CIA

ISIL militants

If the United States arms the so-called “moderate Syrian opposition” to try and overthrow both ISIL and Bashar al Assad, president of Syria, will it work? A close look at the United States’ long and checkered history backing proxy forces reveals a very mixed record when we arm surrogates. The ledger includes historic fiascos such as the… Keep reading →

Tony Mendez CIA disguise expert

SOMEWHERE IN WASHINGTON: Spy movie makers love retinal scans and ever-more inventive ways to steal or modify fingerprints. Former CIA Director David Petraeus and the Joint Special Operations Command relied heavily on retinal scans, DNA sampling, fingerprints, facial and body recognition — all cross referenced with other intelligence — to build enormous cross-linked databases that helped track and… Keep reading →

computerscreens

WASHINGTON: Apple, Amazon, and Google long since outstripped the Pentagon in information technology. But as the military and intelligence community try to take advantage of commercial IT innovation, especially in cloud computing, they have run into harsh limits. Security, long-range bandwidth and the sheer volume of data have created problems for the Pentagon that current commercially… Keep reading →

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WASHINGTON: How well did the American Intelligence Community do in its most fundamental job: providing strategic warning of war and major strategic events to the president when it came to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ISIL’s invasion of Iraq? The heads of the Central Intelligence, Defense Intelligence, National Geospatial Intelligence and National Security agencies claimed today… Keep reading →

Predator 2

  Rick Whittle wrote the book on the V-22, which he covered for several thousand years while a Washington reporter for the Dallas Morning News. Now he’s written the book on the Predator (on sale Monday), the drone (no RPAs on this site) and he’s obtained a great deal of operational information about Predator and the battle against… Keep reading →

Fort Meade

FORT MEADE, MD: “Remember the peace dividend we took in the Clinton years in the ’90s? Welcome back,” said Douglas Packard. “That’s where we’re at.” Some 20 years ago as defense budgets plummeted post-Cold War, the defense industry consolidated, recalled Packard, acting head of procurement at the Defense Information Systems Agency. Contractors better beware once more,… Keep reading →

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TAMPA: The conventional image of an American president managing a crisis shows him thumbing through a briefing book on a desk in the Situation Room or Oval Office. The new standard may well become that of a president with an iPad in his lap or on his desk, keenly watching a video or flipping through… Keep reading →

CIA director and Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden in happier days, swearing in new recruits. http://www.rs.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/071207-F-9313S-003.jpg

NATIONAL HARBOR: Media outcry and public uproar over the Edward Snowden revelations have created a deeply demoralizing backlash against the US intelligence community and paralyzed key cybersecurity initiatives, Gen. Michael Hayden — former director of both the CIA and the NSA — said today. “If you look at the psychic effect of Snowden on the… Keep reading →

Richard Whittle, in addition to being a regular contributor to Breaking Defense, is a senior scholar at the Wilson Center. He is writing a book on the Predator, the first armed drone. In an earlier incarnation, Rick once accompanied the late congressman Charlie Wilson to Pakistan for a visit to the Afghan mujahedeen. The Editor

WASHINGTON: Even before it started, a Senate confirmation hearing Thursday on John O. Brennan’s nomination to be CIA director reignited the smoldering debate on the legality and constitutionality of an important legal and moral question: When and how does the U.S. government assert the right to, in effect, execute someone — especially one of its own citizens — without a trial? Keep reading →

The intelligence community is developing a single cloud computing network to allow all its analysts to access and rapidly sift through massive volumes of data. When fully complete, this effort will create a pan-agency cloud, with organizations sharing many of the same computing resources and information. More importantly, the hope is the system will break down existing boundaries between agencies and change their insular cultures.

As in the rest of the federal government, lower costs and higher efficiency are the primary reasons for the intelligence world’s shift to cloud computing, said Charles Allen, formerly Under Secretary of Homeland Security for intelligence and analysis, currently a principal with the Chertoff Group, in an interview with Breaking Defense. Now in its eighth month, the goal of the effort is to connect the CIA’s existing cloud to a new cloud run by the National Security Agency. This NSA-run network consists of five other intelligence agencies and the FBI. Both of these clouds can interoperate, but the CIA has its own unique needs because it must work with human intelligence, which necessitates keeping its cloud slightly separate, he said. Keep reading →

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