor.” It is intended to create a political effect which can have implications in the military, intelligence or law enforcement arenas. Covert operations aim to fulfill their mission objectives without any parties knowing who sponsored or carried out the operation. It is normally financed by government revenues but in this age of super-empowered individuals and corporations they could become a common tool of power beyond traditional war and diplomacy.
Under United States law, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) must lead covert operations unless the president finds that another agency should do so and properly informs the congress. Normally, the CIA is the US Government agency legally allowed to carry out covert action. The CIA’s authority to conduct covert action comes from the National Security Act of 1947. President Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12333 titled in 1984. This order defined covert action as “special activities”, both political and military, that the US Government could legally deny. The CIA was also designated as the sole authority under the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act and in Title 50 of the United States Code Section 413(e). The CIA must have a “Presidential Finding” issued by the President of the United States in order to conduct these activities under the Hughes-Ryan amendment to the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act. These findings are then monitored by the oversight committees in both the US Senate and the House of Representatives. As a result of this framework, the CIA “receives more oversight from the Congress than any other agency in the federal government”. The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, responsible for Covert Action and “Special Activities”. These special activities include covert political influence and paramilitary operations. The division is overseen by the United States Secretary of State.
Special Activities Division – Special Operations Group | SAD SOG
Published on Jun 30, 2015
The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as “special activities”. Within SAD there are two separate groups, SAD/SOG for tactical paramilitary operations and SAD/PAG for covert political action. The Special Activities Division reports directly to the Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service.
Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations that include the collection of intelligence in hostile countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be overtly associated. As such, members of the unit (called Paramilitary Operations Officers and Specialized Skills Officers) normally do not carry any objects or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government. If they are compromised during a mission, the United States government may deny all knowledge.
SOG is generally considered the most secretive special operations force in the United States. The group selects operatives from other tier one special mission units such as Delta Force, DEVGRU and ISA, as well as other United States special operations forces, such as USNSWC, MARSOC, Special Forces, SEALs and 24th STS.
SOG Paramilitary Operations Officers account for a majority of Distinguished Intelligence Cross and Intelligence Star recipients during any given conflict or incident which elicits CIA involvement. An award bestowing either of these citations represents the highest honors awarded within the CIA organization in recognition of distinguished valor and excellence in the line of duty. SAD/SOG operatives also account for the majority of the names displayed on the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters indicating that the agent died while on active duty.
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Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations that include the collection ofintelligence in hostile countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be overtly associated. As such, members of the unit (called Paramilitary Operations Officers and Specialized Skills Officers) normally do not carry any objects or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government. If they are compromised during a mission, the United States government maydeny all knowledge.
SOG Paramilitary Operations Officers account for a majority of Distinguished Intelligence Cross and Intelligence Star recipients during any given conflict or incident which elicits CIA involvement. An award bestowing either of these citations represents the highest honors awarded within the CIA organization in recognition of distinguished valor and excellence in the line of duty. SAD/SOG operatives also account for the majority of the names displayed on the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters indicating that the agent died while on active duty.
Political Action Group (PAG) is responsible for covert activities related to political influence, psychological operations and economic warfare. The rapid development of technology has added cyberwarfare to their mission. Tactical units within SAD are also capable of carrying out covert political action while deployed in hostile and austere environments. A large covert operation usually has components that involve many, or all, of these categories, as well as paramilitary operations. Political and Influence covert operations are used to support U.S. foreign policy. Often overt support for one element of an insurgency would be counter-productive due to the impression it would have on the local population. In such cases, covert assistance allows the U.S. to assist without damaging these elements in the process. Many of the other activities (such as propaganda, economic and cyber) support the overall political effort. There have been issues in the past with attempts to influence the US media such as in Operation Mockingbird. However, these activities are now subject to the same oversight as all covert action operations.
SAD provides the President of the United States with an option when overt military and/or diplomatic actions are not viable or politically feasible. SAD can be directly tasked by the President of the United States or the National Security Council at the President’s direction. This is unlike any other U.S. special mission force. However, SAD/SOG has far fewer members than most of the other special missions units, such as the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Delta Force) or Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU).
The political action group within SAD conducts the deniable psychological operations, also known as black propaganda, as well as “Covert Influence” to effect political change as an important part of any Administration’s foreign policy. Covert intervention in a foreign election is the most significant form of political action. This could involve financial support for favored candidates, media guidance, technical support for public relations, get-out-the-vote or political organizing efforts, legal expertise, advertising campaigns, assistance with poll-watching, and other means of direct action. Policy decisions could be influenced by assets, such as subversion of officials of the country, to make decisions in their official capacity that are in the furtherance of U.S. policy aims. In addition, mechanisms for forming and developing opinions involve the covert use of propaganda.
Propaganda includes leaflets, newspapers, magazines, books, radio, and television, all of which are geared to convey the U.S. message appropriate to the region. These techniques have expanded to cover the internet as well. They may employ officers to work as journalists, recruit agents of influence, operate media platforms, plant certain stories or information in places it is hoped it will come to public attention, or seek to deny and/or discredit information that is public knowledge. In all such propaganda efforts, “black” operations denote those in which the audience is to be kept ignorant of the source; “white” efforts are those in which the originator openly acknowledges himself; and “gray” operations are those in which the source is partly but not fully acknowledged.
There remains some conflict between the National Clandestine Service and the more clandestine parts of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), such as the Joint Special Operations Command. This is usually confined to the civilian/political heads of the respective Department/Agency. The combination of SAD and USSOCOM units has resulted in some of the most notable successes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to include the locating and killing of Osama bin Laden. SAD/SOG has several missions. One of these missions is the recruiting, training, and leading of indigenous forces in combat operations. SAD/SOG and its successors have been used when it was considered desirable to have plausible deniability about U.S. support (this is called a covert operation or “covert action”). Unlike other special missions units, SAD/SOG operatives combine special operations and clandestine intelligence capabilities in one individual. These individuals can operate in any environment (sea, air or ground) with limited to no support.
The Pentagon commissioned a study to determine whether the CIA or the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) should conduct covert action paramilitary operations. Their study determined that the CIA should maintain this capability and be the “sole government agency conducting covert action.” The DoD found that, even under U.S. law, it does not have the legal authority to conduct covert action, nor the operational agility to carry out these types of missions. The operation in May 2011 that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden was a covert action under the authority of the CIA.
SAD/SOG has several hundred officers, mostly former members of special operations forces (SOF) and a majority from theJoint Special Operations Command (JSOC). The CIA has also recruited individuals within the agency. The CIA’s formal position for these individuals is “Paramilitary Operations Officers” and “Specialized Skills Officers.” Paramilitary Operations Officers attend the Clandestine Service Trainee (CST) program, which trains them as clandestine intelligence operatives (known as “Core Collectors” within the Agency). The primary strengths of SAD/SOG Paramilitary Officers are operational agility, adaptability, and deniability. They often operate in small teams, typically made up of six operators (with some operations being carried out by a single officer), all with extensive military special operations expertise and a set of specialized skills that does not exist in any other unit. As fully trained intelligence case officers, Paramilitary Operations Officers possess all the clandestine skills to collect human intelligence—and most importantly—to recruit assets from among the indigenous troops receiving their training. These officers often operate in remote locations behind enemy lines to carry out direct action (including raids and sabotage), counter-intelligence, guerrilla/unconventional warfare, counter-terrorism, and hostage rescue missions, in addition to being able to conduct espionage via HUMINT assets.
There are four principal elements within SAD’s Special Operations Group: the Air Branch, the Maritime Branch, the Ground Branch, and the Armor and Special Programs Branch. The Armor and Special Programs Branch is charged with development, testing, and covert procurement of new personnel and vehicular armor and maintenance of stockpiles of ordnance and weapons systems used by SOG, almost all of which must be obtained from clandestine sources abroad, in order to provide SOG operatives and their foreign trainees with plausible deniability in accordance with U.S. Congressional directives.
Together, SAD/SOG contains a complete combined arms covert military. Paramilitary Operations Officers are the core of each branch and routinely move between the branches to gain expertise in all aspects of SOG. As such, Paramilitary Operations Officers are trained to operate in a multitude of environments. Because these officers are taken from the most highly trained units in the U.S. military and then provided with extensive additional training to become CIA clandestine intelligence officers, many U.S. security experts assess them as the most elite of the U.S. special missions units.
One of the OSS’ greatest accomplishments during World War II was its penetration of Nazi Germany by OSS operatives. The OSS was responsible for training German and Austrian commandos for missions inside Nazi Germany. Some of these agents included exiled communists and socialist party members, labor activists, anti-NaziPOWs, and German and Jewish refugees. At the height of its influence during World War II, the OSS employed almost 24,000 people.
