Showing posts with label spygate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spygate. Show all posts

Friday, June 7, 2019

How did we get the Spygate Texts?

Anyone with an internet connection can right now read almost 8,000 text messages between FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, a stunning win for transparency, but how did we even get to that point? The usual answer is: "Horowitz found them," which is true, but it's nested inside this larger tempest of #spygate, Mueller and Congressional machinations.

This post is focused on the discovery of the text messages, not necessarily on the release of them. But simply the story of these texts being lifted off of FBI archiving systems and tabulated is pretty incredible. This is how it went down, based on the information publicly available right now.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Rosenstein's Bad Options

There are so many theories around Rod Rosenstein's motives that I can barely keep them all straight.

The left at first thought he was a great choice for the DOJ, as evidenced by his confirmation in the Senate by a wide margin (94-6). Then once he had a hand in firing James Comey, they called for his head. That flipped when he appointed Robert Mueller - Rod was their hero again. But now that the Mueller report is out and he supported Barr's decision-making, he's again a traitor. (phew!)

On the right, Rosenstein has been excoriated for his decision to appoint Mueller. And this rhetoric (that Rod's a bad guy) has been continued by many on the right through today. However there are also those on the right who believe Rod has been quietly doing Trump's bidding all along and, quite honestly, I find this idea fascinating.

Really, all this comes back to a single question: what was the reasoning behind the Mueller appointment. Why did Rod decide it was needed after consistently pushing back on the idea. Did he panic? Was he squeezed? Was it a grand plan? Something else?

So this is my attempt to parse that question.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The NCIJTF Finds a Home in Chantilly

The story here is about two buildings built in Chantilly, VA with defense contractors in mind and how those buildings got to be leased by the FBI to house it's growing Cyber division, and the NCIJTF specifically (if you want to understand what the NCIJTF is, read this).

The government leases buildings all the time, but the most sensitive operations seem to take place on government owned property. CIA HQ is it's own government owned campus in McLean, NSA HQ is inside of Fort Meade, DIA HQ is at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. Even in Chantilly itself, there is the government owned National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) complex.

FBI Cyber is certainly working with sensitive intelligence, yet a leasing arrangement was chosen in this case. Why did they choose to lease instead of own? Hard to say for sure. But I trace it back to the hacker mindset of being incognito. Holed up in a non-descript business park with no signage or even documentation saying you're actually there.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

What is the NCIJTF?

The acronym NCIJTF stands for National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force.

It is a so-called fusion center, one of many inside the US Intelligence Community, so it's not a three letter agency unto itself, but rather a hub where many agencies collaborate and participate. Fusion centers came into vogue after stovepiping of intelligence was identified as a cause of the 9/11 attacks. It's a simply a way to combat stovepipes/silos. One example of a fusion center is the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) which are scattered across the US and are each comprised of the local branches of FBI, US Secret Service, DEA, ATF, ICE, US Postal Inspection Service, US Marshals Service and much more.

Another example of a fusion center is the OCDETF, which Bruce Ohr ran not too long ago. That organization gathers intelligence on multi-jurisdictional drug trafficking and money laundering operations by pooling information from many of the same agencies mentioned above.

However, unlike the JTTF (terrorism) or the OCDETF (drug trafficking), the NCIJTF is specifically focused on cyber crimes, a discipline which the FBI has had an interesting relationship with. Any talk of the NCIJTF has to be couched in a larger conversation about the FBI and Cyber.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

5 Things About Those Spygate Texts

Through Senator Ron Johnson's refreshing advocacy and some other surprising strokes of government transparency, the public has received ~8,000 texts between FBI employees Lisa Page and Peter Strzok to date.

Once you start digging into these texts and cross-referencing, you notice some interesting artifacts. No doubt due to the strange journey these documents have taken from the bowels of the J Edgar Hoover building to the public eye.

Here are five things I've noticed:

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Nunes quietly racking up wins

Devin Nunes has come under constant and heavy political fire for over two years now. His detractors have employed bureaucratic maneuvers, massive infusions of cash into his district election plus nonstop media hit pieces continuing through today in an attempt to derail the congressman from Tulare. Yet, quietly, Nunes has been notching wins.

