Archive for the ‘Intelligence agencies’ category

Ishmael Jones: A Modest Proposal

June 17, 2017

Ishmael Jones: A Modest Proposal, Power LineScott Johnson, June 17, 2017

The solution is to cancel these security clearances. It is an administrative task which is easy to do.

People who don’t work at intelligence agencies shouldn’t have clearances. It’s not a free speech issue. Leakers aren’t protected by the First Amendment.

**************************

The pseudonymous Ishmael Jones is a former CIA case officer and author of The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture. He forwards the column below in the context of the proliferation of leaks attributed by reporters at the New York Times and the Washington Post to “current and former officials.” What is happening here? Mr. Jones explains in this column and offers a modest proposal to mitigate the problem. He advises that the CIA has approved the column for publication:

Leaks of national security secrets with the intent to harm the Trump administration continue to bedevil our nation. Journalists often describe the sources of the leaks as “current and former officials.” There’s an important solution, and one that the Trump administration may not yet be aware of: Remove the “former officials” from the equation.

Nearly all intelligence officials who are fired, retired, pushed out, or resign from the intelligence agencies keep their security clearances. I do not know the specifics of any individual’s clearances but it is nearly certain that opponents of the current administration such as John Brennan, an aggressive Trump critic; James Clapper, who warns that Trump causes an “internal assault on our institutions”; Michael Morell, author of “I Ran the CIA. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton”; and recently fired leaker James Comey retain top-level security clearances.

Security clearances are a deep state guild or union card allowing the holders to swan about intelligence facilities, chatting, gossiping, and gathering intelligence that they can leak to journalists.

The traitor Edward Snowden was pushed out of the CIA. But because he kept his security clearances, he was able to get back inside as a contractor and exfiltrate massive amounts of intelligence.

Hillary definitely retains her security clearances. Huma Abedin probably retains hers as well. Surely Carlos Danger has none – but please check.

CNN journalist Phil Mudd believes House Intelligence Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy “ought to have his ass kicked” for questioning former CIA chief John Brennan. Mr. Mudd is a former CIA employee and likely holds high level security clearances.

President Trump knows how to fire people, but he’s never had the experience of firing people who walk back in the door the next day.

The solution is to cancel these security clearances. It is an administrative task which is easy to do.

People who don’t work at intelligence agencies shouldn’t have clearances. It’s not a free speech issue. Leakers aren’t protected by the First Amendment.

The origin of the policy allowing these people to keep their clearances is that it is often necessary to bring back former employees who have valuable skills and specialties. But most of these guys got to their high rank by outsitting their competition. They don’t speak foreign languages or hold other essential skills.

These aren’t retired firemen who drop by the firehouse to see their friends. Some former intel officials are using their security clearances for malicious and self-interested purposes.

The ability to safeguard our national security secrets protects us from our enemies. A healthy step in stopping intelligence leaks and blocking bureaucratic opposition to our new President will be to carefully evaluate who’s got access to America’s sensitive secrets and take corrective action.

How President Trump Can Make American Intelligence Great Again

December 13, 2016

How President Trump Can Make American Intelligence Great Again, Center for Security Policy, Fred Fleitz, December 12, 2016

(But please see, Abolish the CIA? Perhaps Trump’s CIA will be better than the old CIA.– DM)

ciastuff

Source: National Review

In 2010, when I was on the staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I attended a committee hearing on the North Korean nuclear program. That hearing epitomized the failure of post-9/11 reforms of U.S. intelligence and showed why the Trump administration must take aggressive steps to streamline American intelligence. Only then can it can return to being the great institution that provides the intelligence support our presidents need to protect our nation against national-security threats facing our nation today.

This process should start by sharply scaling back or eliminating the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

The lead witness at this hearing, seated at the center of a long witness table, was the ODNI North Korea issue manager. Seated next to him on each side were the ODNI issue manager for WMD proliferation and the director of the ODNI National Counterproliferation Center.

Joining them were the National Intelligence Council (NIC) officers for WMD proliferation and East Asia, both part of the ODNI. The CIA sent two witnesses, from its proliferation and North Korea–analysis offices. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the State Department, and the Department of Energy sent one witness each.

