Counterintelligence specialists suspect that the former Secretary of State wasn’t the only member of the Obama administration emailing secrets around.
Hillary Clinton’s email problems are already causing headaches for her presidential campaign. But within American counterintelligence circles, there’s a mounting sense that the former Secretary of State may not be the only Obama administration official in trouble. This is a scandal that has the potential to spread to the White House, as well.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation can be expected to be tight-lipped, especially because this highly sensitive case is being handled by counterintelligence experts from Bureau headquarters a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, not by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. That will ensure this investigation gets the needed “big picture” view, since even senior FBI agents at any given field office may only have a partial look at complex counterintelligence cases.
And this most certainly is a counterintelligence matter. There’s a widely held belief among American counterspies that foreign intelligence agencies had to be reading the emails on Hillary’s private server, particularly since it was wholly unencrypted for months. “I’d fire my staff if they weren’t getting all this,” explained one veteran Department of Defense counterintelligence official, adding: “I’d hate to be the guy in Moscow or Beijing right now who had to explain why they didn’t have all of Hillary’s email.” Given the widespread hacking that has plagued the State Department, the Pentagon, and even the White House during Obama’s presidency, senior counterintelligence officials are assuming the worst about what the Russians and Chinese know.
Read the rest at The Daily Beast …
It is my privilege to reveal to you this highly classified National Security Agency intercept which reveals just what Russian intelligence knew about Hillary Clinton and her email security problems. While I believe that classified information should remain classified, this is a matter of such national importance, since Hillary could be our next Commander-in-Chief, that I am going whistleblower here and leaking this historic document.
DOI: 23052009 1045Z
This intercept was received by an NSA covert SIGINT site. It is a conversation between two (2) senior officials of the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). It discusses GRU SIGINT intercepts of conversations between high-ranking US Persons (USPs) in their official USG capacity and is to be handled on an EYES ONLY basis. FBI/NSD has been informed. White House/NSC and STATE are not – repeat NOT – authorized to receive this information due to counterintelligence concerns that have been verified by FBI/NSD and CIA/CIC.
This document is classified TOPSECRET//SI//NOFORN//NODISSEM in its entirety and is to be maintained as hard-copy only per the regulations of ECI SHOCKWAVE.
A: Sasha, what the [expletive deleted] are your guys over at BIGBEAR  doing?
B: What, Tolya? Have you been drinking again? [Laughs]
A: Just two, it’s early.
B: Two is good, it stimulates the brain.
A: [Expletive deleted] it sure does! But look, I need some answers. The whole AQUARIUM  is up in arms over this.
B: Why? It’s all great [expletive deleted]. If the BIGBEAR guys don’t get us all promoted, what the [expletive deleted] ever will?
A: I know….but the big guys here think it’s, you know, too good.
B: The magic [expletive deleted/USP 1] in the White House is running strategic deception on us? [Laughs] They can’t find their Ivy League [expletive deleted] with both hands!
A: Sure, but [USP 2]? They are cunning, [USP 3] knew we listened in on him when he was in the White House, surely.
B: You think he told his wife about that?
A: Well, it was funny, wasn’t it? I loved the chat we intercepted when [USP 3] was getting [expletive deleted] from [USP 4] and then – oh [expletive deleted] – [USP 5] walked in on them and threw a potted plant at them both!
B: [Laughs] Operation INTERN SURPRISE! Slurp-slurp, then scream-scream! God, those were good times.
A: You know it’s really too bad Beijing got to [USP 3] first with their cash, he seems like a fun guy.
B: His wife, not so much. [Laughs]
A: Yes, never enough vodka for that! [Laughs] And [USP 6] – what the [expletive deleted] is the deal with her?
B: The Brotherhood  mole?
B: Yeah, we have that too. Cairo confirmed it last month.
A: Wow, the Americans are really [expletive deleted].
B: The emails we are getting from [USP 2]’s office tell it all.
A, Can this actually be real? Who is this stupid? Is [USP 2] trying to have completely open diplomacy?
B: It has to be real. They have absolutely no communications discipline, even for Americans. [Laughs] They are putting EVERYTHING [almost shouted] in these emails.
A: I saw that. It’s unbelievable. How did we crack into this?
B: We didn’t have to “crack” anything! [USP 2] uses her own email on her own server, and it’s totally unencrypted!
A: [Expletive deleted] me, what?
B: I know, it’s insane. They recently put some light encryption on “her” server, after months of no security at all, but we’re deep inside now. We worked around it in 20 minutes. And [USP 2] does all her diplomacy on this line, unreal!
