Is the US drone program overseas, state sponsored terrorism?

Yes it is. By the rules of international law an intervention on foreign soil is an act of war. If there is not a declared war between the two countries then it is a unilateral decision to attack another without the “correct” mandate.

Former CIA and NSA Director, Michael Hayden

In any other case that is referred to as “terrorism” when carried out by a proscribed organization or a nation.

Over 3000 Pakistanis have been killed in US drone strikes targeting a few dozen or so “known” terrorists. Obama has been under heavy scrutiny for authorizing drone campaigns that result in gross mistakes, killing a great number of innocent people while targeting “confirmed terrorists.”

Since 2004, there have been 401 US drone strikes in Afghanistan, alone, killing 3,058 people total. In Pakistan, hundreds, including children, have died in pursuit of a mere two dozen declared terrorists.

In 2014, the former director of both the CIA and NSA, Michael Hayden, proudly claimed they “kill people based on metadata”, using drones – but not the right people in most cases and the source of the information used to determine the “terrorist” classification has been shown to be hopelessly flawed via an NSA program named SKYNET.

The war on extremists is acceptable – the “collateral” casualties as they are called – which demonstrates the lack of value placed on innocent lives – is terrorism – pure and simple.

About SKYNET

SKYNET is a program by the U.S. National Security Agency that performs machine learning analysis on communications data to extract information about possible terror suspects. The tool is used to identify targets, such as al-Qaeda couriers, who move between GSM cellular networks. These couriers often swap SIM cards within phones that have the same ESN, MEID or IMEI number.

The tool uses classification techniques like random forest analysis. Because the data set includes a very large proportion of true negatives and a small training set, there is a risk of overfitting. Bruce Schneier argues that a false positive rate of 0.008% would be low for commercial applications where “if Google makes a mistake, people see an ad for a car they don’t want to buy” but “if the government makes a mistake, they kill innocents.”

The SKYNET project was linked with drone systems, thus creating the potential for false-positives to lead to deaths. Al-Jazeera’s bureau chief in Islamabad, Ahmad Zaidan, was wrongly identified as the most probable member of al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood on their records.

Despite the fact it is improbable to be a member of both groups, he is also widely and publicly known for traveling to meet with radical groups, but was instead identified due to mobile phone surveillance placing him in rural locations.

This has been seen to show the failing of the system, as it has misidentified a journalist conducting legitimate, public business as a potential terrorist, whilst also harming freedom of the press and breaking US law on surveillance of journalists.

Source: SKYNET – Wiki

END.

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Ireland is the Global Per Capita Leader for Radical Islamists

Various aspects of national security in Ireland are handled by several different specialist units within the Gardaí including the Emergency Response Unit, the Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau, the Special Detective Unit, Crime & Security Branch as well as G2 Military Intelligence.

However Ireland’s neutrality means that the country does not have the same military and defence budgets, as a percentage of GDP, made available to develop capabilities compared to most other countries.

Irish Intel’s Non-Existent Proactive Track Record

Dubious and bizarre characters of all kinds keep turning up on Irish shores or are in-country having become naturalised Irish citizens or having successfully acquired residency or asylum in Ireland. All of this while involved in various kinds of international military interventions, terrorist fundraising, extremism or as known proponents of radical ideologies.

It would seem that it all falls well below the radar of those who are allegedly overseeing these matters but who assure the Irish public that everything is under control and that there is very little to be concerned about. For instance, after the Paris attacks, the Irish Justice Minister said that “the latest threat assessment to Ireland does not increase… it is low,” and rejected claims that the country’s 9,500 strong Defence Force was inadequately equipped to deal with the terrorist threat. (RTE, November 18, 2015).

This statement betrays the Irish Intel communities blind-spot with respect to Radical Islamism – namely that efforts, if any, are focussed on looking inwards when Ireland has a disproportionate effect on the external activities of Islamic extremists in comparison to the size of its Muslim population.

