Browsing: CIA

Shutdown Watch–Day 9


Good morning! For several hundred thousand federal employees, it’s another day of unpaid time off with-once again—no end on the horizon as President Obama, House Republicans and Senate Democrats all remain seemingly dug into their respective positions. There’s also no immediate sign that Congress is going to give final passage to legislation that would ensure retroactive pay for furloughed feds once the shutdown ends. After Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, signaled objections to fast-track consideration of the back-pay bill passed by the House on Saturday, the House GOP leadership tried again yesterday, linking a separate back-pay measure to legislation that would…

Association of Government Accountants honors agency reporting


Twenty agencies big and small were recently noted for top-notch financial and performance reporting by the Association of Government Accountants. The “Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting” (CEAR)  singles out “high-quality Performance and Accountability Reports (PARs) and Annual Financial Reports (AFRs) that effectively illustrate and assess financial and program performance, accomplishments and challenges, cost and accountability,” the accountants association said in a news release. The association also spotlights the teams of dedicated federal professionals who (often unsung) put the reports together. “Given the fiscal status of the United States government and the public’s perceptions about government fiscal accountability and transparency,…

Report: Secrecy spending jumped by more than $1 billion last year


You can argue about the effectiveness of the United States’ national security classification program, but there’s no disputing one point: Keeping secrets costs money—lots of it. Last year, executive branch agencies shelled out an estimated $11.4 billion on classified information systems and other facets of the program, according to an annual report released this week by the Information Security Oversight Office, a branch of the National Archives and Records Administration. That’s up 12 percent–or $1.2 billion–from 2010, and more than double the figure from a decade ago. The actual tab to taxpayers is likely much higher, because the report doesn’t…

New steps to combat leaks on the way


As the fallout over recent leaks of classified information continues to swirl, one consequence will be closer scrutiny of contacts between intelligence community employees and news outlets under two measures announced this week by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The first involves the counter-intelligence polygraph exam that seven intelligence agencies, (CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Energy Department, FBI, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office and National Security Agency)  give employees when they’re first hired and typically every seven years thereafter when their security clearances come up for renewal.  Hitherto, only the CIA has asked about unauthorized disclosures of classified information…

Robert Gates sounds off (again)


Robert Gates was back in Washington this evening with a display of the understated candor that was a trademark during his five years as secretary of defense. It was Gates, after all, who last year described members of Congress as a group “with oversized egos and undersized backbones”—a line he cheerfully repeated during tonight’s award ceremony hosted by the National Academy of Public Administration. Gates, on hand to receive the academy’s Elliot L. Richardson Prize for excellence in public service, spoke during a wide-ranging question-and-answer session with James Kitfield, senior correspondent at National Journal. Here are a few other excerpts: *…

Obama picks Intelligence Community CIO


Former CIA chief information officer Al Tarasiuk is President Barack Obama’s top choice for CIO of the Intelligence Community. Tarasiuk served as the CIO of CIA from 2005 to 2010. Before that, he was director of the CIA’s Information Service Center. “Al is well known for his leadership in information sharing and intelligence integration, and his experience, distinguished career and dedication to duty will greatly benefit the entire Intelligence Community,” National Intelligence Director James Clapper said in a news release.

Skunk Baxter, Dan Aykroyd to headline CIA charity benefit


The most unlikely defense consultant ever will perform in Arlington, Va., next Thursday at a benefit for families of fallen CIA officers. Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter will appear July 8 at a charity dinner for the CIA Officers Memorial Foundation, the Intelligence and National Security Alliance announced yesterday. All proceeds from the dinner will help support the families of CIA officers who die on active duty, such as paying for college tuition for their children. “Blues Brothers” and “Ghostbusters” star Dan Aykroyd will deliver the keynote and perform with Skunk and his band. It isn’t…

CIA's Iraq propaganda apparently run by 14 year old boys


The Washington Post’s SpyTalk blog reports today that the CIA’s Iraq Operations Group was mulling some hairbrained schemes for discrediting Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein before the 2003 invasion. Their most outlandish idea was to play the homophobia card and create a phony video that appeared to show Saddam having sex with a teenage boy, two CIA officials told the Post. The Post said that and other psychological operation, or PSYOP, ideas went nowhere, partly because the CIA didn’t have the money and expertise to carry them out and partly because they were, well, stupid. What they should have done was buy a few…

Three cheers for the tax man


Everyone hates the IRS, right? Bunch of pencil-pushing money-grubbers whose goal in life is to squeeze every last dime from the poor taxpayer. That’s the old stereotype, anyway. But a new poll from the Pew Research Center shows that over the last decade or so, the tax-collecting agency has improved in public perception more than any of the other 12 agencies included in the survey. The ratings bump could be a result of new, user-friendly online tax software. Or it could just reflect the fact that the IRS was starting from such a low point — its favorable ratings were…

Breaking: Plane crashes into Texas building housing federal offices


Update 3:50 p.m.: It appears that the man who flew his plane into the Austin office building may have intentionally targeted the building because it houses the IRS. A lengthy diatribe against the tax agency was posted on a website registered to Joe Stack, who has been identified as the pilot.   In addition, earlier reports that the CIA also leased space in the facility were incorrect, according to a federal official. The General Services Administration leases more than 44,000 square feet of space in the building for the IRS.  Original post: A small plane crashed into an office building in Austin, Texas, this…