A: Who is this [USP 7] guy who’s in every other email?
B: Oh, him. The one with the self-hating Jewish Nazi son? It’s all too strange. He’s [USP 2]’s close adviser, but boring and confused. Very self-important. I liked [USP 3]’s presidency better, more sex and drugs. [Laughs]
A: Are we absolutely certain Operation PANTSUIT  is legit? I need a firm answer for the bosses.
B: We are 100 percent sure. We’ve cross-referenced diplomatic information that [USPs 2 and 6] are putting in their open emails with other intercepts we’re getting.
B: Just the other day [USP 2] emailed [USP 7] the readout of her meeting with the German ambassador and we intercepted the German account of it too – they’re not idiots like the Americans, it was in their encrypted communications, but we’ve been reading German diplomatic ciphers for years – and they matched exactly.
A: Good, I’ll tell the bosses that. Get the transcripts to me soon.
B: Will do, it all checks out.
A: The bosses still have some questions.
A: You know how it is. The NEIGHBORS  get them spun up with their stupid [expletive deleted] “theories”.
B: What now?
A: They think “Parks and Recreation” is a secret American program to destabilize our economy. Something run by CIA using Facebook as their cut-out.
B: [Laughs] Those [expletive deleted] morons. The original BIGBEAR intercept said it’s a [expletive deleted] television show!
A: I know, I know. But put that in the follow-up memo too, I need to cover my [expletive deleted] here.
B: Will do, not a problem, you’ll have it by the end of the day.
A: Thanks, Sasha: I owe you one. But what about “gefilte fish”? This seems to be an Israeli operation, something to do with Mossad.
B: Yes, BIGBEAR came to that conclusion as well. We’re looking for more information. Given how deeply Mossad had [USP 3]’s White House penetrated, there is reason for concern.
A: Good, good…put that in the memo too, that should get the attention of the bosses.
B: Just not The Boss, please! 
A: Oh [expletive deleted] no! The last thing we need is that Leningrad Chekist on us. No details outside of our channels, you know how he and his guys love to play counterspy over at the Kremlin. We have no time for that [expletive deleted].
B: Right, definitely. Bottom line is we’re sure PANTSUIT checks out, it will all be in the memo.
A: Excellent, excellent. I still can’t believe they’re this stupid, but I like it! You’ll get your star for this one, Sasha!
B: I’ll believe that when I see it, but I will take your vodka until then, Tolya! [Laughs]
A: If [USP 2] ever manages to become President, we’ll have it made. Keep up the great work and make sure I get every email these idiots send.
B: Will do, boss! We’re getting every last one. These clowns will only stop emailing when they’re dead! [Laughs]
A = GenMaj (one-star) Anatoliy V. POTAPOV, Chief of GRU Covert SIGINT Operations
B = Col Aleksandr N. SHAPOSHNIKOV, Senior GRU Staff Officer (NFI)
USP 1 = POTUS
USP 2 = SECSTATE
USP 3 = Former POTUS
USP 4 = Prominent Hollywood actress
USP 5 = Former White House employee
USP 6 = Senior STATE Staffer
USP 7 = Close friend of USPs 2 and 3, operating as an unofficial adviser to STATE
1. BIGBEAR is the GRU coverterm for their covert SIGINT site located inside the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC.
2. AQUARIUM (AKVARIUM) is the colloquial term for GRU Headquarters located at Khodynka Airfield near Moscow
3. “Brotherhood” is believed to refer to the Muslim Brotherhood.
4. Operation PANTSUIT is the GRU coverterm for their interception of USP 2’s personal and STATE emails (which use the same address and reside on the same, non-USG server, according to GRU information; this violation of policy has been referred to FBI/NSD).
5. NEIGHBORS is a reference to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).
6. “The Boss” in this context is an apparent reference to Vladimir Putin.
[This document is, of course, a fake. I’ve used fake-but-accurately rendered “classified” information before to explain Hillary’s EmailGate mess, and I am pretty sure this is a cosmically accurate, if fictional, rendering of events, based on my long dealings with Russian intelligence. GRU hasn’t opened its archives to anybody, ever, so perhaps our descendants will find out in the 23rd century.]
The part played by Wikileaks in the Edward Snowden saga is an important one. The pivotal role of Julian Assange and other leading members of Wikileaks in getting Snowden from Hawaii to Moscow, from NSA employment to FSB protection, in the late spring of 2013 is a matter of record.