How can Ireland’s intelligence agencies convince the international community that they are seriously capable of tackling the “jihadi growth industry” in Ireland when spectacular characters such as – Ali-Charaf Damache – The Black Flag or the ISIS recruiter currently resisting deportation or Mahdi al-Harati and his receipt of several million EURO from one of the US alphabet agencies to sponsor rebels in Libya – go completely unnoticed by them until drawn to their attention by externals?

In relation to the Radical Islamist threat we allege that Irish government policy, inertia and ignorance combined with the support and encouragement of ill informed pressure groups, biased refugee support groups and “one size fits all, up for anything” liberals has allowed Ireland to become the soft underbelly for jihadist movement, organisation and support (in particular propagandist social media accounts) in Europe.

Irish Based ISIS Recruiter Fighting Deportation Order 

Mahdi al-Harati (Centre) Irish-Libyan 
Liwaa al-Umma Founder & Alleged US Alphabet Agency Asset 

Three Serious Emerging National Security Threats 

There are three new distinct threats to the Irish State which the Irish State is inadequately equipped to tackle: Islamic Jihadists, Cyber Threats and Espionage.

Cyber Threats and Espionage because of Ireland’s large R&D sector and the massive foreign direct investment Ireland receives while acting as EMEA and in some cases Global HQ’s for many tech and pharmaceutical giants. The Cyber Warfare and Espionage Threats will be the subject of separate blog posts.

There have been arguments that Ireland needs one agency to deal with these three threats alone.

This contrasts sharply with the rhetoric of the Irish government and the downplaying of the threat posed by these newish phenomena in terms of Ireland’s security landscape.

Myriad Weaknesses in Irish Government Policy

In particular, when it comes to tackling Islamic extremism there are myriad weaknesses in the Irish system and the approaches used have not changed much since The Troubles, despite the modern challenges and vastly different methods being used by jihadists.

The Irish government’s assessment is that the Irish security services, despite their small size, have an extremely competent counter-terrorism wing, honed over decades of tackling Irish republican militancy.

The question, however, is to what extent this expertise can now be repurposed towards dealing with militant Islamism, especially given that the threat is rapidly growing and evolving and is culturally, structurally and ideologically at complete odds with what the alleged past experience of the Irish security services has been – from which officialdom in Ireland draws comfort.

Counter Terrorism International (CTI)

Last year the Garda established the Counter Terrorism International (CTI) unit to target groups supporting extremist operations in other countries. The unit it is said works closely with its counterparts throughout the EU, with the CIA, and the National Security Agency in the United States.

Nóirín O’Sullivan is the current Commissioner of the Garda Síochána

Despite this progress, the Irish security services – even this allegedly specialized Islamist-focused unit – face significant resourcing and expertise shortfalls. Irish media recently reported the Gardai lack key counterterrorism tactics such as knowledge of the Arabic-language skills, a dedicated unit tracking jihadist social media and a de-radicalization strategy to rehabilitate returning foreign fighters (Irish Examiner, November 21, 2015).

A source told the Sunday Independent late in 2015 that: “What you have is small groups of jihadis who cannot travel directly to Turkey, for access to Syria, arriving here, receiving support and money and then transiting through Ireland to the war zones. There is quite an elaborate support network based in Dublin and other major Leinster towns which is attracting the attention of security agencies in the rest of Europe and further afield.”

As the above instances demonstrate, Irish jihadists’ alleged use of the country as a logistical and transport hub where false passports can be procured poses potential risks not only to Ireland but also abroad. Uniquely, Irish citizens do not need passports to travel to the UK, and the country is part of the EU and enjoys easy travel to the US under the latter’s visa waiver system. As a result, Islamist radicalization in Ireland does not just pose a threat within Ireland’s borders, but also to countries further afield, and Ireland has failed utterly in its responsibilities in that regard with its laissez-faire attitude to the problem.

That paper also reported that foreign intelligence agencies believe that extremists have been holding training camps in remote areas of Leinster – a province in the East of Ireland.

