Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hunter S. Thompson Did Not Have a CIA File

A while back, I sought out Hunter Thompson's CIA file. According to the final response posted below, Thompson did not draw the attention of the CIA. Odd.

CIA Final Response Letter RE Hunter Thompson

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Foxy Knoxy Unclassified: The Amanda Knox State Department Cables

As I promised early, I have acquired seven cables pertaining to the arrest and trial of Amanda Knox. The first cable is December 2008 and the last from December 2009. The majority of the cables are redacted due to privacy concerns with the State Department invoking (b)(6) to justify withholding. Despite this, some aspects of the State Department's handling of this case can be puzzled out. Specifically:
  1. The US Embassy in Rome is handling it. All of the released cables orginate from there.
  2. It is a localized affair. All of the cables went to the American consulates in Milan, Naples, Florence, or to  ....
  3. The State Department in Washington DC. The cables say "SECSTATE WASHDC," but it is doubtful that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton read any of them, at least at first. She may have read them since, but with the possible exception those marked IMMEDIATE. I believe all cable traffic is routed to the Secretary of State or more accurate State Department HQ.
  4. Knox has received consular representation as required by international law. However, it does not appear that the State Department is pushing hard (or at all) for her release.
I should point out that the State Department reported there was an 8th record (most likely a cable) withheld its entirety on (b)(6) grounds. I also limited my search to cable traffic. A FOIA request for all Amanda Knox related records will probably turn up more information, probably some more recent cables, but not much more. If someone can get Knox to sign a release or file her own Privacy Act request, more information will become available.

I have loaded them in chronically, oldest to newest, with each page of the PDF being a separate page of a cable. On the bottom left front page of each cable is a line blacked out. I did that to remove identifying material about me.

Knox Cable Traffic

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Missives From an Opaque Boss: NSA DIRgrams

Below is a listing of NSA "DIRgrams" (messages from the director of the NSA to his troops). Surprisingly, few of the DIRgrams (only ten) have been redacted. Of course, this does not mean a DIRgram will be released if requested through FOIA.

Some sample DIRgram titles:

181- Law Day
201- History Channel Poll (I blogged about this one here.)
239- Media Attention
242- NSA and GCHQ Policy on Cooperation and Sharing (Partnership)
312- Closure of Bad Aibling Station
333- Information Sharing with the United Kingdom and Australia

NSA DIRgram List

If anyone is interested in acquiring a particular DIRgram for themselves,  just use the NSA's online FOIA submission form and request them. From personal experience, you will receive a response relatively quickly.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A NSA Adventure in Internet Polling

On August 23, 2001, then director of the National Security Agency Michael V. Hayden dispatched the following missive to his underlings at the NSA.

DIRgram 201

Initially, I noticed the date of the DIR-GRAM, just 19 days and approximately three hours until the first plane smashed into the WTC. I briefly wondered what the results would have been had the poll been taken on 9-11 until I realized that internet polls are bullshit and that few of those voting in this poll had any knowledge of the American national security appartus on which to base their vote. I could not track down the original poll, most likely long since deleted or purged from the History Channel website, but I doubt they included lesser-known agencies like NCIS (I know NCIS is famous now, but the show that made it famous came out in 2003).
The fourth paragraph was the most striking. While Hayden conceded that "we [The NSA] cannot draw too much from the poll's conclusions, it is encouraging to see tangible evidence that more Americans understand that our purpose and mission has less to do with the film "Enemy of the State," and more to do with protecting the hard won freedoms and liberties that we all enjoy." 

However, the NSA is probably the most opaque intelligence operation in the Western world and it only got more secretive after the 9-11 attacks. As I mentioned above, few voters in that poll possessed any relevant knowledge with which to form their judgment.  I doubt any study has ever been conducted to determine which of the myriad of intelligence agencies operating in the United States has been the most effective in protecting the United States.  What Hayden was or should have been gloating about is that History Channel poll, as much as any online poll can tell you can tell you anything useful, is that the NSA's public relations effort had, at that point, convinced Americans to trust the NSA in terms of both its effectiveness and its trustworthiness.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Disinclined to Care: The Fabled NCIS and WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks has become a target of the United States government which seeks to discredit and destroy it. In March 2008, the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center created a secret report- ironically leaked to WikiLeaks- documenting the history of WikiLeaks, its prior disclosure of sensitive National Security information, the threat that WikiLeaks could pose to the United States Army, and laying out methods by which WikiLeaks could be destroyed. In 2010, Icelandic police were accused of raiding a house of a underage WikiLeaks volunteer. WikiLeaks ' Twitter feed contains numerous allegations of harassment and surveillance of WikiLeaks staff at the hands of the American intelligence establishments.

In contrast, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) gave little consideration or attention to WikiLeaks. In response to a FOIA request for all NCIS records pertaining to WikiLeaks, NCIS released, with some minor redactions by NCIS and the Army Criminal Investigative Division for reasons of privacy, two pages of records. Assuming a honest disclosure, and the disclosed documents provided no reason to doubt that it is, the records demonstrate a surprising passivity of one of the DOD's premier investigative arms toward WikiLeaks given the all but declared war against WikiLeaks by the Pentagon.

NCIS Wikileaks Records

The first page of the PDF is the cover page of the investigative file. It is the standard NCIS cover sheet designed to facilitate the rapid identification of the file. The investigation file is named “ WikiLeaks/Suspected Leakage of Classified Information” and was assigned case number 08FEB0824D400075EC. This investigation was a follow-up into a report of leaked classified information on WikiLeaks . The second page of the PDF, a single page report dated 2/8/2008 from that investigation, shows that a member of the NETWARCOM Security informed NCIS that WikiLeaks was hosting classified material. A report was taken by a Reporting Agent (RA) who then contacted a Special Agent involved with FCI (Foreign Counterintelligence Investigations.) The FCI agent informed him the US Army Criminal Investigation Division had been contacted and was conducting their own investigation into the matter. It was decided that “No Further Reporting [was] Anticipated.” The case was closed the same day with no additional investigations having been conducted since.