INTEL TODAY DIARY — JUNE 15 2017

What Sessions did (and didn’t) tell us — Spy chief, a frequent guest at the White House, is MIA at headquarters — Saif al-Islam Gaddafi case: ICC calls for arrest of ex-Libya leader’s son — Israeli Mossad Forms Startup Investment Fund to Get Access to Newest Tech

Former FBI Director James Comey

What Sessions did (and didn’t) tell us — BBC

During his testimony before the Senate committee investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, he was often evasive. His accounting of details was uncertain, littered with “I don’t recalls” and “I have no recollections”.

Mr Sessions is far from the first politician to seek refuge in a fuzzy memory under sharp questioning. Definitive statements proven inaccurate under oath are more prone to accusations of perjury.

When it came time to discuss his conversations with the president, Mr Sessions demurred, noting that he wanted to give Mr Trump the opportunity to review the question before sharing his thoughts. It was as if the attorney general was trying to pre-emptively invoke executive privilege – the right of a president to candid counsel from his advisers – without using those magic words.

Where Mr Sessions’s memory did serve him well, he forcefully condemned allegations of Russian collusion as “appalling and detestable”.

 The controversy at this point is about more than just collusion, however. It’s about obstruction of justice and the circumstances around the firing of an FBI director. In those areas the attorney general did little to turn down the heat.

Going into Mr Sessions’s testimony on Tuesday, there were some obvious questions he would face. Here’s a look at how he answered (or, occasionally, didn’t answer) them.

Spy chief, a frequent guest at the White House, is MIA at headquarters — Chicago Tribune

The top spy in Washington, D.C., Dan Coats, has been spending a lot of time in and around the White House lately – so much so that current employees and veterans of the intelligence community are wondering whether the former Indiana senator is being kept on a tight leash by the administration.

Twelve weeks into the job, Coats, the director of national intelligence, is rarely seen at the office’s so-called Liberty Crossing headquarters in McLean, Virginia. Instead, Coats typically works out of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where he has an office and frequently attends meetings with the president and his top advisors, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

For Coats, the time spent at the White House has come as a surprise. “I think [CIA] Director [Mike] Pompeo and I can certify the fact that we have spent far more hours in the Oval Office than we anticipated,” Coats said during Senate testimony in May. “The president is a voracious consumer of information.”

But tied up at the White House, Coats risks alienating his office’s approximately 2,000 employees, many of whom are ill at ease with a president who has leveled repeated attacks on the intelligence community. So far, Coats hasn’t won their loyalty and seems unsure how to steer the more than $50 billion enterprise of American espionage.

Amid a sprawling FBI investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and steady drip of intelligence leaks, Coats occupies what is perhaps the least desirable job in Washington. As the nominal head of America’s 17 spy agencies, Coats serves as President Donald Trump’s principal intelligence advisor and as his intermediary with an intelligence community that views its commander in chief with skepticism, if not outright hostility.

The task facing Coats is huge, to borrow a favorite expression of his volatile boss. Coats must provide the president with honest analysis from the intelligence community, parts of which are engaged in a war of leaks with the administration. He’s also tasked with representing a workforce that Trump advisors would like to reduce.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi case: ICC calls for arrest of ex-Libya leader’s son — BBC

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has called for the arrest and surrender of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who was released by a militia in Libya last week after six years in jail.

The son of late leader Col Muammar Gaddafi is wanted for alleged crimes against humanity during the rebellion that ousted his father in 2011.

His location is unclear. The UN-backed government has condemned the release.

It is feared that the move could fuel further instability in the country.

Saif al-Islam was freed from jail last Friday by the Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Battalion militia in the western town of Zintan under an amnesty law.

He has not been seen in public since then. A source told the BBC he was in the Tobruk area of eastern Libya. (…)

The re-emergence of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi could deepen old wounds and create fresh divisions in this fractured country. For those who gathered in Martyrs’ Square in Tripoli six years ago demanding freedom it will be seen as a betrayal of the revolution. One man said it was like building a house just to have it torn down.

But many of those we spoke to around the square accepted his release. That is not so surprising perhaps given Libya’s descent into chaos since his father was overthrown.

One woman said that those who had come after Col Gaddafi had made an even bigger mess in Libya, and his son might bring stability. In the words of a young man, better the devil you know.

The former playboy often appeared in the West as the public face of the Gaddafi regime, and was his father’s heir apparent. His supporters will be hoping he returns to the political fray here, but he is still a wanted man.

Israeli Mossad Forms Startup Investment Fund to Get Access to Newest Tech — Haaretz

Israel’s Mossad spy agency is putting the finishing touches on an investment fund that will invest in local startups starting at the end of this month, bankers told TheMarker, Haaretz’s financial newspaper.

The fund will invest the Mossad’s own money, without any outside capital. And instead of getting shares in return, it will get rights to the startups’ products and technology for the agency’s use, said several bankers who helped set up the fund and requested anonymity.

Israel’s security establishment, both the defense industry and the army, has earned a worldwide reputation for its technology prowess, but the Mossad’s investment fund marks a new and surprising turn. The aim is to give the agency direct access to state-of-the-art developments while adding to the value of the startups through the Mossad connection.

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INTEL TODAY DIARY — JUNE 15 2017

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