The Trump/Russia scandal has filled our heads with a lot of intelligence jargon. Unwitting asset. Agent. Active measures. But what do these words actually mean?
Someone pointed me to the CIA’s own Glossary of Intelligence Terms, created in 1989. Granted it’s a bit outdated, but it’s also quite helpful. (I am indebted to The Black Vault, an online repository of declassified documents for the glossary.)
Here’s how the CIA defines active measures:
Active measures: A literal translation of a Russian phrase that is used to describe overt and covert techniques and intelligence operations designed to advance Soviet foreign policy objectives and to influence events in foreign countries by altering people’s perceptions. Active measures should not be confused with legitimate diplomatic activities.
We often hear Trump described as a possible asset, unwitting or otherwise, of Russia. But according to the CIA’s glossary this isn’t the right use of the word.
Agent (1) A person who engages in clandestine intelligence activity under the direction of an intelligence organization but who is not an officer, employee, or co-opted worker of that organization. (2) An individual who acts under the direction of an intelligence agency or security service to obtain, or assist in obtaining, information for intelligence or counterintelligence purposes. (3) One who is authorized or instructed to obtain or to assist in obtaining information for intelligence or counterintelligence purposes.
A better word is asset.
Asset: (1) Any resource — a person, group, relationship, instrument installation, supply — at the disposition of an intelligence agency for use in an operational or support role. (2) A person who contributes to a clandestine mission but is not a fully controlled agent. (Also see intelligence asset, national intelligence asset, and tactical intelligence asset.)
We recently learned that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation into Trump after his firing of James Comey. Here’s how the CIA defines it.
Counterintelligence: Information gathered and activities conducted to protect against espionage, other intelligence activities, sabotage, or assassinations conducted for or on behalf of foreign powers, organizations, persons, or terrorist activities, but not including personnel, physical, document, or communications security programs. (Also see foreign counterintelligence, security countermeasures, and technical surveillance countermeasures.)
It’s interesting to view propaganda from an intelligence perspective.
Propaganda: Any form of communication in support of national objectives designed to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, or behavior of any group in order to benefit the sponsor, either directly or indirectly.
The dossier compiled by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele is often described as raw intelligence.
Raw intelligence: A colloquial term meaning collected intelligence information that has not yet been converted into finished intelligence. (Also see intelligence information.)
That takes us to another definition.
Finished intelligence: (1) The product resulting from the collection, processing, integration, analysis, evaluation, and interpretation of available information concerning foreign countries or areas. (2) The final result of the production step of the intelligence cycle; the intelligence product. (Also see intelligence cycle and end product.)
Let me know if this is helpful or there are any other terms you’d like to see explained.
Via Defense News:
The HALO Corp., San Diego-based organization founded by former Special Operations, National Security, and Intelligence personnel, which is hosting its sixth annual Counter-Terrorism Summit at the end of October at the Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego.
Strategic Operations of San Diego, will help conduct tactical training exercises on the island. This should include a recreated Middle Eastern village, battlefield effects, combat wounds and medical simulations. Participants can also expect a simulated Somali pirate invasion to grace the resort’s shores. Unmanned aerial vehicles are likely to be floating overhead as well.
Keynote speakers include former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden; Alejandro Romero, Mexico’s interior secretary and Michael Downing, the director of LAPD’s counter-terrorism and special ops bureau. Cool classes will be offered like Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking by Chris Hadnagy. (Highly recommend his book).
I’d love to go, but it’s $1000 a person.
Following my recent post on Goldline, a precious metals coin dealer and sponsor of conservative gasbag Glenn Beck, I decided to poke around a bit in the company’s history, which is pretty fascinating.
As I wrote earlier, Goldline is drawing heat from its bait-and-switch pratices of selling rare gold coins like the 20 Swiss Franc. Beck is definitely taking notice of the attention he is bringing to Goldline following reports by ABC News and Media Matters:
It turns out that the company known today as Goldline has been a source of intrigue and controversy for years.
It was founded a half-century ago by Nicholas Deak, a spy-turned-banker, whom Time magazine called “the James Bond of the world of money.”
Born to a family of Transylvanian bankers, Deak joined the U.S. Army as a paratrooper and later became a senior intelligence officer in the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA. After the war, he helped launch an exchange firm that grew to 70 offices worldwide. By the late 1970s, Deak & Co. was handling 20 percent of all U.S. retail gold sales.
But there were persistent rumors that Deak’s work had a more sinister aspect. In his study of the infamous Nugan Hand bank of Australia, The Crimes of Patriots, journalist Jonathan Kwitny wrote:
For years, it was whispered that Deak had a close working relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency. Certainly the CIA would have been derelict not to try to keep tabs on Deak. And there would have been a lot for Deak to gain by trading off with the world’s biggest spy agency, because much of the company’s business involved speculation about the relative future value of the world’s currencies.
Deak & Co. had a hand in shady deals with shadowy figures, including its role as the conduit of Lockheed Corporation’s bribes to Japanese officials.
