INTEL TODAY DIARY — JUNE 13 2017

U.S. Cyberweapons, Used Against Iran and North Korea, Are a Disappointment Against ISIS — Monitoring Nuclear Testing is Getting Easier — What Did [CIA Director] Mike Pompeo Do? — Manchester bombing was planned for months, Libya says

Trump meeting in the Oval Office last month with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and the ambassador to the United States, Sergey I. Kislyak.

U.S. Cyberweapons, Used Against Iran and North Korea, Are a Disappointment Against ISIS — NYT

America’s fast-growing ranks of secret cyberwarriors have in recent years blown up nuclear centrifuges in Iran and turned to computer code and electronic warfare to sabotage North Korea’s missile launches, with mixed results.

But since they began training their arsenal of cyberweapons on a more elusive target, internet use by the Islamic State, the results have been a consistent disappointment, American officials say. The effectiveness of the nation’s arsenal of cyberweapons hit its limits, they have discovered, against an enemy that exploits the internet largely to recruit, spread propaganda and use encrypted communications, all of which can be quickly reconstituted after American “mission teams” freeze their computers or manipulate their data. (…)

The intelligence was so exquisite that it enabled the United States to understand how the weapons could be detonated, according to two American officials familiar with the operation. The information helped prompt a ban in March on large electronic devices in carry-on luggage on flights from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries to the United States and Britain.

It was also part of the classified intelligence that President Trump is accused of revealing when he met in the Oval Office last month with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and the ambassador to the United States, Sergey I. Kislyak. His disclosure infuriated Israeli officials.

The Islamic State’s agenda and tactics make it a particularly tough foe for cyberwarfare. The jihadists use computers and social media not to develop or launch weapons systems but to recruit, raise money and coordinate future attacks.

Monitoring Nuclear Testing is Getting Easier — Secrecy News

The ability to detect a clandestine nuclear explosion in order to verify a ban on nuclear testing and to detect violations has improved dramatically in the past two decades.

There have been “technological and scientific revolutions in the fields of seismology, acoustics, and radionuclide sciences as they relate to nuclear explosion monitoring,” according to a new report published by Los Alamos National Laboratory that describes those developments.

“This document… reviews the accessible literature for four research areas: source physics (understanding signal generation), signal propagation (accounting for changes through physical media), sensors (recording the signals), and signal analysis (processing the signal).”

A “signal” here is a detectable, intelligible change in the seismic, acoustic, radiological or other environment that is attributable to a nuclear explosion.

The new Los Alamos report“is intended to help sustain the international conversation regarding the [Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty] and nuclear explosive testing moratoria while simultaneously acknowledging and celebrating research to date.”

“The primary audience for this document is the next generation of research scientists that will further improve nuclear explosion monitoring, and others interested in understanding the technical literature related to the nuclear explosion monitoring mission.”

What Did Mike Pompeo Do? — The Atlantic

Reports that Trump asked intelligence chiefs to help shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn raise the question of whether the CIA director was asked to do the same, and how he reacted if he was.

Mike Pompeo, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was in the room with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats in March when President Trump complained about then-FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Coats, the Post reported, later told subordinates that the president had asked him to intercede with Comey to end the Flynn investigation. The report also said that Coats had rejected the request as inappropriate. Comey had recently testified that the bureau’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election had begun to scrutinize ties between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government. Flynn was forced out after reports revealed that he had misled administration officials about whether he had discussed sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, prior to the inauguration.

Yet Pompeo’s role in this episode remains a mystery—whether he was also asked to intervene with Comey to end the investigation, and whether he, like Coats, rejected that request as inappropriate. I posed that exact question to the CIA, a spokesperson declined to comment.

“The CIA is very aware that the FBI has the primary role in counterintelligence in the United States, and that it would not be appropriate for the agency to interfere or try to direct the FBI’s investigation,” said a former senior intelligence official.

Vicki Divoll, a former Senate intelligence committee general counsel and assistant general counsel for the CIA, was unambiguous about the advice she would give if CIA director she was working was asked by a president to encourage the FBI Director to shut down an investigation into associates of that president.

“I would tell my boss that the request was inappropriate and not to act on it. it’s as simple as that,” said Divoll.

“Then we would need to discuss whether we had a statutory obligation to make a crimes report to the Justice Department and to notify the intelligence committees of Congress.”

Manchester bombing was planned for months, Libya says — BBC

The bomb attack in Manchester last month which killed 22 people was being planned since December, security officials in Libya have told the BBC.

Salman Abedi was being watched in Libya more than a month before the attack.

Officials in Tripoli have complained about poor security co-operation with the UK, which they say must be improved to prevent further attacks.

Abedi spent a quiet month with his family in Tripoli before returning to Britain to carry out mass murder.

Libyan officials have told the BBC’s Orla Guerin that from the time of his arrival in the country he was under surveillance, along with his brother Hashem and father Ramadan.

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INTEL TODAY DIARY — JUNE 13 2017

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