A Garda spokesperson recently told The Journal Dot IE, that: “In line with best international practice, we seek to promote engagement with communities to counter the threat of radicalisation and devote appropriate resources to investigate individuals who are assessed to pose a threat. A close working relationship is maintained with police and security partners in the EU and other countries in respect of developing threats and ongoing, international efforts to counter terrorism generally. It would be inappropriate, in view of ongoing operations and enquiries, to comment further on specific strategies or methodologies.”

The Islamic Jihadist Threat in Ireland 

Since 2012, it is claimed by official sources that up to 60 Irish citizens have traveled to Syria to fight for a number of different Sunni rebel groups including ISIS. The government in Ireland insisted as recently as January of 2016 that the figure was between 25 and 30. The government of Ireland often states that three of these war zone tourists have been killed. Yet a cursory trawl of records online shows at least five casualties.

  1. Irish citizen, 22-year old Hudhaifa ElSayed, who was of Egyptian origin but raised in Ireland’s County Louth, was killed with Liwaa al-Umma during a clash with Syrian government forces in Idlib province in northern Syria in December 2012 (The Journal, December 20, 2012).
  2. Another individual, 16-year old Shamseddin Gaidan, a Dublin resident of Libyan origin, was killed in Syria in February 2013 fighting with an unknown rebel group, having crossed into the country from Turkey the previous year (Independent [Ireland], February 23, 2013). 
  3. Hisham Habbash (29), a Libyan-born man who grew up in Ireland was been killed during fighting between rebels and regime forces near the northeastern town of Raqqa. (Irish Times, June 24, 2013).
  4. Jordanian-born Palestinian, 22-year old Alaa Ciymeh, who had been brought up in Ireland before returning to Jordan in 2008. He was killed while fighting for the group in April 2013 (Irish Times, May 3, 2013; Herald [Ireland], June 27, 2014).
  5. Muthenna Abu Taubah, 24, an Irish jihadi who defended the beheading of western hostages by IS blew himself up in a bomb-making factory. He died in an accident along with his best friend in the terror group’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa, Syria. (The Irish Sun, June 25, 2015)

Although details of Irish involvement in more hardline groups such as the Islamic State or al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate, Jahbat al-Nusra, are scarce, there is evidence that Irish citizens are active with these groups. In August 2014, Irish media reported that a self-described “Irish-Nigerian” convert to Islam had been trying to recruit individuals to come to Syria via the ask.fm internet forum, an approach used by other Islamic State recruiters (Independent, August 21, 2014). In one exchange, the individual – whose online name was “Muthenna ibn Abu” – defended IS’s beheading of British aid worker, David Haines (Independent, September 14, 2014). His identity and current whereabouts are unknown.

TMGCS Counter Theory on Radical Islam in Ireland

Over the course of the last twenty four months TMGCS carried out research that commenced after the publication of our blog post Precision Guided Message (23rd July 2014). The investigation sought to provide a detailed assessment of the actual jihadi culture in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Various methods were used to collect the information that informed the conclusions drawn below including information from sources who participated in relevant events, participation in and observation of certain relevant groups, information from sources in agencies and organisations external to the Irish State, information from sources from the Middle East region living elsewhere in Europe who have been on the ground in Syria, Libya & Iraq, interviews and discussions with associates of known jihadists, observations at a number of student group gatherings as well as input from a number of other methods and OSINT.

The evidence that Ireland, as well as a key exporter of jihadists, is home to a number of Islamic State supporters who are actively providing financial and other forms of support, using the country not only as a recruiting centre, but as a logistical hub is compelling.

The headline outcome of the process is that TMGCS estimate that the actual figure of travelling Irish jihadists is closer to 125 and that, conservatively, there are 20 plus active ISIS supporters providing logistical assistance to that group from within the Irish State.

In November 2015, independent cyber security analysts used leaked details of Islamic State-supporting Twitter accounts to establish that between 20 and 50, active Islamic State online-based supporters were residing in Ireland (The Journal, November 23).

