Specifics Itemized in Text Below the Fold
ROBERT STEELE: Generally speaking this is a really rotten interview by a journalist with a reputation who is lacking in substance.It is not worth the hour it takes to watch it. Andrea Mitchell knows nothing about the craft of intelligence and her questions read like a second-grader primer on the idiot media, not a slate of questions suitable for what is supposed to be an audience of engaged informed well-off citizens.
The two gems: 23% of the IC budget is spent on IT, most of that on contractors; and we are deeply deeply dependent on and vulnerable in space, not just for communications and intelligence, but for weather, geospatial positioning and hence mobility, and more.
My comments on the specifics are below.
Lone Wolf Terrorists. Oblivious to the larger context in which US drone assassinations abroad and the militarization of the police at home in which the police kill more people in a month than other countries kill in a year. Unwilling to confront the reality that the Mossad and the FBI are both actively developing false flag incidents at the same time that the FBI is unwilling or unable to do pattern analysis on the murders of dissenters or doctors or political challengers.
Privacy versus Mass Surveillance. Dissembles. Unwilling to state the obvious – that NSA processes less than 1% of what it collects, and it was NSA that gutted US communications and computing in the first place.
Social Media “Threat.” Not really answereds. No discussion of the great work that SOCOM has done that CIA is now trying to monopolize, they will screw it up.
Cyber-Attacks. Endorses Admiral Rodgers on deterrence and standards. Hard to believe but he seems genuinely clueless about the ease with which we can achieve open source security, particularly if we abandon the secrecy paradigm as the national intelligence default. This is “resource intensive” only if you insist on continuing business as usual.
Passive Cyber-Attacks. There has been a tendency to acquiesce, only reacting when there is genuine damage. Data deletions and data manipulation will be the next wave [I have to laugh — this is what the US IC does for a living — it ignores 90% of the relevant information and lies about the 10% it does have].
Non-State Cyber-Attackers. So what is the line? Implications are huge and long-lasting.
Chinese Cyber-Accomplishments. Have to salute them for their accomplishments. If we had the opportunity to do the same thing, we probably would. Andrea Mitchell: you mean they are better than we are? (Laughter). We are not doing common sense things like not opening attachments that look funny. It was a haul, no question about it [referring to OPM hack.]
Second and Third Order Effects. We are always mindful of the state of our defenses, meaning that we are powerless — if we retaliate, even in the case of the North Koreans — our vulnerability to even deeper damage to our own [undefended] systems is troubling.
Iran Deal. On Iran getting help from Pakistan or North Korea, Mitchell seems to have no idea that the Pakistanis are Sunni and the Iranians Shi’ite. Clapper says the deal is a good thing because it provides for a pervasive surveillance regime. We will have a far better insight into the industrial aspects with this deal than without it.
Iran Side Deals. Side deals are standard, and it is up to the IAEA to declare its satisfaction, which they have.
Iran Prior Military Dimensions – How Important? Not sure it would add that great an additional understanding to what we already know. Prospective is more important.
Iranian Soil Testing. [at this point I conclude she is being paid by neo-cons to sandbag Clapper on the Iranian deal.]
Effect of Agreement on Region. The effect will be economic, not military, that is a good thing.
Punching Above Their Weight. [Mitchel is over the top — clearly an agent of a foreign power in this interview.]
Russia as Existential Threat. Two dimensions to gauging threat, one is capabilities, where Russia is tops, the other is intentions.
Ukraine: Putin may be a throwback to a czar mentality — no comment at all about the US neocons taking down the Ukraine with help from Zionist billionaire. No understanding at all of history and the many reasons we should not be involved.
Personal Emails. Not touching this one.
Chemical Weapons used by Syrian Government. [This is getting outrageous. Andra Mitchell comes across as a paid Zionist / neo con agent who should never be allowed to misrepresent herself as an unbiased journalist.] Clapper correctly and ably slams back.
