Carpe Diem!


Two button darted tweed with three button cuffs and open patch pockets in a classic gun club check, recent ebay score. 100% made in USA old Brooks Brothers, none of the “correct” details. Those “rules” we follow were never as strict as we think they were.

Rules are meant to be broken. If it looks good, wear it.



Two button darted tweed with three button cuffs and open patch pockets in a classic gun club check, recent ebay score. 100% made in USA old Brooks Brothers, none of the “correct” details. Those “rules” we follow were never as strict as we think they were.

Rules are meant to be broken. If it looks good, wear it.

On Leaks, The Press & Responsible Security

by Robert Caruso


Director Clapper and Secretary Panetta have had enough:

To ensure greater accountability and tracking of unauthorized disclosures, Secretary Panetta is directing a new “top down” approach as well.  The Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, in consultation with the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, will monitor all major, national level media reporting for unauthorized disclosures of defense department classified information.

Reuters is perturbed:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered senior Pentagon officials on Thursday to begin monitoring major U.S. news media for disclosures of classified information in an effort to stop the release of government secrets after a series of high-profile leaks.

The announcement came hours after Panetta and other senior defense officials appeared before a closed-door hearing of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee to discuss recent disclosures of classified security information.

Marcy Wheeler ponders the futility of these initiatives — indeed, the utility:

But there does seem to be one problem with the plan to have Mike Vickers watch for any security breaches. Doesn’t he have a day job? Isn’t he supposed to be watching the Taliban and China and cyberattacks? Have we gotten so paranoid that one of our top intelligence people is going to spend his time watching journalists than watching our military enemies?

Short answer? No.

The impetus behind this latest wave of ‘reforms’ is not new. The Agency ran an Unauthorized Disclosure Analysis Center, shuttered in Fall 1991, that analyzed  Non-Disclosure Materials (NDMs) and Unauthorized Disclosure Material (UADM) and mitigated the damage they caused. Reporting or assertions to the contrary are inaccurate. The Defense Security Oversight and Assessment Program isn’t revolutionary, so much as it institutionalizes throughout the Department of Defense the role Air Force Office of Special Investigations special agents already play to great effect at innumerable national-level entities. 

The driving force behind these initiatives are various personalities within the Defense Intelligence Enterprise & Defense Security Enterprise, at the direction of the interagency Unauthorized Disclosure Working Group. It’s not responsible to enumerate who those personalities are, and frankly it doesn’t matter. After a series of methodical reviews, the DIE and DSE have determined existing operational security, information security, information assurance and military deception paradigms are insufficient.

In an official release, the Department of Defense furthers clarifies that one of their new initiatives will be…a retooled fusion cell:

It is the first body to bring the functions of security, counterintelligence, and information assurance together for decision-making and proponency of the security mission and for its workforce.

This is not a freedom-of-the-press-debilitating mechanism, either. It is a result of two things: one, the result of reviews conducted by interagency red cells, most notably elements of ELDER PRINCE; and two, the institutionalization of the aforementioned entities’ best practices. 

Being as this is the second decade of the 21st century, a departure from the stale and unimaginative Cold War-era ‘strategies’ is long overdue. Often, it is difficult even for professionals to differentiate de facto responsibility from de jour responsibility for programs, policies, and emergent security issues. The painfully archaic information and operational security practices of the past must give way to the more applicable approaches of present-day. This is best epitomized by the responsible security paradigm, which holds that most information traditionally considered classified can be declassified at the discretion of the cognizant authority in favor of focusing on the protection of operational-level planning, structures, communications and — most importantly — personnel.

It is not enough to articulate a desire to curb the flow of information to the press or unauthorized individuals; indeed, aside from the obvious futility of such endeavors, such statements stand in stark contrast to the democratic principles of this nation. The answer, then, becomes not one of preemption — a nonsensical proposition if there ever was one — but of mitigation.

