Here’s what caught our eye in the world of intelligence this week:
In a letter sent to three U.S. Senators, CIA Director John Brennan addressed some of the agency’s controversial partnerships. Back in March, at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York, cheap Brennan said they would not work with services that committed human rights abuses but “it’s tough sorting out good guys and bad guys in a lot of these areas.” In the recent letter to clarify those remarks Brennan said that the CIA does not condone or participate in human rights abuses, but that some of their “cooperative liaisons” have engaged in abuses. Where possible the CIA avoids working with those individuals or groups, but in some cases “we have decided to continue those relationships, despite unacceptable behavior, because of the critical intelligence those services provide.”
On Friday the American Psychological Association overwhelmingly voted to ban any involvement by psychologists in national security interrogations conducted by the U.S. government. The council of representatives of the APA voted to impose the ban at their annual meeting in Toronto. Many members of the council hoped that the ban would restore the organization’s reputation following a scathing internal investigation. They also hoped the impressive vote, 156-1, would persuade some psychologists would left the APA to rejoin. The organization however is still allowed to consult the government on broad interrogation policy, but cannot get involved in any specific interrogation.
The White House is receiving criticism for having not nominated a new CIA Inspector General. David Buckley, the previous Inspector General, resigned six months ago and so far no names have even been suggested. The growing concerns from Capitol Hill suggested the delay may be holding up “sensitive internal investigations.” In regards to the lack of Inspector General, Steven Aftergood said it was “extremely significant” and “discouraging” because “without a strong IG in place, the oversight committees are at least partially blinded.” A senior administration official told Yahoo News that the White House is working with the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency to nominate a candidate.
According to a top secret letter recently declassified by the CIA, former director Leon Panetta informed congressional oversight committees that the agency was changing its interrogation policies. The letter was sent three months after Obama took office and just days before the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to began their investigation into the CIA’s interrogation program. The letter specifically mentions the agency’s contract with the firm Mitchell Jesson and Associates and their changing role. The letter states that the CIA was no longer the lead agency in charge of the interrogations and that the agency contractors would still have a role. It also claimed the way in which detainees were interrogated would also change.
Russian hackers are the main suspect of a hack of an unclassified email system used by the employees of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. The detection in the e-mail system that is used by at least 4,000 military and civilian personnel was discovered on July 25th. The attack was disclosed shortly after it happened but only recently has it been traced to Russia. According to a U.S. official, Russia is suspected because the hack was “fairly sophisticated and has the indications… of having come from a state actor like Russia.” Despite it not being a serious as other recent attacks, it is likely to generate new scrutiny from Congress about government cyberdefense.