In addition to these 10 witnesses, other senior intelligence officials attended as backbenchers. There also was a gaggle of aides, handlers, and congressional liaison staffers. There were so many that they could not all fit into the hearing room.

The hearing seemed to go on forever, since the lead witness kept inviting all his colleagues to weigh in on every question asked by committee members. Some of the backbenchers spoke too. This became monotonous, since every witness (except for the one from DIA) parroted the same watered-down consensus view. Making this worse, the witnesses’ consensus statements were proven to be completely wrong a few months later.

This mob of intelligence officials spouting the same watered-down pablum exemplified why the reform of U.S. intelligence mandated by the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) has been an utter failure. Although IRTPA created the position of the director of national intelligence as a new official to oversee all U.S. intelligence agencies, to ensure that these agencies would cooperate and share information, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has developed into a huge additional layer of bureaucracy, with far too many officials, that has made American intelligence analysis and collection less efficient and more risk-averse.

This is in part due to blowback from 9/11 and Iraq War intelligence failures, but also is a typical situation for a 70-year-old, multi-billion-dollar bureaucracy that has become complex and complacent. As is true with many established government bureaucracies, political factors and fear of being wrong weigh heavily on the operations of U.S. intelligence agencies. While America still has the world’s best and most capable intelligence service, it has lost the “can-do” intrepid spirit of its predecessor, the heroic World War II-era Office of Strategic Services.

The ODNI has made this problem much worse — not just because it is an additional layer of stifling bureaucracy, but also because it has become a 17th intelligence agency, with its own intelligence analysts, thousands of employees, and a huge — and ever growing — budget.

In 2007, House Intelligence Committee members were so disturbed about the rapid growth of the ODNI bureaucracy that they approved, on a bipartisan basis, an amendment to the 2008 intelligence authorization bill to freeze the ODNI staff to the number working for it as of May 1, 2007. I drafted this amendment, which was co-sponsored by Congressmen Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) and Alcee Hastings (D., Fla.).

Hastings said at the time about this amendment:

We will not give you a blank check with which you could continue to grow a new bureaucracy before we know what you are doing with what you already have. A bigger bureaucracy does not make better intelligence.

Although Hastings was right, the Hastings/Rogers amendment was never implemented, since Congress did not pass an intelligence authorization bill that year. I hate to think how many times the ODNI staff has doubled since the House Intelligence Committee attempted to halt its growth in 2007.

The IRTPA reforms have hurt U.S. intelligence in other ways. The President’s Daily Brief (PDB), which used to be a lean and effective daily intelligence publication for the president produced by the CIA, has become an ODNI publication, weighed down with bureaucracy to make it “fair” so that all 17 intelligence organizations can participate and use it to publish articles justifying their budget requests to Congress.

The ODNI bureaucracy has also burdened intelligence agencies with unnecessary reports, regulations, and foreign travel by ODNI staff.

Aside from being an attempt to improve the sharing of information between intelligence agencies in the aftermath of the 9/11 intelligence failures, the ODNI also was created because some believed it is impossible for the CIA director to both manage the CIA and oversee the rest of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

I have long believed that these reasons are false. The CIA director, as the director of central intelligence (DCI), worked well for decades as the head of all U.S. intelligence agencies. The failure to share intelligence between U.S. intelligence agencies prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks could have been addressed without creating the DNI position and its huge and plodding bureaucracy. Moreover, intelligence agencies have failed to share crucial information despite the creation of the ODNI.

For example, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) issued a damning report in 2010 on how U.S. intelligence agencies failed to share information that could have prevented Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — the 2009 “underwear bomber” — from boarding a plane from Europe that he almost blew up over the city of Detroit. The report found that U.S. intelligence agencies had the information to stop Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from boarding a plane to the United States but had failed to cooperate with each other and share intelligence. According to the report, “no one agency saw itself as being responsible” for assessing such threats. The report identified 14 specific failures by intelligence agencies which included a bureaucratic process for adding names to terror watch lists that was too complicated and too rigid to address quickly emerging terrorist threats.

Concerning the argument that the CIA director can’t simultaneously manage the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community, if the president can manage the White House and the entire U.S. government, there’s no reason why we can’t have the CIA director in charge of his home agency and overseeing other U.S. intelligence agencies.

