Browsing: Intelligence

Video: Booz Allen VP McConnell on Edward Snowden

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Nearing the end of a half hour talk on cybersecurity at a conference of contracting professionals in Alexandria, Va., Thursday, Booz Allen Hamilton vice president Mike McConnell had not uttered the name Edward Snowden. And Snowden, after all, is someone who has people talking a lot about cybersecurity these days. The now famous former Booz Allen employee stands charged with espionage and is still on the run from U.S. authorities after leaking details to the media on once secret government surveillance programs. As McConnell, a former director of national intelligence, was wrapping up his presentation, he said he’d take a…

Comey nomination draws positive reaction from two FBI employee groups

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President Obama’s choice of James Comey to head the FBI has been welcomed by two groups representing key elements of the bureau’s workforce. The FBI Agents Association had previously backed a former special agent—House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich.—for the job. But in a Friday statement issued shortly after Obama formally nominated Comey,  the association’s president, Konrad Motyka, said the former Justice Department official has an “outstanding reputation” among agents. “We believe that Mr. Comey understands the centrality of the special agent to the bureau’s mission of protecting our country from criminal and terrorist threats,” Motyka said. “We look forward…

Snowden the whistleblower? Not exactly

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Dubbed a traitor by House Speaker John Boehner and yet hailed as a brave whistleblower by Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden’s leaks about National Security Agency data collection techniques have ignited public debate about privacy, security and the scope of U.S. government surveillance activities. But legally speaking, the 29-year old, self described high school dropout isn’t really a whistleblower: “Whistleblowers are individuals who have engaged in lawful disclosure,” said R. Scott Oswald, managing principal of The Employment Law Group, a DC-based law firm that represents whistleblowers, including some in the intelligence community. Snowden, however, leaked classified information subject to a court…

Obama administration still pondering proposed classification system changes

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For anyone who’s counting, this week marks six months since an advisory board released 14 recommendations for modernizing the national security classification system. The White House remains on square one—mulling the board’s first recommendation to form a steering committee to guide implementation of the other 13. “Options for the creation of a senior-level group are currently being considered,” said Laura Lucas, a National Security Council spokeswoman, who had no information today on the timetable for a decision. The Public Interest Declassification Board issued the recommendations Dec. 6 in response to a 2009 charge from President Obama for a “more fundamental transformation” of the…

New chief on board at classification oversight office

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As of today, the Information Security Oversight Office has a new director in the person of John P. Fitzpatrick, a former top security official at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. ISOO, part of the National Archives and Records Administration, is a small but critical cog in oversight of the government’s security classification system. The agency has also been charged with bringing order to the mishmash of agency approaches for handling controlled unclassified information. “A strong advocate for information sharing and protection, he has demonstrated his ability to lead and oversee change both within and beyond the intelligence…

Obama picks Intelligence Community CIO

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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.

Fed rights at risk in WikiLeaks backlash, groups say

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Just as agencies are wrapping up security reviews launched after the latest WikiLeaks breach, a coalition of open government groups is warning of possible consequences for federal employee rights. Although improving safeguards for classified information is laudable, “we urge you not to craft policies that encourage agencies to unduly restrict free speech, or otherwise distract agencies from actually improving information security,” representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union and eight other organizations wrote Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew in a letter dated Friday. Ordered by Lew early this month and due to be finished Jan. 28, the…

Diplomacy FAIL: 'Taliban leader' in peace talks was phony

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This one falls in the “laugh so you don’t cry” category. The Afghan government and NATO has been negotiating for months with someone they thought was Taliban second-in-command Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, hoping to find a way to end the nine-year war. But it turns out — whoops! — this supposed militia leader was an imposter. In reality, he was just a shopkeeper from Quetta, Pakistan, who was running a scam. And according to the New York Times, it worked: “It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. “And we gave him a lot…

The Washington Post's 'Top Secret America'

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The Washington Post this morning has a must-read story illustrating how massive, unwieldy and redundant the federal government’s post-9/11 security mission has become — and questioning whether it’s actually made us safer. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Dana Priest and writer William Arkin’s three-part, two year investigation found that “after nine years of unprecedented spending and growth”: Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence at about 10,000 locations nationwide. About 854,000 people hold top secret security clearances. In the Washington area, 33 complexes for top secret intelligence work — the equivalent of three Pentagons…

DNI Blair's resignation statement

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Adm. Dennis Blair is officially stepping down as Director of National Intelligence. Here’s the statement he just sent out to the intelligence community: It is with deep regret that I informed the President today that I will step down as Director of National Intelligence effective Friday, May 28th.  I have had no greater honor or pleasure than to lead the remarkably talented and patriotic men and women of the Intelligence Community.  Every day, you have worked tirelessly to provide intelligence support for two wars and to prevent an attack on our homeland.  You are true heroes, just like the members…

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