OSS Paramilitary Officers parachuted into many countries then behind enemy lines, including France, Norway, Greece and The Netherlands. In Crete, OSS paramilitary officers linked up with, equipped and fought alongside Greek resistance forces against the Axis occupation.
OSS was disbanded shortly after World War II, with its intelligence analysis functions moving temporarily into the U.S. Department of State. Espionage and counterintelligence went into military units, while paramilitary and related functions went into an assortment of ‘ad hoc’ groups, such as the Office of Policy Coordination. Between the original creation of the CIA by the National Security Act of 1947 and various mergers and reorganizations through 1952, the wartime OSS functions generally went into CIA. The mission of training and leading guerrillas generally stayed in the United States Army Special Forces, but those missions required to remain covert were folded into the paramilitary arm of the CIA. The direct descendant of the OSS’ Special Operations is the CIA’s Special Activities Division.
After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in October 1950, the CIA inserted SAD paramilitary teams into Tibet to train and lead Tibetan resistance fighters against thePeople’s Liberation Army of China. These teams selected and then trained Tibetan soldiers in the Rocky Mountains of the United States; training occurred atCamp Hale. The SAD teams then advised and led these commandos against the Chinese, both from Nepal and India. In addition, SAD Paramilitary Officers were responsible for the Dalai Lama‘s clandestine escape to India, narrowly escaping capture and certain execution by the Chinese government.
According to a book by retired CIA officer John Kenneth Knaus, entitled Orphans Of The Cold War: America And The Tibetan Struggle For Survival, Gyalo Thondup, the older brother of the 14th (and current) Dalai Lama, sent the CIA five Tibetan recruits. These recruits were then trained in paramilitary tactics on the island ofSaipan in the Northern Marianas. Shortly thereafter, the five men were covertly returned to Tibet “to assess and organize the resistance” and selected another 300 Tibetans for training. U.S. assistance to the Tibetan resistance ceased after the 1972 Nixon visit to China, after which the United States and China normalized relations.
The CIA sponsored a variety of activities during the Korean War. These activities included maritime operations behind North Korean lines. Yong Do Island, connected by a rugged isthmus to Pusan, served as the base for those operations. These operations were carried out by well-trained Korean guerrillas. The four principal U.S. advisers responsible for the training and operational planning of those special missions were Dutch Kramer, Tom Curtis, George Atcheson and Joe Pagnella. All of these Paramilitary Operations Officers operated through a CIA front organization called the Joint Advisory Commission, Korea (JACK), headquartered at Tongnae, a village near Pusan, on the peninsula’s southeast coast. These paramilitary teams were responsible for numerous maritime raids and ambushes behind North Korean lines, as well as prisoner of warrescue operations. These were the first maritime unconventional warfare units that trained indigenous forces as surrogates. They also provided a model, along with the other CIA-sponsored ground based paramilitary Korean operations, for theMilitary Assistance Command, Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) activities conducted by the U.S. military and the CIA/SAD in Vietnam. In addition, CIA paramilitary ground-based teams worked directly for U.S. military commanders, specifically with the 8th Army, on the “White Tiger” initiative. This initiative included inserting South Korean commandos and CIA Paramilitary Operations Officers prior to the two major amphibious assaults on North Korea, including the landing at Inchon.
The Bay of Pigs Invasion (known as “La Batalla de Girón”, or “Playa Girón” in Cuba), was an unsuccessful attempt by a U.S.-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba and overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The plan was launched in April 1961, less than three months after John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency of the United States. TheCuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, trained and equipped by Eastern Bloc nations, defeated the exile-combatants in three days.
The National Liberation Army of Bolivia (ELN-Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Bolivia) was a communist guerrilla force that operated from the remote Ñancahuazú region against the pro-U.S. Bolivian government. They were joined by Che Guevara in the mid-1960s. The ELN was well equipped and scored a number of early successes against the Bolivian army in the difficult terrain of the mountainous Camiri region. In the late 1960s, the CIA deployed teams of SAD Paramilitary Operations Officers to Bolivia to train the Bolivian army in order to counter the ELN. These SAD teams linked up with U.S. Army Special Forces and Bolivian Special Forces to track down and capture Guevara, who was a special prize because of his leading role in the Cuban Revolution. On October 9, 1967, Guevara was executed by Bolivian soldiers on the orders of CIA paramilitary operative Félix Rodríguez shortly after being captured, according to CIA documents.
Vietnam and Laos
South Vietnam, Military Regions, 1967
The original OSS mission in Vietnam under MajorArchimedes Patti was to work with Ho Chi Minh in order to prepare his forces to assist the United States and their Allies in fighting the Japanese. After the end of World War II, the US agreed at Potsdam to turn Vietnam back to their previous French rulers and in 1950 the US began providing military aid to the French.
CIA Paramilitary Operations Officers trained and led Hmong tribesmen in Laos and Vietnam, and their actions of these officers were not known for several years. Air America was the air component of the CIA’s paramilitary mission in Southeast Asia and was responsible for all combat, logistics and search and rescue operations in Laos and certain sections of Vietnam. The ethnic minority forces numbered in the tens of thousands and they conducted direct actions mission, led by Paramilitary Operations Officers, against the communist Pathet Lao forces and their North Vietnamese allies.
Elements of SAD were seen in the CIA’s Phoenix Program. One component of the Phoenix Program was involved in the capture and killing of suspected Viet Cong (National Liberation Front – NLF) members. Between 1968 and 1972, the Phoenix Program captured 81,740 National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF or Viet Cong) members, of whom 26,369 were killed. This was a large proportion of U.S. killings between 1969 and 1971. The program was also successful in destroying their infrastructure. By 1970, communist plans repeatedly emphasized attacking the government’s “pacification” program and specifically targeted Phoenix agents. The NLF also imposed quotas. In 1970, for example, communist officials near Da Nang in northern South Vietnam instructed their agents to “kill 400 persons” deemed to be government “tyrant[s]” and to “annihilate” anyone involved with the “pacification” program. Several North Vietnamese officials have made statements about the effectiveness of Phoenix.
MAC-V SOG (Studies and Observations Group) (which was originally named the Special Operations Group, but was changed for cover purposes), was created and active during the Vietnam War. While CIA was just one part of MAC-V SOG, it did have operational control of some of the programs. Many of the military members of MAC-V SOG joined the CIA after their military service. The legacy of MAC-V SOG continues within SAD’s Special Operations Group.
Maritime activities against the USSR
In 1973, SAD/SOG and the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology built and deployed the USNS Glomar Explorer (T-AG-193), a large deep-sea salvage ship, on a secret operation. This operation was called Project Azorian (erroneously called Project Jennifer by the press). Her mission was to recover a sunken Sovietsubmarine, K-129, which had been lost in April 1968. A mechanical failure caused two-thirds of the submarine to break off during recovery, but SAD recovered two nuclear-tipped torpedoes, cryptographic machines and the bodies of six Soviet submariners. An alternative theory claims that all of K-129 was recovered and that the official account was an “elaborate cover-up”.
In 1979, the U.S.-backed Anastasio Somoza Debayle dictatorship in Nicaragua fell to the socialist Sandinistas. Once in power, the Sandinistas disbanded theNicaraguan National Guard, who had committed many human rights abuses, and arrested and executed some of its members. Other former National Guard members helped to form the backbone of the Nicaraguan Counterrevolution or Contra. SAD/SOG paramilitary teams were deployed to train and lead these forces against the Sandinista government. These paramilitary activities were based in Honduras and Costa Rica. Direct military aid by the United States was eventually forbidden by the Boland Amendment of the Defense Appropriations Act of 1983. The Boland Amendment was extended in October 1984 to forbid action by not only the Defense Department, but also to include the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Boland Amendment was a compromise because the U.S. Democratic Party did not have enough votes for a comprehensive ban on military aid. It covered only appropriated funds spent by intelligence agencies. Some of Reagan’s national security officials used non-appropriated money of the National Security Council (NSC) to circumvent the Amendment. NSC officials sought to arrange funding by third parties. These efforts resulted in the Iran-Contra Affair of 1987, which concerned Contra funding through the proceeds of arms sales to the Islamic Republic of Iran. No court ever made a determination whether Boland covered the NSC and on the grounds that it was a prohibition rather than a criminal statute, no one was indicted for violating it. Congress later resumed aid to the Contras, totaling over $300 million. The Contra war ended when the Sandinistas were voted out of power by a war-weary populace in 1990.Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega was re-elected as President of Nicaragua in 2006 and took office again on January 10, 2007.
CIA personnel were also involved in the Salvadoran civil war. Some allege that the techniques used to interrogate prisoners in El Salvador foreshadowed those later used in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, when a similar counter-insurgency program was proposed in Iraq, it was referred to as “the Salvador Option”.