In another indicator of latent support for the Islamic State in Ireland, Irish Muslims responsible for organizing a ‘Not in Our Name’ protest against the terrorist group in July 2015 claimed that they were assaulted by two self-identified Islamic State supporters in an unnamed mosque in Dublin (Irish Times, July 27).

At present, the Irish government is seeking to deport a 52-year old individual (who cannot be named for legal reasons) to a Middle Eastern country (The Journal, December 29). The government has described him as “the foremost organizer and facilitator of travel by extremists prepared to undertake violent action” on behalf of Islamic State in Ireland, and of having also recruited for jihadist groups in Afghanistan (Ibid).

In a potentially related development, in November 2015, citing a security service source, Irish media reported that “a small number of Irish-based Muslim extremists” with a “central group consisting of around 12 radicals” had been sheltering British and European jihadists, including supplying them with fake passports for travel (Irish Independent, November 1, 2015). The source additionally said that Ireland was being used as a stop-off point for jihadists en route to Turkey, in order to confuse security services watching for jihadists travelling to Turkey directly (Ibid).

Excluded Groups

The research process did not include a review or conclusions drawn from the elements of Irish society who are Muslim converts, are non-Muslim or have no direct links to the Middle East but who nonetheless support certain Radical Islamist ideals and groups.

“Taliban Terry” aka Muslim Convert Khalid Kelly

This section of the jihadist infrastructure in Ireland – North and South – mainly draws support from former members or supporters of certain paramilitary organisations, other extremist groups, certain left wing independent politicians, the usual array of the psychologically challenged and a small number of official as well as un-registered “political” parties.

Derry man Eamon Bradley 
Irish fighter in Syrian civil war after arrest in Northern Ireland
and subsequently charged with terror offences
Eamon Bradley in the Middle East with a number of weapons

The Official vs the Unofficial Extremist Per Capita Statistics

At first glance, it would appear that the official and even the increased TMGCS estimates are insignificant compared to other European countries’ jihadist cultures, in particular France and Germany, and minuscule when compared to say active participants in the Syrian conflict from North African countries such as Tunisia and Morocco.

But that is the danger of stand alone numbers versus the value of statistics and analysis.

Countries with relatively small Muslim populations have sent a disproportionately large numbers of jihadis abroad. Finland and Ireland according to reports have the highest number of foreign fighters per capita – nearly one per 1,400 Muslims living in those countries have gone to Syria.

Britain and France have comparable percentages of local Muslims going to fight in Syria – just over one in 6,000 British Muslims and one in 6,666 French Muslims have gone to Syria, governments say. The figures in the Netherlands are not far off, around one in 7,700. American Muslims are going to Syria at a much lower rate, closer to one in 25,000.

CNN recently conducted a study based on data provided by twenty five national governments, from Pew Research Center and a number of other sources. That study concluded that Ireland had the second highest per capita rate of Muslims going to fight in Syria of the twenty five countries surveyed.

Percentage of Local Muslims Who Have Gone to Fight (CNN Study)

The CNN Study put the figure of Irish Jihadists at 0.07% of the overall number of Muslims in Ireland. Out of a Muslim population of around 43,000 only 25 to 30 individuals have gone to fight in Syria according to the information CNN received from the Irish government. Globally, even these incorrect figures still put Ireland in second place in terms of per capita rate of Muslims going to fight in Syria.

  1. Finland: 0.071% – 42,000 Muslims call Finland home. Roughly 30 of them have left to engage in jihadist battles in Syria;
  2. Ireland: 0.070% – Out of a Muslim population of around 43,000, 25 to 30 individuals have gone to fight in Syria according to official Irish government figures; 
  3. France: 0.0175% – Over 700 Muslims have gone from France to fight in Syria out of a population of over four million;
  4. Tunisia: 0.0319% – Out of a population of over 10 million Muslims, there are around 3,000 jihadis;
  5. Indonesia: 0.000370% – A population of over 200 million, has only seen between 30 and 60 Muslims going to fight in the conflict in Syria; 

Ireland Has An Abnormally High Per Capita Rate of Radical Islamists

Ireland is estimated to have a total Muslim population of between 45,000 and 60,000. For the purposes of developing the TMGCS statistics the median figure of 52,500 was chosen.