Every solitary United States Government employee entrusted with classified information signs a -312 (pronounced thirty-one two). When bestowed with controlled access to special access required or alternative compensatory control measures compartments and silos, additional signatures are required. Every United States Government employee is more than cognizant of their responsibilities.

It is the responsibility of the security managers, special security representatives and special security officers to mitigate the release of classified information. To mitigate unauthorized disclosures, one must be proactive. To be proactive, one must constantly assess the environment. To properly assess the environment, one must constantly aggregate new and more devious practices to do so without running afoul of legal restrictions or policy directives. Therefore, to innovate, one must embody an adversarial mindset, because that is precisely the mentality of the adversary — or insider threat — you seek to foil.

This is a consummate example of what happens when an individual selfishly abdicates their responsibility to do all of those steps in concert. 


It takes a wolf to catch a wolf. A failure to adapt to the operational reality ultimately results in mission failure — not achievement. At present, the vast majority of the counterintelligence, military deception, information and operational security communities are populated by sheep — or worse, self-styled sheepdogs.

The press is not the enemy. Those entrusted with the safeguarding of classified information — and the mitigation of its inadvertent or unauthorized release — must understand the media cycle, its political dynamics, and the individuals who drive it. To be ignorant of the same is to abdicate the responsibilities and trust placed in them by the taxpayer and their cognizant authority. Clamping down and terrorizing the media is not the answer. Mitigation is the answer. The question, of course, is how the Department of Defense and the broader interagency intelligence community should go about it.

The status quo is unacceptable.

Assess, aggregate, adapt, achieve. It’s a simple concept — but is it too difficult to understand? That remains to be seen. 




June 22, 2012

On Adversarial Mindsets and Syria


Adversaries cheat. We don’t. In academic institutions around the world, students understand that they will be expelled if they violate their college’s honor code or otherwise fail to play by the institutional rules. The dissonance between how our adversaries operate and how we teach our students puts our students at a distinct disadvantage when faced with real world adversaries who inevitably do not play by the rules. Breaking through the paradigm where students self censor their ways of thinking to a new paradigm that cultivates an effective adversary mindset is both necessary and possible.

— Gregory Conti and James Caroland

Thanks to the New York Times rather…imaginative interpretations of proper disclosure when it comes to covert actions, we the citizenry have been treated to a typically breathless headline: “CIA Said To Aid In Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition”.

How neat!

WASHINGTON — A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.


The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.

An inspired decision.


I believe very strongly in American exceptionalism. Of this, I am unashamed. However, I believe even more so in the basic courtesy of ensuring our collectors, paramilitary operations officers and general purpose/special operations forces know what they’re deploying into — before we commit them to any endeavor, no matter how noble or well-intentioned.

It is for the above-mentioned reasons I suggest we reassess our reasons for intervening in Syria. Instead of committing American manpower and materiel to be captured and killed ‘helping’ the Syrian populace, policymakers should strongly consider taking steps to confront the oft-dismissed but very real Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, their Qods Force assholes elements and MOIS.

How do I propose we do this? By prolonging the civil war. We draw in the Iranians. And then we kill them, one by one. By VBIED, and whatever else we choose to utilize. Properly motivated, I’m sure IARPA senior officers junior officers and enlisted at DARPA, the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity or the Asymmetric Warfare Group can dream up an even better IRAM:


That way we can kill them even more efficiently. You know, like they did to us in Iraq.

So what is sending arms to an irregular force actually useful for? Certainly not ending a war quickly. But absolutely useful for prolonging a war. Campaigns to arm irregular or rebel groups are generally most effective when the objective is to engage the foe in a war of attrition. Arguments about creating an “equality of forces” or “leveling the playing field” are misleading and fundamentally misunderstand the political dynamics at play in Syria. The Free Syrian Army, despite its name, is not a nascent conventional force and has demonstrated very little ability to seize and defend territory on their own, the way that the Croatian Army had during the Bosnian Wars or the Confederacy had during the Civil War. Neither, really, were the Nicaraguan Contras, despite the presence of defectors from the Nicaraguan internal security forces, a military force sufficiently strong enough to hold territory within Nicaragua without U.S. support. Even with U.S. support, most Contra operations had to be run out of neighboring states such as Honduras.