Location of Somalia
SAD sent in teams of Paramilitary Operations Officers into Somalia prior to the U.S. intervention in 1992. On December 23, 1992, Paramilitary Officer Larry Freedman became the first casualty of the conflict in Somalia. Freedman was a former ArmyDelta Force operator who had served in every conflict that the U.S. was involved in, both officially and unofficially, since Vietnam. Freedman was killed while conducting special reconnaissance in advance of the entry of U.S. military forces. His mission was completely voluntary, as it required entry into a very hostile area without any support. Freedman was awarded the Intelligence Star on January 5, 1993 for his “extraordinary heroism”.
SAD/SOG teams were key in working with JSOC and tracking high value targets (HVT), known as “Tier One Personalities”. Their efforts, working under extremely dangerous conditions with little to no support, led to several very successful joint JSOC/CIA operations. In one specific operation, a CIA case officer, Michael Shanklin and codenamed “Condor”, working with a CIA Technical Operations Officer from the Directorate of Science and Technology, managed to get a cane with a beacon in it to Osman Ato, a wealthy businessman, arms importer, and Mohammed Aideed, a money man whose name was right below Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s on the Tier One list.
Once Condor confirmed that Ato was in a vehicle, JSOC‘s Delta Force launched a capture operation.
a Little Bird helicopter dropped out of the sky and a sniper leaned out and fired three shots into the car’s engine block. The car ground to a halt as commandos roped down from hovering Blackhawks [sic], surrounded the car and handcuffed Ato. It was the first known helicopter takedown of suspects in a moving car. The next time Jones saw the magic cane, an hour later, Garrison had it in his hand. “I like this cane,” Jones remembers the general exclaiming, a big grin on his face. “Let’s use this again.” Finally, a tier one personality was in custody.
President Bill Clinton withdrew U.S. forces on May 4, 1994.
In June 2006, the Islamic Courts Union seized control of southern Somalia, including the country’s capital Mogadishu, prompting the Ethiopian government to send in troops to try to protect the transitional government. In December, the Islamic Courts warned Ethiopia they would declare war if Ethiopia did not remove all its troops from Somalia. Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, leader of the Islamic Courts, called for a jihad, or holy war, against Ethiopia and encouraged foreign Muslim fighters to come to Somalia. At that time, the United States accused the group of being controlled by al-Qaeda, but the Islamic Courts denied that charge.
In 2009, PBS reported that al-Qaeda had been training terrorists in Somalia for years. Until December 2006, Somalia’s government had no power outside of the town of Baidoa, 150 miles (240 km) from the capital. The countryside and the capital were run by warlords and militia groups who could be paid to protect terrorist groups.
CIA officers kept close tabs on the country and paid a group of Somali warlords to help hunt down members of al-Qaeda according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, issued a message calling for all Muslims to go to Somalia.On January 9, 2007, a U.S. official said that ten militants were killed in one airstrike.
On September 14, 2009, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a senior al-Qaeda leader in East Africa as well as a senior leader in Shabaab, al Qaeda’s surrogate in Somalia, was killed by elements of U.S. Special Operations. According to a witness, at least two AH-6 Little Bird attack helicopters strafed a two-car convoy. Navy SEALs then seized the body of Nabhan and took two other wounded fighters captive. JSOC and the CIA had been trying to kill Nabhan for some time including back in January 2007, when an AC-130 Gunship was called in on one attempt. A U.S. intelligence source stated that CIA paramilitary teams are directly embedded with Ethiopian forces in Somalia, allowing for the tactical intelligence to launch these operations. Nabhan was wanted for his involvement in the 1998 United States embassy bombings, as well as leading the cell behind the 2002 Mombasa attacks.
From 2010 to 2013, the CIA set up the Somalia National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) by providing training, funding and diplomatic access. In the same time period, the EU and UN has spent millions of dollars for the military training of the Somali National Army (SNA). NISA is considered a professional Somali security force that can be relied upon to neutralize the terrorist threat. This force responded to the complex al-Shabaab attack on the Banadir Regional Courthouse in Mogadishu which killed 25 civilians. NISA’s response however saved 100s and resulted in the death of all the al-Shabaab guerrillas involved.
Significant events during this timeframe included the targeted drone strikes against British al-Qaida operative Bilal el-Berjawi  and Moroccan al-Qaida operative Abu Ibrahim. It also included the rescue of U.S. citizen Jessica Buchanan by U.S. Navy SEALs. All likely aided by intelligence collection efforts in Somalia.
Hamid Karzai with Special Forces and CIA Paramilitary in late 2001.
During the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Paramilitary Operations Officers were instrumental in equippingMujaheddin forces against the Soviet Army. Although the CIA in general, and a Texas congressman named Charlie Wilson in particular, have received most of the attention, the key architect of this strategy was Michael G. Vickers. Vickers was a young Paramilitary Operations Officer from SAD/SOG. The CIA’s efforts have been given credit for assisting in ending the Sovietinvolvement in Afghanistan and bringing Taliban to power.
SAD paramilitary teams were active in Afghanistan in the 1990s in clandestine operations to locate and kill or capture Osama Bin Laden. These teams planned several operations, but did not receive the order to execute from President Bill Clintonbecause the available intelligence did not guarantee a successful outcome weighed against the extraordinary risk to the SAD/SOG teams that would execute the mission. These efforts did however build many of the relationships that would prove essential in the 2001 U.S. Invasion of Afghanistan.
On September 26, 2001, members of the Special Activities Division, led by Gary Schroen, were the first U.S. forces inserted into Afghanistan. The Northern Afghanistan Liaison Team entered the country nine days after the 9/11 attack and linked up with the Northern Alliance as part of Task Force Dagger.
They provided the Northern Alliance with resources including cash to buy weapons and prepared for the arrival of USSOCOM forces. The plan for the invasion of Afghanistan was developed by the CIA, the first time in United States history that such a large-scale military operation was planned by the CIA. SAD, U.S. Army Special Forces, and the Northern Alliance combined to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan with minimal loss of U.S. lives. They did this without the use of conventional U.S. military ground forces.
What made the Afghan campaign a landmark in the U.S. Military’s history is that it was prosecuted by Special Operations forces from all the services, along with Navy and Air Force tactical power, operations by the Afghan Northern Alliance and the CIA were equally important and fully integrated. No large Army or Marine force was employed”.
The valor exhibited by Afghan and American soldiers, fighting to free Afghanistan from a horribly cruel regime, will inspire even the most jaded reader. The stunning victory of the horse soldiers – 350 Special Forces soldiers, 100 C.I.A. officers and 15,000 Northern Alliance fighters routing a Taliban army 50,000 strong – deserves a hallowed place in American military history”.
Small and highly agile paramilitary mobile teams spread out over the countryside to meet with locals and gather information about the Taliban and al-Qa’ida. During that time, one of the teams was approached in a village and asked by a young man for help in retrieving his teenage sister. He explained that a senior Taliban official had taken her as a wife and had sharply restricted the time she could spend with her family. The team gave the man a small hand-held tracking device to pass along to his sister, with instructions for her to activate it when the Taliban leader returned home. The team responded to her emergency signal, capturing the senior Taliban official and rescuing the sister. The siblings’ tearful reunion left the team at a loss for words—a rarity for the normally loud warriors of CIA’s Special Activities Division.
In December 2001, SAD/SOG and the Army’s Delta Force tracked down Osama bin Laden in the rugged mountains near the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan.Former CIA station chief Gary Berntsen as well as a subsequent Senate investigation claimed that the combined American special operations task force was largely outnumbered by al-Qaeda forces and that they were denied additional US troops by higher command. The task force also requested munitions to block the avenues of egress of bin Laden, but that request was also denied. The team allegedly uncovered evidence in the subsequent site exploration that bin Laden’s ultimate aim was to obtain and detonate a nuclear device in a terrorist attack. According to other press reports, SAD were ineffectual and “Bin Laden and bodyguards walked uncontested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan’s unregulated tribal area.”
In September 2009, the CIA planned on “deploying teams of spies, analysts and paramilitary operatives to Afghanistan, part of a broad intelligence ‘surge’ ordered by President Obama. This will make its station there among the largest in the agency’s history.” This presence is expected to surpass the size of the stations in Iraq and Vietnam at the height of those wars. The station is located at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and is led “by a veteran with an extensive background in paramilitary operations”. The majority of the CIA’s workforce is located among secret bases and military special operations posts throughout the country.