Eliminating the ODNI and rolling its duplicative organizations into the CIA would save at least $1 billion and could make U.S. intelligence more efficient and nimble. Such a move should include eliminating the huge number of redundant ODNI managers and officials such as those mentioned above.

More needs to be done to streamline U.S. intelligence and fix problems caused by earlier reforms and reorganizations.

For example, CIA director Brennan carried out a huge and controversial reorganization in 2015 that many critics believe created a confusing and bloated bureaucratic structure that will hurt long-term analysis and create security risks. This reorganization needs to be carefully reviewed by the next CIA director and possibly reversed.

There also are redundant units in multiple intelligence organizations that perform identical missions that should be streamlined. More of these crop up every year.

For example, U.S. intelligence agencies have increased their efforts to counter cyberwarfare over the last few years by creating large, separate organizations to address this issue. These include:

  • The ODNI Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center, created in 2015.
  • The U.S. Cyber Command, created in 2009, to defend Department of Defense networks, systems and information, to defend the homeland against cyberattacks, and to provide support to military and contingency operations.
  • The Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, created in 2009, to monitor cyber threats across government agencies and critical infrastructure.
  • The CIA Directorate of Digital Innovation, created in 2015.

There are many other examples of such duplication and redundancy, especially concerning counterterrorism.

To the greatest extent possible, these types of offices should be streamlined into a single inter-agency entity with one agency having the lead.

A reconstituted DCI should also take the lead in doing a better job of encouraging cooperation between intelligence agencies by pressing intelligence officers to take temporary assignments in other agencies. Having worked as an analyst with CIA and DIA, I know their analysis missions are very similar and would greatly benefit from closer collaboration, possibly by creating a joint CIA/DIA intelligence analyst service.

Managers and experts need to be brought in from outside the U.S. intelligence community to challenge the groupthink and analysis-by-committee that has gripped our intelligence agencies in the aftermath of the 9/11 and Iraq WMD intelligence failures. To deal with emerging security threats, we need more out-of-the-box and “competitive” analysis that provides policymakers with alternative assessments of global threats. There also is a great need for better strategic analysis of future threats.

U.S. intelligence agencies also need to improve their efforts to analysze and collect against new technological developments and challenges, including social media, big data, and hostile actors utilizing increasingly powerful encryption.

Outside managers and experts could also help counter the politicization of intelligence by intelligence officers who don’t like President Trump. This was a serious problem for previous Republican presidents. Recent leaks to the press by intelligence officers about Trump’s daily briefings suggest this problem has already resurfaced.

Implementing intelligence reforms to make U.S. intelligence agencies into the innovative and effective institution they once were will take strong leaders in top intelligence positions who will act independently and are not beholden to the intelligence community. These officials must have the full backing of the president.

President-elect Trump, by appointing Mike Pompeo as CIA director, General Mike Flynn as National Security advisor, and KT McFarland as deputy national security advisor, is off to an excellent start to implementing these kinds of intelligence reforms to make American intelligence great again.

Clapper: US collects and analyzes more intelligence on jihadi groups now than ever

November 19, 2016

Clapper: US collects and analyzes more intelligence on jihadi groups now than ever, Long War Journal, November 17, 2016

(Collecting lots of intelligence is good; how it is analyzed, what is looked for and what’s done with the information are at least as important. Please see also, Clueless Clapper Calls It Quits – DM)

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper announced his retirement during a hearing held by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) earlier today. In his written testimony, Clapper offered this assessment (emphasis added):

Violent extremism, which has been on an upward trajectory since the late 1970s, has generated more IC collection and analysis against groups, members, and safe havens than at any other point in history. These include: the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant; al-Qa’ida with its nodes in Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen; al-Shabaab, al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in East Africa; and Iran, the foremost state sponsor of terrorism, which continues to exert its influence in regional crises in the Middle East through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force, its terrorist partner Lebanese Hizbollah, and proxy groups.

It is clear from his description that what Clapper describes as “violent extremism” is what we call jihadism. The Islamic State and al Qaeda are on the Sunni side of the jihadi coin, while the Shiite side is led by the Iranian regime.