The result of the CNN study based on government figures was (as outlined above):

Ireland: 0.070% – Out of a Muslim population of around 43,000, 25 to 30 individuals have gone to fight in Syria according to official Irish government figures. Approximating to roughly one in 1400 Irish Muslims;   

The result of the TMGCS study based on the methods we described above is:
Ireland: 0.2761% – Out of a Muslim population of 52,500 (median value), 125 plus individuals have gone to fight in Syria and the radical Islamist process is directly supported by 20 facilitators in Ireland for a total figure of 145. One in every 362 Irish Muslims;     
If the Muslim population estimate of Ireland of 43,000 is used as per the CNN study then the figures are:
Ireland: 0.3372% – Out of a Muslim population of 43,000 (CNN Study Benchmark Figure), 125 plus individuals have gone to fight in Syria and the radical Islamist process is directly supported by 20 facilitators in Ireland for a total figure of 145. One in 297 Irish Muslims;   
Why So Many Radicalized Irish Resident Muslims?
(Excerpted & Referenced from Articles by The Jamestown Foundation)
One potential causes of Irish Muslim radicalization is the range of Islamist groups from the Arab world with strong ideological commitments to “sharia law” and to creating an “Islamic state” that are strongly entrenched in Irish Muslim communities.

These groups have prepared the ground for recruitment and re-inforced the previously slick ISIS propaganda machine while hampering attempts to combat it. Most notably, the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland (ICCI), based in a mosque in Clonskeagh, Dublin has positioned itself as a representative of all Muslims in Ireland and consequently enjoys privileged access to the Irish government.

This group is closely tied to the hardline European Council for Fatwa and Research, run by Muslim Brotherhood figurehead Yusuf al-Qaradawi, which has sought to promote highly conservative interpretations of Islam to European Muslims.

Even today, ICCI’s website openly offers PDFs of books calling for adulterers to be flogged or stoned to death, thereby directly promoting the same core Islamist ideologies as the Islamic State itself, even while remaining a key partner of the Irish government.

As with other Islamist-influenced organisations in the West, the ICCI has also consistently denied that any radicalization is taking place in Ireland, greatly hampering the attempts to understand domestic radicalization or gain the support of Muslim communities.

For instance, following the November 2015 Paris attacks, the ICCI’s spokesman, Ali Selim, told Irish media that while he condemned the attacks, Irish Muslims “have not been entertaining the ideas [the Islamic State] has been trying to sell them” (RTE, November 14, 2015).

The ICCI has also sought to publicly undermine other Muslim group’s anti-Islamic State protests, for instance, refusing to join an anti-Islamic State march organized by a non-Islamist Sufi Muslim group, further undermining Irish efforts to combat Islamist radicalization (Irish Independent, July 5, 2015).

Irish Government Reaction – Withdrawal of Passports
To counter this issue the most radical action that the Irish government has taken was when it decided last year (2015) that the passports of those involved in illegal jihadi activity in Iraq or Syria would be withdrawn. Pure lip service. 
Additionally, nearly a year earlier when the UK considered introducing similar measures Nick Clegg said it was not obvious how the UK could withdraw passports from British jihadis and remain inside international law. The then deputy prime minister indicated that the idea was unlikely to work, saying that the UK would not do anything illegal. 
The British government had been examining the possibility of withdrawing citizenship from suspected jihadis returning from Iraq and Syria. However, David Cameron acknowledged that there were legal difficulties and omitted it from his package of measures to deal with the problem. 
David Anderson, an independent reviewer of terrorism, said there were significant difficulties with giving police the powers to withdraw passports from UK citizens, in effect leaving them stateless.
In Ireland, we have failed to find any instances of the policy being put into action and the most recent case running through the Irish Courts is ample evidence of the inability of the Irish judiciary to tackle what seems to amount to an open and shut case in terms of an ISIS recruiter operating openly in Dublin, Ireland.  
ISIS Recruiter Fighting Deportation Order 
Before publication we contacted a number of Islamic institutions in Ireland for comment on the findings and assertions in this article and offered them an opportunity to counter our thesis and respond with corrections or suggestions. We received no responses.
References & Sources 