Also in 2009, General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, planned to request an increase in teams of CIA operatives, including their elite paramilitary officers, to join with U.S. military special operations forces. This combination worked well in Iraq and is largely credited with the success of that surge. There have been basically three options described in the media: McChrystal’s increased counterinsurgency campaign; a counter-terror campaign using special operations raids and drone strikes; and withdrawal. The most successful combination in both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been the linking up of SAD and military special forces to fight alongside highly trained indigenous units. One thing all of these options have in common is a requirement for greater CIA participation.
The End Game
According to the current and former intelligence officials, General McChrystal also had his own preferred candidate for the Chief of Station (COS) job, a good friend and decorated CIA paramilitary officer. The officer had extensive experience in war zones, including two previous tours in Afghanistan with one as the Chief of Station, as well as tours in the Balkans, Baghdad and Yemen. He is well known in CIA lore as “the man who saved Hamid Karzai‘s life when the CIA led the effort to oust the Taliban from power in 2001″. President Karzai is said to be greatly indebted to this officer and was pleased when the officer was named chief of station again. According to interviews with several senior officials, this officer “was uniformly well-liked and admired. A career paramilitary officer, he came to the CIA after several years in an elite Marine unit”.
General McChrystal’s strategy included the lash up of special operations forces from the U.S. Military and from SAD/SOG to duplicate the initial success and the defeat of the Taliban in 2001 and the success of the “Surge” in Iraq in 2007. This strategy proved highly successful and worked very well in Afghanistan with SAD/SOG and JSOC forces conducting raids nearly every night having “superb results” against the enemy.
In 2001, the CIA’s SAD/SOG began creating what would come to be called Counter-terrorism Pursuit Teams (CTPT). These units grew to include over 3,000 operatives by 2010 and have been involved in sustained heavy fighting against the enemy. It is considered the “best Afghan fighting force”.
Located at 7,800 feet (2,400 m) above sea level, Firebase Lilley in Shkin serves as a “nerve center for the covert war”. This covert war includes being a hub for these CTPT operations with Firebase Lilley being just one in a constellation of CIA bases across Afghanistan. These units have not only been highly effective in combat operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, but have also been used to engage with the tribes in areas with no other official government presence.
This covert war also includes a large SOG/CTPT expansion into Pakistan to target senior al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA). CTPT units are the main effort in both the “Counterterrorism plus” and the full “Counterinsurgency” options being discussed by the Obama administration in the December 2010 review. SOG/CTPT are also key to any exit strategy for the U.S. government to leave Afghanistan, while still being able to deny al-Qaeda and other trans-national extremists groups a safehaven both in Afghanistan and in the FATA of Pakistan.
In January 2013, a CIA drone strike killed Mullah Nazir a senior Taliban commander in the South Waziristan area of Pakistan believed responsible for carrying out the insurgent effort against the US military in Afghanistan. Nazir’s death degraded the Taliban.
The U.S. has decided to lean heavily on CIA in general and SAD specifically in their efforts to withdraw from Afghanistan as it did in Iraq. There are plans being considered to have several US Military special operations elements assigned to CIA after the withdrawal.
On November 5, 2002, a missile launched from a CIA-controlled Predator drone killed al-Qaeda members traveling in a remote area in Yemen. SAD/SOG paramilitary teams had been on the ground tracking their movements for months and called in this air strike. One of those in the car was Ali Qaed Senyan al-Harthi, al-Qaeda’s chief operative in Yemen and a suspect in the October 2000 bombing of the destroyer USS Cole. Five other people, believed to be low-level al-Qaeda members, were also killed to include an American named Kamal Derwish. Former Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz called it “a very successful tactical operation” and said “such strikes are useful not only in killing terrorists but in forcing al-Qaeda to change its tactics”.
“It’s an important step that has been taken in that it has eliminated another level of experienced leadership from al-Qaeda,” said Vince Cannistraro, former head of counter-terrorism for the CIA and current ABC News consultant. “It will help weaken the organization and make it much less effective.” Harithi was on the run, pursued by several security forces who were looking for him and Muhammad Hamdi al-Ahdal, another suspect in the USS Cole bombing case.
In 2009, the Obama administration authorized continued lethal operations in Yemen by the CIA. As a result, the SAD/SOG and JSOC have joined together to aggressively target al-Qaeda operatives in that country, both through leading Yemenese special forces and intelligence driven drone strikes. A major target of these operations is ImamAnwar al-Aulaqi, an American citizen with ties to both Nidal Hassan, the alleged Fort Hood attacker, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas 2009 attempted bomber of Northwest Airline flight 253. Imam al-Aulaki was killed on September 30, 2011 by an air attack carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command.
SAD paramilitary teams entered Iraq before the 2003 invasion. Once on the ground they prepared the battle space for the subsequent arrival of U.S. military forces. SAD teams then combined with U.S. Army special forces (on a team called the Northern Iraq Liaison Element or NILE). This team organized the KurdishPeshmerga for the subsequent U.S. led invasion. This joint team combined in Operation Viking Hammer to defeat Ansar al-Islam, an Islamist group allied to al-Qaeda, which several battle-hardened fighters from Afghanistan had joined after the fall of the Taliban, in a battle for control over the northeast of Iraq – a battle that turned out being one of the “most intense battles of Special Forces since Vietnam”. This battle was for an entire territory that was completely occupied by Ansar al-Islam and was executed prior to the invasion in February 2003. If this battle had not been as successful as it was, there would have been a considerable hostile force in the rear of the U.S./secular Kurdish force in the subsequent assault on the Iraqi army to the south. The U.S. side was represented by paramilitary operations officers from SAD/SOG and the army’s 10th Special Forces Group (10th SFG). 10th SFG soldiers were awarded three Silver Stars and six Bronze Stars with V for valor for this battle alone  and several paramilitary officers were awarded the Intelligence Star for valor in combat. This battle was a significant direct attack and victory on a key U.S. opponent. It resulted in the deaths of a substantial number of militants and the uncovering of a crude laboratory that had traces of poisons and information on chemical weapons at Sargat. The team found foreign identity cards, visas, and passports on the enemy bodies. They had come from a wide variety of Middle Eastern and north African countries including Yemen, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Tunisia, Morocco, and Iran.Sargat was also the only facility that had traces of chemical weapons discovered in the Iraq war.
The village of Biyara and Base of Ansar al-Islam 2001–2003
In a 2004 U.S. News & World Report article, “A firefight in the mountains”, the author states:
“Viking Hammer would go down in the annals of Special Forces history—a battle fought on foot, under sustained fire from an enemy lodged in the mountains, and with minimal artillery and air support.”
SAD/SOG teams also conducted high risk special reconnaissance missions behind Iraqi lines to identify senior leadership targets. These missions led to the initial assassination attempts against Iraqi PresidentSaddam Hussein and his key generals. Although the initial air strike against Hussein was unsuccessful in killing the dictator, it was successful in effectively ending his ability to command and control his forces. Other strikes against key generals were successful and significantly degraded the command’s ability to react to and maneuver against the U.S.-led invasion force. SAD operations officers were also successful in convincing key Iraqi army officers to surrender their units once the fighting started and/or not to oppose the invasion force.
NATO member Turkey refused to allow its territory to be used by the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division for the invasion. As a result, the SAD/SOG, U.S. Army special forces joint teams, the Kurdish Peshmerga and the 173d Airborne Brigade were the entire northern force against the Iraqi army during the invasion. Their efforts kept the 13 divisions of the Iraqi Army in place to defend against the Kurds rather allowing them to contest the coalition force coming from the south. This combined U.S. special operations and Kurdish force defeated the Iraqi Army. Four members of the SAD/SOG team received CIA’s rare Intelligence Star for “extraordinary heroism”.
The mission that captured Saddam Hussein was called “Operation Red Dawn“. It was planned and carried out by JSOC’s Delta Force and SAD/SOG teams (together called Task Force 121). The operation eventually included around 600 soldiers from the 1st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division. Special operations troops probably numbered around 40. Much of the publicity and credit for the capture went to the 4th Infantry Division soldiers, but CIA and JSOC were the driving force. “Task Force 121 were actually the ones who pulled Saddam out of the hole” said Robert Andrews, former deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict. “They can’t be denied a role anymore.”
CIA paramilitary units continued to team up with the JSOC in Iraq and in 2007 the combination created a lethal force many credit with having a major impact in the success of “the Surge“. They did this by killing or capturing many of the key al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq. In a CBS60 Minutes interview, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward described a new special operations capability that allowed for this success. This capability was developed by the joint teams of CIA and JSOC. Several senior U.S. officials stated that the “joint efforts of JSOC and CIA paramilitary units was the most significant contributor to the defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq”.
In May 2007, Marine Major Douglas A. Zembiec was serving in SAD Ground Branch in Iraq when he was killed by small arms fire while leading a raid.Reports from fellow paramilitary officers stated that the flash radio report sent was “five wounded and one martyred” Major Zembiec was killed while saving his soldiers, Iraqi soldiers. He was honored with an intelligence star for his valor in combat.