For years there have been questions about just what Wikileaks actually is. I know because I’ve been among those asking. Over two years ago, little more than two weeks after Snowden landed in Moscow, I explained my concerns about Wikileaks based on my background in counterintelligence. Specifically, the role of the Russian anti-Semite weirdo Israel Shamir, a close friend of Assange, in the Wikileaks circle merited attention, and to anyone trained in the right clues, the Assange group gave the impression of having a relationship with Russian intelligence. As I summed up my position in July 2013, based on what we knew so far:
It’s especially important given the fact that Wikileaks is playing a leading role in the Snowden case, to the dismay of some of Ed’s admirers and even members of his family. Not to mention that Snowden, as of this writing, is still in Moscow. One need not be a counterintelligence guru to have serious questions about Shamir and Wikileaks here. It may be a much bigger part of the story than it appears to the naked eye.
Evidence that Wikileaks is not what it seems to be has mounted over the years. Assange’s RT show didn’t help matters, neither did the fact that, despite having claimed to possess secret Russian intelligence files, Wikileaks has never exposed anything sensitive, as they have done with the purloined files of many other countries. To say nothing of Assange & Co. taking unmistakably pro-Russian positions on a host of controversial issues. Questions logically followed.
Now answers are appearing. It’s long been known that Wikileaks, by their own admission, counseled Ed Snowden in June 2013 to leave Hong Kong and head to Moscow. Contrary to the countless lies propagated by Snowden Operation activists, Snowden’s arrival in Russia was his choice; it had nothing to do with canceled passports in Washington, DC.
An important gap has been filled this week by Julian Assange, who admitted that Snowden going to Moscow was his idea. Ed wanted to head to Latin America, Julian asserted, especially Ecuador, whose London embassy Assange has been hiding out in for years on the lam from rape changes in Sweden. As Assange explained, “He preferred Latin America, but my advice was that he should take asylum in Russia despite the negative PR consequences, because my assessment is that he had a significant risk he could be kidnapped from Latin America on CIA orders. Kidnapped or possibly killed.”
Only in Russia would Ed be safe, Julian counseled, because there he would be protected by Vladimir Putin and his secret services, notably the FSB. One might think that seeking the shelter of the FSB — one of the world’s nastiest secret police forces that spies on millions without warrant and murders opponents freely — might be an odd choice for a “privacy organization.” But Wikileaks is no ordinary NGO.
Why Assange knew Russia would take in Snowden — it could be a big political hassle for Moscow — is a key question that any counterintelligence officer would want answered. Was Julian speaking on behalf of the FSB or did he just “know” Ed could obtain the sanctuary plus protection he sought?
Just as telling is the recent report on Assange’s activities in Ecuador’s London embassy, where it turns out Ecuadorian intelligence has been keeping tabs on him. Which is no surprise given the PR mess Assange has created for Ecuador with his on-going antics.
Especially interesting is the revelation that, while holed up in London, Assange “requested that he be able to chose his own Security Service inside the embassy, suggesting the use of Russian operatives.” It is, to say the least, surpassingly strange that a Western “privacy advocate” wants Russian secret police protection while hiding out in a Western country. The original Spanish is clear: Assange “habría sido la elección de su propio Servicio de Seguridad en el interior de la embajada, llegando a proponer la participación de operadores de nacionalidad rusa.”
Why Assange wants FSB bodyguards is a question every journalist who encounters Julian henceforth should ask. Until he explains that, Wikileaks should be treated as the front and cut-out for Russian intelligence that it has become, while those who get in bed with Wikileaks — many Western “privacy advocates” are in that group — should be asked their feelings about their own at least indirect ties with Putin’s spy services.
P.S. For those familiar with espionage history, there is a clear precedent for such an arrangement. In 1978 the magazine Covert Action Information Bulletin appeared to expose the secrets of US and Western intelligence. Its editor was Phil Agee, a former CIA officer who had gotten into bed with Cuban and Soviet intelligence; think of Agee as the Snowden of the pre-Internet era. CAIB was in fact founded on the direction of the KGB and for years served as a conduit for Kremlin lies and disinformation that seriously harmed Western intelligence. While CAIB presented itself as a radical truth-telling group, in actuality it was a KGB front, though few CAIB staffers beyond Agee knew who was really calling the shots. One suspects much the same is happening with Wikileaks.