ISIS Counter-Strategy. Easy to sign people up to go after Assad but difficult to get people to go against ISIS. No discussion of the fact that Saudi Arabia created ISIS and US helped to train and equip ISIS.
Iraqi Army That Turns and Runs. Iraqi government dependent on PNC — the collection of militia forces — that are more effective than Iraqi security forces. How do you integrate the Sunnis into the fighting force?
Closing Guantanamo — Realistic? Hard but not hopeless. Return to the battlefield always a concern, 30% have returned in past but now moving to 6%, but this last group is tough. Senator McCain has been helpful. It’s being worked on.
Is Guantanamo Strategic? Not an intelligence issue.
Post-911 IC Reforms Successful? I hope we don’t revisit — one major upheaval like that every 20 years is enough. Worked hard at it for last five years, have promoted integration, collaboration seeking to make sum greater than the parts. Some of those cats that I am supposed to be herding are here.
Pollard. Viewed very negatively within the IC. [Misses opportunity to point out that Pollard offered his secrets to Turkey and others before Israel finally took him in, Pollard is a traitor, not a Zionist loyalist.]
Snowden Come Back? That’s a Department of Justice thing, happy to have him come back to stand trial. I can understand Snowden’s concerns, but he exposed so many other things and did so much other damage that had nothing to do with surveillance of citizens, that’s my hang-up with him.
Can ISIS Hold Territory? They are not holding a great deal of territory, but they are there.
Next Unknown. As USDI had a group drink every six weeks. This job: every night.
Value of Whistleblowers, Extend Protections to Contractors. There needs to be a mechanism for legitimate whistle-blowers. Ideally needs to be a system that does not reveal classified information to the public.
Iran Alter Behavior? No I don’t see them altering their behavior. Prefer a state-sponsor of terrorism without a nuclear capability.
Monitoring Domestic Activists. Unfortunately there is a history in the IC of abuse, some of it spying on US citizens, well-intended but not well considered. That’s why we have so many oversight bodies.
Main Concerns About Iran Deal. First concern is will they comply. They did comply on the interim agreement. Then, to what extent will they go to try to deceive us. That remains to be seen.
Space Situational Awareness. Both the Russians and Chinese have embarked on aggressive and impressive programs in space. They are very aware of our dependence on space not only for intelligence but for weather and other critical areas. We are looking at how we make it more resilient and defendible.
China on Japan. Chinese have been aggressive, but in a regional context, especially in relation to the South China Sea. Impressive and disturbing.
Israeli Reactions to Iran Deal. Suberb answer, points out diplomatically that US and Israeli intelligence communities are in agreement and hence do not agree with the exaggerations of the Zionist leadership.
ISIS – Al Qaeda. Core Al Qaeda vastly diminished. AQAP is our most concerning Al Qaeda element in terms of threat to the homeland. Our greater concern is ISIL as it extends franchises, including one in Libya. No mention of state-sponsored terrorism by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAR.
Needed DNI Authorities? Hard to lead, orchestrate, and shape sixteen cats, especially in the face of reductions in our budget. A single information technology architecture is desired, now well into the passive-aggressive resistance phase across the IC. 23% of IC budget is IT. Need to reduce our dependence on a marching army of contractors. Tag the data, tag the people. [This is what I recommended to CIA in 1986, no one wanted to hear it.]
Continuous Security Evaluations. Monitoring electronic behavior of employees is something that is well along. Misses opportunity to discuss cognitive dissonance, alcoholism, adultery, divorce, suicide, and other pathologies associated with a dysfunctional community. Does have a concern about how much education is required, worried about too much big brotherism, don’t want it to become an oppressive thing.
Briefing the President. Robert Cardillo and I established system five years ago. Delivered via iPad, President gets one every day. When he is in town either Clapper or one or two others alternate to go in and personally brief on a specific topic or topics. President is an astute and voracious consumer of intelligence. No one asks the core question about whether IC is producing actionable intelligence across all threats and policies.