On October 26, 2008, SAD/SOG and JSOC conducted an operation in Syria targeting the “foreign fighter logistics network” bringing al-Qaeda operatives into Iraq (See 2008 Abu Kamal raid). A U.S. source told CBS News that “the leader of the foreign fighters, an al-Qaeda officer, was the target of Sunday’s cross-border raid.” He said the attack was successful, but did not say whether or not the al-Qaeda officer was killed.Fox News later reported that Abu Ghadiya, “al-Qa’ida’s senior coordinator operating in Syria”, was killed in the attack.The New York Times reported that during the raid U.S. forces killed several armed males who “posed a threat”.
In September 2014 with the rise of the Islamic State, the U.S. government began aggressive military operations against them in both Iraq and Syria. SAD Ground Branch was placed in charge of the ground war. This is a testament to SAD being the preeminent force for unconventional warfare and their long-standing relationship with the most effective fighting force in the region, the Kurdish Peshmerga.
SAD/SOG has been very active “on the ground” inside Pakistan targeting al-Qaeda operatives for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Predator strikes and along with USSOCOM elements they have been training Pakistani Special Service Group Commandos. Before leaving office, President George W. Bush authorized SAD’s successful killing of eight senior al-Qaeda operatives via targeted air strikes. Among those killed were the mastermind of a 2006 plot to detonate explosives aboard planes flying across the Atlantic Rashid Rauf and the man thought to have planned the Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing on September 20, 2008 that killed 53 people. The CIA Director authorized the continuation of these operations and on January 23, SAD/SOG performed killings of 20 individuals in northwestern Pakistan that were terrorists. Some experts assess that the CIA Director – at that time Leon Panetta – has been more aggressive in conducting paramilitary operations in Pakistan than his predecessor. A Pakistani security official stated that other strikes killed at least 10 insurgents, including five foreign nationals and possibly “a high-value target” such as a senior al-Qaeda or Taliban official. On February 14, the CIA drone killed 27 taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in a missile strike in south Waziristan, a militant stronghold near the Afghan border where al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri were believed to be hiding.
In a National Public Radio (NPR) report dated February 3, 2008, a senior official stated that al-Qaeda has been “decimated” by SAD/SOG’s air and ground operations. This senior U.S. counter-terrorism official goes on to say, “The enemy is really, really struggling. These attacks have produced the broadest, deepest and most rapid reduction in al-Qaida senior leadership that we’ve seen in several years.” President Obama’s CIA Director Leon Panetta stated that SAD/SOG’s efforts in Pakistan have been “the most effective weapon” against senior al-Qaeda leadership.
These covert attacks have increased significantly under President Obama, with as many at 50 al-Qaeda militants being killed in the month of May 2009 alone. In June 2009, sixty Taliban fighters were killed while at a funeral to bury fighters that had been killed in previous CIA attacks. On July 22, 2009, National Public Radio reported that U.S. officials believeSaad bin Laden, a son of Osama bin Laden, was killed by a CIA strike in Pakistan. Saad bin Laden spent years under house arrest in Iran before traveling last year to Pakistan, according to former National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell. It’s believed he was killed sometime in 2009. A senior U.S. counter-terrorism said U.S. intelligence agencies are “80 to 85 percent” certain that Saad bin Laden is dead.
On August 6, 2009, the CIA announced that Baitullah Mehsud was killed by a SAD/SOG drone strike in Pakistan.The New York Times said, “Although President Obama has distanced himself from many of the Bush administration’s counter-terrorism policies, he has embraced and even expanded the C.I.A.’s covert campaign in Pakistan using Predator and Reaper drones”. The biggest loss may be to “Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida”. For the past eight years, al-Qaeda had depended on Mehsud for protection after Mullah Mohammed Omar fled Afghanistan in late 2001. “Mehsud’s death means the tent sheltering Al Qaeda has collapsed,” an Afghan Taliban intelligence officer who had met Mehsud many times told Newsweek. “Without a doubt he was Al Qaeda’s No. 1 guy in Pakistan,” adds Mahmood Shah, a retired Pakistani Army brigadier and a former chief of the Federally Administered Tribal Area, or FATA, Mehsud’s base.
Airstrikes from CIA drones struck targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan on September 8, 2009. Reports stated that seven to ten militants were killed to include one top al-Qaida leaders. He was Mustafa al-Jaziri, an Algerian national described as an “important and effective” leader and senior military commander for al-Qaida. The success of these operations are believed to have caused senior Taliban leaders to significantly alter their operations and cancel key planning meetings.
The CIA is also increasing its campaign using Predator missile strikes on al-Qaeda in Pakistan. The number of strikes in 2009 exceeded the 2008 total, according to data compiled by the Long War Journal, which tracks strikes in Pakistan. In December 2009, the New York Times reported that President Obama ordered an expansion of the drone program with senior officials describing the program as “a resounding success, eliminating key terrorists and throwing their operations into disarray”. The article also cites a Pakistani official who stated that about 80 missile attacks in less than two years have killed “more than 400” enemy fighters, a number lower than most estimates but in the same range. His account of collateral damage was strikingly lower than many unofficial counts: “We believe the number of civilian casualties is just over 20, and those were people who were either at the side of major terrorists or were at facilities used by terrorists.”
On December 6, 2009, a senior al-Qaeda operative, Saleh al-Somali, was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan. He was responsible for their operations outside of the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and formed part of the senior leadership. Al-Somali was engaged in plotting terrorist acts around the world and “given his central role, this probably included plotting attacks against the United States and Europe”. On December 31, 2009, senior Taliban leader and strong Haqqani ally Haji Omar Khan, brother of Arif Khan, was killed in the strike along with the son of local tribal leader Karim Khan.
In January 2010, al-Qaeda in Pakistan announced that Lashkar al-Zil leader Abdullah Said al Libi was killed in a drone missile strike. Neither al-Qaeda nor the US has revealed the date of the attack that killed Libi. On January 14, 2010, subsequent to the suicide attack at Camp Chapman, the CIA located and killed the senior Taliban leader in Pakistan, Hakimullah Mehsud. Mehsud had claimed responsibility in a video he made with the suicide bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi.
On February 5, 2010, the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and CIA’s SAD/SOG conducted a joint raid and apprehended Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Baradar was the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the beginning of the Afghan War more than eight years ago until that date. He ranked second to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder and was known to be a close associate of Osama bin Laden. Mullah Baradar was interrogated by CIA and ISI officers for several days before news of his capture was released. This capture sent the message that the Taliban leadership is not safe in Afghanistan or Pakistan. “The seizure of the Afghan Taliban’s top military leader in Pakistan represents a turning point in the U.S.-led war against the militants”, U.S. officials and analysts said. Per Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, several raids in Karachi in early February netted dozens of suspected Afghan militants. In other joint raids that occurred around the same time, Afghan officials said that the Taliban “shadow governorsP for two provinces in northern Afghanistan had also been detained. Mullah Abdul Salam, the Taliban’s leader in Kunduz, and Mullah Mir Mohammed of Baghlan were captured in Akora Khattack.
On February 20, Muhammad Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, was one of four people killed in the drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal region in North Waziristan, according to two Pakistani intelligence sources.
On May 31, 2010, the New York Times reported that Mustafa Abu al Yazid (AKA Saeed al Masri), a senior operational leader for Al Qaeda, was killed in an American missile strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
From July to December 2010, predator strikes killed 535 suspected militants in the FATA to include Sheikh Fateh Al Misri, Al-Qaeda’s new third in command on September 25. Al Misri was planning a major terrorist attack in Europe by recruiting British Muslims who would then go on a shooting rampage similar to what transpired in Mumbai in November 2008.
The operation in the Bilal military cantonment area in the city of Abbottabad resulted in the acquisition of extensive intelligence on the future attack plans of al-Qaeda. The body of bin Laden was flown to Afghanistan to be identified and then out to the USS Carl Vinson for a burial at sea. DNA from bin Laden’s body, compared with DNA samples on record from his dead sister, confirmed his identity.
The operation was a result of years of intelligence work that included the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the CIA, the DSS, and the Delta Force‘s, apprehension and interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammad (KSM), the discovery of the real name of the courier disclosed by KSM, the tracking, via signal intelligence, of the courier to the Abbottobad compound by paramilitary operatives and the establishment of a CIA safe house that provided critical advance intelligence for the operation.
The material discovered in the raid indicated that bin Laden was still in charge of his Al-Qaeda organization and was developing plans and issuing orders at the time of his death. There is considerable controversy over claims that elements of the Pakistani government, particularly the ISI, may have been concealing the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Bin Laden’s death has been labeled a “game changer” and a fatal blow to Al-Qaeda, by senior U.S. officials.
