Here is what caught our eye in the world of intelligence this week:
The director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service has announced his retirement amidst rumors of disagreements regarding the agency’s proposed reorganization. He had a “long and distinguished career” at the CIA serving in Pakistan and Africa and later as head of the Latin American division before becoming director of the clandestine program. His retirement comes at a transitional moment for the CIA; according to this Daily Beast article, many in the clandestine service view the proposed reorganization as a threat to the “high-degree of independence” their directorate has enjoyed.
The pending fight over surveillance reform and renewal of key Patriot Act provisions will stall congressional efforts to address cybersecurity threats, according to the Hill. It seems that a failure to address civil liberties and tech company concerns regarding surveillance will likely bolster efforts to oppose any new cyber information sharing provisions and authorities.
A new poll released this week by the Pew Research Center found that, pharmacy despite the Snowden leaks, 51% of Americans still have a favorable view of the NSA. Though technically positive, the NSA was ranked second-to-last; the only agency receiving a lower percentage being the IRS. The survey also broke down results by sex, political affiliation, and age. Surprisingly, younger Americans under the age of 30 viewed the NSA most favorably. Along party lines, Republicans carried a more negative view of the NSA, though the results for the CIA were the opposite, with Democrats having the more negative opinion.
In an interview with The Huffington Post Senator Richard Burr, the new chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee stated that he plans to give the secretive “Panetta Review” back to the CIA. Those who have read the document say it is a “broad and detailed admission of wrongdoing by the CIA,” but Burr claimed that the committee was never intended to have the document and plans to “send it back to where it came from.” He has also asked for copies of the SSCI interrogation report, which were distributed to executive agencies, to be returned, as he felt it was not a “valid disclosure.”
A federal jury heard the closing arguments against supposed CIA leaker Jeffery Sterling on Thursday. Sterling has been accused of exposing a secret CIA program intended to provide false nuclear information to Iran, though the defense claimed the government’s case “amounted to nothing more than speculation.” According to the prosecutors however, it was “common sense” that dictated Sterling was guilty claiming he “hated the CIA and wanted to settle a score.” The defense claimed that information regarding the program was leaked by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and even went as far as to name two specific staffers.
Claiming that “the next major conflict will start in cyberspace,” NSA has reportedly begun preparing for future wars in which they believe the Internet will play a critical role. The goal of these so-called wars would be to use the web to “paralyze computer networks” which could potentially shut down infrastructure or the flow of money. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden preparations have already begun. According to this article, NSA considers simple measures of surveillance to be “phase 0” in the scope of their cyber defense, and the “prerequisite for everything that follows.”