As regular readers know, I have a special interest in the Isonzo front of the Great War, the bloody dozen battles that raged in the Alps on what is now the border of Italy and Slovenia from May 1915 through October 1917. The word slaughter isn’t too strong to describe the Isonzo tragedy, which far outpaced the better known battles at Verdun, the Somme, and Passchendaele in terms of lives lost. For almost two and a half years two great armies pummeled each other in one of the most beautiful valleys in Europe, for no strategic gain.
My first book, available in English and Italian, detailed the all-but-forgotten Isonzo front and introduced it to English-speaking audiences. I’ve written about the Isonzo battles more than once on this blog too (see here and here), explaining their continuing relevance to Europe today.
With the centenary of the Great War upon us, there’s growing interest in that monumental conflict, so when I was approached by a travel company to put together a tour of the Isonzo I didn’t hesitate — especially because no such tour existed. I’ve designed a one-of-a-kind tour next May, led personally by the top expert on this front — that would be me — that will take you through the Isonzo valley. Here the battlefields of 1915-1917, having been mostly forgotten by history, remain remarkably as they were a century ago. Commerce and tourism have altered their appearance little, so this bespoke tour will be something special.
This will be a unique opportunity to see the Isonzo valley’s beautiful sights, witness history first-hand, and have a fun time doing it. The rugged mountains and the turquoise-blue river are breathtaking. Local food and wine are excellent. We will visit fortresses, entrenchments blasted in rock a hundred years ago, monuments, museums, cemeteries, and battle sites the whole length of the Isonzo valley. The tour will begin in Vienna, the onetime Habsburg capital, to set the proper historical tone for the period.
Come see what Ernest Hemingway, an ambulance driver in the Italian Army, wrote of so vividly of in A Farewell to Arms. See where a young officer named Erwin Rommel won the Pour le Mérite, the highest Prussian decoration, beginning his legendary career. See where an Italian corporal, one Benito Mussolini, nearly succumbed to wounds on a limestone plateau overlooking the Adriatic. See where nearly two million men were killed or maimed. See where Europe was permanently changed by slaughter.
If you’d like information about this special tour, click here — and send the link to anybody who might be interested. We’ll have a great time. Thanks.
Today the office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko released via Twitter important details about the organization and structure of Russia’s occupying army in Southeastern Ukraine. The order of battle (ORBAT) information is clearly derived from a lot of intelligence, especially SIGINT (I say this as someone who used to do ORBAT intelligence for a living: this is well done).
Since most of my readers know neither Russian or Ukrainian, I’m passing on what Kyiv has released today in English. The translation isn’t great but it works. I’m providing comments below since most normals are not well acquainted with the nuances of Russian military organization.
Russian Military Command, South-East Ukraine (Novocherkask):
Commanding Officer (CO): GenCol A N. Serdyukov 
1st Army Corps (“Donetsk People’s Republic” Military), HQ: Donetsk
CO: GenMaj A.V. Zavizyon 
2nd Army Corps (“Luhansk People’s Republic” Military), HQ: Luhansk
CO: GenMaj Y. V. Nikiforov 
The organization of the 1st and 2nd Corps, no surprise, corresponds exactly to the standard tables of organization and equipment (TO&E) of Russian Ground Forces. There are several maneuver brigades (“motor rifle” is the Russian term for mechanized in NATO parlance) supported by independent regiments and battalions. As Kyiv has announced, the 35,000 troops belonging to “DNR” and “LNR” forces are bolstered by 9,000 reservists. While some forty percent of the troops are locals, the rest are Russians plus a few mercenaries and foreign volunteers.
The senior command staff are exclusively Russian officers assigned to the 1st and 2nd Corps — officially they are “not there” of course — while the operation is run, logistically and command-wise, from neighboring Russia.
To anybody with a decent memory, this closely resembles the relationship during the 1992-95 Bosnian War, when the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS), while consisting largely of local rank-and-file troops, had most of its command, and nearly all of its financing and logistics, coming from neighboring Serbia and its military — which, in practice treated the VRS as merely as an extension of itself, as in fact it was.
Needless to add, the “DNR” and “LNR” militaries would not last twenty-four hours without constant command and logistical support from Putin’s military. They are an extension of Russian Ground Forces and should be treated as such by the West. It’s time to end, once and for all, any fiction about “rebels” — these are Russian-controlled forces, led by Russian officers, supplied with Russian guns and ammunition, that are waging war inside Ukraine.
Kudos to Kyiv for putting this important information out there as an aid to understanding what’s really going on in their country.
