Here is what caught our eye in the world of intelligence this week:
The CIA is planning a major expansion of their cybersecurity capabilities as a part of a broader restructuring of the entire agency. Specific details of the expansion have not been released, but the design will supposedly model the agency’s Counterterrorism Center. The CIA plans to incorporate their cyber capabilities into almost every aspect of operation from identifying targets to “penetrating Internet-savvy adversaries such as the Islamic State.” Some CIA officials have encouraged Director Brennan to establish an entire cyber-directorate which would place the agency’s tech experts “on equal footing with the operations and analysis branches.”
Reports have surfaced that the notorious ISIS spokesman known as “Jihadi John” had been under the eye of British intelligence since his graduation from a London university in 2009. The man who was identified this week as Mohammed Emwazi was born in Kuwait but grew up in West London and lived what seems to have been a normal life. His first encounter with British authorities occurred at an airport in Tanzania where he was detained after officials suspected he planned to fly to Somalia to join al-Shabaab. In the following years Emwazi was detained multiple more times and in 2011 was listed as a member of a radical group known to funnel money and equipment to Somalia for “terrorism-related activity.”
The United States has been providing Ukraine with satellite intelligence, try but has recently been criticized for “significantly degrading” the images. According to U.S. officials it is done in order to avoid “provoking Russia or compromising U.S. secrets.” Many fear that providing Ukraine with actionable intelligence could trigger a more aggressive military response from Russia. Ukrainian officials say the low-quality intelligence has hampered their ability to counter separatists who receive advanced equipment and training from Moscow. Amidst the criticism, U.S. officials claim spy agencies have been giving more sensitive intelligence to certain Ukrainian leaders who have been “vetted” and deemed trustworthy.
The FBI’s Cyber Division has claimed that their investigative abilities would “obviously” suffer if Congress does not reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act. This section, which has sparked much controversy, allows the FBI to request records from major companies without having to go through court first. A White House appointed review board concluded last year that the program was “borderline illegal.” Section 215 was nearly shut down last November, but lawmakers failed to get the measure through Senate. New Congressional fights over the program will likely begin in the coming months as the deadline to reauthorize is June 1st.