There’s your counter-proposal. You want to intervene in Syria? Fine. Let’s intervene: to kill IRGC-QF and MOIS personnel.

We kill a lot of them on our terms, preferably with arms supplied by the Gulf states that we don’t spend a penny on. Ironically enough, the New York Times is more than helpful in this regard, since they saw fit to allude to just this kind of capability being built.

American officials and retired C.I.A. officials said the administration was also weighing additional assistance to rebels, like providing satellite imagery and other detailed intelligence on Syrian troop locations and movements. The administration is also considering whether to help the opposition set up a rudimentary intelligence service. But no decisions have been made on those measures or even more aggressive steps, like sending C.I.A. officers into Syria itself, they said.

Perish the thought! Who needs audacity when you’re content with risk adversity and mawkishness? 

Clearly, moves are already afoot to train and equip a synthetic force. Ostensibly, America would control (for a finite period of time) these synthetics and they would function as our proxies — literally and figuratively. However, the downside of this is that you can never be sure whether they will advance your interests or not.

This is, in my opinion, the conundrum we’re faced with when it comes to the Free Syrian Army. They’re fighting for freedom. Well, that’s all well and good but freedom doesn’t hold territory. Maybe they’re fighting to advance democratic principles, and maybe to reclaim territory. There is no American territory in Syria.

To expend American blood and treasure to help other people recapture population centers isn’t worth a single drop of American blood. To deal a blow to Iran however, on Syrian soil (and on our terms) is absolutely worth it. That said, careful consideration should be paid to the strategic framework that would guide such action. After all, it’s not just private security contractors and paramilitaries from the Emirates we’d have to think about — among some of the first people on the ground would be select men and women of the military and national intelligence agencies.

Hell, even the Air Force would be involved.

DAGRE [Deployed Air Ground Response Element] is an advanced training program that equips security forces personnel with the skill set to provide enhanced security for special operations forces.

“When our operators deploy, they can concentrate on the specific mission at hand and feel confident about who has their back regarding security and force protection,” said Colonel Clifford “Skip” Day, deputy director of AFSOC installations and mission support.

Airmen with the DAGRE qualification are trained to meet security and force protection demands of SOF air assets and personnel when deployed at austere airfields lacking appropriate security or in locations where there is none at all, Day said.


IRGC and MOIS have operated with impunity, before and after Iraq. They deserve to suffer some cruelty at our hands along with their favored client state Syria. Syria, who lifted nary a finger to stem the flow of arms and personnel across their ratlines emanating from their soil. 

The majority of foreign fighters have entered Iraq either by coming across the Syrian border, or flying into Iraq from Syria.

The official said intelligence had shown that the majority of suicide bombers in Iraq in recent months had come into Iraq via airports in Syria after arriving there from their home countries.

Call it whatever you want. EAGER-series falls under Central Command’s bracket, but call it whatever you want. Just don’t call it JUST CAUSE (partly because it’s not and partly because we’ve already had one of those.)

Guest post: Michael Ross: as the Defense Clandestine Service takes shape, look to the Mossad for a proven model