What specifically stands out is Clapper’s testimony regarding al Qaeda’s “nodes.” Al Qaeda maintains a cohesive international network more than fifteen years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

In Syria and Yemen, these “nodes” are known as Jabhat Fath al Sham (formerly Al Nusrah Front) and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), both of which are regional al Qaeda branches devoted to waging insurgencies against the local governments and their allies. Likewise, Shabaab is headquartered in Somalia and is al Qaeda’s regional arm throughout East Africa. Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) is the newest branch of the group, operating in Afghanistan, Pakistan and neighboring countries as well. To this list we can also add Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which maintains a footprint in North and West Africa. There are multiple other al Qaeda-linked groups as well.

In each case, the emir of the regional al Qaeda arm has been openly loyal to Ayman al Zawahiri. The only wrinkle is in the case of Jabhat Fath al Sham (JFS), which is led by Abu Muhammad al Julani.

In late July, Julani claimed that his group would no longer be affiliated with any “external” or “foreign” entity. His language was deliberately ambiguous, but many ran with the idea that JFS was no longer really part of the al Qaeda network. The Long War Journal offered an extensive rebuttal to that interpretation of Julani’s statement. Indeed, al Qaeda’s senior leadership never wanted to formally acknowledge the group’s presence in Syria, so Julani’s message was a return, of sorts, to al Qaeda’s original strategy for the war against Bashar al Assad’s regime. Julani did not renounce his bay’ah (oath of allegiance) to Zawahiri and Julani heaped praise on Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden even as he supposedly distanced his organization from them. Moreover, one of Zawahiri’s top deputies gave his blessing for Julani’s statement beforehand. Some break. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Analysis: Al Nusrah Front rebrands itself as Jabhat Fath Al Sham.]

Although the Islamic State generates most of the headlines these days, al Qaeda remains an international organization, albeit one that is not keen to advertise its presence in the same manner as Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s enterprise.

Al Qaeda’s senior leadership is not confined to South Asia. It is well documented that the group sent cadres to Syria, Yemen and elsewhere to lead the charge. The Obama administration’s drone campaign has repeatedly targeted veteran al Qaeda figures throughout 2015 and 2016.

The al Qaeda threat to the West and the US homeland is not confined to South Asia either. In October, the Pentagon announced that the US carried out airstrikes targeting jihadists serving al Qaeda’s “external operations” arm in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February, Clapper warned that the threat emanates from multiple countries. Clapper testified that al Qaeda “nodes in Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey” are “dedicating resources to planning attacks.”

There is no question that the Islamic State expanded rapidly beginning in 2013 and 2014, thereby cutting into al Qaeda’s share of the jihadi market around the globe. But as Clapper reminded Congress today, al Qaeda is far from out of the game.

The HPSCI hearing was devoted to the US intelligence community’s role supporting the Defense Department. Clapper explained that the war in Afghanistan continues to demand resources.

“In addition, we must continue to provide intelligence to assist in the transition of our mission in Afghanistan by supporting the Kabul government against persistent hurdles to political stability including eroding political cohesion, assertions of authority by local powerbroker, recurring financial shortfalls, and countrywide, sustained attacks by the Taliban,” Clapper’s written testimony reads.

That transition is not going smoothly, to put it mildly. Al Qaeda remains closely allied with the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. Siraj Haqqani is now one of the Taliban’s top deputies. Zawahiri has announced his allegiance to Taliban emir Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada. The US military and its partners are forced to hunt al Qaeda throughout much of Afghanistan, while also attempting to turn back the Taliban’s rising insurgency, which threatens several provincial capitals at once.

It is easy to see why the intelligence community is forced to collect and analyze more intelligence on jihadi groups now “than at any other point in history,” as Clapper testified. Sunni and Shiite jihadis are operating in more countries now than ever.

Unsolicited Advice for the Trump Transition Team on National Security Intelligence

November 10, 2016

Unsolicited Advice for the Trump Transition Team on National Security Intelligence, PJ Media, Andrew C. McCarthy, November 10, 2016

isis

It was encouraging Wednesday to hear that President Obama intends to emulate President Bush, who generously provided Obama with a highly informative and smooth transition process.

Running the Executive Branch is a daunting task, so there is no aspect of the transition to a new administration that is unimportant. But obviously, the most crucial focus for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is heading up President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, must be national security.