Look no further than the shady ethics complaint filed against him in April 2017. It apparently took eight months for the House Ethics Committee to consult with classification experts, but once they finally did, Nunes was fully vindicated. Or look to the bureaucratic tactics used to prevent the release of his memo in early 2018. The FBI demanded a review period before release of that document, citing national security concerns, then attempted to use that review period to delay or stifle the actual release. In both cases, Nunes won.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Teflon Don Strikes Again

With the conclusion of the Mueller probe, Trump has now head-faked more dirty political attacks than I can count. From Obama's 2011 vitriol at the White House Correspondents Dinner to the 2016 GOP primaries to the unprecedented and unfounded accusations of treason no less, Trump has faced and absorbed political blow after political blow. Jeb!'s jaw must be on the floor by now.

It's not an exaggeration to say that the Mueller probe, specifically, represented an existential threat to his presidency. Many sober minded people believe that the regulations governing the role of a Special Counsel are too expansive and inevitably lead to overreach and unintended political consequences. We don't need to look very far back to see this illustrated in the Clinton Independent Counsel probe led by Ken Starr which started at Whitewater and ended at Monica Lewinski.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Transcript of John Batchelor interview with Michael Vlahos on Aug 24, 2018

The New American Civil War: Regicide and Trump "We don't want to go back we want to win"

JB: I'm John Batchelor. This is the John Batchelor Show. Good evening. Michael Vlahos, my colleague of Johns Hopkins, Michael and I continue our conversation about the new American civil war if it is, because the salient fact always and always since the Romans invented civil war 2000 years ago and more, is that you cannot tell you're in a civil war at that time.

It's afterwords such as the Congress declaring the American Civil War in 1907! There is always another way of explaining it to yourself as you're moving through the crisis. Michael, a very good evening to you. These last days, we've had what you'd have to say are strikingly salacious versions of regicide, challenging the president of the United States, our King, our elected King, on the basis of, at this point, campaign finance violations. However, the general sense is that those who have been investigating Donald Trump's presidency since before he was sworn in, since the fall of 2016 when when Barack Obama was president, those investigating have been looking for a tool to unseat him from power. Now the tool looks to be the midterm election of 2018 in which goes the regicidal theory the Congress, the House of Representatives, will be empowered with a majority in the hands of the Democrats to begin impeachment hearings and then...

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Breaking News Network and a continued look at the bots of the 2016 election

We have heard all about Russian bots and alt-right bots who "interfered" in the 2016 election. The Russian ones get much attention despite being an amateurish operation. We're just starting to find out about the bots secretly commissioned by American billionaire Reid Hoffman while he was accusing Roy Moore of the same. But even now, you rarely hear the accusation of "bot warfare" leveled against the left. Are they guiltless in this respect?

The short answer is no. The more complete answer is that truly everyone was running bots throughout the 2016 election, and all the way up until Twitter had a crackdown mid-2017, but also keep in mind that not all bots are nefarious. Reddit CEO Ellen Pao recently tweeted (in reference to internet traffic metrics): "everything is fake." That succinct answer generally applies to social media as well.

One researcher estimated in March 2017 that upwards of 15% of twitter accounts are bots. This estimate was somewhat validated when Twitter did a mass purge of bot-like accounts in July 2017. During that purge, the @Twitter account lost 7.7M followers, which was 12% of their previous 62M followers. And that purge definitely did not remove all bots from Twitter, as you will soon see. So this is an extremely widespread phenomenon and not limited to a single country or ideology, no matter how the media and certain members of Congress spin it.

Determining what is acceptable or not on our social media platforms is a whole separate and extremely thorny issue. But taking a level headed approach to the problem is critical. That's why I thought the story of the Breaking News Network is so relevant and fascinating. It lies at the intersection of bots-on-social-media, the contentious 2016 election and the recent upheaval of the news industry as a whole.

How I stumbled onto this