With the creation of the new Defense Clandestine Service, the Defense Department has also created an opportunity to get back to the basics of providing foreign intelligence that will defend the United States and its allies. Unlike their civilian counterparts, the military’s fundamental motivation is to win wars, protect its personnel, and stay on the mission for which it has been tasked. These strengths combined with the military’s clearly defined and flatter command structure can also make for a more secure service by avoiding the burdening overlap and stultifying layers of bureaucracy and management.  
The fine art of collecting human source intelligence in this era of irregular warfare has in large part become lost in the relative comfort of relying exclusively on intelligence gathering technologies. Unfortunately, this reliance has been coupled with the tendency to rely on practices and procedures that ostensibly reduce the inherent risk of seeking out and engaging potential sources for human intelligence recruitment.  Clandestine HUMINT makes up only about 20% of the Department of Defense intelligence collection effort and it’s not imprudent to link this lack of human source intelligence collection to terrorist outrages against the U.S. and allies as well as the unchecked proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Near East and South Asia.
In the case of emulating existing successful models currently under deployment, the Defense Clandestine Service could resemble in many ways a self-contained and strictly compartmented operational division within the Mossad known as “Caesarea” (Kay-sar-eah). Originally a military intelligence unit within the Israel Defence Forces, this unit was re-structured and enhanced by other versatile components already existing within the Mossad’s operational and non-operational infrastructure. To this day, Caesarea still maintains much of its military character in both command and capability while operating as an elite intelligence collection entity.
As a means to avoiding the pitfalls of the CIA’s mission drift and excessive U.S.-focussed activity (estimates vary but according to reports almost 90% of CIA officers operate domestically), the Defense Clandestine Service should adopt the following guiding principles and practices:
1. Reject the temptation to operate on a geographical station model. Terrorist networks and non-conventional weapons proliferators do not operate geographically.  The station system is analogous to fiefdoms in a feudal system and only encourages turf wars and a culture of conflict between command and the field.  Hierarchical constructs and regionalism cannot effectively combat networks.
2. Abandon the State Department cover system. Embassy-based intelligence collecting entities are counter-productive. Operations should be conducted overseas through deep cover operational platforms that are in no way connected to any diplomatic or official USG entity.
3. Focus case officers exclusively on gathering human intelligence overseas.  The U.S. military has a large number of officers trained by the CIA that can be deployed globally in operational platforms. These platforms can operate autonomously with tasking, intelligence, and logistical support from HQs representatives.
4. Devote resources to status and operational cover possibilities and promote a culture of innovation, conception, flexibility and imaginativeness in this regard.
5. Tasking functions should focus on high quality targets for human source intelligence that can provide information on strategic intent and not exclusively on trivial sources that only provide tactical and capability-based intelligence.
6. Defense Clandestine Service personnel should reside in a culture of the highest levels of compartmentation and operational security. Officers should have rare interaction with other operatives and not have connection with HQs where possible.
7. Training should be conducted at a separate facility to which no other agency has access.
8. A proactive and autonomous CI component with clear mandates should be integrated into the service.
9. Career advancement and promotion should be tied directly to operational success in the field. Lengthy service at HQs should not be regarded as a means to advance in the organization. All senior management up to and including the heads of operational divisions in the Mossad, are veterans of lengthy service in operational assignments overseas.
10. Co-ordinate national-level HUMINT efforts. Inter-agency cooperation and deconfliction protocols should be established early on to avoid a redundant collection effort. Working relationships and understanding mutual objectives and mission mandates is critical for success.
11. The requirements and tasking process for the Defense Clandestine Service should shift from war zones and areas of conflict to epicenter target countries such as Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and China.
Human source intelligence collection is as much a psychological and emotional construct as it is a political, military, or national security one.  When broken down to its lowest common denominator, HUMINT is not an academic exercise that can be understood by rote formula or analyzed by a linear thinking process. This new defense intelligence enterprise should readily adopt an organizational culture that rejects parochial perspectives while fostering continual adaptation and innovation.
Typical defense intelligence priorities must undergo a conceptual shift. The tradition of providing tactical intelligence to support military commanders is extremely important; but only understanding our adversaries’ capabilities without knowing their intentions means we’re only winning half the battle.

Michael Ross is the author of The Volunteer and an expert on intelligence and terrorism and a former Mossad officer who served in the Near East, Africa and Asia for eleven years, and was the Mossad’s counterterrorism liaison officer to the CIA and FBI for two-and-a-half years.
Twitter: @mrossletters