On March 9, 2007 alleged CIA Agent Robert Levinson was kidnapped from Iran’s Kish Island. On July 7, 2008, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist and author Seymour Hersh wrote an article in the New Yorker stating that the Bush Administration had signed a Presidential Finding authorizing the CIA to begin cross border paramilitary operations from Iraq and Afghanistan into Iran. These operations would be against Quds Force, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, public and private sector strategic targets, and “high-value targets” in the war on terror. Also enrolled to support CIA objectives were the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, known in the West as the M.E.K.,and the Baluchis insurgents. “The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” Any significant effort against Iran by the Obama Administration would likely come directly from SAD. and in July 2010, Director Panetta chose a former chief of SAD as the new NCS Director.
After the Arab Spring movements overthrew the rulers of Tunisia and Egypt, its neighbours to the west and east respectively, Libya had a major revolt beginning in February 2011. In response, the Obama administration sent in SAD paramilitary operatives to assess the situation and gather information on the opposition forces. Experts speculated that these teams could be determining the capability of these forces to defeat the Muammar Gaddafi regime and whether Al-Qaeda had a presence in these rebel elements.
U.S. officials had made it clear that no U.S. troops would be “on the ground”, making the use of covert paramilitary operatives the only alternative. During the early phases of the Libyan offensive of U.S. led air strikes, paramilitary operatives assisted in the recovery of a U.S. Air Force pilot who had crashed due to mechanical problems. There was speculation that President Obama issued a covert action finding in March 2011 that authorizes the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and support to the Libyan opposition.
CIA paramilitary teams have been deployed to Syria to report on the uprising, to access the rebel groups, leadership and to potentially train, equip and lead one of those rebel groups against the Bashar al-Assad regime. In early September 2013, President Obama told U.S. Senators that the CIA had trained the first 50-man insurgent element and that they had been inserted into Syria. The deployment of this unit and the supplying of weapons may be the first tangible measure of support since the U.S. stated they would begin providing assistance to the opposition.
In October 2013, SAD was tasked with overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. This program was considered too limited to have the desired outcome. However, with the rise of the Islamic State, SAD was given the overall command and control of the ground fight against them. This fight will cross the borders between Iraq and Syria.
The CIA has always had a Special Activities Division, which secretly carries out special operations mission. However, since September 11, 2001 the US government has relied much more on SAD/SOG because fighting terrorists does not usually involve fighting other armies. Rather, it involves secretly moving in and out of countries like Pakistan, Iran and Somaliawhere the American military is not legally allowed to operate.
If there are missions in these countries that are denied to U.S. military special operations forces, SAD/SOG units are the primary national special missions units to execute those operations.
In 2002, the George W. Bush Administration prepared a list of “terrorist leaders” the CIA is authorized to kill in a targeted killing, if capture is impractical and civilian casualties can be kept to an acceptable number. The list includes key al Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden (deceased) and his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as other principal figures from al Qaeda and affiliated groups. This list is called the “high value target list”. The U.S. president is not legally required to approve each name added to the list, nor is the CIA required to obtain presidential approval for specific attacks, although the president is kept well informed about operations.
SAD/SOG teams have been dispatched to the country of Georgia, where dozens of al Qaeda fugitives from Afghanistan are believed to have taken refuge withChechen separatists and thousands of refugees in the Pankisi Gorge. Their efforts have already resulted in 15 Arab militants linked to al Qaeda being captured.
The SAD/SOG teams have also been active in the Philippines, where 1,200 U.S. military advisers helped to train local soldiers in “counter-terrorist operations” against Abu Sayyaf, a radical Islamist group suspected of ties with al Qaeda. Little is known about this U.S. covert action program, but some analysts believe that “the CIA’s paramilitary wing, the Special Activities Division (SAD), has been allowed to pursue terrorist suspects in the Philippines on the basis that its actions will never be acknowledged”.
On July 14, 2009, several newspapers reported that DCIA Leon Panetta was briefed on a CIA program that had not been briefed to the oversight committees in Congress. Panetta cancelled the initiative and reported its existence to Congress and the President. The program consisted of teams of SAD paramilitary officers organized to execute targeted killing operations against al Qaeda operatives around the world in any country. According to the Los Angeles Times, DCIA Panetta “has not ruled out reviving the program”. There is some question as to whether former Vice President Dick Cheney instructed the CIA not to inform Congress.Per senior intelligence officers, this program was an attempt to avoid the civilian casualties that can occur during predator drone strikes using Hellfire missiles.
According to many experts, the Obama administration has relied on the CIA and their paramilitary capabilities, even more than they have on U.S. military forces, to maintain the fight against terrorists in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region, as well as places like Yemen, Somalia and North Africa. Ronald Kessler states in his book The CIA at War: Inside the Secret War Against Terror, that although paramilitary operations are a strain on resources, they’re winning the war against terrorism.
SAD/SOG paramilitary officers executed the clandestine evacuation of U.S. citizens and diplomatic personnel in Somalia, Iraq (during the Persian Gulf War) andLiberia during periods of hostility, as well as the insertion of Paramilitary Operations Officers prior to the entry of U.S. military forces in every conflict since World War II. SAD officers have operated covertly since 1947 in places such as North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Libya, Iraq, El Salvador,Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Fulton surface-to-air recovery system (STARS) is a system developed in the early 1950s by CIA paramilitary officers for retrieving persons on the ground from a MC-130E Combat Talon I aircraft. It uses a harness and a self-inflating balloon that carries an attached lift line. An MC-130E engages the line with its V-shaped yoke and the individual is reeled on board.Project COLDFEET was a very successful mission in 1962 in which two military officers parachuted into a remote abandoned Soviet site in the Arctic. The two were subsequently extracted by the Fulton sky hook. The team gathered evidence of advanced research on acoustical systems to detect under-ice US submarines and efforts to develop Arctic anti-submarine warfare techniques.
Sergeant Major (SgtMaj) Billy Waugh was a Special Forces soldier attached to CIA in the 1960s. During his time at MACV-SOG in Vietnam, he developed and conducted the first combat High Altitude-Low Opening (HALO) jump, “In October 1970, my team made a practice Combat Infiltration into the NVA owned War Zone D, in South Vietnam, for reassembly training, etc. This was the first one in a combat zone.” HALO is a method of delivering personnel, equipment, and supplies from a transport aircraft at a high altitude via free-fall parachute insertion. HALO andHAHO (High Altitude-High Opening) are also known as Military Free Fall (MFF). In the HALO technique, the parachutist opens his parachute at a low altitude after free-falling for a period of time to avoid detection by the enemy. Waugh also led the last combat special reconnaissance parachute insertion into enemy territory occupied by communist North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops on June 22, 1971.
On October 25, 2003, paramilitary officers Christopher Mueller and William “Chief” Carlson were killed while conducting an operation to kill/capture high level al-Qa’ida leaders near Shkin, Afghanistan. Both these officers were honored with Stars on the CIA Memorial Wall at their Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. “The bravery of these two men cannot be overstated,” Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet told a gathering of several hundred Agency employees and family members. “Chris and Chief put the lives of others ahead of their own. That is heroism defined.” Mueller, a former US Navy SEAL and Carlson, a former Army Special Forces soldier, Delta Force operator, and member of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, died while on this covert operation. Both officers saved the lives of others, including Afghan soldiers, during the engagement with al-Qa’ida forces. In Oliver North’s book American Heroes in Special Operations, a chapter is devoted to their story.
Notable political action officers
Virginia Hall Goillot started as the only female paramilitary officer in the OSS. She shot herself in the leg while hunting in Turkey in 1932, which was then amputated below the knee. She parachuted into France to organize the resistance with her prosthesis strapped to her body. She was awarded theDistinguished Service Cross. She married an OSS officer named Paul Goillot and the two joined the CIA as paramilitary operations officers in SAD. Once aboard, Mrs. Goillot made her mark as a political action officer playing significant roles in the Guatemala and Guyana operations. These operations involved the covert removal of the governments of these two countries, as directed by the President of the United States.
E. Howard Hunt (October 9, 1918 – January 23, 2007) was an Ivy league educated Naval officer who joined the CIA in 1949 after serving with the OSS in World War II. Hunt was a political action officer in what came to be called their Special Activities Division. He became station chief in Mexico City in 1950, and supervised William F. Buckley, Jr., (Not to be confused with a famous SAD Paramilitary Officer of the same name) who worked for the CIA in Mexico during the period 1951–1952. Buckley, another SAD political action specialist, only served briefly in the CIA and went on to be considered the father of the modern American conservative movement. Buckley and Hunt remained lifelong friends. Hunt ran Operation PBSUCCESS, which overthrew the government in Guatemala in 1954, was heavily involved in theBay of Pigs Invasion operation, frequently mentioned in the JFK assassination, and was one of the operatives in the Watergate scandal.Hunt was also a well-known author with over 50 books to his credit. These books were published under several alias names and several were made into motion pictures.
