Here is what caught our eye in the world of intelligence this week:
Current and former NSA officials have claimed the agency considered ending their bulk phone records program months before it was revealed by Edward Snowden. Their reasoning behind wanting to shut down the program was that they believed the cost outweighed the “meager” counterterrorism benefits. The proposal to axe the program was only circulating among the top managers however and had not yet reached the desk of then-director Gen. Keith Alexander. Many doubt Gen. Alexander would have ended the program.
According to NPR, the NSA has been facing recruitment challenges ever since Edward Snowden revealed details of their mass surveillance programs. Much of the challenges however, buy viagra have less to do with any moral issues that may come with spying, but rather from competition posed by Silicon Valley companies. Both the NSA and Silicon Valley draw from highly specialized fields like computer science and mathematics, but the NSA’s slipping popularity and the Valley’s higher pay have many recruits heading west.
A federal judge denied a FOIA request and determined the CIA document known as the “Panetta Review” may remain classified. The document in question concerned the agency’s internal assessment of their enhanced interrogation tactics. District Court Judge James Boasberg concluded that the review fit under the FOIA exemption for inter-agency documents which protects the ability of agency staffers to have candid discussions. He wrote: “Requiring disclosure of the Reviews would cause the sort of harm that the deliberative-process privilege was designed to prevent — i.e., inhibiting frank and open communications among agency personnel.”
An opinion piece in The New York Times addresses the misconceptions Hollywood has about females in the CIA. Gina Bennett, an analyst for the CTC and mother of five says TV shows portray women in a one-dimensional way that is “pretty off” from reality. The author of the piece Maureen Dowd spoke to many female agents, all of whom said the bed hopping, alcohol guzzling agents on TV are just an example of Hollywood sensationalism. Another agent even criticized the way the fictional agents look. “I wish they wouldn’t use centerfold models in tight clothes. We don’t look that way. And we don’t act that way,” said Sandra Grimes, a 69-year-old veteran of the agency.
Two Chinese citizens have been accused of plotting to steal genetically modified corn seeds; an act which the FBI says warrants the use of national security laws. The case emerged in Iowa and involved siblings Mo Hailong and Mo Yun smuggling the seeds back to China to be counterfeited by a major Chinese agriculture company known as DBN Group. The FBI has invoked the broader powers of FISA to gather evidence against the two siblings and claim that the theft of trade secrets has larger, more serious security repercussions. Critics of the case call it a “breathtaking and unprecedented expansion of the government’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” citing that DBN Group is a private company not controlled by the Chinese government.