Federal prosecutors charged Deak & Co. of California with Bank Secrecy Act violations in 1977 for failing to report $11 million two Filipinos sent to the United States.
Ron Pulger-Frame, a courier who worked for both Deak and Nugan Hand, told the official bankruptcy receiver’s office in Hong Kong in 1981, “Deak’s had a system which was devised by me to circumvent Australian exchange regulations.”
President Reagan’s Commission on Organized Crime charged in 1984 that Deak & Co. had been involved in a multi-million dollar laundering operation for Colombian cocaine traffickers. Nearly $100 million was laundered through Deak by a single criminal. The company filed for bankruptcy before the year ended.
In 1985, a homeless woman from Seattle entered Deak’s Wall Street offices and opened fire with a .38-caliber revolver, killing the 80-year-old financier and a receptionist. (Time magazine on Deak’s slaying )
The Thomas Cook Group, best known for its brand of traveler’s checks, bought the company in 1988 and sold it three years later to A-Mark Precious Metals of Santa Monica, the largest private precious metals dealer in the United States and one of only a handful of companies authorized to purchase gold bullion coins directly from the U.S. Mint.
A-Mark was started in the 1960s by a California teenage coin buff named Steven C. Markoff, whose politics are the polar opposite of Glenn Beck’s. Markoff is a supporter of the ACLU, an avowed critic of U.S. marijuana policy, and a movie producer (all of which would make him a Hollywood leftist, in Beck’s view).
In 2005, Markoff sold A-Mark Precious Metals to its current owner, Irvine, California-based Spectrum Group International for $20 million cash.
The corporate history then gets very murky. In 2006, H.I.G. Capital in Miami, bought Goldline’s parent company, Goldline Holdings Inc., according to this Federal Trade Commission filing. This deal, as far as I can tell, received no other public announcement.
Goldline changed hands again in January 2009 when management and CIVC Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm, acquired the firm in a transaction worth over $50 million. At the time, Goldline’s revenues were in excess of $300 million.
It’s the infusion of capital from CIVC that has apparently helped Goldline expand its presence through endorsements from conservative commentators and personalities like Glenn Beck and others.
Former San Diego imam Anwar Awlaki — who once called Islam a religion of peace — has given an interview to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and justified the killing of American civilians in no uncertain terms:
Interviewer: Do you support such operations, even though they target what the media calls ‘innocent civilians?’
Anwar Al-Awlaki: Yes. With regard to the issue of ‘civilians,’ this term has become prevalent these days, but I prefer to use the terms employed by our jurisprudents. They classify people as either combatants or non-combatants. A combatant is someone who bears arms – even if this is a woman. Non-combatants are people who do not take part in the war. The American people in its entirety takes part in the war, because they elected this administration, and they finance this war. In the recent elections, and in the previous ones, the American people had other options, and could have elected people who did not want war. Nevertheless, these candidates got nothing but a handful of votes. We should examine this issue from the perspective of Islamic law, and this settles the issue – is it permitted or forbidden? If the heroic mujahid brother Umar Farouk could have targeted hundreds of soldiers, that would have been wonderful. But we are talking about the realities of war. (Via MEMRI.)
He calls Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day “underwear bomber” as his “students” and urges Muslims to follow in their footsteps.
Our unsettled account with America includes, at the very least, one million women and children. I’m not even talking about the men. Our unsettled account with America, in women and children alone, has exceeded one million. Those who would have been killed in the [attempted Christmas Day bombing] are a drop in the ocean.
Former San Diego imam Anwar Awlaki is no longer the man he once was a few years ago. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the US-born Awlaki categorically rejected violent jihad against American civilians. Trace his (de)evolution via my Anwar Awlaki Timeline.
It’s interesting to contrast this with Awlaki’s own words after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks when he gave numerous interviews to the press
About killing, the greatest sin in Islam after associating other gods besides Allah is killing an innocent soul. Source
As he has in the past, Awlaki makes repeated references to the propaganda war he says the US is waging against Islam. He recites a phrase from an anonymous CIA official quoted in a 2005 US News & World Report article and makes reference to a 2004 report by the RAND Corporation titled “Civil Democratic Islam.”
This is the undercurrent of the discussion about Awlaki among his fans, as filmmaker Kamran Pasha, writes in The Huffington Post:
When I have publicly criticized al-Awlaki, I have received emails from his devotees saying that he is being “set up” by the US government. And yet when I ask them what they mean by this, there is always pin-drop silence. His followers seem to want to believe that the good, charismatic man that they adore is somehow being falsely portrayed in the media as a villain as part of some PSY/OPS manipulation game. And yet when I ask if someone else is posting his increasingly radical and extremist sermons through his website (a CIA agent posing as al-Awlaki, let’s say), there is more silence. It is as if his followers want to keep clinging to the man he once was and selectively ignore his recent calls for the murder of civilians in the name of Islam.
There have been so many twists and turns in the Awlaki story that it’s difficult to keep track of them all.
Back in his San Diego days, Awlaki was himself accused by another imam of being part of a CIA plot, as Brian Fishman noted on Jihadica.