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.

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 →

Reaping the Benefits of a Global Defense Industry

Greg Sanders CSIS photo

  As the Defense Department’s budget goes down, the number of contracts awarded without competitive bids is going up. The share of contracts awarded without competition has risen from 39 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2012, according to a report I co-authored with Jesse Ellman and Rhys McCormick on DoD Contracting Trends. The news for… 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 →

[After meeting this morning with Amb. Susan Rice, Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, spoke to reporters today at a 12noon roundtable at the Foreign Policy Institute's annual conference, where she promised there "absolutely" would be a hold if Amb. Rice is nominated for Secretary of State -- and potentially, a hold on any administration nominee for the position -- until the administration answers Congress's questions about the terrorist attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi. (Click here for Jon Huntsman's exhortation to his fellow Republicans to back off on Benghazi). What follows is our rush transcript of her remarks.]

My meeting with Amb. Rice — I actually came out of the meeting more troubled than I went in, for a couple of reasons…. Keep reading →

Our clever Chinese friends at Next Media Animation have done it again with a video offering their unique perspective on the scandal that has enveloped two of our top military leaders — and several women.

We haven’t pursued these stories with much gusto, keeping our focus on strategy, policy and politics and leaving the prurient and sad events to our colleagues who are more driven by each day’s fleeting events. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: It is a classic — and sad — Washington story. The most storied general since the Vietnam War, David Petraeus, resigns as director of the CIA late on a Friday afternoon because of an extramarital affair.

Petraeus helped revolutionize the ways in which intelligence was used by the US military and greatly improved cooperation between the intelligence community — as the alphabet soup of agencies such as the CIA, NRO, NSA, DIA, DNI and NGA are known — and the uniformed troops who go into harm’s way. Keep reading →

ON A TRAIN SOMEWHERE ON THE EAST COAST: Imagine a soldier, wearing mufti, traveling through Syria in a rattletrap taxi. He’s a spy, dressed in a suit, going to meet an agent who says he can offer rebels the Syrian government’s order of battle.

The soldier, an Army intelligence officer fluent in Syrian and Iraqi Arabic, has spent 18 months cultivating the source, a senior official in the telecommunications company owned by the brother of Syria’s president. The son of a general, the agent has grown disillusioned by two years of civil war and wants to help end his country’s agony. His information could help the rebels break the regime’s back. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: Speculation on how Iran was able to capture the Pentagon’s stealthy RQ-170 unmanned aircraft has consumed defense and intelligence insiders for weeks. But recent reports based on sources in Tehran claim the highly-classified drone was brought down by an Iranian cyberattack.

Iranian engineers were allegedly able to hack into the unmanned aircraft’s control systems and trick the drone’s guidance systems to think it was landing in U.S-held territory in Afghanistan. In fact, Iranian hackers guided the CIA-operated aerial drone to land in Iran, according to today’s story in the Christian Science Monitor. The so-called ‘Beast of Kandahar’ was conducting intelligence operations over Iran at the time of its capture. Gaps in the plane’s global positioning system allowed Iranian military officials to take control of the plane from its CIA handlers. Iranian intelligence learned about the GPS vulnerabilities by examining other American drones captured by Tehran, according to the story. Keep reading →

CORRECTION Washington: Gen. Keith Alexander will likely be the last military intelligence officer to lead the National Security Agency, former CIA director Mike Hayden said today.

“Keith Alexander [will be] the last intelligence officer to be the director of the National Security Agency,” was the hypothesis offered by Hayden during a intelligence and national security symposium sponsored by the Center For Strategic and International Studies today.

“They will fill the position, based on the combatant command needs of the four-star cyber command commander, and the [NSA director] position will be the additional duties assigned. And that has long term meaning,” the former CIA chief added.

In other words, whoever DoD chooses to fill the NSA slot — be it a general officer with a intelligence background or not — that decision will be determined by what the department needs from NSA, to support cyber command rather than NSA.

NSA, according to Hayden, is primarily responsible for providing intelligence and analysis for DoD’s combatant commands and national customers. On the other hand, Cyber Command will be the preeminent cyberwarfare arm for the entire Defense Department, similar to Special Operations Command. Keep reading →

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