That transition is going to be more complicated than it should be, but there are things Gov. Christie can do – better to say, people he ought to consult — to make sure his team is getting accurate information.

The Bush National Security Council was very good about putting together briefing books so their successors could hit the ground running. The problem now, however, is the trustworthiness of what is in those books.

As PJ Media has reported, a highly disturbing report by a congressional task force this summer found that the Obama administration had politicized its intelligence product.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), who has been stellar on national security issues and was among the leaders of the task force (comprised of the Intelligence, Armed Services, and Appropriations Committees), put it this way when the report was issued:

After months of investigation, this much is very clear: from the middle of 2014 to the middle of 2015, the United States Central Command’s most senior intelligence leaders manipulated the command’s intelligence products to downplay the threat from ISIS in Iraq.The result: consumers of those intelligence products were provided a consistently “rosy” view of U.S. operational success against ISIS. That may well have resulted in putting American troops at risk as policymakers relied on this intelligence when formulating policy and allocating resources for the fight.

The intelligence manipulation became a controversy in 2015, when 50 intelligence-community whistleblowers complained that their reports on the Islamic State and al-Qaeda terror networks were being altered.

The manipulation, driven by Obama’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and carried out in the Defense Department by senior Central Command (CENTCOM) officers, aimed to downplay the jihadist threat.

This is a reckless practice I have written about several times over the last eight years (see, e.g., here). The Obama administration has made a concerted effort to miniaturize the terrorist threat in order to project a mirage of policy success.

Intelligence has routinely been distorted — portraying the networks as atomized, largely detached cells that are not unified by any overarching ideology — in an attempt to make them appear smaller and less threatening. Basically, a nuisance to be managed rather than an enemy to be defeated.

Even when the terrorists are on the march, the administration claims they are in retreat. Indeed, less than 24 hours after four Americans, including our ambassador to Libya, were killed by al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists in the 2012 siege of Benghazi, President Obama stated this in a political fundraising speech:

A day after 9/11, we are reminded that a new tower rises above the New York skyline, but al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat and bin Laden is dead.

Intel manipulation ran rampant after Obama fired Marine General James Mattis, CENTCOM’s commander, in 2013. General Mattis had the irksome habits of demanding clear-eyed assessments of America’s enemies and forcing administration policymakers to confront the potential consequences of their ludicrously optimistic assumptions, particularly regarding Iran’s behavior. Obama officials replaced him with Army General Lloyd Austin.

Meanwhile, it was made clear to the Pentagon that because the president made campaign commitments to end the U.S. mission in Iraq, he did not want to hear information contradictory to his narrative that withdrawing our forces was the right thing to do. After retiring, Army General Anthony Tata confirmed that an ODNI official instructed the Defense Department not to put in writing assessments that portrayed al-Qaeda and ISIS as fortified and threatening.

The result, of course, was that the president was told what wanted to hear.

This eventually led to Obama’s infamous assertion that ISIS was merely a “JV” terrorist team. Naturally, when the JV team rampaging through Iraq and Syria rendered that judgment embarrassing, the White House shifted the blame to General Austin, pushing him out the CENTCOM door.

The administration has done more to sculpt the narrative than quell the enemy. So Gov. Christie and his team will need to regard with skepticism any briefing books Obama’s transition coordinators supply.

Of course, Team Trump already has a tremendous resource to rely on: retired Army General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (and the author, along with PJ Media columnist Michael Ledeen, of The Field of Fight, which pleads for a desperately needed strategy for fighting the global war against jihadists and their allies). Like General Mattis, General Flynn (in 2014) was pushed out of his job because he rejected the politicization of our intelligence product for purposes of low-balling the terrorist threat. He knows his stuff, knows what we are up against, and will be a major asset not only to the transition, but to the Trump administration.

I would also respectfully suggest that Gov. Christie consult with General Mattis and General Jack Keane: smart, experienced former commanders who have given a great deal of thought to, and sound advice to Congress regarding, the current administration’s strategic and intelligence voids.

In understanding global jihadist networks — who the players are, how the organizations collude and compete — Tom Joscelyn, editor of The Long War Journal, is the best expert in the United States, bar none. While his value would be limitless, Tom is especially knowledgeable about the jihadists released from Guantanamo Bay, many of whom have gone back to the jihad.