David Atlee Phillips Perhaps the most famous propaganda officer ever to serve in CIA, Phillips began his career as a journalist and amateur actor in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He joined the Agency in the 1950s and was one of the chief architects of the operation to overthrow Communist president Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. He was later heavily engaged as a principal member of the Bay of Pigs Task Force at Langley, and in subsequent anti-Castro operations throughout the 1960s. He founded the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) after successfully contesting a libel suit against him.
The CIA Memorial Wall is located at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It honors CIA employees who died in the line of duty. As of August 6, 2012, there were 103 stars carved into the marble wall, each one representing an officer. A majority of these were paramilitary officers. A black book, called the “Book of Honor”, lies beneath the stars and is encased in an inch-thick plate of glass. Inside this book are stars, arranged by year of death, and the names of 77 employees who died in CIA service alongside them. The other names remain secret, even in death.
For the United States, Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution says “Congress shall have power to … declare War”. However, that passage provides no specific format for what form legislation must have in order to be considered a “declaration of war” nor does the Constitution itself use this term. Many[who?] have postulated “Declaration(s) of War” must contain that phrase as or within the title. Others oppose that reasoning. In the courts, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in Doe v. Bush, said: “[T]he text of the October Resolution itself spells out justifications for a war and frames itself as an ‘authorization’ of such a war.” in effect saying an authorization suffices for declaration and what some may view as a formal Congressional “Declaration of War” was not required by the Constitution.
This article will use the term “formal declaration of war” to mean Congressional legislation that uses the phrase “declaration of war” in the title. Elsewhere, this article will use the terms “authorized by Congress”, “funded by Congress” or “undeclared war” to describe other such conflicts.
The United States has formally declared war against foreign nations five separate times, each upon prior request by the President of the United States. Four of those five declarations came after hostilities had begun. James Madison reported that in the Federal Convention of 1787, the phrase “make war” was changed to “declare war” in order to leave to the Executive the power to repel sudden attacks but not to commence war without the explicit approval of Congress. Debate continues as to the legal extent of the President’s authority in this regard.
After Congress repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in January 1971 and President Richard Nixon continued to wage war in Vietnam, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution (Pub.L. 93–148) over the veto of Nixon in an attempt to rein in some of the president’s claimed powers. The War Powers Resolution proscribes the only power of the president to wage war which is recognized by Congress.
Declarations of war
The table below lists the five wars in which the United States has formally declared war against eleven foreign nations. The only country against which the United States has declared war more than once is Germany, against which the United States has declared war twice (though a case could be made for Hungary as asuccessor state to Austria-Hungary).
Force withdrawn after six months. However, the Joint Resolution was likely used to authorize the Pancho Villa Expedition. In the Senate, “when word reached the Senate that the invasion had gone forward before the use-of-force resolution had been approved, Republicans reacted angrily” saying it was a violation of the Constitution, but eventually after the action had already started, a resolution was passed after the action to “justify” it since Senators did not think it was a declaration of war.
On at least 125 occasions, the President has acted without prior express military authorization from Congress. These include instances in which the United States fought in the Philippine–American War from 1898–1903, in Nicaragua in 1927, as well as the NATO bombing campaign of Yugoslavia in 1999.
The United States’ longest war was fought between approximately 1840 and 1886 against the Apache Nation. During that entire 46-year period, there was never more than 90 days of peace.
The Indian Wars comprise at least 28 conflicts and engagements. These localized conflicts, with Native Americans, began with European colonists coming to North America, long before the establishment of the United States. For the purpose of this discussion, the Indian Wars are defined as conflicts with the United States of America. They begin as one front in the American Revolutionary War in 1775 and had concluded by 1918. The United States Army still maintains a campaign streamer for Pine Ridge 1890–1891 despite opposition from certain Native American groups.
The American Civil War was not an international conflict under the laws of war, because the Confederate States of America was not a government that had been granted full diplomatic recognition as a sovereign nation by other sovereign states. The CSA was recognized by the United States government as a belligerent power, a different status of recognition that authorized Confederate warships to visit non-U.S. ports. This recognition of the CSA’s status as a belligerent power did not impose any duty upon the United States to recognize the sovereignty of the Confederacy, and the United States never did so.
The War Powers Resolution
In 1973, following the withdrawal of most American troops from the Vietnam War, a debate emerged about the extent of presidential power in deploying troops without a declaration of war. A compromise in the debate was reached with the War Powers Resolution. This act clearly defined how many soldiers could be deployed by the President of the United States and for how long. It also required formal reports by the President to Congress regarding the status of such deployments, and limited the total amount of time that American forces could be deployed without a formal declaration of war.
Although the constitutionality of the act has never been tested, it is usually followed, most notably during the Grenada Conflict, the Panamanian Conflict, the Somalia Conflict, the Persian Gulf War, and the Iraq War[clarification needed]. The only exception was President Clinton’s use of U.S. troops in the 78-day NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. In all other cases, the President asserted the constitutional authority to commit troops without the necessity of Congressional approval, but in each case the President received Congressional authorization that satisfied the provisions of the War Powers Act.
On March 21, 2011, a number of lawmakers expressed concern that the decision of President Barack Obama to order the U.S. military to join in attacks of Libyan air defenses and government forces exceeded his constitutional authority because the decision to authorize the attack was made without Congressional permission.
Jump up^Whereas the Government of Germany has formally declared war against the government and the people of the United States of America… the state of war between the United States and the Government of Germany which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared. The War Resolution
SOG considered the most secretive special operations force in America
The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency‘s (CIA) National Clandestine Service (NCS) responsible for covert operations known as “special activities”. Within SAD there are two groups, one for tactical paramilitary operations and another for covert political action.
The “Political Action Group” within SAD is in charge of “covert activities” related to political influence, psychological, economic and cyber warfare A large CIA covert operation usually has components that involve many of these categories, as well as paramilitary operations.
Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations which include the gathering of intelligence information in hostile enemy countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be associated.
As such, members of the unit (called “Paramilitary Operations Officers” and “Specialized Skills Officers”) normally do not carry any objects, identification or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government (see article: Secret CIA Units Playing a Central Combat Role http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/CIA18.html).
If members are compromised or killed during a mission, the government of the United States may deny all knowledge (see Congressional Research Service report: Special Operations Forces (SOF) and CIA Paramilitary Operations: Issues for Congresshttp://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/intel/RS22017.pdf ).
The SOG is considered the most secretive special operations force in the United States.
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LAS VEGAS, NV – OCTOBER 13: (L-R) Democratic presidential candidates Jim Webb, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee take the stage for a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The five candidates are participating in the party’s first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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The real scandal surrounding Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s private email system may be that she was running, in concert with a private consulting firm tied closely to George Soros, an outsourced and parallel State Department answerable only to her and not President Obama, the Congress, or the American people.
Who Won The First Democratic Debate In Terms Of Body Language?
Carol Kinsey Goman
The major story of the first televised presidential debate in 1960 became the photogenic appeal of John F. Kennedy versus the sickly look of his opponent, Richard Nixon, who refused to wear makeup although his recent illness had left him with a pallid complexion. In addition, Kennedy looked directly at the camera when answering questions (rather that at the journalists who asked them), which made viewers see him as someone who was talking right to them and giving straight answers. To make matters worse, the cameras caught Nixon wiping perspiration from his forehead while Kennedy was pressing him on the issues.
When the debate ended, a large majority of television viewers recognized Kennedy as the winner. Radio listeners, who heard the debate but hadn’t seen it, gave the victory to Nixon.
Never again would politicians under estimate the importance of physical appearance and body language – especially when appearing on television. Today’s political figures are fully aware of, and heavily coached on, the impact of nonverbal communication.
And when it comes to nonverbal cues, everything matters: Gender, age, skin color, hair style, attractiveness, height, clothing, facial expressions, hand gestures, posture — audiences judge it all. Superficial? Maybe. But this potent (and often unconscious) process is also hardwired in the human brain.
There are two sets of nonverbal signals that are especially important for candidates to project: warmth and authority. Warmth cues project likeability and candor and authority cues denote power and status. The most appealing politicians (at least from a body language standpoint) are those whose behaviors encompass both sets of signals.
Which brings me to the first Democratic debate of the 2016 election cycle — and how I would grade the body language of the debaters.
Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state
How she did it: Clinton is often described, by both supporters and critics, as strong, tough, and aggressive. So it was no surprise to see those qualities exhibited in her body language through expansive gestures, erect posture, and well-prepared responses.
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But Clinton’s body language won the debate by doing more than displaying authority. She successfully “warmed up” her image, with smiles, head nods in agreement/support of other’s comments, and (at one point) even laughter.
Visually, being the only woman on stage was also to her advantage. The contrast between Clinton and the rest of the (white, male) candidates was visually striking – especially for someone who wants to show how she would be different from previous presidents.
Bernie Sanders, senator of Vermont
How he did it: Unlike Clinton, who (for better or worse) is a known national figure, Sanders needed to give the audience a clear picture of who he is and what he stands for – and he was very effective doing so last night. Sanders was animated and used gestures (like finger pointing and palms rotated down) to effectively emphasize his resolve – although at times, his movements were a bit jerky, instead of smooth. And for those who were wondering if a 74-year old could keep his energy high for two hours, the answer was a resounding “yes.”
Sanders nonverbal negatives include his leaning too often on the lectern (as if he needed physical support) and in his lack of warm cues. He is much more expressive when showing anger, disgust, and impatience – but rarely does he display joy or express optimism.
Martin O’Malley, former governor Maryland
How he did it: While he never had the “break through” moment his campaign was hoping for, nonverbally O’Malley had a significant nonverbal advantage: He looked fit and athletic – and he was the tallest person in the line up. Don’t discount the effect of these seemingly trivial facts. We are biased toward attractive, healthy people, and we unconsciously attribute leadership characteristics to tall people. (The effects of this are seen not only in politics, but in business. For example, in the U.S. population, 14.5% men are 6’ tall and over, but with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, that statistic climbs to 58%.) But his softer, slower communication style often lacked the energy and passion needed to support his rhetoric. And his deadpan, almost angry expression when other candidates were speaking was tweeted about as the “death stare” – not a good look for someone who is usually seen as upbeat and happy.
Jim Webb, former senator of Virginia
How he did it: Webb is known as being “gruff” and “stiff,” and both of those qualities were displayed nonverbally: Outside of a slight lean backward and a shoulder shrug now and then, he rarely moved his body – adding to his stoic image.
Lincoln Chaffee, former governor of Rhode Island
How he did it: Chafee’s body language was filled with nervous facial gestures (lip licking was especially prevalent) and conflicting nonverbal messages, the most noticeable being a smile with tightened or compressed lips that made the otherwise warm signal look forced and inauthentic.
The only missing contender in last night’s debate was Vice President Joe Biden, who hasn’t declared his intention to run. Too bad. He is passionate and expressive. He would have been interesting to watch.
EVIDENCE SHOWS CLINTON RAN A PARALLEL, OUTSOURCED STATE DEPT.
Clinton received help from George Soros to run shadow gov’t
The real scandal surrounding Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s private email system may be that she was running, in concert with a private consulting firm tied closely to George Soros, an outsourced and parallel State Department answerable only to her and not President Obama, the Congress, or the American people.
The media has tried to separate two dubious operations of Mrs. Clinton while she was at the State Department. The first is the private email server located in her Chappaqua, New York residence. The second is the fact that her government-paid State Department personal assistant, Huma Abedin, wife of disgraced New York “sexting” congressman Anthony Weiner, was simultaneously on the payroll of Teneo, a corporate intelligence firm that also hired former President Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as advisers. Abedin has been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, which has recently buried the hatchet with longtime rival Saudi Arabia and common cause against the Assad government in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Iran.
It is clear that Mrs. Clinton used her private email system to seek advice on major foreign policy issues, from her friend and paid Clinton Foundation adviser Sidney Blumenthal providing private intelligence on Libya’s post-Qaddafi government and possible business ventures to Clinton friend Lanny Davis seeking favors from Mrs. Clinton. It should be noted that Davis was a paid lobbyist for the military junta of Honduras that overthrew democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. It also should be noted that Mrs. Clinton voiced her personal dislike for the late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, when, after he was assassinated by U.S.-armed jihadist rebels, boasted, “We came, we saw, he died!”
It was highly unusual for Abedin to receive a U.S. government paycheck while also receiving a consultant’s salary from Teneo. Teneo was founded in 2011 by Doug Band, a former counselor to Bill Clinton. Teneo, which is as much a private intelligence firm as it is an investment company and “governance” consultancy, has its headquarters in New York and branches in Washington DC, Brussels, São Paulo, London, Dublin, Dubai, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Melbourne. With the exception of its investment arm, Teneo closely resembles the former CIA-connected firm where Barack Obama worked after he graduated from Columbia, Business International Corporation (BIC). Teneo’s marketing claims match those made by BIC during its heyday: Teneo works “exclusively with the CEOs and senior leaders of many of the world’s largest and most complex companies and organizations.”
Teneo has staked a position in the international news media with its recent purchase of the London-based firm Blue Rubicon, formed in part by the former home news editor for Channel 4 News in the United Kingdom. Teneo also recently acquired London’s Stockwell Group, which provides consultancy services to the National Bank of Greece and Pireaus Bank. It appears that Mrs. Clinton’s friends are cashing in on the global banking austerity being levied against Greece.
The head of Teneo Intelligence is Jim Shinn, a former assistant secretary for Asia for the Defense Department. What is troubling is that Teneo has been offering statements to the media designed to heighten tensions between NATO and Turkey on one side and Russia on the other over Russia’s military attacks on the Islamic State in Syria. Shinn’s intelligence chief in Teneo’s London office, Wolfgango Piccoli, who has worked for the Soros-linked Eurasia Group consultancy, told CNN that Russia’s “reinforcement of the Assad regime and the consolidation of separate areas of control is more likely to prolong the conflict by forcing a stalemate.” The Teneo statement came in a CNN report that suggests members of the Bashar al Assad government in Syria and Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government could be charged by international or “national” tribunals for war crimes in a manner similar to those convened on members of the Yugoslavian and Serbian governments.
The entire International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague and in Africa has fallen under the control of George Soros and his operatives. Soros has made no secret of his support for overthrowing Assad and Putin and he has resorted to a “weapon of mass migration” of Syrian, Iraqi, and other refugees into Europe in order to destabilize the entire continent and endanger its Christian culture and social democratic traditions. Mrs. Clinton and Soros extensively used Mrs. Clinton’s private email system to exchange, among other things, information on the political situation in Albania, a country where Soros’s operatives are plentiful and powerful. Soros is a major donor to the Clinton Foundation and Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Soros also pressed Mrs. Clinton for State Department support for his American University of Central Asia, which, as seen with Soros’s Central European University in Budapest and its graduate ranks of pro-U.S. leaders throughout central and eastern Europe, is designed to manufacture a new generation of pro-U.S. leaders in the Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union.
The “wiping” of Mrs. Clinton’s email systems’ hard drives appear to be part of a classic case of an intelligence operation destroying data after being exposed.
The Clinton outsourcing of U.S. foreign policy not only involves Teneo but also the Clinton Foundation, for which Mrs. Clinton solicited donations from foreign sources while she served as Secretary of State. Moreover, in a classic example of racketeering, Bill Clinton was paid by Teneo as an adviser while his Clinton Foundation hired Teneo as as a consultant. The Clinton Foundation is directed by Bill and Hillary Clinton, along with their daughter Chelsea Clinton Mezvinsky. Mrs. Clinton’s private email use also extended to Clinton Foundation chief financial officer Andrew Kessel and longtime Bill Clinton friend Bruce Lindsey.
One of the emails sent via Mrs. Clinton’s private system was from her State Department counsel Cheryl Mills to Amitabh Desai, the head of foreign policy for the Clinton Foundation. Mills wanted Desai to arrange a meeting between Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame with the Democratic Republic of Congo strongman Joseph Kabila during Kagame’s visit to Kinshasa in 2012. This effort was conducted outside the State Department with the sole exception that Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, a close friend of Mrs. Clinton, was involved in the email exchange with Mills and Desai.
Other private email use involved Hollywood magnate Haim Saban, Loews heir Andrew Tisch, and Lynn de Rothschild, all of whom were peddling Israel’s interests to Hillary and Bill Clinton in return for sizable donations to the Clinton Foundation and Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Under the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, the Clinton Foundation received generous financial support totaling some $31 million from Frank Giustra, a Canadian uranium mining magnate. Giustra relied on the Clintons to use their influence to open up lucrative uranium exploitation opportunities in places like Kazakhstan and Africa.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has been stonewalled in his attempt to obtain more information about Teneo’s relationship with Mrs. Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and Bill Clinton.
Wayne Madsen is an investigative journalist who consistently exposes cover-ups from deep within the government. Want to be the first to learn the latest scandal? Go to WayneMadsenReport.com subscribe today!
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