The Jamestown Foundation
James Brandon, Political & Security Risk Analyst
Terrorism Monitor Volume: 14 Issue: 1 January 7, 2016
Global Research & Analysis – EURASIA:Terrorism
Michael Sheils McNamee @michaelonassis michaelsm@thejournal.ie
Michelle Hennessy @michellehtweet michelle@thejournal.ie
The Journal Dot IE
Vocativ
Die Welt
France 24
El Mundo
VICE News
RT.com
The Syrian Human Rights Observatory
The Irish Times
The Foreign Policy Institute
War on the Rocks Blog
The Long War Journal
The Irish Sun
The Independent
The Guardian
The Daily Mail

Understanding NSA / INR Security Classifications on Intelligence Assessments

The misuse and mishandling of sensitive information by Hillary Clinton and her staffers at Foggy Bottom during her tenure as Secretary of State was a criminal act.

Clinton apologists seek to dilute the gravity of the situation and describe it as “no big deal.” Obfuscation does not change the fact that the placing of highly classified information on an unclassified and unencrypted network is a very serious matter. But what does it actually mean? What type of information was misused.

IC analysts write “finished” intelligence assessments based on multiple information sources every day and then classify them according to their content and the sensitivity / source of the information contained therein. These assessments are authored every day by analysts at multiple American intelligence agencies and offices, then shared with senior leadership.

The Secretary of State is always a top consumer of such intelligence.

The State Department has its own in-house intelligence analysis shop, termed the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) to meet their department’s need for additional classified assessments and reporting.

Classifications are: TOPSECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN

What follows is a short intelligence assessment of the kind U.S. Government officials read every single day, made up by The XX Committee but adhering to the style and substance of what would be produced by an IC analyst.

TOPSECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN 


(S) Economic, Political Problems for Zendia Ahead 

(TS//SI) The Zendian Ambassador to Dirtbagistan believes it is increasingly likely that his country will fail to make its next International Monetary Fund (IMF) payment, scheduled for mid-September. This IMF payment of 475 billion Zendian wangos ($8.4 billion) is beyond his government’s ability to pay, Ambassador Abu Travolta explained to a senior member of his country’s Ministry of Finance (believed to be Deputy Finance Minister Abu Nugent) on 12 August. The ambassador further opined that, in the event of this likely default, the government of Prime Minister Barack Dukakis would not last long, politically. For this reason the Zendian government is going to great lengths to prevent word of the impending IMF default from reaching the media, according to Ambassador Travolta. 

(TS//SI//TK) This information was supported by Zendian Deputy Foreign Minister Abu Bon Jovi, who last week informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) that budget constraints, which he expected to get significantly worse in mid-September, meant that MFA payrolls may not be met upon “something big” happening then. This is believed to be a reference to a possible default on Zendia’s IMF loan. 

(S//NF) According to U.S. Government information obtained from multiple agencies, Ambassador Travolta is a well-connected member of the ruling party and is close to Prime Minister Dukakis. He has a track record of accurate predictions about forthcoming events in his country. 

(FOUO) According to media reports, Ambassador Travolta has been experiencing health problems (NFI) which may indicate his willingness to be unusually frank with fellow members of the Zendian ruling party. 

(U) This situation will be updated as soon as additional information becomes available. 

TOPSECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN

Analyzing the Context of the Classifications

TOPSECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN at the top and bottom of an assessment reflects the highest classification levels of anything incorporated in an assessment. Only people cleared to that level — a very high one — can read a report with this classification.