Yet again, this is a context in which briefings from the Obama administration would be suspect. The president adheres to another narrative driven by foolish campaign promises, namely: the cost of Gitmo as a “recruiting tool” for the enemy outweighs the benefit of detaining committed, capable, anti-American jihadists. To justify both this absurd premise and the release of the terrorists, the administration watered down intelligence that supported holding the terrorists as enemy combatants who posed continuing danger to the United States.

The new administration needs accurate information for purposes of grasping the threat and formulating sound detention policy.

Finally, it is vital to understand “Countering Violent Extremism,” the Obama administration’s strategic guidance — their playbook for military, intelligence, and law-enforcement officials on how to approach and respond to terrorism. CVE is where the dereliction that I have labeled “willful blindness” has devolved into compulsory blindness.

Under CVE guidelines, the fact that Islamic-supremacist ideology spurs the jihadist threat and knits together terrorists and their sponsors is no longer just consciously avoided; taking notice of it is verboten.

The most thoroughgoing critique of this lunacy is Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad. Its author is Stephen Coughlin, a trained military intelligence officer and an attorney who has made a point of learning how Islamic law principles inform the goals and tactics of our enemies. Steve is extraordinarily informed about the administration’s wayward assumptions. If the Trump transition team wants to check the premises on which their work is based, he’s the guy.

Let’s welcome President Obama’s assurances of a seamless transition to the Trump administration. But my best unsolicited advice to Gov. Christie: When it comes to briefing books, don’t believe everything you read.

No, Hillary, 17 U.S. Intelligence Agencies Did Not Say Russia Hacked Dem E-mails

October 20, 2016

No, Hillary, 17 U.S. Intelligence Agencies Did Not Say Russia Hacked Dem E-mails, Center for Security Policy, Fred Fleitz, October 20, 2016

hack
Source: National Review

Hillary Clinton in last night’s presidential debate tried to avoid talking about the substance of the damaging WikiLeaks disclosures of DNC and Clinton campaign officials by claiming 17 U.S. intelligence agencies determined that Russia was responsible for this. After Clinton made this claim, she scolded Trump for challenging U.S. intelligence professionals who have taken an oath to help defend this country.

What Clinton said was false and misleading. First of all, only two intelligence entities – the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – have weighed in on this issue, not 17 intelligence agencies. And what they said was ambiguous about Russian involvement. An unclassified October 7, 2016 joint DNI-DHS statement on this issue said the hacks

. . . are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow — the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europa and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.

Saying we think the hacks “are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts” is far short of saying we have evidence that Russia has been responsible for the hacks. Maybe high-level officials would have authorized them if Russian hackers were responsible, but the DNI and DHS statement did NOT say there was evidence Russia was responsible.

My problem with the DNI/DHS unclassified statement is that it appeared to be another effort by the Obama administration to politicize U.S. intelligence. Make no mistake, U.S. intelligence agencies issued this unprecedented unclassified statement a month before a presidential election that was so useful to one party because the Clinton campaign asked for it. The Obama administration was happy to comply.

Clinton tried to defend the DNI/DHS statement by repeating the myth that U.S. intelligence officers are completely insulated from politics. She must think Americans will forget how the CIA crafted the politicized Benghazi talking points in 2011 and how SOUTHCOM intelligence analysts were pressured to distort their analysis of ISIS and Syria to support Obama foreign policy. And that’s just under the Obama administration. Politicization of intelligence goes back decades, including such blatant efforts by CIA officers to interfere in the 2004 presidential election that the Wall Street Journal referred to it as “The CIA Insurgency” in an August 2004 editorial. I discussed the problem of the politicization of U.S. intelligence and the enormous challenge a Trump administration will have in combating it in an August 18, 2016 National Review article.

Maybe the Russians are behind the WikiLeak hacks of Democrat e-mails, possibly to influence the 2016 presidential election. I’m not convinced of this. I’m more concerned that these constant leaks of Democratic e-mails demonstrate that Democratic officials appear to have no understanding of the need for Internet security. This makes me wonder if John Podesta’s e-mail password is “password.” These are the people Clinton will be giving senior jobs with high-level security clearances. That is the real security scandal that no one is talking about.