1. AKA Sedov; GenCol is a Russian “three-star” rank.
2. AKA Pilen; GenMaj is a Russian “one-star” rank.
3. AKA Morgun; GenMaj is a Russian “one-star” rank.
With each passing day, Hillary Clinton’s political and legal difficulties relating to EmailGate continue to pile up. While her supporters have taken some glee from the revelation that Caroline Kennedy, while serving as U.S. ambassador to Japan, inappropriately used personal email for official business — as Hillary did exclusively — there’s less here than meets the eye. Kennedy was putting Sensitive But Unclassified information (a State Department term for what the Intelligence Community calls For Official Use Only, meaning information that is not classified yet cannot be released to the public without agency approval), which is an administrative, not legal matter. In other words, it’s a lot less serious than what Hillary stands accused of having done at Foggy Bottom.
Team Hillary’s catch-all has been that her attorney, David Kendall, had her unclassified-but-actually-classified emails under proper lock and key for months, before he handed them over to the FBI. While it was generally known that Kendall had a security clearance — this is not uncommon for high-flying DC lawyers who deal with national security cases — the details have come to light:
Kendall says he got a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance from the Justice Department in November 2013 and a Top Secret clearance from the State Department about a year later. Kendall says his Williams & Connolly law partner, Katherine Turner, also got a Top Secret clearance from State in December 2014.
“These State Department security clearances remain active. We obtained them in order to be able to review documents at the Department of State, to assist former Secretary Clinton in preparing to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi,” Kendall wrote on Monday,
The devil lurks in the lawyerly details here, so allow me to unpack the argument. We can infer from Kendall’s statement that his TS/SCI clearances received from DoJ do not remain active, and that’s critically important here, since the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General has determined that, from only the forty (of some 30,000) of Hillary’s emails they investigated, two actually had TS/SCI information in them (specifically also TALENT KEYHOLE and NOFORN, making it even worse to have put this on an unclassified and unencrypted server). If Kendall’s SCI was not active when he received and held Hillary’s emails classified at that level, he too was in violation of Federal law.
Additionally, per Federal law, TS/SCI information must always be placed in a Secure Compartmented Information Facility, a special, purpose-built room designed to protect against physical and electronic intrusion. A full-blown SCIF surely Kendall did not possess. It has been reported that the State Department belatedly supplied Kendall with a safe to store his client’s thumb-drives and emails, which was nowhere near adequate to protect TS/SCI information. Not to mention that he apparently kept Hillary’s materials unsecured for months before he received the DoS safe in July. While a hardened safe in an unclassified office can store classified information up to the Secret level, TS/SCI requires a complete SCIF. Anything less is a clear violation of Federal law. Hillary has placed herself and her attorney in a precarious position here.
To make matters worse, it has been reported that Huma Abedin, Hillary’s trusty sidekick/factotum/mini-me, while serving as her State Department super-staffer, placed information relating to embassy security matters into unclassified email — again, on her boss’s unencrypted server (which Huma, too, had an account on: just how many of Hillary’s inner circle had privileges on said server will be an important matter for the FBI to unravel). Embassy security information is something that is always considered classified, given the all-too-common attacks that befall American embassies and diplomats worldwide. Even worse, Huma placed TS/SCI information from three difference intelligence agencies and sent them to Hillary’s unclassified server.
Why, then, Abedin remains free and not in FBI custody seems a relevant question right now. As does whether Hillary retains her security clearances. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has pointedly asked if Clinton’s clearances remain active, and this is an important matter. In any normal investigation of potential security leaks, those under investigation have all clearances suspended at once, for as long as the case is open, to prevent further leaks. If Hillary still has active clearances at this point, that’s more proof that there are two sets of laws in this country: one for average citizens and one for our elites, especially Clintons.
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s effort to quash the rising scandal over her misuse of email when she was secretary of State has so far backfired spectacularly. Instead of cutting the story short, she has fanned the flames, and now even some of her backers in the Democratic Party are worried about the trajectory of this drama, which threatens to derail her presidential candidacy.
For readers who’ve mostly ignored emailgate — assuming it would disappear — and now feel the need to catch up, here’s a primer on why it matters.
It’s difficult to avoid the suspicion that Clinton, after the scandals that rocked her husband’s presidency during the 1990s, simply did not want to leave behind a paper trail (or e-trail). And so, as secretary of State, she tried to skirt federal records law by employing her own IT systems and servers, and by exclusively using a personal email address.
Read the rest at the Los Angeles Times …