Each report has a title slug reflecting what it’s about. It’s classified S for SECRET then each paragraph has its classification stated in parentheses at the beginning. This is called “portion marking” by the IC.

The first paragraph is classified TOPSECRET, the highest “official” classification in the U.S. Government, while the addition of SI, meaning Special Intelligence, indicates this is very sensitive stuff. SI is a security caveat that falls under the rubric of Sensitive Compartmented Information or SCI. Not everybody cleared for TOPSECRET also has access to SCI, that’s a separate matter and all SCI materials require special handling to protect them from compromise. Here, SI indicates that the paragraph is based on information from signals intelligence or SIGINT from NSA — in this case an intercepted phone call between two senior Zendian officials.

Although the report never states that this is SIGINT, the kind of information provided plus the SI caveat indicate this is based on NSA reporting, as anybody experienced with intelligence would immediately recognize.

The following paragraph is also based on NSA SIGINT, albeit from a different, even more sensitive source: the TK in its classification stands for TALENT KEYHOLE and indicates that information is derived from foreign communications intercepted by an intelligence satellite. This, again, is a conversation between top Zendian officials, so it’s valuable “horse’s mouth” information. Here two senior bureaucrats seem to corroborate each other, which is an important revelation.

The third paragraph has a lower classification, SECRET, is not based on SIGINT, and has the NOFORN caveat, meaning it cannot be shared with non-Americans (a good deal of NSA SIGINT, even at the TS/SI level, is shared with close foreign partners such as the Anglosphere Five Eyes countries). This paragraph is based on local classified assessments — probably from the US Embassy to Zendia as well as the CIA Station there — that are sent back as regular reports to Washington, DC about the political lay of the land in that country.

The last substantive paragraph isn’t classified at all but has the For Official Use Only marking, meaning it cannot be released to the public without official approval. It’s based on media reports, which represent an important source of information for the IC and the State Department.

OSINT & SIGINT

CIA’s Open Source Center is the IC’s hub for translating foreign media in many languages and, pound for pound, represents the best value in the Intelligence Community. Here, unclassified media (termed Open Source Intelligence or OSINT) by some, is used to round out the assessment, and how the analyst has reached a tentative conclusion based on that media is considered to be FOUO. NFI means No Further Information.

The last line is entirely unclassified, as indicated by the U at the beginning, and states simply that more information will be forthcoming on this issue as the analyst gets it. That last line is the only part of the assessment that is wholly unclassified and, in theory, could be released to the public without a cumbersome approval process: of course, taken alone it says nothing of interest, which perhaps is the point.

The larger point, however, is that, save that last line, absolutely none of the information in this assessment could be released to the public, or placed on any unclassified information system, by anybody, not even a cabinet secretary, without specific approval from outside agencies.

The SIGINT, in particular, is highly sensitive and could only be placed in unclassified channels with an explicit NSA (and probably Director of National Intelligence) go-ahead, which is rare. Even “talking around” such information, especially in written fashion, is unwise and usually represents a serious security breach, not to mention it may be illegal.

Acceptable Use of the Information

For example, this is how a top official who read that Zendian intelligence assessment might proceed:

1. “We’re hearing Zendia will probably default on its IMF loan.” (Marginally acceptable because there’s no attribution, no sources and methods are mentioned, though even so it’s really at least FOUO if it’s a cabinet secretary putting it in an unclassified email.)

2. “We’re getting intel that Zendia will probably default on its IMF loan.” (Unacceptable, a security violation, but not classified higher than SECRET due to lack of source attribution.)

3. “NSA says Zendia will default on its IMF loan in September.” (Absolutely unacceptable in any unclassified format, a compromise of TS//SI sources and methods….call the FBI.)

What exactly happened in the case of Hillary Clinton’s classified emails we don’t know yet, but the FBI is now on the case, and I’m sure the Bureau will eventually find out. What happens after that? It’s too soon to tell ….